SHANGHAI/SEOUL – Asia reported hundreds of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, including the first U.S. soldier to be infected, as the United States warned of an inevitable pandemic, and outbreaks in Italy and Iran spread to more countries.
World stocks tumbled for the fifth day while safe-haven gold rose back toward seven-year highs and U.S. bond yields held near record lows after governments and health authorities warned of a coronavirus pandemic.
Stock markets globally have wiped out $3.33 trillion of value in the past four trading sessions, as measured by the MSCI all-country index that comprises stocks across 23 developed and 26 emerging markets.
The disease is believed to have originated in a market selling wildlife in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, the vast majority in China.
Adding to a growing sense that a rapid spread of the virus in more places is inevitable, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official urged that preparations be made now.
In the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also urged Americans to prepare, saying that while the immediate risk there was low, the global situation suggested a pandemic was likely.
“It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when and how many people will be infected,” the CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, said on Tuesday.
The United States has reported 57 cases of the virus.
Dr Bruce Aylward, head of a joint WHO-Chinese mission on the outbreak, told reporters on his return to Geneva that preparations should not wait.
“Think the virus is going to show up tomorrow. If you don’t think that way, you’re not going to be ready,” he said.
“This a rapidly escalating epidemic in different places that we have got to tackle super fast to prevent a pandemic.”
A 60-year-old man has become the first French citizen to die from coronavirus.
The man’s death was confirmed today by the head of France’s public health ministry Jerome Salomon.
The first recorded coronavirus death in Europe was in France, a Chinese tourist aged 80.
In a statement on French TV, Mr Salomon said a 60-year-old French man was tested at Paris’ Pitie-Salpêtrière hospital late on Tuesday night.
“Unfortunately (he) died during the night,” he said.
The man’s death was one of three new cases in France, bringing the total number of confirmed infections in the country to 17.
Austria, Croatia and Switzerland have reported their first cases, while Spain and France recorded new ones, involving people who had been to northern Italy.
Authorities in Italy reported Tuesday night that the number of people infected in the country grew to 322, or 45% in 24 hours, and deaths of patients with the virus rose to 11.
Meanwhile in the UK, Public Health England has confirmed it is not advising that schools close their doors in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease.
Algeria reports first confirmed Covid-19 (Coronavirus) case
ALGERIA has reported its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus, an Italian man who arrived in the country on Feb. 17 and has been put into isolation.
The case was announced by the health minister, and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Twitter that he had ordered medical authorities to take maximum precautions. He urged Algerians to be careful what information they shared online.
Virus infections hit 40 in Thailand as infections spread in hotspots worldwide
Thailand reported three more COVID-19 cases Wednesday morning, raising the total to 40 since the outbreak began. All three were members of the same family, two of whom recently returned from Hokkaido, Japan.
In the past 24 hours, the novel coronavirus outbreak that has slowed in China and other parts of Asia has grown rapidly outside the region. Infections in Europe and South Korea continue to spread, with the United States warning its citizens yesterday that an outbreak there is inevitable. In Southeast Asia, Thailand and other nations hardest hit outside China have seen the official rates of infection slow, with Singapore and Hong Kong reporting a handful of new cases each day.
South Korea reported 169 new coronavirus cases today, including an American soldier, bringing its number of known infections to 1,146. The country also reported its 11th death today.
Japan reported 10 new cases yesterday, bringing its total to 861, 709 of which were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Known infections have been detected across 17 prefectures.
Iran’s deputy health minister tested positive for COVID-19. The country had 95 known infections and 15 deaths as of Wednesday morning.
Switzerland, Austria, and Croatia have confirmed their first cases. Two patients in Austria are believed to have contracted the virus in Italy, which has 323 reported cases and 11 deaths so far. Around a dozen towns across Italy’s Lombardy region, where the local outbreak emerged, and the Veneto region are on lockdown for two weeks.
An Italian man tested positive for the virus in Algeria, the World Health Organization announced yesterday.
A thousand guests at a hotel on the Spanish island of Tenerife have been quarantined after an Italian doctor and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus.
COVID-19 first emerged in China around mid-December. The infection has killed at least 2,700 people and spread to more than 78,000 people there so far. Guangdong province authorities announced today that at least 14 per cent of recovered patients tested positive for the virus again, suggesting that recovered patients may still carry the virus.