(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –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.
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 worries about releasing this information because of the safety of our members,” Mr Kim said, adding that his group were “persecuted” in South Korea.
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’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.
US space agency Nasa found a dramatic decline in pollution levels this year, which is “at least partly” due to the economic slowdown prompted by the virus.
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.