Coronavirus: South Korea declares highest alert as infections surge

Market workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant at a market in the south-eastern city of Daegu on February 23, 2020Picture copyright

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The South Korean metropolis of Daegu has seen the largest enhance in infections

South Korea has raised its coronavirus alert to the “highest degree” as confirmed case numbers maintain rising.

President Moon Jae-in mentioned the nation confronted “a grave turning level”, and the subsequent few days could be essential within the battle to include the outbreak.

5 folks have died from the virus in South Korea and greater than 600 have been contaminated.

In the meantime, Italy and Iran have introduced steps to attempt to include worrying outbreaks of the virus.

In Italy, strict quarantine restrictions are in drive in two northern “hotspot” areas near Milan and Venice.

Individuals can’t enter or depart a number of cities in Veneto and Lombardy for the subsequent two weeks with out particular permission. Even outdoors the zone, many companies and faculties have suspended actions, and sporting occasions have been cancelled together with a number of top-flight soccer matches.

Italy has seen two deaths and the variety of confirmed circumstances has risen to greater than 100 – 89 of them in Lombardy.

“The contagiousness of this virus could be very robust and fairly virulent,” mentioned Lombardy’s well being chief, Giulio Gallera.

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Italian police are guarding a hospital close to Padova, Veneto, the place checks for the virus are being carried out

Iran’s outbreak of coronavirus has considerably worsened, with 5 deaths since Wednesday. The federal government has acknowledged 29 confirmed circumstances though officers have warned the virus could have unfold to “all cities”.

Faculties, universities and cultural centres throughout 14 Iranian provinces have been closed from Sunday.

The brand new pressure of coronavirus, which originated final yr in Hubei province in China, causes a respiratory illness referred to as Covid-19.

What’s taking place in South Korea?

On Sunday, well being officers revealed an additional leap within the variety of coronavirus circumstances with a cluster of infections linked to a hospital and to a spiritual group close to the south-eastern metropolis of Daegu.

South Korea has seen the biggest variety of confirmed circumstances after China, the place there have been greater than 76,000 infections. An outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has additionally seen greater than 600 circumstances.

“The Covid-19 incident faces a grave turning level,” President Moon mentioned following a gathering with ministers and consultants.

“The subsequent few days will likely be essential. The federal government will elevate the alert degree to the best degree of ‘grave’ in line with consultants’ suggestions and drastically strengthen our response system.”

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Media captionIndividuals in Daegu have voiced concern over the unfold of the virus

On Sunday, South Korea reported 169 new circumstances – 95 of them linked to a Christian sect in Daegu referred to as the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. The overall variety of circumstances linked to the church stands at 329, the Korea Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (KCDC) mentioned.

In a video assertion, a church spokesman expressed “deep remorse” that lots of its followers and residents of South Korea had been contaminated. The spokesman added that the church had suggested about 250,000 members to minimise their outdoors contact and take precautions.

Daenam Hospital in close by Cheongdo, which treats the aged and other people with psychological well being points, has seen greater than 110 folks contaminated together with 9 medical employees.

In different developments:

Israel refused to permit non-Israelis to disembark from a Korean Air airplane at Ben-Gurion Airport on Saturday. It had introduced a ban on South Koreans and Japanese guests, sparking an official protest from Seoul
China reported one other 97 deaths on Sunday, taking its complete to 2,442

Dozens of evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have begun their two-week quarantine within the UK

What is the wider scenario?

The top of the World Well being Group (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has expressed concern on the variety of new circumstances with no clear hyperlink to China or different confirmed circumstances.

In a briefing to the African Union on Saturday, he mentioned the best concern now was international locations with weaker well being programs, notably in Africa.

Dr Tedros mentioned the WHO was working with African governments to coach hundreds of well being employees and to supply tools to determine and deal with contaminated folks.

“Our largest concern continues to be the potential for Covid-19 to unfold in international locations with weaker well being programs,” he mentioned. “We’re working arduous to arrange international locations in Africa for the potential arrival of the virus.”

Dr Tedros mentioned some international locations, such because the Democratic Republic of Congo, had been utilizing expertise gained from testing for the Ebola virus to check for the brand new coronavirus.

“This can be a nice instance of how investing in well being programs will pay dividends for well being safety,” he added.

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