Health experts sounded the alarm on Friday about the worldwide threat of the coronavirus, with officials warning of its "likely" community spread across the United States and the World Health Organization warning that "the window of opportunity is narrowing" to contain the outbreak worldwide.
O Coronavirus COVID-19, which erupted in China in December, killed at least 2,360 people and fell ill at least 77,900 worldwide, most cases in mainland China.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on Friday that U.S. health officials are preparing for the coronavirus to become a pandemic.
"We are not yet seeing the community spread out here in the United States, but it is very possible, even likely, that it 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."
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She said the CDC is working with state and local health departments "to prepare our public health workforce to respond to local cases". These measures include collaborating with supply chain partners, hospitals, pharmacies and manufacturers to determine which medical supplies are needed.
She said the "day can come" here, where we have to close schools and businesses like China.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, the director-general of the World Health Organization, alarmed by the recent spread of Iran's coronavirus, warned Friday that while there is still a chance to contain the virus globally, "the window of opportunity is closing. narrowing ".
"We still have a chance to contain it, but we need to prepare for other eventualities," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "It can go in many directions, it can even be confusing. It is in our hands now … we can reverse or prevent a serious crisis. If we don't, if we miss this opportunity, there could be a serious problem. In our hands."
Among other measures, Tedros asked for financial assistance to help countries that fight the virus to buy critical medical equipment and strengthen their health systems.
The world community, he said, has a "chance to fight" to contain the spread of the virus, but "we should not look back and regret that we have not taken advantage of the window of opportunity that we have now".
Tedros, speaking to reporters in Geneva, said the new cases in Iran show how the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, is now moving not only to secondary countries, but to third countries in a chain of transmission each time. bigger.
"The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, are very worrying," said Tedros. "These points are really very worrying."
O Global Health Safety Index, published last year, found that only 13 of the nearly 200 countries reach the top spot, suggesting that most of the world would struggle to deal with a major outbreak of a deadly infectious disease like Ebola.
The index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins University Health Security Center, with research by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
35 coronavirus cases in the USA
The CDC 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.
CDC's Messonnier said more infections are expected among passengers on the Diamond Princess and are in quarantine.
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.
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5 deaths in Iran
Iranian health officials on Saturday registered a fifth death from the new virus that emerged in China and said the fatality was among the 10 new confirmed cases of the virus in Iran.
So far, 28 cases have been confirmed in Iran, including the five who died. People are being treated for the virus in at least four different cities, including the capital, Tehran, where some pharmacies were already without masks and hand sanitizer. Other cities are Qom, Arak and Rasht.
Ministry of Health spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour made Saturday's announcement of the latest news on state TV, but did not specify when the fifth death occurred. Two people died on the previous Friday of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Authorities reported two deaths earlier this week.
Jahanpour said that of the 10 newly detected cases, two were in the capital of Tehran and eight in the city of Qom. It was there that the first two elderly patients died on Wednesday. He said the two patients in the capital had visited Qom or had connections with the city.
Minoo Mohraz, an Iranian Ministry of Health official, said earlier that the virus "possibly came from Chinese workers who work in Qom and traveled to China". She gave no further details. A Chinese company is building a solar power plant in Qom.
Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia has announced that citizens and residents of the kingdom cannot travel to Iran after the virus has spread there. Anyone previously in Iran will only be able to enter the country after the 14-day incubation period for the virus.
At the same time, Lebanon announced Friday its first confirmed case of coronavirus in the country, from an individual who had apparently caught the virus during a visit to Qom, according to Lebanese Health Minister Hammad Hassan, during a news conference at Friday.
In Canada, a 30-year-old woman was diagnosed with a mild case of the virus after a trip to Iran, prompting authorities to notify people traveling with her on the same aircraft, according to British Columbia health officials.
2nd death in Italy; 10 northern cities in confinement
Schools, businesses and restaurants were closed in nearly a dozen cities in northern Italy on Saturday after reports of two deaths in the region linked to the virus.
A woman residing in the Lombardy region died just hours after a 77-year-old man succumbed near Padua, in the Veneto region, ANSA news agency reported.
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 were wearing coveted masks, almost impossible to find in sold-out pharmacies.
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China's leaders say country is still turning corner in the fight against viruses
As China changes its methodology for counting coronavirus cases again, China's top leadership warned on Friday that the country had not yet turned the corner by stopping the spread of the virus that killed more than 2,200 people.
"We must clearly see that the decisive moment for the development of the epidemic across the country has not yet arrived," said the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee at a meeting led by President Xi Jinping and reported by state broadcaster CCTV.
The 25-member Politburo, made up of senior Communist Party officials, said the situation in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, where the outbreak occurred in December, remains serious.
The latest warning followed several days of official reports, indicating a downward trend in recently reported cases. The data, however, was mixed up by another change in the way health officials in the country count cases.
Last week, China began to file cases without waiting for the laboratory's results, which caused a huge increase in cases. On Thursday, health officials again counted only positive laboratory-confirmed cases, discounting some cases in which laboratory tests were negative.
The National Health Commission previously reported almost 900 cases recently confirmed in the previous 24 hours, with the death toll rising by 118.
The 25-member body said the outbreak was "contained" and urged party committees and governments at all levels to carry out prevention and control work without any relaxation to "win the people's war against the epidemic".
In the latest cause of alarm, officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak since December, more than 500 cases have been diagnosed in prisons, He Ping, a Ministry of Justice official, told reporters.
Seoul bans rallies and restricts church meetings because of fear of viruses
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.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said the goal was "to protect the elderly who are susceptible to contagious diseases, "according to the Yonghap news agency. Violators can be fined the equivalent of $ 2,500.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, declaring the country to be in an "emergency phase", said in a televised statement that the central government will focus its support on the southeastern region to reduce the shortage of sick beds, medical personnel and …