Medical workers take the temperature of passengers after they got off the train in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, January 29, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters


  • Virus death toll rises to 213, with nearly 10,000 cases
  • WHO declares coronavirus a global emergency
  • Stock markets fall on growing concern at global economic impact
  • US tells citizens 'do not travel' to China

Follow the latest updates from around the globe here. [This is a live blog. Please refresh for updates.]

Pakistan halts flights to and from China

Pakistan on Friday halted flights to and from China with immediate effect, a civil aviation official said, as the death toll from a virus outbreak spreading in China mounted and the World Health Organization called it a global health emergency.

"We are suspending flights to China until Feb 2," additional secretary of aviation Abdul Sattar Khokhar told Reuters by phone, adding the situation would be reviewed after that date.

He declined to comment on the reason for the closure.

Some airlines including British Airways, have suspended flights to China due to warnings of the coronavirus outbreak.

Plane leaves Wuhan with 83 Britons and 27 foreigners aboard

A plane carrying 83 British and 27 foreign nationals flew out on Friday from China's central city of Wuhan, the centre of a virus epidemic that has killed more than 200 and infected more than 9,000, the British government said.

The civilian aircraft chartered by the Foreign Office left Wuhan at 9.45 a.m., the government said in a notice on its website.

It is due to arrive at 1 pm in Britain later on Friday, before continuing on to Spain, where the home countries of European Union citizens will take responsibility for the remaining passengers.

"We know how distressing the situation has been for those waiting to leave," Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, according to the notice. "We have been working round the clock to clear the way for a safe departure."

China to bring overseas Wuhan citizens back to city

The Chinese government is to send charter planes to bring citizens from virus-hit Hubei province who are overseas back "as soon as possible", the foreign ministry said Friday.

This is in view of "practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas", said ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

The ministry's comments come as a number of airlines announced they were halting or reducing flights to China as the country struggles to contain the spread of a deadly new virus.

China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours, while several countries including Germany, Britain and the US have urged their citizens to avoid travel to China.

When asked about the suspension of flights at a press conference on Thursday, Zhu Tao of China's Civil Aviation Administration said authorities were coordinating arrangements to bring travellers home.

As fears of the outbreak have spread overseas, prominent figures in Chinese communities in Italy warned this week of episodes of "latent racism" against their compatriots by Italians fearful of catching the virus.

US tells citizens 'do not travel' to China

The United States told its citizens Thursday night "do not travel" to China, raising its warning alert to the highest level because of the coronavirus epidemic.

In issuing a level four travel advisory - up from urging Americans to "reconsider" travel to China - the State Department said it was acting after the World Health Organization declared the epidemic originating in the city of Wuhan an international emergency.

China death toll from 'global emergency' hits 213

The nationwide death toll in China's coronavirus outbreak has risen to 213, with nearly 2,000 new cases confirmed, the National Health Commission said on Friday.

In its daily update, the commission said 43 new deaths had occurred as a result of the virus, all but one of them in hardest-hit Hubei province where the virus first emerged.

The latest numbers indicate that the daily death count and the overall spread of the virus within China were continuing to grow steadily, despite unprecedented quarantine measures imposed on Hubei a week ago and other preventative steps nationwide.

On Thursday, Chinese health officials had reported a nationwide total of 38 new deaths, all but one of them in Hubei.

The National Health Commission said there were 1,982 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to just under 10,000.

Another 102,000 people were under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.

Italy to let passengers off cruise ship

Civitavecchia, Italy: Italy’s health ministry said Thursday two Chinese cruise ship passengers had tested negative for the coronavirus, meaning thousands of stranded passengers could disembark.

Costa Cruises was offering to pay for food and hotels for some 1,140 people who had been due to disembark at the Civitavecchia port near Rome early Thursday, and the Costa Smeralda was to set sail again Friday, Italian media said.

Coronavirus declared global emergency by WHO

The World Health Organization declared on Thursday that the coronavirus epidemic in China now constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, announced the decision after a meeting of its Emergency Committee, an independent panel of experts, amid mounting evidence of the virus spreading to some 18 countries.

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The UN health agency declared an international emergency over the deadly coronavirus from China -- a rarely used designation that could lead to improved international co-ordination in tackling the disease. Image Credit: AFP

Tedros told a news conference in Geneva that recent weeks have witnessed an unprecedented outbreak which has been met by an unprecedented response.

"Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China," he said.

"Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems," he added.

Read more

US reports 1st case of person-to-person spread of coronavirus

The man is married to the Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. There have been cases reported of the infectious virus spreading to others in a household or workplace in China and elsewhere.

The new case is the sixth reported in the United States. The other five were travelers who developed the illness after returning to the U.S. from China. The latest patient had not been in China.

The Chicago woman, who is in her 60s, returned from central China on Jan. 13, then last week went to a hospital with symptoms and was diagnosed with the viral illness. She and her husband are hospitalised.

Anti-China sentiment spreads along with coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak has stoked a wave of anti-China sentiment around the globe, from shops barring entry to Chinese tourists, online vitriol mocking the country's exotic meat trade and surprise health checks on foreign workers.

The virus, which originated in China, has spread to more than a dozen countries, many of them in Southeast Asia which has sensitive relations with China amid concerns about Beijing's vast infrastructure spending and political clout in the region and sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea.

Authorities and schools in Toronto, Canada, were moved to warn against discrimination towards Chinese Canadians, while in Europe there was anecdotal evidence of Chinese residents facing prejudice in the street, and hostile newspaper headlines.

"Orientalist assumptions plus political distrust plus health concerns are a pretty powerful combination," said Charlotte Setijadi, and anthropologist who teaches at Singapore Management University. Read the full story

UK given go-ahead for Wuhan evacuation Friday

Britain has received clearance to evacuate its citizens and a number of other foreign nationals from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of a deadly virus outbreak, London said on Thursday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the charter flight would leave early on Friday morning local time, after receiving the necessary clearance from Beijing.

"We are pleased to have confirmation from the Chinese authorities that the evacuation flight from Wuhan airport to the UK can depart at 0500 local time on Friday, 31 January," he said.

"Our embassy in Beijing and consular teams remain in close contact with British nationals in the region to ensure they have the latest information they need."

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a number of countries had similar issues.

The flight - a Spanish charter - is due to return to Royal Air Force base Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, south central England, the spokesman told reporters.

Those on board will be isolated for 14 days at a medical facility in the northwest of England.

About 200 people will be on the plane, including about 50 foreign, mainly EU nationals. The Britons will disembark at Brize Norton. The plane will then go on to Spain, the spokesman said.

Possible virus case traps 7,000 on carnival cruise ship in Italy

A cruise ship owned by Carnival Corp. was blocked from leaving an Italian port with some 7,000 people on board, after a passenger came down with symptoms that raised concerns about a possible case of coronavirus.

Passengers are seen onboard the Costa Smeralda
Passengers are seen onboard the Costa Smeralda cruise ship of Costa Crociere, carrying around 6,000 passengers, as it sits docked at the Italian port of Civitavecchia following a health alert due to a Chinese couple and a possible link to coronavirus, in Civitavecchia, Italy, January 30, 2020 Image Credit: Reuters

Carnival's Italian unit Costa Crociere SpA said that a 54-year-old woman from Macau is currently in isolation on board its Costa Smeralda cruise ship in the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome.

A medical team from a Rome hospital examined the patient, who demonstrated fever and respiratory symptoms, this morning, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Further operations on the ship "will be decided later," a Coast Guard spokesman said, reported Bloomberg.

The Costa Smeralda case could mark the first case of a cruise ship being affected by the coronavirus. Cruise vessels, where passengers are in close contact over extended periods of time, are particularly susceptible to outbreaks and spreads of viruses. It would also be the first confirmed case of the disease in Italy.

Carnival Corp. shares fell as much as 11% in London and traded down 6.7% at 12:52 p.m. local time.

"As soon as the suspected case emerged, medical staff onboard immediately activated the necessary health procedures," Costa Crociere said in a statement. "Our priority is to guarantee the health and safety of our guests and team."

Italian media reported that passengers were protesting the lockdown of the ship and lack of information via Twitter.

The ship was bound for La Spezia in the Liguria region, with 1,000 crew and 6,000 passengers, 750 of whom came from China, a port spokesman said.

Chinese communities warn of Italy 'racism' over virus

Prominent figures in Chinese communities in Italy warned Thursday of episodes of "latent racism" against their compatriots by Italians fearful of catching a deadly viral outbreak.

Tensions increased after 7,000 people were held on a cruise ship in an Italian port following the isolation of two Chinese passengers over fears they could be carrying the coronavirus, despite preliminary tests coming up negative.

Italian newspapers have reported cases of bullying or discrimination against Chinese people following the outbreak of the disease, which has now killed 170 in China and has spread abroad, with at least 15 countries confirming infections.

"It's extremely unpleasant, absurd, and infuriating," Francesco Wu, a member of the Italian Business Association Confcommercio, often called on to speak for the 30,000-strong Chinese community in Milan, told La Stampa daily.

Racist episodes reportedly included Chinese tourists being spat at in Venice, a family in Turin being accused of carrying the disease, and mothers in Milan using social media to call for Italian children to be kept away from Chinese classmates.

"It's totally unjustified and it hurts even more because it involves children. It's a mix of ignorance and latent racism," Wu said.

Local health officials have sent the schools concerned a letter stating that "there is no need to introduce measures restricting the presence of Chinese children within school communities," according to AGI.

There were some 300,000 Chinese living in Italy at the end of 2018, according to the National Statistics Institute (Istat).

Many countries 'unprepared' for China virus: monitor

Many countries are unprepared to face the deadly virus spreading in China and beyond, a global health monitor warned Thursday as it urged goverments to get ready.

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent body created by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, hailed "the speed of response so far" by China and other countries affected by the novel coronavirus.

"The Board however is concerned that many countries remain unprepared and urges leaders in all countries to take immediate action to ensure that they have the necessary capacities in place," it said in a statement.

"All countries and local governments, including those that have not yet been affected, must urgently dedicate resources to building their essential preparedness capacities," it said.

They must be positioned to "prevent, detect, inform about and respond to the outbreak," it said.

Its comments came as the WHO held a meeting to determine whether to declare the outbreak, which has killed 170 people and infected more than 7,700 people in China, as well as around 100 people across more than a dozen other countries, a global emergency.

Reining in the new SARS-like virus, for which there is no vaccine and no treatment, will require a lot of money, GPMB said.

It called for both public and private research institutions to "urgently accelerate the coordinated development of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics against the coronavirus."

Air France cabin crews demand halt to China flights

Unions at Air France have demanded the carrier stop flying to China, cabin crew representatives told Reuters, amid concern that the flights may expose employees to the coronavirus and help spread infections.

The main Air France flight attendants' unions asked managers at a meeting on Wednesday to end the flights to Beijing and Shanghai, officials at the UNAC and SNPNC unions said.

"When the staff see that other airlines have stopped flying there, their reaction is 'Why are we still going?'," UNAC president Flore Arrighi said.

European rivals including Lufthansa and British Airways have suspended China operations, but Air France and its Dutch stablemate KLM have maintained services on a reduced schedule reflecting a slump in demand.

Air France said it had no immediate comment on its discussions with unions.

"Air France is monitoring the rapidly evolving situation in real time," a spokesman said. "The health and safety of its crew remain the absolute priority." The number of deaths from the fast-spreading virus in China has risen to 170.

The call for a halt to China flights was raised during a full works council on Thursday, and some pilots' representatives also backed the demand, union officials said.

Air France has already put in place a voluntary system allowing pilots and crew to opt out of China flights with no loss of earnings, and shortened staff layovers in Beijing to try to reduce their potential exposure to the virus.

Czechs halt issuance of visas to Chinese, consider flight ban

The Czech Republic has halted the issuance of visas to Chinese citizens and is considering a ban on flights from China due to the spread of the new coronavirus, government officials said on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said no new visas were being issued and no new applications were being taken, news agency CTK reported.

A ministry spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Czech Television that the government may also halt flights from China to the central European country.

"I am considering - unless something significant happens, as Europe is not very proactive - that I will propose to the government on Monday to temporarily halt all flights form China," he said.

Direct connections to Prague are operated by Hainan Airlines from Beijing, China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai and Xi'an, and Sichuan Airlines from Chengdu.

The Czech Republic has not confirmed any cases of infection by the virus, which has killed about 170 people in China and infected thousands of others so far.

British Airways  extends flights suspension to China  

British Airways said on Thursday that all its flights to mainland China had been cancelled for a month, in a further sign of the impact that the outbreak of a new coronavirus is having on global travel.

A spokeswoman said all flights to Beijing and Shanghai had been suspended until the end of February.

BA's suspension of flights began on Wednesday, but initially it had only been in place until Friday while the airline assessed the situation.

Fears over the spread of the flu-like virus, which originated in the central city of Wuhan, are growing as the death toll rose to 170 and countries warned their citizens over travel to China.

Britain's Foreign Office on Tuesday advised against "all but essential" travel to mainland China.

Direct BA flights to Hong Kong are not affected.

Ikea closes all stores in China over new coronavirus

Stockholm: - Swedish furniture giant Ikea said Thursday it will close all of its Chinese stores "until further notice," in response to the spread of the new deadly coronavirus.

The company said that it had "temporarily closed all of the 30 stores in mainland China until further notice, effective from January 30."

Ikea announced Wednesday that it had already closed half of its stores in the country, after first announcing last week the closure of its store in Wuhan, where the outbreak of the new coronavirus started in late 2019.

The some 14,000 staff working for Ikea in China were "asked to stay at home until further notice with paid leave," Ikea said.

The toll from the viral epidemic rose to 170 deaths on Thursday and about 7,700 confirmed cases.

Outside China, Macau and Hong Kong there have been at least 80 infections reported.

The outbreak is feared to have a serious impact on the global economy, with air traffic already disrupted and industrial production, international trade and tourism affected.

Philippines confirms first case of new coronavirus

Philippine health officials have confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus in the country.

A 38-year-old Chinese woman, who arrived in the country from Wuhan, China, on January 21, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a news conference.

Duque said the patient, confined in a government hospital, is currently asymptomatic.

First case of coronavirus in Kerala, India

India's health ministry says it has detected its first case of the novel coronavirus in the southern state of Kerala. A student who had been studying at Wuhan University tested positive for the virus.

The ministry says in a statement that the student has been kept in isolation and is being monitored at a hospital. It's not clear when the student returned to India from China.

Passengers who have travelled to China recently are being screened for symptoms in at least 20 Indian airports. The health ministry says that isolation wards have been identified in different hospitals across the country in order to prepare for a potential outbreak.

The Indian government said Wednesday that it is planning to operate two flights to evacuate Indians from Hubei in China and isolate them for 28 days in the Indian capital of New Delhi. The health ministry says that it was planning to airlift only those who don't appear to have symptoms of the flu in order to minimize the risk of the infection spreading.

WHO considers emergency decree

The World Health Organization (WHO) called a meeting of its Emergency Committee Thursday to consider issuing a global alarm as the death toll from the spreading coronavirus rose to 170 and the number of cases jumped.

Masks and virus protection

Asian stocks slumped to a seven-week low on Thursday amid mounting evidence that the outbreak is disrupting China's economy. Economists have started cutting growth forecasts as authorities tighten travel restrictions and lock down cities, while companies suspend their China operations.

Airlines across the world suspended more flights to the country, as the U.S., the U.K., Japan and other countries moved to evacuate citizens from the outbreak's epicenter, Wuhan.

Asian markets fall on fears over economic impact of virus

Asian markets fell Thursday with investors concerned about the economic impact from the spread of the new coronavirus as China reported more than 1,700 new infections.

Airlines around the world are either suspending or paring back services in and out of China following cases of human-to-human transmission outside the country and manufacturers have also been cutting their Chinese operations.

The World Health Organization, which initially downplayed the severity of the disease, warned all governments to be "on alert" as it weighs whether to declare a global health emergency.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the coronavirus posed a new risk to growth in China and elsewhere.

In Asian stock markets, Hong Kong was down 1.4 percent and Tokyo dropped 1.6 percent.

Virus spreads to every Chinese region

The nationwide death toll from China's viral epidemic has leapt to 170, the government said on Thursday, with more than 1,700 new infections confirmed. Tibet also reported its first case, the commission said. The virus has now spread to every region in mainland China.

The 38 new deaths marked the biggest single-day jump yet and come as a massive containment effort is under way that has effectively locked down tens of millions of people in Hubei.

Another death occurred in southwestern Sichuan province, the National Health Commission reported.

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Medical staff members wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city, work at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan. Image Credit: AFP

3 evacuated Japanese test positive for coronavirus

Three Japanese citizens among more than 200 evacuated from China have tested positive for coronavirus, Japan's health minister said Thursday.

The three people arrived in Japan on Wednesday, on the first flight to evacuate Japanese citizens from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a deadly outbreak that has killed 170 people and infected thousands.

China death toll jumps to 170, biggest single-day increase

Wuhan: The nationwide death toll from China's viral epidemic has leapt to 170, the government said on Thursday, with more than 1,700 new infections confirmed.

Thirty-seven of the 38 new deaths came in hard-hit Hubei province, the epicentre of a contagion that is causing mounting global fear.

Another death occurred in southwestern Sichuan province, the National Health Commission reported.

Tibet also reported its first case, the commission said.

The 38 new deaths marked the biggest single-day jump yet and come as a massive containment effort is under way that has effectively locked down tens of millions of people in Hubei.

Most of the latest reported infections also occurred in Hubei, which tallied 1,032.

Human spread of virus in 3 countries outside China 'worrying': WHO

Geneva: The person-to-person spread of the new coronavirus in three countries — Germany, Vietnam and Japan — is "worrying" and will be considered by experts reconvened to consider declaring a global emergency, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking to a news conference in Geneva on return from China, was asked about an international team agreed to be sent to China. He said it would be composed of WHO staff and countries should make "bilateral arrangements" to send their own experts.

The WHO official said he would like to reform the current system for declaring international emergencies to have a three-phase system.

On Thursday, a WHO committee will reconvene to debate declaring China's widespread outbreak of a newly-identified coronavirus a global public health emergency.

WHO raises 'grave concern' over spread outside of China


The spread of a fast-moving virus outside of China is of “grave concern” and is what’s prompted the World Health Organization to reconvene an emergency meeting Thursday to decide whether it’s a global health emergency.

The coronavirus has spread to a handful of people through human-to-human contact outside of China, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said at a press conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters Wednesday.

Chinese man, 29, under watch for novel coronavirus dies in Manila

A 29-year-old Chinese man, who is under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus infection has died of pneumonia while undertaking treatment at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, the Inquirer reported quoting official from the hospital announced on Wednesday.

San Lazaro Hospital director Dr. Edmundo Lopez was quoted as saying that the victim, who is from Yunnan, China, died on Wednesday at 7am. The patient was admitted on Monday (January 27, 2020).

The Philippines is the 20th country where cases of the fast-spreading coronavirus had been reported, as of January 29, 2020.
The Philippines is the 20th country where cases of the fast-spreading coronavirus had been reported, as of January 29, 2020. Image Credit: Screengrab

Dr Lopez also noted that the samples from the Chinese victim were already sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa for an initial test for suspected novel coronavirus infection.

The Philippines is the 20th country where cases of the fast-spreading coronavirus had been reported, as of January 29, 2020. Until Wednesday morning, Philippine health authorities said the country remained "free" from novel-coronavirus, but the Philippine Department of Health said it was monitoring 23 persons suspected of carrying the deadly virus.

Brits evacuated from Wuhan to be 'isolated for 14 days'

British citizens evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of a deadly virus outbreak, will be isolated for two weeks with "all necessary medical attention", Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday.

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"Anyone who returns from Wuhan will be safely isolated for 14 days, with all necessary medical attention," he wrote on Twitter. "Public safety is the top priority."

Kuwait advises citizens against travel to Shanghai due to coronavirus

Kuwait on Wednesday asked its nationals not to travel to the Chinese city of Shanghai due to the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency KUNA said.

Champions League games moved

All home games for Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League’s group stage in February and March will be rescheduled and played as away fixtures, officials said Wednesday, due to the deadly coronavirus sweeping the country.

The change affects four Chinese clubs and their South Korean opponents.

The Asian Football Confederation said the decision was a “precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all participating players and teams”.

Coronavirus cases in Beijing on the rise

Beijing health official says coronavirus cases in Beijing on the rise, risks of infection in city rising.

Indonesia's Lion Air to suspend China flights over virus

Indonesia's Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia's biggest carrier by fleet size, is halting all its flights to and from China owing to the deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

"All flights to China will be suspended temporarily starting from February 1st until further notice," Danang Mandala Prihantoro told AFP. Dozens of flights would be affected on routes to 15 Chinese cities, he added.

British Airways suspends China flights

British Airways says immediately suspending China flights over coronavirus

spread of corona virus
Image Credit: Gulf News

Australia to quarantine people on an island normally used to detain asylum seekers

A Japanese chartered flight carrying 206 evacuees from Wuhan, China, has landed at Tokyo's Haneda international airport.

Meanwhile, Australia plans to evacuate its citizens from the epicentre of the deadly virus outbreak in China and quarantine them on an island normally used to detain asylum seekers, according to proposals unveiled Wednesday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said "vulnerable" Australians - including children and the elderly - and short-term visitors to Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province would be prioritised in extraction efforts.

Officials said about 600 Australians were known to be in the area, which has been locked down in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Morrison said Australia was working with New Zealand on the operation and would seek to help Pacific nations evacuate their citizens where possible but his "first priority right now is the safety of Australians".

"I stress there is rather a limited window here and we are moving very, very swiftly to ensure we can put this plan together and put the operation together," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

"I stress that this will be done on a last-in, first-out basis."

Morrison said they would be held in quarantine for 14 days on Christmas Island, known for its notorious immigration detention centre used to detain asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat.

"The defence forces have been tasked to identify overflow facilities where that may be necessary and also to provide whatever logistical and other support is necessary to support the operations on Christmas Island," he added.

He also sought to downplay expectations about how many Australians could be evacuated from Wuhan.

"I want to stress that we cannot give a guarantee that this operation is able to succeed and I also want to stress very clearly that we may not be in a position if we're able to do this on one occasion to do it on another occasion," he said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia was seeking permission from Chinese authorities to allow its citizens to depart Wuhan, with Australian consular officials travelling from Shanghai to coordinate the efforts.

Number of confirmed China cases hits nearly 6,000

Wuhan: The number of confirmed cases in the new virus outbreak in China reached 5,974 on Wednesday, overtaking the number of people infected in the mainland by the SARS epidemic in 2002-3.

China’s national health commission reported more than 1,400 confirmed new cases on Wednesday, as the death toll rose to 132.

India: 16 suspected Coronavirus cases in Punjab, five in Haryana

Sixteen patients in Punjab and five in Haryana have been quarantined on suspicion of having Coronavirus, ministers in both the states said on Tuesday.

However, one death in Punjab's Amritsar was due to swine flu.

A 28-year-old man from Mohali in Punjab who had recently returned from China, was admitted to the PGI here after he was diagnosed with symptoms of Coronavirus.

The blood samples of all the patients have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said 16 patients have been kept in isolation wards and are under observation. Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology.

He said sample reports of the child, who died in Amritsar on Monday, confirmed swine flu was responsible for the death.

Sidhu's counterpart in Haryana, Anil Vij told the media that five people, who have a travel history to China, have been hospitalised on suspicion of having Coronavirus symptoms.

According to him, two of them have shown symptoms closer to Coronavirus.

The two cases from Gurugram and one each from Faridabad, Panipat and Nuh have been reported, said Suraj Bhan Kamboj, Director General Health Services, Haryana.

"We have sent the samples of two people, who have shown symptoms, to National Institute of Virology in Pune for testing. But all the five are under observation," he said.

PGI Director Jagat Ram told the media here that he wrote a letter to the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh not to refer the suspected Coronavirus patients to the PGI but to keep them in isolation wards in their hospitals.

He said the 28-year-old man was the lone suspected case and the virus could be confirmed only after getting the report by Wednesday.

The man was admitted to the PGI with high grade fever and headache. His family has been quarantined in home.

Ram said the swine flu is still prevalent and both swine flu and Coronavirus have almost similar symptoms.

In Punjab, thermal sensors have been installed at Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport in Amritsar and the Chandigarh international airport to screen coronavirus.

Two suspected Coronavirus patients in Hyderabad test negative

Two persons, who had returned from China and were suspected to have symptoms of Coronavirus, were tested negative, Telangana health officials said on Tuesday.

A total of four persons, who had visited China, and wife of one of them approached the Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Tropical and Communicable Diseases, popularly known as Fever Hospital, here during last three days.

They were kept under observation and swab samples of two of them were sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. "Both the samples tested negative," said Fever Hospital Superintendent K. Shankar.

He told reporters that Telangana has not recorded any case of Coronavirus infection so far. "Only some people who suspected to be having symptoms of Coronavirus approached the hospital," he said.

The official said after keeping them under observation at the isolation ward, the samples of only those really having the symptoms were being sent to Pune.

He said those coming from China were being screened on arrival at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.

Shankar said there was no need for any panic but people should take the precautions like washing their hands frequently, using a cloth while sneezing or coughing and wearing mask while going out in public.

He said those carrying symptoms like running nose, fever, headache and breathing problem should avoid going at public places and should approach the hospital for treatment.

He also advised people to drop plans to travel to countries like China, including Hong Kong, as well as Singapore and Vietnam, where the disease is endemic.

An isolation ward with 40 beds has been set up at the Fever Hospital as a precautionary measure to deal with suspected cases of Coronavirus.

Similar isolation wards have also been set up at Gandhi Hospital and Chest Hospital in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, three teams from Union Ministry of Health on Tuesday visited these hospitals to review the level of preparedness to deal with possible Coronavirus cases and suggested additional measures.

Coronavirus outbreak could peak in ten days: Chinese expert

A viral outbreak that has killed 106 people in China could reach its peak in around 10 days, a top Chinese government expert said Tuesday.

The novel coronavirus that has infected thousands of people across China has genetic similarities to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), a pathogen that left some 650 people dead on the mainland and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

The new virus first emerged in early December in the central city of Wuhan and the number of cases has soared in recent days, doubling to more than 4,500 in the past 24 hours.

Zhong Nanshan, a renowned scientist at China's National Health Commission, told the official Xinhua news agency that the outbreak "will not increase at a large scale".

"I believe it should reach a peak in a week or around ten days," Zhong said.

Zhong told Xinhua that the "fatality rate would certainly continue to fall" even though no cure had been found so far, thanks to life support technology and efforts of researchers and medical workers.

The virus spread quickly through Wuhan because "there could have been many mild cases that were similar to regular colds," Zeng Guang, a member of the health commission's senior expert panel, told state broadcaster CCTV.

"The battle of Wuhan is taking place under a situation where there is no clear boundary between us and the enemy," Zeng said.

More than 50 million people have been barred from travelling in Wuhan and other cities in central Hubei province after a lockdown that began last week in a desperate effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Temperature checkpoints have been set up at railway stations and airports across the country.

But Ma Xiaowei, the head of China's National Health Commission, said Sunday that the virus was "contagious during the incubation period," prompting worries that asymptomatic people could be spreading the disease undetected.

"Compared to SARS, the new coronavirus is more 'cunning'," said Zeng, who is also the chief epidemiologist of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nevertheless, Zeng believed the situation would improve with the onset of warmer weather, which was "not conducive to the spread of infectious respiratory diseases".

Chinese health authorities said many of the people who have tested positive for the virus without showing any symptoms were known close contacts of existing cases, so they were more likely to deliberately avoid public spaces.

Since "patients with mild illness tend to show fewer cough symptoms... the transmission ability might not be that strong," said Li Xingwang, chief expert of the infectious diseases diagnosis and research center at Beijing Ditan Hospital.

China confirms 4,500 cases of virus, more than 50 elsewhere

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of a new virus, with 106 deaths. Most have been in the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak began in December. More than 50 cases have been confirmed in other places with nearly all of them involving Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan recently.

Some details on cases confirmed as of late Tuesday morning Beijing time:

  • China: 4,515 cases on the mainland, with 1,771 of those newly confirmed in the 24 hours through midnight Monday. In addition, Hong Kong has eight cases and Macao has five. Nearly all of the 106 deaths have been in central Hubei province, but the new total includes the first death in Beijing.
  • United States: 5, 2 in southern California and 1 each in Washington state, Chicago, and Arizona.
  • Thailand: 14
  • Australia: 5
  • Singapore: 7
  • South Korea: 4
  • Japan: 6
  • Malaysia: 4
  • France: 3
  • Taiwan: 3
  • Vietnam: 2
  • Canada: 2
  • Germany: 1
  • Nepal: 1
  • Cambodia: 1
  • Sri Lanka: 1

WHO says China virus evacuations not needed: report

Evacuating foreign nationals from the epicentre of China's deadly virus outbreak is unnecessary, the World Health Organisation said Tuesday according to state media.

The health body said it was still "waiting for clarification" about the comments of its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who met with Chinese officials in Beijing, including President Xi Jinping to discuss how to contain the infection.

The United States, Japan and several other countries are drawing up plans to safely evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the origin of the coronavirus epidemic that has claimed more than 100 lives across China.

More than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding cities are subject to a lockdown that has halted flights, trains and bus travel in or out of the area.

Tedros' agency "does not recommend the evacuation of nationals, and called on the international community to remain calm and not overreact," according to a report in the official Xinhua news agency.

The country's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the WHO chief China had "full capability, confidence and resources to overcome the epidemic at an early date," the report said.

Tedros also will fly back to Geneva on Tuesday evening, said spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

The WHO last week stopped short of declaring the outbreak a global emergency, which could have prompted a more aggressive international response such as travel restrictions.

But on Monday it admitted making an error in originally assessing the virus' worldwide threat as "moderate", issuing an update late Sunday saying the risk was actually "high at the global level."

More than 4,500 people across China have contracted the virus according to health authorities, while another 7,000 cases are suspected and awaiting confirmation.

Asian nations try to shield against deadly outbreak

Asian nations were ramping up defences against a deadly viral epidemic Tuesday, sealing borders, shuttering public places and clamping down on visitors from China.

Concern over the steadily expanding contagion is prompting an increasingly urgent push for protection.

Hong Kong, which has eight reported cases of the SARS-like disease, announced the sealing of six of its 14 border crossings to the mainland from Thursday.

The government in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of seven million had faced criticism for merely barring people from the outbreak's ground-zero, central Hubei province.

"The epidemic has spread to many Chinese provinces. Only blocking visitors from Hubei can't do much to help Hong Kong," lawmaker Helena Wong said.

Singapore, with seven confirmed cases of the virus, has announced it will ban visitors who have travelled to Hubei as well as those with passports issued in that Chinese province.

Government official Lawrence Wong said the travel restrictions were not taken lightly and will be expanded if necessary.

Officials said efforts are also underway to track down an estimated 2,000 people already in Singapore with a Hubei travel history for potenital quarantine.

Mongolia has taken a much more drastic line, closing its entire border with China to pedestrians and cars as well as ordering schools to close. It has no reported cases.

In Russia's Far-Eastern district, which shares some 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) of frontier with China, crossings that should have re-opened after Chinese New Year will stay closed for days or weeks.

Corralling the disease has become an effort at containing people's movements, and both Malaysia and the Philippines have taken steps to squelch the flow of Chinese visitors.

Manila has been issuing visas on arrival since 2017 to Chinese nationals, adding fuel to the boom in mainland visitors to the Philippines.

That policy is now suspended, though Chinese can still apply for a visa at a consulate or embassy in their home nation.

'Avoid people gathering'

"We are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help prevent the entry (of the virus)," said Jaime Morente, immigration commissioner in the Philippines, which has no confirmed cases.

Thailand announced that all passengers flying in from Chinese airports are undergoing screening, as the number of confirmed infections hit 14 on Tuesday - the highest outside of China.

The outbreak is sending shock waves through Asia's tourism industry, which has become increasingly reliant on growing numbers of Chinese visitors.

The measures come amid a boom in Chinese foreign travel, with the number of tourists from the country increasing nearly tenfold since 2003, according to a report by research firm Capital Economics.

China has already imposed wide-ranging travel restrictions across the country and halted international tours, but on Tuesday called for all overseas travel to be postponed.

Authorities have also cracked down on public places where the disease could spread, with Mongolia barring events like conferences or sporting competitions.

From Wednesday, Hong Kong public facilities ranging from pools and sports centres to museums will all be closed.

Authorities say the restrictions have one primary purpose: "avoid people gathering."

Coronavirus: HK to drastically cut cross-border travel with China

Hong Kong will drastically reduce cross-border travel with China in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus, starting with the shutdown of the two railways and denying entry to individual mainland travellers, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.

Flights from and to mainland China will be cut by half and cross-border tour buses will also be reduced, the South China Morning Post quoted Lam as saying in a press conference as she listed the containment strategy that stopped short of a total shutdown demanded by legislators from across the political spectrum.

Beijing has agreed to stop issuing individual visas for travellers, who account for half of all such mainland arrivals into Hong Kong.

The measures will be effective midnight on Thursday.

In her second press conference on measures to cope with the infection that has claimed 106 lives in China, Lam, wearing a mask, said that the through train services between Hung Hom and Guangzhou would be suspended, while the Man Kan To and Sha Tau Kok checkpoints would also be closed.

According to China's state-run Xinhua news agency, eight confirmed cases have been reported in Hong Kong, seven in Macau and five in Taiwan.

As of Tuesday, there were at least 106 fatalities due to the coronavirus in China, with 4,515 confirmed cases in 30 provincial-level regions, according to the country's National Health Commission.

At the moment, Tibet remains the only Chinese province that has not registered any cases.

Suspected Chinese coronavirus patient gives birth to baby by caesarean

Chinese doctors have safely delivered a baby boy from a Chinese woman suspected of being infected with the new coronavirus through a caesarean section in the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The doctor who performed the caesarean said the 27-year-old mother's condition had been deteriorating and the baby was putting too much pressure on her. At the same time, the woman could not get proper treatment for her illness while carrying the baby.

But the surgery was extremely dangerous as the mother had a fever and was coughing non-stop while the doctors faced the risk of infection with the coronavirus, state television reported.

The doctor who performed the operation, Zhao Yin, deputy director at the obstetrics and gynaecology department at Wuhan Union Hospital, wore two protective suits, a face mask and goggles during the one-hour surgery.

"I could barely see or hear anything," Zhao told state television. "And I was soaked with sweat." The virus has killed 106 people and infected more than 4,500 across China.

The mother, identified only as Xiaoyan, was 37 weeks pregnant when she was suspected of being infected by the coronavirus in early January. Her infection has not been confirmed, state television said.

The 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) baby boy was sent home as quickly as possible to avoid the danger of it being exposed to the virus in hospital, state television said.

"I just want my baby to be healthy," Xiaoyan told state television.

First Indian nCoV patient in China shows signs of recovery

The first Indian to have diagnosed with Novel coronavirus by a hospital in China, Preeti Maheshwari, has started showing signs of recovery, her cousin Pratibha Maheshwari shared about her health conditions on Tuesday on social media.

Pratibha in her Facebook post, said: "Thank you so much for coming forward and helping with my cousin's treatment. Your generosity and prayers have helped her regain consciousness, and she is now undergoing wheelchair therapy. While it's a long road to recovery, doctors are hopeful she will be off the ventilator in the next 3-4 days. We have also managed to raise the requisite funds for her treatment, and are now closing all fund raising activity. Thank you once again for your kindness. Please continue to pray for her speedy recovery."

Preeti Maheshwari, a primary Art School Teacher in an international School of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China and a mother of two daughters, is suffering from coronavirus Pneumonia, Type 1 respiratory failure, Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS) and septic shock. She was admitted on January 11. Preeti is currently undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit at Shekou Hospital in Shenzhen. 41-Year-old Preeti moved to China in 2017 for better career opportunity.

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

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.