NEW DELHI: Crossing more borders, the new coronavirus hit a milestone Friday, infecting more than 100,000 people worldwide as it wove itself deeper into the daily lives of millions, infecting the powerful, the unprotected poor and the vast masses in between. Officially known as COVID-19, the virus has killed nearly 3,400 people worldwide.
The 100,000 figure of global infections is largely symbolic but dwarfs other major outbreaks in recent decades. SARS, MERS and Ebola affected far fewer people but had higher mortality rates.
Here is a look at top developments:
Italy reports 49 more deaths; total at 197
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has risen by 49 to 197 on Friday, the largest daily increase in fatalities since the contagion was uncovered two weeks ago. The cumulative number of cases in the country, which has been hardest hit by the virus in Europe, totalled 4,636 against 3,858 on Thursday. Authorities said that of those originally infected, 523 had fully recovered versus 414 the day before.
Virus breaches Vatican walls
A Vatican spokesman confirmed the first case of coronavirus at the city-state that is home to the pope. Spokesman Matteo Bruni said non-emergency medical services at the Vatican have been closed for sanitizing. More details on the identity of the person testing positive were not made available. Pope Francis has been recovering from a cold all week and the Vatican has said he doesn’t have another pathology.
Togo confirms first coronavirus case
Togo on Friday confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus after a 42-year-old woman tested positive following her return from a trip to Benin, Germany, France and Turkey. The presidency in the West African nation of eight million people said the patient, who lives in the capital Lome with her family, was “currently isolated in a treatment centre for infectious diseases” after testing positive on Thursday. It said all people who had contact with the patient in the country “have been identified and put in quarantine”.
Another cruise ship anchored
Some passengers and crew members aboard a cruise ship held off the California coast were awaiting test results to know if they are infected with the novel coronavirus. A traveler from a previous voyage on the Grand Princess died of COVID-19 disease and at least four others became infected. As results were expected Friday, more than 3,500 people were trapped aboard the 951-foot (290-meter) vessel.
12 cases detected on Egypt cruise
Egypt detects 12 cases of the virus among workers aboard a Nile cruise liner heading from Aswan to Luxor. Health authorities conduct tests aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship stranded off the coast of San Francisco to determine if any of the nearly 3,500 guests and crew have contracted the virus.
230 people test positive in the US; 12 deaths
In the US the number of cases passed 230 people scattered across 18 states. Twelve people have died from the virus, hundreds were placed in self-quarantines due to cases in a New York suburb.
Foreign nationals in Africa test positive
In sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal has registered four cases, all foreign nationals, and South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon have one case each.
New cases slow down in China and South Korea
China reported 143 new cases Friday, the same as a day earlier and about one-third what the country was seeing a week ago. Just a month ago, China was reporting several thousand new cases a day. The problem has now flipped, with the outbreak moving to Europe — where Italy, Germany and France had the most cases — and beyond. South Korea reported 505 additional cases Friday, down from a high of 851 on Tuesday.
North Korea ends quarantine of some foreigners
North Korea said Friday it has released about 220 foreigners from a quarantine imposed as part of its vigilant prevention efforts to avoid an outbreak of the coronavirus that has spread around the world. About 380 foreigners in North Korea had been placed under medical surveillance, state radio had previously reported. The Korean Central News Agency said Friday that 221 of them were freed from “strict confined medical observation.” It gave no further details. North Korea has said at least 7,000 of its people were in medical surveillance as well.
MEASURES AND IMPACT
* The global march of the new virus triggered a vigorous appeal from the World Health Organisation for governments to pull out “all the stops” to slow the epidemic. “This is not a drill. This is not the time for giving up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva. “Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans.” As Chinese manufacturers gradually reopened their factories, anti-virus barriers went up elsewhere.
* U.S. lawmakers approved an $8.3 billion package to contain the virus this week, but that has done little to ease the alarm about the potential dent to growth.
* Financial markets remained volatile, as investors continued to weigh the size of the epidemic’s dent on the global economy. Outbreak fears led to a sharp U.S. stock selloff, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 969 points, or 3.6%, nearly wiping out gains from a day earlier. Analysts said more yo-yo moves on global markets are likely.
* The Milan-San Remo cycling race in Italy is postponed, the latest in a long list of sporting events hit by the virus. Next week’s session of the European parliament will be moved from Strasbourg to Brussels.
* As travelers faced ever-greater disruptions, the outlook for the industry was increasingly grim. The International Air Transport Association said the outbreak could cost airlines as much as $113 billion in lost revenue. British airline Flybe collapsed amid sinking demand.
* Coronavirus measures hit Friday turnout at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, where attendance at weekly prayers was hit by measures. In Iraq, representatives of top Shiite cleric did not deliver his weekly sermon in Karbala on Friday, a first since the fall of Saddam Hussein, due to fears of spreading the novel coronavirus.
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