Global virus death toll tops 3,000 as EU raises alert

Global virus death toll tops 3,000 as EU raises alert
Global virus death toll tops 3,000 as EU raises alert

The death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 3,000 on Monday as more people died in China, Iran and the US and Europe raised its state of alert.

The virus has now infected more than 89,000,spread to over 60 countries and threatens to cause a global economic slowdown— after first emerging in China late last year.

With fears of a pandemic on the rise, the WorldHealth Organization urged all countries to stock up on critical careventilators to treat patients with severe symptoms.

In Brussels, EU president Ursula von der Leyensaid the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) hadincreased its risk assessment for Europeans after Italy's outbreak doubled in48 hours. 

The virus has raised fears for the worldeconomy, with the OECD lowering its global growth forecast by half a point to2.4 percent, the worst performance since the 2008 crisis.

China's economy has ground to a halt with largeswathes of the country under quarantine or measures to restrict travel. Takingsat Macau casinos fell a record 88 percent in February.

Other countries have started to enact their owndraconian containment measures, including banning arrivals from virus-hitnations, locking down towns, urging citizens to stay home and suspending majorevents such as football matches and trade fairs.

Health officials monitoring the virus at theECDC announced that it had increased its risk assessment to "moderate tohigh".

The Louvre — the world's most visited museum— closed on Sunday and Monday after staff refused to work because of fearsabout the virus.

China reported 42 more deaths on Monday — allin central Hubei province. The pathogen is believed to have originated in amarket that sold wild animals in Hubei's capital, Wuhan.

The death toll in China alone rose to 2,912,but it is also surging abroad.

The WHO says the virus appears to particularlyhit those over the age of 60 and people already weakened by other illness. Ithas a mortality rate of between two and five percent.

Infections are now rising faster abroad than inChina, as the country's drastic measures, including quarantining some 56million people in Hubei since late January, appear to be paying off.

Iran reported 12 more deaths on Monday, raisingthe country's toll to 66, the second biggest after China.

South Korea, the biggest nest of infectionsoutside China, reported nearly 500 new cases on Monday, raising its total past4,000.

Half of South Korea's cases are linked to asect whose leader apologised Monday for the spread of the disease.

Seoul's city government have asked prosecutorsto press murder charges against him for failing to cooperate in efforts tocontain the virus.

A second person died in the northwestern USstate of Washington as President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the risk of amajor outbreak, faced criticism over his administration's preparedness.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said:"As of this morning, we have 2,100 confirmed cases in 18 EU member statesand we have 38 citizens who have lost their lives."

  • – Infections double in Italy –

After an increase on Sunday, China's NationalHealth Commission reported 202 new infections on Monday, the lowest daily risesince late January, bringing the nationwide total over 80,000.

In a symbol of the improving situation,authorities in Wuhan closed on Sunday one of 16 makeshift hospitals built orrepurposed from public buildings to treat the city's huge number of patients.

By contrast, Iran reported more than 500 newcases, raising its total number of infections to 1,501.

Four more people died in South Korea, takingits toll to 22.

South Korea's cases are expected to risefurther as authorities test more than 260,000 people associated with theShincheonji Church of Jesus, the religious group often condemned as a cult thatis linked to more than half the infections.

In Italy, Europe's hardest-hit country,infections nearly doubled to around 1,700 cases over the weekend.

In the United States, a man in his 70s withunderlying conditions died on Saturday, health officials said, as New Yorkreported its first case in a woman who had visited Iran.

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