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COVID-19: Markets fall again after first case in sub-Saharan Africa

COVID-19: Markets fall again after first case in sub-Saharan Africa

European s plummeted again on Friday as the first case of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa added to fears that coronavirus could dent the global economy.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 index plunged 224.14 points, or 3.3%, shortly after opening — deepening days of losses — while Germany’s DAX was down 3.2%, extending the pain of the worst week since 2008.

RELATED: Could COVID-19 trigger a European recession?

Tokyo’s benchmark plummeted by 3.7% while Sydney and Seoul dropped by more than 3%. In China, Shanghai and Hong Kong both recorded drops of over 2.5%.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday that the world is at a “decisive point” in the battle against COVID-19. The disease has continued to spread to new countries, spooking global financial markets.

The coronavirus has now killed 54 people in 44 countries outside China and still has “pandemic potential,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva.

“If you act aggressively now you can contain this virus,” he said, urging governments around the world to follow WHO advice such by preparing isolation units and introducing health checks at borders.

“The most important thing is to calm down and do the right things,” he said.

In other COVID-19 updates:

Stock market s fell significantly due to coronavirus worriesFrance had a significant increase in the number of cases from 18 to 38.Northern Ireland confirmed its first case bringing the UK total to 16The London Stock Exchange fell to a 13-month low amid global economic fearsGreece, Norway, and North Macedonia have reported their first casesTwo new cases were confirmed in England after being infected in Italy and TenerifeJapan ordered all schools to be closed after this weekendIn Iran, cases climbed to 254 — including the Islamic Republic’s vice president Masoumeh EbtekarSaudi Arabia banned travel to Mecca, just months before the annual Hajj pilgrimageA woman in California tested positive without having travelled to a zone at riskFacebook cancelled its F8 developer conference due to the outbreak

As countries scrambled to contain the virus, many adopted new measures. In Germany, landing cards were issued to passengers arriving from countries most hit by the virus, while Cyprus added more police and health workers at crossing points at the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state in the north.

Coronavirus reaches sub-Saharan Africa

Health officials in Nigeria reported their first case of the disease on Friday — the first in sub-Sarahan Africa.

The patient, an Italian man, entered Nigeria on Tuesday and fell ill the next day. He is being treated at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Lagos, the country’s capital.

Meanwhile, South Africa announced on Thursday that it would repatriate Africa citizens from Wuhan “following several requests from the families of South Africans in the city.”

The government said that 132 of the estimated 199 South Africa nationals in the Chinese city have asked to be flown to their home country and that they would be placed in quarantine for 21 days upon their return.

The country’s officials also revealed that two South African nationals in Japan had tested positive. Both worked onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Cases of the virus had already been confirmed in North Africa countries including Egypt and Algeria.

Cases in France double

France‘s health minister said there was a significant increase in cases of coronavirus, with the country confirming 38 cases on Thursday, more than double the number reported previously.

Twelve of the newly confirmed cases were linked to two people in the department of Oise, in northern France including one patient who died earlier this week of the virus.

In France, some cases were connected to people who had recently returned from Italy. Two others had recently come back from a trip to Egypt.

Another person is in intensive care in a hospital in Lyon.

But Italy remains the most impacted European country with 400 reported cases and 12 fatalities.

Coronavirus ‘does not respect borders’

The WHO said countries could curtail the impact of COVID-19 if they “move swiftly and contain it at the bud.”

“We’re at a decisive point,” Ghebreyesus said in Geneva, saying the virus was growing faster outside than inside China, where the outbreak began.

“Every country must be ready for its first case, its first cluster,” he said. “This virus does not respect borders.”

He added: “This virus is not influenza. With the right measures, it can be contained. This is not a time for fear, this is a time for taking action now to prevent infections and save lives. Fear and panic doesn’t help.”

Facebook cancels developer conference

Facebook said it would cancel F8, its annual developer conference held in California due to the spread of coronavirus.

“This was a tough call to make — F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favourite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world — but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, the company’s director of platform partnerships said in a statement.

The US has so far reported 60 cases of the novel coronavirus, according to WHO.

Drastic measures in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia banned foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims pray toward five times a day. It also said travel was suspended to Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina.

Disease outbreaks have always been a concern on the hajj pilgrimage, with people travelling from all over the world to complete the walk which is compulsory for able-bodied Muslims.

Saudi Arabia has taken the measure as its neighbours deal with their own cases of coronavirus. Bahrain confirmed 33 cases as of Thursday morning, while Iran’s president insisted there were no immediate plans to quarantine cities as authorities try to get a handle on the spread of the virus in a country which has so far seen 19 deaths. There are also confirmed cases in neighbouring Oman, Iraq, Kuwait and the UAE.