Countries on three continents reported their first cases of the coronavirus on Friday as the world prepared for a pandemic of the disease, while new cases in mainland China fell to lowest since January, South Korea has became new hotspots for COVID-19.
As the coronavirus is spreading in Europe, Asia and Africa, Authorities of several countries, namely the Netherlands, Belarus, Lithuania, New Zealand, and Nigeria, have confirmed first cases of people infected with the coronavirus in their countries.
Three more people died in Italy from coronavirus, bringing the death toll from the worst outbreak of the illness in Europe to 17. The number of coronavirus cases spiked by more than 50% in just 24 hours and now stands at 650, the Italian Ministry of Health reported.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has blamed the unnamed hospital for the series of missed opportunities for the explosion of hundreds of new cases and several deaths in the country.
The Italian super-spreader at the heart of Europe’s coronavirus crisis infected his pregnant wife, two doctors, an elderly woman who died from the illness and at least nine others when medics failed to test him. The 38-year-old man, known only as Mattia, went to hospital in Codogno, Northern Italy, three times with flu-like symptoms before doctors finally screened and diagnosed him with the killer virus. Mattia is believed to be the first source of local transmission in Italy after catching the virus from a friend who had returned from China sometime in early February.
Driven by fears of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, Italians in the Lombardy region have begun stockpiling food and basic necessities, leaving shops in a post-apocalyptic-looking state.
South Korea reported 571 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,337, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention announced. The death toll from the virus stood at 13, unchanged from the day earlier.
Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa on Friday after an Italian man returned to densely populated Lagos early this week. Cases had previously been reported in Egypt and Algeria, but not in the sub-Saharan region.
The low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, has puzzled health specialists and raised questions about authorities’ capabilities to detect the virus.
After Abuja confirmed sub-Saharan Africa’s first case, the World Helath Organization (WHO) announced that the outbreak is “getting bigger”, reiterating its warning that the virus could reach most “if not all countries”.
A patient in the Netherlands has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Dutch health authorities said on Thursday, the first confirmed case in the country.
Northern Ireland on Thursday confirmed its first case of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the United Kingdom to 16.
A spokeswoman for the German Health Ministry said on Friday there are almost 60 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, adding that the number included people who were now healthy again.
Since the coronavirus reached Germany, people have been rushing to pharmacies for mask and disinfection liquid, but stockpiles of the sanitary equipment are scare. Pharmacy officials say mask is not available, and demand for disinfectants has grown sharply.
The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in France has more than doubled in 24 hours, the French Health Ministery announced on Thursday, with the tally now at 38 from 18 on Wednesday.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Switzerland rose to nine on Thursday, as the canton of Basel-City put a number of children into a two-week quarantine after one of their caregivers tested positive for the virus.
The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Spain has risen to 23, according to the newspaper El Pais.
Mongolia President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and his accompanying staff who travelled to China on Thursday have been placed under quarantine, according to Mongolian state media outlet Montsame.
Georgia confirmed its second case of the coronavirus, according to the director of National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.
Thailand recorded one new case of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 41, a senior health official said on Friday.
Lebanon confirmed the country’s third case of coronavirus on Thursday.
Kuwait confirmed two more cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the total number of infections to 45, a Health Ministry official said, reporting no death.
The death toll from the disease in mainland China has risen to 2,788, the number of confirmed cases has increased to 78,824, the state health committee announced on Friday.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that all nations should prepare themselves for potential pandemic, as nations aside from China now accout for three-quarters of new infections.
Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite medical experts’ advice that most people who aren’t sick don’t need to wear them.
Stock markets around the world have also plummeted as it has become increasingly clear the virus will take a huge toll on the global economy.
Globally, more than 82,000 people in about 40 countries have been infected with the new coronavirus, which emerged in December.