Deaths rise to more than 3,400
More than 100,300 people have been infected globally, according to a Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials.
The death toll reached 3,407, while the total number of infections hit 100,002, after a surge in cases worldwide since 1700 GMT Thursday, notably in virus hotspot Iran which clocked 1,234 new cases, reports AFP.
About 3.4% of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus - known as COVID-19 - have died, far above seasonal flu's fatality rate of under 1%, the World Health Organization said this week.
China – excluding the territories of Hong Kong and Macau – where the epidemic emerged at the end of December, had 80,552 cases, of which 3,042 were fatal. There were 143 new infections and 30 deaths there since 1700 GMT Thursday.
Outside China, a total of 19,450 cases have been recorded around the world since the epidemic began, including 365 deaths.
There have been 2,349 new cases and 31 new deaths outside China since 1700 GMT Thursday.
The most affected countries after China are: South Korea (6,284 cases, 42 deaths), Italy (3,858 cases, 148 deaths), Iran (4,747 cases, 124 deaths) and France (577 cases, nine deaths).
Since Thursday 1700 GMT, China, South Korea, France, Spain and the Netherlands have recorded new deaths.
Bhutan, the Vatican, Slovakia, Peru and Serbia have confirmed the first cases on their soil.
Asia has recorded a total at 1500 GMT Friday of 88,388 cases (3,101 deaths), Europe 6,284 cases (165 deaths), Middle East 4,993 cases (127 deaths), US and Canada 194 cases (12 deaths), Oceania 68 cases (two deaths), Latin America and the Caribbean 34 cases, Africa 41 cases.
This assessment was carried out using data collected by AFP offices from the competent national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Bhutan bars tourists after first case
Bhutan said yesterday it would bar arriving tourists for two weeks after confirming its first case of the coronavirus, a tourist who spent several weeks in neighbouring India.
The tiny Himalayan kingdom, which is heavily reliant on high-end tourism for foreign exchange, said a 79-year-old American who entered by air from India on March 2 had tested positive for the virus.
"The government will impose two weeks' restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect," Bhutan's health ministry said in a statement.
Adviser to Iran's foreign minister dies
An adviser to Iran's foreign minister who took part in the 1979 US embassy hostage crisis has died from coronavirus, the official Irna news agency reported.
Hossein Sheikholeslam, "a veteran and revolutionary diplomat" died late Thursday, Irna said.
Iran has been scrambling to contain the rapid spread of coronavirus which so far has infected 3,513 people and killed at least 107 people in the Islamic republic.
Six of those who died from coronavirus are politicians or government officials.
Before his death Sheikholeslam was adviser to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Official: China may soon lift quarantine on virus-hit Hubei province
China may soon lift the quarantine imposed on the province at the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak which has been under lockdown for more than a month, a senior government official hinted yesterday.
Asked about the draconian measures taken in central Hubei province to contain the spread of the virus, Ding Xiangyang, deputy secretary-general of China's State Council, told journalists "the day everyone is waiting for will not be too far away."
But Ding stressed that cases in Hubei – and its capital Wuhan where the virus emerged – still made up a huge proportion of the national toll.
Some 56 million people in Hubei have been effectively quarantined since late January, to stop the virus from spreading across the country when people returned to work from their hometowns after the extended Lunar New Year break.
EU meeting cancelled
The ambassadors to the European Union from the 27 members cancelled their yesterday meeting after their chairwoman, Croatia's envoy, chose to isolate herself after working alongside a novel coronavirus victim.
Croatia holds the rotating EU presidency and Ambassador Irena Andrassy was working earlier this week with a European Council official who has since tested positive for the virus, diplomats told AFP.