Coronavirus: Risk of spread upgraded to highest level, US postpones ASEAN summit


International desk, Feb 29: The coronavirus outbreak has reached the “highest level” of risk for the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday.“This thing can go in any direction. We’re not undermining the risk, it’s there. That’s why today we said the global risk is very high. We increased it from high to very high,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said during a press briefing in Geneva on Friday.

Hopes that the coronavirus would be contained to China have vanished as the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria, while number of infections continue to grow in Europe pounding stock markets amid fears of a global recession.

On Friday, the US State Department raised its alert level for Italy, warning Americans to reconsider travel due to the outbreak.

“Many cases of COVID-19 have been associated with travel to or from mainland China or close contact with a travel-related case, but sustained community spread has been reported in Italy,” the department added.

Italy has reported 650 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths – the most in Europe from the epidemic that originated in China, which is by far the most affected country.

In China – the epicentre of the deadly disease – the National Health Commission reported on Saturday at least 47 new coronavirus deaths, bringing to 2,835 the number of fatalities nationwide.

There were also 427 new infections, up from 327 the previous day, pushing the confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 79,251, and more than 83,000 worldwide.

South Korea reports 594 new coronavirus cases, total hits 2,931

South Korea reported 594 new coronavirus cases, raising the country’s total infections to 2,931, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Saturday.

China reports 427 new coronavirus cases, 47 deaths

Mainland China had 427 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Friday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Saturday, up from 327 cases a day earlier.

That brings the total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 79,251.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 2,835 as of the end of Friday, up by 47 from the previous day.

Of the total number of deaths, at least 45 were from Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak. Of the 45 deaths in Hubei, 37 were from the city of Wuhan.

California confirms second coronavirus case

The US state of California has confirmed a second case of coronavirus.

“Now we have a case who did not recently travel or come in contact with anyone known to be ill,” Sara Cody, the director of public health for Santa Clara County, near San Francisco, told reporters.

She said the second patient is an adult woman who is being treated at a hospital.

US urges citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Italy

The US on Friday warned against non-essential travel to Italy, a top destination for US tourists, over the growing coronavirus epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “recommends that travellers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy. There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas,” it said in a statement.

The State Department raised its travel advice a notch for Italy to “reconsider travel.”

US postpones summit with ASEAN leaders

The US will postpone a meeting with leaders of Southeast Asian countries it planned to host on March 14, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, two US officials familiar with the matter said on Friday.

US President Donald Trump had invited leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian nations to meet in Las Vegas after he did not attend a summit with the group in Bangkok in November.

The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two South Africans test positive in Japan 

Two South Africans on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a state-run medical institute.

“We confirm that these citizens are currently being treated in Japan and are in good care,” said a statement by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Source: News Agencies