Coronavirus panic: S Korea on highest level alert, Italy, Iran introduce containment

Andrew Cummings
February 27, 2020

South Korea's cases now outnumber those reported by Japan, where the virus infected nearly one-fifth of the passengers and crew on a cruise ship.

"The key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained, indeed there are many countries that have done exactly that", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva.

"The government will raise the alert level to the highest level according to experts' recommendations", he added.

The number of fatalities in China also continued to soar, with 150 more confirmed deaths taking the official death toll to almost 2,600.

The government, the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the presidential office chose to thoroughly implement stepped-up containment measures in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, where infection cases have shot up in recent days.

In South Korea, authorities reported a seventh dying and dozens far more instances on Monday.

The outbreak has forced South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics to suspend operations at its smartphone plant in Gumi, 200 kilometers (125 miles) southeast of Seoul, after one of its employees was infected at the weekend. Feroz announced a state of emergency in the province bordering Iran.

The number of confirmed new cases fell compared with the previous day to 409, taking the country's total infections over 77,000.

Among dozens of cases, Italy on Friday became the first European country to report one of its nationals had died from the virus - a 78-year-old retired bricklayer in the region of Veneto.

The government was weighing "extraordinary measures" to halt further infections, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said.

Coronavirus-related deaths have risen to more than 2,620 worldwide, with over 30 outside of mainland China.

A judge has put on hold a plan to send up to 50 people infected with a new virus from China to a Southern California city for quarantine.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said necessary treatment tools such as respiratory support machines are "in short supply in many African countries and that's a cause for concern".

The vast majority of Chinese deaths and new infections remained concentrated in the hard-hit city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have first emanated from a live animal market in December.

China's infection rate has slowed sharply from earlier in the epidemic, but repeated Chinese flip-flopping over counting methods has sowed confusion over its data.

The latest virus developments should curb investors from continuing their unconcerned behavior, Adam Vettese, an analyst at investment platform eToro, said.

Japan confirmed Sunday a woman who tested negative and disembarked from the Diamond Princess later tested positive.

Despite showing signs of stabilizing in China, where fewer new infections are being reported, worries are growing elsewhere. A third passenger, a Japanese man in his 80s, died on Sunday.

Authorities in Iran closed schools across much of the country for a second day Monday.

Iran's outbreak surfaced on Wednesday and has quickly worsened with 28 cases confirmed.

"Definitions and terminology aside, our advice remains the same, and we continue working with countries to limit the spread of the virus while also preparing for the possibility of wider spread", he said.

Georgia, Tajikistan, and Oman suspended direct flights with Iran.

Other reports by iNewsToday