Coronavirus spread wipes trillions off markets

As the world prepares for a coronavirus pandemic, countries on three continents reported their first cases on Friday (February 28).

And panic crashed world stock markets again, wiping out five trillion dollars in their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis.

It's all shattering hopes that the epidemic that started in China late last year would wrap up in a few months and life would return to normal.

This closed garment factory in Myanmar a sign of how many ordinary people could be hit by closures and quarantines.

The good news: Mainland China reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in more than a month -- 327.

But the outbreak that is easing in China is surging elsewhere.

An Italian man was Nigeria's first case.

And a person who returned from Iran became the first confirmed infection on New Zealand's shores.

In eastern Europe, Belarus and Lithuania reported their first cases.

Italy remains Europe's worst-hit country, with at least 17 deaths and over 600 infections confirmed so far.

The World Health Organization -- until now resisting calling it a pandemic -- says the crisis has, quote, pandemic potential.

But that this is a time for action, not fear.

In South Korea, the largest epicenter outside China for the illness, a church at the heart of that country's outbreak is demanding an end to the backlash against its followers.

Saying it had provided full information to the authorities. More than half of South Korea's cases are linked to a branch of the church in the southeastern ciy of Daegu.

Governments everywhere are also moving to contain the virus. Japan's Shinzo Abe shocked parents by closing all schools from Monday until the new academic year starts in early April.

Tokyo Disneyland is to close for a couple of weeks to try to prevent the spread of the virus as gatherings and big events everywhere come under scrutiny.

Geneva's car show was one high-profile cancellation Friday.

A Chinese official said some recovered patients had been found to still be infectious, suggesting the epidemic could be even harder to eradicate.