After global COVID-19 infections passed the 100,000-mark, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that “the threat of a pandemic has become very real.
”But he said “even if we call it a pandemic, still we can contain it and control it.
”“It would be the first pandemic in history that can be controlled,” he said.
“We are not at the mercy of the virus.”He pointed out that the situation varied widely in the 100-odd countries that have so far registered cases, with 93 percent of all cases being located in just four states.
“Whether it is pandemic or not, the rule of the game is the same: never give up,” he said…
He said 79 countries had registered fewer than 100 cases, and more than half of those had seen fewer than 10 infections.
At the same time, in China, where more than 80,000 cases have been recorded since the outbreak began there in December, the country appears to be “bringing the epidemic under control,
” Tedros said.“More than 70 percent have recovered and have been discharged,” he said.
Since the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 first emerged, 110,564 cases have been recorded across 100 countries, killing 3,862 people, according to an Agence France-Presse toll based on official sources.
Michael Ryan, who heads the WHO’s emergencies program, pointed out that unlike the flu, which spreads far easier, it is possible to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
He voiced hope that drastic measures taken by Italy could help rein in the virus, and would give less-affected countries more time to prepare for a wider spread.
But he acknowledged that the disease has not run its course.“Right now I think we are still very much in the beginning or middle… of this fight,” he said, warning against complacency towards the virus.
The WHO last week estimated it kills 3.4 percent of all those infected.For infected people aged over 80, the fatality rate appears to be higher than 20 percent, according to a report from an international expert mission to China last month.
Tedros slammed those who might suggest simply letting the virus run its course, pointing out that for the elderly and weak especially “it is very fatal.”“If anything is going to hurt the world it is a moral decay, and not taking the deaths of the elderly or senior citizens” seriously, he said.
“Pandemic doesn’t mean that we say it is fine to live with it… we can contain it,” he said. “No white flag. We don’t give up.”The WHO defines a pandemic as a situation in which “the whole world’s population would likely be exposed to this infection and potentially a proportion of them fall sick,” Ryan has said.
“Pandemic” is not an official WHO term, and it does not trigger any specific actions. WHO has already put out its highest level of alert—saying the world is at “high risk.
”Japan’s government Tuesday approved draft “state of emergency” measures that would allow authorities to keep people inside and commandeer buildings for hospitals, as Tokyo steps up its fight against coronavirus five months before the Olympics.
If approved by parliament, the draft bill would give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the power to declare a state of emergency and impose drastic measures but Tokyo stressed that the situation had not yet reached that point.
“Currently we are not in a situation where we need to declare a state of emergency,” top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Tuesday..
The virus has infected more than 500 people across Japan and been linked to nine deaths. Its spread has cast doubt over whether the Olympics can open as scheduled on July 24, although authorities insist planning is continuing as normal.
Unlike neighboring South Korea, Japan has not undertaken widespread testing and the Abe government came under heavy fire for its handling of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked near Tokyo with nearly 700 people eventually becoming infected on board.
Tokyo has said the coming few weeks will be crucial in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and Abe has urged schools to close for several weeks, in an announcement that caught the whole country off-guard.
The bill approved by the cabinet on Tuesday is a revision of a 2012 law aimed to slow the spread of new strains of flu and is expected to sail through parliament this week with opposition support.
Under the new law, once the prime minister declares a state of emergency in a specific part of the country, local governments can require residents to stay indoors, close schools and limit the use of facilities in which large numbers of people gather.
Land and buildings could be requisitioned as makeshift hospitals.
Abe has said that even though Japan is not yet seeing an epidemic over a wide area, “it is important to always prepare for the worst-case”.
Italians have been told to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel as quarantine measures were extended to the whole country to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The main points of a government decree signed on Monday night that brings the restrictions into effect until April 3 are:* Don’t travel (unless it’s urgent).
From Tuesday, the movements of Italy’s population of 60 million are severely limited.
Travel is only allowed for “urgent, verifiable work situations and emergencies or health reasons.”
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 must not leave their homes for any reason, while anyone with a fever or respiratory symptoms are strongly encouraged to stay at home and limit social contact, including with their doctor.*
The latest decree prohibits “all forms of gatherings in public places or sites open to the public”—going further than the rules that went into force over the weekend in large parts of northern Italy.
Sporting events of all levels and disciplines were cancelled, stopping play in the top-flight Serie A football league.*
To encourage people to stay in, bars and restaurants are only allowed to open between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and only if it is possible to keep a distance of at least a meter between customers.
All museums and cultural venues are closed, as well as nightclubs, cinemas, theaters, and casinos, which have been shut since the weekend.
While supermarkets will remain open, large shopping centers and department stores must close on public holidays and the day before public holidays.*
Schools and universities are closed, and all exams canceled. Religious institutions will stay open, as long as people can stay a meter from one another—but ceremonies such as marriages, baptisms, and funerals are banned.
COVID 19 EPICENTER:
WUHAN CITY, HUBEI PROVINCE, CHINA
BEIJING- China’s new coronavirus cases rise on infections from abroad; 22 new deaths
BEIJING (REUTERS) – China reported an uptick in new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, reversing four straight days of declines, driven by infected individuals arriving from abroad.
Mainland China had 24 new confirmed cases on Tuesday (March 10), the National Health Commission said on Wednesday, up from 19 new cases a day earlier.
Of the new infections, 10 were imported cases, bringing the overall cases from abroad to 79.
The Chinese capital of Beijing on Tuesday saw six new cases involving individuals who travelled from Italy and the United States, while Shanghai had two imported infections, Shandong province one and Gansu province one.
As China’s efforts to control the spread of the pathogen at home start to payoff, Beijing is turning its focus on overseas cases as the coronavirus expands its footprint across the globe.
New infections in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, continued to stabilise, with new cases declining for the sixth day.
In Wuhan, the provincial capital, just 13 new infections were reported on Tuesday, or all of the new cases in Hubei.
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday made his first visit to Wuhan since the coronavirus outbreak forced a lockdown of the city of 11 million people.
A few cities in Hubei have started to loosen restrictions on movement of people and goods.
Hunan province and the municipality of Chongqing lowered their emergency response level as domestic infections eased across the country.
So far, 24 municipalities, regions and provinces have cut their emergency response level from the highest tier previously.
The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far stood at 80,778 as of Tuesday.
The death toll in mainland China had reached 3,158 as of the end of Tuesday, up by 22 from the previous day.
The central province of Hubei accounted for all of the new deaths, including 19 fatalities in the provincial capital of Wuhan.
XI JINPING IN WUHAN; HUBEI TO LET SOME PEOPLE TRAVEL
JAKARTA- Indonesia arrests six over coronavirus Internet hoaxes
JAKARTA (AFP) – Six Indonesians have been arrested for allegedly spreading misinformation online about the deadly coronavirus, police said yesterday, as the Southeast Asian nation’s confirmed infection cases jumped.
A woman in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya was arrested on Monday for spreading inaccurate claims on Facebook a patient was being treated for the virus in the city, police said.
Five others were also detained for spreading false information on social media, including claims a Muslim woman flying to Saudi Arabia for a religious pilgrimage had died suddenly from the virus at Jakarta’s international airport. All six suspects are accused of violating laws banning the spread of misinformation, which carries as much as six years in prison.
“It should serve as a lesson for other people not to spread hoaxes about coronavirus in Indonesia,” Senior Communications Ministry Official Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan said.
But only in heavily virus-infected areas as Duterte rejects Metrowide isolation
The government is eyeing a localized lockdown in areas where there will be a significant spike in number of
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told lawmakers of the selective lockdown during a House hearing Tuesday as number of confirmed cases reached 33 after nine more patients tested positive.“Based on our objective criteria, we will see a possible lockdown. If that happens, it will be localized. It will not be the entire Metro Manila,” he said.“A lockdown scenario is possible if there is proof of community-based transmission. So far, we do not see that yet,” Duque added./ byMacon Ramos-Araneta and Rio N. Araja
* The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday confirmed that a fourth Filipino national tested positive for COVID-19 in Hong Kong.
Citing information from the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong, the agency said the new patient was asymptomatic. The first Filipino national who contracted the disease was discharged from the hospital on March 6, while the second and third cases are still confined in the hospital, which brings back to three the total number of COVID-19-positive Filipinos in the special administrative region.
Singapore will still waive testing fees for these short-term visit pass holders, but they will have to pay for treatment if they are warded. The Government will continue to pay for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders – such as work, student’s and dependant’s passes – who are admitted to public hospitals for treatment, an MOH spokesman said.
The ministry also confirmed 10 new patients on Monday, of whom six are linked to the Joy Garden private dinner function at Safra Jurong on Feb 15. One is linked to the Life Church and Missions Singapore, while the remaining three are imported.
SINGAPORE- Costa Fortuna cruise ship docks in S’pore
SINGAPORE (CNA) – The cruise liner turned away from ports in Malaysia and Thailand due to COVID-19 concerns docked in Singapore yesterday, with some passengers immediately taken to Changi Airport by bus. The Costa Fortuna berthed at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre as part of a scheduled call, after the ship was barred from stopping in Penang and Phuket.
SINGAPORE- All 1,631 passengers cleared to leave Costa Fortuna in 14 hours
Coronavirus: Costa Fortuna cruise ship docks in Singapore |
Foreigners taken to airport or hotels and will leave Republic within next 2 days
All passengers have disembarked from a cruise ship that docked in Singapore yesterday morning after being rejected at several ports over fears about the coronavirus.
It took about 14 hours – from 8.40am to around 11pm – for all 1,631 passengers on board to leave the Costa Fortuna.
All foreign passengers were taken directly to the airport or their hotels by midnight, said the Health Ministry (MOH), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board in a joint statement.
They added that all foreign passengers will depart from Singapore within the next two days.
CANBERRA- Australia’s coronavirus fight to lean on pop-up clinics
CANBERRA (BLOOMBERG) – Australia will open as many as 100 pop-up respiratory clinics as part of a A$2.4 billion (S$2.17 billion) health package to combat coronavirus as new cases in the nation rise.
The clinics, to be staffed by doctors and nurses, will be able to cater for as many as 75 patients a day over six months, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday (March 11).
The government on Wednesday said it would bar foreign nationals who have been in Italy in the past 14 days from entering Australia, in line with previously-announced measures for China, Iran and South Korea.
NEW YORK, USA- Coronavirus in New York: Life takes an eerie turn in New Rochelle ‘containment area’
NEW ROCHELLE (NYTIMES) – Surgical masks at the bus stop. Residents stocking up on toilet paper and medical supplies. A purple ribbon around a tree outside a virus-besieged synagogue.
The sights and rituals of life in this New York City suburb, which had already been altered, took an eerie turn on Tuesday (March 10), as New York’s governor announced a drastic new step to try to control the spread of the coronavirus in one of the largest clusters in the United States.
State officials created a 1-mile radius zone in New Rochelle, in Westchester County, where schools and other buildings will be forced to close and the National Guard will be deployed.
Mr Matt Phillips, who lives not far from the synagogue with his wife and two teenage children, said he hoped that the measures would help, but he also expressed a fear that New Rochelle would be living with coronavirus for a while.
“I think the hope is to slow it down,” Mr Phillips, 50, said. “But I’m not under any illusion that it will be gone in two weeks.”
MILAN- Virus woes shift from China to Italy as borders slam shut
BEIJING (AP) — Starkly illustrating the global east-to-west spread of the new coronavirus, Italy began an extraordinary, sweeping nationwide travel ban yesterday while in China, the diminishing threat prompted the Chinese President to visit the epicentre.
MADRID- Spain steps up battle plan against bug to ‘avoid Italian
Tourists wear protective face masks as they take part in an audio tour of the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
MADRID (REUTERS) – Spain shut down schools in several regions, suspended flights from Italy and closed the lower house of parliament for at least a week after a lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus, in the hope of stemming a growing outbreak.
The government recommended avoiding travel both within and outside Spain and banned indoor gatherings of more than 1,000 people in the regions most affected by the virus – Madrid, the Rioja wine-growing region and two areas in the northern Basque Country.
“We are working on avoiding the Italian scenario,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told reporters.