As Australia’s second death from COVID-19 was confirmed overnight, reports from around the world indicate the virus is continuing to spread – despite cases stabilising in China, where it first emerged late last year.
According to the World Health Organisation, South Korea, Italy and Iran now account for 80 per cent of new virus cases outside China. WHO estimates 3.4 per cent of people infected with the COVID-19 virus globally have died, but according to Associated Press, death rates in outbreaks are likely to skew higher early on as health officials focus on finding severe and fatal cases, missing most milder cases.
WHO says the majority of people with the new coronavirus experience only mild symptoms and do not require any treatment.
Meanwhile Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that the social network is stepping up its efforts to combat virus-related misinformation by giving organisations such as WHO, the US free advertising.
Total cases: 80,270 (about 85 per cent of global cases)
Total deaths: 2,981 (about 95 per cent of global fatalities)
China reported 119 new cases Wednesday, all but five in the outbreak’s epicentre of Wuhan. In a sign of the shifting threat, Beijing’s health commissioner said two new cases in the Chinese capital were apparently infected abroad, in Iran and Italy.
State-run Xinhua News Agency said Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, was expected to gradually shut down its hastily built temporary hospitals, where thousands of beds were empty.
“We believe this decline is real,” WHO outbreak expert Maria Van Kerkhove said of China.
Total cases: 5,621
Total deaths: 32
South Korea reported 435 new infections Wednesday, far smaller than its Tuesday high of 851. A shortage of hospital space resulted in around 2,300 being treated elsewhere while they waited for beds.
Total cases: 2,502
Total deaths: 79
Fears over how the virus is spreading inside and outside the country has prompted the government to consider whether to close all schools nationwide for two weeks, rather than just those in the cluster regions. Education Minister Lucia Azzolina told reporters that a final decision hadn’t been made yet.
Total cases: 2,922
Total deaths: 92 (the highest number of confirmed deaths outside of China)
Iran cancelled Friday prayers for the second week in a row. The outbreak has affected almost all of Iran’s provinces, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says, according to the official presidency website. Several officials have been infected with coronavirus since the outbreak was first announced two weeks ago and one senior official died on Monday.
Total cases: 128
Total deaths: 9 (all in and around Seattle, Washington)
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers were expected to finalise an agreement Wednesday on a US$7.5 billion emergency bill to fund work on a virus vaccine and other measures.
Total cases: 212
Total deaths: 4
The Louvre in Paris has reopened after it was forced to close for three days as staff walked out saying they were concerned about catching the coronavirus from visitors.
The museum is temporarily no longer accepting cash as part of new measures that helped persuade employees to return to work Wednesday. There have also been discussions between Eiffel Tower workers and managers over the use of banknotes, but no decision has been made.
Total cases: 244
Total deaths: 0
German airline Lufthansa told Reuters on Wednesday that it plans to ground 150 aircraft out of its total fleet of around 770 due to the coronavirus.
Total cases: 85 (80 in Britain, 3 in Scotland, 1 in Wales, 1 in Northern Ireland)
Total deaths: 0
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that emergency coronavirus legislation would ensure those who self-isolate with coronavirus will get Statutory Sick Pay from the first day off work. It’s estimated up to one-fifth of the UK workforce could be out of action when the virus reaches its peak.
The annual London Book Fair, which usually draws more than 25,000 writers, agents and publishers (due to take place March 10-12) has been cancelled.
Total cases: 304
Total deaths: 6
Japan’s prime minister, who ordered schools closed nationwide last week, pressed for legal backing to declare a state of emergency if needed.
Total cases: 15
Total deaths: 0
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Urged Israelis to stop shaking hands, suggesting they instead adopt the Indian greeting of “namaste”. He also added additional European countries to a list of destinations from which returning Israelis would need to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Israeli health authorities have ordered everyone from a regional high school and dozens of soccer fans into home quarantine after possible exposure to a teenage boy who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Total cases: 1
Total deaths: 0
Saudi Arabia imposed the ban on residents making the Mecca pilgrimage, a week after it closed the holiest sites in Islam to foreigners because of the coronavirus.India
Total cases: 28
Total deaths: 0
India tightened the export of 26 key drug ingredients used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, a potentially disruptive move.
The European Central Bank says it is restricting all nonessential travel by members of its executive board and employees through April 20 as a precautionary measure amid the outbreak.
The Czech Republic and Russia announced bans Wednesday covering various protective gear like masks, following a similar moves by France and Germany, and a strong message from WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to stop hoarding emergency supplies.
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