What’s Happening: G-7 ready to act, Olympics delay possible

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BERLIN (AP) – As more countries report cases of the new coronavirus, governments are eyeing measures to cushion the economic impacts and some athletes are urged to keep their distance from fans.

These are some of the latest developments Tuesday:

G-7 EYES ACTION TO COUNTER ECONOMIC FALLOUT

The group of seven major industrial countries says it’s “ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate” to fight the economic impact from the virus outbreak. The G-7 statement Tuesday comes after world markets saw wild swings in the last few days and the OECD issued a forecast for lower global growth in 2020.

One sector that’s hurting badly is the business of trade shows, which are being canceled across the globe amid concerns that large gatherings of people from all over the world could hasten the spread of the virus.

JAPAN INDICATES SUMMER OLYMPICS COULD BE DELAYED

Japan’s Olympic minister says the country’s contract to hold the Tokyo Games only specifies that the event has to be held during the year 2020. Seiko Hashimoto’s response to a question in the upper house of parliament implies that the Summer Olympics could be held later this year.

But the International Olympic Committee pushed back Tuesday, issuing a statement expressing its “full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, taking place from July 24 to Aug. 9, 2020.”

TWITTER BACKS WORKING FROM HOME

Twitter is the latest company to advise its staff members to work from home, if possible, to keep themselves and colleagues healthy. The social networking site says it acted “out of an abundance of caution” to reduce the chances of the virus spreading among its workforce. Twitter said that “working from home will be mandatory for employees based in our Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea offices, due in part to government restrictions.”

AS VIRUS SPREADS, POLLUTION EBBS

As airlines cancel flights and employees work from home, measures to contain the new coronavirus are causing a drop in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in some countries. China has closed factories and curtailed travel, resulting in a noticeable reduction in emissions. Researchers at the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki, Finland, say China’s carbon emissions were 25% lower in the four weeks following the end of the Lunar New Year holiday compared with the same time last year. But experts say the experience of the 2008-2009 financial crisis suggests the trend is unlikely to hold.

ANXIETY IN THE ARCTIC

Scientists taking part in a year-long expedition to the high Arctic are taking extra precautions to prevent the new virus from reaching their camp during staff rotations.

Melinda Webster, a University of Alaska sea ice geophysicist, is preparing to join the international research mission aboard German icebreaker RV Polarstern next month. She said incoming participants are getting tested to ensure they aren’t infected before setting off for the Arctic.

“It’s a big concern for a lot of folks right now,” she said.

NO MORE NBA HIGH-FIVES

The NBA is telling players to avoid high-fiving fans and strangers. A league memo obtained by The Associated Press, offered 10 recommendations to players with hopes of decreasing risks of getting the virus, including not taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers.

FIRST VIRUS CASES IN UKRAINE, GIBRALTAR

Eastern Europe has had comparatively few confirmed virus cases compared with other regions of the world, though it’s unclear why. Now, Ukraine has reported its first. Ukrainian health officials say a man who recently arrived from Italy was diagnosed with COVID-19. The country’s health system has been strained by a drawn-out conflict in the east between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces.

At the other end of the continent, authorities in Gibraltar reported their first confirmed case. The patient and their partner had recently returned to the tiny overseas British territory of 35,000 from northern Italy, via the southeastern Spanish airport in Malaga. Both are in self-isolation and the partner has not experienced any symptoms, the Gibraltar government said.

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Daria Litvinova in Moscow contributed to this report.

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Follow all AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Men work at a construction site with the Olympic rings in the background Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at Tokyo’s Odaiba district. The spreading virus from China has put the Tokyo Olympics at risk. The Olympics are to open on July 24 – less than five months away. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
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