Authorities are struggling to contain and understand the outbreak in those countries, where infected cases have skyrocketed — increasing over 2,000 percent in the past couple weeks.
Italy is considered Europe’s first major outbreak and the largest outside of Asia. The number of infected cases jumped to 152, compared to just three 10 days ago.
The country is currently scrambling to disrupt the spread of the virus which has seen 110 cases in Milan, its financial district and Venice, known as a famous hub for tourists throughout the world. Events and soccer matches were canceled in the country, while some of its movie theatres were reportedly shuttered, including Milan’s legendary La Scala.
Cases in South Korea increased to 763 on Monday, with 161 more people infected within the last 24 hours. The country had just 28 infected cases on Feb. 14.
President Moon Jae-in called for “unprecedented, powerful” steps on Sunday to fight the virus which is spreading rapidly throughout the country — including the capital Seoul.
“The coming few days will be a critical time for us,” Jae-in said. “The central government, local governments, health officials and medical personnel and the entire people must wage an all-out, concerted response to the problem.”
He raised the threat level to “red alert,” its highest national threat level for the first time in a decade.
More than 140 of South Korea’s new cases were from Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people. Five of the countries seven deaths occurred at a hospital near the city.
The country has the third-highest infected total behind China and Japan — where most of the countries infected were from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
“In Daegu [South Korea], the number of new cases that are being confirmed by tests is quite large, and if we fail to effectively stem community transmissions in this area, there would be a large possibility (that the illness) spreads nationwide,” South Korean Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip said in a briefing.
Gang-lip said health officials will test all of Daegu’s residents that have cold-like symptoms, which could be 28,000 people. Investigators were looking into the Shincheonji Church of Jesus — where 129 of the new 161 cases were connected to. A woman in her 60s reported attended a couple of church services before testing positive.
Iran reported its first person infected with the coronavirus on Wednesday and now its health ministry has confirmed there are 43 cases. Countries have closed their borders with Iran, taking similar steps most of the world took with China roughly a month ago.
Two cases in Israel were also reported from passengers who returned to the country from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
China reported 409 new cases of the virus on Monday, increasing its total number of infected to 77,150. 150 new deaths were also recorded in the mainland, with the country’s total now at 2,592.
The Associated Press contributed to this report