Taking precaution, in the Philippines. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

In South Korea, the biggest outbreak outside of China has prompted the closure of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive sect that worships its founder as the second coming of Christ.

  • Most of the known cases in South Korea have been traced back to the church's branch in Daegu. Police have been dispatched to track down and test members.
  • But hundreds of them appear to be in hiding. “For them, the fear of being outed as a Shincheonji follower is bigger than the fear of getting ill from the virus," Shin Hyun-wook, a former member, told the Washington Post, citing the “cult stigma.”

Towns in northern Italy, where a fast-growing outbreak has sent fears rippling around Europe, have been locked down — mirroring precautions taken in China, albeit on a much smaller scale.

  • Carnival was brought to a close on Sunday in Venice, two days ahead of schedule, and four Serie A soccer matches were canceled.
  • A major Armani fashion show was held in Milan without spectators and streamed online instead.
  • Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League and Italy's most popular politician, called on the government to shut Italy's borders and used the outbreak to justify his anti-immigration policies.

Iran has reported 12 deaths but just 66 known cases, an improbable ratio given the virus' 1–2% fatality rate, suggesting a much larger outbreak.

  • A local representative in the holy city of Qom said 50 people had died there, though Tehran vehemently denied it.
  • Clerics have claimed that to close Qom's shrine to pilgrims would be to give in to "a U.S. plot to undermine the religious institution," per the FT.
  • Authorities blamed the virus for record-low turnout in Friday's parliamentary elections.
  • The first confirmed cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain were all linked back to Iran.

New border closures are being announced in response to the outbreaks in Iran and elsewhere.

  • Meanwhile, five countries turned away the Westerdam cruise ship and its 2,257 passengers and crew because one was believed to be infected.
  • Cambodia took the ship in. It was another opportunity for Hun Sen, Cambodia's dictator, to downplay the risks from the virus and continue to curry favor with China.

In Blagoveshchensk, Russia, locals are now looking across the frozen Amur River that divides them from China with resentment, rather than a sense of opportunity, the NYT reports.

  • "Businesses that depend on China are shriveling, hotels once full of Chinese guests stand empty and the local university, once a magnet for paying pupils from China, is struggling to cope."
  • "Giant neon signs, clearly visible from the Russian side, flash constant reminders of the crisis, displaying the Chinese Communist Party’s rallying cry: 'Go Wuhan, Go China.'"

In China, the year's most important political gathering was postponed today. The National People’s Congress was due to begin March 5.

  • President Xi Jinping said over the weekend that the virus "is a crisis for us and it is also a major test."
  • The test now extends far beyond China's borders.

Go deeper:

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 33,976,447 — Total deaths: 1,014,266 — Total recoveries: 23,644,023Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 7,233,945 — Total deaths: 206,959 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump signs stopgap bill to prevent government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and President Trump arrives at the U.S. Capitol in March. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump signed a bill to extend current levels of government funding after funding expired briefly, White House spokesperson Judd Deere confirmed early Thursday.

Why it matters: The move averts a government shutdown before the Nov. 3 election. The Senate on Wednesday passed the legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Updated 3 hours ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1,700 firefighters are battling 26 major wildfires across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 3.9 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

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