World • 26 February, 2020

Coronavirus: Outbreak spreads in Europe from Italy

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Several European countries have announced their first coronavirus cases, with all appearing to be linked to the growing outbreak in Italy, BBC reports.

Photo credit: AFP

Austria, Croatia and Switzerland said the cases involved people who had been to Italy, as did Algeria in Africa.

The first positive virus test has been recorded in Latin America - a Brazilian resident just returned from Italy.

Italy has in recent days become Europe's worst-affected country, with more than 300 cases and 11 deaths.

But its neighbours have decided closing borders would be "disproportionate".

Health ministers from France, Germany, Italy and the EU Commission committed to keeping frontiers open at a meeting on Tuesday as new cases of the virus emerged throughout Europe and in central and southern Italy.

"We're talking about a virus that doesn't respect borders," said Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

In Austria, a young Italian couple who live in Innsbruck in the Tyrol were confirmed to have the virus. One of the pair worked at a hotel, which has been put in lockdown. The couple's home is also sealed off

Switzerland said a man in his seventies living in Ticino, bordering Italy, had been infected in the city of Milan on 15 February and was now in isolation

A man in Croatia who recently returned from Italy became the first confirmed patient in the Balkans

In Spain's Tenerife, up to 1,000 guests were locked down in a hotel after an Italian doctor and his wife tested positive for the virus

Spain reported its first case on the mainland, involving a woman in Barcelona who had been to northern Italy

France and Germany also reported new cases involving people who had recently been to northern Italy

Italy is one of three global hot-spots outside China. In Iran, fewer than 100 people have officially been infected but it's assumed the numbers are far higher. The infection of the country's deputy health minister has deepened fears that the virus has already spread widely.

Iran is believed to have been the source of the first cases reported by neighbouring Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, which have now imposed restrictions on travel to and from the Islamic Republic.

More than 1,000 people have been infected in South Korea, where 10 people have died. The country has the most infections outside China.

In Brazil, local media reported on Tuesday that an initial test on a 61-year-old man who had recently been to northern Italy had come out positive.

They said the man from São Paulo would be tested again for final confirmation.

The individual, whose name was not given, arrived back in Brazil at the height of the carnival festivities, when millions of people travel around the country. Officials fear the timing of his return makes it more likely the coronavirus could have spread.

Most of the cases of the new coronavirus remain in China, where the virus originated last year.

According to the latest figures published on Wednesday, 78,064 people have been infected since the outbreak began.

Health officials also reported 52 more deaths on Tuesday, the lowest daily total in more than three weeks. The overall death toll in mainland China is now 2,715.

Numbers of new infections there have been declining in China, and attention has now turned to clusters of cases abroad and transmission between countries.

 

 
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