What you need to know about coronavirus right now

A man uses his mobile phone to take photographs of posters carrying messages on symptoms of coronavirus disease inside hospital premises in Kolkata, India March 5, 2020.
A man uses his mobile phone to take photographs of posters carrying messages on symptoms of coronavirus disease inside hospital premises in Kolkata, India March 5, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Here's what you need to know about coronavirus:

The spread

There are now over 95,300 cases worldwide and more than 3,200 people have died, a Reuters tally shows.

Italy shuts all its schools and universities from Thursday, until March 15. The death toll there has risen to 107 while cases total almost 3,090.

California declared a state of emergency after its first coronavirus fatality, the first in the United States outside Washington state. The US death toll from coronavirus infections rose to 11 on Wednesday as new cases emerged around the New York City and Los Angeles areas.

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved on Wednesday an $8.3 billion bill to combat the spread of the coronavirus and develop vaccines. It still needs to be approved by the Senate.

  • To see an interactive graphic of the spread, click here.

Investors eye more Fed cuts, fuels slide in dollar

The Fed's emergency interest rate cut on Tuesday fuelled by worries about the economic impact of the coronavirus is weakening the dollar and giving a boost to other currencies. Foreign exchange traders expect further US rate cuts.

But while US policy rates have more room to fall, many rates in Europe and Japan are already below zero, putting the onus on governments there to look initially at fiscal measures to boost their economies.

Two strains

Scientists in China studying the disease caused by the new coronavirus say they have found that two main strains of the virus are circulating in humans and causing infections.

They said they had found a more aggressive strain of the new coronavirus, associated with the outbreak in Wuhan, accounted for about 70% of analysed cases, while 30% were linked to a less aggressive type.

The researchers, from Peking University's School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, cautioned they had studied limited data and follow-up studies of larger data sets would be needed to better understand the virus's evolution.

Not the time for 007

Among public events to be cancelled or postponed is the global release of Daniel Craig's last outing as James Bond. The world premiere of "No Time to Die", planned for March 31 in London, with 5,000 attendees, has now been postponed till November.

Toilet paper scare

A delivery truck carrying toilet paper caught fire after its engine exploded in the Australian city of Brisbane, adding to a sense of panic about the availability of the product after the coronavirus outbreak prompted panic buying.

The driver escaped without injury and the cargo, including toilet paper, was also largely unaffected. 

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