- Officials in Iran, Italy, and South Korea deployed new prevention and control measures to address the alarming spread of the new coronavirus.
- South Korea was placed under “red alert” as the country faces more than 700 cases of the virus and six related deaths so far.
- Spikes of cases outside of Asia in countries including Italy and Iran concerned leaders who announced new measures amid disrupted national events and elections.
- The difficulty officials have had containing the virus has raised global concerns that more major regions were at risk and the outbreak could reach pandemic status.
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Officials in Iran, Italy, and South Korea have begun to address the spread of the new coronavirus as concerns rise outside of China, where the virus originated.
Within China, the virus has infected nearly 77,000 people and has been tied to more than 2,400 deaths as cases of the virus has been found in at least 30 countries.
Nearly two months after the initial outbreak, the virus sparked concerns in the Middle East and Europe that offer examples of the challenges officials are facing to address and contain the virus.
South Korea’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported 161 additional cases for a total of 763 cases within the country early Monday, after President Moon Jae-in described the country as being in a “crucial” moment for authorities to roll out all possible measures, according to the Associated Press.
Officials also confirmed six deaths as Moon also said the country was raising its national threat level to “red alert,” the highest level that was also announced as the country faced the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009.
The raising of alarms in South Korea came as officials in Italy scrambled to address the spread of the virus after the country counted 152 cases the largest number outside of Asia, and three deaths as of Sunday evening.
The rapid spike of cases found in major northern cities including Milan and Venice caused the cancelations of the annual Carnival festival and closing of some major landmarks.
The concern appeared to spread across central Europe as officials in nearby France and Austria were monitoring their borders for visitors from Italy that could potentially be carrying the virus,according to the AP.
The Middle East was also on high alert as Iran announced eight people had died from the virus, marking the highest count outside of China.
Afghanistan and Armenia announced on Sunday that they were closing their borders to the country as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slammed concerns about coronavirus within the region as an attempt to sow chaos in the country’s elections that were held on Friday.
The World Health Organisation turned its attention to African leaders, who have already seen cases of the virus on the continent but could face increased risks in 13 countries identified as having direct links to China, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced Saturday, Reuters reported.