|[Published: Wednesday February 26 2020]
World braces for spread of corona virus as more countries report first cases
LONDON, 26 Feb. - (ANA) - More than 30 countries have reported cases of a new coronavirus and there are five main clusters, raising concerns that efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have failed and the threshold of a pandemic is approaching.
Most cases are in China, where the virus originated in December, as well as Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Iran.
On February 24, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman reported their first cases of the coronavirus -- all involving people who had come from Iran.
New cases have also been reported in Algeria, Croatia, France, Switzerland, and Germany.
Italian officials on February 25 reported that 11 had people died in the last 24 hours and 332 confirmed cases of the virus, 100 more than the previous day.
Iran has nearly 100 confirmed cases and officially 15 deaths, but media outside Iran put the number of deaths at 68, leading some to believe that Tehran is covering up the true scope of the health situation.
"The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington.
COVID-19's spread is inevitable, and the rest of the world isn't prepared experts and officials in the United States and World Health Organization (WHO) have said.
Bruce Aylward, who led a WHO-led investigative mission to China, said one of his conclusions for the rest of the world is "it's simply not ready."
"This virus will show up," Aylward said at a Geneva news conference. "Think [as if] the virus is gonna show up tomorrow."
And in the United States, which has 57 cases, health officials said the virus will certainly spread more widely in the country at some point.
"It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when," said Nancy Messonnier, a senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), urging local governments, businesses and schools to develop plans.
The spread has led some experts to conclude the virus is beyond containment.
"We can't say that it's been contained," Michael Osterhold, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said on February 21.
Epidemiologist Mark Lipsitch, a professor at Harvard University, said the virus "will ultimately not be containable."
In an interview published by The Atlantic on February 24, he predicted that 40-70 percent of the world's population will be infected with the coronavirus within the next year – though he says most will have "mild disease" or may not see any symptoms at all.
The WHO so far has refrained from declaring a full-scale global pandemic alert -- a move that would trigger specific regulatory actions by the UN agency.
Still, the world is "teetering very, very close" to a pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Health's infectious disease chief, told AP.
COVID-19 has killed more than 2,715 people and infected over 78,000 others on mainland China. In the rest of the world, there have been more than 40 deaths and over 2,700 cases.
The condition of seven Russian passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined at a Japanese port are in satisfactory condition, a Russian official said on February 26 in the Far Eastern Primorye region.
As of February 26, 699 of the 3,700 people aboard the vessel have tested positive.
The 25 Ukrainian crew members of the cruise ship have refused to be evacuated by their government, Hromadske Radio reported. Two have tested positive and have been hospitalized.
The epidemic's disruption has caused stock markets to slump around the world, restrictions imposed on travelers, and sporting events cancelled.
Wall Street saw another day of losses on February 25 with nervous investors scooping up low-risk U.S. government bonds.
The benchmark S&P 500 has lost 7.6 percent in the last four days and the broad-based Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 879 points, for a two-day loss of 1,911 points. The technology-rich Nasdaq erased its gains for the year, tumbling by 2.8 percent. - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/26 February 2020 - - -