South Korea put on red alert; Italy, Iran battle coronavirus outbreak

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South Korea reported a large jump in new coronavirus cases on Monday, a day after President Moon Jae called for “unprecedented, powerful” steps to combat the outbreak. The country has declared a red alert throughout the nation as 161 new cases bring South Korea’s total to 763 cases, and two more deaths raise its toll to seven. 

An outbreak cluster in the southern city of Daegu has led South Korea to have the most infections outside of China. This is barring the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan, which has reported more than 600 cases.

The world is closely watching South Korea, as concerns rise that it has become another hot spot of infection, just like China. After the South Korean outbreaks, Iran and Italy have professed fear that the virus could turn into a global epidemic, as countries impose stricter travel restrictions and containment measures.

The death toll hit six in Iran, and a number of cases have been reported across the Middle East, including the first infections in Israel and Lebanon. On Friday, a 78-year old Italian man died after being tested positive for the virus and a second death was reported on Saturday.

In 11 North Italian towns, 50,000 people have been in lockdown since Friday night, with police patrolling the streets and fines being imposed on anyone caught entering or leaving the areas under lockdown. In Iran, school, universities and other educational centres in 14 provinces have been shut down as “a preventative measure”.

On Sunday, Turkey and Pakistan announced that the countries were temporarily shutting down their borders with Iran as a response to curb the spreading of coronavirus.

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