Stock-market dips, canceled football matches, closed schools and now the possibility of the Japan Olympics and the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia being canceled, the Coronavirus is reaching huge global proportions as it spreads across Europe, the Far East, the Middle East and now to the Americas as well.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report on February 26, approximately 80 000 people in 38 countries have been infected. The total number of deaths is just under 3000. Outside of China, where the virus first originated, South Korea, Italy and Iran are amongst the worst-affected countries.
Italy, where numerous towns are now on ‘lockdown’, has a reported 400 cases, a figure which has increased by 25 percent in just 24 hours.
Spain, Greece, Croatia, France, Norway, Switzerland and Germany have also reported their first cases of the Coronavirus in the past couple of days.
As of Thursday, Iran had reported 245 cases and 26 deaths, which is the largest number of deaths outside of China, more than South Korea as well.
It’s thought that with the proportional death rate being so high in Iran, that the number of infected people could be far higher than reported.
In neighboring Iraq, the Ministry of Health has set new restrictions which include the suspending of schools and universities. Restaurants, theaters and other public gathering spaces have been closed until at least March 7.
Iraq has also banned travellers from China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Bahrain and Kuwait from entering the country.
South Korea, amongst the worst-hit nations, has taken the decision to postpone a joint military drill with the United States after soldiers from both countries tested positive for the Coronavirus.
In the United States, the total number of cases, as per Wednesday, was 60. In northern California, a person has reportedly come down with the virus – despite having not traveled outside the country nor having come into contact with anyone known to have the virus.
San Francisco has declared a state of emergency, although there have not been any reported cases to date.
The global outbreak has also sent stock markets tumbling and the likes of Microsoft and Apple are just some of the companies which have lowered earning expectations.
Other countries with reports of the Coronavirus include Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, UK, Sweden Belgium and Finland, India and Russia, although the numbers are still low in these countries. Algeria is currently the only African state with a reported case.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to stop the spreading of false news and fear-mongering.
Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO mission to China, stated that his organization are hopeful that there is not an iceberg of unreported carriers of the disease – people who could have mild symptoms and thus have not been tested.
“So I know everybody’s been out there saying, ‘Whoa, this thing is spreading everywhere and we just can’t see it, tip of the iceberg.’ But the data that we do have don’t support that,” Aylward said during a briefing for journalists in Geneva.
There has meanwhile been a slowing of new reported cases in China, at least in proportion to the increase of cases being discovered in other nations.
“Yesterday, the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time. Outside China, there are now 2,790 cases in 37 countries, and 44 deaths,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.
* The statistics in this article were compiled at 9am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on Thursday, 27 February 2020.
* Just before publishing this article, the New York Times reported that the number of countries which have had citizens testing positive for the Coronavirus has now risen to 44.