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Will Heat Stop the Spread of New Virus? No One Really Knows

As outbreaks of the new coronavirus that first emerged in China continue to spread in more than 100 countries — particularly those experiencing winter — one of the biggest unanswered questions is how it will behave in warmer weather.

Like influenza, the new disease is a respiratory infection belonging to a family of viruses that typically survive longer in colder environments. Most people experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, but older adults and people with existing health problems may have more severe illnesses, including pneumonia.

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The New Mask: Wave of Global Revolt Replaced by Virus Fear

As 2019 gave way to 2020 in a cloud of tear gas, and in some cases a hail of bullets, from Hong Kong to Baghdad, from Beirut to Barcelona and Santiago, it seemed civil disobedience and government crackdowns on protests would dominate the international landscape.

Then came the coronavirus.

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Iran Vice President, 2 Ministers Have Coronavirus

Iran's senior vice president and two other Cabinet members have contracted the new coronavirus, a semiofficial news agency reported Wednesday as the death toll in the Islamic Republic from the outbreak rose by 62 to 354.

The report by the Fars news agency, believed to be close to Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, comes as President Hassan Rouhani took control of the country's much-criticized response to the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes. Authorities announced that there were some 9,000 confirmed cases of the virus across Iran.

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Rating Agencies Warn Lebanon over $1.2 Billion Loan Default

Credit ratings agency Moody's warned Tuesday that Lebanon's first-ever default on paying its sovereign debt will likely lead to significant losses for private creditors as well as serious implications for the country's banking sector.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday said the government will suspend payment of $1.2 billion in loans that matured Monday. Diab said Lebanon's foreign currency reserves "have reached a critical stage," leading the government to suspend its debt payment so it can continue providing basic commodities to the Lebanese people.

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List of Sports Events Affected by the Virus from China

ARCHERY

ISSF International Solidarity Championships in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Feb. 22-28 postponed.

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Pope Celebrates Mass by Himself, Live-Streams It

Pope Francis has celebrated morning Mass all by himself in the chapel of the Vatican hotel where he lives, and has offered up prayers for those infected with coronavirus and those caring for them.

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Saudi Arabia Cuts off Travel to Lebanon over Virus

Saudi Arabia closed off air and sea travel to nine countries, including Lebanon, affected by the new coronavirus Monday.

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Lebanese Insurance Market Faces Mounting Uncertainty

Lebanon has a long history of economic and political instability. In the past, local insurers have been successful at navigating this challenging environment. However, recent civil unrest and a ballooning public debt have increased the level of economic uncertainty, which is negatively impacting the credit quality of Lebanon's insurance market.

In a new Best's Special Report, "Lebanese Insurance Market Faces Mounting Uncertainty", AM Best notes that in contrast with the wider Middle East and North Africa region, the Lebanese insurance market overall has an asset allocation that favors high levels of cash and fixed income instruments over higher risk investments. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Lebanese insurers' investments are exposed to domestic issuers, and consequently to the socio-economic and political turmoil the country is experiencing. Specifically, uncertainties regarding the credit quality of Lebanese government debt pose the most imminent threat to domestic insurers' balance sheets.

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Judge: Dubai Ruler Threatened Wife, Had Daughters Abducted

The ruler of Dubai conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against his estranged wife and ordered the abduction of two of his daughters, a British judge ruled in documents that were unsealed Thursday.

A judge at the High Court in London found that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 70, "acted in a manner from the end of 2018 which has been aimed at intimidating and frightening" his ex-wife Princess Haya, 45.

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In Italy and Beyond, Virus Outbreak Reshapes Work and Play

Italy closed all schools and universities and barred fans from all sporting events for the next few weeks, as governments trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus around the world resorted to increasingly sweeping measures that transformed the way people work, shop, pray and amuse themselves.

With the virus present in more than 80 countries, Saudi Arabia barred citizens from making the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Iran canceled Friday prayers for a second week, and leader after leader pleaded with citizens to put an end to that traditional symbol of mutual trust, the handshake.

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