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World COVID-19 update: Fears of global spread as cases accelerate in Iran and South Korea

23:05  21 february  2020
23:05  21 february  2020 Source:   msn.com

South Korean 'cult' at centre of local COVID outbreak

  South Korean 'cult' at centre of local COVID outbreak A mysterious religious group described by the government of South Korea as a "cult" has emerged as a hotbed of new coronavirus cases , according to official statistics.At least 33 of South Korea’s 104 confirmed cases as of Feb. 20 are linked to the Shincheonji sect, which is also known as “Church of Jesus, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony.” The group, an offshoot of Christianity, was founded in 1984 by a man claiming to be a prophet sent by Jesus Christ. It reportedly has more than 120,000 followers worldwide.

The Global Times has reported on new cases in prisons in two other provinces (202 in Shandong “We do have a lot of fear , me and my colleagues, more than 1000 crew. We’ve been working since South Korea has seen a significant rise in Covid - 19 cases – from 104 to 156 – prompting the PM to

The Global Times has reported on new cases in prisons in two other provinces (202 in Shandong “We do have a lot of fear , me and my colleagues, more than 1000 crew. We’ve been working since South Korea has seen a significant rise in Covid - 19 cases – from 104 to 156 – prompting the PM to

a man riding on the back of a truck: A suspected coronavirus patient on Friday in South Korea, where comfirmed cases have surged above 200, with hundreds more being tested. © Yonhap, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images A suspected coronavirus patient on Friday in South Korea, where comfirmed cases have surged above 200, with hundreds more being tested.

Fears of global spread increase as new cases emerge.

The coronavirus outbreak showed dangerous signs of breaking out beyond China on Friday, as new cases were reported in the Middle East and large clusters emerged around Asia.

Countries were closing their borders with Iran as health officials scrambled to make sense of reports out of Tehran suggesting that the virus was being transmitted more widely than officials there have publicly acknowledged.

Cases of the coronavirus are spiking outside of China and the World Health Organisation warned 'the window of opportunity is narrowing' to contain it

  Cases of the coronavirus are spiking outside of China and the World Health Organisation warned 'the window of opportunity is narrowing' to contain it The World Health Organisation warned that "the window of opportunity is narrowing" to contain the deadly coronavirus. His comments came as cases surge in South Korea and the country admitted it failed to stop the virus coming into the country. It now says it is trying to contain the virus. South Korea now has more than 430 cases compared to 156 on Friday, while Iran reported four deaths and countries like Israel and Lebannon are reporting their first cases. Chinese researchers have also confirmed that people can spread the virus without showing any symptoms. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Global Times has reported on new cases in prisons in two other provinces (202 in Shandong “We do have a lot of fear , me and my colleagues, more than 1000 crew. We’ve been working since South Korea has seen a significant rise in Covid - 19 cases – from 104 to 156 – prompting the PM to

The Global Times has reported on new cases in prisons in two other provinces (202 in Shandong “We do have a lot of fear , me and my colleagues, more than 1000 crew. We’ve been working since South Korea has seen a significant rise in Covid - 19 cases – from 104 to 156 – prompting the PM to

As recently as Tuesday, Iranian officials had said there were no cases of the virus in the country. By Friday, however, they acknowledged 18 cases in three cities, with four deaths.

It was not immediately known how the virus made its way to Iran. But the numbers suggested wider transmission that, if verified, would raise the chances of a pandemic.

a long road in a city: Empty streets in Wuhan on Thursday. Nearly 300 people are infected with the coronavirus in prisons in Hubei Province, whose capital is Wuhan. © Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Empty streets in Wuhan on Thursday. Nearly 300 people are infected with the coronavirus in prisons in Hubei Province, whose capital is Wuhan. At the same time, a surge in cases in South Korea — where the total figure soared above 200 on Friday and scores more were being monitored for symptoms — added to fears that the virus was also spreading across Asia with dangerous speed.

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South Korea confirmed 204 cases of coronavirus COVID - 19 after an outbreak at a church in the southeast city of Daegu. South Korea says it now has 204 cases of COVID - 19 coronavirus, quadruple the number reported two days ago and sparking fears about greater transmission outside

COVID - 19 spreads globally . South Koreaalso reported a rise of more than 100 virus cases on Friday, taking the total number of infected in the country to 204. Iran is also struggling to contain the virus. Authorities there announced 13 new cases as well as two deaths from the COVID - 19 virus on Friday.

Those cases have been tied to a secretive church.The South Korean authorities are racing to trace people who have come into contact with the infected congregation members but have struggled to find all of those connected to the church’s hundreds of members.

And in China there was concern that the virus could spread beyond its starting point in Hubei Province after officials reported outbreaks in hospitals in Beijing and clusters of infections in at least four prisons across three provinces.

The disturbing new clusters were announced on the same day that Chinese officials acknowledged that their repeated shifts in methodology for counting new cases had sown confusion.

Officials in Hubei revised their case tallies again because of shifting definitions of a confirmed case and what officials described as previously unknown information.

The acknowledgment by provincial leaders came as national officials announced that 889 new coronavirus cases had been reported in China in the previous 24 hours, raising the overall total above 75,000. The death toll went up by 118, to 2,236.

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South Korea designated two cities as special care zones after 100 new cases were confirmed. Global cases mount to nearly 6,000 infections, more than the 2002-03 SARS outbreak that killed What's happening in Iran ? Iran has a total of 18 confirmed COVID - 19 cases . Out of Friday's 13 new

Live statistics and coronavirus news tracking the number of confirmed cases , recovered patients, and death toll by country due to the COVID 19 coronavirus The novel coronavirus COVID - 19 is affecting 29 countries and territories around the world and 1 international conveyance (the "Diamond Princess"

a yellow and black truck sitting on top of a building: Employees working on an assembly line at a Dongfeng Honda auto plant in Wuhan, in November. © Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Employees working on an assembly line at a Dongfeng Honda auto plant in Wuhan, in November. China is now counting “lab-confirmed” and “suspect” cases. On Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director-general, praised that decision as “adding clarity” and noted that the same approach was used in Ebola outbreaks, in which many people die without every case being laboratory tested.

New clusters of the virus are found in China’s prisons.

China faced a new front in the coronavirus epidemic on Friday as officials reported clusters of infections in at least four prisons in three provinces. The outbreaks, affecting at least 512 prisoners and guards, raised the spectre of the disease spreading through the country’s extensive prison system.

Two of the prisons are in Hubei Province, where the epidemic originated. Wuhan Women’s Prison reported 230 confirmed cases, while 41 prisoners tested positive in Hanjin Prison in Shayang County, to the west, according to a statement on the provincial government’s website.

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a group of people wearing military uniforms: Workers disinfecting a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Daegu, South Korea, on Wednesday. © Yonhap, via Reuters Workers disinfecting a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, in Daegu, South Korea, on Wednesday. In Shandong Province, officials said 207 cases had emerged in a prison in the city of Jining, 450 miles east of Wuhan. The outbreak prompted the local authorities to dismiss the director and party secretary of the provincial justice department, which oversees the prisons there, along with seven other officials.

The cases there may have spread from a prison guard who developed a cough on Feb. 12 and tested positive for the virus the next day, according to a statement by the provincial government. A second guard was also found to have the virus that day, prompting the prison authorities to begin screening the entire prison population.

In all, 2,077 inmates and prison workers were tested in Shandong, with 200 prisoners and seven guards testing positive for the coronavirus. No deaths have been reported.

The Shandong government is carrying out inspections at other prisons and medical centres where prisoners are being treated for illnesses, including drug and alcohol addiction. It also plans “to quickly set up a hospital” on prison grounds to treat those infected, the statement said.

A similar outbreak in Zhejiang Province prompted the dismissal of a warden and a party secretary at a prison in the city of Quzhou. The facility reported 27 new infections on Friday, according to a report in China Daily, bringing the number of prisoners infected there to 34. A prison guard is also believed to be the source of those infections.

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Coronavirus cases in the United States reach 34, and more are expected.

At least 34 people in the United States are infected with the new coronavirus spreading from China, federal health officials said on Friday.

Thirteen of them were travellers who fell ill after returning from overseas, and 21 were people “repatriated” by the State Department.

The contagion “represents a tremendous public health threat,” a federal health official said.

a group of people standing around a plane: Nepali students who were repatriated from Wuhan arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday. © Prakash Mathema/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Nepali students who were repatriated from Wuhan arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday. More infections are expected among the people who were passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and are in quarantine, Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news briefing.

Because they may have been in contact with infected people on the ship, “they are considered at high risk for infection,” Dr Messonnier said.

Ten passengers from the Diamond Princess tested positive in Japan, but are not being counted among the infected in the U.S. yet, because the tests have not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will likely be added to the case count, Dr. Messonnier said.

Italy introduces quarantine measures, amid big uptick in cases.

Italy reported a big jump in coronavirus infections on Friday, spiking from three cases to 17, and announced new measures to prevent the virus from spreading further.

With 14 new cases in 24 hours, the country ordered a mandatory quarantine for anyone who has been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for the coronavirus, and 10 towns in the country instituted a lockdown affecting 50,000 people.

New Zealand confirms case of COVID-19

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Five of the newly infected people are medical workers at a hospital in Codogno, about 37 miles southeast of Milan.

“We were prepared for this eventuality,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Friday evening. “We had a plan and we are carrying it out, and will always adopt rigorous measures of maximum precaution,” he said.

a person talking on a cell phone: Buying protective masks in Tehran on Thursday. © Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Buying protective masks in Tehran on Thursday. The quarantine ordinance, issued by Health Minister Roberto Speranza, also ordered anyone who had travelled to China in the past 14 days to stay at home and inform local health authorities.

The new measures came after the country announced its first cases of infection in people who had not recently travelled to China.

The patients include a 38-year-old man from the northern region of Lombardy, his pregnant wife and a friend. The man was in critical condition at a hospital in Codogno. His wife was also in critical condition at a hospital in Milan. The condition of their friend, who was in the same hospital in Milan, is unknown.

The five doctors or nurses who have been infected work at the hospital where the 38-year-old man is being treated.

Another three people were admitted to a hospital in the same area with pneumonia overnight and tested positive for the virus. Officials said the three were patrons of a cafe owned by the father of one of the other new patients.

The 38-year-old man first visited the hospital’s emergency ward on Feb. 18, and then returned when his condition worsened. The ward where he is being treated was closed to the public after he tested positive.

The man worked at a Unilever office in Casalpusterlengo and in early February had spent time with a colleague who had returned from China on Jan. 21, but officials said they were not certain that the traveller had been the carrier of the virus, Giulio Gallera, an official from the Lombardy Region said at a news conference Friday.

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a group of people standing around a fire: A protest against the arrival of evacuees from Hubei Province in China, the center of the epidemic, in a Ukrainian village on Thursday. © Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters A protest against the arrival of evacuees from Hubei Province in China, the center of the epidemic, in a Ukrainian village on Thursday. Mr Gallera said the man’s immediate family was being tested and had been placed in isolation, and tests were being carried out on his colleagues. In all, 150 people were being tested on Friday.

The authorities said sites were being identified to house people who could not be quarantined at home. The quarantine order does not specify the number of days of isolation.

Quarantine “is the only way to stop contagion, it’s worked in other parts of the world,” said Attilio Fontana, the leader of Lombardy. “We don’t want to diffuse panic. These measures are fundamental for the good of the community and to protect citizens.”

Mr Conte said Italy had no plans to suspend the Schengen Accord, an agreement that allows people to travel freely within 26 European countries. “But we are open to any measure,” to protect citizens, he said.

Auto sales plummet 92 per cent in China amid worker shortage.

Auto sales in China collapsed this month as the coronavirus epidemic paralyzed the country’s economy.

a group of people walking in front of a building: Fuxing Hospital in Beijing has reported at least 36 coronavirus cases. © Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Fuxing Hospital in Beijing has reported at least 36 coronavirus cases. The China Passenger Car Association said Friday that sales at dealerships had plummeted 92 per cent in the first half of February compared with the same period last year.

China is the world’s biggest car market by a wide margin. So a nosedive in sales there hurts the global industry.

Mass quarantines across China have caused a severe shortage of workers. That has left many auto parts manufacturers struggling to keep supply chains full for plants around the world.

With shoppers staying home, automakers have less need for their giant assembly plants in China. Those that have reopened have begun only limited production.

But Yale Zhang, the managing director of Automotive Foresight, a Shanghai consulting firm, predicted that sales would rebound swiftly when the virus is brought under control. The epidemic may leave many Chinese with a wariness of mass transit.

The car “is a protection tool for themselves,” he said. “If they think this is really important, a lot of people can afford a car.”

Stocks fall again amid new worries about global demand.

Stocks fell for the second straight day on Friday, as a series of warnings about the ongoing — and possibly lasting — impact of the still-spreading coronavirus on the world economy prompted new worries about global demand.

a person standing in front of a window: Americans on a bus departing the Diamond Princess cruise ship on Feb. 17. Two charter flights carried them to military bases in the United States. © Carl Court/Getty Images Americans on a bus departing the Diamond Princess cruise ship on Feb. 17. Two charter flights carried them to military bases in the United States. Shares of energy, airline and technology companies led the broader market lower on Wall Street, as the S&P fell more than 1 per cent in early trading, putting it on pace for its worst day of the month.

German luxury auto giant Daimler — which makes Mercedes-Benz — cautioned in its annual report that the virus could lead to a significant drop in Chinese economic growth. The report said the virus “may not only affect the development of unit sales but may also lead to significant adverse effects on production, the procurement market and the supply chain.”

Separately, the International Air Transport Association warned of a deep downturn in earnings among global carriers related to the collapse of travel in Asia because of the virus.

Oil and gas prices fell, with the price of a barrel of benchmark American crude slipping more than 1.5 per cent. The drop resulted from signs of deterioration in the relationship between Saudi Arabia, the key force behind the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Russia. The two countries have coordinated production in recent years to keep oil prices propped.

Semiconductor shares — which are doubly exposed to Asia both as a centre of production and sales — tumbled with major index of chip stocks down more than 2 per cent.

While the markets have become more volatile since the outbreak, American stock markets have largely shrugged off the threat. Since Jan. 7, when Chinese officials identified the virus, the S&P 500 remains up more than 3 per cent, even after this morning’s sell-off.

Pictures: The Chinese workers fighting COVIOD-19 (Reuters)

a person sitting in a kitchen: A medical worker in a protective suit takes a break during her night shift at a community health service center, which has an isolated section to receive patients with mild symptoms caused by the coronavirus and suspected patients, in Qingshan district of Wuhan, Hubei province, February 9. China Daily via REUTERS

A South Korean church is tied to a surge in new infections.

South Korea reported a surge in confirmed infections and a second death from the coronavirus on Friday, with the latest outbreak linked to a secretive church whose members account for two-thirds of the new infections in the country.

Health officials are zeroing in on the Shincheonji Church of Jesus — whose members continued to sit packed together on the floor of the church even when sick — as they seek to contain the country’s alarming outbreak.

On Friday, the number of cases in the country soared above 200 — second only to mainland China, if the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship is excluded from Japan’s count.

More than 540 other church members have reported potential symptoms, health officials said, raising the possibility that the nation’s caseload could soon skyrocket further. In response, the government is shutting down thousands of kindergartens, nursing homes and community centres, even banning the outdoor political rallies that are a feature of life in downtown Seoul.

As of Friday, more than 340 members of Shincheonji, which mainstream South Korean churches consider a cult, still could not be reached, according to health officials, who were hoping to screen them for signs of infection.

The church, founded by Lee Man-hee in 1984, says it has over 200,000 members around the world, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. It closed all of its churches in South Korea this week and told followers to watch its services online.

The church dismissed criticism of its practices on Friday, calling it “slandering based on the prejudices among the established churches.”

A spike in cases in Beijing, which had largely been spared.

A spike in coronavirus cases at two Beijing hospitals has raised fears that the epidemic could be growing in a city that has so far largely been spared.

Compared with other cities, Beijing has had relatively few cases: 396 as of Thursday, and four deaths. But Fuxing Hospital now has at least 36 infections, a sizable increase since Feb. 3, when officials first announced that five medical workers there had tested positive.

Peking University Hospital also recorded three cases: a woman who had previously been hospitalized and her daughter and son-in-law who visited her after travelling to Xinjiang, the western region. The couple tested positive for the virus on Feb. 17, days after Beijing’s municipal government announced that all people arriving in the capital must quarantine themselves for 14 days or face legal consequences.

On Friday, officials said that people flying into the city from abroad who had not been in China in the previous 14 days would be exempt from the rules.

Beijing’s measures appear to reflect a strong effort by officials to minimize the spread of the epidemic in the capital as millions of workers return from a prolonged break following the Lunar New Year. Since the new measures were announced, the city authorities have stepped up efforts to control movement in the city, which has been uncharacteristically deserted for nearly a month.

The National People’s Congress, the country’s legislative body, also announced that it was preparing to postpone its annual meetings, scheduled for the first week of March.

Pictures: China battles deadly COVID-19 (Reuters)

a man riding a motorcycle on a city street: A man holding a loudspeaker sits on a motorcycle as it travels past a sanitizing vehicle disinfecting the public space near residential buildings, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, in Panyu district of Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. China Daily via REUTERS

To quell protests, a Ukrainian official said she would join evacuees in quarantine.

Ukraine’s minister of health said on Friday that she would join a group of evacuees from China in a quarantined rural hospital, in the hope of calming angry protests from neighbours opposed to living near people who are potentially infected.

The minister, Zoryana Skaletska, said on Facebook that she would abide by the same rules as the 45 Ukrainians and 27 people of other nationalities who were evacuated from Hubei Province, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, to the Poltava region in eastern Ukraine.

Pilots, flight attendants and doctors who carried out the evacuation are also now quarantined at the site. Once Ms Skaletska enters the hospital, near the village of Novi Sanzhary, she will not be allowed to leave the guarded site until the quarantine is lifted, she said.

“I will spend the next 14 days together with them, on the same premises, and under the same conditions,” she said in a statement on Thursday. “I hope my presence will calm those in Novi Sanzhary and the rest of the country.”

Fear of the virus had gripped the village. On Thursday, residents blocked a road with cars and burned tires to prevent buses with evacuees from passing. The Ukrainian National Guard used armoured personnel carriers to clear the road. Protesters then hurled stones at the buses, breaking windows.

Ukraine has reported no cases of coronavirus infection.

Canada announces a new case, with possible links to Iran.

Officials in Canada announced a new case of the coronavirus on Friday in a patient who had recently returned from Iran, which itself had just confirmed its first few cases of the virus.

Iranian officials on Wednesday announced two coronavirus cases in the country, and then just hours later reported that both patients had died. On Friday, officials there announced two more deaths.

Israel also reported its first case, a passenger who had been brought back to the country from the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship docked off Yokohama, Japan, on which hundreds of people have been infected with the virus. The Health Ministry stressed that “this is not an infection that occurred in Israel.”

The case of the new Canadian patient, the sixth in the western province of British Columbia, could raise fears of cluster cases and an expanding global reach of the virus. Health officials are investigating viral clusters in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Britain and France.

The source of the virus in Iran remains unknown. The authorities in British Columbia said the new patient was a woman in her 30s.

iPhone maker said it would be cautious in resuming work in China.

With much of China still on lockdown, businesses are struggling to get up and running. Foxconn, the Taiwan company that manufactures Apple’s iPhones and other gadgets, indicated just how difficult that will be.

The company said on Thursday that its revenues would take a hit from the spread of the coronavirus and that it would be “cautious” in resuming work at its factories in China.

The warning comes as Chinese leaders try to balance restarting the economy with controlling the spread of the coronavirus. After repeated extensions of the Lunar New Year holiday, many migrant workers remain at home, facing mandatory quarantines and lockdowns. Several businesses and officials have issued warnings that such policies should be relaxed to avoid a new economic crisis.

Concerns about production at Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics, underscore the broader impact the epidemic could have on global supply chains. A huge portion of the world’s electronics come out of China’s factories.

Beijing steps up war of words over critical coverage.

The Chinese Embassy in Nepal has attacked a Nepalese newspaper for publishing a column criticizing Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and an illustration of Mao Zedong wearing a face mask.

The embassy said in a statement this week that the Kathmandu Post had “deliberately smeared” the government and people of China and “viciously attacked” the nation’s political system.

The statement, which singled out the paper’s top editor, was the latest example of the Chinese government’s increasingly muscular brand of diplomacy and its efforts to publicly quash criticism of its policies, even abroad. This week, Beijing announced that it would expel three Wall Street Journal reporters in retaliation for a headline on an opinion piece.

The column in question in the Kathmandu Post is a syndicated opinion piece under the headline “China’s secrecy has made coronavirus crisis much worse.” It was originally published in The Korea Herald and reprinted by the Post on Tuesday. The paper accompanied the column with an illustration of a Chinese banknote digitally altered to depict Mao wearing a surgical face mask.

One of Asia’s poorest and least-developed democracies, Nepal has grown closer to China as it seeks to reduce its dependence on India. Chinese investors have pumped millions of dollars into the country.

Reporting and research were contributed by Vivian Wang, Paul Mozur, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Choe Sang-Hun, Roni Caryn Rabin, Carlos Tejada, Elaine Yu, Steven Lee Myers, Tiffany May, Andrew E. Kramer, Marc Santora, Amber Wang, Claire Fu, Yiwei Wang, Zoe Mou, Matt Phillips, Keith Bradsher, Elisabetta Povoledo and Denise Grady.

At Microsoft News Australia we've partnered with the giving platform Benevity to raise funds for UNICEF: Donate now and help health workers in the battle against the novel coronavirus.

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Pictures: Life in the time of COVID-19 (The Atlantic)

a person wearing a dress and standing in the dark: A couple wearing masks kiss in a shopping area in downtown Shanghai, China on February 16, 2020.

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