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    Coronavirus: WHO reports two new cases

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    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has registered two cases of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) among its staff, a WHO spokesman said on Tuesday

    The two employees showed symptoms, which were confirmed on Thursday and Friday last. Both went home and “have self-isolated,” spokesman Christian Lindmeier said at a press briefing in Geneva. “Colleagues in the office have been checked and we’re waiting for further information on those,” he added.

    WHO, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday instructed its “non-essential” staff to work from home. The Organisation has been the focus of global attention since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in China in December.

    The virus has since caused the death of about 7,063 people worldwide, according to figures compiled by the French news agency, AFP, from official sources. Over 180,090 people have been infected in 145 countries and territories. However, this tally does not reflect the real extent of the pandemic, since many countries have not implemented a policy of testing all suspected cases, as the WHO has repeatedly urged.

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    Fourteen people have died thus far in Switzerland, where the number of infections doubled between Saturday and Sunday, topping the 2,200 mark. However, Switzerland is, thus far, testing only severe cases.

    On Tuesday, the Swiss Government, which described the pandemic as an “extraordinary situation,” took control of operations. This enables it to impose measures on the cantons, which had hitherto taken very diverse ones.

    All public and private demonstrations are banned, except for funerals, and the Government has deployed 8,000 members of the military to back up the medical, logistical and security response to the virus.

    Switzerland has also reinstituted controls on its borders with neighbouring countries except for Liechtenstein, which is part of the Swiss customs territory. It has closed down 130 small border outposts to channel traffic to the major crossings.

    International goods transit is still authorised but passenger railway traffic has been reduced.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times