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A member of the media works in front of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, sitting docked in Yokohama, Japan. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: On Wednesday, the coronavirus moved from a quarantined cruise ship to shore in Japan after an employee of the country’s Health Ministry tested positive for the illness after surveying passengers on board. Another 39 of the more than 3,700 crew and passengers of Diamond Princess have tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to 175.

Another cruise ship, which had being rejected by Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Guam and the Philippines, finally found acceptance in Cambodia. It is feared that one of its 1,455 passengers and 802 crew may have the virus.

This came as China reported the lowest number of new cases since January 30.

1,113 deaths

The 2,015 new confirmed cases took China’s total to 44,653. China’s latest figures also showed that the number of deaths on the mainland rose by 97 to 1,113 by the end of Tuesday. However, fears of further international spread remained, with experts saying the outbreak was just ‘beginning’ outside China.

'Like terrorism'

Likening the epidemic’s threat to terrorism, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and one expert said that while it may be peaking in China, this was not the case beyond. “It has spread to other places where it’s the beginning of the outbreak,” Dale Fisher, head of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated by the WHO, said in an interview with AP in Singapore.

The Chinese government has recently amended guidelines on classification of coronavirus, sparking concerns that on social media about the reliability of the official data.

One of the worst consequences of the virus outbreak has been the outbreak of anti-Chinese sentiment on social media.

Accusations of racism

Addressing the issue, Chinese state news outlet Xinhua noted: “Just as the H1N1 influenza outbreak in the United States in 2009 should not be called an ‘American virus’, the NCP (novel coronavirus pneumonia) is neither a ‘China virus’ nor ‘Wuhan virus’.”

However, the spread of the virus is also triggering innovation. AP reported that one company in southwestern China built a tunnel to spray employees with disinfectant, while a steamed bun shop in Beijing is using a wooden board to serve customers and avoid contact.

Global postal services hit

Postal services have been badly hit due to the outbreak. The UN postal agency on Wednesday said flight suspensions linked to the COVID-19 outbreak have hit postal services to China, with at least eight countries stopping deliveries of letters and parcels. “The spread of the novel coronavirus has led to the suspension of airline flights and is impacting postal operations,” the Switzerland-based Universal Postal Union said in a statement to AFP.

“UPU is carefully monitoring the situation and working closely with postal operators to hopefully overcome these challenges,” the statement said.