• Friday, Jul 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:11 pm

Europe now epicentre of Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 10:56 pm March 13th, 2020
File photo: Medical workers in protective suits inspect a CT scan image at a hospital in Yunmeng county of Xiaogan city in Hubei, the province hit hardest by the novel coronavirus outbreak, China on February 20, 2020 Reuters

Experts warn that due to a lack of testing and unreported cases, many more people may be affected by the outbreak that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year

The World Health Organization warned Friday that Europe was now the epicentre for the global coronavirus pandemic and reporting more daily cases than China did at the height of its outbreak. 

"Europe has now become the epicentre of the pandemic," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual press conference, describing the more than 5,000 deaths worldwide as "a tragic milestone."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Australia's minister for home affairs and a Chelsea soccer player are among new cases of the coronavirus that has infected more than 135,640 people and killed more than 5,043 worldwide, reports Reuters.

US President Donald Trump was set to declare a national emergency over the fast-spreading coronavirus, opening the door to providing more federal aid to fight the disease under the Stafford Act, according to a source familiar with the declaration.

Trump will make the announcement at a news conference scheduled for 3pm local time (1900 GMT), the source said.

Pressure has been mounting for Trump to declare an infectious disease emergency under the 1988 law that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide disaster funds to state and local governments and to deploy support teams. The power is rarely used. Former President Bill Clinton in 2000 declared such an emergency for West Nile virus.  

Experts warn that due to a lack of testing and unreported cases, many more people may be affected by the outbreak that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

France announces G7 coronavirus meeting

The G7 will hold an extraordinary meeting via videoconference next week to bolster the international response to the coronavirus outbreak, the French presidency said yesterday, also proposing enhanced EU border control.

The meeting of the Group of Seven nations will seek to coordinate action against the virus in the spheres of health, economy, finance and research, the presidency said, reports AFP.

Health authorities to face crisis

Health authorities around the world face the prospect of services being overwhelmed.

"We're anticipating 20% of the population in the first wave to be affected," Kerry Chant, the chief medical officer for the New South Wales (NSW) state government.

Home to more than 7 million people, NSW is Australia's most populous state, and Chant said models suggested 5% of the state's population - some 350,000 people - would need hospital treatment as a result of coronavirus.

Australia has recorded nearly 160 infections and three deaths from the flu-like disease. Among the infected is one of its highest-profile government ministers, Peter Dutton, who is in charge of home affairs. He said he was feeling fine.Medical staff treating a critical patient infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus with an Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in Wuhan on March 1, 2020 | AFP

Movie star Tom Hanks announced in Australia on Thursday that he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, had both tested positive.

Trudeau said he would be in isolation for two weeks after his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus. She said she was "experiencing uncomfortable symptoms" adding that she would "be back on my feet soon."

Canada has reported 145 cases of the virus, a three-fold gain from a week ago. There has been one death.

A host of major sporting events were affected, with the Players Championship golf halted and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix scrapped. Nepal closed Mount Everest to climbers.

Calls grew in Britain for the Premier League season to be stopped with the news that Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi has tested positive. All of Chelsea's first-team players and coaching staff would self-isolate, the club said.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi are among those to have tested positive for the virus.

England's Premier League became the latest high-profile competition to announce a suspension as the coronavirus pandemic continued its unprecedented shutdown of world sport yesterday.

Several of Europe's soccer leagues are already on hold, the top men's tennis circuit was suspended for six weeks, the National Hockey League shut down and cricket matches have been ordered to be played without fans.

Spain declares state of emergency

Spain will be in a state of emergency for the next 15 days to better combat the coronavirus, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said yesterday, in a dramatic increase to the policy response that will allow authorities to confine people and ration goods.

The state of emergency, which Sanchez said will formally be decided by a cabinet meeting on Saturday, will give the government power to take wide-ranging measures including temporarily occupying factories or any other premises except private homes.


"The government of Spain will protect all its citizens and will guarantee the right life conditions to slow the pandemic with as little inconvenience as possible," Sanchez said.

Iran imposes lockdown

Iran said Friday the security forces will clear the streets nationwide within 24 hours so all citizens can be checked for coronavirus – its toughest measure yet to combat the outbreak.

The Covid-19 epidemic in Iran – a nation of more than 80 million people – has now claimed over 500 lives and infected more than 11,000.

Researchers: Hackers seizing on coronavirus fear

As the world faces a pandemic in the form of Covid-19, everyone is keeping a close eye on how it is spreading across the world. That includes hackers too. 

Several organizations have made dashboards to keep track of Covid-19 outbreak around the world, and hackers have found a way to use these dashboards to inject malware into computers, the Washington Post reports.

Attackers design websites related to coronavirus in order to prompt someone to download an application to stay updated on the situation. This application does not need any installation, and shows a map of how Covid-19 is spreading. However, it is a front for attackers to generate a malicious binary file and install it on your computer.

In recent weeks, US officials have warned about malicious actors seeking to seize on global coronavirus concerns to peddle fraudulent products or extract sensitive information. 

Last week, for example, a top cybersecurity arm at the US Department of Homeland Security flagged the potential that criminals and hackers “may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.”

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