World braces for months of trouble as virus pushes west


China deaths exceed 3,000

People around the world braced for months of disruptions from the new virus on Thursday as its unrelenting spread brought ballooning infections, economic fallout and sweeping containment measures.

“Countries should be preparing for sustained community transmission,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, leader of the World Health Organization, said of the 2-month-old virus outbreak. 

“Our message to all countries is: This is not a one-way street. We can push this virus back. Your actions now will determine the course of the outbreak in your country.”

South Korea declared a “special care zone” on Thursday around a second city hit hard by the coronavirus and the US military confirmed two new cases among relatives of its troops in the country, which is battling the biggest outbreak outside China.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced there were two more confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of infected patients in the state to 13.

Both were hospitalized in intensive care units, the mayor said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus after the state reported its first death from the disease. The US death toll from the coronavirus stood at 11 as of Wednesday.

China deaths exceed 3,000

China’s National Health Commission reported 139 new cases, compared with 119 the day before. That brings the total number of cases on the mainland 80,409.

The number of deaths rose to 3,012 after an additional 31 people died from the illness.

From being ostracized by the international community as the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, China is seeking to reframe itself as a global expert that can help hard-hit regions battle the disease.

Beijing is keen to reposition the virus as a global outbreak and not just a China malaise as it sends testing kits and experts overseas and translates treatment manuals into foreign languages.

The deputy foreign minister said at a press conference that China had shared its treatment plan with “many countries.”

IMF: Virus will slow global economic growth

The spread of the coronavirus will hold 2020 global output gains to their slowest pace since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

The IMF now expects 2020 world growth to be below the 2.9% rate for 2019 and revised forecasts will be issued in the coming weeks.

Travel restrictions

Desperate to keep a crisis from expanding within their borders, countries have been further tightening travel restrictions.

Australia said that it is banning travel from South Korea by those who aren’t Australian citizens or permanent residents, following similar bans for China and Iran. 

Indonesia announced restrictions on travellers from specific parts of Iran, Italy and South Korea after previously banning travel from China. 

The United Arab Emirates warned its people not to travel anywhere abroad and said those who do could be subject to quarantines when they return.

Italy closed all schools and universities and forbade fans from attending sporting events. Saudi Arabia barred citizens from Islam’s holiest sites. In the United States, where 11 have died from the virus, hundreds of people were placed in self-quarantines due to cases in a New York suburb.

Even the joyful Indian celebration of Holi, in which Hindu revellers celebrate the arrival of spring with bursts of colour, including bright powders smeared on faces, was impacted by the virus. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders said the virus would keep them from attending Holi events Tuesday, and the Holi Moo Festival in New Delhi was cancelled.

Worldwide, some 95,000 people in about 80 countries have been infected.