Borders fenced, restrictions enforced as coronavirus fear grips the world

Borders are fenced, restrictions enforced as coronavirus fear grips the world
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The rapid spread of the new coronavirus has increased fears of a pandemic, sending global markets into a dive and prompting governments to step up control measures. As of Monday, there have been over 89,000 cases of the virus globally, the majority in China, according to a Reuters tally.

Outside of China, it has spread to 66 countries, with more than 8,800 cases and 130 deaths. Globally, the illness has killed over 3,000 people.

USA: Authorities announce 2nd coronavirus death

Health officials in Washington state said Sunday night that a second person had died from the coronavirus.

Researchers said the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in the greater Seattle area.

In a statement, Public HealthSeattle & King County said a man in his 70s died Saturday. On Friday, health officials said a man in his 50s died of coronavirus. Both had underlying health conditions, and both were being treated at a hospital in Kirkland, Washington, east of Seattle.

Washington state now has 12 confirmed cases.

State and local authorities stepped up testing for the illness as the number of new cases grew nationwide, with new infections announced in California, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York and Washington state.

The first U.S. case was a Washington state man who had visited China, where the virus first emerged, but several recent cases in the U.S. have had no known connection to travellers.

RUSSIA: First coronavirus case confirmed in Moscow

Russian authorities on Monday confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Moscow, saying the patient had recently returned from Italy.

The man, who resides outside Moscow, returned to Russia on February 23, and started showing signs of a respiratory viral infection, it said.

He sought medical help and was hospitalised on February 27. Testing confirmed the infection on Monday and his symptoms were not severe, the statement said.

Russia repatriated and quarantined a number of passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, three of whom tested positive for the virus.

Two Chinese citizens in Russia were also infected and treated in Siberia.

Russia has so far managed to avoid a large number of infections and introduced a range of travel and visa restrictions.

IRAN: WHO sends medics, supplies to fight the epicentre of the virus in Middle-East

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday sent its first planeload of assistance to Iran to help fight coronavirus, dispatching six medics with tonnes of medical equipment and test kits aboard a UAE military aircraft.

Iran on Monday raised its coronavirus death toll to 66 -- the highest outside China -- with 1,501 confirmed cases. WHO operations manager Nevien Attalla said some 15,000 health workers in Iran would benefit from the supplies which were the "first big shipment which supports the response to coronavirus".

Some 129 cases have been confirmed across the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, many of them pilgrims returning from Iran. "Aid should reach all people regardless of their background," Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, the UAE's undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, said at Dubai's Al Maktoum International Airport.

SINGAPORE: Two more coronavirus cases on Monday

Singapore on Monday confirmed two more cases of coronavirus, taking the total number of infections in the city-state to 108.

Among the two new cases, is a 68-year old female Singapore citizen having no recent travel history to China, but she was in Jakarta from February 11-14. She is currently warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and is linked to a previous case of COVID-19, reported the Channel News Asia.

Another case is a 34-year-old maid from the Philippines working in a Singapore household which had two cases of coronavirus. Her infection was discovered on Monday and she is currently warded in an isolation room at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

Singapore had reported four cases each on Saturday and Sunday. With the latest two cases, it has had 108 coronavirus cases. The Ministry said four coronavirus patients have been discharged from hospitals on Monday. In total, 78 patients have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from the hospital.

GERMANY: Coronavirus cases reach 150

There are now 150 confirmed cases in Germany, Lothar Weiler of the Robert Koch Institute disease control agency said on Monday morning -- up from 129 the previous day.

The alert level has been raised from "low to moderate" to "moderate," Weiler said, with authorities saying there was no need for drastic measures like border closure to stem the contagion.

The virus has now spread to 10 of Germany's 16 states, with more than half the confirmed cases in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Germany's most populous state emerged as a hotspot after an infected couple attended carnival celebrations there, infecting dozens of people.

Germany has cancelled several major gatherings in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, including this week's ITB travel trade fair in Berlin.

FRANCE: Death toll from coronavirus rises to 3

A third person has died in France of the new coronavirus, sources in northern France said on Monday, confirming the death of an elderly woman in a town that already lost a schoolteacher to the disease.

The woman, who was in her eighties, lived in Crepy-en-Valois, 70 kilometres northeast of Paris, where a 60-year-old teacher who died last week had been working.

France, which has 130 confirmed cases and two deaths from COVID-19, has said it would ban gatherings of 5,000 people or more, closing schools and cancelling religious services in some of the hardest-hit zones. Sunday's half-marathon in Paris was cancelled.

EUROPE: EU raises coronavirus risk level to 'high'

The European Union's disease control agency has increased its risk level for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 from moderate to high, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.

"The ECDC has announced today that the risk level has risen from moderate to high for people in the European Union. In other words, the virus continues to spread," she said.

S KOREA: Patients fill hospitals in more places as the new virus expands

The surging outbreak in South Korea's fourth-largest city has overwhelmed its health system despite the national government sending assistance. The problem in Daegu has been highlighted by at least four deaths of infected elderly people who were waiting to be hospitalized.

Kim Gang-lip, South Korea's vice health minister, said hospitals' capacities from now on will be reserved for patients with serious symptoms or preexisting medical conditions, while mild cases will be isolated at designated facilities outside hospitals.

South Korea on Monday had 476 new cases for a total of 4,212. Twenty-two people have died.

EGYPT: Second coronavirus case detected

Egypt on Monday reported its second case of novel coronavirus, more than two weeks after announcing the first confirmed infection in Africa.

The foreigner is showing "minor symptoms" and has been quarantined, the ministry and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement.

Other people who had contact with the patient are undergoing medical tests, it added.

Egypt announced its first confirmed case of novel coronavirus on February 14.

The patient, a Chinese national, was released last week after recovering, the statement said.

THAILAND: Thai man dies from coronavirus infection complications

A Thai man has died from complications doctors say were due to the deadly coronavirus, though health officials were reluctant Monday to conclusively confirm the cause of his death.

The 35-year-old was diagnosed with dengue fever in January before doctors detected the virus two weeks later and transferred him to Bamrasnaradura Hospital, where many confirmed coronavirus patients are being treated.

He tested negative for COVID-19 by February 16 but the lung infection had caused multiple organ failure and -- despite receiving anti-viral treatment -- the man passed away Saturday, disease control officials said.

But health officials on Monday pushed back against classifying the man's death as a coronavirus fatality. If confirmed, the death will be Thailand's first from coronavirus.

The country currently has a total of 43 confirmed cases. Thirty-one people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. The bulk of the confirmed cases were Chinese visitors or Thais who worked in the tourism sector.

INDONESIA: First coronavirus cases confirmed

Indonesia on Monday reported its first confirmed cases of coronavirus after health officials in the world's fourth-most populous country hit back at questions over its apparent lack of infected patients.

A 64-year-old woman and her daughter, 31, tested positive for the virus at a Jakarta hospital, said health minister Terawan Agus Putranto.

"Both are in good condition...they don't have serious breathing difficulties." Officials said that the pair may have been in close contact with a Japanese national who has since tested positive after returning to neighbouring Malaysia.

PORTUGAL: Two cases of the virus

Portugal registered its first two cases of the new coronavirus on Monday, both in people who had recently returned from abroad, Health Minister Marta Temido told a news conference. Both men were taken to hospital in Porto and were in a stable condition and in good general health, Temido said.

She said one case was discovered in a 60-year-old man who had recently travelled to Italy, the site of Europe's worst outbreak, and another one in a man aged 33, who had returned from Valencia in Spain. The minister said Portugal would expand tracing of passengers and their contacts to include flights arriving from Italy, in addition to those arriving from China that have been monitored for some time.

CHINA: Govt close down specially built hospitals as new cases wane

The Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic has closed the first of 16 specially built hospitals, hurriedly put up to treat people with the virus, after it discharged its last recovered patients, state broadcaster CCTV said on Monday.

News of the closure coincided with a sharp fall in new cases in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan but China remained on alert for people returning home with the virus from other countries where it has spread.

"The rapid rising trend of virus cases in Wuhan has been controlled," Mi Feng, a spokesman for China's National Health Commission told a briefing.

The virus emerged in Wuhan late last year and has since infected more than 86,500 people, the majority in China, with most in Hubei. Outside China, it has in recent days spread rapidly, now to 53 countries, with more than 6,500 cases and more than 100 deaths.

In all, the illness has killed nearly 3,000 people. Hubei on Sunday reported 196 new infections, the first time since January it has reported fewer than 200 in a day, the National Health Commission said on Monday.

After what some critics said was an initially hesitant response to the new virus, China imposed sweeping restrictions to try to stop it, including widespread suspensions of transport and extending a Lunar New Year holiday across the country.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China reached 2,912 as of the end of Sunday, up by 42 from the previous day. Hubei accounted for all of the 42 new deaths, with 32 of them in Wuhan.

TUNISIA: First coronavirus case reported

Tunisia has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus, the health minister said on Monday at a news conference. The minister Abdelatif el-Maki said the patient was a Tunisian man.

JAPAN: At least 19 new cases confirmed

Japan on Monday confirmed at least 19 new coronavirus cases, bringing the number of infections in the country to 980, including passengers who caught the pathogen on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Kyodo newswire reported.

Infections were reported around the country, including five on the northern island of Hokkaido five others in a nursing home in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo, and two people in Osaka city in western Japan, Kyodo said.

JORDAN: First virus case confirmed

Jordan said on Monday a man who had flown in from Italy had tested positive for the new coronavirus, the first case confirmed in the country, state news agency Petra reported.

The Jordanian citizen had flown back nearly two weeks ago on a plane with around 100 passengers, health minister Saad Jaber told a news conference.

The man was quarantined at his home with strict controls on his movement and was in "stable" condition, Jaber said.

Another Jordanian was under close observation, the minister added.

Italy, the European country worst affected by the outbreak so far, has recorded 34 deaths and 1,694 cases.

Last week, Jordan's state carrier Royal Jordanian suspended flights between Amman and Rome until further notice and reduced flights to major Asian destinations.

SWEDEN: Coronavirus threat raised to 'moderate'

Sweden's Public Health Agency on Monday raised its assessment of the risk of a widespread outbreak of coronavirus in Sweden to "moderate" from "low", the head of the agency told a news conference.

The agency also said it now sees the risk of imported cases and of Swedish citizens being infected abroad as "very high", up from the previous assessment of "high".

"In particular the situation in Italy means that we now expect that Swedish citizens will be infected, and also come to Sweden with the infection," agency head Johan Carlson said.

Sweden has 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus but no fatalities.

ROME: Policeman, fireman test positive for coronavirus in Rome

A policeman and a fireman based in Rome have tested positive for the new coronavirus, authorities said, raising the risk of the virus spreading in the Italian capital.

Around 90% of the 1,694 cases reported in Italy to Sunday are concentrated in the wealthy northern regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.

Cases in Rome, Italy's largest city with 3 million people, had so far been limited to a Chinese couple on holiday and an Italian repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began late last year, on a special flight and hospitalised. All three recovered.

Italy, the European country worst affected by the outbreak, has recorded 34 deaths and seen economic sectors from manufacturing to tourism hit by a plunge in orders. Several international airlines including Lufthansa Delta Airlines and countries such as the Czech Republic have reduced or suspended flights to Italian cities, including Milan.

(With inputs from agencies)

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