SHANGHAI / SEOUL (Reuters) – Germany said Wednesday that it was heading for a coronavirus epidemic and could no longer track all cases, as the number of new infections within China – the source of the epidemic – is was for the first time surpassed by those elsewhere.
Asia has reported hundreds of new cases, Brazil has confirmed the first infection of Latin America and the new disease – COVID-19 – has also affected Pakistan, Greece and Algeria. The global food conglomerate Nestlé has suspended all business travel until March 15.
Stock markets around the world lost $ 3.3 trillion in value over four trading days, measured by the all-country MSCI .MIWD00000PUS index, but Wall Street led to a rebound on Wednesday. [MKTS/GLOB]
U.S. health authorities, who have handled 59 cases so far, have said that a global pandemic is likely, but President Donald Trump has accused two cable TV channels that often criticize him of “doing everything possible to make the coronavirus the worst.” possible, including panic markets ”.
The disease is believed to have originated in a market selling wild animals in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year and has infected around 80,000 people and killed over 2,700, the vast majority in China.
While radical quarantine measures have helped slow the transmission rate in China, it is accelerating elsewhere.
Germany, which has around 20 cases, said it was already impossible to trace all infection chains and health minister Jens Spahn called on regional authorities, hospitals and employers to review their pandemic planning.
“A large number of people have had contact with patients, and this is a big change for the 16 patients we have had so far where the chain could be traced back to origins in China,” he said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also spoke on Tuesday about a nascent pandemic. “It’s not a matter of” if “. It’s about” when “and how many people will be infected,” said its deputy chief executive, Anne Schuchat.
“PANDEMIC” – OR NOT?
The World Health Organization (WHO) said China reported 411 new cases on Tuesday – compared to 427 in 37 other countries.
However, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus advised diplomats in Geneva on Wednesday not to talk about a pandemic.
“Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but presents a significant risk in terms of unnecessary and unwarranted amplification of fear and stigma and crippling systems,” he said.
“It could also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true.”
Dr Bruce Aylward, head of a WHO-Chinese joint mission at the outbreak, told reporters on his return to Geneva:
“He thinks the virus will show up tomorrow. If you don’t think so, you won’t be ready … This is a rapidly growing epidemic in several places that we have to face super fast to prevent a pandemic.”
Trump tweeted that he would attend a briefing on Wednesday. But the White House denied a Politician outlet report that was considering appointing a “coronavirus czar”.
WHO claims that the epidemic peaked in China around February 2 after measures that included isolation from Hubei province.
The Chinese National Health Commission reported 406 new infections on Wednesday, down from 508 a day earlier and bringing the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 78,064. The death toll increased from 52 to 2,715.
WHO said that only 10 new cases were reported on Tuesday in China outside Hubei.
FEAR OF THE OLYMPICS
South Korea, which with 1,261 cases has the largest number outside of China, reported 284 new ones including an American soldier, while the authorities were preparing to test more than 200,000 members of a Christian church at the center of the epidemic.
Brazil reported the first case in Latin America, according to a source: a 61-year-old who had visited Italy.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that sporting and cultural events be demolished or reduced for two weeks to stem the virus as a concern raised for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Japan has nearly 170 cases, in addition to 691 connected to a cruise ship that was quarantined off its coast this month. Six people died there, including four from the ship.
There have been nearly 50 deaths outside of China, including 12 in Italy and 19 in Iran, according to a Reuters count.
While Iran reported only 139 cases, epidemiologists say that the mortality rate of around 2% seen elsewhere suggests that the real number of cases in Iran must be many times higher and that Iran-related cases have been reported across the Middle East.
In Europe, Italy has become at the forefront of the global outbreak with 322 cases. Italians or people who have recently visited Italy have tested positive in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Romania, Spain and Switzerland.
Two hotels, one in Austria and one in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands of Spain, have been locked up in cases related to Italy.
Authorities said over 700 guests at Tenerife’s four-star Costa Adeje Palace may leave their rooms after a day of confinement, but should stay in the hotel for 14 days.
“It is very scary because everyone is out in the pool spreading the virus,” said 45-year-old British Lara Pennington, fearing for her two young children and her elderly in-laws.
(Interactive global spread of graphical tracing of coronavirus here)
Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen and Susan Heavey in Washington, Diane Bartz in Chicago, Gavin Jones, Francesca Piscioneri and Crispian Balmer in Rome, Ryan Woo, Yilei Sun and Lusha Zhang in Beijing, Kate Kelland in London, Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith in Seoul, Geert De Clercq in Paris, Paresi Hafezi and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai and Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields in Geneva; Written by Michael Perry, Nick Macfie and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Pravin Char and John Stonestreet