The world is awakening to the grave risk posed by coronavirus growing from an epidemic to a pandemic. NY Mag reports:
On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization offered a stark warning about the chances of containing the global spread of the novel coronavirus amid ominous new outbreaks of the disease outside of China. “The window of opportunity is still there, but our window of opportunity is narrowing,” explained WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. By Sunday, it seemed clear that window may have already closed.
Authorities are now struggling to contain — and understand — escalating outbreaks in three countries, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, while additional countries, like Lebanon and Israel, have recently reported their first cases as well. Below is a look at the scope and scale of these new outbreaks, and what the spike in global cases could mean for the rest of the world.
Red alert in South Korea
In South Korea, 602 cases of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus have been confirmed, resulting in six deaths — the largest known outbreak outside of China. On Sunday, President Moon Jae-in instituted the highest possible alert level over the virus, giving the government new power to contain the outbreak, including locking down cities if necessary.
Iran’s outbreak may be even worse
Since last Tuesday, Iran’s government has reported 43 confirmed cases and 8 deaths caused by the illness — the highest death toll outside of China. But there is much reason to believe the real size of the outbreak is much larger and that Iran’s regime has not only mismanaged its response, but hid the escalating crisis from both Iranians and the world.
On Sunday, Turkey and Pakistan closed their borders with Iran, and Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Iraq have restricted, or outright banned, travel from Iran. It’s not clear how wide Covid-19 had been transmitted in Iran, or for how long, before these measures were taken. In addition, the size of Pakistan’s border with Iran will make it difficult to monitor.