China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

As virus spreads in northern Italy, number of confirmed cases rises to 322 with at least 11 deaths.

The coronavirus has been spreading fast with new cases reported in the Middle East, Europe and other parts of the world, with more deaths in Italy.

The virus has now infected more than 80,000 globally, killing at least 2,700.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, February 25

Algeria confirms first case

Algeria has confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, an Italian man who arrived in the country on February 17, state television reported.

The man has been put into quarantine, state television said, citing the health minister. 

Number of deaths in Italy rises to 11

At least 11 people have died as the coronavirus continues to spread in Italy’s northern region, according to the head of the country’s Civil Protection Department, Angelo Borrelli.

With at least 322 cases, Italy is the worst-hit European country and there are fears the outbreak could affect its neighbours. In Spain, an Italian doctor at a hotel in Tenerife was confirmed to have the virus – that hotel is now on lockdown. And in the UK, three schools have closed after students returned from skiing trips.

Mission Impossible shoot in Italy postponed

A planned three-week shoot in Italy for Tom Cruise’s new Mission: Impossible film has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, movie studio Paramount Pictures said.

Filming was due to have started on Monday in Venice, where the final two days of the lagoon city’s annual Carnival festival was cancelled on Sunday.

Switzerland confirms first case

A 70-year-old man tested positive for the coronavirus in Switzerland’s southern canton of Ticino, on the border with Italy, Swiss health authorities said, confirming their country’s first case. 

“The infected person was in Italy about ten days ago and participated in an event near Milan,” the Swiss health ministry said in a statement. 

People he had been in contact with were currently being identified and put in quarantine for 14 days.

Three more deaths reported in Italy

Three more people infected with the coronavirus have died in northern Italy, the chief of the civil protection agency said, bringing the death toll from the worst outbreak of the illness in the country and Europe to 10.

Angelo Borrelli told reporters that the three dead had all been in their 80s and came from the worst impacted region, Lombardy.

He added that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 322, the vast majority of them in the north of the country

Bahrain reports six more cases 

Bahrain has identified six more new cases of coronavirus all coming from Iran, bringing the total number in the kingdom to 23, the state news agency BNA reported, citing the health ministry.

This photo taken on February 24, 2020 shows doctors working as they treat patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. - The new coronavirus
Coronavirus keeps spreading as new cases are announced around the world [AFP] 

Thailand confirms new cases

Thailand confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus, taking its total number of infections to 37, health officials said.

The two new cases, both Thai nationals, were people who were being monitored because they had been in contact with someone who had travelled to a risky country, said Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Department of Disease Control.

“We are gradually investigating related individuals and quarantining anyone found with a fever,” he said.

Zarif calls for cooperation against coronavirus

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called for regional cooperation against the coronavirus.

“Like other viruses – incl terrorism – #COVID19 knows no borders and doesn’t distinguish between ethnicities or faiths,” he tweeted. 

“To combat it, neither should we. In line with #HOPE, Iran calls for more regional cooperation incl long overdue Joint Center for Disease Control & Prevention,” he added.

Spain reports new case

Spanish health authorities have identified a case of coronavirus in Catalonia, the first case in mainland Spain, according to the La Vanguardia newspaper.

The case is the country’s fourth after three infected tourists from Germany, Italy and Britain were detected in the Canary Islands and in Mallorca.

Bahrain, Oman confirm more cases

Oman has identified two new cases of coronavirus, while Bahrain has confirmed nine new cases, the two countries health ministries reported. 

Both Bahrain and Oman reported their first cases on Monday. 

Austria confirms first case

Austria has confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, a spokeswoman for the health authority in the province of Tyrol has said. 

The infected individuals are two Italians who live in the province and were probably infected in Italy’s Lombardy region, Tyrol governor Guenther Platter was quoted as saying by local media.

Croatia confirms its first case 

Croatia has confirmed its first case of coronavirus infection in a patient hospitalised in the capital Zagreb, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said.

“The patient is in the Zagreb clinic for infectious diseases. It is a younger person and has milder symptoms. He is in isolation and his condition is good at the moment,” Plenkovic told a news conference.

Health Minister Vili Beros said that the patient had stayed in Milan from February 19 to 21.

Iran deputy health minister and MP have coronavirus

Iran’s deputy health minister and an MP have been infected with the new coronavirus, according to a ministry official and the MP in question, amid a major outbreak in the Islamic republic.

“The coronavirus test for Mr Harirchi, the deputy health minister who was on the front lines combating the coronavirus, was positive,” Alireza Vahabzadeh, a media adviser to the health minister, said in a tweet.

Iraj Harirchi coughed occasionally and appeared to be sweating during a news conference on Monday with government spokesman Ali Rabiei. 

MP Mahmoud Sadeghi wrote on Twitter: “My corona test is positive … I don’t have a lot of hope of continuing life in this world.”

Health officials confirm hundreds of tourists in Tenerife hotel lockdown

Hundreds of people were confined to their rooms at a Tenerife hotel Tuesday after an Italian tourist was hospitalised with a suspected case of coronavirus, health officials in the Canary Islands said.

“Hundreds of hotel clients are being monitored for health reasons and the degree of supervision will be assessed during the day, but so far, we’re not talking about quarantine,” health authority spokeswoman Veronica Martin told AFP, confirming that the Italian tourist “was staying at this hotel while on holiday in Tenerife”.

Saudi Arabia warns against travel to Italy, Japan 

Saudi Arabia has advised citizens and residents to avoid travelling to Italy and Japan amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak, state-owned Al Arabiya TV has reported. 

Iran confirmed cases rises to 95

Iranian health officials said the number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 95, with 15 confirmed deaths. 

“It will be safer for people to stay at home. There were 34 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, including 16 people in Qom city,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told state TV.

Iranian women wearing protective masks to prevent  contracting a coronavirus walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran February 20, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS ATTENTI
Iranian women wearing protective masks to prevent contracting a coronavirus walk at Grand Bazaar in Tehran. [Reuters]

Turkish health minister says passengers, crew of plane will be quarantined

The Turkish health minister has said that the passengers and crew of a Turkish Airlines flight that was diverted to Ankara while travelling from Iran to Istanbul will be quarantined for 14 days. 

The Turkish health minister said all 132 people on board, all Turkish citizens, will be tested for coronavirus.

China planner says regions at low risk must resume activity

Chinese regions deemed at low risk from the coronavirus outbreak should fully resume normal activities and end transport bans, an official at the state planning agency said on Tuesday.

China needed to take a more nuanced approach to controlling the epidemic to ensure the economic impact is minimised, Ou Xiaoli of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told a news briefing.

“Low-risk areas … are to restore order in production and life, cancel transport restrictions and help enterprises solve employment, raw material, funding, equipment and other difficulties,” he said.

UAE halts Iran flights, cargo over coronavirus

The United Arab Emirates, Iran’s biggest Gulf trading partner, has suspended all passenger and cargo flights to the Islamic republic in what it said was a precaution against the coronavirus.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority “suspended all passenger flights and cargo to and from Iran starting today and for one week that can be renewed,” a statement carried by the official WAM news agency said. The decision is a precautionary measure undertaken by the UAE to ensure strict monitoring and prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus, the statement said.

Turkish Airlines plane from Iran diverted to Ankara 

A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Iran was diverted to Ankara on Tuesday at the Turkish Health Ministry’s request, an aviation source told Reuters News Agency, and an aviation news website said one passenger was suspected of being infected by coronavirus.

Turkey’s Demiroren news agency broadcast video showing ambulances lined up beside the plane, with some of the personnel wearing white protective suits on the tarmac. The plane was flying from Tehran and had been scheduled to land in Istanbul. 

Canary Islands hotel under lockdown

One hotel in the Canary Islands was put under lockdown after one coronavirus case was identified the day before, El Pais newspaper reported.

Spanish health authorities could not immediately confirm the lockdown but said hundreds of tourists and staff in the hotel were being tested for the virus.

“We are checking people who had contact with the patient including the people in the hotel,” a spokeswoman for Canary Island’s health department.

Coronavirus symptoms

Iraq reports four new cases

Iraq has detected four new cases of coronavirus in Kirkuk province, the health ministry has said, bringing the total cases in the country to five and marking the first instance of Iraq patients.

The patients are an Iraqi family who had been on a trip to Iran, the ministry said in a statement. They have been placed in quarantine. Iraq reported its first case of the virus on Monday, an Iranian theology student in the holy Shia city of Najaf.

Oman’s Khasab port suspends shipping to and from Iran

Oman’s Khasab port is suspending the import and export of goods to and from Iran from February 26 because of new coronavirus outbreak, its operator Marafi said on Twitter on Tuesday.

Oman reported its first two cases of the virus on Monday. 

Coronavirus a ‘game changer’ for globalisation: French minister

The new coronavirus is a “game changer” that will require a rethink in global supply networks, especially for health and medicine, the French finance minister has said.

“The coronavirus epidemic is a game changer for globalisation,” Bruno Le Maire said during a visit to Athens, noting that the outbreak has highlighted an “irresponsible and unreasonable” reliance on China.

Outbreak has infected more than 80,000 globally

A viral outbreak of coronavirus, that began in China in December, has infected more than 80,000 people globally, according to the WHO’s most recent figures. 

The vast majority of cases have been reported in mainland China, followed by Japan, where 691 cases have been confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, and South Korea, which raised its tally to 977 confirmed cases on Tuesday. 

UAE limits flights to Iran from Dubai

Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, has said that the United Arab Emirates is limiting flights to Iran over the outbreak of the new coronavirus, just a day after it spread across multiple Mideast nations from the Islamic Republic.

The UAE, home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, remains a key international transit route for Iran’s 80 million people. While Dubai International Airport said flights to Tehran would continue under close watch, it shows the growing concern over the spread of the virus in Iran amid worries the outbreak may be larger than what authorities there now acknowledge.

South Korean president calls situation ‘very grave’

The coronavirus outbreak in South Korea is “very grave”, President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday as he visited its epicentre and the country’s total number of cases approached 1,000.

“The situation is very grave,” the president said on a visit to the hard-hit city of Daegu. “We will achieve a victory in the fight against this virus.”

Italy PM Conte blames an outbreak of coronavirus on hospital

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has blamed the management of a hospital in northern Italy for one outbreak of the new coronavirus.

“At this point, we know that the way one hospital facility was managed was not entirely appropriate,” Conte told Italian TV on Monday evening, without naming the hospital. “That certainly contributed to the spread.”

A policewoman wearing a protective mask stands next to carnival revellers at Venice Carnival, which the last two days of, as well as Sunday night's festivities, have been cancelled because of an outbr
A policewoman wearing a protective mask stands next to carnival revellers at Venice Carnival [Ohad Zwigenberg/Reuters]

Iraq’s Sadr suspends protest call over coronavirus fears

Populist Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr has suspended a call for his followers to hold massive protests against his political opponents due to fears over the spread of coronavirus, minutes after the health ministry urged citizens to avoid public gatherings.

“I had called for million-man protests and sit-ins against sectarian power-sharing and today I forbid you from them for your health and life, for they are more important to me than anything else,” he said in a statement.

Iraq bans entry of travellers from seven countries 

Iraq indefinitely extended an entry ban on travellers from China and Iran and instituted similar bans on travellers from Thailand, South Korean, Japan, Italy and Singapore, the health ministry has said.

Iraqi nationals, diplomats and official delegations are exempt from the ban, the ministry said. Schools and universities have also been suspended for ten days in Najaf, where the first case of coronavirus was reported on Monday, and citizens are urged to avoid travelling to and from the province.

South Korea confirmed cases rise to 977

South Korea has reported 84 new cases of the coronavirus, raises the total to 977, the state news agency Yonhap reported. 

The majority of the cases have been traced to a hospital in the southeastern county of Cheongdo and a minor Christian sect in the southeastern city of Daegu, home to 2.5 million people.

South Korea
An employee from a disinfection service company sanitizes the floor of a traditional market in Seoul, South Korea [Reuters]

Iran death toll rises to 15: State media

Iranian officials have said that 15 people have died from the coronavirus, state media reported.

Two of the dead were elderly women in the northern province of Alborz and the other was a patient in the central province of Markazi, state news agency IRNA said.

South Korea aims to test 200,000 linked to church

South Korean health authorities have said they aim to test more than 200,000 members of a church at the centre of a surge of new coronavirus cases that has taken the country’s tally to 893.

South Korea’s fast-spreading outbreak has fuelled fears that the coronavirus, which is thought to have begun in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, is developing into a pandemic. About 68 percent of South Korea’s cases have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where the first case was reported in a 61-year-old woman, but it is not known how she became infected.

Hong Kong extends school suspension

Hong Kong has further extended the suspension of schools until at least April 20 to contain the spread of the coronavirus, authorities in the Asian financial hub said as cases of the disease surged outside China.

The city’s Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said classes would be suspended until after the Easter holiday with April 20 being the earliest date to return. Students had previously been due to return to lessons on March 16.

China says to strengthen joint response with South Korea, Japan

Beijing is working closely with the governments of South Korea and Japan to strengthen the countries’ joint response to the coronavirus outbreak, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news conference.

South Korea has the most virus cases in Asia outside China and reported its ninth death and 60 new cases on Tuesday, for a total of 893 cases. Japan has had four deaths and 850 cases mostly on a cruise ship docked near Tokyo

Britain advises travellers self isolate after north Italy trips

The UK has said that people who had visited northern Italy should self isolate if they had any flu-like symptoms.

“The official advice which will be formally updated at eight o’clock this morning is going to change so that those who have been to northern Italy – that is essentially anybody who has been to Italy north of Pisa – should, if they have flu-like symptoms, self isolate,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said. “If people have been to the affected areas that the Italian government has quarantined, then they should self isolate whether or not they have symptoms.” 

Number of cases in Kuwait rises to eight

The number of cases confirmed in Kuwait has risen to eight, all stemming from travel to Iran, the state news agency KUNA has reported. 

On Monday, the number of Middle Eastern countries with confirmed cases grew to eight, with Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Iraq all reporting their first cases. Israel, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates had previously confirmed cases, while the outbreak in Iran has left 14 dead among at least 64 cases.

Iran confirms two more dead 

Two more Iranians infected with the coronavirus have died in Iran, local media website Eghtesaonline has reported, citing the head of the Medical Science University of Saveh, raising the death toll in the Islamic Republic to 14.

“Tests showed they had the new coronavirus,” the official said, according to Eghtesaonline.

China aviation regulator says flights outside of Hubei to resume gradually

Flights in China halted in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak will resume gradually as factories and businesses reopen but those to Hubei province, the virus’s epicentre, will remain suspended, the country’s aviation regulator has said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will also urge other global aviation regulators to resume international flights to China to make sure the country is connected to the outside world, CAAC said in a statement, quoting comments by its director Feng Zhenglin on Monday.

Beijing, China
Travellers wear face masks as they walk outside of the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing [File: Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press]

‘Mission: Impossible VII’ halts Italy filming over virus: report

Production on the latest film in the Mission: Impossible series starring Tom Cruise has been stopped in Italy following the outbreak of coronavirus cases, according to US media.

According to entertainment specialist The Wrap, the seventh instalment of the Paramount Pictures franchise was scheduled to shoot in Venice for three weeks. A paramount spokesperson said the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution”.

Japan urges telecommuting, staggered shifts

The government of Japan has urged companies to recommend telecommuting and staggered shifts for workers in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The plan, approved at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, also urged people with symptoms of cold or fever to stay at home and asked event organisers to carefully consider whether to proceed with their plans.

Japan postpones Cup games due to coronavirus concerns

Japan’s J-League says it has postponed seven Levian Cup matches scheduled for Wednesday due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and is considering postponing all domestic soccer games through the first half of March.

The J-League said the decision to postpone Wednesday’s matches was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

“The J-League will make maximum efforts to prevent infection and prevent its spread,” it said in a statement.

Thailand reports two new virus cases, bringing total to 37

Thailand confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus, a senior health official said, bringing the total infections in the country to 37.

Both of the new cases are Thai nationals, Sukhum Kanchanapimai, the health ministry’s permanent secretary told a news conference on Tuesday.

One patient is a female, 31, and has a family member with a history of travelling from China, Sukhum said adding that officials are investigating the rest of the family.

“The second, is a 29, male driver for Chinese tourists,” he added. A total of 22 patients have been discharged and 15 are still being treated.

All 16 of Vietnam’s coronavirus sufferers cured

All 16 people in Vietnam infected with a new coronavirus have been cured, the health ministry said on Tuesday, adding that no new cases have been recorded since February 13.

The last known patient, a 50-year-old man infected by his daughter who returned from China’s central city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged, has recovered and is in good condition, the ministry said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear when the last patient would be discharged from hospital.

The rest, including a three-month-old baby, are improving, the ministry added.

Vietnam’s first report of the virus was about two Chinese citizens infected on January 23.

Vietnam - coronavirus
Members of anti-coronavirus team spray chemical onto vehicles on a road in Thai Nguyen province earlier this month [File: Kham/Reuters]

Bahrain temporarily stops Dubai, Sharjah flights over virus

The tiny island nation of Bahrain suspended flights on Tuesday to the world’s busiest airport for international travel in Dubai over fears about the spread of the new virus.

The move by Bahrain, a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, suggested its monarchy had doubts about screenings of incoming passengers in Dubai and nearby Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. It said the ban was immediate and would last at least 48 hours.

Bahrain counted its first case of coronavirus on Monday in a school bus driver who transited Dubai while coming from Iran. Later, it confirmed a second case, also a traveller from Iran via Dubai.

Philippines flying back Diamond Princess crew members

The Philippine government has started repatriating hundreds of Filipinos, who are working aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Japan.

Manila has dispatched two chartered Philippine Airlines flights to pick up the crew members, who have been stranded in a port in Yokohama, after hundreds of people were infected with coronavirus aboard the vessel.

Those Filipinos who have been infected, will not be among those who will be flown back, but will instead stay in Japan for treatment.

Fourth passenger from cruise ship dies in Japan – NHK

A fourth passenger from the cruise ship Diamond Princess moored in Japan has died from the coronavirus, NHK public television said on Tuesday. The passenger was in their 80s, NHK said.

Japan has come under fire for its handling of the situation on the cruise ship, which is operated by Carnival Corp and where hundreds became infected.

The number of patients is rising around Japan, with the government set to announce a set of measures to combat it later on Tuesday.

S Korea reports 60 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 893

South Korea reported 60 new cases of the coronavirus, increasing the total number of infected patients in the country to 893, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Tuesday.

Of the new cases, 16 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, where a church that was at the centre of the outbreak is located, and 33 from North Gyeongsang province, KCDC said.

Coronavirus South Korea
Workers spray disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, at the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday [Yonhap/AFP]

US, South Korea weigh scaling back training over coronavirus concerns

The US and South Korean military are considering scaling back command post training due to heightened concerns about the coronavirus, the defence ministers of both countries have announced.

“I’m sure that we will remain fully ready to deal with any threats that we will face together,” Mark Esper, the US defence secretary, told a news conference, standing alongside his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon.

Trump asks for $2.5bn to fight virus

United States President Donald Trump’s administration is asking Congress for $2.5bn to fight the fast-spreading coronavirus, the White House said on Monday.

Of the $2.5bn request, $1.5bn represents new funding. The rest would come from funds already budgeted by Congress, such as unused money to fight the Ebola virus. The administration requires congressional approval to redirect that money. Read more here

Trump says coronavirus under control in the US

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the coronavirus was under control in the United States, and added that he thought the stock market, which tumbled on Monday on worries about the fast-spreading disease, was “starting to look very good to me”.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump, who is visiting India, said on Twitter.

“We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” he said.

Kuwait suspends flights to and from Iraq: state news agency

Kuwait‘s civil aviation authority has suspended all its flights to and from Iraq over fears about the coronavirus, state news agency KUNA reported.

The statement was issued under the Kuwaiti health ministry’s instructions.

Impact on economy could be ‘very strong’: Italy’s PM Conte

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy could be “very strong”.

“The economic impact could be very strong. At this moment we can calculate that there will be a negative economic impact, we are not yet in a position to forecast what will happen,” he told reporters.

Read updates from Monday, February 24 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies