We're Losing The Window to Contain The Coronavirus Outbreak — WHO Warns

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Friday that the window of opportunity to contain wider worldwide spread of the epidemic of the new coronavirus disease is closing, after cases were reported in Iran and Lebanon.

On Friday, epidemiologists from the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom also released their latest report on the outbreak. Labs in the region once again have capacity to test samples, he said.

China said Saturday the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province. A third infection was reported in an air force officer who is based in Daegu but who had recently traveled to military headquarters in central South Korea, the defense ministry said, prompting the quarantine of 80 soldiers there.

The new virus, which originated a year ago in Hubei province in China, causes a respiratory disease called Covid-19.

Chinese authorities have placed tens of millions of people under quarantine in hard-hit central Hubei province, restricted movements in other cities far from the epicentre and closed schools nationwide. He added that the World Health Organization stands ready to provide technical assistance.

This comes following Iran's announcement of two more deaths, bringing the total there to four. Both had made recent visits to Daegu, officials said.

The outbreak has not yet reached the pandemic stage, he said, despite the emergence of 18 new cases, with four deaths, in Iran, among people with no connections to travel to China. "Not only that, there is a case which is linked to Iran now in Lebanon ... and these dots are actually very concerning".

China's leadership sounded a cautious note Friday about the country's progress in halting the spread of the new virus that has now killed more than 2,200 people, after several days of upbeat messages.

The statement comes as concerns grow in South Korea and the Middle East about the number of cases. Numerous cases have been linked to a church in the city. It added that 400 of the sect's 3,500 members have shown symptoms of the disease.

Outside of Hubei, the number of cases has been steadily falling, with only 45 more cases reported on Thursday.

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But Beijing health officials said 36 people, including medical staff, patients and their families, have now tested positive for the virus at Fuxing hospital. Italy now has 19 cases.

Outside China 1,152 cases of the virus have been confirmed in 26 countries and there have been eight deaths. A traveler from Canada and another from Lebanon tested positive for the virus after returning home from Iran.

China last week had started recording new cases without waiting for laboratory results, causing a significant spike in the number of cases.

"You had this patient from Wuhan where the virus is, travelling to where the virus wasn't".

They said that differences in illness severity make some cases tough to detect.

Countries have banned travellers from China and airlines have suspended flights to and from the country.

The report is Imperial College London's sixth to address issues related to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Another 397 new cases were reported nationwide, down from almost 900 officially reported February 21, bringing the total number of cases to over 76,000.

From an outside perspective, it seems as though coronavirus is spreading somewhat uncontrollably throughout the Hubei province of China where it originated. The provincial government said these were imported cases from Wuhan, and two prison officials had been removed from their roles.

Another death has been reported, in a doctor working at a Wuhan hospital, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today.

  • Ismael Montgomery