New global coronavirus infections spark more travel bans

Workers spray disinfectant outside the National Assembly in Seoul, as the number of coronavirus infections continued to rise
Workers spray disinfectant outside the National Assembly in Seoul, as the number of coronavirus infections continued to rise

Fears of a global coronavirus pandemic deepened on Monday as new deaths and infections in Europe, the Middle East and Asia triggered more drastic efforts to stop people travelling.

The number of fatalities in China—where the virus emerged late last year—also continued to soar, with 150 more deaths taking the official toll to nearly 2,600.

Chinese authorities insist they are containing the virus, citing slowing , thanks to unprecedented lockdowns and quarantines in or near the outbreak's epicentre.

But the spread of the virus in other parts of the world has accelerated over the past week, with Iran, South Korea and Italy emerging as new hotspots.

Deaths were reported in each of those countries on Monday, while Afghanistan, Bahrain and Kuwait also announced their first cases of the virus.

The wave of bad news sent global stock markets and oil prices tumbling as investors headed for safe-haven gold.

Authorities ramped up efforts to contain the spread of the virus, seeking to seal off borders and ordering people to stay indoors to stop them travelling.

But experts warned the virus, officially named COVID-19, was likely to easily spread in a similar manner to common seasonal flu.

"It seems that the virus can pass from person to person without symptoms, making it extremely difficult to track, regardless of what health authorities do," said Simon Clarke, Cellular Microbiology associate professor at Reading University in England.

Cases and fatalities from the coronavirus around the world
Cases and fatalities from the coronavirus around the world

Cover-up allegations

In Iran, the confirmed death toll climbed on Monday by four to 12—the highest number for any country outside China.

There were also concerns the situation in Iran may be worse than officially acknowledged, with the semi-official ILNA news agency quoting a local lawmaker in hard-hit Qom as saying 50 people had died there.

The Iranian government denied the report, and pledged transparency.

Even so, authorities have only reported 64 infections in Iran, an unusually small number that would mean an extremely .

In China, 2,592 people have died out of 77,000 infections.

South Korea has also seen a rapid rise in infections since a cluster sprouted in a in the southern city of Daegu last week.

More than 200 infections and two more deaths were reported in South Korea on Monday, bringing the total cases to more than 830—by far the most outside China.

A gondolier steers tourists in facemasks along a canal in Venice
A gondolier steers tourists in facemasks along a canal in Venice

Eight people have died from the virus there, and President Moon Jae-in over the weekend raised the country's virus alert to the highest "red" level.

As part of the containment efforts, were extended nationally while the 2.5 million people of Daegu were told to remain indoors.

Authorities in Hong Kong announced that from Tuesday it would not allow arrivals from South Korea other than returning residents.

Mongolia earlier announced it would not allow flights from South Korea to land.

Football, fashion curbed

Fears were also growing in Europe, with Italy reporting two more deaths Monday, bringing the total to five.

More than 200 people have been infected in there, and several Serie A football games were postponed over the weekend.

The famed Venice Carnival was also cut short, and some Milan Fashion Week runway shows were cancelled.

Global airline travel has dropped off, particularly in Asia, due to the virus
Global airline travel has dropped off, particularly in Asia, due to the virus

More than 50,000 people in about a dozen northern Italian towns have been told to stay home, and police set up checkpoints to enforce a blockade.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said that residents could face weeks of lockdown.

Economic toll

The virus is taking an increasingly heavy toll on the global economy, with many factories in China closed or subdued due to the quarantines.

The International Monetary Fund warned Sunday that the epidemic was putting a "fragile" global economic recovery at risk.

G20 financial chiefs also voiced concern about its ripple effects.

Chinatowns across the world have seen a drop-off in business due to fears over the virus
Chinatowns across the world have seen a drop-off in business due to fears over the virus

Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged Sunday that the had become the country's "largest public health emergency" since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

"This is a crisis for us and it is a big test," Xi said in comments reported by state television.

China's annual parliament meeting was on Monday postponed for the first time since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.


Explore further

Coronavirus spreads around globe

© 2020 AFP

Citation: New global coronavirus infections spark more travel bans (2020, February 24) retrieved 2 June 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-02-global-coronavirus-infections.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
2 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments