Argentina has suspended all sports events until the end of March as a precautionary measure to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the sport secretariat said on Wednesday.

The country's football team was due to host Ecuador at the end of March in its opening qualifier for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The suspension covers "tournaments, competitions preparatory tours and/or sporting events to be held in the Argentine Republic," a ministry statement said.

Argentina is one of a number of Latin American countries to have ordered the isolation of travelers from Italy and Spain amongst other countries.

A number of top Argentina stars play their club football in those two countries, such as Barcelona's Lionel Messi and forwards Paulo Dybala of Juventus and Inter's Lautaro Martinez.

Chile, Colombia and Peru, who are also due to host World Cup qualifiers later this month, have likewise announced isolation measures for people arriving from Italy, Spain and France.

Separately, organisers of the Argentine Moto GP due to take place in April announced it had been postponed until November.

Argentina has recorded 19 cases of the new coronavirus and is one of only two countries in Latin American to have had a patient die of the virus.

Latin America has been far less affected by the virus than other parts of the world but its recorded cases are now over 140 and rising rapidly.

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