Italy weighs school closures, Chinese scientists find two strains of virus

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  • Global cases: At least 93,400, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • Global deaths: At least 3,190, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • US cases: At least 108, according to the CDC. 
  • US deaths: At least 9, according to the CDC and state health officials.

7:51 am: Chinese scientists identify two strains of the coronavirus

Researchers in China have found two different strains of the new coronavirus circulating in Asia. In a preliminary study published Tuesday, scientists at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai found that a more aggressive type of the new coronavirus had accounted for roughly 70% of analyzed strains, while 30% had been linked to a less aggressive type. The more aggressive type of virus was found to be prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan — the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first detected late last year. But, the frequency of this type of virus has since decreased from early January, the scientists said. —Meredith

7:26 am: Italy considers nationwide school closures

Italy’s government is weighing up whether to close the nation’s schools, according to the domestic media, as the authorities struggle to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The closures could start from Thursday or at the latest, next Monday, and could last for 15 days, La Repubblica reported. It said the government was meeting in Palazzo Chigi, the official meeting place of the Council of Ministers, to decide on the action. It added that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could make an announcement later on Wednesday. Earlier on Wednesday, Italy had the dubious honor of being the the worst-affected country from the coronavirus outside Asia, having overtaken Iran in terms of the number of deaths and infections from the virus. —Ellyatt

7:03 am: Iran cancels Friday prayers in major cities as death toll rises

An Iranian woman wearing a mask walks past a mural displaying her national flag in Tehran on March 4, 2020.

ATTA KENARE

Friday prayers in Iran have been canceled across all provincial capitals amid the country’s growing coronavirus outbreak, state television said, according to the Associated  Press. The suspension of religious services on Friday, Islam’s main day of worship, comes amid a rise in the death toll from the coronavirus to 92 people, and concerns over the possible spread of the virus among government ministers. —Ellyatt

6:32 am: Iran has 92 coronavirus deaths, 2,922 infections, health ministry says

Iran has published its latest coronavirus data, stating that 92 people have died in Iran from the new coronavirus and 2,922 have been infected, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced on state TV, Reuters reported. —Reuters

5:26 am: China’s passenger car sales fall 80% in February as demand drops

Passenger car retail sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market, fell 80% in February because of the coronavirus epidemic, one of the country’s industry associations said, Reuters reported. The China Passenger Car Association said in a statement that China’s overall passenger car sales dropped 80%, without giving a full sales figure for the month. “Dealers returned to work gradually in the first three weeks of February and their showroom traffic is very low,” CPCA said, adding it expects February’s sales drop will be the steepest of this year. —Ellyatt

4:05 am: German cases continue to rise

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