Desperate to stop virus’ spread, countries limit travel

Clusters of the illness continued to balloon outside mainland China, fueling apprehension across the globe that was reflected in sagging financial markets.

Posted: Feb 25, 2020 12:23 PM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Police manned checkpoints in quarantined towns, guests were confined to their rooms in a hotel in the Canary Islands, governments issued travel warnings and more flights were suspended Tuesday as officials desperately sought to stop the seemingly inevitable spread of a new virus.

Clusters of the illness continued to balloon outside mainland China, fueling apprehension across the globe that was reflected in sagging financial markets.

The crisis pushed into areas seen as among the worst-equipped to deal with an outbreak as well as some of the world’s richest nations, including South Korea and Italy. As it proliferates, the virus is bringing a sense of urgency for local officials determined to contain it but often unsure how.

“It’s a matter of speed and time: We must create a clear turning point within this week,” said President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, where the caseload grew by 144, with a total of 977 people sickened.

Cases of people who could have infected many others spurred fears.

Korean Air said one of its crew members tested positive, but the airline didn’t disclose the flights the employee had worked on. On a U.S. military base in Daegu, the center of infections in South Korea, officials said the spouse of a late servicemember had also been infected. And in the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, one of those infected was a school bus driver who had transported students as recently as Sunday.

Also testing positive was the head of Iran’s virus task force, who just a day earlier gave a news conference in Tehran in which he tried to minimize the danger posed by the outbreak.

In Italy’s north, where more than 200 people were sickened, a dozen towns were sealed off and police wearing face masks patrolled.

Two neighbors of Italy — Croatia and Austria — reported their first cases of the virus. And an Italian doctor staying at a hotel in the Canary Islands tested positive for the virus, prompting the quarantine of hundreds of guests.

Croatia, Hungary and Ireland advised against traveling to Italy’s affected area, one of a number of governmental moves seeking to limit further exposure. Bahrain suspended flights to Dubai while the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its highest travel alert on South Korea, advising citizens to avoid nonessential trips. Japan urged citizens to avoid unessential trips to South Korea’s hardest-hit areas.

A culture of long days at the office in Japan came to terms with the outbreak, with the government urging employers to allow workers to telecommute and have more flexible hours, simple moves Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed hope could help control the spread.

“We are at an extremely important time in ending the spread of infection at an early stage,” Abe said at a meeting of a task force on the outbreak.

Even in places where no cases have sprouted up, leaders kept a wary eye, such as Denmark, where two former military barracks were being prepared as quarantine centers. Still, uncertainty remained about how to effectively limit the epidemic.

Italy had taken Europe’s most stringent preventative measures against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and yet became home to the biggest outbreak outside Asia. Experts in Japan, with one of the world’s most sophisticated health systems, acknowledged the country’s handling of the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship was flawed and could have allowed the problem to magnify.

In comments reflecting both defiance and dubiousness over what measures work, French health minister Olivier Veran said the country would not shut its border or call off mass gatherings.

“We don’t close borders because we would not be able to, we don’t do it because it would be meaningless,” he said on French radio RTL. “Should we ban gatherings? Should we stop the Fashion Week? Should we suspend matches? Should we close universities? The answer is no.”

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic was first detected in December. The updates bring mainland China’s totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

But while China remained home to the vast majority of the world’s cases, the world’s attention increasingly moved to where the outbreak would spread next. Iran was eyed as a source for new transmissions in the Middle East, including in Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, which were grappling with the spread past their borders.

In South Korea’s southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding areas, panic over the virus has brought towns to an eerie standstill. The country reported its 11th fatality from COVID-19 amid signs, big and small, of the problem that has magnified nearly 15-fold in a week.

Health officials said they were working to finish testing hundreds of members of a church that has the country’s biggest cluster of infections. The church agreed to hand over a list of 200,000 members nationwide so screenings could widen.

“We are creating and refining our system as we go along,” said Dr. Kim Jin-hwan of Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center in Daegu.

South Korea’s professional basketball league said it will ban spectators until the outbreak is under control, while Busan City said the world team table tennis championships it planned to host in March would be postponed until June.

South Korea’s military confirmed 13 troops had contracted the virus, resulting in quarantines for many others and the halting of field training.

___

Sedensky reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Terre Haute
Scattered Clouds
47° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 43°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
42° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 38°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 43°
Rockville
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 41°
Casey
Few Clouds
45° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 40°
Brazil
Scattered Clouds
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 43°
Marshall
Scattered Clouds
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 43°
Peaceful Weather
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 697489

Reported Deaths: 12594
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook2961296450
DuPage43513770
Will37368553
Lake36001623
Kane30756459
Winnebago18330259
Madison13868241
McHenry13788155
St. Clair12765256
Champaign1053857
Sangamon972599
Peoria8739129
Rock Island8358133
Kankakee8341103
McLean811354
Tazewell6480102
Macon6268129
Kendall606044
LaSalle5907132
DeKalb480846
Adams464448
Boone376133
Vermilion374247
Whiteside3631106
Williamson349180
Coles325358
Clinton323560
Ogle275233
Knox270462
Effingham265621
Grundy264418
Jackson259036
Henry253614
Marion239150
Stephenson237834
Livingston218424
Randolph218326
Morgan214035
Macoupin210817
Bureau205041
Monroe200144
Franklin198725
Lee189429
Christian184142
Jefferson180959
Woodford166826
Fayette163828
Logan161713
Iroquois161526
McDonough155440
Fulton139911
Shelby133826
Douglas131416
Jersey120523
Union116128
Montgomery111519
Crawford109313
Saline108624
Perry105223
Jo Daviess104917
Warren104420
Carroll102824
Bond100710
Lawrence99610
Pike99027
Cass94723
Hancock93612
Wayne86833
Moultrie86610
Clay81319
Greene80728
Edgar77516
Clark77019
Piatt7585
Ford72922
Richland72319
Mercer71210
Mason70219
Johnson6996
Washington6642
Jasper63411
Cumberland60616
De Witt59617
White5868
Massac5793
Wabash5318
Menard4441
Unassigned4340
Pulaski4072
Marshall3826
Hamilton3763
Brown3183
Henderson2760
Schuyler2641
Alexander2522
Putnam2400
Stark2363
Calhoun2310
Scott2310
Edwards2233
Gallatin1873
Hardin1440
Pope941
Out of IL200

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 318894

Reported Deaths: 5561
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion43391855
Lake27599462
Allen18363299
Elkhart17474226
St. Joseph17071234
Hamilton13376169
Vanderburgh9839121
Tippecanoe880629
Porter844886
Johnson6556169
Hendricks6267158
Vigo618187
Monroe542850
Clark522877
Madison5153122
Delaware5014103
LaPorte474695
Kosciusko468540
Howard357977
Warrick329872
Floyd324978
Bartholomew323563
Wayne318074
Marshall308146
Cass302631
Grant282050
Noble261546
Hancock260355
Henry252837
Boone248754
Dubois242931
Dearborn222631
Jackson222534
Morgan215543
Knox189720
Shelby189556
Gibson189426
Clinton182121
DeKalb181632
Lawrence179748
Adams171022
Wabash168121
Miami166614
Daviess160144
Steuben150713
Fayette150034
Jasper147413
Montgomery146627
Harrison145524
LaGrange145031
Whitley140814
Ripley138515
Huntington130910
Decatur128243
Wells127930
Putnam127828
White127522
Clay126523
Randolph126121
Posey124116
Jefferson122916
Scott112320
Greene104653
Jay100713
Sullivan99216
Starke94021
Jennings88714
Fulton86419
Spencer8588
Perry83721
Fountain8078
Washington7837
Franklin71327
Carroll69613
Orange69028
Vermillion6444
Owen6317
Tipton58927
Parke5886
Newton56912
Rush5658
Blackford54012
Pike51619
Pulaski41115
Martin3645
Benton3553
Brown3514
Crawford3031
Union2752
Switzerland2605
Warren2542
Ohio2337
Unassigned0266