Twenty countries have reported their first cases of the new coronavirus this week, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to over 82,000 in 50 countries since the outbreak began in December. At least 2,800 people have died worldwide.
The number of COVID-19 cases is growing considerably outside of China, the origin of the outbreaks, with South Korea reporting 505 new cases in the last 24 hours alone. And a new case was reported in Northern California on Wednesday in a patient who had no known travel history to places with high concentrations of the disease. That patient wasn’t tested for days, despite his doctor’s recommendations, due to the incredibly narrow criteria set by the CDC for who gets tested.
U.S. President Donald Trump gave a press conference on Wednesday in an effort to calm the public, though it’s not clear he succeeded. Trump did, after all, appoint Vice President Mike Pence as his top official to coordinate America’s fight against the virus. In short, it looks like COVID-19 will be everywhere soon.
Below we have a breakdown of every country that has reported its first cases of the virus this week, listed in alphabetical order.
Afghanistan confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on Monday in Herat province, which borders Iran. Afghanistan’s Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz declared an emergency for the province and said the patient had recently travelled to Qom, Iran, one of the hardest-hit regions for the disease outside of China.
Health officials in Algeria reported the country’s first case of the virus on Tuesday in a man who arrived from Italy on February 17. It’s the second country in Africa to report a confirmed case of COVID-19, following Egypt’s first case almost two weeks ago.
Austria reported its first cases of the new coronavirus on Tuesday in two 24-year-olds who were recently in Lombardy, one of the two cities in Italy that has seen the largest outbreaks of COVID-19. Both patients are in quarantine in the Austrian city of Innsbruck and both are reportedly in stable condition.
The country of Bahrain announced its first case of the novel coronavirus on Monday in a school bus driver who had been driving kids to three different schools on Sunday. The bus driver had recently returned from Iran, travelling through Dubai. Children who came in contact with the bus driver are currently being tested for the disease.
Bahrain health authorities report that they’ve confirmed at least 33 cases of the disease in the past three days, according to Gulf News, and the government has suspended flights into Bahrain from a number of countries, including Iran.
The first coronavirus patient in Brazil is a 61-year-old man in Sao Paulo with a travel history to Italy, according to the Rio Times. The patient was travelling to Italy for work and health officials in the country are trying to identify and notify everyone who shared the flight with him back to Brazil, according to the New York Times. Brazil is investigating at least 20 other potential cases of COVID-19, including a dozen people who recently travelled to Italy.
Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced the country’s first confirmed case on Tuesday in the capital city of Zagreb. The patient is described as a “young” Croatian man who was in Milan, Italy from February 19-21 and is exhibiting “mild symptoms.” Nine other Croatian nationals who recently returned from Italy are being tested for the virus, according to Croatia’s Dubrovik Times.
Health authorities in Denmark announced the country’s first case of COVID-19 on Thursday, an adult man who recently came back from a skiing trip in Italy. The man’s wife and child have tested negative for the virus, but the entire family is in isolation together at their home in Zealand, Denmark.
Estonia’s minister for social affairs Tanel Kiik announced on Thursday that the country has its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, according to the Baltic News Network. The patient is an Iranian national living in Estonia who had recently travelled on a bus from Latvia operated by Lux Express.
It’s not clear how many people were on the bus, but Estonia’s government is contacting people it believes were in close proximity to the patient. The government of Latvia still contends that it has no confirmed cases of the virus, according to Latvia’s public broadcaster.
A woman in Helsinki, Finland became the first in that country to test positive for the new coronavirus on Wednesday. The woman, described as being “of working age,” by local media, was probably infected on a recent trip to Milan, Italy, according to local health authorities. The patient returned from Italy on Sunday and her close contacts are being monitored, though no one else has shown symptoms of the disease.
The country of Georgia reported its first case of COVID-19 on Wednesday in a Georgian national who had recently been in Iran, one of the worst hit places outside of China. The man travelled through Azerbaijan, which separates Georgia and Iran, and was inspected by border guards while returning to his home country on Tuesday. The man has been quarantined and the border guards are reportedly being monitored for the disease now, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency news outlet.
Officials in Greece confirmed the country’s first case of the new coronavirus on Wednesday in the city of Thessaloniki. The patient is a 38-year-old woman who reportedly flew back to Greece from Milan, Italy on February 23. A spokesperson for Greece’s Health Ministry, Dimitris Tsiodras, reports that the woman is in “good” condition.
Two new cases of the disease were reported in Greece on Thursday, and one of the patients is a relative of the first patient in Thessaloniki. The second case is a woman who also recently travelled to Italy.
Iraq confirmed the country’s first case of COVID-19 on Monday in an Iranian national studying in Iraq. A family of four Iraqi nationals also tested positive for the disease in Kirkuk province this week. The family had recently travelled to Iran and the Iraqi government is rapidly closing schools and large public gatherings in an attempt to control spread of the virus.
Health authorities in Kuwait announced the first five cases of COVID-19 within the country on Monday in people who had all recently travelled from Mashhad, Iran. That number had climbed to 43 cases by this morning, all in people who had ties to Iran, according to the Al Arabiya news outlet. Kuwait has suspended all schools across the country for two weeks.
The country of North Macedonia announced its first case of the virus on Thursday in a woman who was just in Italy. The woman, a citizen of North Macedonia, had been travelling in a van full of people before arriving back home from Italy. Health officials are now testing other people who were riding in the van to see if they were infected.
Norway announced its first case of COVID-19 on Wednesday in a Norwegian national who recently returned from China. The woman, who reportedly lives in the town of Tromsø, was only flagged because of routine testing that’s currently being conducted by Norwegian health authorities in people returning from areas of the world with high numbers of coronavirus cases.
The country of Oman reported its first two cases of the new coronavirus on Monday and another two on Tuesday, bringing the current total to four. All four patients have recently travelled to Iran.
Pakistan reported two cases of the virus in Karachi on Wednesday, including a 22-year-old man who is believed to have become infected in Iran, according to the Saudi Gazette.
Romania’s Health Minister announced the country’s first case of coronavirus yesterday. The man, who lives in the county of Gorj, is believed to have been infected by an Italian national who was visiting Romania in early February.
“He is in a good condition and will be transferred to a Bucharest infectious hospital,” the health minister announced on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Mainland Spain reported its first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday in a woman from Catalonia who recently travelled to Italy. The 36-year-old patient is reportedly an Italian citizen living in Barcelona who spent time in Milan, Italy from February 12-22, according to news outlet Local SE. Health officials in Spain have found at least 10 more cases since Tuesday.
The Canary Islands, an archipelago south of mainland Spain that’s technically closer to Africa than Europe, reported its first cases after an Italian doctor vacationing in the region tested positive for the virus. The hotel at the centre of the outbreak, the H10 Adeje Palace, is currently on lockdown where roughly 1,000 people are not being allowed to leave.
Health officials in Switzerland reported the country’s first case of coronavirus on Tuesday. The patient, who lives in Ticino, reportedly visited Milan, Italy on February 15 and started to show symptoms just a couple of days later. Three more cases have been identified in Switzerland since Tuesday.[image url='https://www.gizmodo.com.au/content/uploads/sites/2/2020/02/28/c2evqlhyslh6uknbszfv.jpg' size='xlarge' licence='Photo: Getty Images' caption='Signs for sold out facemasks are posted in a Manhattan pharmacy on February 26, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images)' align='centre' clear='true' ]
Other countries with large numbers of cases include Japan, Italy, and Iran. And some countries that had evacuated citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan also reported their first cases outside of the cruise ship this week. Israel reported its third case of the coronavirus on Thursday in an Israeli citizen who recently returned from Italy, its first case to not include two Israelis who had been brought home from the quarantined ship in Yokohama.
Italy announced two new deaths from the disease on Wednesday, bringing that country’s total number of deaths to 14. Iran announced on Thursday that three more people have died from COVID-19, bringing the official death toll in that country to 26. And countries around the world are starting to get serious about banning public gatherings and closing public spaces. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced today that all K-12 schools will be closed starting on Monday, March 2.
The World Health Organisation has declined to call the worldwide outbreaks a “pandemic” in a desire to avoid panic, but it’s not clear how long the global health group can avoid the word.
“Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems,” World Health Organisation director-general, Tedros Adhanom said at a press conference on Wednesday. “It may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true. We are in a fight that can be won if we do the right things.”
But today was the first day that a world leader openly used the P-word. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that his country needs to continue as though a pandemic is coming.
“While the World Health Organisation is yet to declare the nature of the coronavirus and its move towards a pandemic phase, we believe the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us,” Morrison said at a press conference on Thursday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We’re effectively operating now on the basis that there is a pandemic.”