A jump in the number of coronavirus cases outside China is raising alarm among global health officials who say the window of opportunity to prevent the deadly outbreak from turning into a pandemic is closing.
Italy reported its first coronavirus fatality, a 78-year-old man who died Friday night, Venice’s regional governor said. The nation had earlier raised the number of infected patients to at least 17.
The World Health Organization said 18 coronavirus patients in Iran is “very worrisome” because of the lack of any direct link to China.
South Korea reported 48 more cases, taking the total number to 204. Neighboring Japan is also seeing outbreaks in several unconnected areas.
Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, is expected to release new case numbers shortly.
- China cases rise to 75,465, with 2,236 fatalities, as of Friday
- Hong Kong aviation conference canceled
- Singapore says recoveries outpace new infections
- Japan economic activitycontracting sharply as virus hits
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Venice’s Governor Confirms Italy’s First Coronavirus Death (6:10 p.m. NY)
Italy reported its first death, a 78-year-old man who wasn’t identified, said Luca Zaia, Venice’s regional governor. He was from the town of Monselice, near the northern city of Padua, Corriere della Sera reported.
Hong Kong Aviation Conference Canceled (1:40 p.m. NY)
The trade group for companies that build, trade and finance aircraft is canceling its annual Asia-based convention scheduled for May in Hong Kong. It was a sharp acknowledgment of the impact the coronavirus has had on air travel in the region.
“Holding an event in the region anytime in the near future did not seem prudent,” Gerry Butler, president of the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading, wrote in a communique to the trade group’s 5,000 members on Friday.
Italy Raises Number of Cases to 17 (1:20 p.m. NY)
Italy reported 14 new coronavirus cases Friday, including the country’s first locally transmitted infection. That brings the total cases in the country to 17, with local media reporting that at least two more suspected patients have been hospitalized.
(Updates entry from 9:48 a.m.)
Iran Cases Cause for Concern, WHO Says (11:30 a.m. NY)
A cluster of cases in Iran and the first positive test in Lebanon are of particular concern because they don’t have a direct tie to China, the head of the World Health Organization said on Friday.
The WHO confirmed that there have been 18 coronavirus cases in Iran, and four deaths. That’s a mortality rate of more than 20%.
“The cases that we see that are not linked to China are very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a press briefing in Geneva. The window of opportunity to stop the spread in countries outside China is “really narrowing,” he said. “This outbreak could go in any direction.”
There was one case reported in Lebanon on Friday, which is linked to Iran. Asked if the WHO was getting the information it needs from Iranian authorities, Tedros said, “We’re getting information from them, but we have to engage them even more.”
The concern in Iran “is that we’re seeing a very rapid increase in a matter of days,” said Sylvie Briand, director of global infectious hazard preparedness at the WHO.
Risk of Undetected Cases Outside China (10:56 a.m. NY)
Abouttwo-thirds of coronavirus cases exported from mainland China have gone undetected worldwide, potentially leaving sources of human-to-human transmission unchecked, Sangeeta Bhatia, Neil Ferguson and colleagues at Imperial College London said in study estimating potential spread of the virus.
The new estimate uses air-travel data and an analysis of data from eight countries to determine the expected numbers of exported cases from China. They found only 156 cases had been reported, compared with an expected 426 to 577, suggesting a large number of patients outside China who haven’t been diagnosed.
“Undoubtedly, the exported cases vary in the severity of their clinical symptoms, making some cases more difficult to detect than others,” the researchers said. “However, some countries have detected significantly fewer than would have been expected based on the volume of flight passengers arriving from Wuhan City, China.”
Wuhan is the center of the outbreak.
U.A.E., Lebanon, Iran Add Cases as Mideast Worry Rises (10:03 a.m. NY)
Several countries across the Middle East confirmed new cases of the coronavirus, prompting worries about the potential for the disease to spread in the region.
The United Arab Emirates on Friday reported two new cases of the virus, bringing its total count to 11. Lebanon’s health minister confirmed the country’s first coronavirus patient, a 45-year-old woman who had arrived on a flight from Iran, and said authorities suspected two other cases. He cautioned those recently arriving from Iran to remain at home for two weeks.
Iran also announced 13 new cases of the coronavirus, mainly in the city Qom where several cases were reported two days earlier, but also in the capital, Tehran, and a northern province. So far, four people in Iran have died and 18 have been confirmed infected, the health ministry said, as schools across the country announce closures in an effort to curb the disease.
Turkey’s health minister said all passengers from Iran will undergo medical checks, while Bahrain has issued an advisory against travel to Iran.
Italy Reports Six New Cases in First Local Transmission (9:48 a.m. NY)
Italy’s Lombardy region reported six new coronavirus cases Friday, including the country’s first locally transmitted infections. There are now nine total cases in the country.
The new cases were found in the small towns of Castiglione d’Adda and Codogno. The region’s health secretary, Giulio Gallera, said at a press conference in Milan that the infected include a 38-year-old man, his wife and a close friend. The man, who is in intensive care, had come into contact with a person that had returned from China Jan. 21. Local authorities haven’t yet confirmed how the three other people had been infected.
As many as 150 people who had contacts with the 38-year-old man are being tested and the region is advising some 20,000 inhabitants of Castiglione d’Adda and Codogno to stay indoors and avoid social contacts “on a precautionary basis.”
Italy’s health ministry announced that all people who have been in close contact with the new cases will be forced into quarantine, and all returnees from risk areas of China will be actively monitored.
Kudlow Says Little Impact on U.S. So Far (9:28 a.m. NY)
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the coronavirus has so far had little impact on the U.S., where only a handful of cases have been identified and local transmission has been limited to a few close contacts of patients.
“I understand these things could change quickly. But right now, what we know, is there’s barely any impact here at home. Regrettably, both in human and economic terms, the biggest impact is China,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House Friday.
He said there had been signs of the outbreak affecting bond markets, after the yield on 10-year treasuries fell below 1.5%.
“I think it’s still got a lot of coronavirus in it — a rush to safety. I don’t want to make a market forecast here, but before the virus hit in force, it was moving toward 2%,” Kudlow said.
— With assistance by Michelle Cortez
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