Coronavirus cases spread yesterday in Europe and beyond, with Latin America confirming its first patient as the world scrambled to contain the deadly epidemic that has killed thousands worldwide.
New cases have emerged across Europe, many linked to the continent’s coronavirus hotspot in northern Italy, amid warnings from health experts to rein in hysteria as the virus continued its march beyond China’s borders.
In a sign of the virus’ expanding footprint, Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first case, a 61-year-old who travelled to Italy’s Lombardy region.
Greece also confirmed its first case yesterday, a woman who had been in northern Italy, while Spain, Croatia, Austria, North Macedonia and Algeria have all reported cases linked to the country.
Several governments have advised against travel to Italy — which has 400 cases and 12 deaths — particularly to the outbreak epicentre in the north.
Even as new cases continued to multiply beyond China’s borders, the European Union sought to head off hysteria over the outbreak.
“This is a situation of concern, but we must not give in to panic,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told reporters in Rome.
“We must also be vigilant when it comes to misinformation and disinformation,” she added.
The impact of the virus has moved beyond health systems.
Markets have wobbled in recent days while sports matches and festivals across Europe have been cancelled over virus fears.
A March 7 Six Nations rugby match between Italy and Ireland in Dublin was called off yesterday, while the famed Venice Carnival was closed early over the weekend.
As cases mounted across Europe, the WHO warned governments in Europe to remain vigilant.
“You have to keep up and sustain these efforts so that no-one is left behind because ultimately health is a political choice,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said in Rome.
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