COVID-19 cases emerging faster outside China: WHO

Updated: Feb 27, 2020, 10:37 IST | Agencies | Geneva

Governments worldwide rush to prevent spread of the disease after a surge of infections

A man with a face mask walks out of a hospital of Ahepa in Thessaloniki, Greece. Pic/AFP
A man with a face mask walks out of a hospital of Ahepa in Thessaloniki, Greece. Pic/AFP

There are now more new cases of the Coronavirus reported each day outside China than inside the hardest-hit country, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday. "Yesterday, the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told diplomats in Geneva, according to a written version of his speech.

The UN health agency put the number of new cases in China at 411 on Tuesday and those registered outside the country stood at 427. Governments worldwide are scrambling to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus after a surge of infections in Italy, Iran and South Korea. Greece on Wednesday reported its first coronavirus case, a woman who had recently travelled to northern Italy, while Pakistan reported its first two cases. A 60-year-old teacher became the first French casualty of the Coronavirus, the health ministry announced on Wednesday. Brazil's health ministry on Wednesday said a Sao Paulo resident has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the first case recorded in Latin America.

Tedros said the "sudden increase of cases" in those countries was "deeply concerning", adding that a WHO team would travel to Iran this weekend to evaluate the situation. While new cases and deaths are dwindling at the disease epicentre in China, the country remains by far the hardest hit. Tedros said that as of Wednesday morning, 78,190 cases of COVID-19 had been registered in China, including 2,718 deaths. That compares with 2,790 cases and 44 deaths reported across 37 other countries. But WHO has said the epidemic in China peaked on February 2 and has been declining since.

No reason for panic: EU
The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in Europe is concerning but no reason for alarm, the European Union said on Wednesday. "This is a situation of concern but we must not give in to panic," EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told reporters in Rome after meeting Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza. "We must also be vigilant when it comes to misinformation and disinformation as well as xenophobic statements which are misleading citizens and putting in question the work of public authorities," she added.

411
No. of COVID-19 cases in China on Tuesday

427
No. of the cases outside the country on Tuesday

Moody's Analytics comments on coronavirus

A global recession is likely if the coronavirus becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea, Moody's Analytics said on Wednesday. "The coronavirus has been a body blow to the Chinese economy, and now threatens to take out the entire global economy," Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics Mark Zandi said. "COVID-19 is battering the global economy in numerous ways. Chinese business travel and tourism has all but stopped; global airlines are not going to China and cruise lines are cancelling most Asia-Pacific itineraries. This is a huge problem for major travel destinations, including in the US, where some 3 million Chinese tourists visit each year," Moody's said.

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