21 min read.Updated: 01 Mar 2020, 09:00 PM ISTDeepak Upadhyay( with inputs from Agencies )
The Trump administration is testing 'off the shelf' drugs that could be used to combat the virus
The US Surgeon General urged people to 'stop buying masks,' as they’re not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus
On Sunday, China reported 35 new coronavirus deaths — the lowest in three days — and 573 more cases for 29 February, with 570 of the fresh infections in Hubei, while the global confirmed cases increased to almost 87,000. South Korea added 376 more cases, taking the total to 3,526, according to local media reports.
Among the 79,824 confirmed cases in China, 2,870 people have died, 35,329 patients are still being treated while 41,625 have been discharged after recovery, The National Health Commission said. The commission said 51,856 close contacts were still under medical observation.
The US, Australia and Thailand reported their first deaths caused by the coronavirus, while the Trump administration expanded travel restrictions, including advisories barring travel to parts of Italy and South Korea most affected by the outbreak.
Meanwhile, in an official report on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) released jointly by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and China's National Health Commission identified the infection as a zoonotic virus, meaning an infectious disease caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that spread from animals to humans.
With new infections reported around the world now surpassing those in China, WHO director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has asked nations to be prepare for pandemic.
"This virus has pandemic potential," Tedros said. "This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action to prevent infection and save lives now."
Here are the latest updates on coronavirus and its global impact:
Trump vows to screen travelers after 1st death in US
President Donald Trump today said travelers from countries at high risk of coronavirus would be screened before boarding and upon arrival as the government scrambled to reassure Americans after the first death in the United States.
Officials from Washington state on Saturday said a man in his 50s with underlying conditions had died, and two of three confirmed coronavirus cases in the state had links to a long-term care facility in the city of Kirkland.
Trump underscored efforts to prevent a further spread, amid growing criticism from Democrats about the administration's handling of the crisis.
"Coronavirus: In addition to screening travelers “prior to boarding" from certain designated high risk countries, or areas within those countries, they will also be screened when they arrive in America. Thank you! @VP @SecAzar @CDCgov @CDCDirector," Trump said on Twitter early on Sunday.
Coronavirus: In addition to screening travelers “prior to boarding from certain designated high risk countries, or areas within those countries, they will also be screened when they arrive in America. Thank you! @VP@SecAzar@CDCgov@CDCDirector
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 1, 2020
Six others had recently travelled from Italy, and two from Iran. One patient had no relevant travel, and authorities were investigating how they had caught the virus.
All passengers, workers on Diamond Princess ship have disembarked, says Japan
All the remaining passengers and workers on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan’s Yokohama harbor have disembarked, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters in Tokyo on Sunday.
About 700 of some 3,700 passengers and crew who were on Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess were infected with the coronavirus and there were at least seven fatalities.
Indian automakers say coronavirus outbreak hitting parts supply from China
"Going into March, we anticipate the challenge on parts-supply to continue for another few weeks, before we get back to normalcy," Veejay Ram Nakra, Chief of Sales and Marketing at M&M's automotive division said in a press release.
Tata Motors said in a press release that it, too, had been hit by supply disruptions due to the coronavirus outbreak in China, and was working to mitigate the situation.
Israeli airline EL AL eyes mass job cuts over coronavirus
Israeli airline El Al said today it was considering firing 1,000 staff out of its total workforce of around 6,000 due to losses linked to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Israel has cancelled direct flights to and from areas of high contamination and has barred foreign nationals from entering the country if they have travelled from such areas.
Last week, El Al was ordered to cancel its service to Italy following health ministry warnings, Tel Aviv business daily Globes reported.
Pakistan closes Afghan border crossing over virus fears
Pakistan is closing one of its two border crossings with Afghanistan for a week to prevent the spread of coronavirus, AFP reported.
The announcement comes a day after Pakistan detected two new cases of the virus bringing the total number of infected patients to four.
Officials said the Chaman/Spinboldak crossing point would close from Monday, but a second point at Torkhum in the northwest would remain open.
The country has suspended all flights to Iran and closed land borders.
Malaysia reports 4 new cases of coronavirus, number rises to 29
Malaysia reported four new cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 29.
All of the new cases were among Malaysian nationals, one of whom had travelled to China while another had travelled recently to Milan, northern Italy, the health ministry said.
Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional said one of the new cases was one of its employees, without giving further details about the person.
Of Malaysia's total cases, 22 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
India in touch with Iran over its citizens stuck there due to outbreak
The Indian government today said its has received reports of its citizens including fishermen stuck in Iran due to the outbreak and its embassy in Tehran is in touch with local authorities on the issue.
Indian envoy to Iran Gaddam Dharmendra had on Saturday said the authorities are working to facilitate the return of Indians who wish to go back home and discussions were underway with authorities.
Iran says 54 dead as coronavirus spreads more rapidly
The deadly coronavirus claimed another 11 lives in Iran, bringing the country's overall toll to 54, according to official figures released on Sunday that showed the virus was spreading more rapidly, AFP reported.
"Eleven people lost their lives" in the past 24 hours, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a televised news conference, adding that testing across the country showed there were 385 new cases.
It was the highest number of new cases for the third successive day in the Islamic republic, which now has 978 confirmed infections.
China reports fresh spike in coronavirus cases, Trump urges calm after US death
China reported a fresh spike in coronavirus infections on Sunday, as President Donald Trump urged calm after the first death on US soil and Australia registered its first fatality.
The virus has spread to more than 60 countries around the globe, prompting the World Health Organization to raise its risk assessment to its highest level.
China on Sunday reported 573 new infections, the highest figure in a week after a dip. All but three of them were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.
While the numbers in China are still far lower than the huge daily increases reported during the first two weeks of February, COVID-19 has spread rapidly across borders, with South Korea, Italy and Iran emerging as hotspots.
South Korea, which has the most infected people outside China, reported 586 new cases on Sunday, bringing its total to 3,736.
UK steps up coronavirus planning, may bring doctors out of retirement
Britain is planning for the global coronavirus epidemic to get worse, health minister Matt Hancock said today, describing the outbreak as a "very, very significant challenge".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government's emergency response committee on Monday, signalling a stepping up of Britain's preparation for the epidemic.
"We've got a clear strategy for dealing with coronavirus - a very, very significant challenge," Hancock told Sky News. "We're also planning in case this gets worse, much worse."
If the virus becomes more widespread, the government will look at registering retired health workers to work again, and whether encouraging people to work at home could delay its peak until summer when it can be more easily dealt with.
Coronavirus travel questions: How to stay safe, what to avoid and do masks really help?
A Q&A for anyone worried about traveling right now: How to stay safe, what to avoid and do masks really help?
Should I cancel my trip because of coronavirus?
It depends—primarily on where you’re planning to travel, but on other factors, too. As of Feb. 28, the virus had spread to 56 countries and every continent except for Antarctica, with the total sure to rise. But government agencies are only warning against travel to a handful of destinations. Such warnings “are things that should be taken seriously," said Dr. Richard Dawood, a travel medicine specialist and medical director for the Fleet Street Clinic in London.
If you haven’t already, get your flu shot—at least two weeks before you depart. “It prevents you from getting an illness that you think is coronavirus, because they can act very similarly," Dr. Eisenman said. Flu-like symptoms can also put you at risk for quarantine.
Be vigilant about practicing basic good hygiene, he said. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, and avoid touching your face. “If somebody around you is sick, keep a 6-foot distance away from them," Dr. Eisenman said. “And if you are coughing or sneezing, try to avoid people."
Finally, don’t let coronavirus fears keep you from taking precautions against other illnesses, such as malaria and typhoid. “In most areas, the risk of travel-related diseases is higher than coronavirus," Dr. Kappagoda said.
Italy readies measures worth €3.6 billion to tackle coronavirus
Italy will introduce this week measures worth €3.6 billion ($3.5 billion), or 0.2% of gross domestic product (GDP), to help the economy withstand the coronavirus crisis, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said on Sunday.
In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, Gualtieri said he was confident the European Union would approve the necessary hike in Italy's official deficit target, adding that eurogroup ministers would talk mid-week by phone about the situation.
South Africa to quarantine returnees from virus epicenter
South Africa’s government will quarantine dozens of citizens who’ve asked to be repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
There are 201 South Africans currently living in the Wuhan area, 151 of whom indicated they wish to return home, Mkhize told reporters Sunday in Johannesburg. While all of those being repatriated have tested negative for the virus, they’ll be quarantined for 21 days as a precautionary measure, he said.
The government identified 84 possible sites for the military-guarded facility, Mkhize said, declining to specify which location had been chosen.
But the overall mortality rate remains uncertain, they said.
Among those infected with the virus, older adults with preexisting heart conditions or hypertension face a sharply higher risk, according to preliminary statistics, including from a study covering more than 72,000 patients in China.
Among a subset of 44,700 infections confirmed through lab tests as of mid-February, more than 80% were at least 60 years old, with half over 70, said the study, that was published in the official China CDC Weekly.
Initial reports from outside China are similar, with the first 12 victims reported in Italy mostly in their 80s, and none under 60. Several had known heart problems.
Men in the China study were more likely to die than women by a margin of almost 3-to-2.
One striking finding from the China study is the near absence of cases among children.
Emirates Group offers leave to staff as virus saps demand for travel
Emirates Group, which runs the world’s biggest airline by international traffic, is encouraging staff to take leave as the coronavirus outbreak slows demand for travel.
“We’ve seen a measurable slow-down in business across our brands, and a need for flexibility in the way we work," according to an internal email seen by Bloomberg and confirmed by the Dubai-based airline.
The airline asked employees to consider taking paid or unpaid leave, according to the email.
WHO chief says window narrowing after 1st US death
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the window is narrowing to contain the new coronavirus after the US, Australia and Thailand reported their first fatalities.
There’s no need for fear and panic in the markets, the WHO director general said in Riyadh. While countries need to prepare for a pandemic, facts show there’s no such threat yet, he said. “We shouldn’t abandon the containment strategy because we see it’s working in some countries."
South Korea reports 210 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 3,736: KCDC
Kuwait confirms one new case of coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, coming from Iran
China may repatriate overseas citizens if necessary due to outbreak
China will take measures to repatriate its citizens in countries seriously affected by the coronavirus outbreak if necessary, an official at the country's foreign ministry said today.
Cui Aiming, the foreign ministry official who spoke at a briefing in Beijing, did not name any particular countries, Reuters reported.
China customs official said will step up inspection of vehicles and people coming from countries hard hit by coronavirus.
Over 86,000 infected globally, more than 2,900 deaths recorded to today
A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 86,000 people globally. The latest figures, based on WHO and national counts:
Mainland China: 2,870 deaths among 79,824 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei.
Hong Kong: 94 cases, 2 deaths, Macao: 10 cases
South Korea: 3,526 cases, 17 deaths
Italy: 1,128 cases, 29 deaths
Japan: 947 cases, including 705 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 12 deaths
Iran: 593 cases, 43 deaths
Singapore: 102 — France: 100 cases, 2 deaths
United States: 62 cases, 1 death
Thailand: 42 cases, 1 death
Taiwan: 39 cases, 1 death
Australia: 23, 1 death
United Kingdom: 23 cases, 1 death
United Arab Emirates: 19
Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death
One confirmed case in the following countries: Algeria, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Cambodia, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Monaco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Qatar, San Marino and Sri Lanka
Japan reports 6th death from coronavirus, in-hospital infection suspected
A man in his 70s died on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido after testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, local authorities said on Sunday.
The municipal government of Hokkaido said the patient was hospitalized on Jan. 17 for another disease, but started to show flu-like symptoms a few weeks later and tested positive for the coronavirus on Feb. 25.
The man's death marks the sixth fatality from COVID-19 in Japan, excluding six deaths among those aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess.
Ireland confirms first case of deadly coronavirus infection
Ireland today confirmed its first case of coronavirus after a man who had returned from northern Italy tested positive, the government said.
Health officials said the man, from the east of Ireland, was "receiving appropriate medical care" after they followed "established protocols" in testing and diagnosing him with COVID-19.
"The case is associated with travel from an affected area in northern Italy, rather than contact with another confirmed case," the Department of Health said in a statement.
The authorities were working rapidly to identify any contacts the patient may have had, "to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread," it added.
The US, Australia and Thailand reported their first deaths caused by the coronavirus, while the Trump administration expanded travel restrictions, including advisories barring travel to parts of Italy and South Korea most affected by the outbreak.
Washington State health officials said the man who died was in his 50s. In Australia, a 78-year-old man died in a Perth hospital after being quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a local health official said.
Over-the-counter medicine tested
The Trump administration is testing “off the shelf" drugs that could be used to combat the virus, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said at the CPAC meeting. He said the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee made “an important discovery" involving existing drugs that could “help us not only cure the disease but stop the spread" of Covid-19. “It’s still early."
South Korea closes churches as coronavirus tally passes 3,500
Churches were closed in South Korea today with many holding online services instead, as authorities fought to rein in public gatherings, with 376 new coronavirus infections taking the tally to 3,526 cases.
That came a day after the biggest daily jump of 813 cases in South Korea's battle with the largest virus outbreak outside China, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), which will update numbers later in the day.
The death toll of 17 was unchanged from Saturday, it added.
Samsung closes mobile device plant in South Korea after a worker tests positive
Samsung Electronics shut one of its mobile device factories in South Korea after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing a company official.
The factory in Gumi, close to Daegu where most of the South Korean virus cases have been confirmed, was temporarily closed last month after an earlier case was discovered.
The floor where the infected employee worked will reopen on Tuesday afternoon, Yonhap said.
US FDA to allow some labs to use coronavirus tests prior to review
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it will allow some laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus in the country, Reuters reported.
The policy cleared the way for state public health labs to immediately begin local testing and possibly get results within hours, which public health officials say will be critical to a rapid response to the fast-spreading virus that originated in China.
"Under this policy, we expect certain laboratories who develop validated tests for coronavirus would begin using them right away prior to FDA review," Jeff Shuren, the director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.
South Korea urges US to refrain from excessive measures
Hours after the US State Department raised its travel advisory on South Korea’s Daegu to Level 4, urging US citizens to not travel, the Asian nation’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha asked an American official to “refrain from taking excessive measures."
Donald Trump to ‘respect’ local decisions to curb the deadly virus spread
In a “Meet the Press" interview, US vice president Mike Pence told NBC’s Chuck Todd that President Trump would respect any decision made at the state or local level, such as a call to shut down schools, Bloomberg reported.
“It’s all hands on deck," he said, adding that “our effort is to do everything possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the United States."
New York City gets CDC approval for virus testing
New York City won US approval to develop its own coronavirus test and the federal government also sent new kits that will let the city perform tests without sending samples to a federal lab, Mayor Bill De Blasio said.
“We will soon, within the coming week, have the ability to get results back in a matter of hours, not days," De Blasio said in a statement. The city had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “for weeks" for new test kits to speed the process of identifying virus cases.
France discourages ‘La Bise’
In France, Health Minister Olivier Veran suggested that people refrain from the customary greeting of a peck on the cheek — known as “la bise" — to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
It’s a sign of how virus fears are seeping deep into national fabrics. Veran, at a news conference on Saturday, also renewed an official advisory to avoid shaking hands, in addition to “social contacts of a physical nature, including the practice of the bise."
Washington state may have outbreak at health facility
Two people at the Life Care Center health facility in Kirkland, Washington, were diagnosed with the virus: a health-care worker and a resident of the facility in her 70s. Neither has recently traveled outside the US, said Jeff Duchin, a public health officer for Seattle and King County. In addition, Duchin said there are reports that 27 residents have shown respiratory symptoms, as have 25 staff members. There are about 108 residents and 180 staff at the center.
“This will allow us to get the resources we need," Inslee said. “This is a time to take common-sense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state.
France reports spike in victims
Cases in France jumped to 100 on Saturday, almost double of the day before, Director General for Health Jerome Salomon said in a daily briefing.
They included a cluster of 36 cases linked to a victim who has now died in the Oise area, including 10 military and civil personnel at the Creil air force base. Other clusters include a group of 11 related to an organized trip to Egypt. Of the 86 hospitalized cases, 9 are in a “serious condition," Salomon said.
First US virus death in Washington State
The first person has died from the coronavirus in the US, in Washington state, health officials reported on Saturday.
Health authorities in Seattle planned to brief the media later Saturday on virus cases in King County, including new people identified with the infection, one of whom died, according to an advisory from the agencies. Seattle is in King County.
Washington state health officials had earlier identified two new cases, including a school aged adolescent who had no known travel history or encountered anyone who had visited affected areas.
President Donald Trump and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also planned news conferences about the virus on Saturday.
Italy tops 1,000 cases
Italy’s confirmed coronavirus infections surpassed 1,000, skyrocketing from nearly zero in just over a week, the nation’s emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. The total number of infections is 1,128, with 29 possible virus-linked deaths, the Italian Civil Protection official said Saturday at a Rome news conference. The Lombardy region in Italy’s north has biggest pocket of cases, and a cluster of towns near Milan is under quarantine.
Surgeon General says ‘stop buying masks’
The U.S. Surgeon General urged people to “stop buying masks," saying on Twitter that they’re not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus.
“The best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness," Jerome M. Adams tweeted. He encouraged people to get flu shots, saying fewer flu patients means more resources for fighting the virus.
FDA backs faster lab tests
The FDA cleared the way Saturday for some laboratories to conduct diagnostic tests on the coronavirus before an emergency process is fully approved, a step to deal with test-kit shortages that have come under heavy criticism.
The FDA issued guidance to help rapidly expand testing capacity using molecular coronavirus diagnostic examinations. For a period of time while labs submit formal applications, the FDA does not intend to object to the tests for specimen testing, according to a statement. The FDA’s action covers laboratories certified to perform high-complexity testing.
France cancels large gatherings
France has banned indoor gatherings of more than 5,000 people and canceled the Paris half-marathon that was expected to attract 40,000 runners on Sunday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said. The country reported 16 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 73.
Schools in two clusters stricken by the coronavirus, in the Alps and north of Paris, won’t reopen Monday. The government asked people to restrict journeys as much as they can, and to work from home when possible.
The new measures aim to prevent or delay a wider spread of the virus “to win as much time as possible" and avoid an overlap with the flu epidemic, which has started to recede, Veran said.
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