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As coronavirus spreads to Europe and Middle East, trade and travel slow

Posted at 7:46 AM, Feb 25, 2020

SEOUL, South Korea — Countries desperate to stop the spread of a deadly new virus are erecting police checkpoints, issuing travel warnings and suspending flights.

But with a widening global crisis encompassing not just Asia but also Europe and the Middle East, there is a sense the virus will inevitably press into new places.

Cases of people living and working in close proximity to others are spurring fear.

Korean Air says one of its crew members tested positive, but according to The Associated Press, the airline did not disclose which flights the employee worked.

The number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea has grown by 144 cases in recent days, bringing the total to 977 people sickened by the virus since the outbreak in January.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea is warning his country is at a turning point in containment efforts.

The virus is also affecting countries in the Middle East. A school bus driver in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain was among those infected, and he reportedly drove students as recently as Sunday.

The Iranian government said that 12 people had died from COVID-19 on Monday. But that report stands in stark contrast to reports from a lawmaker in the city of Qom, who stated that 50 people had died from the disease.

The virus is also spreading economic fears around the world. On Monday in Italy — where entire cities in the northern part of the country have been quarantined — the country's stock exchange sank four percent amid fears about the virus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average in the United States also felt the effects, as it fell more than 1,000 points.

Also on Tuesday, officials with the International Olympic Committee expressed concern that the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo may be canceled due to the virus outbreak.