S. Korea on virus ‘high’ alert, concern grows in Italy, Iran

Workers spraying disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in a market in Daegu, South Korea.

Workers spraying disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in a market in Daegu, South Korea.  

Chinese authorities warn against gatherings, complacency

International concern about the spread of coronavirus outside China grew on Sunday with sharp rises in infections in three countries — South Korea, Italy and Iran.

South Korea went on high alert after the number of infections surged over 600 with six deaths. Italy saw a rise to 132 cases and imposed curbs in parts of the country to try to stop the spread. Iran has reported 43 cases, with eight deaths.

In China, authorities reported 648 new infections — higher than a day earlier — but only 18 were outside of Hubei province, the lowest number outside the epicentre since authorities began publishing data a month ago and locked down large parts of the country.

President Xi Jinping said that while measures to deal with the virus had been effective, the battle to contain it was still at a crucial stage. State run television urged people to avoid complacency, drawing attention to people gathering in public areas and tourist spots without wearing masks.

The virus has killed 2,442 people in China, which has reported 76,936 cases, and has slammed the brakes on the world’s second largest economy. It has spread to some 26 other countries and territories, with a death toll of around two dozen, according to a Reuters tally.

Most vulnerable

It has been fatal in 2% of reported cases, with the elderly and ill the most vulnerable, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said on Saturday it was worried by the detection of infections without a clear link to China.

South Korea’s President said the government had raised the disease alert to the highest level, allowing authorities to send extra resources to Daegu city and Cheongdo county, which were designated “special care zones” on Friday.

Health officials reported 169 new infections, bringing the total to 602, having doubled from Friday to Saturday.

More than half the new cases are linked to a church in the southeastern city of Daegu after a 61-year-old woman known as “Patient 31”, who attended services there tested positive for the virus last week. The woman had no recent record of overseas travel.

In Italy, schools and universities were closed and some soccer matches postponed in the affected northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, the country’s industrial heartland.

Iran reported a total of 43 infections, with eight deaths — all since Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey imposed travel and immigration restrictions on Iran.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 11:04:11 PM |

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