Coronavirus updates: WHO warns against blanket measures over the deadly virus
21 min read.Updated: 18 Feb 2020, 12:04 AM ISTDeepak Upadhyay
( with inputs from Agencies )
China has total now 70,548 confirmed cases, and 1,775 deaths, according to its National Health Commission
China’s Hubei reported 1,933 additional confirmed cases for and more than 100 deaths on February 16
The death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic has climbed to 1,775 after 105 more people died, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei Province, and the confirmed cases jumped to 70,548, officials said Monday morning. China announced measures such as closing non-essential public venues and stringent traffic restrictions to contain the epidemic in the worst-hit Hubei.
The China's National Health Commission said 2,048 new cases of deadly infection have been confirmed, taking the total number of COVID-19 infected cases to 70,548.
Though 10,844 people had been discharged from hospitals after recovery, the commission said in its daily report said that 7,264 people were still suspected to be infected by the deadly virus.
China is considering delaying its most high-profile annual political meeting for the first time in decades, as the government attempts to contain an outbreak of a deadly new strain of coronavirus.
Here are the latest updates of coronavirus and its global impact:
WHO warns against blanket measures over the deadly infection
The World Health Organization (WHO) today warned against "blanket measures" over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a "tiny" proportion of the population.
WHO also said that — with a mortality rate of around 2% -- COVID-19 was "less deadly" than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.
"Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
"If we are going to disrupt every cruise ship in the world on the off chance that there might be some potential contact with some potential pathogen then where do we stop?" said Michael Ryan, head of WHO's health emergencies programme.
India to start screening along Mizoram-Tripura border from Wednesday
The Indian state Mizoram will start the process of screening people entering the state via its border with Tripura from Wednesday, amid fears arising out of novel Coronavirus (nCov) outbreak, a senior official said.
Screening counters have been set up at the police checkgate in Kanhmun village, where a medical team, along with volunteers of the Young Mizo Association, has been deployed.
Indian hospital suspends biometric attendance over deadly virus scare
A government hospital in national capital Delhi has suspended biometric attendance for its employees as a "precautionary measure" after many of them complained of "psychological unease" over the coronavirus scare, a senior official said today.
The order to suspend biometric attendance at Maharishi Valmiki Hospital was issued recently, after many employees "expressed concern" over its usage, he said.
The attendance is now being marked manually till further order, the official said, adding, the measure has been taken to offer "psychological ease" to employees as they are aware about coronavirus and how it spreads.
Two more Indians test positive for coronavirus on cruise ship off Japan
The Indian Embassy here said in a statement that 99 new positive cases on-board Diamond Princess have been confirmed on 17 February, bringing the total number to 454.
"This included 2 Indian crew members who have been transferred to medical facilities for necessary treatment and quarantine. The number of Indian nationals who have tested positive for COVID-19 now stands at six," it said."The four Indian crew members who earlier tested positive continue to receive treatment. Their health conditions are stable and responding well to the treatment," it added. The embassy said it is coordinating with the Japanese government and ship management company for health and welfare of all Indian national on board.
"The embassy is in constant touch with on board Indian nationals who are successfully braving out the situation and understand public health safety in such situations," the statement said. A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the ship that arrived at the Japanese coast earlier this month.
US evacuates its infected citizens from cruise ship Diamond Princess
Fourteen people who had tested positive for the new coronavirus were among more than 300 US citizens and family members evacuated by plane from a quarantined ship in Japan, the US State Department said today.
The passengers had already disembarked from the Diamond Princess and were preparing to return to the United States on chartered aircraft when US officials were informed 14 of them who had been tested days earlier were positive for COVID-19, it said in a joint statement with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
After consultation with HHS, the State Department decided to allow them onboard, but isolated them from the other passengers.
"These individuals were moved in the most expeditious and safe manner to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols," it said.
Slump in global goods trade likely to deepen: WTO
The already slumping state of global goods trade may get even worse with coronavirus, the World Trade Organization warned.
The Geneva-based body said its merchandise trade barometer fell to 95.5 from 96.6 in November. That’s before factoring in the effects of China’s health crisis on international commerce.
“The slow start could be dampened further by global health threats and other recent developments in the first few months of the year," the WTO said. In the months ahead, “every component of the Goods Trade Barometer will be influenced by the economic impact of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of efforts to treat and contain the disease."
Singapore issues stricter rules for China returnees
Singapore residents or long-term pass holders returning from mainland China must stay in their homes at all times for 14 days and closely monitor their own health, under stricter guidelines issued today.
WHO expert team in Beijing to probe virus, to visit Guangdong, Sichuan also
In Beijing, a spokesman for the National Health Commission announced the details of the visit at a media briefing on Monday.
A small advance team of three, including mission leader Dr. Bruce Aylward of the WHO, arrived a week ago, while other members arrived at the weekend.
The names and affiliations of the 12-member WHO-led international team have not been announced and it was not clear whether they included experts from the US Centers for Disease Control.
India discharges 1st batch of 200 Wuhan evacuees from ITBP quarantine camp in Delhi
A batch of about 200 people, who were among over 400 quarantined at an ITBP facility in Delhi after being evacuated earlier this month from coronavirus-hit Wuhan, were discharged on Monday, a senior official said.
The centre housed a total of 406 people, including seven Maldivians.
"After the final coronavirus test reports of all 406 people living at our facility were found negative, the first batch was discharged today.
"We expect about 200 people will leave by tonight. The rest will be sent on Tuesday and in the subsequent days as per the travel plans of the inmates," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey told PTI.
The first batch also includes the Maldivian nationals, he said.
Drugs to electronics output in India hit by China shutdown
Prices of paracetamol, the most commonly used analgesic, have jumped by 40% in India, while the cost of azithromycin, an antibiotic used for treating a variety of bacterial infections, has risen by 70%, said Pankaj R. Patel, chairman of Zydus Cadila. The pharma industry could face shortages in finished drug formulations starting April if supplies aren’t restored by the first week of next month, he said.
India, one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs to the world and home to about 12% of all manufacturing sites catering to the US market, relies on China for as much as 80% of API requirement. Pharma isn’t the only sector hit by China’s production pause.
Some Indian manufacturers of mobile phones are facing disruption to production on account of the shutdown in China, according to Pankaj Mahindroo, chairman of India Cellular and Electronics Association that represents companies including Foxconn, Apple Inc., Micromax Informatics Ltd. and Salcomp India.
China's appetite for wildlife likely to survive virus
The scale of the crackdown, which has netted almost 40,000 animals including squirrels, weasels and boars, suggests that China's taste for eating wildlife and using animal parts for medicinal purposes is not likely to disappear overnight, despite potential links to the new coronavirus.
Traders legally selling donkey, dog, deer, crocodile and other meat told Reuters they plan to get back to business as soon as the markets reopen.
Scientists suspect, but have not proven, that the new coronavirus passed to humans from bats via pangolins, a small ant-eating mammal whose scales are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.
Some of the earliest infections were found in people who had exposure to Wuhan's seafood market, where bats, snakes, civets and other wildlife were sold. China temporarily shut down all such markets in January, warning that eating wild animals posed a threat to public health and safety.
China to track coronavirus with QR codes, seeks help from Alibaba, Tencent
On Wednesday, Alipay, the payment app operated by Alibaba's financial division Ant Financial, released a feature in collaboration with the government that assigns a coloured QR code representing the health of residents in Hangzhou.
Users in the city fill out an online form reporting their ID number, whether they have travelled outside Hangzhou recently, and any symptoms they might have that suggest an illness, such as fever or a heavy cough.
After filling out the questionnaire, users receive a colour-based QR-code, a type of barcode, on their mobile phones indicating their health status.
Users with a red code are instructed to remain quarantined for 14 days and provide regular check-ins via DingTalk, a workplace chat app also run by Alibaba.
Users with a yellow code are instructed to stay inside for 7 days, while users with a green code may travel freely.
India asks its citizens who wish to return homeland to contact Indian embassy in Beijing
In a series of tweets today, the embassy said, "GoI will send a consignment of medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan later this week to support China to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. On its return, the flight will have limited capacity to take on board Indians wishing to return to India from Wuhan/Hubei."
GoI will send a consignment of medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan later this week to support China to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. On its return, the flight will have limited capacity to take on board Indians wishing to return to India from Wuhan/Hubei.(1/3) @MEAIndia
"Many Indian nationals currently in Wuhan/Hubei Province and wishing to return to India have already been in touch with @EOIBeijing in the past two weeks. We urge all Indian nationals from Wuhan/Hubei who intend to avail this flight and have not yet contacted us, to urgently call our hotlines 8618610952903 and 8618612083629 or send email to email@example.com before 1900 hours today (17 February 2020)," it added.
China postpones Beijing autoshow due to outbreak of deadly infection
Organisers of China's biggest car show announced Monday the event was the latest to be postponed due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.
Organisers said the event would be cancelled to "do a good job of epidemic prevention and control" and to protect the "physical health" of exhibitors and visitors.
It is the latest in a series of events that have fallen victim to the spread of the virus, both in China and overseas.
The Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 19 was postponed last week because of the "continued spread" of the deadly coronavirus, motorsport's governing body FIA said.
Fears of global contagion as 3,000 cruise passengers go home
Just a day after disembarking the cruise ship Westerdam in Cambodia, an 83-year-old American woman tested positive for the virus in Malaysia, raising doubts about the more than 2,200 others who are already making their way home or set to get off the ship. The Westerdam had earlier been turned away by five other ports on concern it harbored the virus.
China to fast-track new mask factory in deadly virus fight
The Chinese capital of Beijing will set up a new mask factory within just six days to meet soaring demand for protective gear in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Xinhua reported today.
The factory, to be converted from an industrial building by China Construction First Group, will be able to turn out 250,000 masks each day, it said, adding that work began on Monday and was set to be completed by Saturday.
The rapid pace and makeshift nature of the plant mirror measures taken in the virus epicentre of Wuhan, in the central province of Hubei, where buildings have been converted to treat infected patients, or hospitals built from scratch, in days.
Producers of masks and other protective equipment around the world have been unable to meet demand in the wake of the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,700 people in China.
Letters of appreciation signed by PM given to AI crew members for Wuhan evacuation
A total of 68 Air India crew members, who were part of the two special flights that evacuated 647 Indians and seven Maldivians from coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, were handed over letters of appreciation signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri handed over the letters of appreciation to each crew member in a ceremony held in Delhi.
Air India conducted its first special flight to Wuhan on January 31 using jumbo B747 plane, evacuating 324 Indians.
Additional 99 virus infections confirmed on cruise ship: Reports
In a fresh report that has emerged, an additional 99 people on a quarantined cruise ship named Diamond Princess have been confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus.
Coronavirus is 'preventable and treatable', says China health official
Guo Yanhong, a hospital administration supervisor in China's National Health Commission, said that the novel coronavirus is both "preventable and treatable". in which she also said the percentage of infected patients in virus epicentre Wuhan who are critically ill had dropped to 18% now from 38% at the beginning of the outbreak.
Japan moves to limit public crowds in Tokyo, cancels emperor's birthday
Japan said it would limit public crowds in Tokyo to prevent a further spread of the deadly coronavirus, scrapping the emperor's birthday celebrations and closing next month's Tokyo Marathon to all but elite professional runners.
Citing "circumstances", the Imperial Household Agency said it would cancel Emperor Naruhito's public birthday address on Feb. 23, his first since his coronation last year. The event regularly attracts tens of thousands of people to the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace in the heart of Tokyo.
The last time the emperor's birthday celebration was cancelled was 1996, amid a hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Peru.
US factories in China are open, but with ‘severe’ worker shortage
Most US factories in China’s manufacturing hub around Shanghai will be back at work this week, but the “severe" shortage of workers due to the coronavirus will hit production and global supply chains, according to the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.
While about 90% of the 109 US manufacturers in the Yangtze River delta expect to resume production this week, 78% of them said they don’t have sufficient staff to run at full speed, according to a survey by AmCham. The biggest reasons for that were travel restrictions on their staff returning from holidays and the requirement to quarantine them for two weeks once they do come back.
Tokyo Marathon cancelled for 38,000 Runners
Organizers of the Tokyo Marathon will cancel Japan’s biggest running event for non-professional runners as the coronavirus outbreak pressures cities and institutions to scrap large events, the Tokyo Shimbun reported, citing an unidentified source.
Some 38,000 runners have registered for the race scheduled on March 1, according to the newspaper. A spokesperson at the Tokyo Marathon Foundation said nothing has been decided, and that it is “considering a wide range of options."
First plane carrying Americans from Japan virus ship lands in US
The first plane carrying US citizens evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan landed at Travis Air Force Base in California late Sunday.
The charter flight touched down around 11:29 pm (0729 GMT Monday) at the base 40 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, a photographer saw.
The passengers will be quarantined at the base for 14 days.
Japan moves to limit public crowds
Japan said on Monday it would limit public crowds in Tokyo to prevent further spread of the deadly coronavirus, scrapping the emperor's birthday celebrations and closing next month's Tokyo Marathon to all but elite professional runners.
"Given the extent of the impact of the coronavirus in China, gold physical demand is likely to suffer. (But) it is too early to estimate the effects," UBS said in a note dated Feb. 14.
India to send medical supplies to China later this week
India will send a consignment of medical supplies on a relief flight to Wuhan city later this week to support China in combating the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country, Indian Embassy in China said on Monday.
Beijing autoshow delayed due to coronavirus
Organisers of Beijing autoshow, which is scheduled to be held in late-April, said on Monday the event will be delayed event due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Gold holds near two-week high on uncertainty over virus impact
Gold prices on Monday held near a two-week high scaled in the previous session as uncertainty prevailed over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global economy.
"Gold is holding firm at high prices as uncertainty around coronavirus remains high, while the economic impact is still unclear," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
Thailand reports new coronavirus case, to increase entry screening
Thailand said on Monday it had recorded one new case of the coronavirus and was increasing screening of visitors from Singapore and Japan entering the country in response to the widening outbreak.
The new case, a 60-year-old Chinese woman whose family members earlier contracted the virus, takes the total number of cases in Thailand to 35 since January, Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the health ministry's permanent secretary told a news conference.
"This is the from an old case of a Chinese family of nine, all of them have now been infected," he said.
China considers delaying parliament meet for first time in decades
China is considering delaying its most high-profile annual political meeting for the first time in decades, as the government attempts to contain an outbreak of a deadly new strain of coronavirus.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will meet Feb. 24 to consider a delay of the annual meeting of the full parliament planned to convene March 5, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday.
Nepal evacuates 175 citizens from Wuhan after coronavirus outbreak
A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 71,000 people globally. The latest figures reported by each government's health authority as of Monday in Beijing:
— Mainland China: 1,770 deaths among 70,548 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei
— Hong Kong: 57 cases, 1 death
— Macao: 10
— Japan: 415 cases, including 355 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, 1 death
— Singapore: 75 cases
— Thailand: 34
— South Korea: 30
— Malaysia: 22
— Taiwan: 20 cases, 1 death
— Vietnam: 16 cases
— Germany: 16
— United States: 15 cases; separately, 1 U.S. citizen died in China
— Australia: 14 cases
— France: 12 cases, 1 death
— United Kingdom: 9 cases
— United Arab Emirates: 9
— Canada: 8
— Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death
— India: 3 cases
— Italy: 3
— Russia: 2
— Spain: 2
— Belgium: 1
— Nepal: 1
— Sri Lanka: 1
— Sweden: 1
— Cambodia: 1
— Finland: 1
— Egypt: 1
The Beijing premiere and a tour of other cities in China for the upcoming James Bond film, "No Time To Die", has been called off due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Deadline, movie's lead star Daniel Craig and other cast members won't attend the April screening or the subsequent publicity tour of the country.
Cinemas across the world's second-largest box office market remain shut indefinitely amid efforts to controlling the spread of the virus.
James Bond Film's China Premiere Cancelled
The Beijing premiere and a tour of other cities in China for the upcoming James Bond film, "No Time To Die", has been called off due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports PTI. According to Deadline, movie's lead star Daniel Craig and other cast members won't attend the April screening or the subsequent publicity tour of the country.
Japan recession fears grow on virus hit after tax-hike blow
Japan’s economy lurched toward a possible recession after taking another battering from a sales-tax hike in the last quarter that left it at a low ebb as the coronavirus outbreak hit activity at the start of 2020.
Japan’s gross domestic product shrank at an annualized pace of 6.3% from the previous quarter in the three months through December, the biggest slide since a previous tax increase in 2014, according to a preliminary estimate by the Cabinet Office Monday.
Economists surveyed had predicted a fall of 3.8%, flagging the adverse impact of the tax hike, weak global demand and typhoon disruption. The far worse-than-expected outcome showed that some of the government confidence in measures to cushion the blow of the tax hike was misplaced.
Tokyo marathon to cancel entries from general public: Tokyo Shimbun
Tokyo marathon organisers have decided to cancel entries from the general public for the event scheduled on March 1 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday.
About 38,000 people from the general public were scheduled to run in the event, Japan's biggest marathon, the paper said.
Australia to evacuate 200 from coronavirus-plagued ship in Japan
Australia will evacuate more than 200 of its citizens onboard a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship being held under quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.
Morrison said the passengers will depart on Wednesday and will be taken to Australia's tropical north, where they will be required to be quarantined for another 14 days.
Chinese airlines see impact from coronavirus
China’s three largest airlines reported declines in January passenger traffic because of the coronavirus outbreak, with the shortfalls likely to deepen this month as the epidemic continues to disrupt travel for millions of people.
Air China Ltd.’s numbers slipped 2.9% from a year earlier, while China Southern Airlines Co.’s fell 4.6% and China Eastern Airlines Corp.’s dropped 5.4%, according to statements filed to Hong Kong’s stock exchange late last week.
Airlines began suspending flights from about Jan. 23 after the government began locking down Wuhan and other Chinese cities.
US evacuates cruise passengers from Japan
A pair of aircraft chartered by the State Department have taken off from Tokyo to bring back home Americans evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan, according the US embassy’s website.
The passengers will be kept in quarantine for 14 days, separate from other travelers who, because they visited China, are isolated at the U.S. bases.
More than 40 U.S. citizens infected by the virus aboard the Diamond Princess were expected to stay behind in hospitals. A total of 355 people on the Carnival Corp. cruise have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Hubei province reports 1,933 additional confirmed cases
China’s Hubei reported 1,933 additional confirmed cases for Feb. 16, taking the total case count in the province to 58,182, Hubei’s health commission said in a statement.
The death toll in the province rose by 100 to 1,696, while 6,639 patients have been discharged.
Hubei announced on Sunday that it would further tighten traffic restrictions in order to try and curb the outbreak. It also ordered villages and districts to implement the "most stringent" measures to stop people from entering and leaving. There are now five fatalities outside of mainland China, after France and Taiwan reported deaths over the weekend.