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28 Feb 2020 | 12:34 PM UTC

Belarus: Officials confirm first case of COVID-19 February 28

Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare confirms first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Belarus February 28; further international spread of the virus expected

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Event

On Friday, February 28, the Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Belarus. The patient is reportedly an Iranian student and is currently being treated in Minsk.

On Thursday, February 20, the Ministry of Healthcare announced that it would be performing health checks on travelers arriving from South Korea, Iran, and Italy, in addition to those arriving from China (for whom this measure was already in place).

Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.