COUNTRIES across the world are trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases continues to grow.

Across the world, there have been almost 79,000 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus since the outbreak began in December last year.

Nearly 2,600 people have died, according to the European Centre for Disease Control.

In January, the number of Covid-19 coronavirus infections overtook the number of cases of SARS, which infected 8,098 people between 2002 and 2003 - predominantly in Asia - and killed 774.

Since then, the rate of Covid-19 infections has gathered pace, with more than 25 countries around the world battling the disease.

Which countries are impacted?

In Asia, the vast majority of Covid-19 cases are in China, where 77,035 instances have been confirmed by the ECDC as of Sunday evening.

The other affected countries in Asia are:

Republic of Korea - 602 infections
Japan - 132 infections
Singapore - 89 infections
Thailand - 35 infections
Iran - 28 infections
Taiwan - 26 infections
Malaysia - 22 infections
Vietnam - 16 infections
United Arab Emirates - 13 infections
Philippines - 3 infections
India - 3 infections
Cambodia - 1 infection
Lebanon - 1 infection
Israel - 1 infection
Nepal - 1 infection
Sri Lanka - 1 infection

In Europe, Italy has the highest number of infections, now reported at over 150. The other impacted countries are:

Germany - 16 infections
France - 12 infections
United Kingdom - 9 infections
Spain - 2 infections
Russia - 2 infections
Sweden - 1 infection
Finland - 1 infection
Belgium - 1 infection

In North America, the United States has 35 confirmed cases, and Canada has nine. There are no confirmed cases on the South American continent.

And in Africa, Egypt is alone in dealing with the Covid-19 virus, treating the only confirmed case of the disease on the continent.

Bournemouth Echo:

‘Extremely concerning’

While the overwhelming majority of cases are in China, yesterday the number of infections in Italy doubled, to 152, and the country now has by far the largest outbreak in Europe.

Numbers of infections in South Korea, where more than 700 people are being treated for the disease, and Iran - where 50 people are now reported to have died in the city of Qom alone - have raised fears of a global pandemic.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had warned that the window of opportunity to contain the virus was "narrowing".

Paul Hunter, professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia in the UK, told the BBC on Monday that the spike in cases outside China was "extremely concerning".

"The tipping point after which our ability to prevent a global pandemic seems a lot closer after the past 24 hours," he said.

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 is a type of coronavirus - a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Common symptoms of Covid-19 infection include:

  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, infection can cause:

  • Pneumonia
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Kidney failure.

How to help prevent the spread of Covid-19

According to advice given by the World Health Organisation, useful ways to prevent infection spread include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms like coughing and sneezing.