ROAD SCREENING Medical workers in protective gear man a coronavirus “drive-through” test facility for motorists in Goyang, Seoul, on Saturday. —AFP
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea reported its biggest surge in new coronavirus cases on Saturday as concerns grew of a possible epidemic in the United States and the World Health Organization raised its risk alert to its highest level.
The virus has rapidly spread across the world in the past week, causing stock markets to sink to their lowest levels since the 2008 global financial crisis over fears that the disease could wreak havoc on the world economy.
More than 2,900 people have died and over 85,000 have been infected worldwide since it was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
The vast majority of infections have been in China but more daily cases are now logged outside the country, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging as major hotspots.
China on Sunday reported 573 new infections, the highest figure in a week after a dip. All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.
While the numbers in China are still far lower than the huge daily increases reported during the first two weeks of February, COVID-19 has spread rapidly across borders, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging as hotspots.
South Korea, which has the most infected people outside China, reported 376 new cases on Sunday, bringing its total to 3,526.
Australia reported the first death on its soil — a 78-year-old man who had been evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
There are fears the disease could hammer the global economy, and stock markets last week plunged to their lowest levels since the 2008 financial crisis.
Wuhan Marathon postponed
A woman walks in front of the closed Huanan wholesale seafood market. NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images
BEIJING — Wuhan Marathon, originally set for April 12, has been postponed to the second half of the year to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the organizing committee said in a notice on Saturday.
On March 1, 2020, the first batch of patients that recovered after using traditional Chinese medicine treatment are discharged from Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei province. Photo shows a senior woman, 98-year-old, surnamed Hu, being discharged from the hospital. (Photo by Gao Xiang/for chinadaily.com.cn via China Daily/Asia News Network)
BEIJING — A 98-year-old woman infected with novel coronavirus, the oldest critically ill patient in the country, was discharged from hospital on Sunday morning in Wuhan, Hubei province.
Singapore has 102 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, with 30 of them hospitalized and 72 discharged.
BANGKOK- Thailand records first death, 35-year-old man also had dengue fever
BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) – Thailand has reported its first coronavirus fatality, local health officials said on Sunday (March 1).
The 35-year-old retail worker had dengue fever and the new disease know as Covid-19, Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director general of the Department of Disease Control, said in a briefing on Sunday.
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THE NEW EPICENTER: SOUTH KOREA
Nearly 90 percent of the cases were in Daegu, the center of the country’s outbreak, and neighboring North Gyeongsang province, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. The country’s death toll remains at 17.
South Korea has an advanced health system and a free media, factors observers say improve the reliability of its statistics, with the numbers expected to rise as it checks more than 260,000 people associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.
A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on February 10, but attended at least four church services in Daegu — the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million — before being diagnosed.
Around 60 percent of the cases were linked to the entity, the KCDC said.
“Until now, the COVID-19 outbreak in the country has been excessively led by a specific group,” said KCDC vice director Kwon Jun-wook.
Shincheonji apologized Sunday on behalf of its members who had kept their religion secret, adding: “It will be hard for our devotees to reveal their identity when political leaders… are recklessly criticising Shincheonji as the epicenter.”
Daegu has filed a police complaint against the local branch of the sect for submitting an incomplete list of its members, while other provincial governments have warned of taking similar action.
The city’s streets have been largely deserted for days, aside from long queues at the few shops with masks for sale, with authorities urging the public to exercise caution.
“The best way to prevent the COVID-19 is for the citizens to refrain from going outside,” said Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin.
But officials say they are not considering a citywide quarantine similar to Wuhan’s lockdown, where the virus first emerged.
The new school term start has been delayed one week nationwide and three weeks in Daegu, while the US and South Korean militaries have postponed forthcoming joint exercises.
SEOUL- South Korea wages ‘all-out responses’ to virus with 376 new cases
A paramedic wearing protective gear adjusts his goggles as he prepares to carry patients by ambulance in Daegu on March 1, 2020. (Photo by – / YONHAP / AFP) / Agence France-Presse /
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday the government was waging “all-out responses” to contain the novel coronavirus as the country reported 376 new cases, taking the total to 3,526.
A soldier conducts temperature checks at the entrance to one of the Air Force bases at Gyeryongdae, South Korea’s main military compound, in the city of Gyeryong, South Chungcheong Province. (Yonhap via The Korea Herald/Asia News Network)
SEOUL — Twenty-seven members of the South Korean military were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 as of Sunday, as 8,880 service members have been quarantined.
On Thursday, Korea and the US postponed their annual joint military exercises until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak that had over 3,700 confirmed cases and had killed 18 people in Korea, as of press time.
It was the first time the two countries put off the drills over an infectious disease.
TEHRAN, Iran- China sends team to help Iran fight virus
A group of Chinese experts arrive in Iran to help combat the novel coronavirus in the country, Feb 29, 2020. (Photo/chineseembassy.org via China Daily/Asia News Network)
BEIJING — China has sent a group of experts to Iran to help combat the novel coronavirus in the country, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying announced. She said on Twitter that the Chinese experts are on their way to Iran.
The coronavirus disease is enemy of all, Hua said, adding “we must fight together”.
During his phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China will continue to provide assistance within its capabilities to Iran in curbing the epidemic and treating the sick.
China has already donated a batch of nucleic acid detection kits and medical supplies to Iran.
SEATTLE – First coronavirus death on US soil confirmed, Trump calls for calm
Cameron Nightingale adjusts his mask and gloves, a precaution to protect himself from coronavirus, while walking by cable car in San Francisco, California on February 27, 2020. California said it was monitoring some 8,400 people for the new coronavirus, after officials confirmed a woman had contracted the disease without travelling to outbreak-hit regions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it doesn’t know how the woman — who had not travelled or been in contact with another coronavirus patient — got sick.
SEATTLE — The first fatality from the novel coronavirus has been confirmed on US soil, as US President Donald Trump on Saturday urged Americans not to panic.
Health officials said the man who died in Washington state was one of a handful with no known links to global hot zones to have contracted the virus — indicating that the pathogen was now likely spreading in communities.
An American citizen died of the new coronavirus in early February at the Chinese epicenter of the global outbreak, the city of Wuhan, the US embassy confirmed at the time.
Worldwide, the virus has hit about 60 countries across the globe, with more than 2,900 people killed and over 85,000 infected since it was first detected at an animal market in Wuhan late last year.
WASHINGTON, USA- US postpones southeast Asian leaders’ meeting due to virus
WASHINGTON — The United States has postponed a meeting of leaders of southeast Asian nations that was set for Las Vegas in mid-March due to the spread of the coronavirus, a senior Trump administration official said Friday.
President Donald Trump had invited the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to meet in the U.S. this year after he skipped their annual meeting last year, which was held in Thailand. Trump sent national security adviser Robert O’Brien to the meeting in his place.
ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Together, they make up a fast-growing regional market of nearly 650 million people.
HAVANA, Cuba- Cruise ship sails to St. Maarten after COVID-19 scare
The Fred Olson Cruise Liner Braemar is docked at the port in Havana, Cuba in this file photo. (AP)
HAVANA — A British cruise ship turned away by the Dominican Republic after passengers suffered flu-like symptoms was awaiting approval to dock on the island of St. Maarten on Friday, officials said. It was one of at least three ships barred from a Caribbean port this week.
“In light of the public and health safety actions being taken in Italy in reaction to COVID-19, including the quarantine of select cities and cancellation of its own carnival activities, a decision was made to err on the side of caution,” it said.
The ship, which has a capacity of 3,800 passengers, later went to St. Maarten.
BERLIN- Fighting the virus and an infodemic, Germany encounters a new nervousness
BERLIN – German politicians were downplaying the possible impact of the coronavirus for weeks, with Health Minister Jens Spahn repeatedly assuring Germans that the situation was “under control” and that the country was well prepared.
WHO official Sylvie Briand, who is directing the organisation’s strategy to counter false information, told The Lancet: “We know that every outbreak will be accompanied by a tsunami of information, but also within this, you always have misinformation, rumours.
“We know that even in the Middle Ages, there was this phenomenon.
“But the difference now with social media is that this phenomenon goes faster and further, like the viruses that travel with people and go faster and further.”
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