14:54 GMT20 February 2020
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    SANTIAGO (Sputnik) - Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich declared a nationwide health emergency on Friday to stop the new strain of coronavirus from slipping into the country.

    "We have already signed a decree declaring an emergency over the new type of coronavirus… We will make every effort to detect cases and stop the epidemic from spreading across Chile", Manalich told reporters.

    More than 20 countries have reported infections since the virus emerged in China last December, but South America has so far avoided the spread. The virus, which may cause severe respiratory illness, has sickened over 31,000 people globally and killed over 600.

    The symptoms of the new coronavirus are typical of common cold or flu: fever, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing.

    Last week, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency in light of the outbreak.

    coronavirus, Chile, South America
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