● The Italian government said it had 132 confirmed cases, three in a few days. Authorities have blocked about a dozen small towns and canceled events across the north.
● On Sunday, the Chinese government reported 648 new cases across the country and 97 deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 76,936, with 2,442 deaths.
● Three cruise ships are docked in Wuhan to house health workers to help the city’s overloaded health system. On Sunday, Union Jiangbei Hospital in Wuhan announced that a 29-year-old doctor had died of coronavirus, the second death of a young doctor in Hubei in the past few days.
● A third passenger who had been aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship died, Japanese media reported Sunday.
● South Korea raised the national threat level to the “red alert” after cases rose to 602, the first time the country used the highest setting since the H1N1 swine flu epidemic in 2009.
● Iran confirmed seven coronavirus-related deaths, the most outside of China, according to media reports Sunday. South Korea has confirmed its fifth and sixth death.
HONG KONG – Coronavirus outbreaks in South Korea and Italy continued to expand last Sunday as both countries reported a series of new cases and Italian authorities ran to seal hotspot cities.
While the latest Chinese figures showed new cases largely concentrated in Hubei, concern was growing about the virus in other parts of the world, including in Europe, which has not yet seen a large-scale outbreak so far.
South Korea reported a significant increase in cases on Sunday, with 169 new cases bringing the total to 602 and two more deaths totaling six. Italy has stated that the number of confirmed cases has reached 132, increasing from three in a few days.
The sudden outbreak in Italy took the authorities by surprise, triggering serious interruptions of the kind that upset life in China. Universities throughout northern Italy, where the epidemic is concentrated, are closed; the main football matches have been canceled. Checkpoints have been set up in around a dozen cities to prevent most people from entering or leaving.
“We have already ordered the police and law enforcement agencies to comply,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. “If necessary, there will also be armed forces.”
The Chinese government has announced that there have been 648 more confirmed cases of the new coronavirus outbreak late Saturday evening, bringing the total to mainland China to 76,936, with 97 more deaths since the outbreak bringing the total to 2,442 across the nation.
Within China, the epidemic remains worst in Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, where the epidemic first surfaced in December. The new official data showed that the vast majority of new confirmed cases across China – 630 – were in the province, while all but one death was in Hubei.
Hubei has been blocked since January 23, an unprecedented organizational response to a health crisis. Starting on Sunday, three separate cruise ships arrived in Wuhan to host health workers for the city’s expanded health system, sparking mixed reactions from Chinese Internet users.
The Japanese NHK reported the same day that the number of cases rose to 135, excluding cases related to the Diamond Princess, where at least 650 people who traveled on board the ship are now confirmed cases.
The Diamond Princess outbreak alone has had a global impact. At least 18 Americans and seven Australians have tested positive for the virus after returning to their home countries and medical authorities in both countries say they expect to find more cases as more tests are done.
Twelve members of the Indian crew have so far been confirmed as cases on board the ship, NDTV of India reported Sunday.
And a serious outbreak occurred in Italy, where the cases exceeded 100 on Sunday, with two deaths, making it the most affected European nation.
With some new indications that coronavirus could have an incubation period longer than 14 days and a variety of cases without a clear link to Hubei, as well as persistent concerns for Chinese figures, health officials remain concerned about the risk of a pandemic. global .
In China, Hubei remains at the center of most cases
The large number of new cases confirmed in Hubei continues to present challenges for the province, which has been blocked for almost a month.
On Sunday, Union Jiangbei Hospital in Wuhan announced that a 29-year-old Xia Sisi, a front-line doctor from the gastroenterology department, had died of coronavirus early Sunday morning. Xia had been hospitalized on January 19th, the hospital said.
Hubei’s health workers’ budget has been heavy. China Daily reports that another 29-year-old Wuhan physician, Peng Yinhua, died on Thursday after postponing his marriage to help cure the epidemic.
China is bringing seven cruise ships to help health workers home for the coronavirus response, with the first, Blue Whale, arriving on Friday evening followed by Changjiang Fu Tai and Changjiang Fu Tai n. 2 Saturday.
In total, the ships will provide 1267 berths to health workers, according to local media reports, and have made great efforts to provide a safe environment, including a ship dedicated to waste disposal. But on Chinese social media, opinions have been divided on the idea, with some comparing it to the situation aboard the Diamond Princess.
On Weibo, some users have suggested that air conditioning in ships should have been sealed and plumbing inspection. “If I were a doctor, I would set up a tent on my own,” wrote one user.
The spread of the epidemic in confined spaces continued to cause concern. The local government announced that 32 new cases were confirmed on Saturday in the Hubei prison system, bringing the total to 304.
On Saturday, the provinces of Sichuan and Heilongjiang announced that they would move towards a “warlike” management system in prisons and drug treatment centers to try to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
Concerns over a longer incubation period also arose in Hubei after a 70-year-old man infected with coronavirus showed no symptoms until 27 days later, local government reported Saturday.
South Korea raises the national alert level to the highest possible level
South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 169 additional coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the national virus count to 602.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in told an emergency meeting that the country is now in a “crucial moment” that has required all government and public efforts to deal with the virus.
The Moon raised the national alert level to the “red” high, a novelty for South Korea since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu epidemic.
The South Korean leader said the government is confident that it can deal with the transmissions as most new cases are traced back to existing clusters. Most South Korean coronavirus cases have been linked to two clusters in a church in the southern city of Daegu and a nearby hospital in Cheongdo county in northern Gyeongsang province.
Moon said that emergency support was mobilized for Daegu as it “is approaching his ability”.
“Please avoid excessive anxiety and trust the government’s actions,” Moon said in a message to the public. “If all people come together with confidence, we can win. Trust and cooperation are the way to win this battle against the virus “.
Over half of South Korea’s 556 cases are traced to Daegu church, which is a branch of the church of Jesus, the temple of the Tabernacle of Shincheonji’s Testimony. Shincheonji, a marginal religious sect, is often described as “cult” by critics.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Sunday that a 56-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the virus died in a university hospital in Daegu.
The KCDC confirmed the fifth death of the coronavirus in South Korea. The woman in her fifties had suffered from chronic kidney disease before being diagnosed with the virus on Tuesday. The KCDC has said it is investigating the exact cause of his death.
A different church in the southern city of Busan also reported three virus cases, one of which is the son of a South Korean man who had been to Wuhan. The father himself, however, had tested negative for the virus after returning from Wuhan, according to the KCDC.
Fears are growing in the Middle East as the death toll in Iran increases
An Iranian health ministry official told Sunday on state television that there have been 43 confirmed cases in the country, including eight dead, Reuters reports.
The outbreak increased tension between Iran, already isolated from sanctions, and its neighbors. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that the threat of coronavirus was exaggerated by enemies of the country who hoped to cast doubt on Friday’s parliamentary elections.
On Saturday, however, Iran itself ordered the closure of schools and universities in an attempt to prevent further spread of the epidemic.
In Israel, reports that a group of South Koreans who tested positive for the infection had visited some of the country’s most popular religious and tourist spots raised concern across the country.
Dozens of students who may have been in close proximity to South Korean tourists were forced to stay in quarantine for two weeks, as well as hotel housekeepers and employees of Masada, Tel Ber Sheeva and other national parks.
According to local media reports, non-Israeli travelers from South Korea and Japan have been barred from entering the country, and Israelis arriving from multiple Asian countries face two weeks of mandatory quarantine.
The Japanese emperor expresses fears for the Olympics
The number of new coronavirus cases in Japan has risen to 135, NHK reported, excluding the burden of the case from the Diamond Princess.
A Japanese woman who had been released from the ship last week developed the fever and tested positive for the virus on Saturday, the Japanese health ministry said. The woman had tested negative on February 14 and had been allowed to return to her home in Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo.
The latest case reinforced concerns over Japan’s decision to allow Diamond Princess passengers to return home if they tested negative for the virus after an initial 14-day quarantine period.
NHK reported Sunday that a third passenger had died after leaving the ship. The cause of death was pneumonia, the Japanese health minister said, but the ministry did not reveal whether the man, who was 80 years old, had been infected with the coronavirus.
The U.S. and other countries have imposed an additional 14-day quarantine on passengers returning from the ship, out of concern the virus was still spreading around the ship during the initial period, but Japan insisted on its deal to isolate passengers and preventing the virus from spreading was healthy.
Japan’s ministry of health says it sets conditions for leaving the ship after hearing expert opinions. But he says he takes the latest development seriously, NHK reported.
The Japanese emperor Naruhito, in his first press conference since he ascended the throne, said Sunday that he was looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics in the summer, but that he was worried about the spread of the new coronavirus, Reuters reported.
“This new coronavirus is cause for concern. I would like to send my sympathies to those who are infected and their families,” he said, speaking on his 60th birthday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered a government task force to prepare for a potential increase in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus, NHK reported.
Abe said the epidemic entered a “crucial phase” with emerging cases across the country where it was not possible to trace the path of infection or a link with China. He said authorities need to prepare for a possible jump in patient numbers, focusing efforts to prevent infected people from falling seriously ill.
The State Department increased its travel advice for Japan and South Korea to level 2 on a four-level scale on Friday, urging older travelers and people with chronic conditions to consider delaying unnecessary travel.
Min Joo Kim reported from Seoul. Simon Denyer in Tokyo, Steve Hendrix in Jerusalem and Liu Yang in Beijing also contributed to this report.