Among fears of where the next outbreak of a rapidly expanding new virus would appear, infections and deaths continued to rise worldwide on Sunday, emptying the streets of tourists and workers, shaking economies and rewriting the realities of life daily.
Panic buying of daily needs has emerged in Japan, tourist sites in Asia, Europe and the Middle East have been abandoned and governments have closed schools and banned large gatherings. The amusement parks have been closed and the concerts have been canceled. In Paris, priests stopped putting sacramental bread in the mouth of the faithful.
As the new coronavirus has extended its reach around the world, defined geographic groups of infections were emerging, with Iran, Italy and South Korea having seen increasing cases. Meanwhile, the United States has registered its first death, a man in his 50’s in Washington state who had underlying conditions but had not traveled to any affected area.
“More cases are likely to occur in the United States, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover,” said President Donald Trump during a briefing on Saturday, where officials announced more warnings about travel to certain regions of the country. Italy and South Korea as well as a ban on travel to Iran.
China reported a slight increase in new cases on Sunday in the past 24 hours at 573, the first time in five days that the number exceeded 500. They remain almost entirely confined to the hardest hit province of Hubei and its capital, the epicenter. by Wuhan.
The list of countries affected by the virus has risen to nearly 60, with Ireland and Ecuador reporting their first cases on Saturday. More than 86,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus, with deaths exceeding 2,900.
The holiest places in Islam were closed to foreign pilgrims, while professional baseball teams played in deserted stadiums in Japan and officials in France advised residents to give up the usual greeting kisses.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recommended that a meeting on March 9 in which around 10,000 people to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a United Nations conference on women’s rights be drastically scaled down due to the spread of COVID-19.
Many cases of viruses have been relatively mild and some of those infected apparently show no symptoms. This may allow for easier spread and concerns are being raised that prolonged quarantines, supply chain disruptions and a sharp reduction in tourism and business travel could weaken the global economy or even cause a recession.
South Korea, the second most affected country after China, has over 3,500 cases.
Italian authorities say the country now has more than 1,100 coronavirus cases, with 29 dead so far.
Iran is preparing for the possibility that “tens of thousands” of people will be tested for the virus, as the number of confirmed cases has increased again on Saturday, an official said. So far, the virus and the COVID-19 disease it has caused have killed over 40 people in nearly 600 confirmed cases in Iran.
As governments rushed to control the spread and companies struggling with outages, researchers working to better understand the disease reported that the death rate may be lower than initially feared as milder cases are counted.
A study conducted by Chinese researchers published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzing 1,099 patients in over 500 hospitals in China calculated a mortality rate of 1.4%, substantially lower than previous patient-centered studies in Wuhan, where it is started and was more serious.
Assuming there are many more cases with absent or very mild symptoms, “the death rate can be considerably less than 1%,” United States health officials wrote in an editorial in the magazine.
This would make the new virus more like a serious seasonal flu than a disease similar to its genetic cousins SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome or MERS, Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome.
There is growing evidence of the vast cost and economic turmoil of the disease that emerged in central China in December. A new report shows a sharp drop in Chinese production in February, after efforts to contain the virus blocked much of the world’s second largest economy. The poll comes as global equity markets drop sharply from fears that the virus will spread overseas.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced a $ 3.35 billion CDN emergency economic package to help fight the virus. Abe said at a press conference that Japan is at a critical moment in determining whether the country can keep the epidemic under control ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Abe, whose announcement last week of a school shutdown plan for more than a month has been criticized, said the emergency package includes financial support for parents and their employers affected by the closures.
“Frankly speaking, this battle cannot be won only by government efforts,” Abe said. “We cannot do this without the understanding and cooperation of each of you, including medical institutions, families, businesses and local governments.”
In sanctioned North Korea, leader Kim Jong-un has called for more anti-virus efforts to protect himself from COVID-19, saying there will be “serious consequences” if the disease spreads to the country.
China has seen a slowdown in new infections and the ruling party is working to restore public and business confidence and prevent a deeper economic downturn and politically risky job losses after weeks of outages due to the epidemic. viral.
In other areas involved in the outbreak, disturbing scenes met those who ventured out.
The roads were deserted in the city of Sapporo, on the northernmost main island of Japan, Hokkaido, where a state of emergency was issued until mid-March. Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan have announced the closure and major events have been canceled, including a series of concerts by the K-pop group BTS.
In France, the archbishop of Paris advised parish priests not to administer communion by placing sacramental bread in the mouth of the faithful. Instead, the priests were told to put the bread in their hands. The French government has canceled large indoor events.
Saudi Arabia has closed Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina to foreign pilgrims, interrupting travel for thousands of Muslims already headed for the kingdom and potentially influencing plans by the end of the year for another million in view of the fasting month of Ramadan and annual hajj pilgrimage.
Tourist arrivals in Thailand have decreased by 50% compared to a year ago, and in Italy – which has the most reported cases of any country outside Asia – hotel reservations are decreasing and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has raised the spectrum of the recession.
The head of the World Health Organization said that the risk of spreading the virus worldwide was “very high”, while Guterres said that the “window of opportunity” to contain the virus was narrowing.