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Iran Press TV

'We are in uncharted territory:' Coronavirus spreading faster outside China

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 03 March 2020 8:59 AM

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the new coronavirus afflicting the world has over the past 24 hours spread far more rapidly outside China than inside but its path is still unknown.

Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing in Geneva on Monday that almost eight times as many cases had been reported outside China as inside in the previous 24 hours.

The never-before-seen virus, recently named COVID-19, has now infected more than 90,000 people in more than 70 countries and territories, and killed over 3,100 people – the vast majority of them in mainland China.

"The number of cases in China continues to decline," the WHO chief said.

On Monday, China reported 125 new cases, which brought the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 80,151. Thirty one new deaths were also reported in mainland China, bringing the death toll there to 2,943.

Outside China, a total of more than 8,700 confirmed cases and over 125 deaths have been reported.

"We are in uncharted territory," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday. "We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures."

He said the epidemics in the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan were "our greatest concern." The four countries have reported either high confirmed infections or deaths outside China.

Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that with no cases in more than 130 countries, there was still a chance to contain the outbreak, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

South Korea says 'in war with COVID-19'

The total cases in South Korea – the most affected country outside China – approached 5,000 on Tuesday.

The country confirmed 600 new cases on Tuesday, with two more deaths, which took the death toll to 29, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

President Moon Jae-in said, "The entire country has entered a war with the infectious disease." He ordered all government agencies to operate around the clock and vowed to inject more than 25 billion dollars into the economy to address the "grave" situation caused by the outbreak.

Deaths in US now at 6

Meanwhile, the death toll in the United States reached six, after the viral infection killed three more people near Seattle on Monday. The number of new infection cases also climbed to 100 across the US, mostly in Washington and California.

Japan reports first case in Oita

Japan reported a new case of infection in Oita Prefecture, on the southwestern island of Kyushu. The patient, a woman in her 30s, tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that his government would promptly prepare a second package of emergency measures. Abe, who has come under fire for his handling of the crisis, has pledged to focus over the next couple of weeks on halting the spread of the virus in Japan.

The total number of cases in Japan has reached almost 1,000, with 12 deaths reported so far.

EU raises virus risk level to high

The European Union (EU) raised the risk level of contracting the coronavirus from moderate to high, after the latest assessment by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control indicated the "virus is spreading very fast," said the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

Italy, which has the third highest number of cases worldwide, said later in the day that its death toll from the epidemic had jumped from 18 to 52.

According to official statistics, within the EU, the European economic area, and the UK, 2,199 people have so far contracted the virus.

"While we should not give in to panic, the situation is likely to get worse," said the European commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic.

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