02/22/2020, 13.43
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Coronavirus cases outside China multiplying

In South Korea, 229 new cases were reported, the largest single-day rise since late January. Japan has lost track of the path of some cases, which tripled to 90 last week. For the WHO, the situation in Iran is "very concerning” with 18 cases and four deaths in the last two days.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Covid-19 epidemic is entering a new phase, as the number of cases multiply outside China.

Although most coronavirus deaths are in China, the virus appears to be  spreading faster in other Asian countries as well as Europe.

Outside of China, 1,413 cases have been reported in 28 countries with 12 deaths. Yesterday, Italian health authorities announced the first fatality in Europe.

Financial markets are feeling the pinch as investors assess the wider impact of the outbreak on economic growth and corporate earnings.

South Korea reported 229 new cases this morning, the largest single day spike since late January, bringing its total number of infections to 433.

The number has soared in the last few days, as the authorities traced them to a hospital in the south-eastern county of Cheongdo and a minor Christian sect in the south-eastern city of Daegu, which constitute some 80 per cent of all local infections.

The situation is even more alarming in Japan, which has emerged as one of the riskiest places outside of China for the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said on Sunday that Japan had lost track of the route of some of the cases, which have tripled in the past week to more than 90.

In the port of Yokohama, the Diamond Princess cruise ship has at least 636 cases and two deaths.

The situation could get worse given high risk factors like Japan’s elderly population and a societal work ethic that often frowns on taking a sick day.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that it was "very concerning" that Iran had reported 18 cases and four deaths in the past couple of days.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel and Lebanon yesterday confirmed their first case, whilst  the United Arab Emirates reported two new cases, bringing the total to 11.

In light of the latest reports from the region, the WHO has warned the international community that the window of opportunity to contain a wider spread of the epidemic is narrowing.

When asked if the epidemic was at a "tipping point" after new cases and deaths from Covid-19, the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, yesterday said that he still believed that the virus could be contained, but warned that “we need to act quickly” as the “outbreak could go in any direction.”

“If we do well, we can avert any serious crisis, but if we squander the opportunity then we will have a serious problem on our hands."

In China, where the outbreak originated, health authorities have confirmed a total of 76,392 cases. Yesterday, 399 new cases were reported, 366 in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

With the death of another 109 patients in one day, the death toll has risen 2,348. But 2,395 patients have recovered bringing the total to 20,659.

However, by the end of Friday, an additional 5,365 people were suspected to be infected after 1,361 cases were reported that day.

For their part, Hong Kong has reported 68 infections, including two deaths and six recoveries; Taiwan has 26 infections, one death, and two recovered, whilst Macau has 10 cases.

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