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LEILA FADEL, HOST:
If you were planning to take that dream trip to Italy, run a marathon in Japan or make a religious pilgrimage in Europe or the Middle East, the window for that is closing. The coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, has spread to every continent other than Antarctica. And attempts to mitigate that spread are disrupting the daily business of life.
In Italy, the Vatican closed all the catacombs usually open to the public. And this year, there wasn't much of a chance to see elaborate masks on display for the Venice. The famous carnival there was canceled amid Europe's largest coronavirus outbreak. Saudi Arabia took the extraordinary measure of closing the country to religious pilgrims. Iraq shut down cafes across the country. And Iran, where at least 43 people have died, Friday prayers were canceled after fierce debate.
There's also a ban on Chinese citizens entering the country. Countries like Azerbaijan closed their borders to Iran, while the United Arab Emirates stopped passenger ferries from going there. Sporting events weren't spared. Japan restricted the Tokyo Marathon to just elite runners. Russia says it's skipping World Cup prequalifying events in Japan and the U.S. There's even worry that the Summer Olympics could be canceled if the spread continues.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.