Of the coronavirus deaths, 81 were in China's central Hubei province. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)
Of the coronavirus deaths, 81 were in China's central Hubei province. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Coronavirus: China' Tianjin University claims of testing virus in 15 minutes

  • The worldwide spread of the coronavirus has killed 813 people, eclipsing the death toll from the global outbreak of SARS
  • Across mainland China, there were 2,656 new confirmed infections on Saturday, bringing the total accumulated number so far to 37,198

The worldwide spread of the coronavirus has killed 813 people, eclipsing the death toll from the global outbreak of SARS that started in China almost two decades ago. Across mainland China, there were 2,656 new confirmed infections on Saturday, bringing the total accumulated number so far to 37,198.

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 said. Mainland China accounted for about 45% of SARS deaths.

Of the coronavirus deaths, 81 were in China's central Hubei province, where the virus has infected most people. New deaths in Hubei's capital Wuhan, where the outbreak started, saw a rare decline.

Here are all the latest updates of deadly coronavirus:

Thousands from cruise ship in Hong Kong freed after virus tests

Thousands of people stranded aboard a cruise ship in Hong Kong for five days were allowed to disembark on Sunday after its 1,800 crew tested negative for the deadly new coronavirus.

Health authorities in the semi-autonomous Asian financial hub said the crew and a similar number of passengers had been released from a quarantine imposed because of fears some staff could have contracted the deadly virus on a previous voyage and passed it on.

China's Tianjin University claims of testing virus in 15 minutes

A new test kit to detect coronavirus, that takes just 15 minutes, has been developed at Tianjin University of China. It will help save time in screening out potential patients.

According to Global Times, Tianjin University developed the kit in collaboration with Beijing Biotech company. The kit is undergoing clinical trials and will be sent to the health regulator for approval.

Earlier, the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), Chinese health regulatory body, approved a kit developed by SunSure Biotech, which cut the screening time to 30 minutes.

The NMPA approved four test kits on January 26.

Nine members of Hong Kong family get virus after 'hotpot'

Nine members of a Hong Kong family are infected with the new coronavirus after sharing a hotpot meal, AFP reported.

A 24-year-old man and his grandmother, 91, were initially confirmed to have the virus. Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection later said the man's father, mother, two aunts and three cousins were also infected, said the officials late Sunday.

Officials said the family was part of a gathering of 19 who shared the hotpot meal over the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January.

A hotpot -- also known as a steamboat -- is a bubbling cauldron of stock shared communally, to which diners add ingredients.

Israeli widens its travel warning

Israel’s Health Ministry widened its travel warning on Sunday to additional Asian destinations, including Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan. It advised the public to consider whether travel to these places is “necessary."

The ministry had already recommended avoiding all nonessential travel to China, and had issued an order mandating a 14-day home quarantine to any traveler who visited there.

WHO to send mission to virus-hit China

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says it received a response from China on Saturday on the dispatch of a WHO-led international mission to the country, where a new virus has emerged.

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the team leader will leave on Monday or Tuesday and the rest of the experts will follow. Asked whether members of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be part of the team, he replied, "We hope so."

"Tedros wouldn't immediately name the leader or the rest of the team, or give further details, saying that WHO will “publicize everything as soon as we're ready."

Canada to send 2nd plane to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan

Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said a second chartered plane is departing to Asia to bring another load of nationals out of Wuhan, the Chinese city locked down over the coronavirus outbreak, Canadian Press reported.

“The plane would be leaving on the 10th of February, bringing back the last group of Canadians who want to be repatriated on the 11th," Champagne said in Ethiopia Sunday.

Last Friday, a first Canada chartered plane with 176 passengers landed at a military base in Ontario. Separately a smaller group arrived in an American flight. The total number of Canadians that have been repatriated is 215, Canadian Press said.

China says cases of deadly infection have started declining

Chinese officials today said the cases of deadly infection have started declining for the first time after weeks of sharp rise.

The commission said China's new confirmed cases of coronavirus pneumonia outside Hubei Province, the ground zero of the epidemic, have been dropping for the five consecutive days.

A total of 509 new confirmed cases were reported on Saturday outside Hubei, about 42.8% lower than the number reported on Monday, Mi Feng, spokesperson of the NHC was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Sunday.

The numbers of new confirmed cases in these provinces during the past days were 890 (Monday), 731 (Tuesday), 707 (Wednesday), 696 (Thursday) and 558 (Friday).

"It shows that the joint prevention and control mechanism incorporating different regions in the country, as well as strict management, are taking effect," Mi said.

Coronavirus fallout from Singapore conference spreads across Europe

Coronavirus cases traced to a business meeting in Singapore have reached three European countries after causing infections in Asia, raising fears of a so-called super-spreader event.

A cluster of cases of the virus in France, Spain and the UK confirmed in the past day all appear to have links to a French ski resort where the infected people had contact with a British man who had just returned from the conference. The meeting was organized by an unidentified company in January and was attended by more than 90 foreigners.

The pattern raises similar concerns to the SARS outbreak of 2003, when a single infected doctor transmitted the disease to multiple people and it was then carried around the world. Malaysia and South Korea had already confirmed cases of the virus linked to the Singapore meeting, but the cluster of European cases further illustrates the challenge of containing the virus.

Foxconn says Shenzhen plant restart hinges on China’s guidance

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Apple Inc.’s main iPhone production partner, said its factories worldwide are coordinating with authorities in carrying out virus protection and are preparing safety measures with the approval of local governments.

“Our group hasn’t received any client requests to move production resumption earlier," the company, also known as Foxconn, said in a statement Saturday. Operating schedules will be arranged according to local governments’ requirements, the company said.

The company had asked employees at a facility in Shenzhen not to return to work when the extended Lunar New Year break ends on Monday, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg News.

Singapore revokes work permits

Singapore authorities revoked the work permits of four foreigners and immediately repatriated them after a breach of quarantine orders. Along with two permanent residents, they were caught working at their various places of employment during a leave-of-absence period that’s mandatory for those who had recently returned from China.

Six employers had their foreign hiring privileges suspended for two years for not ensuring their workers stay home, the manpower ministry said.

WHO sees 'some stabilising' in numbers of new cases in China

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there has been "some stabilising" in the last four days in the numbers of new cases of the coronavirus in China, AFP reported.

The UN health agency says this is "good news" and "may reflect the impact of the control measures" but cautions it is too early to make any predictions about whether the virus might have peaked.

Millions return to work in China on Monday after extended break

China raised the death toll from its coronavirus outbreak to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic, as authorities made plans for millions of people returning to work after an extended Lunar New Year break.

Many of China's usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools.

Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces and schools will remain closed and many white-collar employees will work from home.

Malaysia expands China traveller ban as deadly virus spreads

Malaysia has expanded a ban on visitors from China to include Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, after China's decision to lock down cities in the provinces to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the decision follows China's move to extend its lockdown to five cities in Zhejiang and two in Jiangsu.

"[The] travel restrictions will be enforced in accordance with the lock-down region imposed by the Chinese Government," Wan Azizah said in a statement on Sunday.

The restriction will be imposed on all tourists regardless of nationality who have visited Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, she added.

Malaysia has reported 17 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday, three of which had been discharged after making a recovery.

China allocates $10.26 billion to fight coronavirus

China's finance ministry said on Sunday all levels of government had allocated a total of ¥71.85 billion ($10.26 billion) as of Saturday afternoon to fight coronavirus.

The ministry will deploy the funds to ensure that members of public can afford diagnosis and treatment, it said in a statement on its website.

The funds will also be used to ensure that efforts of every region to fight the virus are not hampered by financial constraints, it added.

China health body warns against excessive use of protective suits

China's National Health Commission called for the 'reasonable use' of protective suits in a statement today and cautioned against "excessive and disorderly" use of the clothing that would waste resources and could also increase infection.

The statement was issued as China faces a severe shortage of equipment, including suits, masks and goggles, to protect medical workers from infection amid a newly identified coronavirus that has killed more than 813 people.

Though supplies of protective clothing have improved, they are still insufficient, said the statement.

US Embassy in China suspends regular visa services

The US will temporarily suspend regular visa services in mainland China from Monday as the coronavirus epidemic leaves it with “limited staffing."

The US embassy in Beijing and consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenyang may not be able to respond to requests on regular visa services but may make available some emergency appointments, according to a statement on its website Saturday.

India suspends pre-flight alcohol test at Kerala airports

Indian Aviation regulator DGCA has stopped the pre-flight breathalyzer (BA) test for the aircrew operating out of Kerala's four airports during the next 15 days in the wake of the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak, PTI reported.

The breathalyzer (BA) test measures whether a person is drunk or not.

"The mandatory BA test for flight crew who are operating out of Kerala's airports has been stopped for the next 15 days in light of coronavirus situation," a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

India removes some masks, gloves from banned export list

The Indian government has removed surgical masks and gloves from the list of banned export items, according to a notification, Bloomberg reported.

Last month, the government put a ban on exports of all kinds of personal protection equipment, including clothing and masks used to protect people from air borne particles amidst outbreak of deadly novel coronavirus in China.

The move assumed significance as there could be a spurt in demand for such products due to outbreak of deadly coronavirus that has claimed more than 500 lives in China.

Fourth person tests positive for coronavirus in England

A fourth person in England has tested positive for coronavirus, having contracted the illness from a previously confirmed British patient in France, England's Chief Medical Officer said on Sunday.

"The patient has been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at The Royal Free Hospital, and we are now using robust infection control measures to prevent any possible further spread of the virus," Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England said in a statement.

Five suspected cases of coronavirus reported in Pakistan

Five persons with symptoms of coronavirus were rushed to hospital after they arrived in Pakistan from a flight from China, according to a media report on Sunday.

The suspected patients were on the Air China flight carrying 177 passengers, which landed in Islamabad on Friday, The Express Tribune reported quoting airport officials.

Death of whistleblower ignites calls for political reform in China

The death of a whistleblowing doctor who was reprimanded for warning about the new coronavirus has sparked rare calls for political reform and free speech in China.

Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan -- ground zero of China's virus epidemic which has killed more than 800 -- succumbed to the disease Friday over a month after he first raised alarm about the SARS-like virus.

He was among eight physicians punished by Wuhan police for "rumour-mongering".

But after his death struck a collective nerve, a number of academics have spoken up to demand more freedoms in China.

At least two open letters demanding free speech have circulated on social media since the 34-year-old's death -- one signed by 10 professors in Wuhan.

Two new cases of coronavirus detected in UAE

Two new cases of coronavirus infection have been detected in the UAE, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the deadly disease to seven, the country's health ministry has said.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said on Saturday that "two new cases of coronavirus" were detected in the country through a routine check-up system set according to standards set by the World Health Organization.

The ministry said in a statement that the two new patients, a Chinese national and a Filipino, were receiving medical care as per the highest health standards available in the country.

Singapore appoints Flu Manager for coronavirus

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak which is spreading and causing disruptions, Singapore is putting in place a business continuity plan which includes appointment of a Flu Manager.

Enterprise Singapore supported by the Singapore Business Federation has prepared a Guide on Business Continuity Planning for 2019 novel coronavirus.

According to the document, a Flu Manager should be appointed to ensure that employees are familiar with the business continuity plans and comply with them during this period.

This document is a guide on business continuity planning for enterprises, especially for the small and medium sized enterprises in Singapore, to help them deal with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China. It is guided by the Singapore Standard for Business Continuity Management System - Requirements and relevant advisories issued by government agencies.

Singapore Airshow hit by virus fears as 70 exhibitors pull out

More than 70 exhibitors including US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin have pulled out of the Singapore Airshow over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, but organisers insisted Sunday that Asia's biggest aviation event would still go ahead.

Precautionary measures -- including a major reduction in public attendance and temperature screenings -- have been imposed ahead of the opening of the event which opens Tuesday in the city-state, which has reported 40 coronavirus infections.

Organisers were also encouraging attendees to greet each other by bowing or waving instead of shaking hands.

Leck Chet Lam, the managing director of organiser Experia Events, confirmed that more than 70 exhibitors have decided not to participate, but said there was "still strong presence" at the show.

China to stagger back to work

China raised the death toll from the coronavirus epidemic to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic in 2002/2003 and raising anxiety among people preparing to return to work after an extended Lunar New Year break.

Struggling to contain the spread of the disease, authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days onto holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January as the rising numbers of dead and infected cast a pall over the country.

Many of China's usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks, as the Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and kept schools shut.

The sight of an economy regarded as a workshop to the world laid so low has also taken a toll on international financial markets, as shares slumped and investors switched into safe-havens like gold, bonds and the Japanese yen.

37,500 people are infected

A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 37,500 people globally

The latest figures reported by global health authorities as of Sunday in Beijing:

— China: 811 deaths and 37,198 confirmed cases on the mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has had 25 cases, including one death. Macao has had 10 cases. Most of the deaths have been in central Hubei province, where illnesses from the new type of coronavirus were first detected in December.

— Japan: 96

— Singapore: 40

— Thailand: 32

— South Korea: 25

— Taiwan: 16

— Malaysia: 16

— Australia: 14

— Germany: 14

— Vietnam: 14

— United States: 12. Separately, one U.S. citizen died in China

— France: 11

— United Arab Emirates: 7

— Canada: 6

— Philippines: 3 cases, including 1 death

— United Kingdom: 3

— India: 3

— Italy: 3

— Russia: 2

— Belgium: 1

— Nepal: 1

— Sri Lanka: 1

— Sweden: 1

— Spain: 1

— Cambodia: 1

— Finland: 1

All schools to stay closed until end-February: China's northern Shandong province

China's northern Shandong province said all schools will stay closed until the end of February amid an ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the province's education bureau said in a statement on its official webite on Sunday.

The move, which applies to all types of schools, is being carried out to guarantee students' safety, the statement said.

Coronavirus can spread by direct transmission, aerosols, says official

Local authorities have said that the novel coronavirus can spread through direct transmission, contact transmission, or aerosol transmission.

"Aerosol transmission refers to the mixing of the virus with droplets in the air to form aerosols, which causes infection after inhalation, according to medical experts," Zeng Qun, deputy head of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, told China Daily on Saturday.

"As such, we have called on the public to raise their awareness of the prevention and control of the disease caused by family gatherings," he added.

Coronavirus outbreak to have impact till April: Myanmar airline

Myanmar’s largest private-sector airline said the novel coronavirus outbreak is likely to have an impact on its operations until April.

The airline, Myanmar Airways International-Air KBZ Group, has temporarily suspended all routes to mainland China as well as Taiwan, Commercial Director Tanes Kumar said in an interview.

“We had to shift some priorities within our strategy due to the virus outbreak," he said, adding that once China flights resume the carrier should be able to make up the losses expected in the first four months of the year.

Wuhan outbreak peak calculated in study

The coronavirus may have infected at least 1 in 20 people in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak, by the time it peaks in coming weeks, according to scientists modeling its spread.

Trends in reported cases in Wuhan — a city of 11 million people in lockdown since Jan. 23 -- broadly support the mathematical modeling the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is using to predict the epidemic’s transmission dynamics.

“Assuming current trends continue, we’re still projecting a mid-to-late-February peak" in Wuhan, said Adam Kucharski, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology, in a Sunday email.

Air China cuts flights between China and US due to coronavirus epidemic

State carrier Air China said late on Saturday it will "adjust" its flights between China and the United States due to the coronavirus epidemic.

A statement on the airline's Weibo microblog showed that flights between Beijing and Washington, and Shenzhen and Los Angeles had been cancelled.

China's civil aviation authority last week urged domestic carriers to continue flying international routes after more than 25,000 flights to and from or within China were axed because of plunging demand.

Singapore issues advisory for financial sector amid higher virus alert level

Singapore's central bank on Sunday said it had advised financial institutions in the city-state to take additional measures and precautions after the government raised its coronavirus alert level.

Among its recommended measures, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said financial institutions should "continue to maintain effective internal controls across their operations should split team arrangements be implemented."

It also advised them to anticipate and be prepared to manage any increase in demand for certain financial services, such as cash withdrawal or online financial services.

Kucharski and his colleagues base their modeling on a range of assumptions about the virus, including an incubation of 5.2 days and a delay from onset of symptoms to confirmation of infection of 6.1 days.

UK makes final evacuation flight

The final flight taking British citizens and others out of China has left Wuhan carrying more than 200 passengers, a UK Foreign Office spokesman said in Saturday a statement. The flight is due to land in the UK early Sunday.

Those on board include government officials who arranged the flight and medics, according to the statement.

“Alongside British nationals, there are other nationalities on board," the official said.

The first group of UK citizens returned on a flight last month and remain in quarantine.

WHO to send team to china

The World Health Organization expects a team to leave for China in the next few days, starting with a leader still to be named, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Saturday at a briefing on the spreading coronavirus.

The team’s leader will fly to China early in the week with the others heading to the center of the coronavirus outbreak later, he said at a briefing in Geneva. China responded Saturday to an offer to send the experts, he added.

Asked whether the US Centers for Disease Control would have representatives on the team, Ghebreyesus said: “We hope so."

Volkswagen delays restarting ventures

Volkswagen AG postponed resuming production at its China joint ventures, citing limited travel options for employees and because suppliers are still restarting after the extended national holiday at the end of January.

SAIC Volkswagen Automotive Co. postponed work by seven days until Feb. 17, except for a plant in Shanghai that will restart on schedule on February 10. Most production at FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co. will also restart on Feb. 10, one day later than announced end of January. Its plant in Tianjin will not repoen until Feb. 17.

Japanese Cruise Infections

Princess Cruises said that two people on its Diamond Princess ship parked off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the disease. The pair -- an American and a Chinese citizen -- were taken ashore for medical care.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has become the biggest center of infections outside of China, with 64 cases as of early Saturday, up from 61 a day earlier, said Takamasa Kojima, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. No deaths have been reported. The newest cases were announced by the cruise line operator and it’s unclear whether they’re included in the total released by the health department.

Japan has supplied 16 doctors and 12 other workers to the ship to try to restrict the breakout, Princess Cruises said in an email. The ship is going to sea for 24 hours, and staff was planning to clean rooms and provide new sheets and towels. The quarantine will end Feb. 19, the boat’s operator said.

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