Editor’s note: Article amended Feb 28 1700 UTC to include updated totals and newly confirmed first cases in Azerbaijan, Iceland, Lithuania, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Ireland (UK), and San Marino.
Further updated Mar 1 only to include previously unreported first cases in Belarus and Pakistan.
Coronavirus has now been confirmed in 57 nations across six continents, but this week saw the biggest spike in international cases and the number of new countries affected.
In the last five days, 27 nations saw their first cases of coronavirus, with the majority of these new cases crossing over from either Italy or Iran, which have struggled with their medical and government responses to treatment and containment.
As of Feb 28 1700 UTC, a total of 83,867 COVID-19 infections and 2,867 related deaths have been reported globally, including 5,043* cases outside mainland China. (*This Feb 28 total includes cases in the Chinese autonomous regions of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, plus 705 cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.)
The following 27 countries documented their first COVID-19 cases this week:
AFGHANISTAN 🇦🇫 (1 case)
On Feb 25, Afghanistan announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. According to The Guardian, the case was confirmed in a western province of the country that borders Iran. Ten more people are being tested for the virus, and all had recently returned from the city of Qom, Iran, which is one site of the Iranian outbreak.
ALGERIA 🇩🇿 (1 case)
The World Health Organization reported that Algeria’s first case of coronavirus, confirmed on Feb 25, was an Italian adult who arrived in the country on Feb 17. The case was the second on the African continent, after Egypt had reported its first case on Feb 14. The WHO said that Algeria is one of 13 countries that it has identified as a top priority for preparedness measures due to its direct links or high volume of travel to China.
AUSTRIA 🇦🇹 (3 cases)
An Italian couple that drove from the Lombardy region of Italy to Innsbruck, Austria were diagnosed with COVID-19, Austrian health officials reported on Feb 25. The infected woman works in a hotel in Innsbruck and 62 people she came in contact with were tested and showed no signs of infection, according to Al Jazeera.
AZERBAIJAN 🇦🇿 (1 case)
Azerbaijan’s first case of coronavirus was confirmed on Feb 28 in a Russian national traveling from Iran, according to US News & World Report. No other details were made available.
BAHRAIN 🇧🇭 (36 cases)
A total of 36 coronavirus infections have been reported in the Kingdom of Bahrain, where its first case was diagnosed only three days ago. According to The Gulf, the original patient was a bus driver who arrived in Bahrain on Feb 21 from Iran via Dubai and was later confirmed to have the virus. Since then, 32 other cases have been reported in people traveling from Iran, according to The Gulf.
BELARUS 🇧🇾 (1 case)
Belarus reported its first case of COVID-19 on Feb 28, according to the country’s health ministry and reported by Russian media. The infected patient was a student from Iran, Reuters reported.
BRAZIL 🇧🇷 (1 case)
Health officials in Brazil confirmed South America’s first case of COVID-19 coronavirus in a 61-year-old man who traveled from Italy. The infection means COVID-19 has now reached all six continents. According to the Associated Press, the patient contracted the virus in Italy, where he had spent two weeks in northern Italy’s Lombardy region. Italy currently has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Europe, with 888 cases and 21 deaths.
CROATIA 🇭🇷 (5 cases)
A Croatian citizen who returned from Milan, Italy was diagnosed with coronavirus on Feb 25. The patient has a mild case of the disease, according to Balkan Insight, which reported that Croatia and neighboring countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia have instituted checks on travelers from China and Italy and have advised against travel to affected areas in Northern Italy.
DENMARK 🇩🇰 (1 case)
According to an early Feb 27 report, Denmark has confirmed its first case of COVID-19. According to the Danish health authority, the case was diagnosed in a man who returned from a ski holiday in northern Italy, and he is in home isolation, Al Jazeera reported.
ESTONIA 🇪🇪 (1 case)
Estonia has diagnosed its first coronavirus infection in an Iranian citizen and Estonian permanent resident on Feb 27, Al Jazeera reported. The man had recently returned from travel in Iran and arrived in Estonia by bus from Riga, Latvia, according to Baltic News Network. Health officials said they are identifying passengers from the bus but no information was provided on how many people were on board or had contact with the infected patient.
GEORGIA 🇬🇪 (1 case)
The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country of Georgia on Feb 26 in a Georgian citizen traveling from Iran through neighboring Azerbaijan, Reuters reported. Georgia had suspended flights from Iran on Feb 23, but the infected man traveled by mini-bus with other 12 passengers, who all tested negative but remain in a quarantine, according to Reuters.
GREECE 🇬🇷 (4 cases)
A 38-year-old woman who traveled from Italy to Greece on Feb 23 has been diagnosed as Greece’s first case of COVID-19 on Feb 26. The woman, a Greek citizen, had traveled by air from Milan on Feb 23 and is isolated in Thessaloniki. According to USNWR, Greece has not imposed any travel restrictions to or from Italy.
ICELAND 🇮🇸 (1 case)
The first case of coronavirus in Iceland was diagnosed on Feb 28 in a patient who had recently traveled from Northern Italy. According to Iceland Review, an Icelandic male in his forties has been quarantined at the University Hospital; his condition is not critical but displays typical symptoms of the COVID-19 disease: fever, cough, and muscle pain.
IRAQ 🇮🇶 (7 cases)
Iraq has banned all travel to and from nine countries as it attempts to contain a coronavirus cluster that was first reported on Feb 24. According to Reuters, an Iranian student in Najaf became Iraq’s first confirmed case on Feb 24, followed by an Iraqi family of four who returned from Iran and were diagnosed on Feb 25. The country confirmed its sixth case on Feb 27. Iraq has suspended schools, banned all public gatherings and banned travelers from Bahrain, China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore, according to Al Arabiya.
LITHUANIA 🇱🇹 (1 case)
Lithuania’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed on Feb 28 in a woman who returned from a visit to Italy’s northern city of Verona. Reuters reported that the patient has been isolated in hospital in the northern town of Siauliai.
MEXICO 🇲🇽 (2 cases)
The first two cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Mexico on Feb 28, Al Jazeera reported. The two men had recently traveled to Italy and had direct contact with an Italian national who resides in Malaysia.
THE NETHERLANDS 🇳🇱 (1 case)
Health officials in The Netherlands reported that a Dutch citizen who visited the affected Lombardy region of Italy has been diagnosed with coronavirus, NLtimes.nl reported on Feb 27. According to the report, the male patient from Tilburg, Noord-Brabant is in quarantine but his condition is not known.
NEW ZEALAND 🇳🇿 (1 case)
A 60-year old patient in New Zealand was confirmed as the country’s first case of coronavirus on Feb 28 and is being treated in Auckland. NZ news media reported the patient had recently traveled from Iran via Bali and had previously tested negative for COVID-19 twice. NZ’s Ministry of Health said a group of passengers on the same flight from Bali to Auckland on Feb 26 (Emirates EK450) were being monitored.
NIGERIA 🇳🇬 (1 case)
Nigeria’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Feb 27 became the third case of coronavirus in Africa and the first case in sub-Saharan Africa. Earlier this week, Algeria confirmed its first case, following Egypt earlier this month. The Nigerian case was confirmed in an Italian citizen who entered the country on Feb 24 February on a Turkish Airlines flight from Milan via Istanbul, The Guardian reported.
NORTHERN IRELAND 🇬🇧 (1 case)
A man who traveled from Italy through Dublin was diagnosed with coronavirus in Northern Ireland on Feb 27. The BBC reported the patient showed a presumptive positive result, which would be confirmed by a lab in England.
Note: Northern Ireland is officially part of the United Kingdom and is not included in the above count of 27 countries. It is included here because the presence of the coronavirus on the island of Ireland is significant and demonstrates the continued spread.
NORTH MACEDONIA 🇲🇰 (1 case)
The North Macedonia health minister confirmed his country’s first case of COVID-19 on Feb 26 in a Macedonian woman who recently returned home from Italy. A US News & World Report article reported the patient drove to North Macedonia from Italy in a van and sought medical help early Wednesday. All other passengers from the van are undergoing tests, USNWR reported.
NORWAY 🇳🇴 (1 case)
A Norwegian citizen who recently returned from China was Norway’s first domestic case of coronavirus, the country’s Institute of Public Health announced on Feb 26. According to Bloomberg News, patient is healthy and has no symptoms of coronavirus disease.
OMAN 🇴🇲 (4 cases)
Four cases of coronavirus were reported in Oman this week. The first two cases were confirmed in two female travelers entering the country from Iran on Feb 24. The third and fourth cases were reported on Feb 25 and are related to travelers from Iran, Reuters reported, adding that Oman’s civil aviation authority suspended all civilian flights between the countries until further notice.
PAKISTAN 🇵🇰 (5 cases)
[Updated Mar 1] Pakistan’s first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Feb 26 in a 22-year-old male patient and another undisclosed patient, France24 reported. The male patient has a “history of travel to Iran where he has acquired the virus,” the Pakistani health minister reportedly said. The country closed its western borders with Iran and Afghanistan to contain any spread, Reuters reported after its fifth case.
ROMANIA 🇷🇴 (3 cases)
Romania’s health minister reported the country’s first coronavirus case on Feb 26. A Romanian citizen in the southern region of Gorj “had been in direct contact with an Italian citizen who traveled to Romania earlier this month,” according to the country’s health minister, who added that he was in a good condition and his family members tested negative, US News & World Report reported.
SAN MARINO 🇸🇲 (1 case)
The Republic of San Marino, which is situated within Northern Italy, confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Feb 27. According to San Marino media outlet Libertas, the man is currently being treated at a hospital in Rimini, Italy (about 12 miles from San Marino). The patient’s general practitioner is also being monitored for the virus, Libertas reported.
SPAIN 🇪🇸 (32 cases)
Two cases of COVID-19 had previously been confirmed on the Spanish islands of La Gomera on Jan 31 and Mallorca on Feb 9 but the first case of coronavirus in mainland Spain was diagnosed this week on Feb 25. A 36-year-old Italian citizen who had recently arrived in Barcelona from Italy was confirmed to have the virus and is currently in isolation, according to Al Jazeera. However, 10 additional cases have been confirmed in the last 36 hours, El Pais reported. Two cases in Tenerife on the Canary Islands were confirmed as well, which has forced the quarantine of 1,000 tourists and hotel staff where the two Italian tourists were staying.
SWITZERLAND 🇨🇭 (8 cases)
A male patient in his seventies was diagnosed as Switzerland’s first case of coronavirus on Feb 25 in canton Ticino, which borders Italy. The patient contracted the virus in the Milan region of Italy during an event on February 15, SWI swissinfo.ch reported. The patient has been isolated and is reportedly “doing well” as close contacts have been quarantined.