The number of coronavirus cases in Europe rose to 22 on Saturday as the World Health Organization warned that governments around the globe must prepare for “domestic outbreak control” if the disease spreads.
The outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has now infected than 11,900 people worldwide, killing 259 of them.
The scale of the disease has surpassed the 2002-03 SARS outbreak, and the WHO has declared it a global emergency.
All the deaths have been in China, where the new type of virus was first detected in December.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the number of laboratory-confirmed cases now stood at 7 in Germany, 6 in France, 2 each in Italy, Britain and Russia and 1 each in Finland, Spain and Sweden.
European cases include student and tourists
Beijing has criticized a decision by the United States to bar entry to most foreigners who have visited China in the past two weeks, saying it contradicted the WHO’s appeal to avoid travel bans.
The WHO said it was especially concerned that some cases outside China involved human-to-human transmission.
“Countries need to get ready for possible importation in order to identify cases as early as possible and in order to be ready for a domestic outbreak control, if that happens,” WHO representative in Beijing, Gauden Galea, told AP.
One of the first two people to test positive for coronavirus in the UK is a student at the University of York. The university said in a statement that the risk of infection is low and that the student and another member of their family are being treated at a specialist unit in Newcastle.
Meanwhile, 83 British nationals evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, have begun two weeks in quarantine at a hospital in Wirral while 27 non-UK nationals were at Brize Norton RAF base in Oxfordshire.
There have been eight cases of human-to-human transmission in four countries outside China: Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US.
France revealed its sixth case of coronavirus on Thursday evening — a Paris doctor who’d come back from China.
In Finland, two cases have been reported including a Chinese tourist found to be infected with the virus at a hospital in Lapland, according to health authorities. They said the tourist was from Wuhan – the and that a further 15 people may have been exposed.
What’s the situation in China?
In Hubei, bustling streets, shops, restaurants and other public spaces in the city were eerily empty as authorities put more than a dozen cities on lockdown.
The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, announced it will build a designated hospital with space for 1,000 beds by February 3, in the style of a facility that Beijing constructed during the SARS epidemic in 2003.
Police, SWAT teams and paramilitary troops guarded the city’s train station, where metal barriers blocked the entrances.
The cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Tianjin have suspended long-distance coach services, as well as the vast province of Shandong.
As a symbol of the concern that has gripped China, the authorities have announced the closure of sections of the famous Great Wall, as well as the Disneyland resort site in Shanghai.
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has announced on Tuesday that all rail links to mainland China will be closed starting Friday, in order to contain the contagion. This includes both the high-speed rail station and the regular train station.
Mongolia already closed its vast border with China and North Korea said it was strengthening quarantine measures, and considering such measures.