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Tue Feb 25, 2020, 01:47 AM

'Recipe for a Massive Viral Outbreak': Iran Emerges as a Worldwide Threat (NYT)

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/24/world/middleeast/coronavirus-iran.html

‘Recipe for a Massive Viral Outbreak’: Iran Emerges as a Worldwide Threat
Long a regional crossroads, Iran is spreading the new coronavirus to a host of neighboring countries. Many are ill-equipped to cope.
By David D. Kirkpatrick, Farnaz Fassihi and Mujib Mashal
Feb. 24, 2020


Iranians outside a Tehran hospital. Experts warn that the coronavirus may be spreading from Iran throughout the Middle East. Wana News Agency, via Reuters

Religious pilgrims, migrant workers, businessmen, soldiers and clerics all flow constantly across Iran’s frontiers, often crossing into countries with few border controls, weak and ineffective governments and fragile health systems.

Now, as it struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Iran is also emerging as the second focal point after China for the spread of the disease. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates — even one in Canada — have all been traced to Iran, sending tremors of fear rippling out from Kabul to Beirut.

The Middle East is in many ways the perfect place to spawn a pandemic, experts say, with the constant circulation of both Muslim pilgrims and itinerant workers who might carry the virus. Iran’s economy has been strangled by sanctions, its people have lost trust in their government and its leaders are isolated from much of the world, providing little clarity about the extent of the epidemic.

Civil wars or years of unrest have shattered the health systems of several neighboring countries, like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. And most of the region is governed largely by authoritarians with poor track records at providing public transparency, accountability and health services.

“It is a recipe for a massive viral outbreak,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the former founding executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on H.I.V./AIDS.

Millions of Muslim pilgrims travel each year from around the region to visit Shiite holy sites in Iran and Iraq. In January alone, 30,000 people returned to Afghanistan from Iran, and hundreds of others continue to make the pilgrimage to Qom, the site of the outbreak, every week, Afghan officials say.

Iraq closed its border with Iran on Saturday, but millions cross it every year. So scores of infected people could potentially have brought the virus to Iraq, depending on how long it has been present in Iran. And as of midday on Monday in Najaf, flights to and from Iran were still taking off and landing.

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Reply 'Recipe for a Massive Viral Outbreak': Iran Emerges as a Worldwide Threat (NYT) (Original post)
dalton99a Feb 2020 OP
lapfog_1 Feb 2020 #1
dalton99a Feb 2020 #2
JCMach1 Feb 2020 #4
herding cats Feb 2020 #3
Coventina Feb 2020 #5
herding cats Feb 2020 #6
herding cats Feb 2020 #7

Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 02:16 AM

1. I understand that North Korea is also hugely infected

but is keeping the entire thing under wraps.

At least we don't need to worry too much about travelers to/from North Korea.

What has surprised me a little is South America and Africa. Almost no cases reported there (except in Egypt).

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 02:41 AM

2. No one really knows why. Perhaps it's a detection issue:

International attention—and panic—are focused on the coronavirus. In Africa, observers are acutely aware of how ill-prepared most countries are for responding to a major pandemic. With more than a billion people undergoing rapid urbanization, stuck with weak healthcare systems, and with growing economic ties to China (it is estimated that there are more than a million Chinese immigrants on the continent) Africa would appear to be highly vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus. Ethiopian Airlines continues its China service, and some 1,500 passengers arrive in Addis from China every day, many of whom transit to other African destinations. Yet, as of February 12, there have been no reported cased of the disease in Africa. Nor have there been any cases in South America.

It may be that the virus is present but thus far has been undetected. Africa’s weak medical infrastructure makes detection of mild forms of the disease especially difficult. There may be other factors at play specific to the virus. For example, there has been media speculation that the continent’s hot and humid climate is inhospitable to the disease. On the other hand, there are many parts of Africa where the climate is temperate, and two major international airports—Johannesburg and Addis—which both serve cities of about 8 million each, including a significant slum population, enjoy cool, dry climates. Still, neither city has reported any cases of corona virus.

https://www.cfr.org/blog/potential-coronavirus-africa

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 03:38 AM

4. Many African countries are better equipped to deal with this

Then we are... The constant threat of Ebola and other tropical diseases require rapid response... One of the top priorities

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 02:42 AM

3. What do you mean by South Korea "keeping the entire thing under wraps?"

They've been transparent to date with their infections and deaths, so I'm assuming that's not what you meant.

Africa just got test kits very recently. As in, the past week or so. Let's all hope it doesn't spread there.

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Response to herding cats (Reply #3)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 03:49 AM

5. North Korea, not South.

Unless the poster you're referring to has edited their post after you pointed it out?

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Response to Coventina (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 04:05 AM

6. My mistake!

My apologies!

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 25, 2020, 04:07 AM

7. My apologies!

I misread your post! I thought it read "South" not "North" Korea.

I'm deeply sorry. Please, forgive me.

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