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European and Middle Eastern governments scrabbling to limit spread of Coronavirus

CORONAVIRUS took aim at a broadening swath of the globe today, with officials in Europe and the Middle East scrambling to limit its spread.

In Italy, authorities set up roadblocks, called off football matches and shuttered sites including the famed La Scala opera house.

In Iran, a report of dozens of deaths in a single city emerged as infections were reported to have spread for the first time to Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Afghanistan.

Worldwide, the number of people infected by the coronavirus topped 79,000. Wherever it sprung up, officials rushed to try to contain it.

“The past few weeks have demonstrated just how quickly a new virus can spread around the world and cause widespread fear and disruption,” said the head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Clusters of the virus continued to emerge, including a possible one in Qom, an Iranian city where the country’s ILNA news agency reported that 50 people had died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The country’s Health Ministry rejected that report, insisting the death toll remained at 12.

China still has the vast majority of cases, but as it records lower levels of new infections, attention has shifted to new fronts.

Chief among them is South Korea, where President Moon Jae In placed the country under a red alert, the highest level, allowing for “unprecedented, powerful steps” to stem the crisis. Beyond expanding a delay to the start of the school year from the hardest-hit area of Daegu nationwide, though, it remains to be seen how far the government will go.

A Chinese-style lockdown of Daegu – a city of 2.5 million people – appeared unlikely, even as signs of the response to a broadening problem could be seen nearly everywhere in the country.

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