Tourist hotspots and usually bustling neighbourhoods are emptying out and global economic forecasts are being recalibrated as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world and inches closer to the one million mark. India contributed two cases to the overall global count of nearly 90,000 on Monday.

Even as the spread of the virus, known as COVID-19, seems to be dipping in China, where the first outbreak was reported on December 31, 2019, infections have now been reported on every single continent except Antarctica.

A tourist at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel, which is on lockdown, in Tenerife in Spain. Borja Suarez/Reuters.

The United States of America has reported 88 cases and two fatalities. Global growth could drop to 1.5 per cent this year, and “Global economic prospects remain subdued and very uncertain,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned in a reported titled Coronavirus: The World Economy at Risk.

Nobody is safe

In Italy, which has the maximum number of cases in Europe (over 1,500, and at least 34 casualties), churches were cancelling mass and other rituals, soccer matches were being played to stands bereft of fans, and entire towns were on lockdown. The few visitors who were still around to take in Italy’s world-renowned landmarks, such as the Duomo in Milan and the Piazza Navona and Colosseum in Rome, had the place to themselves.

San Fiorano in Italy is one of the towns on lockdown. Photo by Marzio Toniolo via Reuters.

The Louvre museum in Paris in France stayed shut for the second day in a row as staffers discussed ways to combat the problem. Four people have died in France, and 178 cases have been reported.

The Louvre’s employees, numbering 2,300, have invoked their “right to withdrawal”, citing the serious threat to safety and health, New York Times reported. France has banned indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

The Paris Book Fair, which was scheduled to be held at the end of March, has been cancelled too, NYT added.

The Louvre in Paris stayed closed for a second day over coronavirus fears. Benoit Tessier/Reuters.

The Japanese government will put into place legislation that empowers it to declare a state of emergency if necessary, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday. The new laws will empower the government to ban large gatherings and shut down public facilities, such as schools.

The government also announced subsidies until March 31 for parents who need to work full time or part time to take care of children up to elementary school age, Japan Times reported. Japan has 979 confirmed infections and 18 casualties.

Crowds at the Shinagawa station in Tokyo, Japan. Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters.

In Iran, some citizens seemed intent on defying government measures to contain the spread of the virus. A man was arrested for licking the gating surrounding a Shia mausoleum in Masshad, AFP reported. Iran has 1,501 confirmed cases and the highest numbers of deaths outside China – 66, including a member of a council that advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Despite the threat, Iran has refrained from shutting down religious sites, including in Tehran and Qom, which are among the most affected cities. However, the regime has issued guidelines, such as cancelling Friday noon prayers and allowing only worshippers with masks and hand sanitising liquids inside mosques.

A sanitisation procedure at Imam Reza’s shrine in Mashhad, Iran. Wana via Reuters.

South Korea has been the worst affected after China, with a little over 4,200 cases and 28 casualties on Monday. At least 60 per cent of the infections were attributed to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus cult. On Monday, cult leader Lee Man-hee went down on his knees and asked for forgiveness at a news conference in Seoul. “Although it was not intentional, many people have been infected,” Lee said. “We put our utmost efforts, but were unable to prevent it all.”

Seoul’s residents are being encouraged to avoid crowded places and work from home. Several major manufacturing companies have temporarily shut down factories. “Economic impact from the spread of the coronavirus is expected to be greater than in SARS,” Sung Yoon-mo, the South Korean industry minister, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

An empty cafe at N Seoul Tower in Seoul. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters.

In China, which has 80,025 cases and 2,912 deaths, the number of reported infections on Monday was 220, the lowest daily count since January 21. In Wuhan, the most severely affected city, the largest of 16 temporary hospitals is all set to wrap up operations by the end of March. The hospital is designed to treat upto 2,000 patients.

Medical personnel bid goodbye to a patient who has been discharged from the Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China. China Daily via Reuters.

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