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Global Markets Plunge as Coronavirus Spreads Beyond China

Specialist trader works at his post on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, February 24, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The U.S. stock market plummeted along with markets worldwide on Monday morning as fears of the spreading coronavirus rattled investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 965 points, about 3.33 percent, after reports broke of virus victims well beyond China, where the deadly virus originated. The S&P 500 was likewise down 3.29 percent just days after hitting a record high, and the Nasdaq composite fell by 3.79 percent.

Gold meanwhile shot to its highest level in seven years.

China has suffered at least 2,592 deaths of 77,150 confirmed cases of the virus across the country.

A slew of new countries confirmed their first cases of the virus on Monday. Italy has implemented harsh containment measures as cases of the virus shot to at least 219, up from 152 the previous day. Six people have died from the virus in Italy. The country deployed police and military forces to enforce a lockdown of about 50,000 people in ten northern towns.

In South Korea, officials confirmed more than 800 infections and seven deaths, and President Moon Jae-in has put country on its highest possible alert. Afghanistan announced a state of emergency after the first case of the virus was confirmed there, and Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, and Oman announced their first confirmed cases on Monday.

Samsung, the globe’s largest smartphone maker, temporarily shut down one of its South Korea plants over the weekend after one worker was found to be infected with the coronavirus.

The virus, a respiratory illness, causes symptoms similar to pneumonia, although many cases are as mild as the flu. The U.S. has identified 14 people in the U.S. who have been infected with the virus, all but two of whom contracted it from traveling abroad.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday that countries should be “doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic.”

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