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COVID-19: Virus spreads to Austria, Spain and Croatia — but Europe keeps borders open -MW

Closing borders would be "disproportionate and ineffective" against COVID-19, European ministers agreed - despite several countries announcing their first cases of coronavirus.

A coordinated response to travelers returning from high-risk areas was agreed on Tuesday by health ministers from countries like France, Germany and Italy.

They also agreed that it was not necessary to cancel major public events, but "to assess on a case-by-case basis the appropriate measures to be taken" to reduce the spread of the disease.

It came after the confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19 in mainland Spain as well as in Switzerland, Austria and Croatia.

Clusters of the disease have continued to soar outside of mainland China, fueling global concerns that have been registered over weak financial markets.

In other latest coronavirus updates:

  • On the Spanish island of Tenerife, 1,000 tourists were prevented from leaving the hotel where an Italian had symptoms.
  • In Cheshire, England, a school closes after students return after a ski trip in northern Italy.
  • Austria said the first two confirmed cases had been isolated in a hospital in the city of Innsbruck and a hotel near the isolated city.
  • The case of Croatia is a man who went to Turin.
  • In Switzerland, the authorities confirmed a case in the state of Ticino, near the border with Italy.
  • The number of Iranian official deaths has risen to 15, with 95 confirmed infections - including the head of the country's coronavirus task force.

Italy is trying to cope with the largest group of infections of any country outside of Asia, with 322 cases including 11 deaths.

It came after the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday called on countries to act "to prevent a possible pandemic".

The EU has pledged € 230 million to fight the epidemic in Italy and elsewhere, but said it would not impose restrictions on tourism or trade.

WHO said hidden ice cap for mild cases is unlikely to occur
Bruce Aylward, who had headed the WHO mission to China and had just returned from Wuhan, said that a large number of people with COVID-19 with mild symptoms could spread the virus without knowing they had been infected.

"There is no major transmission beyond what you can see clinically," he told reporters in Geneva. "Not all of the data we offer has this giant iceberg."

Asked about online theories that the real death toll in China is several million, he said, "I have not been everywhere in China, but we understand the epidemic very well. [number] reflects that. "

He also urged developed countries to prepare as if the virus was already in the country. "It will appear," he said, adding that the most difficult task for governments was to persuade citizens to accept quarantine and isolation.

Italy struggled with the spread of COVID-19
Italy has locked at least ten cities in the north of the French state and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo'Euganeo.

Police operate checkpoints around quarantined cities, and police also intervene to adjust customer queues at some supermarkets, while people stock up on food after a foreclosure order. .

Sicily reported on Tuesday a new case of coronavirus - a woman on vacation in the north. She and her husband are isolated.

Italy's Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli urged Italians to abide by the containment measures for the two week quarantine period.
"If in a certain area at first there was a recommendation and then an obligation to stay put, we are respecting that and it will be good for us and good for others," said Borrelli.
Many of the new cases represented the first infections in Italy acquired through secondary contagion.

Some of the cases came at the same hospital in Codogno, one of the Lombardy towns now on lockdown.

The mayor of Codogno issued a decree ordering the closure of all restaurants, coffee bars, schools and public gathering spots such as discos and gyms. The health ministry advised area residents to stay home as a precaution.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called for a meeting Tuesday of all Italian government ministers and regional governors to come up with a coordinated plan for coping with the spread of the new coronavirus across the country.

He acknowledged that regions have been handling the emergency situation with different measures creating "confusion" and noted that on Tuesday they hope to come up with a coordinated protocol for the country.

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