Coronavirus spreads faster outside China than within; US ‘very, very ready’ for China virus


International desk, Feb 27: 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 coronavirus 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 Brazil, Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.

In the United States, where health authorities are dealing with 59 cases – mostly Americans repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan – President Donald Trump sought to calm concerns.

Speaking in a live broadcast, Trump said the US was “very, very ready” to face the virus threat and that Vice President Mike Pence would be in charge of the national response.

Coronavirus cases in Italy has jumped to 400

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has jumped to 400, amid international efforts to contain the spread of the deadly outbreak.

The rise in Italy, the main focus of infection in Europe, represents a 25% surge in 24 hours.

Several European countries announced new cases traced to Italy.

Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization said that for the first time the virus was spreading faster outside China, where it originated.

Globally, more than 80,000 people in about 40 countries have been infected with the new coronavirus, which emerged in December. The vast majority remain in China.

South Korea reports 13th death from coronavirus

The Mayor of Daegu, the city at the centre of South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak, said a 13th person had died from the infection on Thursday. The figure was not confirmed by the KCDC.

South Korea reports 334 additional coronavirus cases, lifting total to 1,595

South Korea reported 334 additional cases of the new coronavirus on Thursday, raising the total tally to 1,595, the Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC) said.

The figure is the largest reported additional cases in the country since its first case was confirmed on January 20.

Of the new cases, 307 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, where a church that was at the centre of the outbreak is located, the KCDC statement said.

China reports 433 new coronavirus cases, 29 deaths on Feb 26

Mainland China reported 433 new cases of coronavirus infections on February 26, the National Health Commission said on Thursday, up from 406 on the previous day.

The total number of confirmed cases on mainland China has now reached 78,497, the health authority said.

The number of new deaths stood at 29, the lowest daily rate since January 28, and down from 52 the previous day. A total of 2,744 people have now died as a result of the outbreak.

Hubei, the central Chinese province at the epicentre of the outbreak, reported 409 new cases and 26 deaths on Wednesday. Beijing and the provinces of Heilongjiang and Henan were the locations of the other three fatalities.

US, South Korea postpone joint exercises over virus

The US and South Korea on Thursday postponed planned joint military exercises as a result of the coronavirus.

The decision to delay the training was made after Seoul declared its highest “severe” alert level over the virus, Combined Forces Command said, adding the postponement was “until further notice”.

The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea.

Trump says US ‘very ready’ for virus; Pence to lead response

President Donald Trump declared on Wednesday that the US was “very, very ready” for the coronavirus and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of overseeing the nation’s response.

Trump also sought to minimise fears of the infection spreading widely across the US, saying, “I don’t think it’s inevitable.”

Standing next to him at a White House news conference were health authorities who reiterated that Americans should be ready for what could become a wider outbreak requiring such steps as school closures.

“Our aggressive containment strategy here in the United States has been working and is responsible for the low levels of cases we have so far. However, we do expect more cases,” said Dr Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump says may need to restrict travel from Italy, South Korea

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the US may have to restrict travel to Italy, South Korea and other countries due to outbreaks of the coronavirus but now was not the right time.

Asked at a news conference about travel restrictions, Trump said: “At the right time we may do that. Right now it’s not the right time.”

He said the United States was checking “a lot of people” for signs of the virus. “South Korea has been hit pretty hard, Italy’s been hit pretty hard,” Trump said.

Shanghai trying to find people who crossed coronavirus patient from Iran

Shanghai is taking action to try and identify people who came into contact with a coronavirus patient who arrived in the city from Iran, the local government said on Thursday.

The patient, who has not been identified, was diagnosed in Zhongwei, a city in the northwestern region of Ningxia, some 2,000 km (1,240 miles) away, on Wednesday.

Authorities in Zhongwei said the patient arrived in Shanghai on February 20 after flying from Iran via Moscow. The patient then travelled to Zhongwei via the city of Lanzhou by train.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the US was prepared to escalate its response to the novel coronavirus on a “much larger scale” should the pathogen continue to spread.

“We do have plans for a much larger scale should we need that,” he said.

“We have hospitals in states that make rooms available and they’re building quarantine areas where you can keep people safely.”

Asked if the US had increased its stockpile of protective equipment such as face masks and gowns, he said: “We’ve ordered a lot of it, just in case we need it.”

IMF, World Bank consider ‘virtual’ Spring Meetings as virus spreads

Growing concerns inside the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank about the spread of the new coronavirus have prompted the institutions to consider scaling back their Spring Meetings in April or hold them by teleconference, people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

The institutions’ April 17-19 Spring Meetings are scheduled to bring some 10,000 government officials, journalists, business people and civil society representatives from across the globe to a tightly packed, two-block area of central Washington DC.

Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Muslim pilgrims

Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended visas for the Islamic pilgrimage and visits to Al-Masjid an-Nabawy in Medina, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Twitter on Thursday.

The kingdom has also suspended entry to Saudi Arabia for anyone with tourism visas from countries where the coronavirus is a threat. The foreign ministry also called on citizens not to travel to countries where the new coronavirus is spreading.