In December 2019, a cluster of cases of what was then identified as pneumonia were reported to health authorities in Wuhan, China. Investigators have discovered that these cases were caused by a novel coronavirus similar to that previously identified in horseshoe bats. Over the last two months the virus, which is coming to be known as Covid-19, has been spreading rapidly. It has had a great impact in China itself, but has also followed the old “Silk Road” to Europe.
Covid-19 has had a particularly heavy footprint already in Iran and Italy. By mid January there were already hundreds of sick patients in the hospital in Gorgan, an Iranian city north and east of the capital of Tehran.
On January 31, the government of Italy halted all flights from that country to China, or back, and declares a state of emergency.Two main clusters were identified in Italy early this month, one in Lombardy and one in Veneto.
Meanwhile, back in China, the city of Wuhan is under lockdown.
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Some critics claim that the government is China has been deliberately close-mouthed about the threat this virus poses. Other countries have been left unclear on how they might be deal with the threat it loses, given China’s official habits of top-down control and secrecy.