January 21, 2021

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Coronavirus spreading faster outside China as cases multiply

5 min read
<p>The World Health Organisation says the majority of new coronavirus cases are now outside China as Europe braces for a health crisis.</p>

The World Health Organisation says the majority of new coronavirus cases are now outside China, with a patient diagnosed in South America for the first time and Europe facing a tourism crisis.

Worries over the ever-expanding economic fallout of the outbreak multiplied, with factories idled, trade routes frozen and tourism crippled, while a growing list of countries braced for the illness to breach their borders.

The WHO reported the number of new coronavirus cases outside China has exceeded the number of fresh cases in China for the first time.

Europe appears on the cusp of a health and tourism crisis as the spread of the Chinese coronavirus continues to grasp the continent amid a raft of new cases and deaths.

"The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

About 81,000 people around the globe have been sickened by the coronavirus that kept finding new targets.

With Brazil confirming the arrival of Latin America's first case, the virus had a toehold on every continent but Antarctica.

Italy has today sought to rally international support for its efforts to contain the country's own outbreak as its death toll rose to 12 and the caseload reached 374.

Premier Giuseppe Conte's government, which has been struggling to contain the rapidly spreading virus, urged cooperation from its European neighbors, not isolation and discrimination.

"Viruses don't know borders and they don't stop at them," Health Minister Roberto Speranza insisted at the start of a crisis meeting with World Health Organisation and European Union representatives in Rome.

Twelve people have died in Italy, all of them elderly, with other ailments or both, civil protection chief Angelo Borelli said.

The Italian government has been defending its handling of the crisis, even as it acknowledges alarm over its growing caseload — more than any other country outside Asia — and inability to locate the origin.

Elsewhere in Europe, Greece registered its first positive coronavirus case, in a woman who had recently travelled to Italy's afflicted north, after Austria, Croatia and Switzerland reported their first cases yesterday from people who had also recently visited the region.

Spain has reported nine cases since Monday, all with an Italy link and two of France's five new cases had ties to Italy.

Local authorities in Austria also took quarantine measures after two unconfirmed cases had an Italy link, only to remove them when tests came back negative.

Overnight, Italy registered 52 more cases alone.

In France, a 60-year-old Frenchman died in a Paris hospital, France's second virus-related death.

His case puzzled and worried French authorities, because he was one of two new patients who tested positive for the virus in France this week who had not travelled to a "risk zone," including Italy or China, according authorities in his home region north of Paris.

The Italian national health system has been overwhelmed with distribution problems slowing the delivery of masks and protective gear for medical personnel in the hard-hit areas.

In addition, officials are battling to contain public panic among Italians who are stocking up on bottled water, long-life milk and other non-perishable food that have left some supermarket shelves empty.

Italy is in some ways a victim of its own scrupulousness, with virologists noting that it is registering so many cases because it's actively looking for them. To date, more than 9400 Italians have been tested and 95 per cent of those have returned negative results.

The alarm, caution and panic wasn't unique to Italy.

At a high school in Vienna, students were kept inside to be tested for the virus after a teacher who recently returned from a trip to Italy started showing symptoms of the virus, Austrian media reported. but the test came back negative.

Elsewhere, authorities in Austria placed an apartment complex in the southern town of Bad Kleinkirchheim under quarantine after a 56-year-old woman from Italy died overnight. That test, too, came back negative and the quarantine was lifted.

In Croatia, where a second case was confirmed in the twin brother of a young man who contracted the virus in Milan, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic warned against panic shopping.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the country is preparing for the possibility of an increase in cases. A German man with the virus was in critical condition and his wife also tested positive. Schools and kindergartens in the area where he became ill were remaining shut.

Rugby Six Nations match affected

Amid the hysteria around Italy's outbreak, Ireland's Six Nations rugby match against the country in Dublin was today officially because of concerns about the virus' spread.

The Italians were scheduled to play at Ireland on March 7, part of annual rugby competition that also includes England, France, Scotland and Wales. A women's game the following day was also postponed.

The decision to postpone the matches came from Irish Health Minister Simon Harris, who met with rugby officials today.

"At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the governments' need to protect public health in relation to the coronavirus," the Irish Rugby Football Union said in a statement.

"We were then advised, formally, that the National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health. The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction."

Rugby officials plan talks about when the matches can be rescheduled.

Coronavirus reaches South America

In South America, Brazil's government has today also confirmed that a 61-year-old man who traveled to Italy has Latin America's first confirmed case the virus.

"We will now see how this virus behaves in a tropical country in the middle of summer, how its behavior pattern will be," Brazil's Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in a press conference.

Coronavirus protection plan fast-tracked

The Brazilian man spent two weeks in northern Italy's Lombardy region on a work trip, where he contracted the contagious virus, the health ministry said.

According to the Health Ministry, the man began to show symptoms compatible with the illness, such as a dry cough, throat pain and flu symptoms.

The man is now in a stable condition in isolation at his home in Sao Paulo after multiple series of tests.

Brazil's national health agency Anvisa has been working to map all contact the man had with other people in the hospital, at home, and on the plane returning to Brazil.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/coronavirus-italy-cases-deaths-europe-crisis-health-warnings-south-america-world/6328d0f5-3909-458d-b03b-5c3017292d41

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