Coronavirus slows in China, but gallops across the globe

After Brazil confirmed its first coronavirus patient this week, cases have now been reported from every continent except Antarctica, forcing countries to take drastic measures for its containment. Italy has at least 11 towns on lockdown while parts of UK, Japan, Iran and Germany have shut down schools. In California, 8,400 people are being monitored for the virus. Several countries, including India, have either lowered flight frequency to affected countries or issued travel advisories. Saudi Arabia hasbanned foreign pilgrims.

Amid a warning from the World Health Organisation that the new coronavirus has “pandemic potential”, TOI tracks its global march as the death toll touches 2,867 and confirmed cases cross 83,000 on Friday.

In US, preparation for pandemic
On his Indian visit, US President Donald Trump cast coronavirus as “a problem that’s going to go away”, but experts disagree. The US State Department and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it expects Covid-19 to spread in the US. Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, was quoted by CBS News as saying, “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen any more, but more of a question of exactly when this will happen.” The US has recorded 60 confirmed cases and Trump has announced a new team led by Vice President Mike Pence to tackle the virus.
Tourists trapped as Europe locks down
Italian towns in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto remain under lockdown with schools, churches and markets shut with the country reporting 655 cases and 17 deaths. The Vatican is shutting all catacombs open to public as humidity and limited space in the underground burial sites can favour spread of the virus, according to CNBC. Neighbours are nervous too.
Several European countries now have confirmed cases and many of them can be traced back to Italy.
Earlier this week, a dozen UK schools sent home students and teachers who had returned from skiing trips in the Italian Alps, according to The Guardian. About 1,000 holidaymakers and workers were quarantined in a hotel in Tenerife, a top destination in Spain’s Canary Islands, after two Italian guests tested positive
India issues travel advisories
Iran, one of the worst-affected nations outside China, said its deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, tested positive for the coronavirus. By Friday, 34 people had died out of 338 positive cases. Dubai and UAE have halted all flights to Iran and several nations have advised citizens to avoid travel there.
India has issued an advisory that people coming from Iran, South Korea and Italy or having such travel history since February 10, 2020, may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival. Travel to Singapore is also not advised. On Thursday, India temporarily suspended visa on arrival services for nationals of Japan and South Korea. South Korea, which has the largest outbreak outside mainland China, has recorded 13 deaths and at least 2,337 confirmed cases.
Japan’s botched quarantine

Media reports have quoted Japan’s health minister as admitting that many who were allowed to disembark the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, which remained moored in Yokohama for several weeks, have developed symptoms, including fever, and will now undergo coronavirus tests. Nearly 1,000 passengers were allowed to leave the ship last week after testing negative for the virus. Prime minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday asked all schools to close until April.


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