The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Switzerland has risen to four, the country’s health authority said on Feb. 27.
In the western canton of Geneva one person was tested positive for the virus, while it was also confirmed in a couple in the southeastern Alpine canton of Grisons, it added.
“All three patients are isolated in the hospital. Their condition is good,” the Federal Office of Public Health said.
Denmark and Estonia on Thursday confirmed they had each detected their first known cases of COVID-19.
The Danish Health Authority said that its first patient was a male who had recently returned from a ski holiday in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, Reuters reported. He tested positive on Wednesday night and is in self-isolation at home.
In Estonia, Tanel Kiik, the Minister of Social Affairs, told Eesti Television that their first patient is an Iranian citizen who arrived in the country on Wednesday. They are now being quarantined.
At least five European countries confirmed their first known cases on Wednesday: Georgia, Greece, Romania, North Macedonia, and Norway.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that the government would ask all elementary, junior high, and high schools to close from March 2 until spring break, typically around the end of March.
He was speaking at a meeting of the government’s task force to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia on Thursday halted travel to the holiest sites in Islam just months ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage, a move coming as the Mideast has over 220 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The extraordinary decision by Saudi Arabia stops foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims pray toward five times a day. It also said travel was suspended to Prophet Muhammad’s mosque in Medina.
The decision showed the worry about the outbreak potentially spreading into Saudi Arabia. The epicenter in the Mideast’s most-affected country, Iran, appears to be in the holy Shiite city of Qom, where a shrine there sees the faithful reach out to kiss and touch it in reverence.
The hardest-hit nation in the Mideast is Iran, where Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 19 people have died among 139 confirmed cases.
Experts are concerned Iran may be underreporting cases and deaths, given the illness’s rapid spread from Iran across the Persian Gulf. For example, Iran still has not confirmed any cases in Mashhad, even though a number of cases reported in Kuwait are linked to the Iranian city.
In Bahrain, which confirmed 33 cases as of Thursday morning, authorities halted all flights to Iraq and Lebanon. It separately extended a 48-hour ban over flights from Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, through which infected travelers reached the island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there were no immediate plans to quarantine cities but acknowledged it may take “one, two, or three weeks” to get control of the virus in Iran.
As Iran’s 80 million people find themselves increasingly isolated in the region by the outbreak, the country’s sanctions-battered economy saw its currency slump to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in a year on Wednesday.
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.