1000 locked down as virus hits resort
Hundreds of people have been forced to stay in their rooms in a luxury resort in the Spanish Canary Islands, after an Italian doctor on holiday tested positive for coronavirus.
The H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife was placed in lockdown after the doctor - from Italy's northern region that has 283 cases - was taken to a local clinic and kept in isolation.
More than 1000 people saying there have been told they are not allowed to leave.
"Hundreds of hotel clients are being monitored for health reasons and the degree of supervision will be assessed during the day, but so far, we're not talking about quarantine," health authority spokeswoman Veronica Martin told AFP.
A British guest told the news agency guests had been told to stay inside, while another posted a picture of a locked door on Instagram.
"We regret to inform you that for health reasons, the hotel has been closed down. You must remain in your rooms until the health authorities say so."
The Canary Islands are located around 100km off the coast of west Africa and are a popular holiday spot for Europeans, particularly in the winter months.
The Italian doctor had reportedly been there for seven days with his wife.
Canary Islands president Angel Victor Torres confirmed on Monday evening local time: "This afternoon the coronavirus protocol has been activated for an Italian tourist in the south of Tenerife.
"The result from the first test carried out in the Canaries is positive.
"Tomorrow new tests will take place in Madrid. The patient has been quarantined."
The disease is Spain's third case of the coronavirus.
SPREADING WITHOUT SYMPTOMS
It comes as scientists fear the coronavirus is spreading without symptoms becoming apparent as a surge in cases occurs across Europe.
In Italy, virus cases have spread south from the Lombardy region to Sicily in the South. Nearly 300 people have been confirmed to have the disease, with Tuscany and Sicily also reporting cases in addition to the northern region where 11 towns are in lockdown.
University of Reading's Simon Clarke told The Times the rise in cases across Europe and Asia suggests that the "virus can pass from person to person without symptoms making it extremely difficult to track."
David Heymann, a professor of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said how the disease transmits is still not fully understood.
"Terms such as pandemic are distracting; what is necessary is to understand the current situation in each country," he said.
South Korea and Iran are also dealing with a rapid escalation in virus numbers amid fears the virus is beyond containment. On Tuesday Iran's Health Ministry spokesman says the head of country's counter-coronavirus task force tested positive for the virus.
Scientists estimate around 40-70 per cent of the world's population could eventually contract the disease.
Countries have reacted swiftly to the virus outbreak, with Italy among the latest to adopt measures to restrict travel including suspending flights and quarantining towns.
"It's a matter of speed and time: We must create a clear turning point within this week," said President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, where the caseload grew by 144, with a total of 977 people sickened.
- With wires