Corona Kills 150 More in China, Cases Spike Globally
Story Code : 846572
China’s National Health Commission announced on Monday that the new deaths brought the total death toll in the country to 2,592, as of Sunday.
The commission also confirmed 409 new cases, which took the nationwide total infections to 77,150.
Authorities in Beijing said they are making progress in containing the virus, citing slowing infection rates thanks to unprecedented travel lock-downs and quarantines in or near the Hubei province — the epicenter of the outbreak.
Officials in Wuhan said earlier on Monday that non-residents may leave the quarantined city of 11 million if they show no symptoms and have never had contact with patients.
That decision was, however, quickly scrapped by the city’s government, which reprimanded the officials who had made the announcement.
“The announcement is declared invalid. In this regard, we have seriously dealt with the relevant personnel,” the city said on its official account on Twitter-like Weibo.
“Wuhan resolutely implements the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important instructions on ‘preventing leaks (of the virus)’... strictly manages the passages leaving from Wuhan, strictly controls personnel, and strictly prevents the epidemic from going out,” it said.
Outside the Chinese borders, the virus — dubbed the COVID-19 — continues to infect more people, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging over the past week on the front-lines.
South Korea declares red alert
South Korea confirmed 70 more novel coronavirus cases Monday, bringing its tally to 833 — by far the largest national total outside China.
The updated figures on the website of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the country’s daily increase to 231, its highest to date.
The rapid surge in infections has prompted the country to raise its coronavirus alert to the highest “red” level.
Six people have so far died from the disease in South Korea.
President Moon Jae-in convened an emergency meeting on Sunday, saying that the country faced “a grave turning point,” and that “the coming few days will be a critical time for us.”
“The central government, local governments, health officials and medical personnel and the entire people must wage an all-out, concerted response to the problem,” Moon said.
Workers from the Korea Pest Control Association spray disinfectant to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus at a market in Seoul on February 24, 2020. (Photo by AFP)
Italy reports fourth death
In Europe, Italy became the first state to report deaths from the viral outbreak.
The head of Italy’s civil protection service, Angelo Borelli, said so far 152 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the country.
Italy reported Monday its fourth death from the new coronavirus, an 84-year old man in the northern Lombardy region.
To contain the outbreak, Italy has implemented measures in the north, including imposing fines on anyone caught entering or leaving outbreak areas.
Officials have imposed lock-down on 10 towns in the Lombardy region and quarantined some 500 people for two weeks.
Late on Sunday, Austria suspended train services over the Alps to Italy for about four hours after two passengers showed symptoms of fever.
The train carrying about 300 passengers from Venice to the German city of Munich was allowed to continue its journey, after the two tested negative for the coronavirus.
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said a task force would meet on Monday to discuss whether to introduce border controls with Italy.
The outbreak has altered the European Union, which is now struggling with its fundamental principle of open borders within much of the continent — so central to the identity of the union.
A European commissioner said the bloc was in constant contact with the Italian authorities.
France’s Health Minister Olivier Veran also said at a news conference on Sunday that the country was watching the “problematic situation” in Italy closely.
He said the bloc’s health ministers had agreed to discuss “how we can together face epidemic risk” most likely next week.
Iran neighbors move to contain virus spread
Iran has had the highest death toll from the coronovirus outside China. It has confirmed eight deaths as of Sunday, while dozens more are reportedly infected across the country since earlier this week.
Iran’s neighbors have taken measures to stop the spread of the disease.
Turkey and Pakistan have both closed borders with Iran, with Ankara also suspending incoming flights from the neighboring country.
Flights from Turkey to Iran are still being allowed.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, Kuwait and Bahrain confirmed their first cases on Monday, according to the health officials.
Kuwait reported three infections and Bahrain one in their citizens, all of whom had returned from a visit Iran, according to both kingdoms.
In addition, Iraq has also extended a ban on all arrivals from Iran, except for Iraqi citizens, said the office of caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s office.
After the confirmation of the cases in Kuwait, Baghdad also closed the country’s Safwan border crossing with Kuwait. The border closure came at Kuwait’s request, Reuters reported on Monday.
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways said in a statement on Monday Qatar will ask passengers arriving from Iran and South Korea to remain in home isolation or a quarantine facility for 14 days over fears of new coronavirus outbreak.
Afghanistan confirms first case
The disease has also reached Afghanistan, with the country’s Health Ministry confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Monday.
Ferozuddin Feroz, the minister of public health, said one of three suspected cases had been confirmed in the Western province of Herat.
He announced a state of emergency in the province, which borders Iran.
North Korea quarantines foreigners
North Korea has quarantined 380 foreigners in a bid to prevent the outbreak.
The people are mostly diplomats stationed in the capital Pyongyang, according to Yonhap news agency.
All foreigners entering the country need to be quarantined for 30 days, it said.
Pyongyang has also cancelled the annual marathon in the city.
As the threat of the coronavirus epidemic also looms over Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned leaders across the continent to urgently prepare for the virus, known as COVID-19.
The WHO identified 13 African countries as priorities because of their direct links to China.