Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus in the Region

Are we really on the brink of a pandemic?

It’s official. Coronavirus has spread across the region. From the UAE to Algeria, the virus has been diagnosed across the Arab world. 

According to the World Health Organisation, at least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness across the globe, and 2,600 have been killed. As for the region, nine countries have reported cases of infections. 

The UAE reported 13 cases. Iraq has confirmed six cases of the virus. Iran confirmed 139 cases, with Iranian authorities having placed a number of domestic travel restrictions. 

Lebanon has confirmed a second case of the virus, with both patients having returned to Lebanon from Iran on the same flight. Egypt confirmed its first case last week and Kuwait now has 25 confirmed cases, while Bahrain now counts 26. Algeria has one confirmed case (an Italian national who arrived on February 17 from Italy) and Oman has three confirmed cases to date.

The virus still has no vaccine and although it has proven to be mild for most infected people, it can be fatal for the elderly and those who have pre-existing health conditions. 

As the virus continues its rapid spread across the globe, its effects are being felt across all industries. Last week, Italian designer Giorgio Armani cancelled his runway show in Milan. Seoul Fashion Week, which was due to take place from March 17 to 21 was also cancelled due to the threat of the virus. Seoul currently counts 1,000 confirmed cases so far, the highest number outside of Mainland China. 

Its effects are also being felt by Asians across the globe. “In the last few weeks, I have seen some inappropriate and racial reactions towards Chinese people and Asian individuals in general, on both the news and social media. A rhetoric like that can be hurtful and harmful” said Japanese actress and model Tao Okamoto, in a statement regarding the matter. 

When asked if she’s recently dealt with racism in Tunisia, Chinese-American photographer Katherine Li Johnson says: “There are a lot of teenagers heckling in the street. It’s not every day but it happens often enough to notice. It’s people saying “Corona” as I walk by or calling it loudly from across the street”.  

“I’m also extremely sceptical of how much we are willing to push back against racism once it affects us in the first world but incredibly happy to turn a blind eye to how our consumption choices are hurting millions of Asian people every single day, in ways that are far more corrosive and harmful than comments about coronavirus,” she adds.

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