The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Coronavirus a global health emergency as the death toll in China reached 213 on Friday, with overall cases worldwide rising rapidly in an outbreak.
The death toll in Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the epidemic had risen to 204 and there were 9,692 cases of infection nationally as of Thursday, Chinese health authorities said. About 100 cases have been reported in at least 18 other countries but no death case reported outside China.
Even as the WHO said cases had spread to 18 countries, Italy announced its first confirmed cases, in two Chinese tourists.
Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte said that the government had decided to close all air traffic between Italy and China, a more drastic measure that most countries have undertaken.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the organization doesn’t recommend and actually opposes restrictions on travel or trade with China.
Foreign governments have been flying the citizens’ home from Hubei and holding them in quarantine, while airlines including Air France, American Airlines and British Airways have stopped flying to mainland China.
Moreover, Airlines are facing mounting pressure by cabin crew to stop all flights due to unease about exposure to the virus.
Stocks around the world have tumbled on fears of the economic fallout from the outbreak in the world’s second-biggest economy.