BANGKOK (AP) — Saudi Arabia cut travel to Islam’s holiest sites, South Korea toughened penalties for those breaking quarantines and airports looked for signs of sick passengers as a new virus troubled more places. With the number of sick and dead rising, the crisis gave way to political and diplomatic rows and a sense that no part of the world was immune. South Korea reported a jump in new cases that pushed its total past 2,000. The hardest-hit country by far remains China, though its daily increases are continuing a downward trend. It reported 327 new cases and 44 deaths Friday, raising its totals to 78,824 with 2,788 deaths.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A government whistleblower has filed a complaint alleging that federal workers did not have the necessary protective gear or training when they were deployed to help victims of the coronavirus evacuated from China. The complaint deals with Health and Human Services Department employees sent to Travis and March Air Force bases in California to assist evacuees from China. The Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that investigates personnel issues, confirmed Thursday it has received the complaint and is investigating.
UNDATED (AP) — Asian stock markets have fallen further on virus fears after Wall Street endured its biggest one-day drop in nine years. Tokyo's benchmark fell by 3.4% and Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul all dropped by more than 2%. The deepening global route is fueled by fears the spreading virus that emerged in China in December will derail global trade and other industries. Investors had appeared confident governments were bringing the outbreak under control, but forecasters warned such optimism likely was premature. A growing list of major companies are issuing profit warnings and say factory shutdowns in China are disrupting supply chains. They say travel bans and other anti-disease measures also are hurting Chinese consumer spending.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence's handling of an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana when he was governor is getting new scrutiny now that President Donald Trump has tasked him with overseeing the U.S. response to the new coronavirus threat. Critics say he mishandled the 2015 HIV outbreak. Pence delayed allowing a program to provide clean needles to intravenous drug users in one rural county where nearly 200 people eventually tested positive for HIV. Foundation for AIDS Research official Greg Millett says the outbreak would have been “entirely preventable” if Pence had acted earlier. Pence shared the concerns of many law enforcement officials that needle exchange programs enabled illegal drug abuse.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — K-pop superstar group BTS has canceled a series of planned concerts in Seoul in April due to concerns about a soaring viral outbreak in South Korea. The band’s management agency said: “We regret to announce that the BTS MAP OF THE SOUL TOUR ... has been cancelled.” The band was supposed to perform on April 11-12 and April 18-19 at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium. It said the current outbreak made it impossible to predict the scale of the illness during the dates the concerts were planned. The coronavirus that causes the new illness has infected more than 2,000 people in South Korea.
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