Coronavirus: Italy, Iran and South Korea struggle to cope; pandemic fears grow
Amid the grave situation, the World Health Organization has said the world should do more to prepare for a possible pandemic. However, it added that it was too early to label the outbreak as such.
South Korea, Iran and Italy -- the worst-hit countries after China -- are struggling to battle the deadly coronavirus as the number of cases globally surpassed 80,000. So far, the virus has killed 2,700 people worldwide. There are at least 2,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in over 35 countries and territories outside mainland China, including 37 deaths.
Amid the grave situation, the World Health Organization has said the world should do more to prepare for a possible pandemic -- a situation where an infectious disease spreads easily between people in many countries.
But it added that it was too early to label the outbreak as such, but countries should be "in a phase of preparedness".
Reports on Tuesday said that the death toll in China rose by 71 to 2,663. More than 77,000 people in the country have been infected. It is believed that the coronavirus outbreak originated at a market in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, selling wild animals.
What is happening in South Korea?
At least 977 cases have been confirmed in South Korea, up from 31 a week ago. The country reported three more deaths on Tuesday, bringing the number of people who have died to 10. The virus has spread throughout the country, with the worst outbreak linked to a religious group in the southern city of Daegu.
The country's President Moon Jae-in , in his first visit to Daegu since the outbreak began, called the situation very grave and said the coming week would be key in the battle to contain the virus.
The situation in Iran
In Iran, the Health Ministry confirmed 61 cases and 12 deaths. But one lawmaker in the city of Qom claimed that the death toll could be as high as 50.
Coronavirus in Italy
At least 229 people have been infected with the virus in Italy and seven people have died. Around 100,000 people in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto are facing travel and other restrictions. Italy has not identified "patient zero," the source of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Meanwhile, Oman has announced its first two cases of the virus, after two Omani women returning from Iran tested positive.
Thailand, Singapore and Kuwait all reported additional cases on Tuesday.
More cases of the virus, which causes respiratory disease Covid-19, are continuing to emerge, with the vast majority still in China. The proportion of infected people who die appears to be between 1% and 2%, although the WHO cautions that the mortality rate is not known yet, the BBC reported.
Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said it's too early to declare the novel coronavirus a pandemic -- but now is the time to prepare. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the virus has pandemic potential -- but it’s not there yet.
What is happening in China?
The Chinese government has announced a ban on the consumption of wild animals and a crackdown on the hunting, transportation and trade of prohibited species, state media say.
China also said it would postpone the annual meeting of the National People's Congress next month, to "continue the efforts" against the coronavirus.
The state-run Global Times reported that scientists had made progress on developing an oral vaccine, with a professor at Tianjin University taking four doses with no side effects.