Children wearing face masks cross a road during a Lunar New Year of the Rat public holiday in Hong Kong. Image Credit: AFP


  • It has killed 106 people so far, and has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS
  • SARS killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003
  • Healthy young man among new deaths reported of coronavirus in China
  • 'It has not yet become a global health emergency'


3 people under observation for coronavirus in Delhi

Three persons have been kept under observation at an isolation ward of the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here for suspected exposure to coronavirus, officials said here on Tuesday.

Dr Minakshi Bhardwaj, Medical Superintendent of RML Hospital, said: "Three patients have been kept in the isolation for possible exposure to novel coronavirus. Their samples have been sent for testing."

In order to review the preparedness of authorities with respect to the treatment of suspected patients of novel coronavirus, a team of experts from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had visited RML on Monday. They had inspected the isolated dedicated wards for the treatment of the patients infected with the virus.

The Centre-run Dr RML Hospital has been declared as a nodal hospital to manage the cases of the novel coronavirus if detected in India.

In the wake of virus outbreak, a total of 33,552 passengers arriving in India from China in 155 flights have been screened till Monday.

China urges citizens to delay foreign travel over virus fears

China on Tuesday urged its citizens to postpone trips abroad as the country expands a massive effort to contain a viral outbreak that has killed more than 100 people nationwide.

The travel recommendation was issued "in order to protect the health and safety of Chinese and foreign people", the National Immigration Administration said in a statement.

Sri Lanka suspends visa on arrival for Chinese citizens after first case of the virus: Indian media.

Sri Lanka on Tuesday imposed visa restriction on Chinese tourists visiting the island nation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said that the decision was taken following talks held last night as a temporary measure to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Sri Lanka, Colombo Gazette reported.

This comes a day after Colombo reported its first case of coronavirus, involving a 43-year-old Chinese woman, local media reported.

The woman, who hails from the Chinese Province of Hubei, had arrived in Sri Lanka as a tourist on January 19, Sudath Samaraweera, the Chief Epidemiologist with the Ministry of Health, said.

A special committee appointed by the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading in Sri Lanka had proposed temporarily imposing visa restrictions on Chinese tourists.

Meanhile, Japan has decided to send an evacuation plane to Wuhan on Tuesday. "We will dispatch the first flight for Wuhan airport this evening, and we will also bring with it aid supplies such as masks and protective suits for Chinese people as well as for Japanese nationals," Toshimitsu Motegi, the country's foreign minister, told reporters.

China delays schools' return over virus fears

China on Tuesday postponed the start of the spring semester for schools and universities across the country over concerns about a deadly virus outbreak.

The decision came as the death toll from the new coronavirus soared to 106 and the total number of cases surpassed 4,000 nationwide.

Students are currently on holiday for the Lunar New Year and the education ministry did not provide a date for teaching to resume.

But a statement from the ministry said teaching institutions would reopen on a case-by-case basis.

School administrators had been instructed to "require students not to go out, not to gather, and not to hold or participate in centralised activities", the statement added.

Authorities on Monday decided to extend China's Lunar New Year holiday, originally due to end on January 30, for three days to limit population flows and control the epidemic.

Death toll rises to 106, 1,300 new cases

The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in China has soared to 106 while nearly 1,300 new cases have been confirmed, authorities said Tuesday.

The health commission in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic, said 24 more people had died from the virus and 1,291 more people were infected, raising the total number of confirmed cases to more than 4,000 nationwide.

First coronavirus case confirmed in Germany: Bavarian health ministry

The first case of the deadly coronavirus spreading in China has been confirmed in Germany's southern Bavaria region, the Bavarian health ministry said Monday.

"A man in the Starnberg region has been infected with the new coronavirus," a spokesman for the ministry said, adding that he is under surveillance in an isolation ward.

Wife of Canada's first coronavirus patient tests positive; 19 under investigation

Toronto: The wife of Canada's first confirmed patient with the fast-spreading Wuhan coronavirus also has tested positive for it at an Ontario laboratory, and 19 other suspected cases in Canada are under investigation, public health officials said on Monday.

Canada's second patient with the novel coronavirus is in her 50s and currently showing no symptoms, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams said at a news conference. She has been in self-isolation and is being monitored by health officials.

"Given the fact that she has been in self-isolation, the risk to Ontarians remains low," said Williams in a release earlier in the day.

Her husband had been confirmed to have the virus by a national laboratory in Winnipeg, according to the release. He is currently stable at a hospital in Toronto.

The man had mild symptoms while on a flight to Toronto from Guangzhou, China, Canada's chief health officer Theresa Tam told reporters on Sunday.

The couple arrived in Toronto on Jan. 22 after visiting Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. There are no other members of their household, said Toronto medical officer Eileen de Villa.

Global concern grows as China's capital reports first virus death

China's capital Beiking on Monday recorded its first death from a deadly coronavirus as it struggles to contain a rapidly spreading disease that has sparked global alarm, with countries scrambling to evacuate their citizens from the epicentre of the epidemic.

The death in Beijing raises the death toll from the new virus to 82, with more than 2,700 people infected across the nation and cases found in more than a dozen other countries.

WHO corrects China virus global risk level to 'high'

GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday admitted an "error" in its assessment of the global risk of a deadly virus in China, saying it was "high" and not "moderate".

The Geneva-based UN health agency said in a situation report published late Sunday that the risk was "very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level."

In a footnote, the WHO explained that it had stated "incorrectly" in its previous reports on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that the global risk was "moderate".

The correction of the global risk assessment does not mean that an international health emergency has been declared. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said only that there had been "an error in the wording". Asked what the risk categorisation meant, the WHO said it was "a global evaluation of risk, covering severity, spread and capacity to cope".

Indian student who visited China suspected of coronavirus

Patna: A 29-year-old medical student from India’s Bihar state has been admitted to a government hospital, after she showed symptoms of the coronavirus, shortly after returning from China where she was doing research.

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**EDS: TWITTER IMAGE POSTED BY @MoHFW_INDIA, MONDAY, JAN. 27, 2020** New Delhi: A thermal screening device checks passengers arriving in India from China in view of the coronavirus (CoV) outbreak, at Delhi International airport. (PTI Photo)(PTI1_27_2020_000082B) Image Credit: PTI

First photos: Deadly coronavirus

novel coronavirus strain
China's National Microbiology Data Center on Monday released the first images of the novel coronavirus strain that has trapped tens of millions of people, including thousands of foreigners, in a bid to quarantine the virus that struck amid the Lunar New Year holiday. Image Credit: National Microbiology Data Center, China

China's National Microbiology Data Center on Monday released the first images of the novel coronavirus strain that has now killed 81 people and infected more than 2,700 across China, with cases found in around a dozen countries as far away as France and the United States.

Canada announces 2 Wuhan virus cases: A husband and wife

Public health officials in Canada said Monday that the wife of the man who is Canada's first case of the emerging virus from China has also tested positive for the virus.

Ontario said the woman has been in self-imposed isolation since arriving in Toronto with her husband last week.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of health David Williams said the woman tested positive for the virus at Ontario's public health laboratory. He said because she has been in self-isolation, the risk to Canadians remains low.

But Canadian officials have been reaching out to those aboard the China Southern Airlines flight who sat within two meters (6 1/2 feet) of the man.

Public health officials said the woman's husband, a man in his 50s, had been showing mild symptoms on his flight from Guangzhou, China, to Toronto. His first flight started in Wuhan.

Emirates advises crew to stay in hotels, avoid crowds in China due to virus outbreak

Dubai's Emirates airline is advising its flight crew to stay in their hotels when on a layover in China due to the new coronavirus outbreak there that has killed 81 people.

In an internal notice, the airline also recommmends that crew avoid areas where there would be large gatherings of people.

Emirates flies to three mainland China cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. It does not fly to Wuhan where the virus first appeared.

The state-owned carrier is providing hand sanitiser and face masks to crew operating flights to China, the Jan. 27 internal notice said.

An Emirates spokeswoman said crew have been advised to wear a mask during flights to China if they serve passengers with any symptoms.

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific has said flight crew and frontline airport staff can wear surgical face masks at their own discretion.

Major airports around the world, including in Dubai, are screening passengers arriving on flights from China.

Emirates has offered to waive rebooking, rerouting and refund charges on some flights to and from China.

China confirms 2,700 cases of corona infections, 40 counted elsewhere

China has confirmed more than 2,700 cases of a new virus, with 80 deaths. Most have been in the central city of Wuhan where the illness first surfaced last month. More than 40 cases have been confirmed in other places with virtually all of them involving Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan recently.

Some details on cases confirmed as of mid-day Monday, Beijing time:

  • China: 2,750, with 769 of those newly confirmed in the 24 hours through midnight Sunday. Eight are in Hong Kong and five in Macao. Nearly all of the 80 deaths have been in central Hubei province, with four elsewhere in China.
  • United States: 5, 2 in southern California and 1 each in Washington state, Chicago, and Arizona.
  • Thailand: 8
  • Australia: 5
  • South Korea: 4
  • Japan: 4
  • Singapore: 4
  • Malaysia: 4
  • France: 3
  • Taiwan: 3
  • Vietnam: 2
  • Canada: 1
  • Nepal: 1

Fifth coronavirus case confirmed in Australia

Australian authorities on Monday confirmed five new cases of the novel coronavirus in the country, with the latest one reported in the state of New South Wales (NSW)

NSW health authorities said that the person was being treated in the Westmead Hospital in Sydney, reports Xinhua news agency.

The authorities did not unveil the identity or other details of the patient, while another six people were being tested.

According to local media reports, the latest case is a 21-year-old female student of the University of NSW, who returned from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, to Sydney last week and developed symptoms within 24 hours.

The university said in a statement that the student had no close contact with other people at the school's Kensington student housing.

Mongolia closes China border to cars, shuts schools

Mongolia has closed its border crossing with China to cars and pedestrians and shut schools in an effort to halt the spread of a deadly virus that has infected thousands.

"Pedestrians and cars are prohibited to cross the Chinese border," said Vice Prime Minister Enkhtuvishin Ulziisaikhan on Sunday, saying the schools and universities would stay shut until March 2, along with other public places.

China extends holiday to buy time as virus keeps spreading

China on Monday extended its biggest national holiday to buy time in the fight against a viral epidemic, as the death toll spiked to 81 despite unprecedented quarantine measures and travel lockdowns.

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A nurse in protective gear talks on her phone near an ambulance in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province. Image Credit: AP

China confirms first case of successful treatment for coronavirus

Chinese authorities have announced first cured patient discharged from Shanghai, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The Shanghai Municipal Health Commission has claimed that the first patient since the beginning of the deadly outbreak has been cured and discharged from hospital.

Chinese doctors have been reported to indicate that trial runs with an HIV wonder drug have "somewhat successfully" stopped the spread of the disease to cells.

Chinese premier visits city at epicentre of virus

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday paid his first visit to Wuhan since the city was struck by the outbreak of a deadly virus that has spread across the country and sparked global concern.

Wearing a mask and blue plastic scrubs, Li was in Wuhan to "investigate and guide" ongoing efforts to control the virus, China's State Council said on its official social media account.

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Police officers wearing masks check the boot of a car for smuggled wild animals at an expressway toll station following the outbreak of coronavirus. Image Credit: Reuters

Death toll rises to 80, 5 cases in US

The tally of confirmed deaths from China's viral outbreak has risen to 80, with authorities in central Hubei province on Monday reporting 24 new fatalities and 371 new cases.

The latest figures from Hubei, the epicentre of the contagion, would put the nationwide total of confirmed infections at more than 2,300, based on figures previously released by the central government.

Meanwhile, health authorities said there were now five confirmed cases of the virus in the US.

4th US case of coronavirus confirmed in Los Angeles area

The fourth US case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Los Angeles area, health officials in Los Angeles County said on Sunday.

“The infected person presented themselves for care once they noticed that they were not feeling well and is currently receiving medical treatment,” the county’s public health department said in a statement, as quoted by CNBC. 

The confirmation came shortly after the third US case of the new virus was confirmed in California’s Orange County, which borders Los Angeles County to the south. Authorities there said in a statement that a patient in Orange County tested positive earlier in the day.

Both California patients were described as recent travelers from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the disease’s outbreak.

Canada identifies 'first case' of coronavirus

Canada declared the first “presumptive” confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus in a resident who had returned from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak of the viral disease.

Ontario health officials told a news conference the patient is a male in his 50s, who arrived in Toronto on January 22 and was hospitalized the next day after developing symptoms of respiratory illness. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, told reporters that the man is being treated in a public hospital and is in a stable condition.

Ontario health officials are investigating the details of the man’s contact with others since arriving in Toronto. Early indications are that he took private transportation home after arriving at Toronto airport and then paramedics brought him to the hospital, they added.

California confirms third case of China virus in US

A patient in California's Orange County was Saturday confirmed as the third person on US soil infected with the new deadly virus that originated in China, health officials said.

The infected person was a traveler from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the outbreak, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the patient had tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus, it said.

The individual was in isolation in a local hospital and was in good condition.

"There is no evidence that person-to-person transmission has occurred in Orange County. The current risk of local transmission remains low," the health care agency said.

There were no details given on how the person arrived in the United States or their identity.

Shanghai halts long-distance bus services over contagion fears

Shanghai's government said on Sunday it was suspending all long-distance bus services into or out of the city, as authorities around China scrambled to block the spread of a deadly new virus.

The measure announced by the financial hub's transportation commission goes into effect immediately and comes after the capital Beijing, two other northern cities, and the eastern province of Shandong announced similar moves.

Taiwan further tightens restrictions on China visitors due to virus

Taiwan on Sunday further tightened restrictions on visitors from China to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus, suspending entry for many apart from business travellers and a few other exceptions like people married to Taiwanese.

Taiwan has close economic and cultural links with China and has so far reported three cases of the new coronavirus, which started in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province and where most of the 56 deaths to date have been.

Taiwan has already stopped Chinese tour groups from visiting, and has now banned all people from Hubei from coming to the island.

Most other Chinese citizens will not be allowed in for the time being, aside from people involved in fighting the virus or on humanitarian grounds, the island's newly established Central Epidemic Command Centre said in a statement.

Chinese business travellers will also be permitted entry, but have to agree to have their health monitored for two weeks after entry, the command centre said. Spouses from Hubei will have to stay in quarantine at home for the same period, it said.

Chinese students studying in Taiwan will have to postpone their return to the island for two weeks, it added, while students from Hubei cannot return at all until further notice.

China names HIV drugs in treatment plan

China is using AbbVie Inc's HIV drugs as an ad-hoc treatment for pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus while the global search for a cure continues.

The Beijing branch of China's National Health Commission said that a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, sold under the brand name Kaletra by AbbVie, is part of its latest treatment plan for patients infected by the virus, which has killed at least 56 people in China and sickened more than 2,000 worldwide.

The NHC said that while there is not yet any effective anti-viral drug, it recommends patients are given two lopinavir and ritonavir tablets twice a day and a dose of alpha-interpheron through nebulization twice daily.

Medical journal Lancet said on Friday that a clinical trial is under way using ritonavir and lopinavir to treat cases of the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention will start developing a vaccine, according to the Global Times.

China bans all trade in wild animals until viral epidemic eases: government

China on Sunday ordered a temporary ban on the trade in wild animals as the country struggles to contain a deadly virus believed to have been spawned in a market that sold wild animals as food.

Raising, transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden "from the date of the announcement until the national epidemic situation is over," said a joint directive from three top agencies including the Ministry of Agriculture.

Southern Chinese city reverses plan for partial lockdown over virus

A southern Chinese city reversed on Sunday an earlier announcement of a partial lockdown as part of efforts to control the spread of a deadly virus.

Authorities in Shantou said they would "not restrict the access of vehicles" or people into the city after an earlier statement saying they would ban entry into the city of 5.6 million people - a 1,100-kilometre (680-mile) drive south of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Third Chinese city to ban long-distance buses over virus concerns: official

A third major city in China will ban long-distance buses, authorities said Sunday, as they scramble to contain a deadly new virus that has spread across the country.

From 6pm (1000 GMT) Sunday, Xi'an will suspend long-distance buses and tourist chartered buses entering the city of 10 million people, local officials said on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, following the announcement of similar measures in Tianjin and Beijing.

China imposes partial lockdown in southern city, first outside virus epicentre: official.

China announced a partial lockdown in the southern city of Shantou on Sunday in a bid to control the spread of a deadly virus, the first such measure taken outside the epicentre of the disease.

From midnight, non-emergency vehicles will be prohibited from entering the city of 5.6 million people, which is a 1,100-kilometre (680-mile) drive from Wuhan, the heart of the epidemic.

People arriving at Shantou train stations will be screened and "urged to return", said city authorities.

Buses, ferries, public transport and taxis will be suspended, Shantou authorities said on their official social media account.

The measures are to "spare no efforts in doing a good job of preventing and controlling" the epidemic, Shantou officials said, and to "cut off the channels of spreading the virus".

US to evacuate its citizens from China virus epicentre

The United States is arranging a flight to evacuate personnel and American citizens trapped at the epicentre of a deadly virus in central China, the US State Department said on Sunday.

The flight will leave on Tuesday from Wuhan and take people to San Francisco, the department said in an email to Americans in China, warning that there would be "limited capacity" for private citizens.

Hong Kong Disneyland says closing over China virus fears

Hong Kong's Disneyland announced it was shutting its doors on Sunday until further notice over the deadly virus outbreak in central China, a day after city authorities classified the crisis as an emergency.

"As a precautionary measure in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong, we are temporarily closing Hong Kong Disneyland park out of consideration for the health and safety of our guests and cast members," the park said in a statement.

China fortifies virus defences as death hits 56

China on Sunday expanded drastic travel restrictions to contain a viral contagion that President Xi Jinping said posed a "grave" threat, as the death toll reached 56 and Shanghai reported its first fatality.

China has locked down the worst-hit province of Hubei in the country's centre in a massive quarantine affecting tens of millions of people to slow the spread of a respiratory illness that has killed 56 people and infected almost 2,000.

Th virus has also spread around the world, with cases confirmed in around a dozen other countries as distant as France, Australia and the United States.

In the epicentre city of Wuhan, Hubei's capital, new restrictions went into effect Sunday banning most cars from the streets of the metropolis of 11 million.

The normally bustling streets of Wuhan were deserted on Sunday morning, with staff at a hotel telling AFP they had to walk to work.

Authorities have also started to curtail travel in other parts of the country.

Long-distance bus services entering and leaving Beijing, the capital of 20 million, were suspended on Sunday.

The neighbouring northern city of Tianjin, with a population 15 million, announced it would follow suit on Monday.

Overseas Chinese tour groups will be suspended from Monday while domestic trips have already been halted since Friday.

The nationwide death toll rose to 56 after 15 new deaths, most in Hubei.

In a worrying sign for containment efforts, the country's financial hub Shanghai on Sunday reported its first death from the virus - an 88-year-old man with pre-existing health problems.

The death was the first reported in a major city outside of Hubei's capital of Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have originated in a seafood and live animal market.

The government has said most of the fatalities involved people already weakened by pre-existing health conditions.

Online rumours of "cure" refuted

Multiple posts on social media — Weibo, Twitter and Facebook — shared in January 2020 claim that a top Chinese respiratory expert has told people to rinse their mouths with salt water solution to prevent infection from a new virus outbreak.

The posts were published after Wuhan coronavirus broke out infecting hundreds of people.

The claim is false, according to a "fact check" by AFP. The expert's team said saline would not "kill" the new virus and urged people not to believe or share medically-inaccurate online rumours.

The World Health Organization told AFP there was no evidence that saline solution would protect against infection from the new coronavirus.

Package tour sales suspended

China ordered travel agencies across the country to suspend sales of domestic and international tours as part of an effort to contain the spread of a novel coronavirus that has killed 41 and sickened hundreds, according to latest reports.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism ordered travel agencies and tourism companies to stop selling tour packages.

Virus-hit Chinese city to build second new hospital to treat cases: state media

BEIJING: A central Chinese city at the entre of a new SARS-like virus outbreak is building a second hospital "within half a month" to treat cases, state media reported Saturday.

According to the People's Daily, the new hospital will add 1,300 hospital beds, in addition to another new facility which is being built in Wuhan to deal with the outbreak — reportedly within 10 days.

Image Credit: File

Hong Kong declares Wuhan viraus outbreak an 'emergency'.

Hong Kong on Saturday declared the outbreak of a mystery virus as an "emergency" - the city's highest warning tier - as authorities ramped up measures aimed at reducing the risk of further infections spreading.

"Today I declare the lifting of the response level to emergency," chief executive Carrie Lam told reporters.

Hong Kong will close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks after the Lunar New Year holiday. City leader Carrie Lam also announced Saturday that trains and flights from the city of Wuhan would be blocked.

Japan Health Ministry says third case of coronavirus In Japan confirmed.

Japan has confirmed a third case of infection by China's coronavirus, the health ministry said on Saturday.

The latest case was confirmed in a woman in her 30s who lives in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

She arrived in Japan on Jan. 18, the ministry said.

China locks down more cities, restricting 56 million people

Some 56 million people are now affected by transport bans around the epicentre of China's virus outbreak as five more cities announced travel restrictions on Saturday to contain the disease.

The rules include closing public transport links and access to highways in the cities, local authorities said.

A total of 18 cities now have some sort of travel restrictions in central Hubei province.

China has ordered nationwide measures to identify suspected cases of the virus on trains, aeroplanes and buses, as the death toll and number of patients has skyrocketed.

Inspection stations will be set up and passengers with suspected pneumonia must be "immediately transported" to a medical centre, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

China's virus-struck city of Wuhan will restrict car traffic as it battles to contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the local government said Saturday.

"Motor vehicles shall be prohibited from driving in the central urban areas" from midnight, the government said, with a few exceptions such as official vehicles.

China deploys 450 military medical staff to virus epicentre

China has deployed 450 military medical staff, some with experience combating SARS or Ebola, to a central city stricken by a virus that has killed dozens of people, state media said Saturday.

The medics, who arrived in Wuhan on military aircraft late Friday, will be dispatched to hospitals with large numbers of infected patients, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The move marks a dramatic escalation in the central government's involvement to contain the virus, which has killed 41 people and infected 1,287 others across the country.

It also follows reports of bed shortages in hospitals designated to deal with the outbreak in Wuhan, which has borne the brunt of the health emergency.

The government has even started construction on a special hospital in Wuhan to deal with the virus, with plans to finish it within a staggering 10 days.

Xinhua said the military team is composed of experts in respiratory health, infectious diseases, hospital infection control and intensive care.

Australia confirms first coronavirus case

Australia on Saturday confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus that has claimed 41 lives in China, becoming the latest country in a growing list to be affected by the illness.

The sick man arrived in Melbourne from China a week ago from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, the government said.

Authorities in Victoria state have followed "strict protocols, including isolating the affected person," said Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia's chief medical officer.

"I understand the patient has pneumonia and is in a stable condition."

Meanwhile, 450 military medical staff have arrived in China's virus epicentre, reported state media.

Two cases of coronavirus confirmed in France, first in Europe: minister

Health authorities fear the infection rate could accelerate over the Lunar New Year holiday

A coronavirus outbreak in China has spawned fears of a pandemic across Asia. It has also threatened oil demand, crude prices fell more than 2% on Friday, heading toward $60 a barrel and a steep weekly decline over concerns that the coronavirus in the world's second-largest oil consumer China will spread farther, curbing travel and oil demand.

The virus has prompted the suspension of public transport in 10 Chinese cities, while cases of infection have been found in several other Asian countries and the United States.

Health authorities fear the infection rate could accelerate over the Lunar New Year holiday this weekend, when millions of Chinese travel.

Four samples test negative for novel coronavirus in India

The Union Health Ministry on Friday said the ICMR-NIV, Pune, has said that four samples, two from Mumbai and one each from Bengaluru and Hyderabad, have tested negative for novel coronavirus (nCoV).

One of Mumbai patients has tested positive for Rhinovirus, one of the routine common cold virus, the Health Ministry said late on Friday evening.

Earlier, officials of the Health Ministry said that three persons -- two from Mumbai and one from Hyderabad -- who returned from China, have been put under observation for the novel coronavirus (nCoV) even as the Health Ministry said that nobody in India has tested positive for the infectious disease so far, which has affected a large number of people in China.

"As on January 24, as many as 20,844 passengers from 96 flights have been screened for Novel Coronavirus symptoms. Today, 4,082 passengers were screened in 19 flights. No nCoV case has been detected in the country so far. However, three persons have been put under observation," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday.

The three suspected cases have been kept under observation, the Union Health Ministry officials told ANI here.

A travel advisory issued has been extended to 12 more airports in the country in addition to the existing seven.

"National Institute of Virology, Pune, is fully geared up to test samples of nCoV and ten other laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research's Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network are also equipped to test such samples if a need arises," said a statement of the Health Ministry.

US monitoring dozens, second case confirmed

A second traveler returning to the US from China has been diagnosed with the coronavirus that has sicked hundreds of people and prompted travel lockdowns in Wuhan, China, and surrounding cities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Health authorities around the world are attempting to halt the disease's spread.

US federal and local health authorities are monitoring more than 60 people as they attempt to catch new cases of coronavirus in travelers from China, where the outbreak is centered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a second case in Illinois Friday.

"We are expecting more cases in the US and we are likely going to see some cases among close contacts of travelers and human-to-human transmission," said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

UK clears 14 tested for China virus

Everyone tested in Britain for a deadly virus that has infected hundreds in China have been given the all-clear, a top doctor said Friday after an emergency government meeting.

All 14 people who were tested for the coronavirus had visited Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Four of the five patients tested in Scotland were Chinese nationals, officials said, without disclosing the nationality of the others.

Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said attempts were being made to trace everyone who had arrived in Britain from Wuhan in the past two weeks.

"This is a marathon, not a sprint," he told the BBC.

Representatives of the ministries of transport, home affairs, foreign affairs, education, health and devolved nations attended a special COBRA meeting on Friday, the government said.

"We all agree that the risk to the UK public remains low, but there may well be cases in the UK at some stage," Whitty said.

Image Credit: Graphic News/Gulf News

First case of coronavirus in Nepal after student who returned from Wuhan tests positive

Nepal Health Ministry on Friday confirmed its first case of infection caused by the corinavirus after a student who returned from China's Wuhan city tested positive for the pneumonia-like virus.

The authorities in Wuhan city and Huanggang city have imposed a complete travel ban on local residents, in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Countries have started screening process in order to prevent the outbreak of the virus in their respective country. India also on Thursday said that people coming from the Asian country will have to mandatorily go through a screening process at airports in India.

Two suspected Coronavirus patients isolated in Mumbai, India

Two persons, who arrived here from China, have been placed under isolation for medical observations for suspected exposure to Coronavirus, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation officials said on Friday.

The two have been secluded in the BMC's Kasturba Hospital - which specialises in such diseases - after they were detected with possible symptoms following thermal screening of nearly 1,800 passengers coming from Chinese airports to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport since the past five days.

The duo had complained of cold-related symbols and mild cough and further medical tests are being conducted on them, said an official.

The CSMIA medical teams have been advised to send travellers from China exhibiting any similar symptoms to the Kasturba Hospital for further medical protocols.

However, no passenger with a history of visiting China's Wuhan city in the past fortnight has been found positive during thermal screening for Coronavirus.

Besides setting up the seclusion ward in the hospital, the civic health authorities have also issued instructions to all private medicos in the city to inform the BMC in case they detect any signs of Coronavirus from their patients who have recently returned from a China trip.

As a precautionary measure, the CSMIA started thermal screenings of all inbound passengers in the pre-immigration area, arriving by Air China and RwandAir which operate flights between Mumbai and China, since January 19.

The city Health Department and state Health Ministry are closely monitoring the situation on a regular basis amid global reports of over two dozen deaths due to Coronavirus and more than 850 under treatment for the disease.

5 in UK test negative for coronavirus, 9 await results

Fourteen people in the UK have been tested for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), with five confirmed negative and nine still awaiting the results, according to the Public Health England (PHE).

The PHE made the announcement on Thursday but it did not give a breakdown of where the people were tested and where the negative results were recorded, reports

However, the number is believed to include five people who had undergone tests for the virus in Scotland.

A statement from the Scottish government on Thursday said: "Following travel to Wuhan, China, two people confirmed as diagnosed with influenza are now being tested for Wuhan novel coronavirus as a precautionary measure only.

"Three further people are also undergoing testing on a similar precautionary basis. 'There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and the risk to the Scottish public remains low."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the tests were "purely precautionary".

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New hospital coming up to treat coronavirus patients. Construction site where the new hospital is being built to treat patients of a new coronavirus on the outskirts of Wuhan, China, January 24, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Healthy young man among new deaths reported of coronavirus in China

A young, healthy man from Wuhan and a person living 1,500 miles from the epicenter of the coronavirus are among the latest victims of the outbreak, which has incited fear and anger across China as the important Spring Festival gets underway.

Reports of eight new deaths from the pneumonia-like virus, taking the total to 26, came as authorities enforced a lockdown across large parts of the province of Hubei, population 59 million. But they also came as the medical system clearly struggled to cope with the outbreak, with reports of crowded hospitals, stressed doctors and dwindling supplies.

Adding to the stress, Friday marked the official start of the Spring Festival, when China celebrates the arrival of the new lunar year. Authorities around the country, including in the capital, Beijing, have canceled the temple fairs and festivals that accompany the holiday to avoid having large public gatherings where the airborne virus could spread.

"The public should not gather during the Spring Festival and try stay at home as much as possible to protect themselves," Gao Fu, a member of the expert group of the National Health and Health Commission and director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.

He encouraged everyone to wear masks, and photos from train stations and airports across the country showed people with their mouths and noses covered.

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People with face masks walk in a shop decorated for the Chinese Lunar New Year in Bangkok on January 24, 2020, after four people were detected with the Coronavirus in Thailand. Image Credit: AFP

Airport unusually empty

The Beijing Capital International Airport was unusually empty on Friday, with almost all passengers wearing masks. The Beijing city government and Shanghai local authorities have also urged residents returning to areas affected by the virus, or who have been in contact with suspected cases, to stay at home or in a centralized quarantine area for 14 days to contain the spread.

The state broadcaster, CCTV, led its midday news program with a report about a huge Spring Festival banquet in Beijing attended by President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders. None of them were wearing masks, and the report made no mention of the virus outbreak.

The National Health Commission reported Friday that there are now more than 830 confirmed cases of infection, and reports of new cases continued to roll in from around the country: from Xinjiang in the west to Shandong in the east, from Inner Mongolia in the north to Hainan in the south.

A total of 8,420 people were reported to be under observation

Amid increasing talk that the real number of deaths and infections could be much higher than the official figures, the State Council, the Chinese equivalent of the cabinet, vowed to "seriously handle" underreporting of cases.

The virus nevertheless continues to spread, including outside China's borders.

South Korean authorities confirmed Friday that a second person has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The 55-year-old South Korean man had been living in Wuhan and had landed at Gimpo Airport in Seoul on a flight from Shanghai. He is now hospitalized.

Japan also confirmed a second case, a man in his 40s from Wuhan who arrived in Japan on Sunday on a flight through Hong Kong. He is currently being treated, the Health Ministry said.

Other countries that have reported infections include Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. In addition to a confirmed case in Washington state, Texas has reported a potential case of coronavirus in Brazos County, about 100 miles northwest of Houston.

The patient there contracted a respiratory illness within two weeks of traveling in Wuhan and is being isolated at home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

'It has not yet become a global health emergency'

While the World Health Organization has still not declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that it still amounts to "an emergency in China."

"It has not yet become a global health emergency, but it may become one," he said.

Some details about the latest deaths in China have raised concerns about the virus's spread.

Until now, the vast majority of the victims had been older than 60, and almost all of them had existing health conditions. All had been in Hubei province and especially in its capital, Wuhan.

But the latest announcement said that a 36-year-old man from Wuhan, identified only by his family name, Li, died on Thursday. He had no chronic diseases or other existing health conditions, and had been treated with anti-virus medication and antibiotics since being admitted to a hospital on Jan. 9.

Another death occurred in Suihua in Heilongjiang province, near the border with Russia and some 1,500 miles from Wuhan.

New travel restrictions were put in place Friday to try to curb transmission of the virus.

Wuhan shut down tunnels under the Yangtze River to stop the flow of traffic.

All ride-hailing services in Wuhan were cut off from midday Friday in attempt to stop transmission of the virus, and only half of taxis are allowed on the road every day, alternating between tags ending in odd and even numbers.

Thailand confirms fifth case of new coronavirus

Thailand on Friday confirmed its fifth case of the new coronavirus, a senior public health official said, in the second instance in which a patient was not detected at the airport before entering the country.

"The patient is a 33-year-old woman from Wuhan on vacation," Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Patucha told Reuters, adding that she was under quarantine at Rajavithi hospital and her condition was improving.

The woman arrived in Bangkok on Jan. 21 with her daughter and visited a private hospital complaining of a fever, coughing and muscle aches before being transferred to a government hospital on Jan. 23, Sathit said.

Her daughter tested negative for the virus.

A Thai woman who contracted the virus after spending the New Year in Wuhan was admitted to Nakhon Pathom hospital, 60 km (40 miles) west of Bangkok, on Jan. 15 and discharged on Friday after lab tests cleared her of the virus, the Public Health Ministry said in a statement.

Thailand currently has two patients under quarantine for the virus.

Health officials in hazmat suits check body temperatures of passengers arriving from the city of Wuhan at the airport in Beijing. Image Credit: AP

Beijing to close section of Great Wall, other tourist sites

China announced Friday it will close a section of the Great Wall and other famous Beijing landmarks to control the spread of a deadly virus that has infected hundreds of people across the country.

The Ming Tombs and Yinshan Pagoda will also be closed from Saturday, the authority that oversees the sites said, while the Bird's Nest stadium closed Friday, in order to "prevent and control" the spread of the virus.

China public transport ban extended to 13 cities

China on Friday added four more cities to a transport ban around the epicentre of a deadly virus, restricting the movement of some 41 million people in 13 cities as authorities scramble to control the disease.

Officials in Xianning, Xiaogan, Enshi and Zhijiang cities - all located in central Hubei province where the virus first emerged - said public transport services including buses and train stations would be closed.

The cities are the latest in Hubei to impose travel restrictions over the previous 24 hours in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus which has infected more than 800 people.

The virus first emerged from the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, where a seafood and live animal market has been identified as the centre of the outbreak.

It has killed 26 people so far, and has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

SARS killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Cities that banned public transport services

Zhijiang, a city of 550,000, announced the closure of all businesses with exceptions like pharmacies, while Enshi, with a population of 800,000, has shut all entertainment venues.

Earlier on Friday Jingzhou city, with a population of 6.4 million, said all services departing from its railway station will be suspended.

Huangshi, which has a population of 2.4 million, shut transport routes Friday as well as closing a ferry terminal and bridge over the Yangtze River and suspending public transport.

The move followed the suspension of long-distance passenger buses, tourist coaches and public transport from Thursday night in Qianjiang, a city in central Hubei with nearly a million people.

Trains and planes were halted from leaving Wuhan on Thursday as the city was placed under effective lockdown. Passenger boats and buses were also forbidden from entering the city.

The virus has hit China in the midst of its Lunar New Year holiday, typically marked by family gatherings and public celebrations.

Other cities to impose travel restrictions include Xiantao, a city of 1.5 million, and Chibi, which has some 500,000 people, which closed toll station entrances and halted transport routes.

The cities of Ezhou, Huanggang and Lichuan also introduced measures.

Russia suspends flights to Moscow from Wuhan

Flights to Moscow from the Chinese city of Wuhan have been suspended over fears about the spread of a previously unknown coronavirus strain, Interfax news agency cited an unnamed source as saying on Friday.

Indian students in Wuhan safe

All the Indian students stranded in Wuhan, the city which has been placed under a lockdown due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in central China, are safe and healthy.

Official sources told IANS that the over 500 Indian students who study in Wuhan city's medical colleges and universities, most of them left for home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

The Indian embassy in Beijing is constantly tracking the health status of over 40 students in Wuhan at the moment. After a case of one Indian teacher infected by the virus in China was reported last week, India issued an advisory against travel to Wuhan.

China rushes to build new hospital for virus within 10 days

China is rushing to build a new hospital in a staggering 10 days to treat patients at the epicentre of a deadly virus outbreak that has stricken hundreds of people, state media reported Friday.

The facility in the central city of Wuhan is expected to be in use by February 3 to serve a rising number of patients infected by a coronavirus that has left at least 26 people dead and millions on lockdown in an effort to curb the spread.

Dozens of excavators and trucks were filmed working on the site by state broadcaster CCTV.

It will have a capacity of 1,000 beds spread over 25,000 square metres, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Construction began as reports surfaced of bed shortages in hospitals designated as dealing with the outbreak, which has now infected 830 people across China.

Xinhua said the new facility is aimed at "alleviating the shortage of medical treatment resources and improving the ability to care for patients".

China adds ninth city to transport ban

China on Friday added a ninth city to a transport ban around the epicentre of a deadly virus, bringing the number affected by the shutdown to over 30 million as authorities scramble to control the disease.

Authorities in Jingzhou, located in Hubei province where the virus first emerged, said all rail services leaving the city would close from 0400 GMT, while public buses, passenger transport, tourism buses, ferries and other boats will temporarily stop operations as well.

Some 32 million people are now affected by travel restrictions around Hubei.

Chinese movie to premiere online as virus closes cinemas

Chinese movie fans can catch the premier of much-anticipated new comedy this holiday weekend under a 630 million yuan ($91.25 million) deal to issue the film over the internet, as fears of a deadly new virus keep audiences away from cinemas.

The Hong Kong-listed Huanxi Media Group announced on Friday an agreement with Beijing Bytedance Network to show its new movie "Lost in Russia" on Bytedance's online platforms.

Bytedance, which owns the popular TikTok video-sharing app and the news app Jinri Toutiao, said given the efforts to reduce the risks of big gatherings, it had secured the deal to let fans watch "Lost in Russia" for free on its apps.

"The film will keep the appointment to meet everyone on Jan. 25, but the meeting point has changed to your cellphone and television, instead of the cinema," the company said in a statement posted on Jinri Toutiao.

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A hotel employee takes the temperature of a person that just arrived at the premise in Wuhan on January 24, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Lack of fever symptoms in some makes detection harder

China's new deadly virus is more difficult to contain than other pandemics because those infected may not get a fever, a symptom governments around the world are using to screen for the pathogen.

The National Health Commission told local governments and hospitals on January 18 that some of those with the virus may not have a fever and the pathogen's incubation period could be up to two weeks, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing the situation.

A spokesman for the NHC said that the understanding of the new virus and its symptoms changes over time and that doctors have observed some patients with low or even no fever as the number of infections has increased.

The lack of fever as a symptom means that temperature screening - the main method now being deployed at airports and transport hubs to control the outbreak - would fail to pick up on at least some cases.

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Commuters wearing face masks walk in Hankou railway station in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on January 21, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Indian mission cancels Republic day celebrations

Beijing: Indian Embassy in Beijing on Friday called off the Republic Day reception scheduled to be held on January 26, taking into account the evolving situation due to coronavirus outbreak in China.

Twenty-five people have been killed after developing pneumonia-like symptoms and at least 830 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in China by the end of Thursday.

"In view of the evolving situation due to the coronavirus outbreak in China as well as the decision of Chinese authorities to cancel public gathering and events, @EOIBeijing has also decided to call off the Republic Day reception scheduled to be held @EOIBeijing on January 26th," tweeted India in China.

The Indian embassy also issued an advisory for people traveling from China to India and asked people from Wuhan to monitor their health closely.

In a statement, the Indian Embassy listed out health measures while traveling from China, which includes avoiding contact with live animals and consumption of raw undercooked meats and wearing a mask.

"Avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, such as cough, runny nose etc. Avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw/undercooked meats. Avoid travel to farms, live animal markets or where animals are slaughtered. Wears mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose," the statement read."All travelers from China (in particular Wuhan city) to monitor their health closely. If you feel sick and have fever and cough: Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing. Don't plan travels if sick o Seek medical attention promptly. If you feel sick on the flight, while traveling from China to India. Inform the airlines' crew about illness," it added

Not yet global health emergency: WHO

Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it was "too early" to declare the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), while warning that the number of cases may increase as much about the virus remains unknown.

"I am not declaring a public health emergency of the international concern today. As it was yesterday, the Emergency Committee was divided over whether the outbreak of novel coronavirus represents a PHEIC or not," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the media here on Thursday night after a closed-door meeting of the Emergency Committee.

"Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one," Tedros said, adding that WHO's risk assessment is that the outbreak is a very high risk in China, and a high risk regionally and globally.

Travellers wear protective masks while sitting inside Hongqiao high-speed railway station before Lunar New Year in Shanghai, China, on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Singapore ramps up virus fight, reviving SARS memories

SINGAPORE: Schools in Singapore asked parents to declare overseas holiday plans as authorities screened travellers at air, land and sea checkpoints on Friday, to combat the spread of a deadly flu virus that has revived memories of the SARS pandemic in 2003.

The Southeast Asian travel hub confirmed its first case of the coronavirus strain on Thursday, a tourist from the Chinese city of Wuhan at the centre of the outbreak, and said another had tested positive preliminarily.

Gold inches lower

Gold edged lower on Friday after the World Health Organisation stopped short of declaring the China virus outbreak a global emergency, though prices were still on track to post a weekly gain.

Spot gold fell 0.1% to $1,561.86 per ounce by 0356 GMT. For the week, prices were on track to gain 0.3%. U.S. gold futures slipped 0.3% to $1,561.50.

South Korea confirms second coronavirus case

South Korea on Friday confirmed its second case of the SARS-like virus that has killed at least 25 in China, as concerns mount about a wider outbreak.

Several nations including the US have stepped up checks on airport passengers to detect the coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

On Friday, Seoul's health ministry said a South Korean man in his 50s started experiencing symptoms while working in Wuhan on Jan 10.

He was tested upon returning to the country earlier this week, and was confirmed to be South Korea's second case of the virus on Thursday, the ministry added.

"The patient was adequately aware of the situation in Wuhan... and cooperated well with the health authorities' requests during the monitoring period after returning home," the ministry said in a statement.

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Ministry of Health Coronavirus advice Image Credit: Ador Bustamante, Designer, Gulf News

Death toll jumps to 25; 830 confirmed cases

Beijing: The death toll in China’s viral outbreak has risen to 25, with the number of confirmed cases also leaping to 830, the government said on Friday.

The National Health Commission said authorities were also examining 1,072 suspected cases of the virus that first emerged in central city of Wuhan.

The markedly higher numbers were released just hours after the World Health Organization stopped short of declaring the situation to be a global health emergency.

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China has effectively quarantined nearly 20 million people across Wuhan and some nearby cities in response to the virus, and announced measures to curb its spread nationwide as hundreds of millions of people began travelling across the country this week for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Streets and shopping centres in Wuhan, a major industrial and transport hub, are now eerily quiet after authorities told residents not to leave the city of 11 million, where most of the cases have been identified.

The National Health Commission said the death toll was revised upward following eight new deaths on Thursday, and 259 new cases reported across the country.

Out of the total 830 confirmed cases, 177 were in serious condition, it added.

Thirty-four people have been “cured and discharged”.

The respiratory virus emerged from a seafood and animal market in Wuhan and cases have been reported as far away as the United States.

The new virus has caused alarm because of its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

But after two days of talks to determine the level of global concern, the WHO stopped short of declaring a so-called “public health emergency of international concern” — a declaration used for the gravest epidemics.