The first case of the coronavirus has been confirmed in South America as the outbreak continues to spread around the world.
Health authorities in Brazil announced on Wednesday that a man had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Sao Paulo, meaning that the deadly infection has now reached every continent besides Antarctica.
No further details about the patient have been released, but Brazilian nationals were flown back from Wuhan – the epicentre of the virus in China – on a repatriation flight earlier this month.
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The news came as the coronavirus crisis deepened in Europe, with Italy confirming its twelfth death since a dramatic surge in the number of diagnoses there began last week.
Greece has also reported its first case and France the first death of one of its own nationals, with a 60-year-old man confirmed to have died in Paris overnight.
He was the second coronavirus fatality in the country, after a Chinese national from Hubei province died last month.
The Greece case was a woman who had recently travelled to northern Italy.
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In other developments:
- British tourists are in lockdown at a Tenerife hotel after confirmed cases among guests
- Some UK hospitals and GP surgeries will now test flu patients for the coronavirus
- Some schools have closed after students returned from Italy ski trips with “flu-like symptoms”
- The government has banned the export of an HIV drug and anti-malaria infection treatment so that they can be tested as potential treatments for COVID-19
- Middle East countries have closed borders with Iran after it confirmed more than 100 cases
- South Korea has reported 1,261 cases including a US soldier
According to experts at Johns Hopkins, who are tracking the outbreak from the US, there are now 81,191 cases worldwide and 2,768 deaths.
The figures were updated at 12.33pm UK time on Wednesday.
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The spike in cases in Europe has prompted EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides to urge all member states to inform the bloc about its preparedness plans for the virus.
She said a consistent approach to tackling the outbreak would be important to containing its spread on the continent, however she warned against panic.
But World Health Organisation director Tedros Adhanom has admitted that the “sudden increase in cases” in two northern regions in Italy was “deeply concerning”, as were the surges in Iran and South Korea.
In Italy at least 322 people have been infected – and the UK Foreign Office has begun advising against all but essential travel to the affected Lombardy and Veneto regions.
South Korea reported 115 new cases on Wednesday, taking its total to 1,261.
Iran has now confirmed 139 cases and 19 deaths.
Japan also confirmed its third coronavirus death on Wednesday – a man in his 80s in Tokyo.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for sports and cultural events to be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks in the battle to stem the virus, amid mounting concerns the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled.
Japan has 178 cases of the infection, separate from the 691 reported on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Dozens of Britons who spent two weeks isolated on board were brought back to the UK over the weekend, and will spend another two weeks in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral.
Four passengers among the 30 Britons and two Irish citizens who flew back later tested positive.
There have not yet been any new cases confirmed in the UK this week, but a number of schools up and down the country have closed or sent pupils home after they returned from ski trips in Italy.
Some businesses are also taking precautionary measures, with Chevron closing its Canary Wharf office in London to reduce employees’ risk of exposure.
Companies worldwide are warning of financial hits because of the outbreak, as global stock market values continue to decline sharply as investors digest its implications.