Coronavirus spreads to more countries: All the latest updates
United Kingdom and Russia are latest countries to confirm cases, as number of people infected in China nears 10,000.
The United Kingdom has confirmed its first two cases of the new coronavirus, a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency.
At least 213 have died in China, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.
Beijing said there are nearly 10,000 people confirmed to have the infection, which has spread from Wuhan’s Hubei province to every one of China’s 31 provinces.
Another 102,000 people were also reportedly under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.
Updates for January 31 have concluded. For February 1st updates click here:
Friday, January 31
State Department organising more flights from Wuhan
The US State Department is working with US and Chinese agencies to organise additional flights for US citizens to return to the United States from Wuhan, a State Department official said.
The State Department official said “as space is available, seating will be offered to US citizens on a reimbursable basis, to leave from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport to the United States. All travelers will be screened for symptoms at the airport prior to departure”.
Iraq’s Basra airport to deny entry to travellers from China
Iraq’s Basra International Airport will deny entry to passengers of any nationality travelling to Iraq from China, the state news agency reported.
Cyprus treats first suspected case of coronavirus
Cyprus said it was treating its first suspected case of coronavirus after a man arrived from China showing signs of the illness.
A statement by the Mediterranean island’s Ministry of Health said: “A Chinese citizen residing in Cyprus who had visited China in the past few days presented symptoms similar to that of the coronavirus.”
Authorities in the European Union member state said all protocols were followed for dealing with coronavirus and the man was hospitalised in the capital Nicosia.
“The possibility of influenza A was ruled out after conducting the relevant examinations,” the ministry said.
The ministry said it would “further investigate” the incident over the following days while the patient is kept in hospital for treatment.
US announces 14-day quarantine on 195 virus evacuees
The US issued a rare federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan.
It came after one of the individuals tried to leave the California military base where the repatriated citizens landed on a chartered flight on Wednesday, and is the first directive of its kind in over 50 years.
“This legal order is part of an aggressive public health response, the goal of which is to prevent as much as possible community spread of this novel virus in the United States,” said Nancy Messonnier, a senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Our goal today, tomorrow and always continues to be the safety of the American public,” she added. “We would rather be remembered for overreacting than underreacting.”
El Salvador and Costa Rica take ‘prudent’ measures
El Salvador has announced blanket restrictions on people who have recently been in China.
Costa Rican officials said they will monitor transit points such as airports, but for now, will allow Chinese travellers to enter the country.
President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador describes the move as “prudent”.
Two more employees of German car supplier get coronavirus
German car parts supplier Webasto said that two more of its employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, making a total of seven who have contracted it.
One of the employees is German in Germany, while the other is Chinese in Shanghai. Both are in hospital undergoing treatment, Webasto said.
China orders 200 million masks from Turkey
China has put in orders for a total of 200 million protective face masks from Turkish medical firms over the past 10 days.
Fatih Arpaci, a stakeholder in a medical firm based in Turkey’s western province, told Anadolu Agency that as a “surprising” turnout of events, Chinese firms ordered a total of 200 million face masks in one go.
“It is surprising to us as China is one of the biggest face mask producers in the world. Turkey produces a total of 150 million face masks in one year. But they wanted 200 million face masks,” he said.
“Demands keep coming not only from China, but also from other countries such as Italy, the Netherlands, France, Poland and Germany. We work 24 hours a day to meet this demand. We also work on Sundays,” Arpaci said.
Guatemala restricts entry from China
Guatemala’s government is imposing blanket travel restrictions on people who have recently been in China, President Alejandro Giammattei said.
Anybody who had been in China in the previous 15 days would be prevented from entering the South American country’s ports, airports and land crossings, Giammattei said.
“The purpose is to shield Guatemala from coronavirus,” Giammattei, a trained doctor, told reporters after visiting a public hospital.
Giammattei said that crews on ships arriving in Guatemalan ports that have been in China during the previous 15 days would not be allowed to enter. Any crew member that did enter would immediately be quarantined, he said.
Pasteur Institute eyes coronavirus vaccine in 2021
France’s Pasteur Institute Foundation said it had set up a taskforce aimed at developing a vaccine against the coronavirus in 20 months.
Christophe D’Enfert, a scientific director with the Pasteur Institute, told reporters in Paris the vaccine could be made available in 20 months if “all goes well”.
“At the end of August, we could enter clinical trials and, provided all goes well, obtain a vaccine candidate within 20 months.”
Pakistan offers to send field hospital to China
Pakistan has offered to send a field hospital to China as well as a group of doctors to help with a new virus outbreak.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Qureshi made the offer in a phone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
On his part, Wang assured Qureshi that the Pakistani students in China were being treated “like our own”, according to the Pakistani foreign ministry’s statement.
Delta, American and United suspend flights between US, China
Delta Air Lines and American Airlines said they will suspend all flights between the US and China.
United Airlines announced that it will suspend flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu but continue flights to Hong Kong.
American said it will stop flying to China starting Friday and running through March 27. Delta plans to wait until February 6 to suspend China operations to help travelers there leave the country, then stop the flights through April 30.
United said its action would run until March 28. On Thursday, United had announced plans to suspend most of its China routes but continue a few.
China envoy says no need for ‘unnecessary panic’ over virus
China is decisively working to control the deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus, its ambassador in Geneva said, insisting there was no need for countries to impose “excessive measures” like border closures.
“There is no need for unnecessary panic, and no need for excessive measures,” Ambassador Chen Xu told reporters in Geneva.
Russia says it will begin bringing citizens out of China
Russia said it would begin moving its citizens out of China via its Far Eastern region on Saturday, regional authorities said.
Vietnam Airlines to suspend flights to Chinese destinations
Vietnam Airlines will suspend its flights to destinations in China from next week over coronavirus concerns, the company said.
Its flights between Vietnam and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen will be suspended from Tuesday, Chengdu from Wednesday, and Macau from Thursday, the company said in a statement.
Vietnam Airlines will also suspend all flights between Hanoi and Hong Kong from Thursday, and cut its flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong to seven from 10 a week, it said.
India bans export of protective masks, clothing
India said it had banned the export of personal protection equipment such as masks and clothing amid a global coronavirus outbreak.
German coronavirus cases climb to six after child infected
A new coronavirus has been confirmed in a child in Germany, the southern state of Bavaria said, bringing the total number of known cases in Germany to six.
The new case is a child of an employee at the same firm where four more individuals in the Munich area were infected, the state health ministry said in a statement.
All affected persons are in stable condition, the ministry said.
Plane carrying Britons and others from Wuhan lands in UK
A plane carrying 83 British and 27 foreign nationals landed in Britain after flying from China’s central city of Wuhan.
The plane arrived at the Royal Air Force base at Brize Norton in central England and the Britons will be taken to a National Health Service facility where they will be quarantined for 14 days.
It is due to continue on to Spain, where the home countries of European Union citizens will take responsibility for the remaining passengers.
French car parts maker PSA extending plant closures in China
French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen said its three plants in China’s Wuhan will remain closed until February 14, in line with the Chinese government’s guidance.
Valeo, a French car parts maker, said earlier its three sites in Wuhan will stay closed until at least February 13.
Wuhan mayor: Containing virus still ‘severe, complex’ task
The task of containing and preventing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in the central Chinese city of Wuhan remain “severe and complex”, its Mayor Zhou Xianwang said.
Supplies of masks and other medical resources are still inadequate, Vice Mayor Xu Honglan said.
Armenia suspends visa-free travel for Chinese citizens
Armenia will suspend its visa-free travel regime for Chinese citizens from February 1 until March 31, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan wrote on social media.
Pakistan halts China flights
Pakistan temporarily suspended all direct flights with China, affecting Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air China and China Southern Airlines.
“We have suspended all the direct flights to and from China with immediate effect till February 02,” Abdul Sattar Khokhar, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), he told AFP news agency.
The spokesperson did not comment on the reason for the flight suspensions. A decision on whether flights will be resumed will be made on Sunday.
“We have received a notification from civil aviation authority regarding the flight suspension to China, since it is a decision from the regulatory body we will obey its directions,” said PIA spokesman Aamir Memon.
Germany expects coronavirus vaccine within months
Germany’s research minister said she expected a vaccine for coronavirus to be developed within months.
“If we want to contain this illness then it is good if we have a vaccine in a relatively short time and we assume this will be in a few months,” said Research Minister Anja Karliczek.
She made the announcement after biopharmaceutical company CureVac AG and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said they were working together to develop a vaccine against the virus.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics dismiss cancellation fears
Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers dismissed rumours that the Games were endangered by the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have never discussed cancelling the Games. Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with the (International Olympic Committee) IOC and relevant organisations and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary,” organisers said in a statement to the German news agency DPA.
The IOC also said that preparations for the July 24-August 9 Games were continuing as planned.
China court censures police crackdown on doctors
China’s highest court chastised police for a crackdown on doctors in the central city of Wuhan who spread
“rumours” about the new coronavirus in the earliest days of its outbreak.
The Supreme People’s Court said while doctors may have been incorrect in telling patients the new virus was a renewed outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), warning the public could have slowed down the spread of the virus.
“If the public had listened to this ‘rumour’ at the time, it would have adopted measures such as wearing a mask, strict disinfection and avoiding going to the wildlife market” in Wuhan.
Hong Kong resists pressure to complete border shutdown
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has resisted pressure to completely shut down the border with mainland China, saying it was not the answer to stem the spread of a virus.
Medical workers have threatened to strike if the government refuses to do so, and some restaurant owners have also echoed calls to bar all mainland visitors.
Lam said the number of mainland arrivals has shrunk since Hong Kong this week suspended ferry and high-speed trains to the mainland, as well as shut six smaller border checkpoints.
She said schools would be closed now until March 2, and civil servants can also choose to work from home for another week.
Russia confirms first cases of coronavirus, cancels flights
Russia reported its first two cases of coronavirus, saying the infected patients were Chinese nationals who had now been isolated.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said the patients are in the Zabaikalsky region, which borders China, and in the Tyumen region, which borders Kazakhstan.
Golikova told reporters that all direct flights to China from Russia would be halted from 21:00 GMT on Friday.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus here.
Companies in Beijing to resume work on February 10
China’s capital Beijing has said that companies in the province will postpone reopening until February 10 in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, government newspaper Beijing Daily reported.
The measure is applicable to government and private companies but not to utilities and some other firms such as medical equipment companies, pharmaceutical companies and supermarkets, the newspaper reported.
Myanmar turns back China Southern flight
Authorities in Myanmar have turned back a China Southern flight from Guangzhou with almost everyone on board after one of the passengers was found with flu symptoms similar to the fast-spreading coronavirus, a government spokesman said.
The plane arrived in the commercial capital Yangon and the passenger, a Chinese national, was sent to a hospital in the city where he will be quarantined, said government spokesman Zaw Htay.
Two Myanmar nationals who also disembarked have agreed to isolate themselves in their homes for 14 days, he told reporters at a news conference.
The plane returned to Guangzhou with everyone else on board. Myanmar has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Second Chinese film premiere moved online
The film Enter the Fat Dragon will premiere via video streaming on Saturday, makers China iQiyi Inc said, after plans for the film’s premiere in cinemas were affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
It will be the second film to debut online because of the outbreak following Huanxi Media Group’s decision to premiere Lost in Russia on Bytedance’s online platforms.
That decision drew protests from Chinese cinemas and film studios.
Plane evacuating French nationals from Wuhan lands
The first plane repatriating French nationals from China landed in France, French TV station BFM reported.
BFM said the plane had arrived at a military base in Istres, southern France, and was carrying around 200 people.
Italy declares state of emergency over coronavirus: Official
The Italian government has declared a state of emergency to fast-track efforts to prevent the spread of a deadly coronavirus strain after two cases were confirmed in Rome.
Italy had said on Thursday it was stopping all flights to and from China following the news that two Chinese tourists holidaying in Italy had tested positive for the virus.
Number of cases in China rises over 9,800: Ambassador
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China has risen over 9,800, the country’s envoy to the United Nations in Vienna said.
“Altogether there are 9,809 confirmed cases. Among them, there are 1,527 cases of critical conditions, [plus] 15,238 suspected cases,” the ambassador, Wang Qun – speaking through an interpreter – told member states and reporters.
He added that there had been 213 deaths.
Singapore introduces new travel restrictions
Singapore said it was suspending entry to travellers with a recent history of travel to China and suspending visas for Chinese passport holders.
The ban, effective from Saturday, will exempt Singaporean residents and work permit holders, the health ministry said, adding that it will also apply to those transiting through Singapore, a busy global travel hub.
Italy to discuss declaring coronavirus emergency
Italy’s government is set to discuss declaring a state of national emergency over the new coronavirus, after confirming its first two cases, a cabinet statement said on Friday.
Evacuation of Germans from Wuhan to begin shortly: FM
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said a German military plane would be leaving for China shortly to evacuate more than 100 German citizens, none of whom are infected with coronavirus or suspected of having contracted it.
Maas said the plane would arrive in Germany on Saturday and the evacuees would be kept in quarantine for two weeks.
UK confirms first cases of coronavirus
The United Kingdom has confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus in two patients from the same family in England, the country’s chief medical officer said.
“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus,” Chris Whitty said.
“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contact the patients had, to prevent further spread,” he added.
Read the full story here.
Thailand confirms first case of human-to-human transmission
Thailand has confirmed its first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus inside the country, a health official said.
The patient is a Thai taxi driver, said Tanarak Pipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control.
“The Thai person who got infected does not have the record of travelling to China and it is likely that he was infected from a sick traveller from China,” Tanarak said.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus here.
Oman advises against travelling to China
Oman’s health ministry has advised against travel to China.
“It is advisable not to travel to China unless it is absolutely necessary,” the ministry said in a post on Twitter.
Facebook to remove coronavirus misinformation
Facebook has said it will take down misinformation about the coronavirus in a rare departure from its approach to health content.
The company said in a blog post that it would remove content about the virus “with false claims for conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities,” saying such content would violate its ban on misinformation leading to “physical harm”.
Keeping People Safe and Informed About the Coronavirus https://t.co/DZ1R5EMr3u
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) January 31, 2020
Turkish Airlines halts all flights to and from mainland China
Turkish Airlines has suspended all flights to and from mainland China and is redirecting four flights currently in the air back to Istanbul.
The flights will be suspended until February 9, while flights to and from Hong Kong will remain in operation, the company said.
To evaluate the situation regarding the Corona virus outbreak with international and local authorities: Flights to Beijing Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Xi'an will be halted until February 9th. We will keep you informed regarding all developments.
— TK HelpDesk (@TK_HelpDesk) January 30, 2020
Mongolia to close all ports of entry from, into China
Mongolia will close all ports of entry from and into China until March 2, the government said.
It will give its citizens currently in China until February 6 to return home, though non-Chinese foreign nationals travelling to Mongolia will not be able to do so via China.
South Korea confirms four more cases
South Korea has confirmed four more cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 11.
One is a 62-year-old South Korean woman who visited Wuhan, while the three others are presumed to be classified as person-to-person transmission cases, as they have not visited China recently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here.
WHO declares global health emergency – but what does it mean?
The WHO’s declaration of a global health emergency over the coronavirus means there is now more money available to combat the outbreak, Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Hong Kong, said.
“That means the WHO now has more funds that it can throw at the problem but it also effectively gives the WHO more power because member nations, including China, have a binding obligation to accept and implement any decisions that the WHO makes.”
Vietnam carrier Vietjet to suspend China flights
Vietnamese carrier Vietjet will suspend all flights to and from China from February 1, the company said.
“Vietjet has already planned to suspend all of its flights to China,” it said in a statement. “The suspension is effective from February 1.”
Turkey to evacuate its citizens, others, from Wuhan: Health minister
Turkey’s health minister has said 34 Turkish citizens and several others will be airlifted from Wuhan.
The others include seven Azeris, seven Georgians and one Albanian.
The plane will take off from the Turkish capital, Ankara on Friday.
Diary of a Wuhan native: A week under quarantine
A teacher living in the epicentre of the deadly outbreak shares her experiences of isolation with Al Jazeera as the quarantine in Wuhan continues.
Read the full story here.
RwandAir suspends all flights to China
RwandAir has halted flights to and from China until further notice.
“RwandAir is to suspend flights with immediate effect between the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the Chinese city of Guangzhou,” the airline said in a statement. “The decision will be reviewed later in February.”
Vietnam to ban visas for Chinese tourists
Authorities in Vietnam are introducing a temporary ban on issuing travel visas to Chinese tourists, a government statement said.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has called on immigration officials to stop issuing visas to Chinese tourists amid growing concern over the new coronavirus, the statement read.
Vietnamese citizens were also encouraged not to travel to the Chinese border, while Vietnam’s travel authorities have asked all travel companies to suspend flights to infected regions in China.
Plane leaves Wuhan with 110 Britons and foreigners on board
A plane carrying 83 British and 27 foreign nationals has flown out from Wuhan, the UK government said.
The civilian aircraft chartered by the Foreign Office left the city at 09:45 local time (01:45 GMT) and is due to arrive in the UK at 13:00 GMT before going to Spain, where the home countries of European Union citizens will take responsibility for the remaining passengers.
“We know how distressing the situation has been for those waiting to leave,” UK Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab said, according to a notice on the government’s website. “We have been working round the clock to clear the way for a safe departure.”
Kenya Airway suspends all flights to China
Kenya Airways has suspended all flights to and from China until further notice.
“We have temporarily suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou starting Friday until further notice,” the airline said in a statement on its Twitter account.
— Kenya Airways (@KenyaAirways) January 31, 2020
Xiamen Airlines flights to fly citizens back to Wuhan
China’s civil aviation authority announced that it will dispatch two Xiamen Airlines planes to fly Wuhan citizens back from Bangkok, Thailand and Malaysia, according to the newspaper, People’s Daily.
China’s foreign ministry announced the decision earlier in the day in view of “practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas”.
Japan urges citizens to avoid non-urgent trips to all of China
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Parliament the government has decided to raise its infectious disease advisory level for China, excluding Hubei province, to two, urging citizens to avoid non-urgent trips to the country.
The government is already telling its citizens not to take any trips to China’s central province of Hubei.
China to bring home overseas citizens from Hubei
The Chinese government is to send charter planes to bring citizens from virus-hit Hubei province who are overseas back “as soon as possible”, the foreign ministry said.
This is in view of “practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas”, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.
US gov’t warns US citizens against China travel over virus
The US State Department increased its travel advisory for China, as the death toll from a fast-spreading virus rose to more than 200 and the WHO declared a global health emergency.
In a notice posted on its website, the State Department said: “Do not travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.”
German foreign ministry warns against travel to Hubei
The German Foreign Ministry has warned against travel to China’s Hubei province.
The ministry also recommended that non-essential travel to China be postponed “if possible”.
Travellers were also advised to heed the advice of local Chinese authorities.
The ministry urged travellers to “get vaccinated against influenza with the current northern hemisphere vaccine” before setting off, according to the partial travel warning posted on the ministry’s website.
LPGA event cancelled, Olympic football qualifiers changed
The elite women’s LPGA golf tour has cancelled an event in China and Olympic football qualifying matches in Australia are being shuffled.
The four-team women’s football tournament involving China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand was moved from Wuhan and hastily rearranged to be held in Australia by the Asian Football Confederation.
Organisers were forced to change their match schedule after China’s team, who arrived in Australia on January 29, were placed in quarantine in Brisbane until after February 5.
Meanwhile, the LPGA said its Blue Bay tournament due to be held on Hainan island from March 5-8 had been cancelled.
Japan to enforce special measures for coronavirus from Saturday: NHK
Japan plans to bring forward the date that the coronavirus will become a “designated infectious disease” to Saturday from February 7, public broadcaster NHK said.
Japanese Minister of Health Katsunobu Kato said that the government was considering moving up the date, without elaborating.
The government classified the virus as a designated infectious disease on Tuesday, a move that allows compulsory hospitalisation, stricter screening of people entering the country, and the use of public funds for treatment, among other measures.
In line with regulations, the designation was only set to take effect on February 7 after ordinances are issued.
China has confidence to win war against coronavirus: Foreign ministry
China has the confidence and capability to win the war against the new coronavirus, said the country’s foreign ministry spokeswoman in responding to WHO’s decision to declare the virus outbreak in China as a global emergency.
Hua Chunying, the ministry spokeswoman, also said China will continue to work with the WHO and other countries to maintain global and regional public health security.
Charter flight carrying South Koreans from Wuhan arrives home
A charter flight carrying 367 South Koreans from Wuhan landed at the Gimpo International Airport on Friday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
The first of up to four flights planned to evacuate South Koreans from Wuhan departed on Friday morning, after an unexpected hours-long delay because China had only approved one flight.
About 700 South Koreans have signed up for the charter flights.
More French citizens evacuated from Wuhan
A jet carrying approximately 200 French citizens flew out of the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday, according to AFP journalists on board the flight.
The French military aircraft is bound for southern France, where the passengers will undergo a 14-day quarantine.
More Canadians ask for help to leave China
The number of Canadians looking to flee China because of the coronavirus epidemic rose to nearly 200 on Thursday while a third suspected case in Canada was confirmed.
Officials told a parliamentary committee that 196 Canadians in Wuhan – the epicentre of the epidemic – have requested help getting back home, an increase from Wednesday when the government announced an airlift for 160.
The Globe and Mail newspaper said the families of Canadian diplomats in China who were “vulnerable” to infections were also being repatriated. The foreign ministry was not immediately available to confirm the report.
They include people with existing medical conditions, over the age of 65 or under five, said the daily.
Read updates from Thursday, January 30 here.