China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

The World Health Organization asks countries to be ‘as aggressive as possible’ in combating virus.

Police in protective gear wait to evacuate residents from a public housing building, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Hong Kong, China February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Two deaths have been recorded outside mainland China - one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready in 18 months, as the UN health body announced that the official name for the virus would be COVID-19.

The announcement came as the death toll in mainland China reached more than 1,000, after 108 people died from the virus on Monday – the highest daily toll since the outbreak began late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The total number of deaths on the mainland was 1,016, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, while 42,638 infections have been reported. The vast majority of deaths and infections 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:

Tuesday, February 11

Germany confirms two more cases

Germany has confirmed two more cases of coronavirus in the southern state of Bavaria, raising the overall total to 16.

The two new cases are related to infections among staff at a company in the Starnberg district west of Munich, the Bavarian health ministry said.

Car supplier Webasto said last month that a Chinese employee had tested positive for the virus on returning to China following a visit to the headquarters near Munich. The employee apparently infected several German colleagues during the visit.

Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here.

US health official hopeful some evacuees may be released from quarantine today

An official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said she hoped the first group of US citizens evacuated from Wuhan could be released from quarantine today. 

Dr Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal director, told a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington that 195 people who arrived in the US on January 29 are being assessed, and she is hopeful they will travel home on Tuesday after 14 days in quarantine.

Researchers ramp up efforts to develop coronavirus vaccine

World must consider coronavirus ‘public enemy number one,’ WHO says

The WHO has asked countries to be “as aggressive as possible” in fighting the newly-named COVID-19 coronavirus.

“If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider the virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

“We are still in containment strategy and should not allow the virus to have a space to have local transmission,” he said. 

WHO says vaccine could be ready in 18 months

The first vaccine targeting the coronavirus could be available in 18 months, “so we have to do everything today using available weapons”, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

He also announced that the new name of the virus would be COVID-19, explaining it was important to avoid stigma and that other names could be inaccurate.

“If we invest now … we have a realistic chance of stopping this outbreak,” Tedros said.

New coronavirus will be named ‘Covid-19’: WHO

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “COVID-19” would be the new official name for the deadly coronavirus. 

“We now have a name for the disease and it’s COVID-19,” Tedros told reporters in Geneva, explaining that “co” stood for “corona”, “vi” for “virus” and “d” for “disease”.

Read the full story here.

US allows government staff to leave Hong Kong

The United States has authorised the voluntary departure of US government employees and their family members from Hong Kong, the State Department said. 

According to a department spokesperson the authorisation was made “out of an abundance of caution related to uncertainties associated” with the coronavirus.

Departure is not required and the US consulate in Hong Kong remains open to the public.

Xi: Coronavirus prevention, control work having positive results

Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China’s prevention and control work on the new coronavirus is having positive results, and the country will win the battle against the virus, state media reported. 

China will be more prosperous after the battle against the virus is won, the report cited Xi as saying.

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
Xi’s comments came a day after he made his first public appearance since the outbreak began [File: Aly Song/Reuters]

Situation in China’s Huanggang remains severe: Communist Party

The Communist Party boss of China’s Hunggang city, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak said the situation in the city was still severe.

It continues to face shortages of medical supplies such as face masks and protective goggles, Liu Xuerong told a news conference carried live on state television. 

UK team tests coronavirus vaccine on mice

A team of UK scientists believe they are among the first to start animal testing of a vaccine for the new coronavirus.

Researchers at Imperial College London said their ultimate goal was to have an effective and safe way of halting the strain’s spread by the end of the year.

“At the moment we have just put the vaccine that we’ve generated from these bacteria into mice,” researcher Paul McKay told AFP.

“We’re hoping that over the next few weeks we’ll be able to determine the response that we can see in those mice, in their blood, their antibody response to the coronavirus.”

Indonesia says it has nothing to hide with no cases detected

Indonesia’s health minister said the country is not hiding anything, after some medical researchers expressed concern that coronavirus cases may have gone undetected in the world’s fourth most populous country.

While the virus has quickly spread from China throughout much of the rest of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 260 million people has not recorded any cases. 

“We have kits to check coronavirus and they’re certified … nothing is concealed,” Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said after a cabinet meeting in Jakarta.

Coronavirus, Indonesia
Researchers have expressed surprise that no cases have been recorded in Indonesia [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

Second plane carrying evacuees from China arrives in Canada

A second plane carrying 185 Canadian evacuees from Wuhan has landed at an air-force base in Trenton, Ontario, CBC news reported.

GM’s South Korean unit to suspend output for two days

General Motors’ South Korean unit said that it plans to suspend production at one of its factories on February 17 and 18, becoming the latest automaker affected by a Chinese parts shortage stemming from the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The affected line, located in the city of Bupyeong near Seoul, produces the Chevrolet Trailblazer crossover for export to the United States and other markets and domestic sales, she said.

Novacyt biotech company says winning race for high-speed virus test

Franco-British biotech company Novacyt says it can offer a coronavirus test that is faster than rival methods by focusing on a narrow sequence of DNA coding, as it fights stiff competition to turn the outbreak into a business opportunity.

Novacyt shares have risen by almost 400 percent so far this year after it said it had designed a test able to detect the coronavirus in less than two hours. Current testing, which can also identify other strains, can take up to a day.

The test has not received regulatory approval but Novacyt hopes to receive a green light from the European Union next week and has applied to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.

Coronavirus: UK declares ‘serious and imminent threat’ (03:18)

Malaysia drafting stimulus for tourism, retail and aviation

Malaysia is crafting a stimulus package for tourism, retail and aviation industries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said, after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

“Today’s meeting discussed specifically the impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economic growth,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Among the sectors identified are the services sectors such as the tourism, retail and aviation industries.”

Two Japanese evacuees confirmed infected

Two Japanese citizens evacuated from Wuhan have been diagnosed with the infection after initially testing negative, the health ministry said.

One of the two, a man in his 50s who returned on the first Japanese evacuation flight on January 29, previously twice tested negative for the virus.

However, a third test 12 days later found the man – who has been isolated in his hotel room since his return – was infected.

The second evacuee, a Japanese man in his 40s, returned from Wuhan on January 30 and initially tested negative for the virus, but was diagnosed after a second test on Monday.

China’s top virus expert says outbreak may peak this month

China’s coronavirus epidemic may peak in February and then plateau before easing, the government’s top medical adviser on the outbreak said.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters news agency, Zhong Nanshan, a leading epidemiologist who won international fame for his role in combating the SARS epidemic in 2003, said the situation in some provinces was already improving, with the number of new cases declining.

Zhong, who had previously predicted an earlier peak, said the forecast was based on modelling and developments in recent days, as well as government action.

Zhong Nanshan
Zhong Nanshan rose to national prominence during the SARS outbreak [Thomas Suen/Reuters]

WHO: Coronavirus emergency ‘holds a very grave threat’ for world

The coronavirus outbreak poses a “very grave threat for the rest of the world”, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an appeal for sharing virus samples and accelerating research into drugs and vaccines.

“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in opening remarks to a meeting of more than 400 researchers and national authorities, including some participating by video conference from mainland China and Taiwan.

Coronavirus: Death toll passes 1,000 (02:16)

German car supplier to reopen HQ

German auto parts supplier Webasto will on Wednesday reopen its headquarters close to Munich, it said, after eight of its employees contracted the new coronavirus.

Workspaces, meeting rooms, kitchen facilities and sanitary installations were cleaned and disinfected before workers return, the company added.

South Korea raises concerns over Hong Kong travel

South Korea will implement “strict quarantine screening” on people arriving from Hong Kong and Macau beginning on Wednesday, the country’s health authority said.

Jung Eun-kyeong, head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Yonhap News Agency the decision was taken as “the possibility of an inflow of coronavirus patients from such regions heightened”.

Taiwan advises against Hong Kong, Macau travel

Taiwan’s government raised its travel warning for the new coronavirus, advising people not to visit Hong Kong or Macau unless they have to, and to take precautions if going to Singapore or Thailand.

Singapore expects up to 30 percent drop in visitor numbers

The Singapore Tourism Board said it expected visitor numbers to the city-state, the location of one of the world’s busiest airports, to take a “significant hit” of up to 30 percent because of the virus.

Beijing has banned the departure of tour groups in response to the outbreak, while neighbouring countries have imposed restrictions on Chinese visitors.

Visitors from China made up a fifth of Singapore’s 2019 total, with tourism accounting for almost six percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Thailand records one more case of coronavirus

A health official from Thailand said the country had recorded its 33rd case of coronavirus.

The new case is a 54-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who was put in quarantine after coming into contact with another Chinese virus patient while in Thailand, said Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchia, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control.

Thailand virus
Officials in Bangkok give out masks free of charge as a preventive measure against the coronavirus [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

“The 33rd patient got sick from contact and her condition is not severe,” Suwanchai said.

Ten of the infected people have recovered and returned home, while 23 are still being treated in hospital

Hong Kong urges people to stay at home

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday appealed for residents to stay indoors as much as possible.

“As part and parcel of enhancing social distancing we are making an appeal to the people of Hong Kong to stay at home as much as possible,” Lam told reporters.

“But at the moment, we’re making this appeal, we’re not going for compulsory closures because Hong Kong is a free society.”

Parts of Hong Kong, including restaurants, shopping malls and cafes, are almost deserted as people work from home and schools remain closed.

Taiwan urges Philippines to lift Taiwan travel ban

Taiwan urged the Philippines on Tuesday to lift a travel ban on its citizens after Philippine airlines cancelled flights to Taiwan following a government ban on all foreigners travelling from the island.

Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou made the comments at a regular news briefing in Taipei, adding that some Taiwanese were stranded at airports in the Philippines as a result of the ban.

Senior Hubei health officials removed from posts: report

China’s state broadcaster CGTN said two senior health officials from the worst-affected province of Hubei had been removed from their posts.

Vietnam’s coronavirus cases climb to 15, baby infected

Vietnam confirmed its 15th case of the new coronavirus on Tuesday, a three-month-old baby, infected by her grandmother.

The infant tested positive for the virus on February 9, the ministry said in a statement.

It said 10 out of 15 confirmed cases are from the northern province of Vinh Phuc.

Vietnam has made plans to quarantine hundreds of its citizens returning from China, including 950 at military camps outside Hanoi, and 900 at temporary facilities on the Vietnam-China border.

Hong Kong health officials say four people from evacuated building have symptoms

Four people evacuated from a building in Hong Kong where a man and a woman were confirmed with the coronavirus both lived have shown symptoms of the flu-like virus, a government official said on Tuesday.

About 100 people were evacuated from the block in the early hours of the morning.

Authorities are investigating pipes within the building amid concerns the virus may have been spread through the system, raising concerns of a community outbreak.

China Hong Kong
Residents were evacuated from the public housing block after two people living there were found to have the coronavirus [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan was speaking after a 62-year-old woman was confirmed as having lived in the same block as another virus patient, triggering the evacuation. 

United States reports 13th coronavirus case

The US reported a new case of coronavirus, bringing the total across the country to 13, after a person who was on board its first evacuation flight from Wuhan was confirmed to have the infection.

‘Permission to disembark refused’: Thailand bars cruise passengers

Thailand has refused permission for passengers from Holland America’s cruise ship MS Westerdam to disembark, its health minister said on Tuesday, the latest country to turn it away amid fears of the spreading coronavirus.

The company, owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp, on Monday said that passengers would disembark in Bangkok on February 13 and that there was no reason to believe anybody on board had the virus.

“I have issued orders. Permission to disembark refused,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Facebook post.

China companies seek billions in loans

More than 300 Chinese companies are seeking bank loans totalling at least 57.4 billion yuan ($8.2bn) to help soften the effect of the coronavirus outbreak, two banking sources told Reuters News Agency.

Among the prospective borrowers are food delivery giant Meituan Dianping, smartphone maker Xiaomi, ride-hailing provider Didi Chuxing Technology, facial recognition start-up Megvii Technology and internet security business Qihoo 360 Technology, the sources said, adding that the companies seeking loans were either involved in the control of the epidemic or had been hardest hit.

Philippine Airlines cancel Taiwan flights over coronavirus

Philippine Airlines cancelled flights to Taiwan after the government expanded its travel ban to include all foreigners coming from the island to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific said they were cancelling flights to and from the self-ruled island.

“These restrictions are in relation to the coronavirus situation, in the interest of public health and safety,” PAL spokeswoman Cielo Villaluna said in a statement.

The Bureau of Immigration said late on Monday the travel ban would take effect immediately and follow the same procedures as in the previously announced restriction that covered China, and its Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

More than 115,000 Filipinos live and work in Taiwan, mainly in factories and as household helpers.

Read all the updates from Monday, February 10 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies