While cases drop dramatically in China, the focus is on South Korea, Italy and Iran.
China was preparing to close temporary hospitals on Wednesday and South Korea had trouble finding enough beds for its patients, while the epidemic of a new virus that tormented China was spreading throughout the world.
As the number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, fell dramatically in China, where it was discovered in December, the focus was on South Korea, Italy and Iran, where there are foci of infection that, According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they accounted for 80% of new cases registered outside of China.
“People have fear and doubts. Fear is a natural human response to any threat, ”said WHO President Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But as we have more data, we increasingly understand this virus and the disease it causes.”
According to the WHO, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is around 3.4%, which makes it a more lethal disease than the common flu, although data suggests that it is more difficult to get.
In Daegu, the South Korean city at the epicenter of the outbreak in the country, the lack of hospital space meant that around 2,300 patients were being treated in other facilities while waiting for a bed in a medical center.
“I am convinced that we can absolutely overcome this situation,” South Korean Prime Minister Chung Se-Kyun said at a meeting on quarantine measures in Daegu.
South Korea confirmed 435 new cases on Wednesday, far from its record of 851 reported on the eve. In total, 5,621 people contracted the virus in the country, and 32 of them died.
In Italy, the death toll rose significantly on Tuesday, with 45 more to a total of 79, mostly in the northern region of Lombardy, where the outbreak is concentrated.
Fear for the spread of the coronavirus led the Vatican to insist that Pope Francis is not infected. The pontiff fell ill last week, but the Holy See said he has only one cold.
The growing problem in Europe and elsewhere in the world led some governments to try to control the supply of necessities. The Czech Republic, Russia and Germany announced on Wednesday bans that affect some protective equipment such as masks.
India, for its part, restricted the export of 26 key ingredients used in the pharmaceutical industry, a measure that could cause problems that were taken after a rebound in the number of cases, which on Wednesday went to 28 from the previous 5.
China reported 119 new cases on Wednesday, all except for five in Wuhan, where the coronavirus was detected. In an indication of the change in trend, the head of Health of the capital, Beijing, said that two of the new cases there apparently contracted abroad, in Iran and Italy.
Hubei Province, where Wuhan is, is expected to gradually close the temporary hospitals it has built in a hurry, where there are thousands of empty beds, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.
“We believe this decline is real,” said WHO expert Maria Van Kerkhove about China. The country reported 80,270 cases and 2,981 deaths, which is equivalent to around 85% of registered infections worldwide and 95% of deaths.
Doctors working in Wuhan told reporters via videoconference on Wednesday that hospitals have more and more empty beds, but warned that there is always the possibility that the number of infections will rise again.
“The war is not over,” said Cao Bin, a doctor who specializes in the respiratory system. “The disease is not just a Wuhan disease and not just a disease of China, but a global disease.”
Instability in financial markets around the world was attributed to the outbreak. The Asian exchanges had a disparate behavior on Wednesday after Wall Street continued its irregular performance despite a reduction in the interest rate by the Federal Reserve. Businesses of all kinds suffered the consequences as travel and tourism declined and worried consumers changed habits.
“People are afraid to touch something or take something,” said Maedeh Jahangiri, a perfume saleswoman at a luxury shopping center in the capital of Iran, Tehran. “Everyone is disoriented.”
Iran reported 92 deaths on Wednesday from a total of 2,922 cases of COVID-19, which would also affect at least 23 members of parliament.
Spain had dozens of health workers in quarantine or under surveillance after at least five contracted the disease. In France, the famous Louvre Museum did not open on Wednesday due to workers’ concerns that visitors can spread them. In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the number of cases could be expanded and presented a 25-page plan for the worst case scenario, in which retired doctors and nurses would be called to work and the police could stop investigates misdemeanors to help deal with the outbreak.
In the United States, nine people died, all of them in Seattle and its surroundings, in the state of Washington, where it was feared that the number of 27 cases could increase dramatically. In total, there are more than 120 patients of COVID-19 in the country.