Reports say at least 92,000 people have been infected globally from the coronavirus, while over 3000 of this number have died with the highest figures being in China since December 2019.
Reports state that a vast majority of cases — more than 80,000 — have occurred in China, but around 60 other countries are now also dealing with outbreaks. South Korea, Italy and Iran are fighting the largest outbreaks outside of China.
In Italy, it was reported that Pope Francis was still suffering from a cold and not exhibiting other symptoms, after a report said he had tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
Italy’s Messaggero newspaper reported that the 83-year-old pontiff, who has been cancelling events since last Wednesday, had been tested for the virus as a precaution.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that the cold was “running its course without symptoms attributable to other pathologies”.
In Lebanon, the country’s health minister said hospitals were ready to deal with any further spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, where 13 cases have been recorded with no deaths.
Hamad Hassan was quoted as saying the cases had all either returned from an affected country or were transmitted through “close contact” with a family member or neighbour – not “local transmission”.All 13 people suffering from the Covid-19 illness are being treated at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri state hospital, where 140 beds have been designated to isolate and monitor suspected cases, he added.
The US state of Seattle is also said to be battling with the outbreak as fear that the virus has hit all states looms. In the US, the BBC reported that the US central bank has slashed interest rates in response to mounting concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus.
The BBC said the Federal Reserve lowered its benchmark rate by 50 basis points to a range of 1% to 1.25%.It said the move comes after the G7 group of finance ministers pledged action earlier on Tuesday.It follows warnings that slowdown from the outbreak could tip countries into recession.
The Trump administration has requested up to US$2.5 billion to fund the US response to COVID-19. In a 24 February letter to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget requested $1.25 billion in new funding and proposed to make up the rest by repurposing funds allocated to other programmes, including $535 million assigned to the Ebola response.
In Africa, Nigeria is among three countries to have confirmed the novel virus cases in South Saharan Africa where its slow infection is beating the world’s imagination due to its perceived vulnerability to pandemic outbreaks.On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank announced their readiness to help in the combat of the deadly coronavirus.
In a joint statement issued Monday March 2, the IMF and the World Bank Group stand said they stand ready to help member countries address the human tragedy and economic challenge posed by the COVID-19 virus.
“We are engaged actively with international institutions and country authorities, with special attention to poor countries where health systems are the weakest and people are most vulnerable.
We will use our available instruments to the fullest extent possible, including emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance. In particular, we have rapid financing facilities that, collectively, can help countries respond to a wide range of needs.
The strengthening of country health surveillance and response systems is crucial to contain the spread of this and any future outbreaks. International cooperation is essential to deal with the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 virus.