Coronavirus: Risk in EU from outbreak rises from moderate to high | World News

The risk of coronavirus in the European Union has risen from moderate to high, the president of the European Commission has confirmed.

Ursula von der Leyen made the announcement as the illness spread to most of western Europe, with Portugal reporting its first two cases.

Portugal’s first cases include a man who travelled to the country from Italy and another man who travelled from Spain.

Ms von der Leyen told reporters: “The ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] has announced today that the risk level has risen from moderate to high for people in the European Union. In other words, the virus continues to spread.”

Elsewhere in Iran, an aide to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

25 Feb: Iranian minister with COVID-19 sweats on stage

Iranian state radio said Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a member of the council that advises the Iranian leader, had died at a hospital in Tehran.

The 71-year-old is the first top official to die from COVID-19 – and the disease has affected several members of the country’s leadership.

Iran has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world after China, with 1,501 confirmed cases and 66 deaths.

In other coronavirus developments around the world:

  • The Dominican Republic reported its first case, an Italian man, and the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe reported three cases
  • In Italy, 34 people have now died from COVID-19, including five on Sunday, with 1,694 confirmed cases
  • Authorities in Lombardy have asked for retired doctors and nurses to be reinstated to help cope with the outbreak. They have also asked for graduation dates for student nurses to be brought forward
  • French President Emmanuel Macron cancelled two scheduled events – a visit to southwestern France and a Jewish group’s annual dinner – to focus on tackling the virus
  • Australia said it could no longer completely prevent infected people from entering the country because of outbreaks in Japan and South Korea
  • More than $5tn (£3.9bn) was wiped from global stock markets last week, but there were early signs of recovery in Asia on Monday
  • Goldman Sachs halted all non-essential business travel
  • Israelis under quarantine voted in Monday’s election as paramedics in protective clothing stood guard
  • Pakistan’s largest city – Karachi – closed all schools as millions of children in Japan also stayed at home
Authorities have put precautions in place at polling booths
Authorities have put precautions in place at polling booths in Israel

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The number of people around the world who have died from coronavirus reached 3,048 on Sunday night, and the number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases reached 89,197 globally in 60 countries.

One of the biggest outbreaks outside mainland China is in South Korea, where there are now more than 4,300 cases.

South Korean cult leader Lee Man-hee apologises for the spread of coronavirus
South Korean cult leader Lee Man-hee apologises for the spread of coronavirus

In South Korea, followers of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus believe their founder will take them to heaven, and they had visited the Chinese city of Wuhan – where the virus originated – late last year.

Prosecutors are now being asked to consider a murder investigation into the cult’s founder, Lee Man-hee, amid allegations his organisation refused to co-operate with efforts to stop the disease.

Ambulances wait to transport infected patients from Daegu, South Korea
Ambulances wait to transport infected patients from Daegu, South Korea

On Monday, he said: “We did our best but were unable to stop the spread of the virus.”

South Korea has postponed the beginning of the new school term until 23 March in an attempt to stop the disease spreading further.

A man sits in a Paris cafe wearing a face mask as indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 were banned
A man sits in a Paris cafe wearing a face mask as indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 were banned

Indonesia’s first cases

Indonesia reported its first confirmed cases in the country on Monday.

President Joko Widodo said two Indonesians had tested positive and were in hospital, but did not say where.

His government has come under fire for the lack of reported cases in the world’s fourth most populous country which is also close to China.

Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said last week it was a “blessing from the Almighty” as he defended the country’s screening process.

US deaths

Over in the United States, a man in his 70s died on Saturday in Washington state, the second person in the US to have died from COVID-19 after a man in his 50s died in the state last week.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and the University of Washington said they had evidence the virus may have been circulating in Washington state for up to six weeks undetected.

This could mean there are hundreds of undiagnosed cases in the area.

Donald Trump has confirmed the first US death from coronavirus.

Trump: No reason to panic about virus

US vice president Mike Pence and health and human services secretary Alex Azar tried to reassure the American public that the federal government is working to make sure state and local authorities are able to test for the virus.

Thousands more testing kits had been distributed, with thousands more to come, they said during a round of Sunday TV talk show appearances.

Virus Outbreak: Global Emergency – Watch a special Sky News programme on coronavirus at 6pm weekdays

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