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States must respect rights of those in isolation over virus: UN

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 27 February 2020 4:38 PM

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says countries should use quarantine against the deadly new coronavirus only when they are truly needed.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday, Michelle Bachelet hailed medical teams around the world working to rein in the COVID-19 outbreak, but said respect for human rights needed to guide the response.

"The rights of those under quarantine must be protected, including rights to food and clean water, the right to be treated humanely, access to health care, the right to be informed and freedom of expression," the UN rights chief noted, adding, "All public health measures should be carried out without discrimination of any kind."

Bachelet went on to voice concern about widespread use of quarantine to halt the spread of the virus.

"Quarantines, which restrict the right to freedom of movement, should be proportionate to the risk, time-bound and safe."

Bachelet in particular voiced serious concern for "vulnerable groups" of people "living in collective institutions, who were likely to be more susceptible to infection.

She also said that the ongoing epidemic, which began in China, had "set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and East Asian ethnicity".

The remarks come after a range of countries have taken drastic measures to quarantine the sick to halt the spread of the virus.

More than 2,700 people worldwide have died of COVID-19 so far, and almost 80,000 have been infected, mainly in China.

Chinese State television citing government sources said on Thursday that China will postpone the re-opening of education facilities "in principle" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus is now spreading more quickly in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world than in China where the virus first emerged in the central city of Wuhan at the end of last year.

The disease was also detected for the first time in Estonia, Denmark, Georgia, Brazil, Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria.

South Korea and Italy have already emerged as new hotspots for COVID-19.

Iran has also taken numerous measures and canceled mass gatherings in the capital, Tehran, and elsewhere in the country to tackle the virus spread.

South Korea reports 13th death from coronavirus

The Mayor of Daegu, the city at the center of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, said a 13th person had died from the infection on Thursday.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported hundreds of additional cases of the new coronavirus, raising the total tally to 1,766.

Japan to close schools nationwide

The government announced that Japan will close schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he asked all elementary, middle and high schools to remain shut until spring holidays begin in late March.

According to Kyodo, Japan's Osaka city has decided to close all public kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools from February 29 to March 13 in a bid to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Cambodia: 200 factories face production halt

A Cambodian official said on Thursday that about 200 factories making mostly garments will likely suspend operations or slow production next month over a lack of raw materials from China due to supply chain disruptions caused by the new coronavirus

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour told reporters about 10 factories with 3,000 workers have already notified the government that they will partially suspend operations.

"From predictions as well as an actual survey about the impact of the coronavirus, we know that in March nearly 200 factories will face a lack of raw materials and it will affect about 110,000 workers," Heng said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has promised tax breaks to garment factories hit by supply chain disruptions

The garment industry is Cambodia's largest employer, generating $7 billion for the economy each year, according to official data.

Five more people die from coronavirus in Italy

Italy's Civil Protection agency announced in a statement on Thursday that five more people had died from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 17.

The number of confirmed cases has risen to 650 from 528, officials said at a news conference.

The vast majority are in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

France facing coronavirus 'epidemic': Macron

President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that France was preparing for a jump in the number of coronavirus cases.

The president made the remarks while visiting staff at the La Pitie-Salpetriere hospital in Paris, where the first French person carrying the new coronavirus died Tuesday.

"You had a case here... I know this affected many of your teams," he said.

"We are facing a crisis, an epidemic that is coming," Macron said alongside Health Minister Olivier Veran.

"We know that we're only at the beginning... we're going to try with all our caretakers to make the right decisions," he added

France has reported 18 cases so far and two deaths.

The French government has asked citizens returning from Italy to avoid "all non-essential outings" and keep their children home from school.

The same recommendations have been issued for people returning from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and South Korea.

Britain reports two new cases of coronavirus

The United Kingdom said two additional patients tested positive for the new coronavirus. The latest cases raised the total number of infections to 15.
A pedestrian is seen wearing a surgical face mask on Regents Street in central London on February 27, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Swiss confirm three new coronavirus cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Switzerland has risen to four, the country's health authority said.

"All three patients are isolated in the hospital. Their condition is good," the Federal Office of Public Health said.

Moscow rounds up stray animals

Moscow authorities are rounding up stray animals and exterminating rats as a precaution against the new coronavirus.

Russia has imposed an array of measures to stop the virus gaining a foothold in the country.

"We are currently carrying out a large-scale complex (of measures) for the total deratisation of the city, catching wild animals, strays," Elena Andreeva, the Moscow head of the Rospotrepnadzor consumer health watchdog, said

Authorities in Moscow have carried out raids on potential carriers of the virus and used facial recognition technology to enforce quarantine measures.

Three Russian nationals are receiving treatment after they contracted the coronavirus on a cruise ship in Japan and were subsequently repatriated.

Before that, two Chinese nationals were hospitalized in Russia with the virus, but they have since recovered and been discharged.

World on brink of coronavirus pandemic: Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison Morrison told a televised news conference in the capital Canberra on Thursday that there is every sign the world is about to be gripped by a pandemic of the coronavirus.

"The advice we have received today is...there is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus," the premier said.

"As a result we have agreed today and initiated the...coronavirus emergency response plan," he added.

His remarks came as Australia kicked off emergency measures to curb the spread of the disease.

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