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Concerns grew Saturday as the number of coronavirus cases outside China continued to grow. South Korea reported its largest single-day spike in confirmed infections since the outbreak began.
And Italy, which became the first European country Friday to report a death of a citizen because of the virus, said Saturday that a 77-year-old woman had also died near the small town of Codogno in Lombardy. The deaths and a cluster of cases triggered a lockdown of about a dozen towns in several northern regions of the country. Italian authorities said there were about 54 cases in the country.
In China, nearly 76,300 cases of the coronavirus and 2,345 deaths have been reported. China reported 397 new confirmed cases Saturday, down from 889 new cases the day before.
Outside China, more than 1,200 people have been infected with the virus and more than a dozen have died.
South Korea has seen an eightfold jump in the number of cases in four days. Officials said Saturday that there were 229 new cases of the virus, bringing the country’s total to 433. Most of those infected have been linked to a church and hospital in Daegu. South Korea is now the hardest-hit country outside China.
Samsung shuts plant
Samsung Electronics on Saturday confirmed a case of coronavirus at its mobile device factory in Gumi, South Korea. The plant was shut down and was expected to remain closed until Monday morning; the floor where the infected person worked will not reopen until Tuesday, according to media reports.
Iranian health officials reported Saturday that a fifth person had died from the virus there and that there were 10 new cases, raising the country’s total to 28.
Iran said it had suspended religious pilgrimages to Iraq during the coronavirus surge.
Lebanon on Friday confirmed its first coronavirus case — a 45-year-old woman who had arrived from Iran and was being quarantined in a hospital. The woman arrived Thursday on a flight from Qom, Iran.
Lebanese Health Minister Hamad Hassan said two other suspected cases were being investigated.
Screening in Turkey
In neighboring Turkey, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said officials had started to screen travelers arriving from Iran at the border and were refusing entry to anyone who traveled to Qom in the past 14 days or who had signs of illness.
Relatively few virus cases have been reported in the Middle East. Nine cases have been confirmed in the United Arab Emirates and one in Egypt.