Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - South Korea virus cases up as Italy, Iran take drastic steps




South Korea virus cases up as Italy, Iran take drastic steps

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Italy became the first European country to report one of its nationals had died from the virus.​ AFP

South Korea virus cases up as Italy, Iran take drastic steps

South Korea reported a sharp jump in coronavirus cases on Sunday, while Italy and Iran took drastic containment steps as worldwide fears over the epidemic spiralled.

The contagion’s spread prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to warn that Africa’s unprepared health systems left the continent vulnerable to the Covid-19 disease, which spilt out of China and has infected more than 77,000 people in more than 25 countries.

Already one of the worst-hit nations outside China, South Korea reported 123 new cases on Sunday, taking its total to 556.

Its death toll rose to four with two additional fatalities reported, a day after Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said South Korea faced a “grave” situation.

The Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu – considered by many a cult – has emerged as a hotbed of contagion, with hundreds of members infected.

Chung called on Koreans to avoid large gatherings, including religious services.

Italy and Iran began introducing the sort of containment measures previously seen only in China, which has put tens of millions of people under quarantine lockdown in the epicentre province of Hubei.

More than 50,000 people in about a dozen northern Italian towns near the business hub of Milan were urged by authorities to stay home, while shops and schools were shuttered.

Among dozens of cases, Italy on Friday became the first European country to report one of its nationals had died from the virus – a 78-year-old retired bricklayer in the region of Veneto.

That was followed on Saturday by the death of a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government was weighing “extraordinary measures” to halt further infections.

China reported another 97 deaths in its daily update on Sunday, taking its total to 2,442, plus 648 new infections. Nearly 80,000 infections have been reported worldwide.

Chinese deaths and infections remain concentrated in the hard-hit city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have emanated from a live animal market in December.

China’s infection rate has slowed sharply from earlier in the epidemic, but Chinese flip-flopping over counting methods has sowed confusion over its data.

There also was growing concern over the difficulty of detecting the virus.

Japan on Sunday confirmed that a woman who tested negative and disembarked from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship later tested positive.

Japan has already been criticised over its handling of the ship, which has seen more than 600 cases of Covid-19.

Many passengers were allowed to disembark without being properly tested or despite having close contact with infected people.

More than 1,000 crew remain on board and are expected to serve a 14-day quarantine.

Italian officials said all patients in Lombardy were linked to a 38-year-old man whom Italian media say dined in January with a friend who came from China, but who has since tested negative.

Iran ordered the closure of schools, universities and cultural centres across 14 provinces from Sunday following five deaths in the Islamic Republic – the most outside East Asia and the first in the Middle East.

Iran’s outbreak surfaced on Wednesday and has quickly worsened with 28 cases confirmed.

“The concern is . . . that we have seen . . . a very rapid increase [in Iran] in a matter of a few days,” said Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness department.

Iran’s government also ordered all “art and cinema events” nationwide cancelled until the end of the coming week.

Iraq on Thursday clamped down on travel to and from Iran, and flag carrier Kuwait Airways has suspended flights to the country.

Although Egypt is the only African country with a confirmed case of Covid-19, the WHO warned that the continent’s health systems were ill-equipped to cope with a potential major outbreak and urged more cooperation among the African Union.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said necessary treatment tools such as respiratory support machines are “in short supply in many African countries and that’s a cause for concern”.

The US State Department said global anxiety was being stoked by a coordinated effort by thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts to spread conspiracy theories that the outbreak was a US-orchestrated ploy to damage China, officials said.

Russia’s foreign ministry dismissed the allegation as “deliberately false”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there