22 min read.Updated: 17 Feb 2020, 08:11 AM ISTDeepak Upadhyay( with inputs from Agencies )
All nations must be ready to handle coronavirus cases and prepared to prevent further transmission, says WHO
The death toll from coronavirus epidemic has climbed to 1,666 after 142 more people died, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei, and the confirmed cases jumped to almost 70,000
The death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic has climbed to 1,666 after 142 more people died, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei Province, and the confirmed cases jumped to almost 70,000, officials said on Sunday, as top World Health Organization (WHO) experts scramble to assist Beijing contain the virus spread.
China's National Health Commission confirmed 2,009 new infection cases across the country. A man today died from the deadly virus in Taiwan, marking the first such death on the island, which has to date accumulated 20 confirmed cases.
Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported fewer new infections for a second straight day with 139 deaths overnight. It had 1,843 new cases, dropping from 2,420 a day earlier. The latest report brought the total confirmed cases in Hubei to 56,249 cases.
Meanwhile, an infected 83-year-old US woman from a cruise liner raised concerns of further cases as more than 2,200 passengers and crew headed home after being trapped for nearly two weeks searching for a port.
Here are all the latest updates of coronavirus outbreak in China, around the globe:
Evacuation of US passengers from quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship begins in Japan
Finance Ministry to assess impact of coronavirus outbreak on trade
The Finance Ministry will hold a meeting on Tuesday to assess the impact of coronavirus outbreak and any disruptions posed by it to the country's trade or Make in India initiative.
"On the impact of #CoronavirusOutbreak and any disruptions to #MakeinIndia or to Indian export/import @FinMinIndia is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday 18 Feb. Stakeholders welcome. If unable to attend please email your inputs at email@example.com," Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted on Sunday.
India is one of China's leading trade partners in Asia and has a huge trade deficit with that country
Virus renews safety concerns about slaughtering wild animals
China cracked down on the sale of exotic species after an outbreak of a new virus in 2002 was linked to markets selling live animals. The germ turned out to be a coronavirus that caused SARS.
The ban was later lifted, and the animals reappeared. Now another coronavirus is spreading through China, so far killing 1,380 people and sickening more than 64,000 — eight times the number sickened by SARS.
The suspected origin? The same type of market.
SARS and the current outbreak of COVID-19 are not the only diseases in people traced back to animals. The killing and sale of what is known as bushmeat in Africa is thought to be a source for Ebola. Bird flu likely came from chickens at a market in Hong Kong in 1997. Measles is believed to have evolved from a virus that infected cattle.
Of the 33 samples from the Wuhan market that tested positive for the coronavirus, officials say 31 were from the area where wildlife booths were concentrated. Compared with long domesticated livestock like chickens and pigs, researchers say less is known about the viruses that circulate in wild animals.
Israel to evacuate its 15 citizens on the Diamond Princess
Israel will bring back most of its 15 citizens on the Diamond Princess, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said. Those who haven’t been infected will be brought to Israel and placed in quarantine.
Israelis who were infected will remain in Japan, and Israel has sent a doctor there to oversee their treatment, the prime minister said. Israel’s Health Ministry announced earlier that there were two confirmed Israeli cases on the ship. There are no known cases of the virus in Israel, Netanyahu said.
Japan asks people to avoid crowds, non-essential gatherings including commuter trains
Japan today urged its citizens to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings", including notoriously packed commuter trains, to prevent the new coronavirus from spreading in the country, AFP reported.
Health minister Katsunobu Kato warned the nation was "entering a new phase" in the outbreak of the virus, which has infected nearly 60 people in Japan so far.
"We want to ask the public to avoid non-urgent, non-essential gatherings. We want elderly and those with pre-existing conditions to avoid crowded places," Kato said after a meeting of a panel of experts.
"I think it's important that we exercise Japan's collective strength. We wish to ask the Japanese people for their cooperation and it will take everyone being united to tackle this infectious disease," he told a press conference.
The government will draft fresh guidelines for doctors about when to suspect possible coronavirus infections and for ordinary citizens to know when to seek medical care, Kato said.
All 406 inmates at ITBP camp in India test negative
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.
The final coronavirus test reports of all 406 people have been found negative, an ITBP spokesperson said today.
The group includes seven Maldives citizens. There are seven children including an infant in the group.
A total of 650 people were brought back from Wuhan in China on February 1 and 2 in two 747 Boeing Air India aircraft after the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in China. While 406 of these are being looked after at the ITBP facility, rest are at an Army centre at Manesar in Haryana.
Xi's early involvement in virus outbreak raises questions
China released a speech showing President Xi Jinping was leading the national effort to contain the coronavirus almost two weeks before he first issued public orders on the outbreak, potentially exposing him to more criticism as anger mounts over the government’s initial response.
In the Feb. 3 speech, Xi told China’s most powerful leaders that he had “continuously given verbal and written instructions" since Jan. 7, and had personally ordered the quarantine of about 60 million people in Hubei province later that month. The full speech appeared on the website of the Qiushi Journal, the Communist Party’s top publication.
State media reports on Jan. 7 didn’t include any remarks from Xi on the virus, a fact that was quickly pointed out by Chinese social media users. Xi publicly addressed the crisis for the first time on Jan. 20 in a directive urging party committees and governments at all levels to take measures to curb the spread of the epidemic.
“From the first day of Chinese New Year to the present, prevention and control of the epidemic situation was the issue I have been most concerned with," Xi said, referring to a meeting of China’s seven most powerful leaders he chaired on Jan. 25. “I have been keeping track of the spread of the epidemic situation and the progress of the prevention and control work, and continuously given verbal and written instructions."
Two more Indians test positive on cruise ship Diamond Princess off Japan
Two more Indians on board a quarantined cruise ship off Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus even as India assured that it will provide all possible assistance to its nationals on the ship to return home after they test negative in the final coronavirus tests that would begin on Monday.
A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the ship, Diamond Princess, that arrived at the Japanese coast earlier this month.
With two more Indians tested positive, the number of Indians infected with virus on the ship rose to five.
Coronavirus could damage global growth in 2020: IMF
The coronavirus epidemic could damage global economic growth this year, the IMF head said today, but a sharp and rapid economic rebound could follow.
"There may be a cut that we are still hoping would be in the 0.1-0.2 percentage space," the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, told the Global Women's Forum in Dubai.
She said the full impact of the spreading disease that has already killed more than 1,600 people would depend on how quickly it was contained.
"I advise everybody not to jump to premature conclusions. There is still a great deal of uncertainty. We operate with scenarios, not yet with projections, ask me in 10 days," Georgieva said.
Britain makes preparations for the deadly epidemic
British officials plan to use 24 hospitals to treat patients in the event of a surge in infections, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information. The contingency plans call for hospitals to prepare airtight isolation rooms. The UK government is working on the assumption that up to half of the population, or 33 million, could be hit by the virus, the Times said. Anyone suffering flu-like symptoms could be ordered to self-isolate at home for 14 days, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
Taiwan confirms first coronavirus death on island, cases at 20
A man has died from the coronavirus in Taiwan, marking the first such death on the island since the epidemic spread from mainland China, the island's health minister said on Sunday.
Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said during a news conference on Sunday that the deceased person was a man in his sixties, who had not traveled abroad recently and had diabetes and hepatitis B.
His was the first fatality in Taiwan, which has to date accumulated 20 confirmed cases.
India sets up teams to inspect villages bordering Nepal for deadly infection
India has constituted central teams of experts for examination of villages bordering Nepal for novel coronavirus infection, reported PTI.
Villages bordering Nepal in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Sikkim and West Bengal will be inspected by central teams for community-level Information Education Communication (IEC) activities for Coronavirus in regard to the novel coronavirus, Indian health ministry said.
Locking people up to stop virus spread could prompt legal fights
The UK health secretary on Monday morning authorized an unprecedented policy for stopping possible carriers of the coronavirus: Lock them up. It was the first time in modern British history that such a move has been made in response to an epidemic -- and it could prompt legal challenges.
The law, introduced under emergency measures, gives the government the power to detain any individuals who may be infected with the virus for at least 14 days, and to force them to give swabs. The decision came after a person in quarantine threatened to leave.
Italy to evacuate 35 nationals from cruise ship quarantined at Japan port
Italy said on Sunday it would evacuate citizens from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship being held under quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama, after 355 people from it were found to be infected with the virus.
"We decided yesterday to send a flight and bring those 35 Italians home," Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Twitter on Sunday.
The Diamond Princess, cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp, has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.
India to provide all possible help to its citizens on cruise ship to return home
India will provide all possible assistance to its nationals on board the quarantined cruise ship moored off the Japanese coast to return home after they test negative in the final coronavirus tests that would begin on Monday, the Indian Embassy said on Sunday.
A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the ship, Diamond Princess, that arrived at the Japanese coast earlier this month.
The total number of people infected with COVID-19 on the ship rose to 355 on Sunday. Out of them, three are Indians.
The Indian Embassy in a tweet said that the final tests for the COVIDー19 on the ship would begin on February 17 and continue over multiple days."Hoping our Indian nationals - braving the situation, to test negative, allowing them to travel back HOME. @IndianEmbTokyo stands ready for all possible assistance," the mission said.
American woman from cruise ship tests positive again for coronavirus in Malaysia
An American passenger from a cruise ship docked in Cambodia has tested positive for the new coronavirus a second time in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said on Sunday, after the cruise operator sought further tests.
Malaysia said the 83-year-old woman who had been onboard the MS Westerdam, operated by a unit of Carnival Corp , had tested positive for the virus after arriving in Kuala Lumpur from Cambodia. She was the first from the ship, which was carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew, to test positive.
But the cruise ship operator had sought more tests. Cambodian authorities also called on Malaysia to review its test results.
Hubei bans vehicle traffic to curb spread of coronavirus
The government of Hubei province, the center of China's coronavirus outbreak, said on Sunday a ban will be imposed on vehicle traffic across the province to curb the spread of the virus.
In a published document, it said police cars, ambulances, vehicles carrying essential goods, or other vehicles related to public service would be exempted.
It added that the province will carry out regular health checks on all residents in the province. It also stated that companies cannot resume work without first receiving permission from the government.
Malaysia bars Westerdam passengers, cancels special US flights
Malaysia said it won’t allow any more passengers who had traveled on the Westerdam luxury cruise ship to enter, after an American woman who flew into the country was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The 83-year-old woman and her husband were among 145 cruise passengers who flew from Cambodia on Feb. 14 on a Malaysia Airlines flight chartered by the US government. Malaysia canceled three other US-chartered flights that were supposed to bring more Westerdam passengers into Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Sunday.
The American woman was found with symptoms when she landed in Kuala Lumpur. She was tested twice and results showed positive for coronavirus both times, Wan Azizah said. Her 85-year-old husband has tested negative.
China says coronavirus curbs start to work
The number of new coronavirus cases in China fell on Sunday and a health official said intense efforts to stop its spread were beginning to work.
The coronavirus, thought to have emerged at a wildlife market in the central Chinese province of Hubei, has presented the ruling Communist Party with the huge challenge of stamping it out while at the same time minimising damage to the world's second-largest economy.
China's latest figures showed 68,500 cases of the illness and 1,665 deaths, most of them in Hubei.
The National Health Commission reported on Sunday 2,009 new cases, down from 2,641 the previous day, and 142 new deaths, just one lower than the 143 on the previous day. All but four of the new deaths were in Hubei.
The province and its capital, Wuhan, have been virtually sealed off and locked down since Jan. 23, with schools, offices and factories shut and most travel suspended.
China vows more fiscal support as virus roils a slowing economy
China pledged to roll out more effective stimulus despite a widening fiscal gap as the novel coronavirus hits an already slowing economy, highlighting the challenges the epidemic is imposing as the death toll stacks up and thousands of new cases are reported each day.
The nation will further perfect and implement measures this year to reduce corporate taxes and cut unnecessary government expenses as the virus takes a toll on production, Finance Minister Liu Kun wrote on Sunday in Qiushi, the Communist Party of China’s flagship magazine.
The outbreak of the virus and widening dislocation has dealt a shock to Asia’s largest economy that will burden the budget in Beijing, as well as in other economies across the region.
China’s government faced slowing revenue growth even before efforts to contain the virus led to the shutdown of most business. The majority of local governments expect income to grow at a slower pace this year than the provincial average in 2019.
Hong Kong protests against some quarantine centers
In Hong Kong, rallies are taking place in Sai Kung and Cheung Sha Wan against a government order to set up quarantine center and designated clinic respectively in the areas.
A district chancellor of Sai Kung said the government shouldn’t set up quarantine centers near residential areas and should have closed its borders earlier. Another rally will take place later in Fo Tan to oppose to setting up a quarantine center in that region.
India to send medical supplies to China
In the wake of outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in China, India will send a consignment of medical supplies there, Vikram Misri, Ambassador of India to China, said on Twitter on Sunday.
The Ambassador, in a video posted on the official Twitter handle of the Indian embassy in China, expressed his solidarity with Chinese people and the government in the fight against the epidemic.
"As a concrete step to tackle the outbreak, India will soon send a consignment of medical supplies to aid and assist China in tackling this outbreak," he said in the video, adding, "This is a concrete measure which will fully demonstrate the goodwill, solidarity and friendship of the people and government of India with the Chinese people."
The Ambassador also added that "India will do everything within its means to support the people of China in this hour of crisis."
"The people of city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei are the worst affected by the epidemic. They have a very special place in the hearts of the Indian people. With courage, persistence and effective measures we will be able to overcome the crisis," the ambassador tweeted.
The Ministry of External Affairs in India also confirmed the news by re-tweeting Misri's tweets on their Twitter handle.
Hawaii officials downplay coronavirus risks
The risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low in Hawaii, state officials said after a recent vacationing visitor from Japan returned home and was confirmed as being infected, local media reported.
The man’s symptom were not at full force during his late January early February visit, according to KHON-TV.
“That’s some what reassuring to us cause we know when you have fever you’re more likely to be more infectious," state epidemiologist, Sarah Park, said during a Friday press conference. “As a precaution we are working with partners to identify potential close contacts."
Hawaii Airlines began letting its employees wear masks this week, a spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants said, according to the station.
Coronavirus outbreak triggers demand for face masks globally
Industry experts cite the phenomenon of binge fear buying, as people rush to medical stores to get their hands on either N95 or a simple surgical face mask to protect themselves from the threat of coronavirus.
"Indian manufacturers are trying their best to produce more N95 and surgical face masks, but with the government relaxing export norms, there might be scarcity in India in the coming time," Abhay Pandey, National President, All Food and Drug Licence Holder Foundation (AFDLHF), told IANS.
Nepal evacuates 175 citizens, mostly students, from Wuhan
Nepal today evacuated 175 of its nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak, an official said, after protests by parents of students studying in the city.
A plane operated by state-owned Nepal Airlines carrying 134 men and 41 women, mostly students, landed at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport before dawn, Health Ministry spokesman Mahendra Shrestha said.
All evacuees will be held in quarantine for two weeks in the nearby town of Bhaktapur.
"They will be under the close observation of doctors in quarantine and will be allowed to join their families if found healthy after two weeks," Shrestha told Reuters.
China tries 3,000-year-old traditional remedy to treat patients
Treatment in Wuhan hospitals combine Traditional Chinese Medicine, popularly known as TCM, and western medicines, said Wang Hesheng, the new health commission head in Hubei, the province at the center of the virus outbreak. He said TCM was applied on more than half of confirmed cases in Hubei.
“Our efforts have shown some good result," Wang said at a press conference on Saturday, without elaborating. Top TCM experts have been sent to Hubei for “research and treatment," he said.
WHO chief urges broader response
World Health Organization director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the international community to make their response to the coronavirus government-wide.
“This is not a job for health ministers alone. It takes a whole-of-government approach," he said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference. “That approach must be coherent and coordinated, guided by evidence and public health priorities."
“China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time," he said. “We’re encouraged that outside China, we have not yet seen widespread community transmission."
Virus path ‘impossible to predict’
All nations must be ready to handle coronavirus cases and prepared to prevent further transmission, according to the head of the World Health Organization.
“It’s impossible to predict what direction this epidemic will take," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement at the Munich Security Conference.
“We’re concerned by the continued increase of the number of cases in China," he added, saying there has been a “lack of urgency" from the international community in funding a response.
“Most of all, we’re concerned about the potential havoc this virus could wreak in countries with weaker health systems," Tedros said. “We must use the window of opportunity we have to intensify our preparedness."
Toyota to restart 3 China plants this week
Toyota Motor Corp. will partly resume operations at three plants in China this week, bringing back some of the capacity that had been on an extended halt in response to the coronavirus outbreak that’s killed more than 1,600 people and pitched Asia’s top economy into turmoil.
The factories in Changchun and Guangzhou will restart on Feb. 17, while operations in Tianjin resume the next day, Kensuke Ko, a spokesman for the Japanese automaker, said in an email. The plant in Chengdu will restart after next week, he said.
G-20 ministers ready to count the cost of Coronavirus
Finance leaders from across the world will gather in Saudi Arabia this week to discuss a global economy coming under increasing strain from the spread of coronavirus.
With the virus already shutting down commerce -- and prompting the postponement of tech shows and sporting events -- the Group-of-20 finance ministers and central bankers will be discussing a risk to growth that is growing bigger by the day and wouldn’t have figured in their outlooks at their last gathering. The meeting will kick off on Feb. 22 in Riyadh, although some attendance may yet be disrupted by the virus.
New patients at cruise ship Diamond Princess to be sent to hospitals
Japan’s health ministry said that the 70 new cases that had been found aboard the Diamond Princess would be sent to hospitals and facilities that have medical wards able to handle the coronavirus.
Coronavirus infection cases on cruise ship Diamond Princess rise to 355
The number of people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus on a quarantined ship off Japan's coast has risen to 355, the country's health minister said Sunday.
"So far, we have conducted tests for 1,219 individuals. Of those, 355 people tested positive. Of those, 73 individuals are not showing symptoms," Katsunobu Kato told a roundtable discussion on public broadcaster NHK -- a rise of 70 from the last government toll.
US, Canada and Hong Kong to evacuate its citizens from virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship
The United States and Canada said they will send aircraft to Japan to bring back their citizens on the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred.
The US Embassy in Tokyo said in a letter to passengers that chartered aircraft would arrive in Japan on Sunday evening and that it recommended "out of an abundance of caution" that US citizens disembark and return home for further monitoring.
The passengers will be required to undergo further quarantine of 14 days upon arriving in the United States and if they choose not to return on the aircraft, they would not be able to return home "for a period of time, CDC said
Canada said it has chartered a plane to evacuate its citizens onboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner. The Canadian passengers who exhibit symptoms of the deadly infection will not be permitted to board the flight and will instead be transferred to the Japanese health care system to receive appropriate care, the government said. After arriving in Canada, the passengers will undergo a 14-day period of quarantine, the statement added.
Hong Kong has also said it will send aircraft to Japan to bring back passengers from the quarantined cruise ship, which has seen the most coronavirus infections outside of China.
Zydus Cadila launches research programme in India, Europe to develop coronavirus vaccine
Pharmaceutical major Zydus Cadila 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.
Chinese tourist in France dies, 1st fatality in Europe due to coronavirus
An elderly Chinese tourist hospitalised in France has died of the coronavirus, becoming the first fatality in Europe, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.
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.
Scientists identify the early symptoms of coronavirus
Scientists have identified a pattern of symptoms associated with the deadly 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, reported Business Insider.
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.
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.
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.
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