There is great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China, with Iran reporting a spike in numbers and deaths, and other Middle Eastern countries reporting their first cases.
South Korea has also seen a huge uptick in cases, with over 340 now confirmed nationwide.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s director general has said the window of opportunity to control the outbreak is “narrowing.”
The numbers: Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288.
Another 109 deaths were recorded in China on Friday, bringing its total death toll to 2,345, according to China’s National Health Commission. The global death toll stands at 2,360.
Changing the tally: Officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have banned the practice of reducing the number of already confirmed cases. It also mandated that all previously counted cases stand as part of the total confirmed tally. The vast majority of cases and deaths in China have been recorded in Hubei.
Crisis in South Korea: Cases in the Asian country have surged past 340 after more than 140 new infections were reported on Saturday. Around half of the total cases are associated with a religious group in the south of the country. Two patients have died of the virus in South Korea.
South Korean authorities are taking measures to contain the outbreak, including shutting down public places in the capital Seoul and designating “special care zones.”
Middle East spread: Iran’s health ministry has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, including four deaths, and said it has spread to several cities. Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have reported their first cases.
WHO warning: World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the window of opportunity to contain the virus is “narrowing” and called on countries to prepare for community transmission.
US cases rise: 34 people have tested positive for the virus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 13 other US cases. The CDC said it will now track confirmed cases in two separate groups: people who have been repatriated, and those identified by the US public health network.
Prison outbreaks: 512 cases of the virus were confirmed from inside China’s prisons on Friday — 271 in Hubei , 207 in Shandong and 34 in Zhejiang.