Several European countries have their first cases of -19, all related to Italy, where the outbreak of the continent is at its most intense and intensifies day by day.
Switzerland and Austria, which share a border with Italy, and Croatia, which shares a maritime border, have all reported their first cases of. Later Wednesday, Greece reported its first case, as did Brazil.
In a statement Wednesday from Geneva, the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that other cases related to the Italian epidemic have emerged in Germany, Spain and Algeria. “The sudden increases in cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply worrying,” he said in the UN agency’s weekly briefing COVID-19.
In a big turnaround for, he said, the number of new cases outside China has exceeded those inside China. So far, China has reported 2,718 COVID-19 deaths.
Despite the virus coming from Italy, and the borders between Italy and the rest of the Union remain largely, raising fears that the virus could spread rapidly across the EU.
In a press conference held in Rome at the Italian Ministry of Health, Stella Kyriakides, the European commissioner for health and food safety, said that national health ministries “must be ready to face the increase in COVID infections- 19 “.
But he did not propose strict border restrictions, nor did Mr. Ghebreyesus. WHO has yet to report a COVID-19 pandemic, although it is now present in 38 countries, with nearly 81,000 confirmed cases starting Wednesday morning outside of China. But Ghebreyesus said that “this virus has a pandemic potential”, although the number of new cases in China has declined rapidly.
Italy is one of the three coronavirus hotspots outside China, where the outbreak started in December. The others are South Korea and Iran, where the number of confirmed cases is believed to be underestimated.
As of Wednesday, Italy has recorded 370 confirmed cases, almost all in the northern part of the country and 12 deaths, all from elderly patients. Four of the cases were children, although their symptoms were described as mild. A dozen cities, many of them just south of Milan, have been blocked since the weekend, when the number of cases started to rise.
Italian or non-Italian visitors who had visited Italy appear to be responsible for European cases. The first case on the Spanish mainland, in Barcelona, was a Spanish woman who had recently been to northern Italy. In Tenerife, Spain, the Canary Islands, an Italian doctor and his wife tested positive for the virus, several hundred guests in their hotel were blocked. Two of them tested positive.
Several schools in England and Northern Ireland were closed after their students returned from ski trips to Northern Italy. British Public Health Medical Director Paul Cosford does not advise schools to close but said anyone who has recently visited Northern Italy should be especially alert and self-insulated if they have cough, shortness of breath or fever and call local medical authorities.
The tight blockades in China have substantially slowed the transmission of the virus. WHO said Tuesday that only 10 new cases have been reported outside of Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic.
While the number of new cases outside China is now higher than those within the country, there is some encouraging news: WHO said that 14 countries have not reported new cases in more than a week and nine countries – they have not reported new cases for more than two weeks.
In Rome, Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said that the mortality rate in China for COVID-19 patients has dropped to 1%, half the rate elsewhere.
Equity markets fell again on Wednesday when fears of coronavirus spread across Europe and North America, continuing a strong sell-off that started on Monday. Oil prices, which have been declining rapidly since January, have dropped 2% to less than $ 54 a barrel. Less than two months ago, oil was trading at US $ 68.