Coronavirus
Medical workers and security personell stand at a checkpoint as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Anqing, Anhui province, China. There were encouraging signs that the epidemic was showing signs of waning as new cases fell for a second day Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: China marked another grim milestone in its war on coronavirus Wednesday with the death toll crossing 2,000 while Jong Kong recorded its second fatality. This came as a study by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention found the Covid-19 virus to be more contagious than Sars or Mers. However, there were encouraging signs that the epidemic was showing signs of waning as new cases fell for a second day.

‘Racism’

Meanwhile, China revoked the media credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters after the newspaper declined to apologise for a column that called China the “real sick man of Asia”. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing made several representations to the paper over the “racist” article, which it said denigrated Beijing’s efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic. But the paper had failed to apologise or investigate those responsible.

Passengers on cruise ships

An additional 79 cases of coronavirus have been discovered aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, the health ministry said Wednesday, bringing the total to 621. The new figures come as an initial batch of passengers began disembarking after enduring a 14-day quarantine and then testing negative for the virus. However, the remaining passengers who were stuck onboard another cruise ship docked in Cambodia for almost a week left the vessel on Wednesday after they tested negative, a government official said.

Virologist on Olympics

A respected Japanese virologist on Wednesday said if the Tokyo Olympics were tomorrow, the games probably couldn’t be held because of the fast-spreading coronavirus from Wuhan. “We need to find the best way to have a safe Olympics,” Dr. Hitoshi Oshitani said, speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. “Right now we don’t have an effective strategy, and I think it may be difficult to have the Olympics (now). But by the end of July we may be in a different situation.” The local Tokyo Olympic organising committee and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly said over the last few weeks that they are following the advice of the World Health Organization and that the games will go on.

Pakistan takes some action

Pakistan has deployed two-member special task force in Wuhan city — epicentre of Coronavirus — to assist Pakistani students confined in the locked down Chinese city. Chinese authorities accepted special request by Pakistan and allowed the two officials from the Pakistan Embassy in Beijing to enter Wuhan to meet Pakistani students and assist them until the city of Wuhan remained locked down. The move came after parents of student launched protests in Pakistan demanding Prime Minister Imran Khan to bring back their children.

According to Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqi, the task force is permanently deployed in Wuhan to maintain close liaison with Chinese authorities. “The officers will return to Beijing once the lockdown in Wuhan is lifted, and situation is stabilised,” she tweeted on Tuesday.