As several more European countries, as well as the populous Brazil, confirm their first cases of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization has said that the majority of new cases being reported are now outside China.
Whilst the number of new cases in China is reducing every day, countries like Greece, North Macedonia, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Croatia have all announced their first confirmed cases of the virus, leading to escalating fears that it may have spread much further already given its standard incubation period of up to two weeks.
“Yesterday, the number of new cases reported outside China exceeded the number of new cases in China for the first time,” WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said today. “The primary objective of all countries with cases must be to contain the virus.”
The cases in Austria, Greece, Croatia, Spain and Switzerland all involved people who had recently visited Italy, whilst Algeria in Africa also confirmed that a person returning from Italy had contracted the virus.
Italy is the worst affected European country so far, with more than 300 confirmed carriers and 12 deaths. Four children have been infected there, but the vast majority of deaths associated with the virus are among elderly people, with one 70-year-old Lombardy resident passing away yesterday.
Health ministers from France and Germany, along with the EU Commission, have decided not to close their borders with Italy however.
“We’re talking about a virus that doesn’t respect borders,” said Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza.
Brazil has also confirmed the first Latin American case of coronavirus after diagnosing a 61-year-old man in Sao Paolo with the disease. The man had recently returned from a business trip to Italy.
The largest number of deaths outside the Chinese province of Hubei has been in Iran, where 19 people have so far died.
In an extraordinary press conference over the weekend, the deputy Minister for Health in Iran showed signs of having contracted the disease, with medical confirmation later being received that he was indeed a carrier.
BREAKING: Iran's deputy health minister tests positive for coronavirus; he had previously looked unwell during a press conference pic.twitter.com/at0DHN0m3a
— BNO Newsroom (@BNODesk) February 25, 2020
COVID-19, the name given by authorities to the disease, is now on every continent except Antarctica, with 2,768 deaths and over 81,191 confirmed cases in 41 countries.
30,310 people have already recovered from the disease.