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29 February, 2020 12:20:12 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 29 February, 2020 01:33:31 PM


Global risk of spread ‘very high’

WHO updates status as cases emerge in 6 new countries
AFP, Geneva
Global risk of spread ‘very high’

The UN health agency has upgraded the global risk from the new coronavirus to ‘very high’, saying the continued increase in cases and countries affected was ‘clearly of concern.’ "We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level," World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. Meanwhile, a growing number of countries got affected with 4,846 fresh cases of infections and 77 deaths outside China in addition to the ones in mainland China reaching 78,824 and 2,788 respectively; the first case in sub-Saharan Africa detected; a black week for the world's stock exchanges reported; events cancelled and sports matches remaining without spectators. The latest developments in the coronavirus crisis are presented below:

First in sub-Saharan Africa

The new coronavirus has infected 83,670 people and killed 2,865 around the world, according to an AFP toll based on official sources as of 1000 GMT yesterday. Mainland China, where the epidemic started in late December, has 78,824 infected and 2,788 deaths. Elsewhere in the world, 54 countries and territories are affected with 4,846 cases and 77 deaths.

The virus is spreading most rapidly in South Korea, where 571 new cases have been recorded over the past 24 hours, with the number of overall infections passing the 2,000 mark. The virus has emerged in six new countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Lithuania, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Nigeria. The case in Nigeria, detected in the economic capital Lagos, is the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa, a region until now apparently spared the epidemic.

Black week for stock markets

World stock exchanges, which fear the devastating consequences of the epidemic on the economy, are heading for their worst week since the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

Oil prices are also in free fall, plummeting to their lowest level in over a year.

Internet search giant Baidu forecasts a plunge of up to 13 percent in its turnover due to the economic uncertainty. British Airways-parent IAG and EasyJet say demand has slowed down in Europe and Asia due to the coronavirus, leading them to cancel flights and take cost-cutting measures.


Switzerland suspends all events with more than 1,000 participants until March 15, thus forcing the cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show that was due to start on March 5 with around 600,000 visitors.

US tech giant Facebook cancels its the biggest annual event, the F8 developers conference.

K-pop megastars BTS cancel four Seoul concerts due in April, while Tokyo's Disneyland and DisneySea theme park

complexes close down for two weeks.  The world of sport is also affected, with the UAE Tour abandoned after two Italian cyclists test positive.

Matches behind closed doors

In Italy five Serie A games, including the clash between Juventus and title rivals Inter Milan, will be played behind closed doors this weekend. Two Super Rugby home games of the Sunwolves franchise are relocated from Japan to Australia.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says, however, it is "fully committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned in the summer.

UN offers North Korea help

The United Nations Security Council says it will adopt humanitarian exemptions to the heavy economic sanctions imposed on North Korea to help Pyongyang fight the epidemic.

Its members call on the hermit state to open its borders to allow its equipment in. The country has not reported a single case of the virus known as COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Pakistan detected its first two cases of novel coronavirus, a public health advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted Wednesday, days after Islamabad closed its land border with Iran, where 19 people have died from the virus.

"I can confirm first two cases of corona virus in Pakistan. Both cases are being taken care of according to clinical standard protocols & both of them are stable. No need to panic, things are under control", tweeted health advisor Zafar Mirza.

A statement issued by the southern Sindh province's health department stated that the first positive case was reported in Karachi in a 22-year-old male with a "history of travel to Iran where he has acquired the virus."





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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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