The U.S. reported four more coronavirus deaths Monday, even as the number of new cases at the epicenter of the illness in China dropped to its lowest level in six weeks, and hundreds of patients were released from hospitals.
The deaths in the western state of Washington pushed the U.S. toll to six, as the virus continued to spread across the globe, including about 100 cases in the U.S.
The World Health Organization reported nearly nine times more cases outside China than inside the country, with new reports of the outbreak in New York, Berlin and Moscow. The death toll surpassed 3,000, and the number of people affected in 60 nations rose to more than 89,000.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said the number of new coronavirus cases reported in China continues to decline in the latest worldwide assessment, down to 206, the lowest total since Jan. 22.
"We are in unchartered territory," Tedros said. "We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures."
The spread of coronavirus impacted people throughout the world. Millions of Japanese schoolchildren are being held out of class for four weeks; contaminated Israelis were forced to vote in Monday's national election at special polling places; and thousands of tourists were turned away from the shuttered Louvre in Paris, the world's most popular art gallery.
In Germany, it's common for people to greet each other with handshakes. But when German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed up for a meeting with migrant groups, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer rebuffed her outstretched hand.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris warned that the global economy could shrink for the first three months of the year for the first time since the 2008 recession.
"Global economic prospects remain subdued and very uncertain,'' the agency said.
OECD lowered its 2020 global growth forecast by half a percentage point to 2.4%, which would be the weakest advance since the height of the downturn in 2008.
U.S. manufacturing slowed again in February, the Institute for Supply Management said, as the global supply chain was impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
But key stock exchanges in the U.S., Europe and Asia advanced Monday, recovering a small portion of last week's losses, when the value of stocks were battered by coronavirus fears. Key exchanges in the U.S. were up by more than 2% in late-day trading.
In the U.S., President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force met at the White House with executives of major drug companies about the possibility of advancing work on the development of a vaccine for coronavirus. The drug industry has said that such a cure is up to 18 months away.
Trump claimed credit for limiting the effects of coronavirus in the U.S.
"I was criticized by the Democrats when I closed the Country down to China many weeks ahead of what almost everyone recommended," he said. "Saved many lives. Dems were working the Impeachment Hoax. They didn’t have a clue! Now they are fear mongering. Be calm & vigilant!"
I was criticized by the Democrats when I closed the Country down to China many weeks ahead of what almost everyone recommended. Saved many lives. Dems were working the Impeachment Hoax. They didn’t have a clue! Now they are fear mongering. Be calm & vigilant!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2020
On Wednesday, top U.S. officials are meeting with airline and cruise ship executives about their plight with the spread of coronavirus cutting discretionary travel.
South Korea reported about 600 new cases Monday, while the leader of a religious group linked to a majority of cases there apologized. Officials have asked prosecutors to consider murder charges against the group's leadership for failing to cooperate with government efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
Monday brought the first two reported cases in Indonesia. Health officials there said they had links to an infected Japanese national.
Italy has been the hardest-hit nation in Europe and saw its number of cases surge to about 1,700 on Sunday. Officials there said they expected that number to rise.
WHO says the majority of the coronavirus patients are adults with symptoms that include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.
The organization says 80% of victims experience mild illness; 14% experience severe disease; and 5% of those infected become critically ill. WHO says those who experience the most severe cases are people older than age 60 and who have other health problems.