Coronavirus: Expat Mag takes stock of the situation...

Published on 2020-03-16 at 11:43 by Eloïse Adolphe
  204, 404. This was the official number of cases of Coronavirus around the world on Wednesday afternoon with 157 countries and territories affected. As the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the world emergency by calling the virus a pandemic, leaders in affected countries are sounding the alarm. Lockdown, closure of institutions, non-essential public places and borders ... Drastic measures are taken to prevent the spread of the virus. The latest statistics indicate a total of 6,518 deaths worldwide, including a higher and increasing rate in China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Spain, Germany, France and the United States. Here is a country by country breakdown of the most affected territories.  

China: Towards stabilization

Starting point of the outbreak, China registers 80,860 cases and 3,213 recorded deaths to-date. The country most affected by the coronavirus shows a drop in the spread of the virus as it only records a dozen cases a day these days. This represents a dramatic drop and a clear improvement since January 2020, when the country recorded thousands of new infections a day.

After the disruption, life in China is slowly returning to normal now that the Covid-19 has been widely contained throughout the country. While the schools remain closed, the rest of the population is struggling to go back to work in factories and businesses.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, the government and regional authorities have imposed strict restrictions, including canceling flights, closing schools and workplaces, and imposing lockdowns on particular cities.

In Shanghai and Hangzhou, where no new cases has been registered in the last few days, tourist attractions, restaurants and gyms are back to business.

The country is currently tightening travel restrictions to try to prevent imported cases. Thus all international arrivals in the capital Beijing will have to be quarantined for two weeks.

A special area has been allocated for passengers on international flights; those whose flights were originally planned for Daxing International Airport and have been redirected to Beijing Capital International Airport. These measures taken by the Beijing authorities have also been taken by Shanghai to intensify controls at the airport.

Italy: On lockdown to try and contain the outbreak

24,747 cases and 1,809 deaths (including more than 350 deaths in 24 hours) are the latest statistics recorded by the WHO (as at Monday morning GMT). Italy, the second most affected country after China, has been on lockdown since March 9. Italian authorities have imposed strict restrictions, closing down schools and non-essential public places until 3rd of April.

In certain areas, borders have also been closed and passengers arriving as tourists are not allowed to enter through airports in areas including Alessandria, Asti, Lombardy, Treviso - Venice, Vercelli, among others. A number of airlines, including British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair, have canceled flights to Italy until early April.

Immersed in deep silence, the Basilica of Saint Peter is no longer open to visitors until April 3. In a press release, issued on March 14, the Vatican has announced there will be no mass during the Holy Week.

These drastic measures to counter this crisis will thus leave Italy with an idling economic engine. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has, however, announced that the government is coming up with measures to support workers and businesses across the country, particularly in the sectors and areas most affected by the epidemic, in an attempt to curb damage to the country's economy and prevent permanent job losses.

Iran: Struggling with the means available to them...

In Iran, the Ministry of Health reports 13,938 cases and 724 deaths as a result of Covid-19. The third most affected country in the world, Iran said it had sought immediate financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund to help fight the virus. This support will allow the Middle Eastern country to access diagnostic kits and treatments for coronaviruses.

In this country devastated by this epidemic, the majority of international airline flights have been canceled or suspended. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has excluded a general quarantine and explains that the government is trying to keep the borders open. General Mohammad Baghéri, chief of staff, said that the security forces are monitoring the Iranian people in order to prevent gatherings and identify the infected people.

Although the authorities have been slow to adopt the measures taken by other affected countries, as soon as they were put in place in early March, the number of cases dropped.

South Korea: Trying to be vigilant

Neighboring China and Japan, South Korea has a total of 8,236 cases and 75 deaths to date.

The first case of coronavirus in South Korea was reported on January 20, 2020. Despite the vigilance of the Korean government since the coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan in December, the entry of viruses into the country has been inevitable due to the thousands of Chinese visitors who entered the territory for the Lunar New Year.

The government quickly investigated the contacts of the suspected and infected cases, and made sure to sterilize the relevant areas. People living in the Daegu and Gyeongbuk regions were asked to refrain from attending public rallies and travel restrictions were imposed. Schools have been postponed until further notice.

On January 28, the alert level was raised to Orange (level 3). 29 designated national hospitals have been announced to be quarantine areas for confirmed and suspected cases. The Korean government has recommended that employers grant workers returning from China 14 days off or allow them to work from home.

South Korea began quarantining visitors from mainland China, but extended the practice to those from Hong Kong and Macao, anticipating a spread in the country. Thanks to these measures, the number of new daily infections in South Korea has dropped below 100 for more than three weeks.

Spain: Second most affected European Country

Spain has been late to sound the alarm. Since March 14, the spanish residents are confined to their homes after 7.845 cases and 292 deaths were registered.

Residents are no longer authorized to leave their homes for a period of fifteen days. And if they do, they need to be able to justify to the police and military mobilized to monitor compliance to confinement.

Spain is the second  most affected European country, after Italy. The territory in an emergency situation thus closes public transport, shops, factories and schools, but maintains the operations of its airports.

Germany: Radical measures…

With 5,813 cases and 13 deaths, Germany is taking sweeping action against the spread of the coronavirus epidemic. Violently affected by Covid-19, the authorities have ordered the closure of swimming pools, cinemas, fitness studios and many educational establishments for at least two weeks.

Other measures imposed by Germany: Demonstrations are now limited to 1,000 people and controls will be carried out on exports of protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.

Despite the borders still being opened, however, several airlines have canceled flights to and from Italy.

France: Under lockdown

With 5,423 cases and 127 deaths, France is now under lockdown. A few days after the President Emmanuel Macron's speech the most drastic health security measures were announced. The closure of cafes, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre… Faced with the pandemic, only pharmacies, stores and food markets, petrol stations, banks as well as tobacco and press offices remain open.

Companies are being asked to encourage working from home and institutions remain close until further notice.

Despite these preventive measures, the French, especially in Paris, decided to soak in the sun in public gardens on Sunday 15th.

In 24 hours, the largest daily increase in cases and deaths was recorded, with 36 deaths and more than 900 additional cases since the appearance of the virus in France.

The country's objective is to control the spread of the epidemic as much as possible and avoid peaks of contamination at all costs so that hospital services are not overloaded, which could have serious consequences.

United States: A vaccine “just for the United States”

The United States has reported 3,782 cases and 69 deaths. A public health emergency has been declared, prohibiting the entry of all individuals from China, Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland, with the exception of American citizens. The 30-day suspension is a drastic measure to slow the spread.

The American President is accused by the German government of allegedly wanting to buy, with millions of dollars from a national laboratory, the vaccine in development against Covid-19. The remedy would be “only for the United States”.

The government of Donald Trump has also announced early measures including travel restrictions, the evacuation of its citizens from coronavirus-ridden countries, the approval of coronavirus screening kits and the establishment of public health checks in the entrance to the main airports, which receive the majority of travelers from China.

An emergency law has been passed to allocate $ 8.3 billion to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The various states will receive millions of dollars in aid to respond to Covid-19.