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Home » Security » Italy also in lock-down: Virus spreads globally

Italy also in lock-down: Virus spreads globally

A deserted street in Codogno, southeast of Milan, on Feb. 22.Photographer: Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images

Bloomberg, February 22, 2020

Bloomberg News – South Korea raised the country’s infectious-disease alert to the highest level after a 20-fold increase in coronavirus cases in five days. Infections in Italy climbed to 100 as emergency measures were implemented.

In Japan, a passenger on the ill-fated Diamond Princess tested positive after arriving home north of Tokyo, despite a negative reading during the ship’s quarantine. Three people from the ship have now died, NHK said. The latest developments underscored that the focus on averting a global pandemic is now outside China.

China’s top leadership pledged further fiscal and monetary steps to help growth rebound, while finance chiefs from the world’s biggest economies, gathering in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, fretted over the risks. The IMF said its baseline scenario is now for China to expand 5.6% this year — a 0.4 percentage point lower than a January estimate, shaving 0.1 percentage point off global growth.

Key Developments

Seoul, South Korea has raised its alert to the highest level

  • South Korea raises alert to highest level as cases reach 602
  • Italy infections exceed 100 with 89 in Lombardy region
  • China cases rose to at least 76,936, with 2,442 fatalities
  • Diamond Princess passenger tests positive after returning home

Iran Reports Eighth Death, 43 Cases (6:19 p.m. HK)

The number of infected people has reached 43, including the eight fatalities, Kianoush Jahanpour, a spokesperson for the health ministry, said on state TV. Iran has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Middle East. Seven of the new infections are in Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, four in Tehran, and the others in Gilan, Mazandaran and Markazi provinces, he said. Kuwait stopped ships from Iran calling at its ports.

Iran Reports Eighth Death, 43 Cases (6:19 p.m. HK)

The number of infected people has reached 43, including the eight fatalities, Kianoush Jahanpour, a spokesperson for the health ministry, said on state TV. Iran has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Middle East. Seven of the new infections are in Qom, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, four in Tehran, and the others in Gilan, Mazandaran and Markazi provinces, he said. Kuwait stopped ships from Iran calling at its ports.

The country also on Sunday reported 169 new cases, bringing the total to 602. That marks about a 20-fold surge within five days. Many of the infections have been at a hospital in Cheongdo, with almost all the patients in the psychiatric ward of that facility being affected. Local reports have said that a religious sect with followers who were infected had attended a funeral in the same complex.

France Prepares for Epidemic to Spread (2:56 p.m. HK)

Heath Minister Olivier Veran said “it is very likely” that new cases will emerge in France after a jump in neighboring Italy, speaking in an interview with Le Parisien Dimanche newspaper published on Sunday.

Laboratories across the country are being supplied with additional tests so that thousands of people can be checked on a daily basis, and more masks are being distributed, Veran told the newspaper. “I want us to be fully operational,” he was quoted saying.

Trump Said to Seek Emergency Funds (1:01 p.m. HK)

President Donald Trump will soon ask the U.S. Congress for emergency funds to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Politico reported, citing four people with knowledge of matter who weren’t identified.

The funding may be as little as $1 billion, significantly lower than some health officials say is sufficient, two of the people told Politico. The money could be spent quickly on developing potential vaccines and lab tests, they said.

China Central Banker Sees Limited Economic Impact (11:56 a.m. HK)

China has sufficient policy scope to address the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, which will prove limited, according to People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Chen Yulu, the central bank said in a posting Sunday. Chen in a Financial Times column Feb. 20 wrote that China will probably see a “V-shaped” recovery.

China’s top leaders pledged a more proactive fiscal policy after a Feb. 21 meeting, and the PBOC signaled further monetary steps to come.

Japanese Cruise Passenger Tests Positive (8:58 a.m. HK)

A woman in her 60s who had tested negative for the virus during the quarantine Feb. 14 on board the Diamond Princess ended up falling ill after returning home. Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, said in a statement that she developed a fever on Feb. 21 and tested positive on Feb. 22.

The development underscored a Feb. 18 warning by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that there was an “ongoing risk” from the passengers. More than 1,000 passengers left the virus-hit ship last week after the quarantine period.

Hubei Has 96 Deaths for Total of 2,346 (6:10 a.m. HK)

China’s Hubei province on Sunday reported an additional 630 cases on Feb. 22, and 96 further deaths. It said 1,742 patients were discharged. The death toll in the epicenter of the disease now stands at 2,346 people.

Those tallies account for the majority of the national totals in China, which now stand at 2,442 dead and 76,936 cases.

Italy Takes Steps to Contain Virus (5:50 p.m. NY)

Italy put in place perhaps Europe’s strongest measures to contain the coronavirus, as it reported its second death and a total of 76 cases spread across five regions.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said travel to and from an area of about 50,000 people southeast of Milan is banned. The country is also canceling top-flight soccer games, and the government said that local authorities can call in the military to enforce the quarantine if needed. While Conte said Italy won’t seek a suspension of the Schengen agreement, which eliminated immigration controls between 26 European countries, the virus surge illustrated the potential threat to borderless travel.

U.S. Raises Alerts on Travel to Japan, South Korea (4:20 p.m. NY)

The State Department raised its alert levels for travel to Japan and South Korea to Level 2. That compares with a Level 4 — “do not travel” — for China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Japan and South Korea are seeing “sustained community transmission” of the virus and called for the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions to consider postponing non-essential travel there.

Japan has reported one death, and an additional two cases of people who were passengers on the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship. It has a relatively large number of infections, with over 130. There have been more than 600 confirmed cases among passengers on the Diamond Princess.

— With assistance by Jihye Lee, Ian Fisher, Alessandro Speciale, Daniele Lepido, and Arsalan Shahla

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