There were 2,641 new confirmed infections across mainland China, bringing the national total to 66,492 (REUTERS)
There were 2,641 new confirmed infections across mainland China, bringing the national total to 66,492 (REUTERS)

Coronavirus updates: More than 1,500 killed; 1st fatality outside Asia; Zydus Cadila launches research prog

  • Coronavirus outbreak is still an emergency for China and it is impossible to tell where the epidemic will spread, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO said
  • Eight of the nine people diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Britain have left hospital having now tested negatively twice

The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China rose to 1,523 as of the end of Friday, after 143 people died over the course of the day, the country's National Health Commission said on Saturday morning.

The number of new deaths in central Hubei province, at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, rose by 139 as of Friday.

Most of the new deaths were in Hubei's provincial capital of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, with 107 new deaths. A total of 1,123 people in Wuhan have now died from the coronavirus.

There were 2,641 new confirmed infections across mainland China, bringing the national total to 66,492.

A number of trade fairs and industry conferences in China and overseas have been postponed due to transportation curbs and concerns about the spread of the virus.

Here are all the latest updates of coronavirus outbreak in China and its impact around the world

218 under home isolation in Karnataka

The Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Services department is observing 218 people under home isolation across the state for coronavirus symptoms, a health official said here on Saturday.

"We are observing 218 people across the state, including in Bengaluru, for coronavirus symptoms," the department's communicable diseases wing joint director Prakash Kumar told IANS.

However, no positive coronavirus case has been reported from Karnataka yet.

Currently, nobody is admitted to the hospital for coronavirus symptoms, Kumar confirmed.

No coronavirus in chicken sold in Karnataka: Official

Ruling out contamination of chicken or eggs sold or consumed in the state, the Karnataka government on Saturday clarified there was no coronavirus in poultry products.

"Public is warned against believing rumours or false messages posted in the social media that chicken sold or consumed in the state is affected by corona virus. There is no scientific evidence for such baseless messages and no incidence of corona viral infection was found in poultry," state animal husbandry and fisheries department secretary A.B. Ibrahim said in a statement here.

Allaying fears of chicken being affected by the deadly virus, Ibrahim said poultry provided rich protein and healthy food and does not spread any disease.

"Corona virus spreads from contact with infected persons only, not through poultry products, which are rich in protein and are healthy," asserted the top official.

Eight of 9 UK coronavirus sufferers leave hospital

Eight of the nine people diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Britain have left hospital having now tested negatively twice for the virus, NHS England said on Saturday.

"I want to stress that any individuals who are discharged from hospital are now well and do not pose any public health risk," said Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The final person is still being treated at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital in central London.

WHO chief says coronavirus still an emergency for China

The coronavirus outbreak is still an emergency for China and it is impossible to tell where the epidemic will spread, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, said on Saturday.

Tedros told the Munich Security Conference in Germany he was encouraged by actions China had taken to slow the spread of virus but was still concerned about the increasing number of cases.

French officials said on Saturday an elderly Chinese tourist infected with the coronavirus had died in France, becoming the first fatality in Europe and the fourth outside mainland China from an epidemic that has rattled the world.

China's prez urges more policing as virus toll rises

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for tightened control over online discussion and increased policing to ensure "positive energy" and social stability, state media said Saturday, as the country struggles to contain the deadly new coronavirus.

Censors had allowed some online criticism of local officials in central Hubei -- the epicentre and origin of the crisis -- but calls for freedom of speech and political reform were scrubbed after the death of a whistleblowing doctor from the virus.

The government must "strengthen the management and control of online media," and "crack down on those who seize the opportunity to create rumours" on the internet, Xi said in the February 3 speech published by state media.

Xi Jinping says China must keep economic, social order while battling coronavirus

China must make every effort to maintain economic and social control as it battles the coronavirus epidemic, and avoid causing panic that could lead to secondary "disasters," President Xi Jinping told senior officials earlier this month.

Reuters reported this week that Xi had warned officials on Feb. 3 that efforts to contain the new coronavirus had gone too far, threatening the economy. Those comments came days before Beijing rolled out measures to soften the blow.

The epidemic has become a major test for Xi in how to balance stamping out the epidemic with protecting an economy already growing at its slowest in nearly three decades.

Zydus Cadila launches research prog to develop vaccine for coronavirus

Pharmaceutical major Zydus Cadila on Saturday said it has initiated an accelerated research programme with multiple teams in India and Europe for developing a vaccine for coronavirus.

The first approach deals with development of a DNA vaccine against the major viral membrane protein responsible for the cell entry of the novel corona virus, now called COVID-19, the company said in a statement.

The plasm id DNA would be introduced into the host cells, where it would be translated into the viral protein and elicit a strong immune response mediated by the cellular and humoral arms of the human immune system, which play a vital role in protection from disease as well as viral clearance.

406 people brought back from Wuhan may be released next week if final samples test negative

A total of 406 people, who are housed at a quarantine facility of the ITBP after being brought back from China due to coronavirus outbreak there, may be released next week if their final samples turn out to be negative, officials said on Saturday.

The final samples of all the people quarantined at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) facility here were collected by a team of doctors on Friday and the reports are expected to be received by Monday.

"Based on the reports, a decision will be taken to discharge the travellers, if agreed to by the authorities, which is expected to be done in next week observing laid down protocols and due medical procedures as per the directives of Health Ministry," PRO of the ITBP Vivek Kumar Pandey said in a statement

Japan says infected US citizens won't be taken back on charter flight

US citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who are confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus will not be taken back to the United States on a planned charter flight, a Japanese government official told reporters on Saturday.

Another government official at the same briefing said it was possible other countries would follow the United States and ask to bring back their own citizens aboard the Diamond Princess before the quarantine period ends on Feb. 19.

The United States said earlier on Saturday it would send an aircraft to Japan to bring back US passengers on the Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred

No handshakes: Viral outbreak spooks Asian places of worship

In a popular Catholic church in the Philippines, nearly half of the pews were empty for Sunday Mass. The few hundred worshippers who showed up were asked to refrain from shaking others' hands or holding them during prayers to prevent the spread of the virus that started in China.

In Hong Kong, Cardinal John Hon Tong, wearing a mask, announced the suspension of public Masses for two weeks and urged churchgoers to instead watch them online.

Buddhist temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosques have been ordered closed since Jan. 29 in mainland China, where the new coronavirus strain was first detected in the central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Mosques have canceled weekly Friday prayers since January under an order to avoid "collective religious activities."

At Delhi airport, 17 people showed coronavirus symptoms, hospitalised

Seventeen people, out of a large number of passengers who had arrived in Delhi from China and other coronavirus-affected countries before the screening at the airport began around mid-January, have been found symptomatic for the infection and hospitalised, officials said.

Delhi health department officials have traced many of such passengers. According to data shared by the Delhi health department, till February 13, over 5,700 such passengers were approached after being informed by the Delhi airport authorities.

"As many as 4,707 passengers were found asymptomatic and advised for home isolation (self-quarantined). Seventeen patients were found symptomatic and hospitalised," a senior official of the Delhi health department said.

Facebook cancels Global Marketing Summit over coronavirus fears

After the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona 2020 conference, Coronavirus has derailed Facebook's Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco.

Accroding to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, the event was scheduled from March 9-12 here, with over 5,000 participants expected from across the globe.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus," a spokesperson was quoted as saying in the report late Friday.

"Facebook is committed to holding the event in San Francisco in the future," the company added.

Chinese tourist in France dies of coronavirus, first fatality in Europe

An elderly Chinese tourist hospitalised in France has died of the coronavirus, becoming the first fatality in Europe, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday.

France has recorded 11 cases of the virus, out of a global total of 63,851. The vast majority of those suffering from the virus are in China.

Beijing orders returnees to quarantine for 14 days

Beijing ordered people returning to the capital from holiday to self-quarantine for 14 days in another drastic effort to contain the outbreak.

More than 66,000 people have now been infected in China from a virus that emerged in central Hubei province in December before spreading across the country as millions of people travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday last month.

Condition of 3 infected Indians on board cruise ship off Japanese coast improves: Indian Embassy

The condition of the three Indians infected with the novel coronavirus on board the cruise ship moored off the Japanese coast has improved and no new cases of infection among the Indians on the quarantined vessel have been reported, the Indian Embassy in Japan said on Saturday.

A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the quarantined ship that arrived at the Japanese coast earlier this month. Three Indians were among the 218 people infected with COVID-19 on the ship.

The Indian Embassy said it was making efforts for early de-boarding of all the Indians from the ship after the end of the quarantine period.

"Happy to inform that health conditions of 3 Indians being treated for COVID-19 have improved and no new cases of infection of Indians on the ship," the embassy tweeted.

More than half of coronavirus cases in Hubei treated with traditional Chinese medicine

China has applied Traditional Chinese Medicine in treating more than half of the confirmed patients of novel coronavirus infection in the country's Hubei province, which is the epicentre of the epidemic, a senior health official said on Saturday.

"Since the beginning of the outbreak, the government has attached importance to both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western medicine by mobilising the strongest scientific research and medical forces in both fields to treat the patients," Wang Hesheng, deputy head of China’s National Health Commission, said.

Wang said that TCM has been applied in treating more than half of the confirmed patients of novel coronavirus infection in the country's Hubei province.

The announcement about the use of TCM for COVID-19 patients is significant as the virus has no standardised cure yet.

China Lunar New Year passenger travel plunges on virus outbreak

China’s air, rail and road travel market got slammed during the peak Lunar New Year season as fears about the spreading coronavirus prompted people to abandon trips.

Passenger travel would likely fall 45% on-year during the 40-day travel season that ends Feb. 18, Liu Xiaoming, a vice minister at the transport ministry, said at a briefing in Beijing Saturday. Between Jan 25. and Feb. 14, airlines carried an average of 470,000 people a day, only a quarter of last year’s volume. Passengers from Feb. 15-23 were only one 10th of peak period, said Li Jian, deputy head of the China Aviation Administration of China.

The epidemic has roiled the nation’s transportation industry after authorities locked down large areas of the country and more than 50 countries imposed travel restrictions involving China.

67 more coronavirus cases on cruise ship: Japan minister

Another 67 people on board a cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the country's health minister said on Saturday.

The new cases, from 217 tests, bring the number of people diagnosed on the Diamond Princess to 285, excluding a quarantine officer who also contracted the illness.

China confident epidemic will soon be over: Deputy foreign minister

China is confident the coronavirus epidemic will be over soon and that the impact will be only temporary on its economy, which will rebound strongly, Qin Gang, China's vice minister of foreign affairs said on Saturday.

"The impact of the epidemic on the Chinese economy will be short term and temporary," he said at the Munich Security Conference.

"When the epidemic is over, the subdued consumer demand will be released rapidly and the economy will rebound strongly."

US to send aircraft to fetch American passengers from quarantined ship

The United States will send an aircraft to Japan to bring back US passengers on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship under quarantine in Japan, on board which the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred, the US embassy said.

The aircraft will arrive in Japan on Sunday evening, the U.S. embassy said in a letter to the American passengers, in a letter on its website on Saturday.

These are early symptoms of deadly China virus

Scientists have identified a pattern of symptoms associated with the Novel Coronavirus, now dubbed as COVID-19, and the most common symptom is fever.

Other common symptoms include fatigue, dry cough, muscle pain and difficulty breathing, according to a recent study of nearly 140 hospitalised patients in Wuhan, China.

It took nearly five days on average for a patient to experience breathing issues after first showing symptoms, reports Business Insider citing the study.

Some patients also showed symptoms associated with common cold or flu such sore throat but those were small in numbers.

The coronavirus is most likely to affect older men with pre-existing health problems.

Thailand reports one new case of coronavirus, brings total to 34

Thailand has recorded one new case of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 34 since January, a health ministry official said on Saturday.

The new case is a 35-year-old Thai woman, a medical personnel, who got the disease from contact with a patient, Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchia, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control, told a news conference.

Fourteen people have recovered and returned home.

IMF chief says virus may warrant coordinated economic action

The head of the International Monetary Fund said global central banks and governments may need to unite to fight the economic fallout from the coronavirus as banks lower growth forecasts.

“From our perspective, it is very important to follow carefully what is going to happen in the next weeks," IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said Friday on a panel at a security conference in Munich. “There needs to be bottom-up analysis of the impact so we can then agree on synchronized, or even better, coordinated measures to protect the world economy from a more serious shock."

“Are we going to do it? I actually think that we will, because when we are pushed we actually come together," she said.

First suspected coronavirus case reported in Pakistan

The first suspected case of the new strain of coronavirus was reported in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, involving a person who had recently returned from China — the epicentre of the outbreak.

The person, who hails from Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), has been put under observation at the Ayub Medical Hospital (AMH) in Abbottabad.

No confirmed case of coronavirus has been reported in Pakistan, through suspected cases have been reported in the past.

China quarantines cash to sanitize old bank notes from virus

The new coronavirus has restricted millions of Chinese people to their homes and towns, and now old bank notes are being quarantined.

The government cut off the transfer and allocation of old bank notes across provinces, and between cities most affected by the deadly outbreak, according to Fan Yifei, People’s Bank of China’s deputy governor. The central bank also ramped up measures to sanitize old money to reduce contagion risks and added 600 billion yuan ($85.9 billion) of new cash for Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus, he said.

“Money from key virus-hit areas will be sanitized with ultraviolet rays or heated and locked up for at least 14 days, before it is distributed again," Fan said at a press conference on Saturday. Money circulated in less riskier areas is subject to a week of quarantine and commercial lenders have been asked to separate cash from hospitals and food markets, he said.

New virus has infected more than 67,000 people globally

A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 67,000 people globally. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

The latest figures reported by each government's health authority as of Saturday in Beijing:

— Mainland China: 1,523 deaths among 66,492 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei.

— Hong Kong: 56 cases, 1 death

— Macao: 10

— Japan: 259, including 218 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, 1 death

— Singapore: 67

— Thailand: 33

— South Korea: 28

— Malaysia: 21

— Taiwan: 18

— Vietnam: 16

— Germany: 16

— United States: 15. Separately, one U.S. citizen died in China

— Australia: 14

— France: 11

— United Kingdom: 9

— United Arab Emirates: 8

— Canada: 8

— Philippines: 3 cases, including 1 death

— India: 3

— Italy: 3

— Russia: 2

— Spain: 2

— Belgium: 1

— Nepal: 1

— Sri Lanka: 1

— Sweden: 1

— Cambodia: 1

— Finland: 1

— Egypt: 1

Investors bet emerging markets will weather coronavirus impact

Investors are edging back into emerging markets, even though worries about the coronavirus' impact on global economic growth have clouded prospects for the boom-and-bust asset class.

Nearly $730 million flowed back into emerging markets exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the past week, according to Lipper, after two straight weeks of outflows that accompanied sharp declines in the stocks and currencies of developing countries.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which measures stock performance, has rebounded 4% from its early February low, though it remains down on the year. Another index measuring emerging markets currency performance was still sharply lower, reflecting the slide in a range of currencies from Asia to Latin America.

Coronavirus is a deep challenge to China: China's foreign minister

A top Chinese official acknowledged on Friday that the new coronavirus is a deep challenge to the country, but defended Beijing's management of the epidemic while lashing out at the "overreaction" of other countries.

In a wide-ranging interview with Reuters in the German capital, State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as China's foreign minister, urged the United States not to take unnecessary virus-response measures that could hamper trade, travel and tourism.

"The epidemic overall is under control," he said. "This epidemic is truly sudden. It has brought a challenge to China and the world."

"We've taken such complete prevention and control efforts, efforts that are so comprehensive, that I can't see any other country that can do this," Wang said, adding that any leader in another country would find the challenge very difficult. "But China has been able to do this."

"Some countries have stepped up measures, including quarantine measures, which are reasonable and understandable, but for some countries they have overreacted, which has triggered unnecessary panic," he said.

China says to support firms to resume production as soon as possible

China will help companies resume production as soon as possible, the vice governor of the central bank said on Saturday

Liang Tao, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, told a news conference China would accelerate lending and credit support for key investment projects, while supporting small and private firms hit by the virus outbreak.

Separately, Xuan Changneng, vice head of the country's foreign exchange regulator, told the briefing China was expected to maintain a small current account surplus and keep a basic balance in international payments.

US is evacuating its citizens and their families who are onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship

US State Department will evacuate some American citizens and their families aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the biggest cluster of coronavirus infections outside China, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

About 380 people will be offered seats on two evacuation flights from Japan back to the United States, the Journal said, citing an official of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The evacuees will arrive in the United States as early as Sunday, the newspaper said, citing Henry Walke, director of the CDC's Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections.

Japanese man diagnosed with coronavirus after visiting Hawaii

Hawaii health authorities began a search on Friday for anyone who may have had close contact with a Japanese tourist who fell ill on the island of Oahu and tested positive for a new coronavirus soon after returning to his home country.

The case came to public attention at a Honolulu news conference by Governor David Ige and senior state health officials, who said the man in question is believed to have become infected in Japan before embarking on his trip, or while en route to Hawaii.

That assumption is based on the 14-day incubation period of the virus, and the fact that the man became symptomatic after less than a week in Hawaii, the state health officials said.

Chinese gymnasts pull out of World Cup in Australia

The Chinese gymnastics team entered into next week's World Cup in Melbourne has pulled out due to Australian government travel restrictions put in place to limit the coronavirus outbreak, organisers said on Saturday.

The restrictions on foreign nationals travelling from China were introduced in early February and extended for another week on Thursday.

The extension effectively rules out China's participation at the Feb. 20-23 World Cup, which offers qualifying points for this year's Tokyo Olympics.

IBM pulls out of RSA cyber security conference

International Business Machines Corp said on Friday it had canceled its participation in the RSA cyber security conference in San Francisco due to coronavirus-related concerns.

"The health of IBMers is our primary concern as we continue to monitor upcoming events and travel relative to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)", the company said in a tweet.

The event is scheduled to take place Feb. 24–28.

RSA said in a statement that it would proceed as scheduled despite IBM's decision to no longer participate in the conference as a Platinum Sponsor.

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