US says it’s ready to help North Korea combat virus

(AP) - The United States has expressed deep concern about North Korea’s vulnerability to the outbreak of a new virus and says it’s ready to support efforts by aid organizations to contain the spread of the illness in the impoverished nation.

North Korea has yet to report a case of the virus, but state media reports have hinted that people have been quarantined after showing symptoms.

Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be dire because of its chronic lack of medical supplies and poor health care infrastructure.

North Korea has banned foreign tourists, intensified screening at points of entry and mobilized some 30,000 health workers to prevent the spread of the virus.

Virus renews safety concerns about slaughtering wild animals

Many people in China are calling for a temporary ban on the wildlife trade to be made permanent as the coronavirus spreads.

Scientists have not yet determined how exactly people first became infected with the new virus. But as with SARS, most believe it was transmitted to humans via an intermediary animal, likely from a so-called wet market that slaughtered and sold exotic species.

Experts say wild animals can carry unknown viruses and that human contact with them needs to more carefully managed as the world’s population grows.

Cruise stranded by virus fears ends with roses in Cambodia

Hundreds of cruise ship passengers long stranded at sea by virus fears have finally disembarked and were welcomed to Cambodia by the nation’s authoritarian leader who handed them flowers.

Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to let the Westerdam dock after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam barred the ship.

The passengers cheered as they walked toward buses to take them to the airport and waved goodbye to other passengers watching from the ship’s deck.

The Westerdam was unwelcome elsewhere even though operator Holland America Line said no cases of the COVID-19 viral illness have been confirmed among its passengers and crew.

China’s virus crackdown leaves millions working at home

China has told employees who can work from home to stay there while the government fights a virus outbreak with the most extreme anti-disease measures ever imposed.

That is forcing millions of people, from lone entrepreneurs to employees of global automakers, to connect with customers and coworkers and keep businesses functioning by phone and email.

At the same time, many are looking after children who are cooped up at home after schools were closed indefinitely.

They are helped by China’s almost universal adoption of internet, smartphones and messaging services.

Global shares rise despite worries on China virus outbreak

Global shares are mostly rising despite continuing concerns about the virus outbreak that began in China and its possible impact on global growth.

European benchmarks were slightly higher in early Friday trading.

U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures and S&P 500 futures gaining.

The Nikkei 225 fell 0.6% to finish at 23,659.14. But shares rose in the rest of Asia, including Australia, South Korea and China.

Hopes that the epidemic may be gradually brought under control were dashed by sharp increases in the number of cases after China changed its method of counting them.

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