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Countries around the world have been beefing up measures to contain the COVID-19 spread, as more than 200,000 cases have been reported globally, with the tally of deaths exceeding 8,000.

Eighty percent of all the cases worldwide were reported in two regions, the Western Pacific region and the European region, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

The number of cases outside China has risen to 112,878 as of Wednesday morning, according to the situation dashboard by WHO.

In Italy, the hardest-hit European country, the count of cases has reached 35,713 with 2,978 deaths, according to the latest data released by the Civil Protection Department.
Officials in the hard-hit region of Lombardy appealed to recently retired health workers to return to work to relieve over-worked colleagues.

In Spain, the number of cases has risen to 13,716 with 558 deaths as of Wednesday, according to the Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Services. Spanish King Felipe VI sent an Institutional Message to his people on Wednesday, calling for unity in fighting the epidemic.

In France, which has entered a two-week lockdown since Tuesday, 9,134 cases and 264 deaths have been reported as of Wednesday, according to authorities.

“That same spirit of solidarity must be at the center of our efforts to defeat COVID-19,” said Tedros.

Tedros reiterated countries must isolate, test, treat every case and trace every contact to suppress and control the epidemic, warning that if those measures were not taken, the transmission could continue at a low level before resurging once physical distancing measures are lifted.

In Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, the death toll from COVID-19 on Wednesday soared to 1,135, with the total number of cases surging to 17,361, said Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

The ministry urged Iranians to avoid unnecessary travels during the upcoming holiday of Nowruz, the Persian new year, which will start on Friday.

South Korea reported 93 more cases of COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of midnight Wednesday local time, raising its total to 8,413. The country has raised its four-tier virus alert to the highest “red” level.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States reached 9,077 by 22:00 local time (0200 GMT) Wednesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. A total of 145 deaths have been reported across the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that the country will temporarily close its border with Canada to “non-essential traffic,” days after the announcement of a travel ban that Washington imposed on some European nations.

Source: Xinhua – BEIJING

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