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  • At least 650 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy.

    At least 650 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy. | Photo: EFE

Published 27 February 2020
Opinion

The comments come as new infections reported around the world are now surpassing those in mainland China, whose numbers are on the decline after an aggressive containment campaign.

No country should make the “fatal mistake” of assuming it will be spared of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization warned Thursday, as governments across the world initiate emergency protocols to contain the epidemic’s rapid spread.

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The comments come as new infections reported around the world are now surpassing those in mainland China, whose numbers are on the decline after an aggressive containment campaign.

Chinese authorities said the number of new deaths stood at 29 on Thursday, its lowest daily tally since Jan. 28. There were just 433 new cases in mainland China over the previous day, compared to 586 in nations and territories elsewhere.

Though the outbreak meets the definition of a pandemic - widespread contagion across a large region - the WHO has so far held back from using that term. “This virus has pandemic potential,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

As of Thursday, there are more than 82,000 cases around the world, including 2,808 deaths. The vast majority of these are in mainland China, which has reported 78,497 cases and 2,744 deaths.

According to WHO Chief, countries like Iran, Italy and South Korea at a “decisive point”, still short of sustained community transmission.  

At least 650 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy, officials said. While there are now more than 1,700 cases in South Korea.

In Japan, where cases rose to 200, there was particular concern after a female tour bus guide tested positive for a second time - one of very few worldwide to do so.

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As well as stockpiling medical supplies, governments across the world have ordered schools shut and canceled big gatherings, including sports events, to try to halt the pneumonia-like disease that emerged in China more than two months ago.

While fears of a possible pandemic spread as fast as the disease itself, global markets have taken their biggest hits in years. Global equity markets have dropped for six straight days, wiping out more than US$3.6 trillion in value.

U.S. stocks faced another sharp selloff Thursday, both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 indexes are on track for their worst week since the fall of 2008, the midst of the financial crisis.

“We have a crisis before us. An epidemic is on its way,” French President Emmanuel Macron said at a Paris hospital where a 60-year-old man this week became France’s second coronavirus fatality.

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