Jordan announces first coronavirus case in man who returned from Italy

Health minister says patient quarantined after testing positive, adds schools will be shut nationwide if cases reach 20

Illustrative: Passengers and airport staff wear masks at Rome's international airport, in Fiumicino, January 31, 2020. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)
Illustrative: Passengers and airport staff wear masks at Rome's international airport, in Fiumicino, January 31, 2020. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)

Jordan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Monday, as the new coronavirus kept spreading throughout the Middle East and Europe, state media reported.

Jordanian Health Minister Saad Jaber said in a press conference that a person who recently traveled to Italy tested positive Sunday night for the coronavirus and was placed in quarantine in a local hospital, according to news outlets, including Petra, Jordan’s state-run news site.

The man came back from Italy two weeks ago and entered quarantine last week. After feeling ill, he and his colleague came forward to be tested for the virus. While one person tested negative, the other was confirmed to be the first coronavirus patient in the country.

The minister added that a team was sent to the man’s home to sterilize it, and that his family will have to be quarantined for 14 days.

Jaber said that if the number of cases in Jordan reaches 20, schools will be closed nationwide and mass gatherings will be banned.

The virus has now infected more than 89,000 people worldwide, spread to over 60 countries and threatens to cause a global economic slowdown — after first emerging in China late last year.

Europe raised its state of alert on Monday as the death toll from the new coronavirus epidemic surpassed 3,000 and more people died in China, Iran and the US.

In Brussels, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) had increased its risk assessment for Europeans after Italy’s outbreak doubled in 48 hours.

Health officials monitoring the virus at the ECDC announced that it had increased its risk assessment to “moderate to high.”

Tourists, some wearing a mask, queue to enter the Louvre museum, in Paris, February 28, 2020. (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP)

The Louvre — the world’s most visited museum — closed on Sunday and Monday after staff refused to work because of fears about the virus.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said: “As of this morning, we have 2,100 confirmed cases in 18 EU member states and we have 38 citizens who have lost their lives.”

Iran reported 12 more deaths on Monday, raising the country’s toll to 66, the second biggest after China.

The Islamic Republic also reported more than 500 new cases, raising its total number of infections to 1,501.

In Italy, Europe’s hardest-hit country, infections nearly doubled to around 1,700 cases over the weekend.

AFP contributed to this report.

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