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Coronavirus: Qatar reports first case of COVID-2019, gulf countries to cut links with Iran

According to the World Health Organization’s latest situation report, five new member states have reported cases of COVID-2019. These are Belarus, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Nigeria.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 29, 2020 8:23:47 pm
A worker wears a face mask to spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea.  (AP Photo)

Qatar’s health ministry reported on Saturday the first case of coronavirus infection in the country. The patient is a 36-year-old Qatari who returned recently from Iran, where at least 43 people died out of 593 confirmed cases, the world’s highest death toll outside of China, the epicenter of the outbreak. South Korea also reported 219 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total infections to 3,150, its biggest daily increase since the first infection was confirmed on January 20.

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The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 2,835 on Friday, up by 47 from the previous day. China had 427 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Friday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Saturday, up from 327 cases a day earlier. The total accumulated number of confirmed cases in mainland China is now 79,251.

Five new member states have reported cases of COVID-2019

According to the World Health Organization’s latest situation report, five new member states have reported cases of COVID-2019. These are Belarus, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Nigeria. The disease is now in at least 53 countries around the world, spanning every continent except Antarctica. More than 82,000 people have been infected, and over 2,800 are dead. WHO has increased the assessment of the risk of spread and risk of the impact of the coronavirus from “high” to “very high” at the global level.

What does this mean?

WHO has prepared a manual to guide the rapid risk assessment of acute public health risks. The guidelines in the manual are aimed at national departments with health-protection responsibilities where “very high” level of risk means, “Immediate response required even if the event is reported out of normal working hours. Immediate senior management attention needed (e.g. the command and control structure should be established within hours); the implementation of control measures with serious consequences is highly likely.”

Gulf countries to cut links with Iran

After a number of cases in Iran spiked again today, Iran is now preparing for the possibility of “tens of thousands” of people getting tested for the new virus. The Country’s health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour has warned that large increases in the number of confirmed cases would happen as Iran now has 15 laboratories testing for the virus, as spray trucks and fumigators into the streets are sent into streets.

A worker disinfects subway trains against coronavirus in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Gulf countries have announced a raft of measures to cut links with Iran to prevent the coronavirus spreading, after infections emerged among people returning from pilgrimages to the Islamic republic. Saudi Arabia on Friday barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Qatar, from entering two of Islam’s holiest cities amid fears over coronavirus. The Gulf tally stands at 45 cases of coronavirus in Kuwait, 38 in Bahrain, six in Oman and two more in the United Arab Emirates for a total of 21.

Japan fights battle as Olympics to go-ahead

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday called on the public to cooperate in a “tough battle” to contain the coronavirus outbreak in coming weeks as the country prepares to hold the Olympic Games in Tokyo as planned.To be frank, we cannot win this battle through the efforts of the government alone,” Abe told a news conference two days after calling for all schools nationwide to be closed for more than a month. The abrupt decision caught teachers, parents and their employers off guard, sparking a wave of criticism. “I have decided we must make all efforts in the next one or two weeks to prevent the spread” of the virus, he said, while expressing confidence this was possible.

People wearing masks visit a cherry blossom festival in Matsuda, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Abe said that Japan would go ahead with both the Summer Olympics and a spring visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, but added he would not hesitate to expand immigration curbs if needed.

In India

No new cases have been reported. Besides, all the 112 people, housed at an ITBP quarantine facility after being evacuated from Wuhan in China, have tested negative for coronavirus after their first samples were taken, an official said on Saturday. Seventy-six Indians and 36 foreigners were taken to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force quarantine centre in the Chhawla area of the national capital on February 27 after they were flown in from Wuhan city on an IAF transport plane. The group of foreign nationals comprises 23 from Bangladesh, six from China, two each from Myanmar and Maldives, and one each from Madagascar, South Africa and the USA. In Gujarat, over 200 fishermen from Gujarat are stuck Iran after the authorities there shut the nearby airports and barred people’s movement due to the coronavirus scare.

List of countries with cases of Coronavirus

According to AP, this is the latest figures, based on WHO and national counts:

Mainland China: 2,835 deaths among 79,251 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei

Hong Kong: 94 cases, 2 deaths

Macao: 10 cases

South Korea: 3,150 cases, 17 deaths

Japan: 941 cases, including 705 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 11 deaths

Italy: 888 cases, 18 deaths

Iran: 593 cases, 43 deaths

Singapore: 98 cases

United States: 62

France: 57 cases, 2 deaths

Germany: 57 cases

Spain: 46 Kuwait: 45

Thailand: 42

Taiwan: 39 cases, 1 death

Bahrain: 38 cases

Malaysia: 24

Australia: 23

United Kingdom: 20 cases, 1 death

United Arab Emirates: 19 cases

Vietnam: 16

Canada: 14

Sweden: 12

Switzerland: 10

Iraq: 8

Norway: 6

Oman: 6

Austria: 5

Russia: 5

Croatia: 5

Israel: 5

Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death

Finland: 3 cases

Greece: 3 India: 3

Lebanon: 3

Romania: 3

Norway: 2

Pakistan: 2

Denmark: 2

Netherlands: 2

Georgia: 2

Mexico: 2

Egypt: 1

Algeria: 1

Afghanistan: 1

North Macedonia: 1

Estonia: 1

Lithuania: 1

Belgium: 1

Belarus: 1

Nepal: 1

Sri Lanka: 1

Cambodia: 1

Brazil: 1

New Zealand: 1

Nigeria: 1

Azerbaijan: 1

Monaco: 1

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