Travelers wear protective masks at La Paz airport on February 28, 2020 in Bolivia (AFP / Aizar RALDES)
WHO raised the level of the threat linked to the new coronavirus to its maximum level on Friday, the first case of which in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria, while the fear of a pandemic sinks the stock markets, destabilizes the economy and leads to the adoption of draconian measures.
The World Health Organization, which has raised the threat level to “very high”, called on all countries still spared to prepare for the arrival of Covid-19, and warned: believe they are safe of the disease would be a “fatal error”.
In New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was “not the time to panic but to prepare fully” for the spread of the coronavirus worldwide.
“Now is the time for all governments to take action and do everything possible to contain the disease, without stigma and with respect for human rights,” said Guterres.
In Nigeria, an Italian who returned from Milan on February 25 was hospitalized after having tested positive for coronavirus in Lagos, a megalopolis of 20 million inhabitants, becoming the first patient in sub-Saharan Africa.
The patient “has no disturbing symptoms,” said the Ministry of Health.
Two other cases of contamination have been identified in recent days in Africa, Egypt and Algeria. This very low number of patients detected in African countries, with fragile health systems, intrigues epidemiologists, while more than 84,000 cases have been reported in nearly 60 countries.
Assessment of the epidemic of the new coronavirus on February 28 at 5 p.m. GMT (AFP /)
After Brazil, a second Latin American country was hit on Friday: Mexico with the first two cases of coronavirus, two men who recently traveled to Bergamo, in northern Italy
In China, where the virus first appeared in December, the number of new deaths and infections continues to decrease thanks to quarantine measures targeting more than 50 million people.
But other countries are becoming sources of the spread of Covid-19, most notably South Korea, Iran and Italy.
– Virus without borders –
Countries affected by the progression of the Covid-19 epidemic, number of cases by country, as of February 28 at 5:00 p.m. GMT (AFP /)
“No country should think that it will have no case at home. It would be a fatal error, literally. The virus does not respect borders,” warned WHO boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday.
In this context of uncertainty, the Asian and European stock markets plummeted on Friday, recording losses ranging between 3% and 5% while Wall Street yielded 3% at its opening.
The financial markets are having one of their worst weeks since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which had plunged the world economy into recession. Oil prices also continued to fall.
Passers-by protected by masks in a district of Lagos, February 28, 2020 (AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)
Planes nailed to the ground, deserted shopping malls in China, schools closed for a month in Japan, canceled international events or fairs, the world stands still as the new coronavirus spreads and the global economy is destabilized.
In Japan, where 9 people were killed by the coronavirus, the Tokyo DisneyLand and Tokyo DisneySea theme park complex announced Friday that it would be closed from February 29 to March 15.
In Geneva, the Motor Show, a major meeting in the sector scheduled from March 5 to 15, was canceled. And in Berlin, the organizers of the international tourism fair, scheduled for March 4 to 8, also announced its cancellation.
Finally, in South Korea, the megastars of K-pop BTS have given up on several giant concerts planned for April, leaving more than 200,000 groupies disappointed.
In France, 19 additional cases were confirmed on Friday, bringing the number of people affected since late January to 57.
In the face of the health crisis, emergency plans are ready to be deployed, in particular by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to come to the aid of the various countries.
– Improvement in China –
All eyes have been on Italy for a week, where the coronavirus has already infected 888 people, including 21 deadly. The country has become a dissemination platform for Covid-19, the first cases recorded in South America and sub-Saharan Africa being people who arrived from the Italian peninsula.
Passenger temperature checked at Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania on February 28, 2020 (AFP / FILBERT RWEYEMAMU)
Rome has taken drastic measures to stem the epidemic on its territory, such as the closure of schools, the cancellation of sporting or cultural events and the quarantine of 11 municipalities in the North, the country’s economic lung.
Many European states are preparing for an increase in contamination on their soil and a meeting of EU health ministers on the coronavirus is announced for March 6.
Friday, South Korea, the main focus of infection outside of China, recorded 571 additional infections, bringing the total to 2,337 (including 13 dead).
Iran reported on Friday the death of eight people infected among 143 new cases detected in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 34 and the number of cases to 388. This is the heaviest death toll outside from China, where the situation is improving.
But according to BBC Persian, the BBC’s Persian service, the death toll from the virus in Iran is at least 210, which the Tehran authorities immediately denied.
Security agents disinfect visitors to Lagos hospital, February 28, 2020 (AFP / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)
Chinese authorities on Friday released 327 new cases, the lowest number in the country since January 24, and 44 deaths. A total of 78,824 cases and 2,788 deaths have been recorded in mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macao) since the start of the epidemic.
In the rest of the world, the coronavirus has infected more than 5,000 people and killed more than 80 people.
Encouraging figures, however: of the 84,000 people infected worldwide, 36,500 have already been cured, according to a count made by Johns Hopkins University in the United States, which compiles data from the WHO and the health authorities of each country.
burx-rock-lth-ehl / mig / mm