Coronavirus spreads in Middle East

The coronavirus is spreading in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world, as Brazil confirmed its first case in Latin America, while parts of China begin to lower their emergency response level as the number of new cases reported there continues to slow.

More deaths have been reported in Iran and Italy, while South Korea on Wednesday said an 11th person had died of the disease there. Globally, at least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness.

Wednesday, February 26

Norway detects its first case

Norway’s Public Health Agency said that one person had tested positive for coronavirus and was being kept isolated at home, in what was the country’s first confirmed case.

The person had returned from China late last week, but did not appear ill and was unlikely to infect others, the agency said.

Kuwait sends evacuation plane to Italy

Kuwait Airways has said on its Twitter account it will send a plane to the city of Milan in northern Italy, where the country’s coronavirus outbreak is centred, to evacuate citizens.

Italy has registered more than 400 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths.

Iraq bans public gatherings and travel to 9 countries

Iraq banned all public gatherings and banned travellers from Kuwait and Bahrain from entry, the health minister said, taking the total number of countries on the entry ban list to nine amid growing fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

The nine countries are: China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Bahrain and Kuwait.

The minister also ordered the suspension of schools and university and the closure of cinemas, cafes, clubs, and other public gathering spots nationwide from February 27 to March 7.

Iran announces domestic travel curbs

Iranian authorities announced that instead of quarantining cities, domestic travel restrictions will be implemented for people with confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said at a news conference that teams would be located at the entrance of cities “that see a lot of movement”, without naming them, adding that such controls had already started.

The teams will take people’s temperature and “stop those who are infected or suspected of infection”, Namaki said.

All those suspected of being infected with COVID-19 would be quarantined for 14 days.

France reports new case, tally now at 18

One more person has been infected with the coronavirus in France, putting the tally at 18 in the country, the French Health minister said.

“There is no epidemic in the country, just isolated cases”, Olivier Veran said during a press conference, adding that 15 million protection masks would be made available.

Health ministry director Jerome Salomon added that out of the 18 cases, two people had died, 12 were cured and four were still hospitalised.

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