TOP
Thursday,July 09,2020 12:17 PM
  • Home
  • World
  • 😷 Coronavirus Updates: South Africa reports second case

😷 Coronavirus Updates: South Africa reports second case

By AFP

Added 7th March 2020 07:02 PM

South Africa on Saturday confirmed a second case of the novel coronavirus, a 39-year-old woman who had travelled to Italy as part of a group with the first confirmed case.

😷 Coronavirus Updates: South Africa reports second case

South Africa on Saturday confirmed a second case of the novel coronavirus, a 39-year-old woman who had travelled to Italy as part of a group with the first confirmed case.

CORONAVIRUS    POLITICS    ECONOMY    EDUCATION
South Africa reports second coronavirus case (Saturday 3/7/2020 - 17:24)
 
South Africa on Saturday confirmed a second case of the novel coronavirus, a 39-year-old woman who had travelled to Italy as part of a group with the first confirmed case.
 
The South African authorities said the woman had come into direct contact with the first case when they travelled back in a group of 10 from Italy on March 1.
 
On Thursday, the authorities said a man who was part of that group was the first case in the country. 
 
"The second patient who has now tested positive for COV-19 will now be immediately admitted to a public health facility... that the government has identified as one of the hospitals that are ready to receive COVID-19 positive patients," the health ministry said in a statement.
 
Health Minister Zweli Mkize told national broadcaster SABC that the patient was being isolated at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg.
 
The ministry assured the public it had managed to secure information on the whereabouts of all the other people in the group that had travelled to Italy.
 
It also confirmed that a 39-year-old South African man working in Daegu, South Korea, has also tested positive for COVID-19.
 
Authorities said the man, who was due to return to South Africa, would remain where he was until details of his treatment in South Korea were verified.
 
The African continent now has more than 30 confirmed cases, including in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
 
South Africa is meanwhile preparing to repatriate 184 of its citizens -- comprising students, teachers and other professionals working in China's Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic.  
 
President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans not to panic but also cautioned about the potential impact of the outbreak on the country's struggling economy.
 
"The important thing here is to avoid fake news... We must be responsible because we are dealing with a matter that can cause a lot of panic in society and we don't want to do that," Ramaphosa told journalists on Saturday. 

********************* 
 
Coronavirus: latest developments worldwide (Saturday 3/7/2020 - 15:42)
 
With new tolls and key developments, here is the latest in the coronavirus crisis. 
 
More than 3,500 deaths 

Across the world there have been more than 102,000 cases recorded in 94 countries and territories with 3,515 deaths, according to AFP's latest toll based on official sources at 1130 GMT Saturday.
 
The main countries affected are mainland China (80,651 cases, 3,070 deaths), South Korea (6,767 cases, 44 deaths), Iran, (5,823 cases, 145 deaths), Italy (4,636 cases, 197 deaths), Germany (684 cases, no deaths) and France (613 cases, nine deaths).
 
Colombia, Costa Rica and Malta have announced their first cases.
 
Cruise passengers

The coronavirus was detected in 21 out of 46 people tested on board the cruise ship Grand Princess, moored off the coast of California and holding a total of 3,533 passengers and crew members.
 
Closures

Russia has closed its borders to foreign travellers from Iran. 
 
The European Central Bank (ECB) asked its 3,700 employees based in Frankfurt to carry out a day of telework on Monday, to test its emergency plan in the event of confinement.
 
Facebook has closed its offices in London and part of its premises in Singapore after an employee tested positive. 
 
Nurseries and schools will be closed for two weeks from Monday in two French departments, Oise and Haut-Rhin, where outbreaks have occurred. 
 
 outh orean soldiers wearing protective gear move to spray disinfectant against the spread of the coronavirus at a railway station in aegu on ebruary 29 2020    South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear move to spray disinfectant against the spread of the coronavirus at a railway station in Daegu on February 29, 2020. Photo / AFP

 

Economy

Chinese exports plunged 17.2 percent year-on-year in January-February. 
 
Stock indexes and oil prices plunged again on Friday as investors sought safety in gold and US government bonds.
 
Cancellations

The big cultural festival South by Southwest, which was to be held in mid-March in Austin, Texas, is cancelled. 
 
The Scotland-France rugby match scheduled for Saturday in Glasgow for the Six Nations women's tournament has been postponed after a Scottish player contracted the coronavirus.
 
Blue helmets

The UN has asked nine countries, including China, South Korea and France, to delay their rotation of peacekeepers around the world by three months.
 
Dollars in quarantine

Dollar banknotes on their way back to the United States after being used in Asia are subject to quarantine, for a minimum period of 7-10 days instead of five previously, and up to 60 days.
 
Toilet paper 

With concern growing over stockpiling, a video on the internet shows three women in a Sydney store pulling each other's hair, shouting and fighting for a large package of toilet paper.
 

**********************

Iran coronavirus death toll jumps to 145, govt lashes out at US (Saturday 3/7/2020 - 18:57 )
 
Iran's official death toll from the new coronavirus rose by 21 Saturday, with a lawmaker among the latest fatalities, while the government accused Washington of hampering Tehran's response to the virus. 
 
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said that the 21 deaths took the country's total death toll to 145, while 1,076 additional cases had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 5,823.
 
"More than 16,000 people are currently hospitalised as suspect cases," Jahanpour said during a televised news conference.
 ran has closed schools and universities until early pril and suspended major cultural and sporting events  hoto Iran has closed schools and universities until early April, and suspended major cultural and sporting events. (AFP Photo/ATTA KENARE)

 

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later said American sanctions -- reimposed from 2018, after Washington pulled out of a multilateral nuclear deal -- were undermining Iran's battle against coronavirus.
 
US President Donald Trump "is maliciously tightening US' illegal sanctions with the aim of draining Iran's resources needed in the fight against #COVID-19 -- while our citizens are dying from it" Zarif tweeted on Saturday.
 
"The world can no longer be silent as US #EconomicTerrorism is supplanted by its #MedicalTerrorism," he said.
 
Jahanpour said Saturday that 1,669 people who were sick with the COVID-19 illness have recovered.
 
The Islamic republic is battling one of the world's deadliest outbreaks of the disease outside China.
 
On Saturday, a newly elected conservative Tehran lawmaker became the second legislator to be killed by the virus, state news agency IRNA reported.
 
Fatemeh Rahbar, 55, served as a lawmaker from 2004 to 2016 and won a seat in February's legislative election.
 
Seven other politicians and government officials have died in Iran's outbreak.
 
The capital Tehran remains the worst-hit province in the country, although all 31 provinces have reported infections.
 
Iran has closed schools and universities until early April, and suspended major cultural and sporting events.
 
The number of infections is climbing in northern provinces in particular, Jahanpour said.
 
More than 300 of the new cases reported on Saturday were in Mazandaran, a popular tourist destination on the Caspian sea.
 
Jahanpour said that the province had been hit by people travelling there for holidays, which he described as ill-avised.
 
Several provinces, including in northern and central Iran, have said they will not accomodate tourists in an effort to dissuade people from travelling.
 
Police in Gilan and Mazandaran from Friday started preventing cars without local license plates from entering the provinces.
 
But according to an adviser to the health minster Alireza Vahabzadeh, some locals were bypassing the restrictions by giving non-residents lifts across provincial borders. 
 
Like all areas of Iran's economy, the health sector has struggled in the face of renewed US sanctions.
 
Humanitarian goods, especially medicine and medical equipment, are technically exempt.
 
But international purchases of such supplies are forestalled by banks wary of conducting any business with Iran for fear of falling foul of the US sanctions.
 
Representatives of the World Health Organization currently in Iran praised the country's healthcare system.
 
"Iran has one of the strongest healthcare systems of all the countries in the eastern Mediterranean region," said delegation head Richard Brennan at a press conference in Tehran.
 
"Elements of the response here (to the outbreak) have progressed further than in a number of other countries," he added.
 
WHO's representative in Iran, Christoph Hamelmann, said his organisation can help cushion "the impact of unilateral sanctions on the health sector, mainly through assistance with procurement and supply of essential medicines."

************************
 
Pope goes livestream to fight viral epidemic (Saturday 3/7/2020 - 17:38 )
 
Pope Francis decided to deliver Sunday's prayer by livestream and Italy called in retired doctors as the new coronavirus epidemic gathered strength and emptied streets in Europe's worst affected country.
 
The 83-year-old pontiff broke with centuries of tradition by enlisting the help of technology to keep crowds from descending on Saint Peter's Square for the traditional Angelus Prayer.
 
"The prayer will be broadcast via livestream by Vatican News and on screens in Saint Peter's Square," the Vatican said in a statement.
 
It had originally promised to review the Argentine-born pope's schedule "to avoid the dissemination" of the new COVID-19 disease.
 
The Vatican appears to believe that the pope's absence from his traditional spot at the window will keep the crowds on the vast square down and the threat of contagion low.
 
The pope himself has been out of action for more than a week with a cold.
 
The Vatican is in the process of unrolling unprecedented health precautions designed to keep the city state's 450 mostly elderly residents safe.
 
It recorded its first COVID-19 infection on Thursday and was awaiting the results of a test on another person who appeared at a Vatican-organised event last month.
 
That conference was also attended by Microsoft President Brad Smith and European Parliament President David Sassoli.
 
The Vatican said all those present were being notified about the test as a precaution.
 
Coalition leader gets virus
The Italian government finds itself at the forefront of the global fight against an epidemic that has convulsed the markets and paralysed global supply chains since first emerging in China late last year.
 
Ministers decided at an all-night emergency meeting to call in retired doctors as part of an effort to bolster the strained healthcare system with 20,000 additional staff.
 
Italy's death toll ballooned by a single-day record of 49 on Friday and now stands at 197 -- the most outside China itself.
 
The head of the Italian ruling coalition's junior partner became the latest high-profile figure to confirm coming down with the new disease.
 
"I am fine," the Democratic Party's Nicola Zingaretti said on Facebook. "I will have to stay home for the next few days."
alt=''

Pope Francis

The accelerating spread of the illness emptied Italian train stations and turned usually thronged parts of Rome into a ghost town.
 
Many of the city's outdoor restaurants and cafes were either closed on Friday night or had free tables overseen by forlorn staff with little to do but chat.
 
The expansive street that runs from Rome's Colosseum along the Forum was deserted and the magnificent ruins stood in their natural splendour -- and without being swarmed by tourists -- on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
 
'Focus on containment'
The sharp drop in visitor numbers is wreaking havoc with the Italian tourism industry and contributing to fears that the anaemic economy is about to tip back into recession.
 
But the government's most immediate concern is the threat of infections that had been largely contained to pockets of the richer north spreading to the poorer and the south where medical services are weaker.
 
The World Health Organization urged the Italian government on Friday to keep "a strong focus on containment measures".
 
The government said its medical recruitment drive should increase the number of intensive care beds from 5,000 to 7,500 in the coming days.
 
The number of Italians receiving intensive care treatment for COVID-19 reached 462 on Friday.
 
The total number of coronavirus infections grew to 4,636.
 
Italy's mortality rate now stands at a relatively high 4.25 percent and may be explained by its older population which is more susceptible to the virus.
 
The death rate is 0.68 percent in South Korea and 3.81 percent in China.
 
"We should not forget that Italy has an older population than China -- 44.3 years compared to an average of 37.4 years," Italian National Institute of Health head Silvio Brusaferro said.
 
*****************

Togo confirms first coronavirus case
 
Togo on Friday confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus after a 42-year-old woman tested positive following her return from a trip to Benin, Germany, France and Turkey. 
 
The presidency in the West African nation of eight million people said the patient, who lives in the capital Lome with her family, was "currently isolated in a treatment centre for infectious diseases" after testing positive on Thursday. 
 
"From February 22 to March 2, 2020 she visited Benin, Germany, France and Turkey before returning to Togo via the land border with Benin," the presidency said in a statement. 
 
It said all people who had contact with the patient in the country "have been identified and put in quarantine".
 
In sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal has registered four cases, all foreign nationals, and South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon have one case each since the outbreak emerged in December in China.


***********************

Cameroon confirms first virus case: ministry
 
Cameroon has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, a French national who arrived in the capital Yaounde in February, the government said on Friday.
 
The man, 58, has been placed in isolation in a hospital, the health ministry said in a statement.
 
In sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal has registered four cases, all foreign nationals, and South Africa and Nigeria have one case each since the outbreak emerged in December in China.

Vatican reports its first coronavirus case

 
The Vatican on Friday reported its first coronavirus case, saying it had suspended outpatient services at its health clinic after a patient tested positive for COVID-19.
 
The clinic inside the tiny city state -- which has some 1,000 residents -- will be deep cleaned, while the emergency room will remain open, spokesman Matteo Bruni told AFP.
 
The patient tested positive on Thursday.
 
The clinic is used by priests, residents and employees -- including those now retired -- as well as their relatives.
 
Bruni said the Vatican was getting in touch with all those who had passed through the clinic, as per protocol.

 n employee of a medical laboratory registrates a sample of the novel coronavirus 19 in oosendaal he etherlands on arch 4 2020 An employee of a medical laboratory registrants a sample of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in Roosendaal, The Netherlands on March 4, 2020.

 

*************************

Virus forces Japan to cancel ceremony to mark tsunami

Japan is canceling an annual ceremony marking the anniversary of a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster as the country steps up efforts to curb the new coronavirus, officials said Friday.

For the past eight years, the prime minister, lawmakers, and family members who lost loved ones in the disaster have attended the nationally-televised ceremony.

The move comes a day after Tokyo and Beijing confirmed a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping has been postponed, and Tokyo said the country will quarantine people coming from China and South Korea for two weeks on arrival.

 

 



Senegal confirms two new coronavirus patients, both Europeans
 
Two new infections of coronavirus were detected in Senegal on Wednesday, bringing to four the number of people infected in the sub-Saharan nation, health officials said.
 
One of the new patients was a 68-year-old woman, a French resident who had arrived in Senegal on February 29. Her 80-year-old husband tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on Tuesday, the health ministry said in a statement.
 
Wednesday's second confirmed case was that of a 33-year-old man who arrived in Dakar from London on February 24.
 
The first virus case in Senegal, discovered on Monday, marked just the second infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
 
Experts have expressed concern over the continent's vulnerability to outbreaks of contagious diseases.
 
The first sub-Saharan case was recorded last week in Nigeria, where an Italian national returned with the virus from his home country
 
The first coronavirus case on the African continent was in Egypt, where there are now two cases.
 
Three cases have also been identified in Algeria.
 
 
Millions out of school as WHO calls for stronger virus response
 
Almost 300 million students worldwide faced weeks at home with Italy and India the latest to shut schools over the deadly new coronavirus, as health officials on Thursday warned many countries were not doing enough to fight the outbreak.
 
As the number of cases rose above 97,000 worldwide with over 3,300 deaths in some 85 countries, the Paris marathon, Russia's main business forum and Italy's final match against England in the Six Nations Championship on March 14 were among the events cancelled or postponed.
 
The outbreak's rapid spread has prompted fears of a global economic downturn and rumbled global stock markets, with major European and US exchanges sinking again Thursday.
 
Most deaths and infections are still in China, where the virus first emerged late last year, prompting the country to quarantine entire cities, temporarily shut factories and close schools indefinitely.
 
But infections are now rising faster abroad than inside China, with South Korea, Iran and Italy emerging as hotspots. 
 
Nations have implemented extraordinary measures, with UNESCO saying on Wednesday that school closures in more than a dozen countries have affected 290.5 million children.
 
  tudents sit for the ujarat oard th examination as they wear facemasks provided by the school management at adhana inay andir chool following the 19 coronavirus outbreak in hmedabad on arch 5 2020 hoto by    Students sit for the Gujarat Board Xth examination as they wear facemasks provided by the school management at Sadhana Vinay Mandir School, following the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, in Ahmedabad on March 5, 2020. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

But the World Health Organization warned Thursday that several countries were not showing "the level of political commitment" needed to "match the level of the threat we all face".
 
"This is not a drill," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. "This epidemic is a threat for every country, rich and poor." 
 
Britain and Switzerland reported their first deaths from the outbreak on Thursday, while Bosnia and South Africa confirmed their first cases and Algeria said 16 members of the same family had been infected. 
 
A British United Nations employee was one of four people to test positive for the virus in Senegal, in the UN's first case worldwide.
 
France also reported a steep jump in cases, bringing its total to 423 with seven deaths, as President Emmanuel Macron warned the country was heading towards an "inevitable" epidemic.
 
Next week's session of the European parliament will also be moved from Strasbourg to Brussels due to "significantly higher health risks". 
 
'Time of uncertainty'
In the US, the state of California declared an emergency following its first coronavirus fatality -- raising the US death toll to 11 -- as US lawmakers passed an emergency $8.3 billion spending bill to combat the outbreak.
 
India announced it was closing all primary schools in the capital New Delhi until the end of March to prevent the virus from spreading.  
 
The orders came as an India-EU summit scheduled for March 13 was also postponed.  
 
Italy has ordered schools and universities shut until March 15, and on Thursday reported a sharp rise in coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 148.
 
Italy on Thursday unveiled a 7.5-billion-euro ($8.4-billion) economic rescue plan to deal with the impact of the virus.
 
New measures in the country -- where 50,000 are under quarantine in several northern towns -- include a month-long nationwide ban on fan attendance at sports events, and advising people to avoid greetings like kissing on the cheek or shaking hands.
 
South Korea -- second only to China in terms of infections with cases jumping past 6,000 on Thursday -- has postponed the start of the next term until March 23, while in Japan nearly all schools are closed until early April.
 
Schools have also shut in Iran, where 107 people have died from the disease.
  person takes from a bottle of hydroalcoholic solution on arch 5 2020 in aris amid a spread of 19 the novel coronavius hoto by ionel   A person takes from a bottle of hydroalcoholic solution on March 5, 2020 in Paris amid a spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavius. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

 

The impact of the virus has convulsed across world economies. 
 
The IMF said earlier it was making $50 billion in aid available for low-income and emerging-market countries to fight the epidemic, which it sees as a "serious threat" that it said would slow global growth to below last year's 2.9 percent.
 
"At a time of uncertainty... it is better to do more than to do not enough," IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said.
 
'Avoid travelling'

The airline industry could lose up to $113 billion (101 billion euros) in revenue this year due to the impact of the new coronavirus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned, as governments issue travel restrictions or ban visitors from virus hotspots. 
 
The forecast came as British carrier Flybe collapsed into bankruptcy and as more carriers lowered forecasts while they ground planes and cancel flights. 
 
Israel this week barred entry to almost all non-resident arrivals from five European nations, prompting Lufthansa to cancel all its flights to the country on Thursday. 
 
Beijing is now concerned about importing cases, prompting several cities to require people arriving from hard-hit countries to self-quarantine.
 
The number of confirmed virus cases in Greece surged after 21 travellers recently returned from a bus trip to Israel and Egypt tested positive for the virus. 
 
Japan said it will quarantine all arrivals from China and South Korea for two weeks, while the United Arab Emirates warned its citizens to "avoid travelling".
 
In the US thousands of people remained stranded on the Grand Princess cruise ship off the California coast as officials carried out tests on people on board.
 
A 71-year-old man who had been aboard the same ship during its previous voyage to Mexico died after contracting COVID-19.
 
The vessel belongs to Princess Cruises, the same company which operated a coronavirus-stricken ship held off Japan last month on which more than 700 people on board tested positive, with six dying from the disease.
 
Saudi Arabia has suspended the year-round Islamic "umrah" pilgrimage, an unprecedented move that raises fresh uncertainty over the annual hajj.
 
*********************

UN's first employee with coronavirus among Senegal infections
 
A British United Nations employee is one of the four people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Senegal, the organisation said Thursday, confirming it was the UN's first case worldwide.
 
Senegal announced two new cases on Wednesday, one of which was a 33-year-old English woman who returned from a trip to London to the capital Dakar on February 24.
 
The UN said on Thursday that the woman was one of its employees.
 
"The emergency protocol was activated, and the patient is in a hospital in the capital," the UN said in a statement.
 
"In line with confidentiality requirements with respect to the patient's condition, no further information will be given.
 
"An investigation by epidemiologists from the ministry of health is currently under way to test people recently in contact with the patient."
 
A UN spokeswoman in Dakar confirmed to AFP that the woman was the organisation's first employee worldwide to test positive to the deadly virus.
 
The other case announced on Wednesday was a 68-year-old French woman whose husband had previously tested positive.
 
The West African country's first two cases were reported earlier in the week.
 
All four patients are in stable condition, the health ministry said Thursday. 
 
Senegal was the second sub-Saharan nation to register an infection, after Nigeria. South Africa became the third on Thursday.
 
Experts have expressed concern over the continent's vulnerability to outbreaks of contagious diseases.

********************
 
South Africa reports first case

South Africa on Thursday confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy, health ministry announced.
 
"This morning,... the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.
 
It is the first case in southern Africa, and the latest confirmed case in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria and Senegal.
 
The case was detected in the country's eastern Kwa-Zulu Natal province.
 
The patient and his wife were part of a group of 10 people who arrived back in South Africa from Italy on March 1.
 
Italy has emerged as the European hotspot for the deadly virus with the national death toll at 107, the deadliest outbreak outside China.

*****************************

 290 million students out of school as global virus battle intensifies

Almost 300 million students worldwide faced weeks at home on Thursday with Italy the latest country to shut schools over the deadly new coronavirus, as the IMF urged an all-out global offensive against the epidemic.
 
More than 95,000 people have been infected and over 3,200 have died worldwide from the virus, which has now reached some 80 countries and territories.
 
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared an emergency following the state's first coronavirus fatality -- raising the US death toll to 11 -- and a cruise ship was kept offshore after passengers and crew members developed symptoms.
 
The vast majority of global deaths and infections are in China, where the virus first emerged late last year, prompting the country to quarantine entire cities, temporarily shut factories and close schools indefinitely.
 
As the virus has spread, other countries have also implemented extraordinary measures, with UNESCO saying Wednesday that 13 countries have closed schools, affecting 290.5 million children, while nine others have implemented localised closures.
 
While temporary school closures during crises are not new, UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said, "the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education."
 
Italy on Wednesday ordered schools and universities shut until March 15, ramping up its response as the national death toll rose to 107, the deadliest outbreak outside China.
 
South Korea -- the country with the largest number of cases outside China with nearly 6,000 -- has postponed the start of the next term until March 23.
 
In Japan, nearly all schools are closed after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for classes to be cancelled through March and spring break, slated for late March through early April.
 
Some 120 schools closed in France this week.
 
Economic threat

The German health minister said the outbreak was now a "global pandemic" -- a term the World Health Organization has stopped short of using -- meaning the virus is spreading in several regions through local transmission.
 
Thousands of people were stranded on the Grand Princess off the California coast Wednesday as officials delayed its return to carry out tests on people on board.
 
A 71-year-old man who had been aboard the same ship during its previous voyage to Mexico died after contracting COVID-19.
 
The vessel belongs to Princess Cruises, the same company which operated a coronavirus-stricken ship held off Japan last month on which more than 700 people on board tested positive, with six dying from the disease.
 
Infections are now rising faster abroad than they are in China, where 31 more deaths and 139 new cases were reported Thursday. China's death toll now stands at 3,012, with over 80,000 infections.
 
Beijing is now concerned about importing cases, with 20 infections brought from abroad so far, including Italy and Iran -- prompting the capital to require people arriving from hard-hit countries to go into self-quarantine.
 
From western Europe to eastern Asia, supermarket and pharmacy shelves have been stripped of supplies in recent weeks, including masks, toilet paper and hand sanitiser.
 
Stock markets have rumbled over fears of recession, but Asian shares extended gains on Thursday after a surge on Wall Street buoyed by global stimulus measures.
 
The IMF said it was making $50 billion in aid available for low-income and emerging-market countries to fight the epidemic, which it sees as a "serious threat" that would slow global growth to below last year's 2.9 percent.
 
"At a time of uncertainty... it is better to do more than to do not enough," IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said, calling the epidemic "is a global problem calling for global response".
 
In the United States, lawmakers reached a deal to provide more than $8 billion to fight the outbreak.
 
No kissing

Governments are scrambling to contain the spread of the virus.
 
The outbreak in Italy has swelled despite tough measures, including quarantining 11 towns with 50,000 people.
 
New measures include a month-long nationwide ban on fan attendance at sports events, and advising people to avoid greetings like kissing on the cheek or shaking hands.
 
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy could tackle the outbreak as long as it remained contained.
 
"But in case of exponential growth, not just Italy but any other country in the world would not be able to manage the situation," he said.
 
In Iran, where 92 people have died from the disease, schools have been shut and major cultural and sporting events suspended.
 
Saudi Arabia has suspended the year-round Islamic "umrah" pilgrimage, an unprecedented move that raises fresh uncertainty over the annual hajj.
 
Even cinema is not immune -- the producers of the latest James Bond film pushed back the release of the forthcoming "No Time To Die" from April to November over virus fears.

*******************************

Senegal confirms two new coronavirus patients, both Europeans
 
Two new infections of coronavirus were detected in Senegal on Wednesday, bringing to four the number of people infected in the sub-Saharan nation, health officials said.
 
One of the new patients was a 68-year-old woman, a French resident who had arrived in Senegal on February 29. Her 80-year-old husband tested positive for the COVID-19 virus on Tuesday, the health ministry said in a statement.
 
Wednesday's second confirmed case was that of a 33-year-old man who arrived in Dakar from London on February 24.
 
  olunteers and workers wearing protective gear carry buckets and shovels as they arrive to pick up waste during a cleanup operation of medical trash thrown away by nearby hospitals on the apanuel beach in akar on ebruary 29 2020 hoto by eyllou  Volunteers and workers wearing protective gear carry buckets and shovels as they arrive to pick up waste during a clean-up operation of medical trash thrown away by nearby hospitals on the Cap-Manuel beach in Dakar, on February 29, 2020. (Photo by Seyllou / AFP)

 
The first virus case in Senegal, discovered on Monday, marked just the second infection in sub-Saharan Africa.

 
Experts have expressed concern over the continent's vulnerability to outbreaks of contagious diseases.
 
The first sub-Saharan case was recorded last week in Nigeria, where an Italian national returned with the virus from his home country
 
The first coronavirus case on the African continent was in Egypt, where there are now two cases.
 
Three cases have also been identified in Algeria.
 
 
**************************

China's coronavirus death toll surpasses 3,000

China on Thursday reported 31 more deaths from the new coronavirus epidemic, taking the country's overall toll past 3,000, with the number of new infections slightly increasing.
 
At least 3,012 people have now died nationwide in the outbreak that first emerged in the central city of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in December.
 
Most of the deaths -- 2,305 -- and cases have been recorded in Wuhan, which has been under an unprecedented lockdown along with the rest of Hubei since late January.
 
But the quarantine and other travel restrictions across the country appear to be paying off, with official figures showing a generally steady drop in new cases in recent weeks.
 
 a onggang  in a protective suit looking at a  image at uchang makeshift hospital in uhan in hinas central ubei province      Ma Yonggang (C, in a protective suit) looking at a CT image at Wuchang makeshift hospital in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province. AFP PHOTO / MA YONGGANG

 

The National Health Commission also reported 139 new cases on Thursday, slightly up from 119 the previous day, raising the overall number of confirmed infections to 80,409.
 
Only five of the new cases were outside Hubei.
 
But China is now worried about importing cases from abroad as the virus has since spread to some 80 countries and territories, infecting more than 10,000 and killing more than 200 abroad.


****************************
 
South Korea virus total nears 6,000

South Korea's total number of novel coronavirus cases -- the largest outside China, where the disease first emerged -- approached 6,000 on Thursday as authorities reported 145 new infections.
 
The total stood at 5,766, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, with 35 deaths.
 
So far 36 countries and regions have imposed a blanket entry ban on people who have recently been in the South, according to the foreign ministry in Seoul.
 
Nearly 90 percent of the national total come from the southern city of Daegu -- with more than 4,300 cases confirmed there -- and the neighbouring North Gyeongsang province.  
 
The outbreak in the city of 2.5 million among Shincheonji members began with a 61-year-old woman, who developed symptoms on February 10 and attended at least four services in the city.
 
 outh orean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on the street to help prevent the spread of the 19 coronavirus at angnam district in eoul on arch 5 2020 hoto by ung eonje  South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on the street to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at Gangnam district in Seoul on March 5, 2020. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

 
The government proposed an extra budget of 11.7 trillion won ($9.9 billion) on Wednesday to address the epidemic's impact and improve the country's infectious disease prevention system. 

 
It is part of a 30-trillion-won ($25-billion) package President Moon Jae-in announced Tuesday to address the "grave" situation brought on by the outbreak in the world's 12th-largest economy.
 
Scores of events in the country -- from K-pop concerts to sports seasons -- have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion, with school and kindergarten breaks extended by three weeks nationwide.
 
The government on Thursday lengthened a nationwide daycare centre closure for a further two weeks.
 
*************************
 
IMF chief calls for all-out offensive to counteract epidemic
 
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday called for an all-out, "no regrets" response to the new coronavirus epidemic which poses a "serious threat" to the global economy.
 
"At a time of uncertainty... it is better to do more than to do not enough," she said, warning that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will slow growth in the world economy to below the 2.9 percent posted last year.
 
The epidemic "is no longer a regional issue, it is a global problem calling for global response," Georgieva told reporters, warning that the financial need could top $1 billion.
 
The virus has shuttered factories, disrupted travel, infected nearly 95,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,200, mainly in China, while some countries are struggling to test for and contain the spread of the illness.
 
That has spurred global policymakers to come out in force to mitigate the damage, including an emergency, half-point cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday, followed by a similar cut by the Bank of Canada on Wednesday.
  chief ristalina eorgieva hoto IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva. Photo/AFP

  

While some economists argue lower interest rates will do little to help address interruptions in supply chains, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said it should provide a boost to confidence.
 
And while Georgieva said the global financial system is in good shape now after being fortified in the wake of the 2008 crisis, "We do need to have measures that are bringing a sense of confidence," and prevent credit from freezing up.
 
The epidemic's impact on confidence and demand, as well as the steps imposed to contain it, are impacting economic activity, with the result that "global growth in 2020 will dip below last year's levels," she said.
 
The IMF in January forecast growth this year of 3.3 percent, which means at least a half point will be lost to the virus. 
 
But "how far it will fall and how long the impact will be is still difficult to predict," she said.
 
Georgieva said the fund's analysis had assumed the virus would be largely confined to China, which would have led to a sharp but short economic slowdown, followed by a quick recovery.
 
"Unfortunately over the last week we've seen a shift to a more adverse scenario for the global economy," due to the "sheer geographic spread of the epidemic around the world," impacting a third of the IMF's 189 member countries.
 
The fund is due to release its updated forecasts in mid-April.
 
Emergency financing
Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass spoke to reporters after a conference call of finance officials from member nations, who directed the IMF "to use all its available financing instruments to help member countries in need."
 
"We are determined to provide the necessary support to mitigate the impact, especially on the most vulnerable people and countries," the statement from governing body the IMFC said.
 
It was the first time the group had ever held a meeting by teleconference, the IMF said.
 
Georgieva said the Washington-based development lender has $1 trillion in overall financing capacity, including $50 billion available without a formal IMF program, and $10 billion in no-interest funds for the poorest countries.
 
These are existing aid facilities that can be deployed quickly to deal with emergency situations, such as natural disasters.
 
Georgieva said the fund also has a grant program used for the 2014 Ebola outbreak that relies on government donations and is underfunded with only $200 million against a need that could reach $1 billion.
 
"I called on member countries to help ensure that this facility is fully re-charged and ready for the current crisis," she said.
 
The World Bank on Tuesday announced it had $12 billion available to help countries respond to the coronavirus threat, especially the poorest nations that are least equipped.
 
Malpass told reporters "the speed and breadth of the response is crucial to its effectiveness."
 
As the US death toll rose to 11, Congress reached a deal on $8 billion in emergency spending to combat both the health and economic consequences of the disease.
 
The Eurogroup was still mulling an exceptional spending package as cases in Europe grew and Italy shuttered schools, but pledged to use "all appropriate tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth" including fiscal measures.
 
***********************
 
Hungary, Slovenia report first coronavirus cases
 
Hungary and Slovenia reported their first confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday in two Iranian students and a third patient who recently travelled back from Morocco via Italy. 
 
"Two patients have been taken into medical care due to coronavirus infections," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a Facebook video message.
 
"Two foreigners, students studying in Hungary, Iranians, they are currently symptom-free it seems, but confirmed as infected," he said.
 
Dr Janos Szlavik at the Central Hospital of Southern Pest told reporters at a news conference that both patients had visited family in Iran recently and that their roommates were being taken into quarantine.
 
Authorities were making efforts to establish their travel history within Hungary and who they had been in contact with, Szlavik said.
 
In neighbouring Slovenia, Health Minister Ales Sabeder told reporters the country's first case involved a "patient, aged around 60 who returned from Morocco via Italy" a few days ago.
 
The patient had visited a family doctor before being tested and was currently in hospital in the capital Ljubljana, he added.
 
While caseloads have steadily declined in the virus epicentre China, infections and deaths are rising in Asia and Europe, with cases appearing in new countries almost every day.
 
More than 90,000 people have been infected and around 3,200 have died worldwide from the virus, the vast majority in China where COVID-19 first emerged late last year. 
 
The World Health Organization (WHO) has so far stopped short of declaring a pandemic, though has said the world must prepare for the possibility.  
 
The virus has reached over 80 countries and territories around the world, with South Korea, Iran and Italy emerging as hotspots outside China. 
 
***********************
 
Panic buying follows coronavirus across the globe
 
Shelves are being stripped bare of toilet rolls, hand sanitiser and surgical masks everywhere from Japan to France to the United States as panic buying criss-crosses the globe with the coronavirus, defying repeated calls for calm and disrupting supply chains.
 
Obsessively documented on social media, scrambles to the shops and empty shelves are adding panic and confusion to the fight against an epidemic that has killed thousands, placed millions under quarantine and battered global markets.
 
Australia's biggest supermarket this week began rationing  sales of toilet paper after police had to be called to a shop in Sydney when a knife was drawn in a scuffle over the scarce commodity.
 
On Saturday Japan's prime minister took to Twitter to calm fears of a national shortage, while social media photos from the US show toilet paper shelves lying bare.
 
Psychologists say a mix of herd mentality and over-exposure to coverage of the virus is to blame. 
 
"We might be less irrational if we weren't being reminded so much of the potential dangers by the news," London-based consumer psychologist Kate Nightingale told AFP.
 
"We either avoid the topic or we go completely nuts and stock up on anything we might just need."
 
Panic buying of non-medical items like toilet paper "gives people this sense of control that 'I will have what I need when I want'," Andy Yap, a psychologist and Charlene Chen, who specialises in marketing and business in Singapore told AFP in an email.
 
The city-state experienced its own recent run on toilet paper, traceable, they said to a "believable" rumour of an impending shortage due to shutdowns in virus-stricken China, a major producer.
 
Endlessly scrolling through social media also "distorts our perceptions and makes us think that things are a lot more serious than they truly are," they said. 
 
As the uncertainty grows, they added, items such as surgical masks and hand sanitiser transform into "problem-solving goods... that seemingly help people gain control over the virus."

'The odd one out'
Single-use surgical masks that typically retail for just a few US cents are also hot property, exacerbated by restrictions on exports from China, the leading producer, as the government keeps more back for domestic usage.
 
Last month ten thousand people queued outside a Hong Kong shop that had secured a shipment, and days later masks were voted the most desireable gifts to receive for Valentine's Day.
 
In London, masks are now going for more than 100 times their normal retail price, while French authorities said they will requisition all face mask stocks and production.
 
The demand is being "driven by panic buying, stockpiling and speculation," World Health Organization spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told AFP.
 
This is despite the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying it did not "recommend the use of facemasks" to help combat the outbreak.
 
But in crowded, paranoid cities where others are already wearing them, donning a mask can be comforting -- if ineffective.
 
"You don't want to be the odd one out," Nightingale said.
 
"At the end of the day, we do need our social groups for survival so it's a primal instinct to obey whatever needs that society imposes on us." 
 
'Trusted faces'
As more countries report new cases, Yap and Chen said it was important for authorities to "re-establish control" over information and rumours that spark hoarding and panic-buying.
 
"In times of uncertainty, it is good to set rules because rules provide a sense of order and control." 
 
Governments also need to be clear in explaining any new rules and why they are important in the fight against the virus.
 
But, Nightingale said, with distrust of health authorities on the rise in the West over mandatory vaccinations and with governments and companies "among the least trusted institutions," this might be difficult. 
 
"Hiring trusted faces could help... David Attenborough might work for a certain kind of customer profile, like the over 40s. For younger profiles, you could turn to social media influencers."
 

******************************
 
New coronavirus deaths in US as lawmakers reach $8.3 bn funding deal
  
The death toll in the United States from the new coronavirus rose to 11 on Wednesday, as lawmakers in Congress agreed to provide more than $8 billion to fight the rapidly spreading disease.
 
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared an emergency as he reported the state's first fatality from the COVID-19 illness -- an elderly person who had taken a cruise to Mexico -- while health officials in nearby Washington state said a 10th person had died there.
 
"The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus," Newsom told reporters.
 
"This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly."
 
Earlier in the day, Los Angeles County officials reported six new cases in the West Coast metropolis, while the number of confirmed cases in New York state rose to 11.
 
One of the Los Angeles cases concerns a medical screener at the city's international airport checking overseas travelers for symptoms.
 
The Department of Homeland Security said the worker was under self-quarantine at home along with family members and was showing mild symptoms.
 
That person's last shift at the airport was on February 21 and the symptoms began on February 29, a statement said.
 
"DHS is happy to report that this individual was highly trained and did everything right both on the job and when they began to feel sick," the statement said.
 
  cleaning staff disinfect the 86th t  train station on arch 4 2020 in ew ork ity ix people have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus in the metro ew ork area including one community spread infection   ana askovaetty mages MTA cleaning staff disinfect the 86th St. Q train station on March 4, 2020 in New York City. Six people have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus in the metro New York area, including one community spread infection. Yana Paskova/Getty Images/AFP

 

"We are told the individual wore all the correct protective equipment and took necessary protections on the job."
 
Nationwide, more than 130 people have so far been infected, with the virus detected in more than a dozen states. Most of the deaths have been in Washington state including residents of a nursing home. 
 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meanwhile said Republicans and Democrats had reached a deal to fund the response to the outbreak to the tune of $8.3 billion. The House of Representatives passed the measure, and the Senate was to vote on Thursday.
 
Vice President Mike Pence, who is the White House's pointman on the crisis, told reporters he would be traveling to Minnesota on Thursday to visit a 3M plant manufacturing personal protective equipment including masks. 
 
He will then visit Washington state and meet with Governor Jay Inslee to review containment efforts in the Seattle area. 
 
'Coordinated, fully-funded response'
All of the newly infected individuals in Los Angeles were exposed to COVID-19 through close contact, health officials said.
 
Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said three of the cases concerned travelers who had gone together to northern Italy -- a virus hotspot with more than 100 deaths.
 
Two other cases involved individuals who had come in contact with a family member who had the virus and the last was the airport screener.
 
"The step we're taking today is about preparation, not panic," said Mayor Eric Garcetti of the emergency declaration.
 
Officials said they expected the number of infections in California to rise in the coming days and urged families to brace for possible school closures and the cancelation of public events.
 
Statewide, more than 50 people are known to be infected, the most of any state.
 
In Washington state, officials in King County, which includes Seattle and where most of the deaths have taken place, said they were purchasing an 85-bed motel to house patients stricken with the virus.
 
**********************
 
Obama on coronavirus: skip the masks, stay calm
 
Former US president Barack Obama called Wednesday for people to take "common sense precautions" over the coronavirus outbreak -- advising them to follow hand-washing guidelines but not to wear masks.
 
"Save the masks for health care workers. Let's stay calm, listen to the experts, and follow the science," tweeted Obama, who has kept a low public profile since leaving office in 2017.
 
He said people should keep track of updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- and stay home if they are sick.
 
ormer  president arack bama hotoFormer US president Barack Obama. Photo/AFP

 

The World Health Organization has said masks, goggles and other protective equipment used by health workers were in short supply due to "rising demand, hoarding and misuse."
 
The death toll in the US from the virus rose to 11 on Wednesday, as lawmakers in Congress reached a deal to provide more than $8 billion to fight the outbreak.
 
Nationwide, more than 130 people have so far been infected, with the virus detected in more than a dozen states.
 
***********************
 
Italy closes sports events to fans until April over virus fears
 
Italy ordered on Wednesday that all major sporting events be held behind closed doors until April 3 as the country grapples with the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
 
The measure was announced as the Italian government stepped up its response to an epidemic that has killed 107 people and infected more than 3,000 others in Italy in the past two weeks.
 
In a decree released on Wednesday, the government states that "all sporting events and competitions of all types, whether private or public" can proceed "in sports facilities behind closed doors -- namely in the open air but without the presence of the public".
 
This week's Italian Cup semi-finals -- Juventus against AC Milan in Turin and Napoli's clash with Inter Milan at the Stadio San Paolo -- have been postponed because of the outbreak.
 
No new dates for the matches have been announced and the May 13 final is now likely to be postponed for at least a week.
 
The spread of the virus has played havoc with Serie A, with 10 matches postponed over the last fortnight and a huge row brewing between clubs and the country's top football league over the scheduling of fixtures.
 
The six games shelved from the round -- including the title clash between Juve and Inter -- are expected to be moved to the coming weekend, with every other matchday pushed back a week.
 
Italy's Six Nations rugby union match against Ireland in Dublin, scheduled for Saturday, has already been postponed, and there are now serious doubts about the visit to Rome of England the following weekend.
 
The Davis Cup tennis qualifier between Italy and South Korea in Cagliari on Friday and Saturday will also have to be held without fans.

*******************
 
Saudi suspends 'umrah' pilgrimage over coronavirus fears
 
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday suspended the year-round "umrah" pilgrimage over fears of the new coronavirus spreading to Islam's holiest cities, an unprecedented move that raises fresh uncertainty over the annual hajj.
 
The kingdom said the suspension was provisional, but with the umrah attracting millions of people annually, the decision has a huge potential impact.
 
The Gulf state has decided "to suspend umrah temporarily for citizens and residents in the kingdom", the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
 
They were also barred from "visits to the Prophet's mosque in Medina", according to a foreign ministry tweet.

Muslim pilgrims wear masks at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on February 28, 2020. (Photo by Abdel Ghani BASHIR / AFP)

The move comes after authorities, alarmed over the spread of coronavirus across the Middle East, last week suspended visas for the umrah and barred citizens from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council from entering Mecca and Medina.
 
Saudi Arabia on Monday confirmed its first case of new coronavirus after one its citizens who had returned from COVID-19 hotspot Iran tested positive.
 
The umrah, which refers to the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be undertaken at any time of year, attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year.
 
The decision to suspend the umrah comes ahead of the holy fasting month of Ramadan starting in late April, which is considered a favourable period for pilgrims to perform it.
 
Logistical challenge
The holy sites, which draw millions of pilgrims every year, are a key revenue earner for Saudi Arabic.
 
Around two-thirds of the 18.3 million umrah participants in 2018 were citizens and residents of the kingdom, according to government statistics.
 
It is unclear how the coronavirus will affect the hajj, due to start in late July.
 
Some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world in 2019 to take part in hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.
 
The event is a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites, making it vulnerable to contagion.
 
Saudi Arabia's custodianship of Mecca and Medina -- Islam's two holiest sites -- is seen as the kingdom's most powerful source of political legitimacy.  
 
But a series of deadly disasters over the years has prompted criticism of the Sunni kingdom's management of the hajj.
 
In September 2015, a stampede killed up to 2,300 worshippers in the worst disaster ever to strike the pilgrimage.
 
De facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to decouple the kingdom's economy -- the world's top crude exporter -- from oil dependency towards other sources of revenue, including religious tourism.
 
The government had hoped to welcome 30 million pilgrims to the kingdom annually by 2030.

******************
 
Lufthansa to ground 150 planes over coronavirus
 
German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday it would ground 150 of its more than 750 planes worldwide, days after announcing a slimmed-down timetable over the effects of the novel coronavirus.
 
"25 long-haul aircraft and 125 short- and medium-haul aircraft" will no longer fly, a spokesman for the group also including carriers Eurowings, Austrian and Swiss told AFP.
 
Shares in Lufthansa have plunged in recent days as the likely impact of the COVID-19 disease on the aviation sector in particular has become clearer.
 
The stock was up slightly in afternoon trading in Frankfurt, adding 0.6 percent to trade at 11.98 euros ($13.29) just after 3:30 pm (1430 GMT) but slightly underperforming the DAX blue-chip index.
 
It remains around 27 percent lower than at the start of the year.
 
On Monday, Lufthansa said it would slash its flight plan by 25 percent, especially on short- and medium-haul routes including to virus-hit areas of Italy but also within Germany.
 
The group has suspended routes to other virus hotspots, including China and Iran, to late April.
 
Lufthansa has also suspended new hires as part of its measures to cushion the business impact of the virus, which it said Monday was "not yet possible to estimate".
 
The International Civil Aviation Organization has said that the virus outbreak could mean a $4-5 billion drop in worldwide airline revenue.

*********************
 
Israel severely restricts entry from Europe due to virus
 
Israel on Wednesday imposed tough new travel restrictions on five European nations due to fears of coronavirus, barring entry to almost all non-residents of the Jewish state arriving from these affected countries. 
 
Israel had earlier in the day ordered all citizens and residents returning from the five countries -- France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Switzerland -- into 14-day home quarantine upon entering the country.
 
The measures come on top of restrictions previously imposed on arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, South Korea, Japan and Italy.
 
Guidelines issued by the health ministry on Wednesday afternoon declared that foreigners from the affected European countries "will not be able to enter Israeli territory unless they can prove they have a place to stay in quarantine".
 
The interior ministry issued a statement in the evening saying tourists from these countries "will not be able to enter Israel from Friday at 8:00 am (0600 GMT)". 
 
"Those who arrive before this date will not be turned back," the statement added. 
 
The ministry added that the restrictions did not apply to people who merely transitted through airports in one of the listed countries.
 
"We are at the peak of a global epidemic," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his announcement of the latest travel restrictions.
 
"We are in a better situation than other countries because, since the beginning, I have given instructions to the maximum possible, not the minimum" level of precaution.
 
"And we have taken strict, very strict measures, to slow the spread of the virus," Netanyahu added.
 
Israel currently has 15 confirmed cases of the virus but no deaths, with some 7,000 others already in home-quarantine. 
 
In elections on Monday, thousands of people under quarantine voted at special polling stations staffed by officials in full protective gear. 
 
The health ministry on Wednesday ordered a ban on public gatherings of more than 5,000 people. 
 
*******************
 
Pet dog infected with COVID-19, Hong Kong authorities confirm
 
The pet dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong was confirmed to be infected with the disease, in a likely case of human-to-animal transmission, authorities said on Wednesday. 
 
The canine, which belongs to a 60-year-old woman patient, had repeatedly tested "weak positive" for the new coronavirus since Friday, when it was quarantined at an animal centre. 
 
The city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said repeated tests suggest the dog -- a pomeranian -- has "a low-level of infection".
 
The AFCD said experts from universities and the World Organisation for Animal Health have unanimously agreed that "it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission".
 
The pomeranian has not shown any novel coronavirus symptoms, it said.
  dog wears a mask over its mouth on a street in eijing on ebruary 13 2020 A dog wears a mask over its mouth on a street in Beijing on February 13, 2020. (AFP)

 

New measures put in place by Hong Kong's government last Friday mean all pets infected with the coronavirus must be quarantined for 14 days. Two dogs are already in isolation. 
 
The other dog in quarantine belongs to a second coronavirus patient that tested negative for the virus once and will be tested again before its release.
 
Authorities said they will continue to closely monitor the pomeranian and return it to its owner when it tests negative for the disease.
 
"Apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets," an AFCD spokesman said.
 
The financial hub has confirmed 104 cases of the new coronavirus in humans, with two deaths earlier this month. 
  

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author