Coronavirus Worldwide Death Toll Increases to 2,600, US Stocks Plunge

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CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS

All three of the major indices on Wall Street plunged Monday morning after health officials in Italy and South Korea reported a spike in coronavirus cases, fueling investor's fears that the virus could have a serious impact on economic growth over the next few months.

The Dow was down as much as 780 points by mid-morning, after it dropped as much as 997 points, or 3.4% at the opening bell. Over the last three days, the Dow has lost 1,400 points, which erased all its gains for 2020.

The S&P 500 also saw a decline, as it was down by 3.1%. The Nasdaq also dropped 3.9%, making that the largest daily drop since last August.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq still remain positive for 2020.

The coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19 by health officials, unsettled markets after a spike of new cases were reported in Italy and South Korea, where it has begun spread rapidly. South Korea reported more than 750 cases, making it the the country with the most confirmed cases outside mainland China.

Health officials in Italy have reported 219 cases, and five deaths due to the virus. Government officials there have implemented strong travel restrictions designed to stop the spread of the virus in the country. About 100,000 residents in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto have been affected by the travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new travel restrictions for Italy and Iran. Health officials say travelers should "practice usual precautions" in both countries that are currently labeled "Watch - Level 1."

The rate at which the virus is spreading in mainland China has appeared to slow, as the number of new daily cases has fallen below 1,000 for the fifth day in a row.

In a press conference updating the public on the current spread of the disease, the World Health Organization said COVID-19 has the potential to become a pandemic, but it's not quite there yet. The word 'pandemic' is based on health officials' ongoing assessments of the geographic spread of the virus, and impact on society.

At the moment, health officials say they haven't seen the kind of uncontained global spread of the disease that would qualify it as a pandemic.

WHO has previously declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern.

Photo: Getty Images

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