What you need to know about the coronavirus today

(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus outbreak today:

Closing U.S. borders to Europe

After being criticized for his government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out all the stops on Wednesday evening with a month-long travel restriction to the United States from Europe. This order does not apply to Britain or to Americans undergoing “appropriate screenings,” Trump said.

Flights from Europe can still operate to a limited number of U.S. airports with enhanced screening, but only U.S. citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members will be allowed in, severely denting the passenger base and hurting the U.S. tourism industry.

The news hit financial markets hard, with stocks diving and oil slumping, as investors were disappointed by the lack of broad measures to offset a likely fall in consumption.

The spread

There are now over 126,000 cases of coronavirus globally, after the World Health Organization called the outbreak a pandemic for the first time on Wednesday, and over 4,600 have died, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Thursday. Almost 7,000 cases were reported in the past day, far surpassing the average daily amount reported in China during the virus’ initial peak.

For an interactive graphic of the spread, click here

Italy saw the sharpest increase in cases, with over 2,300 in 24 hours, accounting for a third of all new cases in the past day. A total of 196 people died in Italy over the last 24 hours, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

Meanwhile, China had eight new coronavirus infections in Hubei province, the first time the epicenter of the pandemic recorded a daily tally in single digits, as more businesses reopened with local authorities cautiously easing strict containment measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was criticized for saying coronavirus was likely to infect up to 70% of Germans.

“When the virus is out there, and the population has no immunity and no vaccination or therapy exists, then a high percentage – experts say 60 to 70% of the population – will be infected, so long as this remains the case,” she said.

Tom Hanks and wife affected

Oscar-winning U.S. actor Tom Hanks took to Twitter and Instagram to tell fans that he and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for coronavirus in Australia, where Hanks had been working on a film.

He said they had both felt tired and achy with slight fevers. The couple, both 63, are the first major U.S. celebrities known to have contracted COVID-19.

“Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated,” Hanks tweeted.

NBA season suspended

If the day wasn’t filled with enough bad news, the National Basketball Association (NBA) said on Wednesday that it was suspending its season until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus.

Players from teams that Jazz has played in the past 10 days were told to self-quarantine, ESPN reported, citing sources. Those teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors, the ESPN report added.

See a selection of coronavirus coverage from Reuters here: here

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