Concerns are growing over the global spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China, with Iran reporting a spike in numbers and deaths, and other Middle Eastern countries reporting their first cases.
South Korea has also seen a huge uptick in cases, with over 430 now confirmed nationwide.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s director general has said the window of opportunity to control the outbreak is “narrowing.”
The numbers: Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288. Another 109 deaths were recorded in China on Friday, bringing its total death toll to 2,345, according to China’s National Health Commission. The global death toll stands at 2,360.
Changing the tally: Officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have banned the practice of reducing the number of already confirmed cases. It also mandated that all previously counted cases stand as part of the total confirmed tally. The vast majority of cases and deaths in China have been recorded in Hubei.
Global cases and fatalities: More than 1,500 confirmed cases and 15 deaths from the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China. Italy reported its first death and Iran and South Korea reported new fatalities on Friday.
9,000 in self-isolation in South Korea: Cases in the East Asian country have surged to 430 after more than 220 new infections were reported in 24 hours. Around half of the total cases are associated with a religious group in the south of the country. Two patients have died of the virus in South Korea.
Officials are testing and self-isolating 9,300 members of the religious group to try and contain the outbreak. Authorities are also taking measures including shutting down public places in the capital Seoul and designating “special care zones.” Meanwhile, a fourth military member has been infected with coronavirus.
Middle East spread: Iran’s health ministry has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, including four deaths, and said it has spread to several cities. Canada’s chief public health officer suggested further investigation was needed after a Canadian tested positive for the virus after returning from Iran. Theresa Tam suggested there could be “more widespread transmission than we know about.”
Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have reported their first cases.
New cases in Asia Pacific: Apart from China and South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Australia all reported new cases on Saturday.
WHO warning: World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the window of opportunity to contain the virus is “narrowing” and called on countries to prepare for community transmission.
US cases rise: 35 people have tested positive for the virus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 14 other US cases. The CDC said it will now track confirmed cases in two separate groups: people who have been repatriated, and those identified by the US public health network.