Global virus death toll tops 3,000 as EU raises alert

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The death toll in China alone rose to 2,912, but it is also surging abroad

The death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 3,000 on Monday as more people died in China, Iran and the US and Europe raised its state of alert.

The virus has now infected more than 89,000, spread to over 60 countries and threatens to cause a global economic slowdown – after first emerging in China late last year.

With fears of a pandemic on the rise, the World Health Organization urged all countries to stock up on critical care ventilators to treat patients with severe symptoms.

In Brussels, EU president Ursula von der Leyen said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) had increased its risk assessment for Europeans after Italy’s outbreak doubled in 48 hours.  

Other countries have started to enact their own draconian containment measures, including banning arrivals from virus-hit nations, locking down towns, urging citizens to stay home and suspending major events such as football matches and trade fairs.

414,821 passengers screened

Bangladesh has so far screened over 414,821 incoming passengers at land, sea, and airports across the country since January 21.

However, none of them were found infected with the COVID-19 virus, data compiled by Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) shows.

Currently, three Bangladeshi nationals are undergoing treatment at Singapore, including one in Intensive Care Unit. Two were released from hospitals following recovery.

Risk assessment: Moderate to high

Health officials monitoring the virus at the ECDC announced that it had increased its risk assessment to “moderate to high.”

The Louvre – the world’s most visited museum – closed on Sunday and Monday after staff refused to work because of fears about the virus.

China reported 42 more deaths on Monday – all in central Hubei province. The pathogen is believed to have originated in a market that sold wild animals in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan.

The death toll in China alone rose to 2,912, but it is also surging abroad.

The WHO says the virus appears to particularly hit those over the age of 60 and people already weakened by other illness. It has a mortality rate of between two and five percent.

Infections are now rising faster abroad than in China, as the country’s drastic measures, including quarantining some 56 million people in Hubei since late January, appear to be paying off.

Iran reported 12 more deaths, raising the country’s toll to 66, the second biggest after China. A member of a council that advises Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also died after falling sick from the new coronavirus, state radio reported, becoming the first top official to succumb to the illness that is affecting members of the Islamic Republic’s leadership.

South Korea, the biggest nest of infections outside China, reported nearly 500 new cases on Monday, raising its total past 4,000. Half of South Korea’s cases are linked to a sect whose leader apologized for the spread of the disease.

A second person died in the northwestern US state of Washington as President Donald Trump, who has downplayed the risk of a major outbreak, faced criticism over his administration’s preparedness.

Infections double in Italy 

In Italy, Europe’s hardest-hit country, infections nearly doubled to around 1,700 cases over the weekend.

In the United States, a man in his 70s with underlying conditions died on Saturday, health officials said, as New York reported its first case in a woman who had visited Iran.