FIFA postpones CONMEBOL's March World Cup qualifiers

FIFA is supporting CONMEBOL's request to suspend the beginning of World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the end of March due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

Football's world governing body made the announcement on Thursday after CONMEBOL published a letter on Wednesday with the request to postpone the March matches on behalf of members Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

FIFA said that details on when the postponed matches would be made up will be discussed and announced soon.

- Coronavirus: Cancellations and reactions in sports

The next round of scheduled fixtures will take place in early September.

The decision comes after Argentina confirmed the cancellation of all sporting events in the country until April.

Leagues and sporting events throughout Europe, the U.S. and the world have been hard-hit by the virus, with Italy postponing all sport until April 3 as part of a nationwide lockdown among the most drastic measures taken.

Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the globe in recent months. The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus. There is no vaccine for coronavirus, though researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk.

The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces. The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.