The number of infections in the Middle Kingdom is declining, but it is surging in other countries. WHO warns: the world is in “unknown land”. AFP source
The threat of the Covid-19 coronavirus is spreading across the planet. In China, the country where the virus originates, the number of infections seems to have been declining for several days already. Since the end of January, very strict quarantine measures have been taken by the authorities and target more than 50 million people. However, fears of recontamination of the country by importation resurfaced as the eastern province of Zhejiang, east of the Middle Kingdom, announced that eight Chinese, returning from a trip to Italy, were now carriers of the virus. Elsewhere in the world, new infections are leaping. For the boss of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “we are in unknown territory” for now.
“Never before have we seen a respiratory pathogen capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained if the right measures are taken,” he said in Geneva. “Community transmission” refers to the multiplication of outbreaks of the virus with no clear epidemiological link to the cradle of the disease, in this case in Hubei province. Dr. Tedros noted that in the previous 24 hours, there had been nine times fewer reported infections in China than in the rest of the world. Nationally, Chinese authorities identified a total of 125 new cases of contamination on Tuesday. This is the lowest daily figure since January 21, even before the quarantine of the city of Wuhan (center), at the heart of the epidemic.
Over 2,000 confirmed cases in the European Union
According to authorities, Covid-19 has killed 31 people, all located in Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is the capital. The death toll is therefore 2,943 across the country. The epidemic surpassed 3,000 deaths worldwide on Monday and is accelerating outside China. In South Korea, the second most affected country after China, the total number of infections was around 5,000 on Tuesday, while the authorities announced 477 new cases. Two more deaths have also been reported, bringing the total to 28. Saudi Arabia, which was the only Gulf country to date to report no cases on its soil, reported the first case of coronavirus on Monday. He is a person who tested positive after his return from Iran, the country where there are now the highest number of deaths linked to the disease after China (66 dead).
The European Union has raised its risk assessment to “moderate to high”, with a final assessment of 2,100 confirmed cases in 18 member countries. EU health ministers were summoned for a special meeting on Friday in Brussels. In Italy, the most affected country in Europe, the 50 dead mark was crossed Monday. The country is now officially divided into three zones. The “red zone” placed under quarantine, which covers 11 communes in the North, represents more than 50,000 inhabitants. In France, where several events were canceled and the Louvre museum remained closed, a third person died from the new coronavirus.
A treatment available in the early fall in the United States?
In the United States, which were previously rather unspoiled, four new deaths were recorded Monday, bringing to six the number of deaths on the American territory . More than 90 patients have been identified, half of whom have been repatriated from abroad. Several patients diagnosed in recent days had no known link to an outbreak, suggesting that the disease is starting to spread across the country. Wanting to be reassuring, Vice-President Mike Pence, who coordinates the fight against the epidemic, announced that a treatment could be available “by the summer or the beginning of the fall”. The first clinical trials for a vaccine could take place “within the next six weeks,” he said, but no vaccine will be available before the end of the year at the earliest.
The central bankers and finance ministers of the G7 are to meet on Tuesday by telephone to coordinate their action faced with the impact of the new coronavirus on global growth. This mobilization comes at a time when global growth, already weakened by the China-United States trade war, has been hit hard by the slowdown in the Chinese economy and the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. Last week, the New York Stock Exchange experienced its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. But on Monday, Wall Street experienced a dramatic rebound, with investors hoping that the monetary authorities of the largest countries will develop a coordinated response for mitigate the economic impact of the new coronavirus.
In the process, the Chinese stock markets went green in the middle of the day. The Australian central bank cut interest rates to a historically low level on Tuesday to cushion the economic impact of the epidemic. The equipment supplier Nike announced Monday close until Wednesday its European headquarters, located near Amsterdam, after a case of Covid-19 was detected in a member of staff. The site has some 2,000 employees from 80 countries.