Death toll jumps again, infections accelerate and more countries announce evacuation flights for citizens in Wuhan.
The death toll in China from the new coronavirus has risen to 170, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.
Some 7,711 people in China are now confirmed to have the infection, which has spread from Wuhan’s Hubei province to every one of China’s 31 provinces.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged governments around the world to “take action” over the SARS-like virus, cases of which have been confirmed in almost 20 countries.
The WHO will hold an urgent meeting on Thursday over whether the outbreak should be declared a global health emergency – a designation that can lead to increased international coordination.
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Thursday, January 30-
South Korea has confirmed two new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to six.Of the two, one patient recently returned from Wuhan but the other was confirmed to be the country’s first human-to-human transmission, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.The two patients were immediately quarantined.
Vietnam confirms three new cases
Three new cases of coronavirus have emerged in Vietnam,the official health ministry said, bringing the number of active cases in the country to four.
Two people are being treated for the virus in the capital, Hanoi, while another is receiving treatment in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, a report in the Suc Khoe & Doi Song newspaper said.
All three had recently returned from Wuhan.
Russia to shut border with China: PM
Russia will close its border with China to prevent the spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told a government meeting that the order had been signed “to take measures to close the border [with China] in the Far East,” Russian news agencies reported.
Russia to pause issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals
Russia will temporarily stop issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals from Thursday, the foreign ministry said.
On Wednesday, Russia said it would limit its railway links with China from January 31, leaving only direct trains between Moscow and Beijing.
Vaccines likely will not be ready in time for Tokyo 2020: Professor
Vaccines against the coronavirus probably will not be ready by the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, a professor who looked at health risks ahead of the Games said, adding that he hopes there was enough time to build defenses.
Koji Wada, a professor of public health at the International University of Health and Welfare in Tokyo, co-authored a paper in 2018 that looked at health risks from the influx of visitors to the 2020 Games in July.
“We may have more information about the risk of infection and the risk of severity of getting the virus, so we can prepared,” Wada told Reuters news agency. “So we can have some precautions for infection control … but I hope we can conduct the Tokyo Olympics as scheduled.”
US to arrange more evacuation flights from Wuhan
The US government will lay on extra evacuation flights from Wuhan with capacity for private US citizens on or about February 3, the State Department said in a statement.
Individuals on the flights would be subject to screening, health observations and monitoring requirements.
It did not say how many planes it would deploy for how many US citizens.
Cambodia leader blasts online misinformation
Cambodia’s leaders urged citizens to remain calm about the new virus, while threatening to kick out reporters or officials seen wearing a face mask.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a live televised address that people should not be scared because the real illness they faces was fear, based on inaccurate information on social media.
“The prime minister does not wear a mask, so why should you be wearing a mask here,” he said.
One case of the virus has been reported in Cambodia, which has not cancelled flights to China and said there are no plans to repatriate Cambodians in China.
Virus fears push Asian stocks to seven-week low, but gold gains
Asian stocks and currencies fell as the number of deaths from the coronavirus rose and more cases were reported around the world.
India confirms first case of coronavirus
India has reported its first case of the coronavirus in the southern state of Kerala, the government said in a statement.
The patient – a student at Wuhan University – has tested positive for the virus and is stable and in isolation at a hospital, the statement added.
Philippines confirms first case of coronavirus: Health minister
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 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
China confident of minimising transmission risk on planes
China is confident it can minimise the risks of the virus being transmitted on airplanes and that the small number of cases reported abroad show it is having success in controlling its spread, an official at the civil aviation authority said.
Zhu Tao, a director at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, also told reporters during a briefing on the outbreak that foreign airlines that have canceled flights to China are responding to a change in market conditions.
UK delays evacuation flight
The United Kingdom has delayed a planned evacuation of its citizens from Wuhan because it has not yet got the correct permissions from Chinese authorities for a flight to leave.
The UK has planned to fly back its citizens to a Royal Air Force base but the flight is now unlikely to take off on Thursday.
“We are doing everything we can to get British people in Wuhan safely back to the UK,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said. “A number of countries’ flights have been unable to take off as planned. We continue working urgently to organise a flight to the UK as soon as possible.”
Israel’s El Al suspends flights to Beijing
El Al Israel Airlines has said it was suspending flights o Beijing until March 25.
Israel’s flag carrier said its Thursday flight from Beijing to Tel Aviv would return as scheduled.
China urges food producers to resume production
China’s agriculture ministry urged feed producers and slaughterhouses to speed up the resumption of production, in a bid to increase supplies amid the outbreak.
Factories typically close during the Lunar New Year holidays.
The outbreak has led to a jump in prices and insufficient supply of food in some Chinese cities due to panic buying and disruptions to transportation.
Australia defends choice of remote detention centre to house Wuhan evacuees
Australia’s conservative government has defended its decision to use a detention centre thousands of kilometres from the mainland to quarantine locals evacuated from Wuhan.
Some health officials have criticised the decision to move the people to Christmas Island – about 2,600 kilometres (1,616 miles) from Australia that had been used to hold thousands of refugees between 2002 and 2018.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said there was no other way to safely accommodate the returnees.
South Korea’s Moon urges calm amid protests
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has urged his citizens not to give in to fear as the government prepared to evacuate nationals from Wuhan.
“The weapons that will protect us from the new coronavirus are not fear and aversion but trust and cooperation,” Moon said in a speech, decrying “fake news” for having stirred excessive anxiety.
On Wednesday, protesters used tractors to block the roads to facilities earmarked for quarantine centres, calling for them to be located further away from homes and schools.
China says will punish officials who slack off in fighting virus
China’s anti-corruption watchdog said it would severely punish officials who slacked off in fighting the coronavirus.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said on its website that anyone who did not effectively carry out President Xi Jinping’s instructions in the fight against the virus would be punished.
CCDI also said it would punish those who were found derelict in their duty and misappropriated rescue funds and materials.
China regulator approves charter flights to bring home Wuhan tourists
China’s aviation authority has approved chartered flights to bring home from overseas trips some residents of the central city of Wuhan, state television said.
Domestic and international airlines cancelled flights between Wuhan and overseas cities since January 23, in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
Malaysia reports eighth case of coronavirus
Malyasia’s Ministry of Health said it had confirmed an eighth case of the virus.
The infected woman is a Chinese national and the wife of one of the other patients in Malaysia.
The 49-year-old is being treated in an isolation award at a hospital in the southern city of Johor Bahru.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases of the virus here.
Singapore to provide four masks to every household to curb virus spread
Singapore will provide every one of the country’s 1.3 million households with four surgical masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government said.
Residents will be able to collect the masks from February 1, the local Straits Times newspaper reported.
The city-state has confirmed 10 cases of coronavirus.
More countries announce evacuations from Wuhan
New Zealand, Singapore and Indonesia have said they making efforts to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan.
New Zealand plans to charter a 300-seat aircraft to bring home New Zealanders and would offer any additional seats to nationals from the Pacific islands and Australia
Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the flight was still subject to China’s approval.
“This is a complex operation as we work through all the necessary requirements but we are working to have the aircraft depart as soon as possible,” Peters said.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said it planned to bring home 92 citizens from Wuhan on a special flight and Indonesia’s foreign minister said it was working to evacuate its nationals “as soon as possible.”
IKEA closes all China stores
Sweden’s IKEA said it has temporarily closed all its stores in China because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision to close all of 30 stores follows an announcement from world’s biggest furniture retailer on Wednesday that it was closing around half of its stores and shortening the opening hours.
China football season postponed over virus fears
The Chinese Football Association (CFA) has said it would postpone all domestic games in 2020 because of the coronavirus.
Matches at all levels will be postponed, the association said in a statement on its website.
Two Koreas close liaison office in North Korea until virus outbreak comes under control
South Korea’s Unification Ministry has said it plans to bring back 58 South Korean officials and workers from the office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong as soon as possible.
The ministry said the two countries Koreas have agreed to establish new telephone and fax lines between Seoul and Pyongyang to perform liaison duties.
South Korea has reported four cases of the illness. North Korea has not officially reported a case, but its state media have called for intensive national efforts to prevent the virus from spreading to the country.
Three Japanese evacuated from Wuhan have new coronavirus
Three people among more than 200 Japanese evacuated from Wuhan have tested positive for the coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said.
The three people – two of whom did not have symptoms – arrived in Japan on Wednesday, on the first evacuation flight from the city.
Japan now has 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including two people who appear to have contracted the infection without travelling to China.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers that the three returnees would be treated in a special medical facility.
US citizens evacuated from Chinese outbreak ‘symptom-free’: officials
Nearly 200 US citizens evacuated from Wuhan landed at a military base in California on Wednesday, where officials declared them free of symptoms.
They have been asked to submit samples to test for the presence of the coronavirus and will remain isolated in their quarters for a period of up to 72 hours while they are monitored, Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
The chartered plane was met on the tarmac by emergency vehicles and three buses as personnel in biological hazard suits stood by.
Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said the group included State Department employees and their dependents.
She added that the evacuees would “not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing.”