High anxiety: Oil prices plunge as virus spreads economic worry

Since breaking out of China, the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has breached the walls of the Vatican. It’s struck the Iranian holy city of Qom and contaminated a nursing home in Seattle.

And around the world, it’s carrying not just sickness and death but also the anxiety and paralysis that can smother economic growth.

Oil prices are plunging as a dispute among producers could lead a global economy weakened by COVID-19 to be awash in an oversupply of crude.

Meanwhile, Italy took a page from China’s playbook Sunday, attempting to lock down 16 million people — more than a quarter of its population — for nearly a month to halt the relentless march of the new coronavirus across Europe.

California officials sought to reassure the public that none of the passengers from a ship with at least 21 cases of the new virus will be released into the public before undergoing a 14-day quarantine. The Grand Princess carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries is expected to dock in Oakland, in the east San Francisco Bay, on Monday.

Here’s a look at some recent developments:

Brent crude, the international standard, lost $9.50, or 20.1%, to $35.77 per barrel, as of 7:58 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday after earlier touching its lowest price since 2016. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $8.64 to $32.64. The dramatic losses follow a 10.1% drop for U.S. oil on Friday, which was its biggest loss in more than five years.Italy now has registered more cases of the virus than any country but China, where the disease is in retreat. Confusion reigned after Italy’s quarantine was announced. From Venice to Milan, travelers crammed aboard standing-room-only trains, tucking their faces into scarves and sharing sanitizing gel.The death toll rose to 21 across the U.S. as of Sunday. At least 16 of those deaths had been linked to a Seattle-area nursing home, along with many other infections among residents, staff and family members. That has put other facilities in the U.S. on high alert, especially in states with large populations of older residents.

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Photos: Virus outbreak around the world