Schools, businesses and restaurants were closed in a dozen cities in northern Italy on Saturday after reports of two deaths linked to an outbreak of coronavirus in the region.
A woman residing in the Lombardy region died just hours after a 77-year-old man succumbed near Padua, in the Veneto region, the ANSA news agency reported, citing health care sources.
Reports from Italy a total of 62 cases, Many of them representing the first infections in the country due to secondary contagion, that is, not directly from a visitor from China.
Deaths happen a day later World Health Organization health officials have warned attempts to contain the virus that erupted in China in December were at a time of crisis.
"Although the window of opportunity is narrowing to contain the outbreak, we still have a chance to contain it," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "But in doing so, we have to prepare at the same time for any eventuality, because this outbreak can go in any direction – it can even be confusing."
Local authorities in Lombardy and Veneto ordered the blockade, including the cancellation of sporting events, while the mayor of Milan, the commercial capital of Italy, closed public offices. In Veneto, civil protection teams set up a camp in front of a closed hospital, where several confirmed cases were being kept in isolation, to track medical staff for the virus.
In Codogno, where the first patient to fall ill in the north was in critical condition, the main street was practically a ghost town on Saturday. The few people on the streets wore masks that were difficult to obtain.
Elsewhere, Iranian health officials reported on Saturday the country's sixth death from the virus and 10 new cases, bringing the total number of cases to 28. The provincial governor of Markazi told the official news agency IRNA that testing a patient who died recently in the central city of Arak was positive for the virus.
In another example of the secondary phenomenon of contagion, WHO officials said that travelers from the Iranian city of Qom took the virus to Lebanon and Canada.
The COVID-19 coronavirus killed at least 2,360 people and made at least 77,900 sick worldwide, most of them in mainland China.
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35 coronavirus cases in the USA
Friday's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at least 35 people in the United States are infected with the virus. Of these, 14 were travelers who fell ill after returning from a trip abroad, while 21 were people "repatriated" by the State Department.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Friday that more infections are expected among passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and are quarantined.
She said "they are considered to be at high risk for infection" because they may have come into contact with infected people on the ship.
Regarding the general threat to the Americans, Messonnier said that the CDC is not yet seeing the community spread in the United States, "but it is very possible, and even likely, that this could eventually happen," she said.
"Our goal continues to slow the introduction of the virus into the US. This gives us more time to prepare communities for more cases and possibly for sustained spread."
Chinese doctor who postponed marriage dies in Wuhan
A 29-year-old doctor from Wuhan, China, who postponed his formal wedding ceremony to treat patients with coronavirus, died of the disease, according to Chinese media.
Peng Yinhua, a medical respiratory care professional, died on Thursday night, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the local health department.
Peng was infected while working at the First People's Hospital in Jiangxia district in Wuhan. He was hospitalized on January 25 and transferred to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital for treatment on January 30, Xinua said.
Peng and his pregnant wife, who had registered two years ago, planned to hold their formal ceremony on February 1, according to the China Daily.
But in January, Peng decided to postpone the ceremony because of the virus outbreak. At one point, he treated 150 patients a day, the newspaper reported.
"He was too young, just 29," said his wife, Ling Yung, a nurse. "We always believed that he would recover … I'm sorry to see what happened to him and I hope his unborn baby will grow up healthy and happy."
Cases in South Korea increase
South Korea said on Saturday that viral infections had increased eightfold in four days to 433, most of them linked to a church and hospital in Daegu, the country's fourth largest city, where health professionals struggled to track thousands of believers.
The country also reported its third death linked to the virus, a 40-year-old man who was found dead at home and had a positive posthumous result.
Deputy Health Minister Kim Gang-lip told reporters that patients with viruses with signs of pneumonia or other serious conditions at a hospital in the southern city of Cheongdo were transferred to other facilities, 17 of them in critical condition.
He said the outbreak had entered a new serious phase, but he still expressed cautious optimism that it could be contained in the region around Daegu, near Cheongdo, where the first case was recorded on Tuesday.
The Seoul city government said on Friday it would ban demonstrations in three large public squares in the city center and close churches operated by the Shincheonji religious movement in an attempt to prevent any spread of the coronavirus in South Korea.
Contribution: Associated Press
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