The deadly novel coronavirus has so far spread to at least 41 countries, including Germany, Australia and the United States. The US State Department told Americans not to travel to China as the first case of person-to-person transmission reported in the country.
China has reported an increase in fatalities and infections as the virus has claimed over 600 lives, with the number of cases soaring overnight. Thousands were quarantined on cruise ships in Japan and Hong Kong.
Nearly 27, cases have been reported in countries, according to the Johns Hopkins university’s real time tracker of the disease, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. Chinese authorities said the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak.
Governments, global companies and international health organizations rushed to contain the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus. Global airlines have suspended or scaled back direct flights to China’s major cities. As containment efforts intensify, the likelihood of the virus disrupting global businesses and the world’s second-largest economy appears to be growing.
Anxiety is growing amid evidence that the disease has an incubation period of as long as two weeks before those infected start to show signs of the illness. That raises the possibility that people who are carrying the virus but don’t show symptoms could infect others.
Here are the latest developments:
WHO to meet next week on promising drugs for the deadly virus
The World Health Organization is convening a research conference next week to identify promising drug and vaccine candidates to be fast-tracked for development against the new virus that emerged from China, AP reported.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters today the UN health agency will be inviting scientists to identify research and coordinate the effort to find effective drugs and vaccines.
The meeting will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in Geneva and will include some “virtual” attendees. WHO said it would include Chinese scientists but did say if the “virtual” attendees were those who could not travel due to bans, quarantines or other reasons.
Singapore to trace the man who tested positive for the new virus
Singapore says it is tracing the contacts of man who tested positive for a new virus but had no known connection to previous cases or travel to China.
The health ministry said today it was working to identify the source of infection of the 78 – year-old man.
The ministry also confirmed an infection in a 38 – year-old man who attended a business conference in the city-state last month. The conference was attended by people from China, where the virus has spread to thousands of people.
A Malaysian man and two South Koreans who attended the conference were previously confirmed to have the virus.
Hong Kong says over 5, people may have been exposed to the virus during voyages on a cruise ship
Hong Kong authorities say more than 5, people may have been exposed to a virus during previous voyages on a cruise ship now in quarantine .
Center for Health Protection official Chuang Shuk-kwan said Thursday that eight people tested positive for the new coronavirus after they traveled on the World Dream cruise from Jan. – .
The ship sailed four voyages after that date. It was placed in quarantine Monday with its 3, , passengers and crew being screened for the virus.
Chuang said the three other cruises involved more than 5, 10 passengers who had returned to Hong Kong.
New UK coronavirus case was not contracted in China
The third person in the United Kingdom to test positive for coronavirus was a British citizen who had traveled from an Asian country, but not China, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Thursday.
Citing the Chief Medical Officer, the spokesman said when asked whether the person was British: “I believe they are yes … they contracted the virus from an Asian country … not China.”
China says UK virus advice to citizens an ‘overreaction’
Beijing’s ambassador to London today said Britain’s advice for its nationals to leave China because of the novel coronavirus outbreak was an unhelpful “overreaction” and urged the policy to be reversed, AFP reported.
Liu Xiaoming said Beijing had told the UK the move was not “a good idea” and instead called for a more measured approach.
On Tuesday the British Foreign Office advised UK nationals to leave China “if they can” to minimise their risk of exposure to the coronavirus, following similar advice by the United States.
“I hope the British government … will take an objective, cool-headed view of what is going on in China,” Liu said at a press conference at the Chinese embassy in London.
“We did tell them overreaction is not helpful. We don’t think there should be such a panic,” he added of the diplomatic measures.
“We should support each other, rather than to weaken the other’s efforts.”
Britain on Thursday confirmed its third case of the SARS-like virus which has so far killed at least 600 People and sparked global alarm as it spreads around the world.
Lockdown in China is gumming up the works
Jeff Fai, whose family owns a cashmere sweater factory in Guangdong, China, reports that by this time in the year, his buyers in the US, Canada and Australia would have set a timetable of business meetings with his Hong Kong-headquartered firm for the first quarter. But this year is different. As the panic about the pneumonia-like coronavirus persists, his buyers have not scheduled any meetings in the first quarter.
“I bet they don’t want us to visit them in March as usual,” said Fai. At the company factory, meanwhile, it is uncertain how many of the 490 – strong workforce will show up if the government allows units to reopen on 15 February.
In business decisions, both existential and sometimes inconsequential, the China question is looming larger than ever. Hong Kong is already reeling from the collateral damage from the coronavirus. On 4 February, the city of seven million, which in 2020 received a record million visitors from China, announced it would impose a – day quarantine on visitors from the mainland. Its flagship airline Cathay Pacific has cut flights to mainland China by 90% and asked staff to take three weeks’ unpaid leave.
China wages ‘people war’ on coronavirus as cruises, companies hit
Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a “people war” today agains t the fast-spreading coronavirus whose impact has been felt around the world from slowing factory floors to quarantined cruise liners.
The death toll in mainland China jumped by to 563, with more than 41, (infections also confirmed inside the world’s second largest economy.)
Xi, speaking to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman by telephone, said the whole nation was working as one to combat the virus and would maintain transparency.
Chinese doctor who 1st warned about coronavirus dies due to epidemic
Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistle-blowers who warned other medics of the coronavirus outbreak but were reprimanded by the police, died of the epidemic on Thursday, official media reported.
He was the first to report about the virus way back in December last year when it first emerged in Wuhan, the provincial capital of China’s central Hubei province.
He dropped a bombshell in his medical school alumni group on the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and quarantined in his hospital.
Coronavirus treatments may available in a few months, says Regeneron Pharma
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc is ramping up efforts to develop a set of coronavirus treatments, which could be available for testing or use in some patients within a few months, the drugmaker said on Thursday.
The drugmaker on Tuesday expanded its arrangement with the US Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate on developing a treatment, joining the race to develop a treatment for the virus that has killed more than people.
Regeneron said the treatments could be made available through a “compassionate use” program that provides patients access to experimental drugs outside of a clinical trial when there are no viable alternatives.
“We’re already scaling up one set of potential antibody treatments,” Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos said on a conference call with analysts.
Port City of Tianjin to restrict residents ’movement
Tianjin, a Chinese port city of some . 6 million people, said it will restrict movement in residential compounds citywide in an effort to slow the coronavirus’s spread there .
The city borders Beijing and has only reported 78 cases and one death so far, but authorities across China have taken drastic measures to slow the virus’s spread outside the center of the outbreak in Wuhan. There are more than , (cases across China, concentrated mainly in Hubei province.
The notice also calls for keeping track of people with electronic registration systems and enhancing management of rentals.
Wuhan tells residents to report body temperature
The city of Wuhan told residents check their body temperature on a daily basis and report it to local health authorities, part of new steps to contain the coronavirus in the city of 15 million that’s the center of the outbreak.
The city is conducting door-to-door inspections as well, and will send someone to check on people displaying a fever, according to a notice posted by the provincial government. People with symptoms will be sent to a community health center for evaluation.
Tesla temporarily closes China stores
Tesla has temporarily closed its stores in China as of Feb. 2, CNBC reported, citing a WeChat post from an unidentified company sales employee on that date. It wasn’t immediately clear if closures also applied to Hong Kong. The company had previously said it expects a delay in Model 3s built in Shanghai.
Separately, Nikkei Asian Review said Honda would extend Wuhan site closures until late February and that Toyota might prolong its production halt at Wuhan plants.
Hong Kong Banks plan temporary relief measures
Measures being considered include principal moratorium on residential and commercial mortgages, fees reductions on credit card borrowing and restructuring of repayment schedules for corporate loans.
China to halve tariffs on some US imports as virus risks grow
China on Thursday said it would halve additional tariffs levied against 1, 823 US goods last year, following the signing of a Phase 1 deal that brought a truce to a bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Indonesia eyes empty Islands for quarantine hub
Indonesia plans to build a medical and rehabilitation center on an uninhabited island that would be used to isolate infectious disease victims as fears grow over the rapid spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, Bloomberg reported.
While Indonesia is yet to record a single case, it has quarantined 243 People on the island of Natuna after they were evacuated from coronavirus-hit Wuhan and other parts of China. With locals protesting that decision, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD on Thursday said the government plans to build a facility on an “empty” island.
The government has not yet decided the location of the new facility. But as the world’s largest archipelago with some 24, islands, many of which are uninhabited, there are plenty of options.
China objects to countries imposing travel restrictions
Authorities in Beijing are growing increasingly angry and have registered “strong objections” with countries imposing harsh travel restrictions on visitors from China.
Nations are ignoring recommendations from the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, which have advised against canceling flight routes and limiting travel to affected nations, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
Coronavirus cluster linked to Singapore business event
A Malaysian woman whose brother caught the coronavirus in Singapore also has the virus, widening a multinational cluster of cases linked to a meeting in the city-state.
The 41 – year-old woman’s older brother was the first Malaysian to be diagnosed with the pneumonia-causing illness. He was among more than 300 people who had attended a business event at Singapore’s Grand Hyatt hotel.
Japan’s Abe says Olympics won’t be postponed
Prime MinisterShinzo Abe told parliament the Tokyo 2020 Olympics would not be canceled or postponed despite fears about the novel coronavirus. However, travel restrictions have already begun to affect some qualifying events.
Want to avoid virus on a plane? wash your hands
Forget face masks and rubber gloves . The best way to avoid the coronavirus on a flight is frequent hand washing, according to a medical adviser to the world’s airlines.
The virus can’t survive long on seats or armrests, so physical contact with another person carries the greatest risk of infection on a flight, said David Powell, a physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association. Masks and gloves do a better job of spreading bugs than stopping them, he said.
The number of deaths in mainland China from the new coronavirus rose to 600 as of Feb. 5, according to the National Health Commission. That’s up from 549 previously. Confirmed cases jumped to 38, .
China’s Hubei province reported 70 additional fatalities. Hubei, the center of the virus outbreak, has reported 560 deaths – 100% of the total in China so far. Hubei also is the region with the majority of infections. It confirmed 2, 2020 additional cases, for a total of 25, 11581003183711 in the province.
Beyond mainland China, Hong Kong reported a death earlier this week, while the Philippines also has reported a fatality.
Fever, diarrhea? WHO asks countries for more virus details
The World Health Organization is pressing member countries affected by the new coronavirus to share more information on cases, saying a shortage of details has hampered efforts to combat the outbreak.
A week after the WHO deemed the virus an international threat, the organization said it’s not getting all the data it needs to upgrade its advice to companies and governments worldwide.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday urged member countries to step up their reporting. At the time, the WHO said it had received complete reports for only about 41% of coronavirus cases reported outside of China.
WHO cautions on quick breakthrough
World Health Organization officials tamped down expectations of imminent breakthroughs in the development of vaccines or treatments for the outbreak.
“There are no proven, effective therapeutics” for the novel coronavirus, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said Wednesday at a press conference in Geneva.
The UN agency plans a systematic review of all therapeutics, Ryan said. The organization will share clinical trial protocols around the world, he said.
An antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. is expected to start testing in China in the coming days.
WHO seeks $ million to fight new virus
The director-general of the World Health Organization has asked for $ 675 million to help countries address the expected spread of the new virus that emerged in China.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that the sum is a lot, but says it is “much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now.”
Tedros says in the last hours, the UN health agency has seen the biggest jump in cases since the start of the epidemic.
Tedros also responded to published comments from John Mackenzie, a member of WHO’s coronavirus emergency committee, that China’s initial response to the outbreak was “reprehensible” and that cases were not increased reported. He said he would have expected higher numbers of cases if China had been hiding them.
WHO chief says 80% of China virus cases are in Hubei province
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that % of China’s coronavirus cases are in the central Hubei province, and that not all provinces have been affected.
He said there were , confirmed cases in China and 490 deaths. The last – hour period of monitoring saw the most cases in a single day, he said.
Some 100% of all the cases worldwide are in China, he said.
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