China virus cases rise again, Trump urges calm after US death


BEIJING, March 1, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – China reported a fresh spike in
coronavirus infections on Sunday, as President Donald Trump urged calm after
the first death on US soil and Australia registered its first fatality.

The virus has spread to more than 60 countries around the globe, prompting
the World Health Organization to raise its risk assessment to its highest

Worldwide, nearly 3,000 people have been killed and about 87,000 infected
since the virus was first detected late last year in the central Chinese city
of Wuhan.

China on Sunday reported 573 new infections, the highest figure in a week
after a dip. All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is
the capital.

While the numbers in China are still far lower than the huge daily
increases reported during the first two weeks of February, COVID-19 has
spread rapidly across borders, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging as

South Korea, which has the most infected people outside China, reported 586
new cases on Sunday, bringing its total to 3,736.

Australia reported the first death on its soil — a 78-year-old man who had
been evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in

There are fears the disease could hammer the global economy, and stock
markets last week plunged to their lowest levels since the 2008 financial

– First death on US soil –

Global attention turned to the United States on Saturday after the first
fatality on American soil was confirmed.

“We’ve taken the most aggressive actions to confront the coronavirus,”
President Donald Trump said at a hastily arranged White House press

“Our country is prepared for any circumstance… There is no reason to
panic at all.”

The fatality occurred in Washington state’s King County, which includes
Seattle, a city of more than 700,000 people, health officials said.

The victim was in his 50s and had “underlying health conditions,” officials
added, as they also announced a possible outbreak in a Washington state
nursing home, where a health worker and a resident in her 70s were both
confirmed sick with the virus.

Other residents and staff were “ill with respiratory symptoms or
hospitalised with pneumonia of unknown cause,” the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The death and two confirmed Washington cases all involved patients who had
not travelled overseas or come in contact with anyone known to be ill,
indicating the virus was spreading in the US.

“We will see more cases,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said at the White

“But it’s important to remember, for the vast majority of individuals who
contract the novel coronavirus, they will experience mild to moderate

– France, Italy measures –

France cancelled gatherings of 5,000 people or more after 16 new cases were
confirmed there on Saturday, bringing the country’s total to 73.

Sunday’s Paris half-marathon and an agricultural symposium were among the
events axed.

Italy, the hotspot of the outbreak in Europe, saw a jump in new cases on
Saturday, with its number of infections exceeding 1,000 and the death toll
jumping by eight to 29.

The outbreak forced the postponement of five matches in Italy’s top-flight
Serie A football league, including the heavyweight clash between champions
Juventus and Inter Milan.

In Japan, just 200 people took part in Sunday’s Tokyo marathon after it was
reduced from a mass participation event of 38,000 runners to just elite
athletes. And the sumo spring tournament which opens next Sunday will now be
held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus.

In recent days, the epidemic has spread also to sub-Saharan Africa, while
Qatar, Ecuador, Luxembourg and Ireland all confirmed their first cases on

Governments around the world have scrambled to prevent the spread of the
virus, from large-scale lockdowns of millions of people in China to flight
bans and travel restrictions from disease hotspots.

Beijing’s drastic steps include curbing the movement of people, temporarily
closing factories across China and quarantining Hubei, a key industrial
province where the virus first appeared.

South Korea’s epidemic is centred in its fourth-largest city, Daegu, whose
streets have been largely deserted for days, apart from long queues at the
few shops with masks for sale.

The total in South Korea is expected to rise further as authorities screen
more than 210,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive
entity often accused of being a cult that is linked to around half of the
country’s cases.