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COVID-19 spreads to more countries as China sees cases drop to lowest level in weeks

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The coronavirus spread to ever more countries and world capitals Monday — and the U.S. death toll climbed to six — even as new cases in China dropped to their lowest level in over a month.

A shift in the crisis appeared to be taking shape: Hundreds of patients were released from hospitals at the epicentre of the outbreak in China, while the World Health Organization reported that nine times as many new infections were recorded outside the country as inside it over the past 24 hours.

Alarming clusters of disease continued to swell in South Korea, Italy and Iran, and the virus turned up for the first time in New York, Moscow and Berlin, as well as Latvia, Indonesia, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Jordan and Portugal.

The worldwide death toll topped 3,000, and the number of those infected rose to about 89,000 in 70 countries on every continent but Antarctica.

Global health officials sought to reassure the public that the virus remains a manageable threat.

“Containment is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Around the world, the crisis reshaped the daily routines of millions of people.

Across Japan, children stayed home after the government announced the closing of schools until April.

In Paris, the galleries of the Louvre museum were off limits. With Israel holding a national election, special voting booths were set up for those under quarantine. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel was rebuffed by her interior minister when she extended her hand to greet him.

At the United Nations, officials said they were postponing a major conference on women that had been expected to bring up to 12,000 people from its 193 member countries to New York next week.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the world economy could contract this quarter for the first time since the international financial crisis more than a decade ago.

“Global economic prospects remain subdued and very uncertain,” the agency said.

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