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  • More than 113,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus and almost 4,000 people have died.

    More than 113,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus and almost 4,000 people have died. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 March 2020
Opinion

“Unfortunately we’re only at the beginning,” the Head of infectious disease at Milan’s Sacco Hospital Dr. Massimo Galli said.

Dozens of countries worldwide took extensive and unprecedented measures Monday in an effort to halt the rapid spread of the coronavirus, including a total lockdown of Italy and weeks-long quarantines. 

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“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” said World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

“The great advantage we have is the decisions we all make as governments, businesses, communities, families, and individuals can influence the trajectory of this epidemic.”

Italy -the most affected country after China- has intensified its struggle against the virus with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announcing Monday that the lockdown on some 16 million people in the north will be expanded Tuesday to the entire country.   

The European country reported a large increase in the number of people infected by the virus, raising the total to 9,172 cases and 463 deaths. 

Italian doctors celebrated a small victory after the first patient diagnosed with the illness was moved out of intensive care and began breathing on his own. But the rapid spread of the virus is forcing doctors to work as if in war times, selecting patients to decide who gets access to scarce beds.

“Unfortunately we’re only at the beginning,” the Head of infectious disease at Milan’s Sacco Hospital Dr. Massimo Galli said.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government has decided to quarantine all those arriving from abroad for two weeks. 

In Ireland, officials called off all St. Patrick’s Day parades and in Spain, the health minister announced that all schools in and around the capital, including kindergartens and universities, will close for two weeks after a sharp rise in virus diagnoses. 

In Iran, state television said the virus had killed another 43 people, pushing the toll to 237, with 7,161 confirmed cases, meanwhile, South Korea reported 165 more cases, bringing its total to 7,478.

In the United States (U.S.), more than 600 infections and 26 deaths have been reported. The Grand Princess cruise ship docked in Oakland, California, after days at sea while those aboard were tested.

After closing its land borders, Saudi Arabia cut off air and sea travel to and from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates. All Saudi schools and universities closed starting Monday.

Qatar cut off travel to 15 countries and said it would shut down schools and universities beginning Tuesday.

On the other hand, the fears stirred up by the virus provoked Monday Wall Street’s biggest loss since the 2008 financial crisis. Global oil prices also underwent their worst percentage losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War.

More than 113,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus and almost 4,000 people have died, most of them in China. More than 62,000 people have recovered so far.

For most people, the virus causes only moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For older people and those with health problems, it can cause more severe illness, such as pneumonia.

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