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Coronavirus spreads from Italy to Switzerland and Spain

Posted February. 27, 2020 07:40,   

Updated February. 27, 2020 07:40


As the number of confirmed cases soars in Italy, COVID-19 is quickly spreading to its neighboring countries.

Confirmed cases in Italy stood at 322 up by 93 from the previous day with 11 fatalities as of Tuesday, Ansa news agency reported. Patients were concentrated in northern Italy, but now it appears that the virus has spread to the middle and southern parts of the country.

With Switzerland, Austria and Croatia confirm‎ing their first cases on Tuesday, the disease has also spread across its neighboring countries. In the Swiss state of Canton Ticino bordering Italy, a 70-year-old man was quarantined after being diagnosed. Also in Austria, two cases are a man and a woman in their 20s who tested positive in the southern part of the country bordering Italy. Croatia, which has the Adriatic Sea between the country and Italy, confirmed that a man in his 20s contracted the virus.

Spain also announced a confirmed case in Barcelona on Tuesday, the first case in mainland Spain. In France where all patients were discharged after recovering from the contagious virus, two new cases have been confirmed. The Associated Press said Baden-Württemberg, a German state near Italy, announced two more confirmed cases, adding that all newly diagnosed patients have recently been to Italy.

The problem is that things could easily spiral out of control. Under the Schengen Agreement that allows free movement of people and goods among EU member states, citizens of 26 European nations except for Ireland can freely travel across Europe without border checks, which inevitably increases the vulnerability of the continent.

Italy and its five neighboring countries including Austria, France, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany and Croatia held a ministerial meeting in Rome on Tuesday. The six countries agreed to closely work together to contain the outbreak by building an information sharing system while keeping the borders open.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com