Health

WHO declares pandemic as coronavirus rebounds in China, South Korea

(Update 1: Adds information from WHO, Ireland, Indonesia, UK, India, Vatican, Germany, Romania)

Madrid Desk, Mar 11 (EFE).- The Covid-19 outbreak slightly rebounded in China and South Korea on Wednesday after showing signs of a slowdown as the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

The disease has spread to 114 countries, killed 4,291 people and infected more than 118,000, with the WHO warning these numbers were likely to increase.

The majority of cases have been in China, the epicentre of the outbreak, with significant infections in South Korea, Iran and Italy.

Beijing said there was an increase in the number of daily infections due to a rise in “imported” cases – 10 in the past 24 hours, up eight from the previous day, for a total of 79. The number of new cases totalled 24, compared to 19 the previous day, with 22 new deaths, up five. However, 1,578 people were discharged after overcoming the illness. Coronavirus deaths in China totalled 3,158, while the number of cases was at 80,778.

Seoul reported 52 new cases Wednesday, the highest number for the city since the epidemic began in South Korea, with a nationwide total of 242 new cases, up from 131 a day earlier. This brought the total to 7,755 infections, with six new deaths totalling 60.

In other global coronavirus news:

WHO: Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organisation “was deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction”.

“We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” he added at a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

IRELAND: The country reported its first death, an elderly woman who had pre-existing health problems, according to authorities. There are 34 cases in the Republic of Ireland and 18 infections in neighbouring Northern Ireland.

UNITED STATES: A 90-year-old woman in an assisted living facility in Sacramento became the third death by COVID-19 in California, increasing the number of deaths to 31 in the United States, which is already close of 1,000 people diagnosed with the virus, authorities said Wednesday.

INDONESIA: Achmad Yurianto, the secretary for the health ministry’s prevention and disease control centre, confirmed the first coronavirus fatality in the country, a 53-year-old woman with underlying health issues. There were 26 people in Indonesia who have tested positive for the coronavirus

UNITED KINGDOM: Health minister and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has tested positive for the virus and gone into self-isolation in her home. The UK has reported six deaths and a total of 382 cases. The Bank of England announced a cut in interest rates to 0.25 percent from 0.75 percent as an emergency measure to protect business from the coronavirus outbreak. Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced a $38.9 billion fiscal stimulus plan.

GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country’s response to the virus would focus on “solidarity and reason”, while repeating Tuesday’s warning that around 60 to 70 percent of the population would likely be infected due to the lack of vaccines and general immunity to the virus strain. Police, medical personnel and other critical services would be maintained, while a liquidity package is being mulled to offset the effects of the virus on the German economy and industry.

INDIA: Authorities announced they will not issue any visas to German, Spanish or French travellers starting on Wednesday. India previously imposed a visa ban on China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan.

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis gave his General Audience via livestream rather than appearing at the balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square as part of measures aimed at deterring crowds. The pope did the same for his Angelus Prayer on Sunday.

ROMANIA: Romanian authorities announced a measure to isolate travellers coming from Spain, France and Germany for two weeks. Those arriving from hotspots like Madrid and northern France will be monitored at state-run quarantine centers. EFE

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