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Coronavirus live updates: Two-third of the globe could be infected by the deadly virus, says WHO adviser

Nearly 59,804 conformed cases have been reported in 27 countriesPremium
Nearly 59,804 conformed cases have been reported in 27 countries

  • The Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus, reported a record 242 new deaths and nearly 15,000 fresh cases in a single day on Wednesday
  • India has almost 16,000 under surveillance. A community surveillance program is underway across states, union territories, said Indian govt

The worldwide spread of the coronavirus has killed over 1,368 people in over two-month-old epidemic, eclipsing the death toll from the global outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that started in China almost two decades ago. Across mainland China, there were 15,152 additional new conformed infection cases as of February 12, bringing the total accumulated number toward 60,000. Japan today reported first death from the deadly virus.

The Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus, reported a record 242 new deaths and nearly 15,000 fresh cases in a single day on Wednesday, the fastest jump in the daily count since the virus outbreak was first identified in December.

The 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, killed 774 people and sickened almost 8,100 others, in 26 countries, over eight months, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. Mainland China accounted for about 45% of SARS deaths.

Nearly 59,804 conformed cases have been reported in 27 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins university’s real time tracker of the disease, which has been declared a global health emergency by the WHO.

Here are all the latest updates of deadly coronavirus:

India has enough medicines, necessary requirements to tackle conoravirus: Minister

India has already stocked medicines and other necessary requirements to tackle coronavirus outbreak if a situation like China arrises in the country, Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

"In the morning, Union Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya briefed me that his ministry has already stocked medicines and other necessary requirements if any untoward incident like China occurs here," said Dr Vardhan.

He also said India is prepared through its various timely measures and sturdy system of surveillance for novel coronavirus.

Dr Vardhan said that regular reviews are held with all related Ministries of Health, Defence, External Affairs, Civil Aviation, Home, Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, Commerce, Panchayati Raj and other officials including State Chief Secretaries.

"We have good and effective co-ordination among ministries, robust surveillance system, a network of laboratories to support diagnosis, upgraded medical facilities, trained health workforce and media presence that can reach even remote areas," he said.

US announces 15th virus case, this one in Texas evacuee

Another case of the new coronavirus has been confirmed in a US evacuee from China, this one in a person under quarantine in Texas, AP reported.

Health officials announced the 15th confirmed US case case today. The infection was confirmed through a Wednesday night lab test.

The patient, who had been flown to at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, is now in isolation at a hospital and was reported in stable condition.

Two earlier US cases were found among evacuees who were flown last week from the Chinese city of Wuhan to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Southern California. The latest of those cases was reported Wednesday night.

White House raises doubts about China counts: reports

The Trump administration isn’t confident in the information coming out of China about the coronavirus, according to reports from Fox News and CNBC citing sources.

Estimates by outside experts have for several weeks now suggested far higher figures that China’s numbers, and hospitals and health workers at the center of the outbreak in the province of Hubei have been overwhelmed.

The US has offered to send health experts to the front lines of the outbreak, as part of a World Health Organization-led delegation to study the coronavirus and the illness it causes. US officials have said those offers have been ignored so far, and the WHO declined to comment Thursday on whether Americans would be included.

Two-third of globe could be infected by the deadly virus

As the number of coronavirus cases jumps dramatically in China, a top infectious-disease scientist warns that things could get far worse: Two-thirds of the world’s population could catch it, Bloomberg reported.

So says Ira Longini, a World Health Organization adviser who tracked studies of the virus’s transmissibility in China. His estimate implies that there could eventually be billions more infections than the current official tally of about 60,000.

If the virus spreads to anywhere near that extent, it will show the limitations of China’s strict containment measures, including quarantining areas inhabited by tens of millions of people. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has credited those steps with giving the rest of China and the world a “window" in which to prepare.

Anti-virus Valentine bouquets include sanitizer

A Philippine businesswoman is selling bouquets of Valentine’s Day flowers packed with hand sanitizers in a unique offer to help romantics fight the deadly viral outbreak.

Flower shop owner Mary Jane Villegas said today that her bouquets can better express one’s love than traditional flowers with chocolates because they address widespread alarm over the virus.

Villegas says that aside from sanitizers, the bouquets also contain a protective face mask, soap, toothpaste and a bottle of alcohol neatly arranged with red roses, tulips and other popular flowers.

“I am scared of the virus, of course, we don't know if the people we mingle with are sick," she said. "We want to live longer, that is why I made this."

A customer, Mark Richard Gigantone, says the slightly more expensive flowers will delight his wife.

Alibaba warns coronavirus is having broad impact on Chinese economy

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. warned that the coronavirus responsible for killing more than 1,300 in China is exerting a fundamental impact on the country’s consumers and merchants, and will hurt its revenue growth in the current quarter.

The Chinese e-commerce giant made the comments after reporting strong financial results for the quarter that ended in December. Revenue surged a better-than-expected 38% to 161.5 billion yuan ($23.1 billion), while net income rose 58% to 52.3 billion yuan.

But Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang and Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu were clear about the fallout from the deadly virus on employees, suppliers and merchants. Many merchants that work with the company have not been able to return to normal operations because of a shortage of employees.

“The epidemic has negatively impacted the overall China economy, especially the retail and service sectors," said Wu in a conference call after the results. “While demand for goods and services is there, the means of production in the economy has been hampered by the delayed opening of offices, factories and schools after the Lunar New Year’s holiday."

Apple to reopen some stores in Beijing from tomorrow

Apple will reopen some stores in Beijing from Feb. 14 with reduced opening hours, it said on its website, while many of its other stores in mainland China will remain shut as the country continues to battle a coronavirus outbreak.

The iPhone manufacturer said on Feb. 8 it was extending its retail store closures in China, even as it worked toward opening its corporate offices and contact centres.

Its five stores in Beijing will open from Feb. 14 between 11 am and 6 pm, according to Apple's website, shorter than its usual hours of 10 am to 10 pm Stores in cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen remain shut.

Evacuate us, India and Pak students appeal their govts after China opens hospitals in campuses

Indian and Pakistani students in China's Hubei province have made desperate pleas to their governments to evacuate them after Chinese officials decided to convert their university gymnasiums and dormitories into makeshift hospitals amid a big surge in infection cases.

Three Indian students studying at Hubei University of Chinese Medicine made desperate pleas to the Indian government to evacuate them after the university announced plans to convert the gym into a hospital. A number of Pakistani students too have complained that the dormitories are being converted into hospitals with virus patients.

The university earlier was not on the list but now an official notification has been issued to include it, the notice said.

"Now we need to cooperate. For whole Wuhan, it's a 'war' period. Hope everyone can understand...We will try our best to ensure your basic needs. Special Period, special way. Do not go out!" it said.

"Do take precautions!" the university notification said.

China has already built two make-shift hospitals with 2,300 beds and converted auditorium and stadiums into hospitals. With surging cases university dormitories and gymnasiums are being converted into hospitals.

Japan reports first death from the deadly virus

Japan confirmed its first death from the illness, a woman in her 80s. She resided in Kanagawa prefecture outside of Tokyo, national broadcaster NHK reported.

Health minister Katsunobu Kato announced that the victim is a woman in her 80s who had been treated at a hospital near Tokyo since early February after developing symptoms. Her infection was confirmed after her death.

Japan has confirmed 247 cases of the virus, including 218 from a cruise ship quarantined at the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, amid growing fears of the spreading virus.

Final sample collection of inmates at ITBP Delhi facility begins

A final sample collection of 404 inmates at an ITBP coronavirus quarantine facility in New Delhi is being carried out in order to determine if they can be discharged over the next few days, a senior official said on Thursday.

The facility has been hosting these people from early this month after they were evacuated from China in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak in that country.

"Final sample collection of all 404 people housed at our quarantine facility is being done by a team of doctors. While 200 samples have been taken today, the rest will be collected on Friday," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.

Vietnam quarantines area with 10,000 residents over coronavirus

More than 10,000 people in villages near Vietnam's capital were placed under quarantine today after six cases of the deadly new coronavirus were discovered there, AFP reported.

In the first mass quarantine outside of China since the virus emerged there in late December, the Son Loi farming region about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Hanoi will be locked down for 20 days, the health ministry said.

Checkpoints have been set up around the six villages that make up Son Loi, said an AFP team on the outskirts of the area in Binh Xuyen district.

They all originated from a female worker who was sent to Wuhan in central China -- where the virus originated -- for training.

At Kolkata airport, two passengers suspected with virus

Two more passengers were suspected with the novel coronavirus at Kolkata airport during thermal screening, Airports Authority of India told PTI. A passenger travelling on SpiceJet Ltd's Bangkok-Delhi flight was also suspected of coronavirus infection at Delhi Airport.

Two passengers who arrived at Kolkata international airport from Bangkok, were placed in isolation for suspected novel coronavirus. Both passengers were sent to Beliaghata ID Hospital, airport officials told PTI.

The novel coronavirus which was originated from Wuhan province in China, took over 14,000 lives in the country. Across the world, it has been reported in 24 countries, including India. Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global epidemic. WHO officials also asked to governments across the world to to prepare for“domestic outbreak control" if the disease spreads in their countries.

Passenger suspected of coronavirus quarantined at Delhi airport

A passenger on board a SpiceJet Bangkok-Delhi flight was quarantined on Thursday after he was suspected of having contracted the novel coronavirus, the airline said in a statement.

The passenger was quarantined by the Airport Health Organisation after the plane landed at Delhi airport, it said.

Photo: Reuters
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Photo: Reuters

"On February 13, 2020, a passenger travelling on SpiceJet flight SG-88 operating between Bangkok and Delhi was suspected of Coronavirus infection," the SpiceJet spokesperson said.

"He was seated on seat no. 31F and was the only passenger in that row. The said passenger was quarantined by Airport Health Organisation (APHO) after landing in Delhi," he added.

Jump in new cases of infection in China reflects 'broader definition: WHO

A jump in the number of new cases of coronavirus in China reflects a "broader definition" of a case of infection, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Thursday.

"It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters.

He said the Geneva-based United Nations health agency was seeking "further clarity" from China about recent updates to its case definition and reporting protocol for the coronavirus disease outbreak.

India has almost 16,000 under surveillance

A community surveillance program is underway across 34 Indian states and union territories, Indian government said. India is screening passengers at 21 airports, international seaports and border crossings.

China’s confirmed cases climb toward 60,000

China reported 15,152 additional coronavirus cases as of Feb. 12, with Hubei’s new method for counting infections accounting for the bulk of the additions.

The death toll rose by 254, the National Health Commission said at briefing. That brings the total fatality rate in mainland China to 1,367.

The NHC said there are 8,030 severe cases, while 5,911 have recovered or been discharged.

Outside of mainland China, two deaths have been reported, one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines.

Australia extends entry ban from China

Australia will extend its ban on people entering the country from mainland China due to the coronavirus for an extra week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. The original 14-day ban was due to expire on Saturday. Australia’s National Security Committee will review the need for the ban on a week-by-week basis, Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

Hubei province extends work suspension

China’s Hubei province, at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, is requiring that enterprises not resume work before Feb. 20, according to the local government.

China replaces officials in Hubei, Wuhan

Jiang Chaoliang was removed from his post as Communist Party secretary for the central province of Hubei, the official Xinhua News Agency said. He was replaced by Ying Yong, the mayor of the financial hub Shanghai.

At the same time, Ma Guoqiang was dismissed as party secretary of Wuhan, the city in Hubei where the outbreak originated. He was replaced by Wang Zhonglin, CCTV reported.

The shakeup -- following Beijing’s decision to dispatch top officials to the hardest hit province of Hubei -- comes amid deepening concerns about early efforts to suppress information about the severity of the health crisis.

Ma, the Communist Party’s highest ranking member in Wuhan, has said he was full of guilt and regret for not acting faster.

China also replaced the head of its top agency overseeing Hong Kong. Authorities there have faced public criticism over their handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to runs on surgical masks and toilet paper, shuttered schools through March and further deepened mistrust of the government after months of violent demonstrations.

Japan finds 44 more infection cases on cruise ship

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said another 44 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus infection.

The new cases bring the total number of infections to 218 from the ship, which had about 3,700 people aboard when it was placed in quarantine last week. Kato said five people from the cruise ship are in serious condition after being infected with the virus.

A man wearing a mask stands guard at the port next to the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan
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A man wearing a mask stands guard at the port next to the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan (Photo: Reuters)

Kato said passengers will begin priority disembarkation on Friday. The Health Ministry said in a separate statement that passengers over 80 years old, those in rooms without windows and those with underlying conditions will be prioritized for being let off the ship.

The Diamond Princess was placed under quarantine last week and checks were conducted after a passenger from Hong Kong who had been on the ship tested positive for the virus. The ship has become a case of concern because of the possibility of more infections in the vessel’s confined spaces, and the increased risks to elderly passengers.

Hong Kong to extend school closure

Hong Kong will extend the temporary closure of non-tertiary schools until March 16, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said in a briefing. Schools had been scheduled to resume March 2, Bloomberg reported.

Yeung said Hong Kong would decide on when to reopen schools with experts’ advice. Students are advised to make use of e-learning during campus closures.

India assures help for its citizens on quarantined ship off cost Japan

With two Indians confirmed to have been infected with the deadly coronavirus aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Yokohama in Japan, the Centre on Thursday has assured all assistance.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday that the Indian embassy in Tokyo was providing assistance to the crew and passengers.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar
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External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (Photo: PTI)

"Our Embassy @IndianEmbTokyo is in constant touch with the crew & passengers of #DiamondPrincess off Yokohama, Japan, rendering all necessary support & assistance. Passengers & crew are currently quarantined by Japanese authorities," Jaishankar said in a tweet.

"2 Indian crew members have tested positive for #Coronavirus. Will keep you updated," he added.

WHO says 'way too early' to predict end of novel coronavirus

The UN health agency on Wednesday cautioned it was "way too early" to say whether COVID-19 might have peaked or when it might end, following a drop in the number of new cases.

"I think it's way too early to try to predict the beginning, the middle or the end of this epidemic right now," Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme, told reporters.

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