China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

Death toll tops 600, with more than 3,143 new infections reported across China.

This handout photo taken and released by Malaysia''s Ministry of Health shows health officials in protective suits at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020,

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has risen to 636, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

The majority of new cases reported are in Hubei and its provincial capital Wuhan.

Some 31,161 infections have been reported across China.

The virus has killed two people outside mainland China, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines, and at least 25 countries have confirmed cases.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has asked for $675m to help countries address the expected spread of the virus.

Here are the latest updates:

Updates for February 7 have concluded. For February 8 updates clicke here:

Friday, February 7

Royal Caribbean bans China, HK, Macau passport holders from ships

Royal Caribbean Cruises said on Friday it would ban guests holding China, Hong Kong or Macau passports from boarding its ships.

Guests or crew members who have traveled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau, or been in contact with someone who has, less than 15 days before sailing will not be allowed to board the company’s ships under the new rules. 

The company would also screen guests with flu-like symptoms and those who are unsure if they had been in contact with individuals who who had visited the any of the three locations in the past 15 days.

US offers $100m to China, others to fight coronavirus

The US will offer up to $100m to China and other impacted countries to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“This commitment – along with the hundreds of millions generously donated by the American private sector – demonstrates strong US leadership in response to the outbreak,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Has the coronavirus cracked China’s Great Firewall?

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story programme discusses how Chinese censors are struggling to contain online outrage over the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more here and watch the full episode below.


China doing ‘very professional job’ against coronavirus: Trump

US President Donald Trump has said that China is doing a “very professional job” in combating coronavirus.

Trump said that he had discussed the crisis with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a “very good” phone call late on Thursday.

He added that the US and China were “working together” on the issue. 

WHO warns against hoarding of protective gear

Demand for masks, gowns, gloves and other protective gear has risen by up to 100 times and prices have soared due to the coronavirus, producing a “severe” disruption in supply, the WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Coronavirus: How can people protect themselves?

“This situation is exacerbated by widespread use of personal protective equipment outside patient care,” he told reporters in Geneva, adding that he had spoken to manufacturers and distributors to ensure supplies for those who need them.

He also said he could see practices such as hoarding in order to ensure higher prices and called for solidarity from the public and the private sector.

Singapore lifts virus alert to SARS level

Singapore has raised its coronavirus alert level to orange – a level reached during the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2009 H1N1 influenza which indicates the virus is severe and passes easily between persons.

Singapore has reported 33 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus.

SK couples unfazed by virus take part in mass wedding

South Korea’s Unification Church held a mass wedding amid the outbreak.

About 6,000 couples took part in the ceremony at the Cheongshim World Peace Centre in Gapyeong, about 40 miles (60 kilometres) northeast of the capital, Seoul.

The couples said they were unfazed by the new coronavirus and the organiser said the venue had been thoroughly sterilised and that a thermal surveillance camera had been put in place.

Find out more here.

Mass wedding, South Korea
The Unification Church regularly holds mass weddings for its followers [Heo Ran/Reuters]

Italy contradicts China over possible air traffic restart

Italy has contradicted China’s assertions over a possible resumption of flights between the two countries. 

Rome’s decision on January 31 to block flights to and from China was greeted with dismay by Beijing, which has been lobbying in the past few days to have the ban lifted.

“The block on flights is a measure take to immediately deal with any emergency and we will keep it in place as long as health authorities and therefore the scientific community tell us we should,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told a news conference in Madrid.

Ericsson to skip mobile trade show

Swedish telecommunications equipment provider Ericsson said it would skip a major trade show because of the risk of spreading the virus.

“Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus Ericsson has taken the decision to withdraw from the industry event GSMA Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020 as the health and safety of employees and customers cannot be ensured,” it said in a statement.

Turkey halts all imports of livestock and animal fats from China

Turkey has temporarily stopped imports of livestock and animal fats from China, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Speaking from the Turkish capital, Ankara, Koca said that none of the 61 Turks brought back from China had been diagnosed with the virus, adding that all Chinese nationals coming to Turkey for employment will be considered on leave for 14 days until the health ministry grants them permission to work.

First Canadians repatriated from Wuhan land in Canada

A plane bringing home the first Canadians from Wuhan has landed at a military base in Canada, where the returnees will be quarantined.

The government-chartered jetliner landed at Trenton air force base east of Toronto, shortly after 6:30 am local time (11:30 GMT), after a stopover in Vancouver, Canadian TV showed.

The plane carried 176 passengers.

Will evacuating foreigners from Wuhan hasten the spread of the coronavirus?

Hong Kong unveils virus quarantine plans, up to six month jail for dodgers

Hong Kong will deploy an army of volunteers to bolster plans to forcibly quarantine all arrivals from mainland China, warning that anyone caught breaching the new rules faces up to six months prison.

In a major escalation of its battle against the new coronavirus, the international finance hub has said anyone arriving from the mainland from Saturday will have to undergo 14 days compulsory quarantine.

Read the full story here.

Three more cases reported in Singapore

Singapore reported three more coronavirus cases that the country’s authorities have not yet linked to previous infections or travel to China, prompting the city state to raise its countrywide alert level.

The new cases take Singapore’s tally to 33, with the alert level raised to orange, denoting the disease is severe and passes easily from person-to-person. Red -the highest alert level – indicates it is spreading widely.

“As there are now a few local cases without any links to previous cases or travel history to China, we have stepped up our risk assessment,” the ministry said in a statement, advising businesses to cancel or defer non-essential events and to be prepared for widespread community transmission.

Explainer: Battle against Coronavirus

China scientists identify pangolin as possible coronavirus host

The deadly coronavirus outbreak in China could have spread from bats to humans through the illegal traffic of pangolins, the world’s only scaly mammals, which are prized in Asia for food and medicine, Chinese researchers said.

The pangolin is one of Asia’s most trafficked mammals, although protected by international law, because its meat is considered a delicacy in countries such as China and its scales are used in traditional medicine, the World Wildlife Fund says.

 The coronavirus outbreak is believed to have started in a market in the city of Wuhan, in central Hubei province that also sold live wild animals [File: Kham/Reuters]

15th case confirmed in Malaysia

Another case of coronavirus has been reported in Malaysia, bringing the total number of patients infected to 15, according to the Ministry of Health.

The 59-year-old woman from Wuhan, arrived in Singapore on January 17, and entered Malaysia on January 21. She showed symptoms on January 26, self medicated but condition did not improve. 

Coronavirus outbreak: Hospitals in China swamped with patients

China launches probe after whistleblower doctor dies

China’s anti-graft watchdog announced an investigation after the death of a whistleblowing doctor sparked anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus emergency.

The discipline inspection commission said a team would go to Wuhan, where doctor Li Wenliang died, to “conduct a comprehensive investigation into issues involving Dr. Li Wenliang reported by the masses”.

Li, 34, died early Friday, Wuhan Central Hospital said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Dr Li - China
The death of the ophthalmologist sparked an outpouring of grief and anger 

China’s Xi tells Trump no effort spared in coronavirus fight

The Chinese government has spared no effort in its fight to contain the coronavirus outbreak, having taken the most comprehensive and stringent prevention and containment measures, President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump.

In its battle against the coronavirus, China is gradually achieving results, Xi told his US counterpart on a phone call on Friday morning, according to state television.

China is fully confident and capable of defeating the epidemic, and the long-term trend of the country’s economic development will not change, Xi said.

Japan finds 41 more cases on cruise ship

Japan on Friday reported 41 new cases of a virus on a cruise ship that’s been quarantined in Yokohama harbour.

Before Friday’s 41 confirmed cases, 20 passengers who were found infected with the virus were escorted off the Diamond Princess at Yokohama near Tokyo. About 3,700 people have been confined aboard the ship.

Two docked cruise ships with thousands of passengers and crew members remained under 14-day quarantines in Japan and Hong Kong.

Doctor who ‘sounded alarm’ over outbreak dies of virus, report says

Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said Li Wenliang an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital and among the first doctors to reportedly warn about the coronavirus outbreak, died of the virus in Wuhan.

Wuhan Central Hospital has also confirmed Li’s death.

WHO said it is “deeply saddened by the passing” of the doctor, adding that everyone needs to “celebrate” the work he did on the virus.

UK says citizen infected with coronavirus outside China

The third case testing positive to coronavirus in the UK was infected in an Asian country other than China, authorities said, telling doctors to be vigilant to those showing symptoms from a wider range of countries.

“Because of that, it is probably now prudent to slightly widen the geographical area where doctors in the UK and NHS know they should test people if they come with the right symptoms,” said England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

He did not name the country from where the patient had returned. He said a wider list of countries would be released shortly from which people who developed symptoms should self-isolate if they showed any of the coronavirus symptoms.

WHO says too early to say coronavirus peaking in China

The health agency said it was too early to say that China’s coronavirus outbreak was peaking, but noted that Wednesday was the first day that the overall number of new cases in the Asian country had dropped.

WHO official Mike Ryan said there had been a constant increase in cases in Hubei province but that that increase had not been seen in other regions.

Read updates from Thursday, February 6 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies