Health and Science

WHO chief says markets should 'calm down', Australia and Thailand report their first deaths

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All times below are in Beijing time.

  • Total confirmed cases: More than 85,000
  • Total deaths: At least 2,943

7:55 pm: Iran's death toll now at 54, confirmed cases jump to 978 amid suspicions about government reporting

Iran's death toll from the coronavirus hit 54 on Sunday, its health ministry said, just days after the Iranian government denied 50 deaths from the virus reported by a lawmaker in the city of Qom, the center of the country's outbreak.

Based on the number of fatalities, health experts believe the number of infected people must be higher than what the government is reporting. 

6:49: Major scientists' group cancels one of world's top science conferences

The American Physical Society is canceling its annual meeting, one of the world's biggest international scientific conferences with 10,000 people expected to attend, just a day before it was supposed to begin.

The organization's website posted a statement that read:

"Due to rapidly escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the 2020 APS March Meeting in Denver, Colorado, has been canceled. Please do not travel to Denver to attend the March Meeting."

6:30 pm: Nothing is off the table, including shutting down cities, UK health secretary says

"There's clearly a huge economic and social downside" to isolating cities to contain the coronavirus outbreak, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Sunday. "But we don't take anything off the table at this stage, because you've got to make sure that you have all the tools available, if that is what's necessary. But I want to minimize the social and economic disruption."

Hancock said the government would soon publish its "battle plan" for a worst-case outbreak scenario, and confirmed that the U.K.'s National Health Service was preparing to bring doctors out of retirement if the disease worsens. 

4:51 pm: Italy to dedicate nearly $4 billion to fighting coronavirus

Italy will launch measures worth 3.6 billion euros, or $3.97 billion, to fight the coronavirus spread that has taken over large parts of the country, its economy minister told local press Sunday. The sum amounts to 0.2% of Italy's GDP.

Italy has seen by far the most coronavirus cases outside Asia, with more than 1,000 cases and 29 deaths as of Sunday morning local time.

4:21 pm: Kuwait reports new case, links Iran

Kuwait reported a new case of the coronavirus Sunday, bringing its total to 46. Its health ministry said that the patient, along with the majority of the Gulf country's confirmed cases, are linked to Iran and that the infected patients are either from Iran or had traveled there recently. Iran has the highest number of cases in the Middle East. 

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4:14 pm: Putin says Russia has the 'tools' to respond to coronavirus economic impact

Russian president Vladimir Putin said Sunday that his country has the tools to respond to any negative economic repercussions of the coronavirus' global spread, according to a Reuters translation. He also said that current oil prices were 'acceptable,' despite the fall in price and demand since the virus outbreak began.  

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4:02 pm: South Korea reports 210 new coronavirus cases

South Korea reported 210 new coronavirus cases on Sunday afternoon local time, after already announcing 376 new cases earlier in the day. It also reported its 18th death tied to the coronavirus.

The country's total infections come to 3,736, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said, the largest concentration outside China. 

4:00 pm: WHO chief calls for calm in global markets

"Global markets … should calm down and try to see the reality," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told CNBC's Hadley Gamble during a panel discussion in Riyadh. "We need to continue to be rational. Irrationality doesn't help. We need to deal with the facts." 

The comments come after global stocks were slammed in their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.

3:31 pm: Malaysia reports four new cases

Malaysia's health ministry reported four new cases of the coronavirus Sunday, bringing the South Asian country's total to 29. All patients are Malaysian and all had recent travel history to Italy or China, the authorities said.   

2:03 pm: Dubai's Emirates Group experiencing 'slowdown' because of coronavirus

Business for Dubai's Emirates Group has undergone a "measurable slowdown" thanks to the coronavirus outbreak and is asking its employees to take leave, both paid and unpaid leave, Reuters reported, citing an internal company email seen by the news agency.

1:49 pm: Members of virus-stricken South Korean church visited Wuhan, authorities say

Some members from South Korea's Shincheonji church, the heart of the country's coronavirus outbreak, visited China's Wuhan in January, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday according to Reuters. The church's branch in Daegu, in the country's south-east, is where most of South Korea's cases were first discovered. A KCDC health official said he did not know how many of the people had gone to Wuhan or whether they were certain the visits led to the country's outbreak. 

Wuhan is where the virus was first identified and the epicenter of the viral outbreak.

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12:55 pm: Thailand records first coronavirus death

Thailand recorded its first fatality from coronavirus, a 35-year-old man, Reuters reported, citing the director-general of Thailand's Department of Disease Control. The victim also was suffering from dengue fever. Since January, Thailand has reported a total of 42 cases, of whom 30 have recovered so far. —Kemp

12:20 pm: Australia reports first death from coronavirus

A 78-year-old man who had been in quarantine became Australia's first death from Wuhan coronavirus on Sunday, Reuters reported. The man was one of more than 150 Australians who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off Japan. The man's widow also caught the virus, Reuters said, but she is in stable condition. As of Sunday, Australia has confirmed a total of 26 cases. —Kemp

People wait in line to buy face masks from a post office near the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu on February 27, 2020.
Jung Yeon-je | AFP | Getty Images

10:40 am: American Airlines suspends flights to Milan

American Airlines suspended operations to and from Milan, effective until April 25. The carrier cited a reduction in demand for the suspension, which affects flights from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Miami International Airport. Milan is located within Italy's Lombardy region, which has been hit by a coronavirus outbreak. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday advised Americans to avoid travel to parts of Italy stricken by the virus. —Kemp

9:35 am: South Korea reports 376 new coronavirus cases

South Korea added another 376 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday morning, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 3,526. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were no additional fatalities and the death toll stands at 17 as of Sunday, 9 a.m. local time. South Korea has the largest number of confirmed cases outside mainland China, where most of the infections and deaths have occurred. —Tan

8 am: 573 new coronavirus cases in China

Mainland China reported 573 new, confirmed coronavirus cases on Feb. 29, up from 427 on the previous day, the country's health authority said on Sunday. The number of deaths stood at 35, down from 47 on the previous day, bringing the total death toll in mainland China to 2,870. Of the deaths, 34 were in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. That province also saw 570 of the new cases. —Reuters

A worker at a fruit store wearing a face mask and using his mobile phone as he waits for the customers in Beijing, on February 29, 2020.
Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

5:20 am: Coronavirus could turn US presidential campaign upside down

Should the virus continue to spread, it may become impossible for the Democratic presidential campaigns in the United States to avoid changing their event schedules. As companies cancel events and limit travel in the name of caution, candidates are taking a risk by carrying on as normal.

"I think we'll see, pretty soon, decisions by the campaigns to limit rope line and scale back events to small-town halls and use technology like streaming to reach voters," said Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration under Trump.

"Even if the risk doesn't merit these steps right now, it's important they consider the examples they set." —Hirsch

1:14 am: US expands Iran travel restrictions over coronavirus, raises advisory for regions in South Korea and Italy

President Donald Trump authorized the expansion of travel restrictions against Iran and is now recommending Americans refraining from visiting regions of Italy and South Korea impacted by the infectious coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence detailed the heightened travel warnings in a press conference from the White House.

"First, the president authorized action today to add additional travel restrictions on Iran. … Iran is already under a travel ban, but we're are expanding existing travel restrictions to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days," Pence said. —Franck

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight here.

— CNBC's Joanna Tan, Tom Franck, Lauren Hirsch and Reuters contributed to this report.