Coronavirus Update

Feb 29, 2020

As of 28 February 2020, approximately 83,700 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported in at least 50 countries and territories, with at least 2,850 deaths. Overnight, several more countries reported new cases of the virus. Nigeria — which recorded its first confirmed case — marked the first known instance of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa; the patient is an Italian national who recently traveled through Milan. In addition, Belarus, Lithuania, the Netherlands and New Zealand also reported their first cases of the virus.

The pace of new infections outside of China continues to climb. Health officials in South Korea reported a one-day increase of approximately 570 confirmed cases of the virus, which marks the largest number of new cases to be reported worldwide for the second day in a row. South Korea has more than 2,335 confirmed cases. In Japan, officials reported an additional 12 cases from the previous day, along with one death, bringing the total to more than 225 cases, with five deaths nationwide — excluding those aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. In addition, the governor of Hokkaido declared a state of emergency through 19 March and advised residents to remain indoors through the weekend as a precaution.

More governments have implemented measures to curb the spread of the virus. On 28 February, the Swiss government announced the suspension of public events involving more than 1,000 people through mid-March. German authorities in Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia state implemented a mandatory quarantine of at least 1,000 individuals with possible exposure to two infected people who had attended carnival festivities earlier in the month. Additionally, schools in the district have closed through 2 March as a precaution. Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would evacuate its citizens from Iran and will place evacuees in mandatory quarantine upon repatriation.

More countries are implementing travel restrictions and medical screenings at airports. Lebanon — which has three reported cases of the virus — announced the suspension of all inbound travel for non-residents from countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Russia implemented travel restrictions that prevent Iranian and South Korean nationals, as well as anyone with recent travel through either country, from entering Russia. India has temporarily suspended visa services for Japanese and South Korean nationals — more than 25 countries have implemented travel restrictions or mandatory quarantine procedures for South Korean nationals. Earlier on 27 February, New Zealand implemented travel restrictions for Iran that prohibit entry to travelers who have visited Iran in the past 14 days.

The imposition of travel restrictions around the world has severely affected the air travel industry. Philippine Airlines announced it will terminate approximately 300 employees as part of a restructuring plan due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Meanwhile, International Airlines Group, S.A. — the parent company of British Airways and Iberia — announced that it will not report financial results for fiscal year 2020 due to the outbreak.

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