China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

President Xi Jinping urges Chinese to have confidence in their ability to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the novel coronavirus prevention and control work at Anhuali Community in Beijing, China, February 10, 2020. Xinhua via REUTERS
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the novel coronavirus prevention and control work at Anhuali Community in Beijing, China, February 10, 2020. Xinhua via REUTERS [Reuters]

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told people in China they “must have confidence” that the country will win its battle against the coronavirus epidemic that has killed more than 900 people on the mainland.

His first public appearance since the outbreak – which originated in the central city of Wuhan – began came as the World Health Organization (WHO) deployed an expert team to China to investigate.

A total of 40,171 infections have been confirmed in mainland China, with 908 deaths – most of the fatalities are in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province.

Two deaths have been recorded outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.

At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei. 

Here are the latest updates:

Monday, February 10

Briton with new coronavirus travelled through Geneva airport

A Briton who infected at least five people with the new coronavirus in a French ski resort travelled there and back via Geneva airport in Switzerland, the Swiss government said. 

In response to a question, the Federal Office of Public Health said it had not taken additional measures to identify those with whom he may have had contact.

China introduces coronavirus close contact detection app

China has rolled out a “close contact detector,” a mobile app enabling people to check whether they are at risk of catching the coronavirus.

Users enter their name and ID number to find out whether they have been in close contact with someone infected. Those who have been are advised to stay home and get in touch with local health authorities.

The app was developed by the General Office of the State Council, the National Health Commission and China Electronics Technology Group Corporations (CETC). 

UAE confirms new case

The United Arab Emirates has confirmed an eighth case of the coronavirus.

The country’s health ministry said the patient was an Indian national who had interacted with a recently diagnosed person. 

Find out more about which countries have confirmed cases here.

Hong Kong to evacuate residential building, home to two patients

Hong Kong is evacuating people from a residential building in the New Territories district of Tsing Yi, where two people confirmed with coronavirus live on different floors, authorities said.

The director of the Centre for Health Protection, Dr Wong Ka-hing, said the government was investigating the suspected environmental transmission of two cases in the building. 

Hong Kong has confirmed 42 cases of the virus. Dr Wong said it was unclear how many residents were in the building but those who showed symptoms would be put in quarantine as a precautionary measure.

BA cancels mainland China flights until end of March

British Airways has cancelled all flights to mainland China until the end of March as the UK government continues to advise against all but essential travel to China.

“We have cancelled flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until March 31, 2020,” a BA spokesman said in a statement. 

“Flights to and from Hong Kong continue to operate as normal. We are contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options, including rebooking onto other carriers where possible, full refunds or booking with BA for a later date of travel.”

Holiday ends but workers stay home as China battles coronavirus

UK says two of its confirmed cases are healthcare workers

Two of the new coronavirus cases the UK announced on Monday are healthcare workers, Public Health England said.

Earlier, the UK said the number of cases had doubled to eight as the government declared the virus a serious and imminent threat, giving it additional powers to isolate those suspected of being infected.

“We are now working urgently to identify all patients and other healthcare workers who may have come into close contact, and at this stage we believe this to be a relatively small number,” Public Health England Medical Director Yvonne Doyle said in a statement.

IMF warns of virus hit to Japans economy

A prolonged and widespread coronavirus outbreak could hit Japan’s economy, affecting tourism, retail and exports, among other areas, a senior International Monetary Fund official has warned.

“The spread of the coronavirus poses an emerging risk to Japan’s economy, although the economic impact will depend on the extent of the spread of the disease and policy responses,” Paul Cashin, the IMF’s mission chief for Japan, told Reuters news agency.

“If prolonged and widespread, this would likely affect Japan’s tourism and retail activities through a decline in tourist arrivals and spending from China and elsewhere,” he said in a written interview. 

Global Grain conference in Singapore postponed 

The Global Grain Asia conference scheduled for March 9-11 in Singapore has been postponed by at least three months due to the coronavirus outbreak, organisers of the event told Reuters news agency.

The event will now take place either on June 17-19 or on June 29-July 1, they said.

The WHO investigation in China: What to expect

The arrival of the WHO investigation team in China will “hopefully give the world a good glimpse of what’s going on in China,” Dr Amesh Adalja of John Hopkins University said.

“That team will be bringing some of the world class epidemiologists from the WHO who will be able to really understand the transmission dynamics going on, understand the severity of illness, understand the challenges that China is facing with this outbreak,” he told Al Jazeera.

Apple iPhone maker Foxconn approved to resume production: Reuters

Apple iPhone maker Foxconn has received Chinese government approval to resume production at a key plant in the southern city of Shenzhen, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters news agency.

The plant’s reopening after the Lunar New Year holiday had been delayed due to the spread of the coronavirus in China.

About 20,000 people, or roughly 10 percent of Foxconn’s workforce in Shenzhen, had returned to the plant as of Monday, the source said, adding that the company told some of its employees there late on Monday to return to work the next day.

Delivery men in China providing a lifeline despite risks

Delivery men in China have become a lifeline as concerns over the spread of the coronavirus persuade many people to remain indoors, but the threat of the virus is taking its toll.

“Of course I’m scared. This virus is very serious but what can I do? I have to keep this job,” Wang Yan Ling, a delivery driver in Beijing told Al Jazeera. “All I can do now is wear the mask and gloves.”

China delivery drivers
Delivery drivers have been bringing food and other essentials to Chinese choosing to stay indoors [Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo]

Despite relying on such drivers for food and other essentials, some have become wary about these well traveled individuals. 

“That delivery driver has been to too many places and has had contact with too many people,” Li Dahe, a shop owner said, referring to a different driver from the man quoted above. 

“I need to be more cautious around workers like him”.

WHO team arrives in China

An advance WHO team of experts have arrived in China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. 

Tedros, who visited Beijing for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese ministers in late January, returned with an agreement on sending an international mission. It took nearly two weeks to get the Chinese government’s approval on its composition.

Tedros, speaking in Geneva, said there had been concerning incidents of an onward spread of the virus in people with no history of travel to China which “could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire”.

Nissan to halt production at Japan factory

Nissan Motor Co will temporarily halt production at its plant in Kyushu, southern Japan, due to the coronavirus, the Japanese carmaker said.

In a statement, Nissan, the first carmaker to halt production at a plant in Japan because of the outbreak, said that output would be affected on Friday and February 17 due to supply shortages of parts from China.

The stoppage could impact production of around 3,000 vehicles, the Nikkei reported, underlining the extent to which manufacturers in the world’s third-largest economy are reliant on China for supplies.

Wuhan Streets sprayed with ‘disinfectant’

Russia quarantines top Chinese consul as precaution: Interfax

Russian authorities have quarantined a top Chinese diplomat as a safety precaution against coronavirus shortly after he arrived in China to take up his new post, Interfax news agency reported.

Consul General Cui Shaochun arrived in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on Thursday to start his new job but instead of having scheduled meetings, he was told to stay at home for two weeks, Russian foreign ministry official Alexander Kharlov was quoted as saying. 

Xi: China ‘must have confidence’ that it will win battle against virus

Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country “must have confidence that that we will eventually win this battle against the epidemic”.

Wearing a surgical mask to visit medical staff at Ditan Hospital in the Chinese capital Beijing, Xi had his temperature checked by a community worker and waved to residents in their apartments, footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed.

President Xi Jinping, China, coronavirus
Xi’s appearance at Ditan Hospital was his first among the public since the outbreak began [Pang Xinglei/Xinhua via AP Photo]

“We must fight the battle, the total warfare and the people’s war against the epidemic with full confidence. We must have the confidence that we will definitely win,” he said.

It is the first time the president has appeared among the public since the epidemic started.

Schools, offices deserted as holiday ends in China

The extended Lunar New Year holiday has ended, but this did not lead to the widespread reopening of businesses amid concerns of a potential uptick in coronavirus cases. 

Most companies that can function with staff working remotely have told employees to work from home.

Schools were also due to welcome back students in recent days, but the epidemic has forced most schools to postpone return dates.

Read more here

Xi says will prevent large-scale layoffs 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the government will prevent large-scale layoffs amid the coronavirus outbreak that has severely disrupted the world’s second-largest economy, state television reported.

Xi also said China will strive to meet its economic and social targets for the year, as he reiterated that Beijing would win the battle against the outbreak.

Xi donned a blue mask and white surgical gown to meet doctors at Beijing Ditan hospital, observe the treatment of patients and speak via video link to doctors in Wuhan, state media said.

Read the full story here.

People wearing masks pass by portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, on a street in Shanghai
People wearing masks pass by portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, on a street in Shanghai, China [Aly Song/Reuters]

EU calls emergency talks on new coronavirus

The European Union will host an extraordinary meeting of health ministers on Thursday, along with a WHO envoy, to discuss the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“Now is the time to join forces to stop this epidemic,” said European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic.

So far, 33 cases of the new strain have been detected in EU countries. 

Mongolia suspends coal exports to China 

Mongolia will suspend deliveries of coal across its southern border into China until March 2 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the country’s National Emergency Commission said. 

Exports via the border points of Gashuunsukhait, Shiveekhuren, Bichigt and Bulgan will all be stopped, the commission said. The body is also recommending that Mongolia’s Tsagaan Sar new year celebrations be suspended. 

Ukraine to evacuate citizens from Wuhan

Ukraine is preparing to evacuate its citizens from the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province on Tuesday by special charter plane to Kyiv, a statement from the country’s embassy in China said. 

Returning citizens would be put into mandatory quarantine for two weeks, the statement said.

Coronavirus: How does it spread?

Four new coronavirus cases in UK

Four more patients in the United Kingdom have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in the UK to eight, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said. 

The new cases were all known contacts of a previously confirmed British patient in France, and were identified by public health officials working to trace possible cases.

Read more about where cases have been confirmed here.

Sixty-five new infections confirmed on cruise ship in Japan

Sixty-five new infections of the coronavirus have been confirmed on board the Diamond Princess ship, Japan’s health ministry said.

That brings total cases on the ship docked in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, to 135.

Princess Cruises, the ship’s operator, said the newly diagnosed cases included Japanese nationals, Americans, Australians, Filipinos, a Canadian and a Ukrainian. 

China says 27 foreigners infected

China’s Foreign Ministry said 27 foreigners in the country have been confirmed as being infected with the new coronavirus, and two had died.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang confirmed that a US citizen died on February 6 and a Japanese on February 8.

Three of the cases have been discharged, he told reporters in Beijing. 

UK declares coronavirus ‘imminent’ threat 

The UK said the new coronavirus was a “serious and imminent threat to public health”, a step that gives the government additional powers to fight the spread of the virus.

“Measures outlined in these regulations are considered as an effective means of delaying or preventing further transmission of the virus,” UK’s health ministry said in a statement

The ministry designated Arrowe Park Hospital and Kents Hill Park as an “isolation” facility and Wuhan and Hubei province in China as an “infected area”.

Coronavirus cases outside China could be ‘tip of the iceberg’

Airbnb suspends bookings in Beijing until February 29

Airbnb said it has suspended bookings in Beijing until February 29, Reuters news agency reported. 

“In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak and guidance from local authorities for the short-term rental industry during this public health emergency, bookings of all listings in Beijing with check-in from 7 February 2020 to 29 February 2020 have been suspended,” the short-term home rental company said in an email statement.

The decision was only for Beijing, a spokesperson for Airbnb China said, adding that the company evaluates the situation and works to comply with guidance from local authorities.

Sixty more confirmed with coronavirus on cruise ship in Japan

Testing on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has found 60 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, domestic broadcaster TBS TV said via Twitter.

That brings total cases on the ship docked in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, to 130, according to TBS.

The liner was placed on a two-week quarantine after arriving at Yokohama on February 3.

Japan ship
Passengers stretch on the balcony of their cabins on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where scores of passengers have been found to have the coronavirus [Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

Coronavirus sends China prices higher

Consumer prices in China rose the fastest in more than eight years in January, official data showed on Monday.

The consumer price index (CPI), a key gauge of retail inflation, came in at 5.4 percent in January, up from 4.5 percent in December as prices of pork and fresh vegetables rose.

Food prices spiked 20.6 percent.

The new coronavirus has disrupted businesses, travel and supply chains and is already affecting Hong Kong’s economy.

Southeast Asian countries popular with tourists from mainland China are also feeling the pinch.

Golf: LPGA cancels Thailand, Singapore events due to coronavirus

The LPGA Tour, the elite women’s professional golf circuit, said on Monday it was cancelling tournaments in Thailand and Singapore that were supposed to take place later this month because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The LPGA said it would not hold the Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, which was scheduled for February 20-23, or the HSBC Women’s World Championship, which was supposed to take place in Singapore from February 27 – March 1.

“It is always a difficult decision to cancel events and the LPGA greatly appreciates the understanding and all the efforts made by our title sponsors as well as IMG to host incredible events for our players,” it said.

“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority.”

WHO expresses concern about virus among people with no China travel history

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there had been “concerning instances” of coronavirus among people who had no history of travelling to China and urged all countries to prepare for the possible arrival of the virus.

“The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Tedros said in a series of tweets on Monday morning.

Announcing an advance team for a WHO-led international expert mission to China led by Dr Bruce Aylward, a “veteran of past public health emergencies” was on its way to the country, he urged countries to share their knowledge about the virus with the agency in real-time and to remain calm.

Read the updates from Sunday, February 9 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies