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A man wearing a face mask walks past a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is temporarily closed by the government to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Seoul on March 1, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: The rapid spread of the new coronavirus has increased fears of a pandemic, sending global markets into a dive last week and prompting governments to step up control measures.

As of Sunday, there have been over 86,500 cases of the virus globally,the majority in China, according to a Reuters tally.

Outside of China, it has spread to 53 countries, with more than 6,500 cases and more than 100 deaths. Globally, the illness has killed nearly 3,000 people.

Mainland China reported the biggest daily rise in coronavirus cases since February 22 on Sunday as more infections emerged among prison inmates in the epicentre of the outbreak, but officials emphasised the overall situation continues to improve.

A total of 2,870 people have died in mainland China and 79,824 have been infected by the virus.

Churches were closed in South Korea on Sunday, with many holding online services instead, as authorities fought to rein in public gatherings. The tally of cases rose by 586 to 3,736 while the death toll rose to 20.

Iran's death toll has reached 54, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, adding the number of those infected had reached 978.

Italy will introduce measures this week worth 3.6 billion euros (Dh14.58 billion) to help the economy withstand the largest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said on Sunday.

Italy has registered more than 1,100 cases and at least 29 people have died The United States is considering shutting the US-Mexico border to control the spread, President Donald Trump said. Washington announced new limits on travelers who have visited Iran and recommended against travel to hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea.

Factory activity in China contracted at the fastest pace ever in February, highlighting the damage from the outbreak on the world's second-largest economy.

Britain announced a jump in cases on Sunday, with 12 new infections taking the total to 35, as health minister Matt Hancock said the government was preparing for the global epidemic to get worse.

Qatar, Ireland, Ecuador and Luxembourg reported their first cases of the virus.

The French government put a temporary ban on public gatherings with more than 5,000 people. France now has 100 confirmed cases.

Of those, two have died.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked the public to cooperate in a "tough battle" to contain the outbreak in coming weeks as the country prepares to hold the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer as planned.

The virus has prompted numerous cancellations or postponements of sporting events.