BEIJING – The coronavirus (COVID-19) scourge is spreading to more countries around the world, with Estonia, Denmark and Georgia confirming first cases.
At a glance:
CORONAVIRUS IN NUMBERS:
Countries with cases: 48
Total cases: 82,000
Total deaths: 2,800
Coronavirus in China:
Total cases: 78,000
Total deaths: 2,747
Total recovered: 32,531
(Source: WHO/China National Health Commission)
The coronavirus is spreading more quickly in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world than in China where the virus first emerged in the central city of Wuhan at the end of last year.
The number of new infections inside China was for the first time overtaken by fresh cases elsewhere on Wednesday, with Italy, Iran and South Korea emerging as new hotspots for COVID-19.
The disease was also detected for the first time in Estonia, Denmark, Georgia, Brazil, Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, February 27
Two more people die from coronavirus in Italy
Two more people have died in Italy from coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 14, the Civil Protection agency said in a statement.
The agency chief, Angelo Borrelli, had earlier told reporters that officials were still seeking confirmation that coronavirus was responsible for the latest two deaths.
The number of confirmed cases has risen to 528 from some 420 announced on Wednesday, the vast majority in northern Italy.
Israel confirms third coronavirus case
Israel’s health ministry said a man who returned from travel in Italy has tested positive for coronavirus.
The man returned from Italy four days ago and tested positive after developing symptoms, the ministry said.
It is the country’s third coronavirus case.
Greece reports two new coronavirus cases
Greece has reported two new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three.
The health ministry said one of the cases concerned a relative of a 38-year-old woman in the northern town of Thessaloniki, the first confirmed case reported in Greece.
The woman had recently returned from Milan in northern Italy.
Countries should only use quarantine against the deadly new coronavirus when truly needed, and must respect the rights of those in isolation, the UN rights chief said.
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet hailed the medical teams around the world working to rein in the COVID-19 outbreak. But she said that respect for human rights needed to guide the response.
She also said the ongoing epidemic, which began in China, had “set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and East Asian ethnicity”.
Japan to close schools nationwide
Japan will close schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus, the government announced.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he asked all elementary, middle and high schools to remain shut until spring holidays begin in late March.
The measure affects 12.8 million students at 34,847 schools nationwide, the education ministry said.
Swiss confirm three new coronavirus cases
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Switzerland has risen to four, the country’s health authority said.
In the western canton of Geneva one person was tested positive for the virus while it was also confirmed in a couple in the southeastern Alpine canton of Grisons, it added.
“All three patients are isolated in the hospital. Their condition is good,” the Federal Office of Public Health said.
Iranian official confirmed infected with coronavirus
Mojtaba Zonnour, head of Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Relations Commission says he is infected with COVID-19.
Zonnour, who is also a deputy from the country’s virus-hit Qom city, said in a video message that he is currently in quarantine.
Britain reports two new cases of coronavirus
The United Kingdom said two additional patients tested positive for the new coronavirus, which was passed on in Italy and Spain’s Tenerife. The latest cases raised the total number of infections to 15, including eight recovered patients.
Crew leaves Japan virus-hit ship for new quarantine
Crew members from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship off Japan began leaving the vessel for a new quarantine on-shore after passengers left the boat, the government said.
“Today, 240 crew members are leaving the ship and this disembarking operation will continue for a couple of days,” a health ministry official told AFP news agency.
Those leaving the boat will be placed in medical observation for 14 days at government-designated dormitories before being allowed to leave Japan, they said.
Infected South Korean flight attendant worked Los Angeles route
A Korean Air flight attendant who worked on flights between Seoul and Los Angeles subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus, South Korea’s disease control agency and sources said.
The flight attendant worked on Korean Air’s flight KE017 from Seoul’s Incheon airport to Los Angeles on February 19, and on the return flight KE012 on February 20, Yonhap news agency and other media reported. A South Korean official familiar with the case verified those flight details.
“She took a flight after showing symptoms, and we are investigating people who had contact with the employee on the flight,” the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.
Osaka city to close kindergartens, elementary, junior high schools
Japan’s Osaka city has decided to close all public kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools from February 29 to March 13 in a bid to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, Kyodo reported.
An Osaka city official said the municipal government was holding a meeting to discuss measures concerning the virus but that he was not aware of the reported decision.
Iran infection cases reach 245, deaths 26
Iran’s health ministry spokesman says the new coronavirus has killed 26 people amid 245 confirmed cases in the country.
Estonia confirms first coronavirus case
Estonia has confirmed its first coronavirus case in a man who returned from Iran, Russian news agencies TASS and Interfax reported on Thursday, citing Estonian health authorities.
“We are talking about a permanent resident of Estonia who is not a citizen of Estonia,” Interfax reported, citing Estonian Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik.
“According to my information, he is a citizen of Iran,” Interfax cited Kiik as telling Estonian TV.
Saudi Arabia halts travel to Mecca, Medina
Saudi Arabia halted travel to the holiest sites in Islam over coronavirus fears just months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, as the Middle East recorded more than 220 confirmed cases.
Denmark confirms first coronavirus case
Denmark has confirmed its first coronavirus infection in a man who returned from a ski holiday in northern Italy, the Danish health authority said. The man was put in isolation in his own home.
Iraq announces sixth case of coronavirus
Iraq’s health ministry said a young Iraqi man in Baghdad tested positive after returning from Iran.
Virus strikes another blow at religious tourism in Iraq
Iraq’s vital religious tourism sector was already suffering after months of protests, political turmoil and sanctions hitting pilgrims from neighbouring Iran – then the novel coronavirus arrived.
In the southern Shia holy city of Karbala, hotels have closed and face masks are more common on the street than the full-length black veils worn by female pilgrims.
Visitors are scarce at the golden-domed tomb of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, despite twice-daily visits by health officials to sanitize the site.
North Korea extends school breaks over virus fears
North Korea has postponed the new school term to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, reports said, the latest measure as the ill-equipped country ramps up efforts to prevent a devastating outbreak.
Pyongyang has not reported a single case of the COVID-19.
“School breaks for students have been extended as a preventive measure against the infection,” the Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported, according to Yonhap news agency.
China asks low-risk areas to resume visa, passport services
Regions in China at low risk of the coronavirus should resume visa and passport services for both Chinese and foreign travellers to help the nation get back to work, immigration authorities said.
Medium-risk areas should do the same, depending on the state of the epidemic within their borders, the China Immigration Administration also said.
The immigration authority said on its official Weibo account that it would roll out measures to facilitate such moves, without providing further details.
World on brink of coronavirus pandemic, Australia’s Morrison says
There is every sign the world is about to be gripped by a pandemic of coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned, as Australia kicked off emergency measures to curb the spread of the disease.
“The advice we have received today is…there is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus,” Morrison told a televised news conference in Canberra, the capital.
“As a result we have agreed today and initiated the…coronavirus emergency response plan,” he added.
Australia will extend a travel ban on foreigners arriving from China by at least another week, Morrison said, although there was as yet no need to stop mass gatherings.
China city offers $1,400 reward to virus patients who report to authorities
Qianjiang, a city of around one million people in China’s Hubei province, will pay residents as much as 10,000 yuan ($1,425.96) if they proactively report symptoms of the illness and it is confirmed after testing.
The city is located around 150km (90 miles) from the provincial capital of Wuhan, and has so far reported a total of 197 cases.
Hubei has reported more than 65,000 cases and more than 2,600 deaths.
India evacuates nationals, foreign citizens from Wuhan
An evacuation flight carrying 76 Indian citizens as well as a number of foreign nationals from Wuhan arrived back in India on Thursday.
It earlier delivered medical supplies to the city where the outbreak originated at the end of last year. (ia/Aljazeera)