South Korea races to contain outbreak as virus fears slam stock markets

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
photo via CBS News

South Korea was racing Tuesday to contain the largest outbreak of the new coronavirus outside China, as the COVID-19 disease claimed more lives there and spread farther in Italy — Europe’s first significant cluster of cases. The nearly 1,000 cases and 10 confirmed deaths from the illness in South Korea pushed the global tally of patients over 80,000 and the death toll closer to 3,000.

Iran has also reported more deaths from the disease, amid fears the Islamic clerics who run the country could be under-reporting cases there.

With 53 cases confirmed in the U.S., the Trump administration has sought billions of dollars in additional funding from Congress to buy protective gear and work on treatments and a vaccine for the new virus. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lambasted the White House funding plan as “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency.”

The World Health Organization has called it a global health emergency, but has thus far declined to use the label “pandemic,” a term used when a disease takes hold in multiple regions and spreads rampantly within communities. But the dramatic spread in South Korea, Iran and Italy has stoked fears that COVID-19 could reach pandemic status.

Those fears jarred stock markets around the world, prompted increased travel restrictions and sparked a race to test hundreds of thousands more people in South Korea for the disease.

U.S. stock markets stabilize after coronavirus selloff
Stocks stabilized Tuesday in the U.S. after a steep selloff Monday sparked by fears that the widening coronavirus outbreak could dent the global economy.

Investors were spooked after countries including South Korea, Italy and Iran reported more cases this week, including Europe’s first significant cluster of cases in northern Italy.

The Dow rose 170 points to 28,131 in early trading, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 59 points to 9,280 and the S&P 500 rose 10 points to 3,236. The gains didn’t erase the losses incurred in Monday’s rout, when stocks in the S&P 500 lost nearly $965 billion in market value. Among those suffering the biggest declines yesterday were airline stocks, with shares of American Airlines and Delta Air Lines falling 8.5% and 6.2%, respectively.

Chinese researchers claim to have developed coronavirus vaccine
Researchers at Tianjin University in China claim to have developed an oral vaccine to protect against the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to China’s semi-official Global Times newspaper.

Huang Jinhai, the professor who led the project, has taken four doses himself and not experienced any side effects, the report said. The university is now looking for partners to promote clinical trials of the vaccine.

“The vaccine has a very high level of security, is convenient to use and can be quickly produced on a large scale,” Huang was quoted as saying in a statement provided to the Global Times.

Facing some criticism for his early declaration of success online, Huang later stressed that his team had only completed preliminary work on their vaccine, making it clear it was still a long way from being approved for wider use. Its effectiveness and safety still need to be proven through animal and human trials. Huang said his team was looking for qualified organizations to work together on that evaluation process.

– Grace Qi and Tucker Reals

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