Coronavirus fears rise as number of confirmed cases in Europe grows

GROWING fears about contracting the coronavirus have prompted a run on medical face masks at Spanish pharmacies.

As reports of a dozen towns in northern Italy being put on lockdown hit the headlines and a third case of coronavirus was confirmed in Spain this week – an Italian from Lombardy holidaying in Tenerife – concerns about the possibility of the virus spreading in this country mean that pharmacies are running out of stock.

The Euro Weekly News spoke to pharmacies up and down the costas, who confirmed they have completely sold out of medical face masks.

Their suggestion, they told EWN, was for members of the public concerned about protecting themselves against the possibility of infection from the coronavirus to put their names down on a waiting list. Another alternative is to try and find a medical face mask supplier online.

On Monday the World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said the virus has “pandemic potential”, but added, “Are we there yet? From our assessment, not yet.”

“The key message that should give all countries hope, courage and confidence is that this virus can be contained, indeed there are many countries that have done exactly that,” the WHO chief commented.

Meanwhile, by Tuesday morning seven people in Italy had died from the disease and there were reports of at least 229 cases. The spike in infections prompted authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, universities, businesses and restaurants, and to cancel public gatherings like sporting events.

Here in Spain, the Government is holding an inter-ministerial commission meeting today Tuesday to discuss the coronavirus and any measures which need to be adopted.

“We want to be prepared for any eventuality”, commented Health Minister Salvador Illa.

A day earlier the European Union said it was not considering closing internal borders.

“Travel or trade restrictions are not recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) at the moment,” said EU crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

Symptoms and advice

The main symptoms of the coronavirus are a high temperature, a cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

The WHO advice on basic protective measures is to wash hands frequently with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub, to try and avoid contact with people who are ill, and to avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Sneezes and coughs should be caught in a tissue and disposed of.

Past virus scares

The coronavirus is not the first to cause international concern in recent years.

In 2203 the SARS coronavirus affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases.

There was also the Ebola scare six years ago, and in November 2015 there was an outbreak of the Zika virus, which started in Brazil and spread to other parts of South and North America, as well as some Pacific islands and Southeast Asia.

Author badge placeholder
Written by

Cathy Elelman

Cathy Elelman is the local writer for the Costa de Almeria edition of the Euro Weekly News.

Based in Mojacar for the last 21 years, Cathy is very much part of the local community and is always well and truly up on all the latest news and events going on in this region of Spain.

Her top goals are to do the best job she can informing the local English-speaking community, visitors to the area and the wider world about about the news in Almeria, to learn something new every day, and to embrace very new challenge this fast-changing world brings her way.

Share your story with us by emailing, by calling +34 951 38 61 61 or by messaging our Facebook page