More than a thousand cases In South Korea and more and more countries affected: viral pneumonia is spreading all over the world while the balance sheets decrease in China, at the epicenter of the epidemic.
The new coronavirus appeared on Tuesday in four new countries: Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, Algeria. Covid-19 disease now affects, apart from China, three dozen states where it killed more than 40 people and 2,700 infections.
But the epidemic, which appeared in December in central China, seems to have reached a peak in this country: the authorities reported Wednesday morning of 52 new deaths in the space of 24 hours against 71 the day before, the figure the lowest in more than three weeks.
The world is “just not ready” to face it, warned Bruce Aylward, the expert who heads the joint WHO / China mission, returning from Beijing on Tuesday. “You have to be ready to handle this on a larger scale, and it has to be done quickly,” he added.
– The US military affected –
In South Korea, where the situation is “very serious”, according to President Moon Jae-in, the number of contaminations has jumped again to now exceed a thousand cases.
The U.S. military, which is currently stationing 28,500 soldiers in the country, has announced that one of them has contracted the virus near Daegu (southeast), the city with by far the highest number of cases in Korea.
The country, which counts 11 dead according to the assessment announced Wednesday morning, is the first world center of contamination after China. The number of infections now stands at 1,146 people affected, after the addition of 169 new cases.
Most of the confirmed cases are linked to a sect of Christian inspiration, of which one faithful would have infected hundreds of other believers.
– Open borders –
In Europe, Italy is the most affected European country, with more than 300 people infected, mostly in the north of the country. Ten people died, all of them elderly and previously suffering from serious pathologies. Several media have announced an eleventh victim.
Neighboring countries pledged to keep their borders open at a ministerial meeting in Rome on Tuesday.
But France “invites” its nationals to avoid the regions of Italy most affected. The Hexagon now has two new cases of contamination, including a young Chinese woman from China and a Frenchman who had traveled to the Milan region. Their health is not a cause for concern, according to the authorities.
On the mainland, two hotels are placed in quarantine, in Innsbruck (Austria) and in the Spanish island of Tenerife (Canary Islands).
– The pandemic threatens –
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday that the world was still at risk of a “pandemic”, an epidemic of international scale.
The UN agency is particularly concerned about the risks for poor countries, ill-equipped to detect and fight the new virus.
On the African continent, after Egypt, a second infection has been officially recorded: in Algeria, concerning an Italian who arrived on February 17.
In Iran, the mission of a team of WHO experts have been delayed, but remains planned. Tehran announced three new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 15, the heaviest outside of China. The Deputy Minister of Health in person, Iraj Harirchi, was infected.
Against a backdrop of intense tensions between Washington and Tehran, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that Iran tell “the truth” about the epidemic.
– Boomerang effect –
The US health authorities said Tuesday expect a spread of the epidemic in the United States, encouraging schools, businesses, and local communities to consider precautionary measures, such as the cancellation of public events.
US officials fear the epidemic will threaten their drug supply chain, as many of the ingredients used in pharmacies are made in China.
In the latter country, in addition to the number of deaths, the daily number of contaminations is also down: 406 new cases were announced Wednesday against 508 the day before.
All but five of these contaminations have occurred in Hubei, a province of 58 million residents under quarantine for the past month.
Part of China, the epidemic threatens to return: nearly a hundred people on board an aircraft from Seoul were quarantined upon arrival in Nanjing (east of China). Three Chinese passengers were indeed showing symptoms of the illness when customs officers boarded the aircraft to examine the passengers.
In total, the virus has infected some 78,000 people in China, more than 2,700 of whom have died.