Fear of global coronavirus spread grows as more countries have cases, Latest World News - The New Paper

Fear of global coronavirus spread grows as more countries have cases

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING: Fears of a global coronavirus spread deepened yesterday with a growing number of deaths in Iran and the worsening of outbreaks across Asia, in the Middle East and Europe.

Kuwait, Bahrain and Iraq yesterday recorded their first coronavirus cases, all people who had been in Iran, which raised its toll for the disease to at least 12 dead and more than 60 infected.

The United Arab Emirates, a major air transit centre, has recorded 13 cases.

Iraq said its first case is an Iranian theology student in the holy city of Najaf, who had entered the country before the government banned the entry of non-Iraqis coming from Iran.

Kuwait detected the virus in three people among 700 evacuated on Saturday from the Iranian city of Mashhad.

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 hardest-hit Qom city that 50 people had died there.

The Iranian government denied there had been 50 deaths and pledged transparency.

In Italy, a sixth fatality was confirmed, deepening fears about the virus spreading through Europe. More than 220 people have been infected, mainly in the Lombardy region.

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.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said residents could face weeks of lockdown in an effort to sit out the virus.

The sharp rise in cases and the geographical spread of the coronavirus outside China confirm World Health Organisation's (WHO) fears over dealing with the crisis.

"What we are seeing at the moment are outbreaks and clusters of cases in multiple countries. Some countries have since stopped transmission. They must remain alert for the possibility of reintroduction. There will likely be more cases in more places," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.

"...our advice remains the same, and we continue working with countries to limit the spread of the virus while also preparing for the possibility of wider spread."  - AFP, REUTERS