The deadly novel coronavirus (nCoV) is spreading faster outside of China for the first time, with Austria, Croatia, Greece, Switzerland and Algeria registering their first confirmed cases.
Italy and Iran have recently experienced a spike in new coronavirus infections, becoming the new epicenters of the deadly virus spread outside of China.
19 deaths in Iran
Iran has reported 139 cases and 19 deaths, with its epicenter located in the city of Qom. Despite the outbreak stemming from a shrine in Qom, Shia clerics have continued to welcome visitors and pilgrims.
School sessions, soccer matches and cinema screenings have been canceled across most parts of Iran. Health officials have urged for the temporary cessation of gatherings. “At the moment we absolutely support the temporary closure of any type of human gathering, including tourist areas and pilgrimage sites,” said Iranian Health Ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that the country will only quarantine individuals infected with the virus or who have had contact with suspected cases.
Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who appeared feverish as he spoke on state television on February 24, has placed himself in self-quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus. “This is a very democratic virus. It does not distinguish between poor and rich. Everyone can get this virus,” he said in a video posted on YouTube.
12 deaths in Italy
Italy is currently the worst-hit European country. The nation has seen another sharp increase in newly reported coronavirus cases in its northern region, with a 25% one-day increase which saw 80 new confirmed cases on February 26 in the Lombardy and Veneto regions.
According to the local civil protection agency chief, Angelo Borrelli, 400 cases were reported as of February 26, with 12 fatalities.
The president of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, has announced on Facebook that he is under self-quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for coronavirus. “A collaborator of my staff tested positive for #Coronavirus. So today we performed the test, both myself and the rest of my team, and fortunately, we are negative at the moment. This will mean for us, as for all citizens in this situation, a 14-day self-quarantine period,” said Fontana.