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Coronavirus: WHO concern at cases outside China

  • 21 February 2020
 
people outside Beirut hospital where the virus patient is being treated Image copyright EPA
Image caption Lebanon has confirmed its first case - a woman returning from the Iranian city of Qom

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern at the number of coronavirus cases with no clear link to China or other confirmed cases.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus's comments follow Iran's announcement of two more deaths, bringing the total there to four.

The window of opportunity to contain the virus was "narrowing", he said.

Iranian health officials said the virus may already be in "all Iran's cities".

Outside China 1,152 cases of the virus have been confirmed in 26 countries and there have been eight deaths.

They include two in South Korea, which has the biggest cluster of confirmed cases apart from China and a cruise ship quarantined in Japan.

China has reported 75,567 cases including 2,239 deaths. The new virus, which originated last year in Hubei province in China, causes a respiratory disease called Covid-19.

What did the WHO chief say?

Dr Tedros said the number of coronavirus cases outside China was "relatively small" but the pattern of infection was worrying.

"We are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to or contact with a confirmed case," he said.

The new deaths and infections in Iran were "very concerning", he said.

 
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Iraq has been checking people at its border with Iran

But he insisted that the measures China and other countries had put in place meant there was still a "fighting chance" of stopping further spread and called on countries to put more resources into preparing for possible outbreaks.

What about the Iran cases?

In Iran the outbreak is centred on the holy city of Qom, south of the capital Tehran, which is a popular destination for Shia Muslims in the region.

Iran reported two more deaths in Qom on Friday, adding to the two deaths it reported on Thursday. A total of 18 cases have been confirmed in the country.

Lebanon has reported its first confirmed case - a 45-year-old woman who was detected as she arrived in Beirut from Qom. The UAE, Israel and Egypt have also reported cases.

Meanwhile Canadian officials said one of the nine cases there was a woman who had recently returned from Iran.

WHO officials said both Iran and Lebanon had the basic capacity to detect the virus and the WHO was contacting them to offer further assistance.

But Dr Tedros said the organisation was concerned about the virus's possible spread in countries with weaker health systems.

What is the latest in South Korea?

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said it was now an emergency as 100 new cases and the country's second death were confirmed. The country now has 204 cases.

The southern cities of Daegu and Cheongdo have been declared "special care zones". The streets of Daegu are now largely abandoned.

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Media captionPeople in Daegu have voiced concern over the spread of the virus

All military bases are in lockdown after three soldiers tested positive.

About 9,000 members of a religious group were told to self quarantine, after the sect was identified as a coronavirus hotbed.

The authorities suspect the current outbreak in South Korea originated in Cheongdo, pointing out that a large number of sect followers attended the funeral of the founder's brother from 31 January to 2 February.

 
 

The sect - known as Shincheonji - which has been accused of being a cult, said it had now shut down its Daegu branch and that services in other regions would be held online or individually at home.

As of Friday, more than 400 members of the church were showing symptoms of the disease, though tests were still ongoing, the city mayor said.

 
 

Hand sanitizers and warning signs

By Hyung Eun Kim, BBC Korean Service, Seoul

Many people in South Korea are wearing masks on a daily basis.

Hand sanitizers have been placed at public transport stops and building entrances.

Warning government signs are everywhere. They say: "Three ways to prevent further infection: wear a mask at all times; wash your hands properly with soap for more than 30 seconds; and cover yourself when coughing."

 
Image copyright EPA
Image caption New norm: Mask-wearing crowd in Seoul

Koreans have also developed several apps and websites that tell you how much risk you face where you are. They show where the infected people are within a 10km radius.

"I can't miss work, what I can do is minimise contact with others and stay at home during the weekend," Seung-hye Lim, a Seoul resident, told the BBC.

"I do wonder if we reacted too laxly initially or if it really is because of the specific service practices of the Shincheonji sect."

So-young Sung, a mother of two in Seoul, told the BBC: "It feels like my daily life is collapsing."

She said she was struggling to find pharmacies that had masks.

She added that checking coronavirus-related alarms from her children's schools and kindergartens was now a daily routine for her.

 

What about China and elsewhere?

The virus has now hit the country's prison system, with more than 500 inmates confirmed infected.

They include 230 patients in a women's prison in Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where cases first emerged. More cases have been found in a prison in the eastern province of Shandong and the south-eastern province of Zhejiang.

Some 36 people at a hospital in Beijing have also tested positive.

Senior officials have been sacked for mishandling management of the outbreak.

Passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who have tested negative continue to disembark the ship in Yokohama after more than 14 days quarantined on board.

However 11 US evacuees from the ship tested positive after arriving in the US, officials said. More than 300 other US nationals have arrived back in the US after disembarking from the ship.

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Media captionCoronavirus: Quarantined passengers released from Japan ship

More than 150 Australian passengers have been evacuated from the ship and have already arrived in Darwin, where they will begin two more weeks of quarantine.

Australian officials said on Friday that six people had reported feeling unwell on arrival in Darwin and were immediately tested.

Two of those people tested positive despite having received negative tests before leaving Japan.

The first batch of people from Hong Kong have also flown back to the city, where they will similarly be quarantined.

 
 

 

What questions do you have about the coronavirus?

In some cases your question will be published, displaying your name, age and location as you provide it, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. Please ensure you have read our terms & conditions and privacy policy.

Use this form to ask your question:

 

If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or send them via email to YourQuestions@bbc.co.uk. Please include your name, age and location with any question you send in.

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Coronavirus: First case confirmed in Wales

  • 28 February 2020
Breaking News image

Wales has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 17.

The patient had travelled back from northern Italy, where they had contracted the virus.

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive Breaking News on a smartphone or tablet via the BBC News App. You can also follow @BBCBreaking on Twitter to get the latest alerts.

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Coronavirus: Risk of spread upgraded to highest level

  • 28 February 2020
Related Topics
An employee packs protective face masks Image copyright AFP
Image caption The WHO has raised the risk but data shows there is not yet a global pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to "very high" - its top level of risk assessment.

But the UN body said there was still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission were broken.

WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also stressed that fear and misinformation were the biggest challenges to overcome.

More than 50 countries have now reported cases of coronavirus.

And sources within Iran's healthcare system told BBC Persian that, as of Thursday evening, at least 210 people had died from the virus. This is more than six times higher than the official government figure.

At a press conference in Geneva, Dr Tedros said that most cases could still be traced, and there was no evidence of the virus "spreading freely in communities".

His colleague, Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's Emergency Health Programme, said that the risk level was intended to serve as a "reality check" for governments, since healthcare systems were still unprepared.

"You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready," said Dr Ryan.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said fear was still the biggest challenge

What are the latest developments?

  • Globally, more than 80,000 people have been infected. About 2,800 have died - the vast majority in China's Hubei province. China confirmed another 327 cases - the lowest daily increase for a month - along with 44 deaths
  • Switzerland suspended all events with more than 1,000 participants until 15 March, including the Geneva International Motor Show
  • Iceland, Nigeria, Mexico, New Zealand, Belarus and the Netherlands all reported their first cases
  • The first British death from Covid-19 was announced - a passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan
  • Fear about the virus has continued to hit global markets. Shares have shed almost 13% of their value this week on London's FTSE, wiping £210bn ($267bn) from the value of companies on the index

What else did the WHO say?

Dr Ryan also stressed that current data information does not suggest the virus has become a global pandemic.

"If we say there's a pandemic of coronavirus, we're essentially accepting that every human on the planet will be exposed," he said. "The data does not support that as yet and China has clearly shown that that's not necessarily the natural outcome of this event if we take action."

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Media captionCoronavirus: Five countries, five responses

Dr Tedros reiterated that the spread had the potential to become a pandemic, but cautioned against unnecessary panic.

"Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself, it's fear, rumours and stigma," he said.

The WHO has said proper containment, with the help of an "all government, all society approach" will help slow down rates of infection, break chains of infection and take pressure off healthcare systems around the world.

What should I do to minimise the risk?

Public health advice is to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze, throw away tissues immediately after use and wash your hands frequently.

It is also advised to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands and avoid close contact with people who are unwell.


Have you been affected by the coronavirus? Or do you have any information to share? Get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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Coronavirus: Latest UK patient was infected in England

  • 28 February 2020
Diamond Princess in the Yokohama port Image copyright Reuters
Image caption At least 621 people were infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan

A patient diagnosed with coronavirus has become the first to catch it in the UK.

It is unclear whether this was "directly or indirectly" from someone who recently returned from abroad, England's chief medical officer said.

It takes the total number of UK cases to 20.

The announcement comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from the virus after catching it on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

He is the sixth passenger to die from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, Japan's health ministry said.

Confirming the latest UK case, Professor Chris Whitty said the patient, a resident of Surrey, in south-east England, has been transferred to a specialist NHS infection centre at Guy's and St Thomas' in London.

He said the case is being investigated and contact tracing has begun.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: "Given the recent increases in international case numbers, especially Europe, it is highly likely that we will soon see some instances of community transmission in the UK."

Public Health England said it was working with Surrey County Council to contact people who had "close contact" with the Surrey coronavirus case.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is due to chair an emergency Cobra committee meeting on Monday, said preparing for an outbreak in the UK was now the government's "top priority".

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Coronavirus: Hunt for source of UK-infected case

  • 29 February 2020
A woman wearing a face mask on a bus in London, as the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wales and two more were identified in England Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The World Health Organization has raised its global risk assessment to its highest level

Health officials are trying to discover how a man in England caught coronavirus, after he became the first person to infected within the UK.

The man, from Surrey, had not been abroad recently - unlike the 19 others who have tested positive in the UK.

Health minister Helen Whately told BBC Newsnight officials are trying to trace people he was in contact with.

Meanwhile, the government is expected to publish emergency legislation next week, if the virus spreads.

The package of measures would be designed to help the public sector - such as the NHS and schools - cope with the outbreak, if there was a serious rise in cases.

There are few details about what the measures could involve - but school class sizes in England is one area which would be addressed. They would be permitted to rise above statutory limits, in the event of widespread teacher absences.

On Friday, a British man became the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus after being infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said the virus outbreak was now the government's top priority, will chair an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday.

He had faced criticism from Labour, who said he needed to "get a grip" on the situation and questioned why he was waiting until next week to hold the meeting.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Some people in the UK are wearing face masks - although it is not official government advice

Nearly 9,000 people in the UK have so far been tested for coronavirus.

On Friday, the number of people who have tested positive in the UK reached 20, after the man in Surrey was diagnosed.

He was the first to catch it in the UK - although it is unclear whether this was directly or indirectly from someone who recently returned from abroad.

He has been transferred to a specialist NHS infection centre at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in central London. A clinic in Surrey - Haslemere Health Centre - has been closed for "deep cleaning".

Who did this man catch the virus from?

This is the urgent question that needs answering about the 20th case in the UK.

So far, no connection with anyone who has travelled to an affected country has been discovered.

Until we know the answer it is difficult to know how big a development this is.

This could be an "outbreak of two" - with just one other, still to be identified, person that caught coronavirus abroad.

Or is this the first case to be detected from a much larger outbreak? We know this can happen, Italian scientists believe the virus was circulating there unnoticed for weeks.

For now, we simply do not know, but this is a scenario officials have been preparing for.

Ms Whately said: "At the moment the work is going on to make sure that we have traced the contacts that that individual has. That work is happening at the moment."

She added: "We are well-prepared but we do have to recognise that it is likely we will see more cases within the UK.

"There will be a plan published next week for the public, giving more detail about the government's preparedness."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Haslemere Health Centre in Surrey closed temporarily for cleaning on Friday
Image caption Signs informed patients that the centre was closed

She said face masks were not recommended for the public, but that "everybody has a part to play to help us be prepared as a country".

People should wash their hands thoroughly. she added - echoing the advice given by the prime minister on Friday - and carry a tissue to sneeze or cough into, she said.

Of the most recent case, the Department of Health and Social Care said the virus was passed on in the UK but the original source was "unclear" and there was no "immediately identifiable link" to overseas travel.

Prof Jonathan Ball, from the University of Nottingham, said the Surrey case marks a "new chapter for the UK" and that it is "crucial" to understand the infection's origin.

"This was always a concern - this is a virus that frequently causes symptoms very similar to mild flu or a common cold, and it's easily transmitted from person to person. This means it can easily go under the radar," the virology expert added.

It comes as a hospital in Edinburgh is carrying out "drive-through" testing for coronavirus, where patients do not need to leave their cars when they arrive for appointments.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

p0854bzr.jpg
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Media captionBoris Johnson makes statement on coronavirus

Three other cases of the virus were confirmed in the UK on Friday, including the first one in Wales and two in England.

The two new patients in England contracted the virus while in Iran, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Public Health Wales said it was working to identify close contacts of the Welsh patient, who is believed to be from the Swansea area and was infected in northern Italy before returning to the UK.

Northern Ireland confirmed its first case on Thursday. Authorities said they had contacted passengers who sat near the woman on a flight from northern Italy to Dublin.

The World Health Organization has raised its global risk assessment of the virus to its top level, "very high".

Globally, more than 80,000 people have been infected. About 2,800 have died - the vast majority in China's Hubei province.

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Coronavirus: 'Battleplan' role for retired doctors

  • 1 March 2020
Related Topics
People wearing face masks on the London Underground, as the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wales and two more were identified in England - bringing the total number in the UK to 19
Image caption Official health advice is to wash your hands more often and catch sneezes in a tissue

Newly-retired doctors and nurses could be asked to return to the NHS under a UK government "battleplan" to combat a possible further spread of coronavirus.

If the outbreak worsens, people could also be urged to work from home.

New measures will see a minister in every government department be dedicated to tackling the outbreak and the setting up of a "war room" to drive a "refreshed" public health campaign.

The UK has 23 confirmed cases but there are warnings more will follow.

Meanwhile, more than 200 British holidaymakers locked down at a quarantined hotel in Tenerife have been told they will be allowed to fly home, if they test negative for coronavirus.

The travellers have been quarantined at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel since Tuesday after four Italians contracted the virus. Some have already been allowed to leave.

The Foreign Office is in contact with operators and travel agents about their plans to return Britons to the UK.

Wash hands for 20 seconds

The government says it will publish its "updated action plan" on its response to the virus, Covid-19, later this week.

It is based on existing plans for a pandemic flu outbreak - but has been adapted for the coronavirus.

The plan includes extra meetings of the emergency committee Cobra and the war room in the Cabinet Office, where scientists and media advisers will be rolling out their information campaign.

This will see posters and social media adverts telling people to wash their hands for 20 seconds or more with soap and water.

Whitehall officials say they will be working closely with their counterparts in the devolved administrations.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some fans at Saturday's Premier League match between Bournemouth and Chelsea wore masks
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tourists at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel have been quarantined and tested for the virus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will chair a Cobra meeting on Monday, said: "Coronavirus may very well be a challenge in the weeks and months ahead.

"But I have no doubt that with the help of the NHS and its incomparable staff this country will get through it and beat it."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said "every part of government is working together to share the responsibility of tackling the health, economic, and social impacts... but cannot do this alone.

"Every single person has a role to play in helping to manage the spread of the virus - whether that's washing your hands more often, catching your sneezes, and following clinical advice."

Infant school closed

More than 10,000 people have now been tested for the virus in the UK.

The latest three confirmed cases are from Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and Berkshire. Two of them had recently returned from Italy, while the other had come back from Asia, chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said.

On Saturday evening, Willow Bank Infant School in Woodley, Berkshire, issued a statement saying one of its members of staff had tested positive for the virus - thought to be one of the latest cases. It will close for a deep clean.

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Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBoris Johnson: Best advice is to wash our hands properly

Currently, the UK is in the "containment" phase - where the strategy is to isolate people with the virus in hospital and trace who they came into contact with.

Health leaders say current containment measures may still be sufficient.

But the next phase could see broader "social distancing" measures - such as urging more people to work from home and discouraging unnecessary travel, the government said.

Rules around class sizes in schools could also be relaxed in the event of widespread staff shortages.

The Scottish government says it is increasing tests for coronavirus to all people with flu-like symptoms, even those who have not travelled to an affected area.

Meanwhile, health officials are still trying to find out how a man from Surrey caught the virus, after he became the first person to be infected within the UK.

The man, who is being treated at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in central London, had not been abroad recently - unlike the other cases in the UK.

Officials are trying to trace people who had contact with him.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Face masks - which are not recommended by the government - are being worn by some in the UK

Ten more cases of the virus in the UK in just over two days might raise eyebrows, but health officials say all but one can be easily explained because the patients have travelled from the most affected countries, including Northern Italy and Iran.

Since the first UK cases were confirmed in York - two Chinese nationals - positive tests have been recorded in the south of England, Derbyshire, south Wales and Northern Ireland.

Of potential concern is the case in Surrey, a man who had not travelled abroad.

Public health officials are tracing his contacts to see if his infection can be explained by another individual who has arrived in the UK from abroad.

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Media captionCoronavirus in the UK: 5 things you need to know about Covid-19

In other developments:

  • The Foreign Office has called on Iran to "immediately allow" health officials to examine Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said he suspected she had the virus but said prison staff were refusing to test her
  • The Republic of Ireland has confirmed its first case. Health officials said the man, from the eastern part of the country, was associated with travel from an affected area in northern Italy
  • People who had been in close contact with the first person to test positive for the virus in Northern Ireland have all been notified, officials say
  • President Donald Trump says the first person in the US to die from coronavirus was a medically high-risk woman in her late 50s
  • France has temporarily banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people "in confined spaces" as it reported a jump in cases
  • South Korea which has the highest number of cases outside China, mobilised the army on Saturday

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

The World Health Organization has raised its global risk assessment of the virus to its top level, "very high".

Globally, more than 85,000 people have been infected, with cases in more than 57 countries. Nearly 3,000 people have died - the vast majority in China's Hubei province, where the outbreak originated in December.

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Coronavirus: South Korea churches halt services as cases soar

  • 1 March 2020
Christian faithfuls wearing masks to prevent contacting the coronavirus sit during a service at a church in Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2020. Yonhap Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The few Christian services being held in South Korea are thinly attended

Roman Catholic churches remained closed across South Korea on Sunday, as officials struggle with a coronavirus outbreak that has led to the cancellation of many public gatherings.

The Catholic Church has an estimated 5,8m members in the country.

Major Protestant groups have also halted Sunday services. All Buddhist events have been called off.

South Korea is battling the worst coronavirus outbreak outside China, with 3,736 cases and 18 deaths so far.

Religion is at the centre of South Korea's outbreak. Authorities say members of the fringe Christian group Shincheonji Church infected one another in the southern city of Daegu last month, before fanning out around the country.

More than 85,403 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in over 50 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

The global death toll is more than 2,900. The vast majority of infections and deaths are in China.

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Media captionWatch how germs spread and how you can prevent it

On Sunday, Australia and Thailand also recorded their first fatalities from coronavirus.

A 78-year-old Australian man died after being infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan last month.

Thailand, which has had 42 cases of the virus, said a 35-year-old man who died was also suffering from dengue fever.

What's happening in South Korea?

The Catholic Church - one of the main religious communities in the country - has suspended Masses in all its 1,734 parishes until 7 March.

The Church had never taken such a step in 236 years of presence in South Korea.

The country's Buddhist organisations cancelled events earlier this week. Major protestant churches are holding Sunday services online.

In the capital Seoul, worshippers were turned away from the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which posted a sermon for its 560,000 followers on YouTube, Reuters news agency reported.

"I had heard there would be no service, but just came to check," Song Young-koo told Reuters. "It's a wise decision to do it online, since the virus would easily spread at mass gatherings and churches can be no exception."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The South Korean army has been spraying disinfectant in public areas

On Sunday officials said nearly 9,000 followers of the Daegu-based Shincheonji Church were showing signs of the coronavirus and are being tested.

The South Korean government has restricted public events in an effort to stop the virus from spreading. The K-pop group BTS has cancelled a forthcoming concert series in Seoul.

What about the rest of the world?

  • The US on Saturday reported the first death in the country, in the state of Washington. Officials said the patient was a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions
  • France has banned large indoors gatherings. Many open-air events have also been cancelled, including Paris's half-marathon and a fireworks display in the southern city of Nice - both were due on Sunday
  • In Japan only a few hundred elite athletes competed in the Tokyo marathon. About 38,000 runners had been expected to take part, before the event was closed to general competitors
  • Iran reported 385 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 978 so far. The death toll rose to 54
  • Italy - the worst-hit country Europe - says it will introduce measures worth 3.6bn euros (£3.10bn) to deal with the economic impact of the outbreak

Have you been affected by the coronavirus? Or do you have any information to share? Get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

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If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

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Coronavirus: Twelve more cases confirmed in England

  • 1 March 2020
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Twelve more patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of UK cases to 35.

Three patients were close contacts of a known case which was transmitted in the UK, chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty said.

One person from Essex had "no relevant travel" and it was unclear how they had contracted the virus.

Out of the remaining eight cases, six had recently returned from Italy and two had been to Iran.

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Coronavirus: PM to chair Cobra committee meeting as UK virus reach 36

  • 2 March 2020
Related Topics
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in Colindale, north London, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK rose. Image copyright PA Media
Image caption After the number of UK cases rose on Sunday, the PM visited a Public Health England laboratory

Boris Johnson is to chair a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee later, after the number of UK coronavirus cases jumped to 36.

Senior ministers and health advisers will be told that the virus will present a "significant challenge".

But the prime minister will say the government and NHS are well-prepared and will "stop at nothing" to fight it.

The official government plan on how to tackle the spread of the virus will be finalised and signed off at the talks.

More UK cases are expected to be announced, after 13 new patients were diagnosed on Sunday.

The latest cases included 12 more in England and the first patient in Scotland, meaning the virus has now reached all four parts of the UK.

Three of the new cases in England were linked to a man from Surrey, who was the first patient to not have been abroad recently and was instead infected within the UK.

Meanwhile, more British holidaymakers stuck in a quarantined hotel in Tenerife are preparing to return home once they test negative for the virus.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Around 25 British tourists have already left the Tenerife hotel, but around 150 remain

Around 150 Britons are now in their seventh day at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace after a group of Italians contracted the virus - and are awaiting test results before they can arrange flights.

Last week concerns about the outbreak wiped more than $5tn from global stocks - and prices in Asia have continued to fall as the markets opened on Monday.

'Battle plan'

The government has said its plan if the outbreak worsens could include asking newly-retired doctors and nurses to return to the NHS.

People could also be urged to work from home - and closing schools and cancelling major public events have also not been ruled out.

"There now seems little doubt that it will present a significant challenge for our country," Mr Johnson is expected to tell the meeting, which will involve the UK's chief medical adviser as well as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some Manchester City fans wore face masks at the club's match with Aston Villa on Sunday
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many tourists in Tenerife's H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel are waiting for negative test results so they can leave
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Johnson discussed the outbreak at the PHE's National Infection Service in north London

"This battle plan lays out in detail the measures we could use - if and when they are needed."

The government has also set up a "war room" in the Cabinet Office to roll out a public health campaign encouraging people to wash their hands for 20 seconds or more.

Where are the latest cases?

On Saturday, three new cases were confirmed in Gloucestershire, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.

Then, on Sunday, 13 new cases were revealed:

  • Three of them were close contacts of the man from Surrey, who was announced as testing positive on Friday. They included another person from Surrey and two people from West Sussex who were all "part of an adult family cluster", Public Health England said.
  • Another new case from Essex had "no relevant travel" and it was unclear how they had contracted the virus.
  • The remaining eight had visited affected areas - six to Italy, and two to Iran. They were from London, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire, and included:
  • Scotland recorded its first case - a patient from the Tayside area who had recently travelled from Itay.

On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was still in the "containment" phase of the outbreak - one of four phases:

  • Containment - caring for any infected people and identifying their close contacts
  • Delay - deciding what actions to take to slow down the spread
  • Mitigation - damage limitation if the virus spreads widely
  • Research - constant and ongoing work to inform the three other phases

He said no tactics will be "off the table" and the battle plan drawn up for the worst case scenario - which will be discussed at the Cobra meeting - includes banning big events, closing schools and dissuading people from using public transport.

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Media captionMatt Hancock on isolating cities: "We don't take anything off the table at this stage"

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said the strategy seems to be to warn that difficult measures may be needed while focusing on trying to contain the spread of the virus.

Labour has said there are growing concerns about the PM's handling of the outbreak and "serious questions about capacity in our overstretched NHS".

The party's health spokesman, Jonathan Ashworth, said the health secretary should update MPs on the government's response and plan "so that we can properly scrutinise it".

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Media captionWatch how germs spread and how you can prevent it

Meanwhile, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran has written to the health secretary to urge him to make sure people are paid if they have to self-isolate.

The GMB union has also called on NHS trusts to ensure that outsourced staff are given sick pay in suspected cases of Covid-19.

It warned most private companies providing the NHS with cleaners, porters and caterers do not offer sick pay for the first three days.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

As of 09:00 GMT on Sunday, the Department of Health said a total of 11,750 people had been tested in the UK.

Globally, around 86,000 people have been infected, with cases in more than 50 countries. About 3,000 people have died - the vast majority in China's Hubei province, where the outbreak originated in December.

In other developments:

  • The Foreign Office has announced some British Embassy staff are being withdrawn from Iran because of the outbreak in the country. Iran reported 385 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 978 so far. The death toll rose to 54
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has tested negative for the virus. The Foreign Office said he self-isolated after feeling unwell this week - and has now returned to work
  • France has banned all indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people and in Paris the Louvre museum did not open on Sunday.
  • Australia and Thailand recorded their first fatalities from the virus on Sunday.
  • The leader of a religious sect in South Korea - which is facing the worst outbreak outside China - could face a homicide investigation over some of the country's deaths, after being accused of hiding the names of some members as officials tried to track patients before the virus spread

Have you been affected by the coronavirus? Or do you have any information to share? Get in touch by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Coronavirus: Global death toll exceeds 3,000

  • 2 March 2020
Related Topics
Fans wear 3M Aura Disposable Respirators as they await kickoff prior to the Liga match, 1 March in Madrid, Spain Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fans at the Real Madrid match this weekend were not taking any chances against the deadly coronavirus

The number of people killed worldwide by the coronavirus has exceeded 3,000, as China reported 42 more deaths.

More than 90% of the total deaths are in Hubei, the Chinese province where the virus emerged late last year.

But there have also been deaths in 10 other countries, including more than 50 in Iran and more than 30 in Italy.

Worldwide, there have been almost 90,000 confirmed cases, with the numbers outside China growing faster than inside China.

But most patients have only mild symptoms, the World Health Organization said on Sunday, and the death rate appears to be between 2% and 5%.

By comparison, the seasonal flu has an average mortality rate of about 0.1% but is highly infectious - with up to 400,000 people dying from it each year.

Other strains of coronavirus, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), have much higher death rates than Covid-19.

What's the global situation?

As the rate of growth in China has declined, the rest of the world has seen a sharp increase in infections.

In the European hotspot of Italy, the number of infections doubled in 48 hours, the head of the country's civil protection body said on Sunday.

There have been at least 34 deaths and 1,694 confirmed cases. Amazon said two of its employees in Italy have the virus and are under quarantine.

In the UK, where there are 36 confirmed cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an emergency Cobra committee for Monday.

On Monday, South Korea - the biggest hotspot outside China - reported 476 new cases, bringing the total number of cases to 4,212.

There have also been 26 deaths.

Of the confirmed cases, 3,081 cases are from Daegu - and 73% of these cases have been linked to the Shincheonji Church.

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Media caption'We're often persecuted': Spokesman for virus-hit S Korean church defends secrecy

Members of the fringe Christian group are believed to have infected one another and then fanned out around the country, apparently undetected.

The group has been accused of keeping its members names secret, making it harder to track the outbreak.

But Kim Shin-chang, from the church, told the BBC they had provided a list of members, students, and buildings to authorities.

"We were worried about releasing this information because of the safety of our members," Mr Kim said, adding that his group were "persecuted" in South Korea.

On Monday, the leader of the Shincheonji Church apologised to the "government and the people" in a news conference.

Lee Man-hee, 88, got down on his knees and said he sought "forgiveness", adding that the outbreak was "not intentional".

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Mr Lee is the founder of the Shincheonji Church

In the capital Seoul, the mayor urged the city's 10 million residents to work from home and to avoid crowded places.

Iran, one of the worst affected countries, said on Sunday that it had 978 infections and 54 deaths.

Countries including Qatar, Ecuador, Luxembourg and Ireland all confirmed their first cases over the weekend, and Indonesia followed on Monday.

The US state of New York has also confirmed its first case. The patient is a woman in her 30s who contracted the virus during a recent trip to Iran.

Two people have died in the US, both in the state of Washington.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

What's the situation in China?

China on Monday reported 42 more deaths, all in Hubei. There were also 202 confirmed new cases - only six of which were outside Hubei.

A total of 2,912 people have died inside China, with more than 80,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

A spokesman from China's National Health Commission said the next stop would be to "focus on the risks brought by the resumption of work".

China's economy has taken a hit - with factory activity falling at a record rate.

On Monday, a man was sentenced to death by a Chinese court for fatally stabbing two officials at a virus checkpoint, news agency AFP reported.

Ma Jianguo, 23, refused to cooperate with officials - though it is not clear what he was told to do - and stabbed two checkpoint officials.

What has the WHO said?

On Sunday, the World Health Organization said the virus appears to particularly affect those over 60, and people already ill.

It urged countries to stock up on ventilators, saying "oxygen therapy is a major treatment intervention for patients with severe Covid-19".

In the first large analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, the death rate was ten times higher in the very elderly compared to the middle-aged.


How have you been affected by the spread of Covid-19? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Or use the form below

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If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

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Coronavirus: Spread of virus in UK 'likely' says Boris Johnson

  • 2 March 2020
Related Topics
Woman wearing a mask on the London Underground Image copyright PA Media

The spread of coronavirus in the UK is "likely", the prime minister has said, but a plan has been agreed to tackle it.

At the moment Boris Johnson said people "should go about business as usual".

He said the UK was "very well prepared" and measures would be guided by scientific advice.

Further details would be announced in the coming days and weeks, as the situation developed, he added.

"We cannot forget that the single most useful thing that we can all do to support the NHS is to wash our hands, two times to Happy Birthday with hot water," Mr Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the EU has raised the coronavirus risk in member states to "moderate to high".

Earlier, Public Health England (PHE) said widespread transmission of coronavirus in the UK was now "highly likely".

Medical Director Prof Paul Cosford said the increase in cases in the UK and abroad meant the UK must be prepared.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

A panel of experts and BBC reporters will be answering your questions about the coronavirus outbreak in a special programme on BBC One at 19:30 GMT on Monday

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Coronavirus: World in 'uncharted territory'

  • 2 March 2020
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A man wears a mask in Guarulhos International Airport, in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, Brazil Image copyright AFP
Image caption WHO insists containment measures can still "push this virus back"

The world is in "uncharted territory" on the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

Doctors had "never before seen a respiratory pathogen capable of community transmission", its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

Deaths globally have now passed 3,000. Most are in China but in the past day there were nine times more new infections outside China than inside.

However, Dr Tedros insisted: "We can still push this virus back".

He said the development of the Covid-19 disease globally was not a "one-way street" and could be combated if countries acted quickly and effectively - starting with containment measures.

"There is no choice but to act now," he said.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

What else did the WHO say?

Dr Tedros's main advice was that each country had to look at their own situation as there was no one-way-fits-all means of tackling the outbreak.

"Each country must have its own approach but it must start with containment," he said.

This was a "unique virus with unique features" and the WHO would have expected wide contagion by now, but containment measures had appeared to work, the doctor said.

Of the 62 countries reporting cases of infection, 38 of them had 10 or fewer, he added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Israel set up a dedicated polling station where people under quarantine could vote in Monday's general election

"Around eight countries have not reported new cases for two weeks and have been able to contain the outbreak," he said. China had also shown containment was possible even in countries with a large number of cases.

The WHO would continue to monitor whether the outbreak should be called a global pandemic, Dr Tedros said.

South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan remain the greatest concern. A WHO staff member has tested positive in Iran, although the symptoms are mild, Dr Tedros said.

What is the situation globally?

There are now almost 90,000 cases worldwide, although the vast majority - more than 90% - remain in China, and most of those are in Hubei province, where the virus originated late last year.

Of the nearly 8,800 cases outside China, 81% are in four countries - Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan.

Iran reported another 12 deaths on Monday, taking the total there to 66. They included Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a high-ranking adviser to the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iranian media reported.

Portugal, Iceland, Jordan, Tunisia, Armenia, Latvia, Senegal and Andorra also reported their first confirmed cases on Monday.

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Media captionEmpty shelves as coronavirus "panic-buying" hits Australia

Two people have died in the US, both in the state of Washington.

President Donald Trump said he had told pharmaceutical companies to accelerate work on a vaccine, while New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, warned it was "inevitable" more people would test positive in the city.

In the UK, where there are 40 confirmed cases, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the virus was "likely to become more significant in the days and weeks ahead", after holding a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee.

In other developments:

What's happening in South Korea?

The nation on Monday reported two more deaths, taking the total to 28.

About 60% of the country's more than 4,000 confirmed cases are members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious sect. Members are believed to have infected one another and then travelled around the country, apparently undetected

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Media caption"We're often persecuted": Spokesman for virus-hit S Korean church defends secrecy

The sect's leader, Lee Man-hee, got on his knees and bowed at a news conference to apologise.

"Although it was not intentional, many people have been infected," said the 88-year-old leader. "We put our utmost efforts, but were unable to prevent it all."

Prosecutors in South Korea have been asked to investigate Mr Lee on possible charges of gross negligence.

What's the situation in China?

China on Monday reported 42 more deaths, all in Hubei. The province has registered more than 90% of the global fatalities.

Only six of the newly reported cases were outside Hubei, suggesting containment was working.

A spokesman from China's National Health Commission said the next stop would be to "focus on the risks brought by the resumption of work".

How deadly is Covid-19?

The WHO says the virus appears to particularly affect those over 60, and people already ill.

In the first large analysis of more than 44,000 cases from China, the death rate was 10 times higher in the very elderly compared to the middle-aged.

But most patients have only mild symptoms and the death rate appears to be between 2% and 5%, the WHO said.

By comparison, seasonal flu has an average mortality rate of about 0.1%, but is highly infectious - with up to 400,000 people dying from it each year.

Other strains of coronavirus, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), have much higher death rates than Covid-19.


How have you been affected by the spread of Covid-19? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Or use the form below

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If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

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  • 3 March 2020
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Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey. Image copyright Getty Images

Twitter has told its employees to work from home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In a blog post, the social media giant said it was mandatory for staff in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea to work remotely.

The company also said it was "strongly encouraging" all of its 5,000 employees around the world to not come into work.

It comes a day after the firm banned all non-essential business travel and events for its workers.

The company had already announced that it was pulling out of this month's South by Southwest media conference in Austin, Texas.

Twitter's head of human resources Jennifer Christie said: "Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus for us - and the world around us."

The post also highlighted that Twitter has been developing ways to work from home for some time: "While this is a big change for us, we have already been moving towards a more distributed workforce that's increasingly remote. We're a global service and we're committed to enabling anyone, anywhere to work at Twitter."

Twitter's chief executive Jack Dorsey has long-supported remote working and in November announced plans to live in Africa for up to six months of this year.

The move is similar to measures put in place by many companies in Asia as the virus sweeps the region, but goes further than most big American businesses as they respond to the outbreak.

Other leading technology companies, including Facebook and Google, have postponed or cancelled conferences in the US. Facebook has also joined Twitter by pulling out of South by Southwest.

At the same time companies, including telecoms operator A&T and banking giant Citigroup, have restricted international travel, especially to Asia.

The announcement comes as deaths due to the coronavirus around the world have passed 3,000 as the outbreak spreads from Asia to the US, Europe and the Middle East.

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Coronavirus: School closures and travel curbs in UK 'battle plan'

  • 3 March 2020
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Media captionBoris Johnson on coronavirus: "We will face a challenge in the weeks, months ahead"

The government is to outline a "battle plan" to contain the spread of coronavirus involving possible school closures, event cancellations and bringing NHS staff out of retirement.

The measures will be part of a bill to ensure the government has powers to prepare for a widespread outbreak.

A possible "social distancing" strategy could see unnecessary travel curbed.

The chancellor says this month's budget will see help for the health services and economy in the face of the threat.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday warned there could be "significant expansion" in UK cases as the number on Monday rose to 39.

Legislation that would allow the government to use extra powers to help control the virus is expected to go through Parliament by the end of the month.

People will be encouraged to work from home as part of an attempt to delay the peak of the outbreak until later in the year when the weather is warmer.

Ministers will re-iterate they have powers available to limit the use of public transport and ban mass gatherings. But they are expected to stress that, given the social and economic impact of such a move, the measures are more likely to be used to curb local outbreaks than imposed nationwide.

Image copyright EPA

Under the plans, to be announced at Downing Street, retired doctors and nurses could be asked to return to the NHS, with emergency indemnity coverage could be provided for healthcare workers to provide care or diagnostic services.

The plans suggests 30 hospitals across the UK could set up designated wards to treat coronavirus patients, with routine treatments cancelled in the worst-case scenario of widespread transmission in the UK.

Rules around staff-to-pupil ratios in education and childcare settings could be relaxed in case of staff sickness caused by the spread of the virus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ordered Treasury officials to work up plans to support the public health response, businesses and the economy in his Budget on 11 March.

He said: "We are well prepared for this global threat and, as the wider economic picture becomes clearer, we stand ready to announce further support where needed."

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

The plan is also expected to include:

  • Government departments designating a minister to oversee the response to the global threat of the virus - such as for schools or businesses
  • Setting up a "war room" in the Cabinet Office - bringing together communications experts and scientists from across government and the NHS to roll out a public information campaign
  • Coronavirus being a standing item on the weekly cabinet agenda

A public information campaign will be launched later this week outlining how the public can help to limit the spread of the virus, including by washing hands regularly with soap and water.

The prime minister, who will launch the plan alongside England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, said the government was making "every possible preparation".

Mr Johnson said: "But we can all continue to do our bit to fight this virus - by washing our hands with soap and water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice."

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Media captionDo face masks work? And other coronavirus questions answered

There were four new UK cases announced on Monday, all of whom had travelled to Italy - which has seen the largest outbreak in Europe.

They are from Hertfordshire, Devon and Kent and tracing their contacts has started, Prof Whitty said.

The latest cases came as the EU raised the coronavirus risk level in member states to "moderate to high".

The government's plan to tackle the virus, agreed by all four parts of the UK, was finalised at an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday.

Speaking to the BBC after the meeting, the prime minister said plans would include a "range of calibrated responses to the spread of coronavirus".

Referring to possible measures to close schools and cancel major public events, Mr Johnson said this would be "when and how and with what logic to deploy them".

As of 09:00 GMT on Monday, the Department of Health said a total of 13,525 people had been tested in the UK, of which 13,485 were negative.

Globally, about 86,000 people have been infected, with cases in more than 50 countries. More than 3,000 people have died - the vast majority in China's Hubei province, where the outbreak originated in December.


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Coronavirus: China orders travellers quarantined amid outbreak

  • 3 March 2020
Related Topics
A Chinese office worker wears a protective mask as she waits to take a public bus after leaving work on 2 March 2020 in Beijing, China Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Authorities are also asking overseas Chinese to reconsider travel plans

Travellers from countries with severe coronavirus outbreaks who arrive in southern China will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine, state media say.

Shanghai will also ask new arrivals from countries with "relatively serious virus conditions" to be isolated.

Beijing is worried the virus might be imported back into the country. Numbers of newly infected in China are falling.

Although most virus deaths have been in China, Monday saw nine times more new infections outside China than in.

Authorities are also asking overseas Chinese to reconsider travel plans.

"For the sake of your family's health and safety, please strengthen your precautions, carefully decide on your travel plans and minimise mobility," officials in one southern Chinese province said.

One of the countries worst affected outside China - Italy - on Monday saw a jump in its death toll from 34 to 52.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

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