Coronavirus can be contained: WHO chief
March 03 2020 11:02 PM
Passengers arriving on international flights are asked to desinfect their hands at Entebbe Airport a
Passengers arriving on international flights are asked to desinfect their hands at Entebbe Airport as they are screened for signs of the novel coronavirus


*Gulf countries cancel events as infection spreads

About 3.4% of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus 2019 (Covid -19) have died, far above seasonal flu's fatality rate of under 1%, but the novel coronavirus can be contained, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a Geneva news conference: "To summarise, Covid -19 spreads less efficiently than flu, transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, it causes more severe illness than flu, there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be contained."

Tedros said that he had spoken with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to open in July. "I think deciding now would be too early, it would be good to monitor the situation," he said.

Japan's Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said the contract allows for the Tokyo Games to be postponed within 2020 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start on July 24 but with coronavirus now a global problem, speculation over a postponement or cancellation has risen even if the IOC still hopes it can go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile, major concerts and sporting events in Gulf Arab states have been cancelled or postponed and Saudi Arabia stepped up health screening measures in response to the spreading coronavirus.

There have been at least 2,476 cases of the virus in the Gulf region, mostly in Iran where 77 people have died. Cases have also been reported in other Middle East nations.

In the United Arab Emirates, this month's electronic music Ultra festival at Du arena and K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai's Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled.

Music Bank organisers cited the spread of the epidemic in South Korea, which is the highest outside China, and elsewhere.

UAE has reported 27 cases of coronavirus.

International art fair "Art Dubai", scheduled for this month, has been postponed. A women's forum in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi was postponed while a yoga festival in Abu Dhabi and a Hindu Holi festival in Dubai were cancelled.

The opening round of the 2020 World Triathlon Series scheduled in Abu Dhabi this weekend has been postponed.

American rapper and producer Russ will now perform in Dubai in November instead of March because of the virus.

The UAE education ministry said schools and higher educational institutions would be closed for four weeks from Sunday to help contain the spread of coronavirus.

It also moved forward spring holidays, which were due to run from March 29-April 12, to a start date of March 8.

The Oman Petroleum & Energy Show (OPES), due to take place in the sultanate in March, has been postponed to September, the organisers said. Oman confirmed six new cases of coronavirus, taking the total there to 12.

Qatar has cancelled a defence exhibition (Dimdex) and Bahrain postponed two oil and gas conferences from this month to the second half of the year.

Kuwait postponed the GCC Games, a regional multi-sport tournament, from April to December. It also closed its zoo and the health ministry instructed cafes to stop serving the shisha water pipe.

AFP adds from Washington: The US Federal Reserve led the charge in the global response to the growing economic risk posed by the coronavirus, announcing an emergency interest rate cut on Tuesday to boost confidence.

In a unanimous decision, the Fed's policy-setting committee slashed its key interest rate by a half point to a range of 1.0-1.25 -- the first inter-meeting cut since late 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.


3,155 deaths; 92,722 cases worldwide

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the world rose to 92,722, including 3,155 deaths, across 77 countries and territories by on Tuesday evening, according to a report compiled by AFP from official sources.

Since Tuesday, 2,566 new contaminations were identified.

China -- excluding the territories of Hong Kong and Macau -- where the epidemic emerged at the end of December, had 80,151 cases, of which 2,943 were fatal. There were 125 new infections and 31 deaths there in the last 24 hours.

Outside of China, a total of 12,571 cases have been recorded around the world since the epidemic began, including 212 deaths.

There have been 2,441 new cases outside China since Monday at 1700 GMT.

The most affected countries after China are: South Korea (5,186 cases, 28 deaths, 851 new cases), Italy (2,502 cases, 79 deaths, 466 new cases), Iran (2,336 cases, 77 deaths, 835 new cases) and Japan (268 cases, 12 deaths, 14 new cases).

Japan has also recorded more than 700 cases aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess moored off Yokohama.

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