China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

China reports 811 deaths from the new coronavirus, exceeding those of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.

Passengers wearing masks walk at the Shanghai railway station in China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song
Passengers wearing masks walk at the Shanghai railway station in China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, February 9, 2020. [Aly Song/Reuters]

The death toll in mainland China from the new coronavirus has surged to 811, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, as deaths in the country surpassed those recorded during the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

In China, a total of 37,198 infections have been confirmed, most of which are in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, where the virus originated. 

A US citizen became the first foreigner to die of the illness in China on February 6, while two deaths have been recorded elsewhere – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. A Japanese man suspected of having the virus also died in China on February 8.

At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei. Major airlines have suspended flights to and from China in an attempt to stop the spread.

Here are the latest updates:

Sunday, February 9

WHO advance team leaves for China

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced the departure of the advanced team for a WHO-led international expert mission to China to investigate the coronavirus.

The team is led by Dr Bruce Aylward, a “veteran of past public health emergencies,” Tedros said in a tweet.

Amazon withdraws from Barcelona tech conference

Amazon has withdrawn from attending an international telecommunications conference in the Spanish city of Barcelona later this month.

Several Spanish media outlets cited a spokesperson for the company as saying “due to the outbreak and continuing concerns about the new coronavirus” it would not be exhibiting or participating in the Mobile World Congress 2020, scheduled from February 24 to 27.

Other companies, including Sweden’s Ericsson, have already pulled out of the event.

Mobile World Congress 2020
Several companies have already withdrawn from the Mobile World Congress 2020 [Nacho Doce/Reuters]

New cases in UK, Spain linked to ski resort: French health official

French health authorities have confirmed that two people diagnosed on Sunday with the new coronavirus – one in the UK and one in Spain – were linked to a group of Britons who contracted the virus at a ski resort in France.

“We learned that there were two other cases linked to this cluster, two adults – one who was diagnosed in the United Kingdom and the other who was diagnosed in Mallorca – linked to a stay in the apartment in Les Contamines-Montjoie,” senior health official Jerome Salomon said in a televised statement.

He said a third school near the French ski resort would be closed for checks this week.

Hong Kong’s economy reels from virus pain

Just as Hong Kong was regaining some stability after more than eight months of protests, the coronavirus struck.

Shops, restaurants and the travel and tourism sector now appear to be even more vulnerable than they were just a couple of months ago.

Read the full story here.

In Pictures: Life in Wuhan

Chinese authorities have all but shut down Wuhan, a city of 11 million people and a major transport hub, where the new coronavirus was found to have originated. 

Schools are closed and streets empty as residents have been told to stay indoors to avoid contracting the virus.

See the full story here.

Nine members of Hong Kong family get virus after ‘hotpot’: Officials

Nine members of a Hong Kong family have been infected with the new coronavirus after sharing a hotpot meal, officials said, bringing the semi-autonomous territory’s total number of cases to 36.

A 24-year-old man and his grandmother, 91, were initially confirmed to have the virus. Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection later said the man’s father, mother, two aunts and three cousins were also infected. 

Officials said the family was part of a gathering of 19 who shared the hotpot over the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January. A hotpot – also known as a steamboat – is a bubbling cauldron of soup shared communally, to which diners add ingredients.

Hong Kong hotpot
A hotpot is a bubbling cauldron of soup shared communally, to which diners add ingredients [File: Apple Daily via AP Photo]

Shenzhen says Foxconn to resume operations after inspections

The local government of the city of Shenzhen in southeastern China said it had not blocked plans by Apple supplier Foxconn to resume production, adding that the company would restart once inspections were completed.

The Nikkei Business Daily reported on Saturday that China had blocked the company’s plans to resume production amid concerns about the coronavirus.

Two planes carrying evacuees land in Brazil 

Two planes carrying Brazilian citizens evacuated from China have arrived in the city of Anapolis, in the central state of Goias.

Some 34 passengers were evacuated from Wuhan and will remain in quarantine for 18 days in a Brazilian Air Force facility. Some members of the crew involved in the operation will also remain in quarantine. 

None of the passengers had presented symptoms of the virus prior to the 36-hour journey, said General Manoel Pafiadache, the defence ministry’s secretary of health.

Brazil coronavirus flight
The operation evacuated 34 Brazilian citizens, none of whom were showing symptoms when the journey began [Adriano Machado/Reuters]

UK confirms new case

A fourth case of the new coronavirus has been diagnosed in the UK after a patient contracted the illness from a previously confirmed British case while in France, health officials said on Sunday.

“A further patient has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in England, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to four,” Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said in a statement.

Find out which countries have confirmed cases here

Bangladesh air crew refuse to work on Wuhan evacuation flight

Air crew from Bangladesh’s national carrier Biman have refused to work on a flight aimed at repatriating citizens from virus-hit Chinese cities, forcing the government to scrap the evacuation plan. 

The South Asian nation last week evacuated 312 people, mostly students, from the epicentre of the deadly outbreak, and had planned a second flight for another 171 Bangladeshis.

“We can’t bring them because we can’t send any flight,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters. 

“No crew wants to go there. The crew who went there earlier don’t want to go, either.”

Is the evacuation of foreigners from Wuhan hastening the spread of the virus?

China allocates $10bn to fight coronavirus

China’s finance ministry said all levels of government had allocated a total of 71.85 billion yuan ($10.26bn) as of Saturday afternoon to fight coronavirus.

The ministry will deploy the funds to ensure that members of public can afford diagnosis and treatment, it said in a statement on its website.

China’s Hubei to cut costs to ease virus burden

China’s Hubei province will offer subsidies and cut costs for small and medium-sized firms to help them cope with the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, the local government said. 

It said it would pay 30 percent of electricity costs for small and medium-sized firms involved in medical supplies, and cut the prices of water and natural gas for other smaller enterprises.

China to help key industries return to work ‘as soon as possible’ 

China’s cabinet said workers in key industries must be helped to return to work as soon as possible in order to resume the production of vital food and medical supplies disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The state council’s special coronavirus group ordered railways, airlines and other public transport to take a coordinated approach and minimise the risk of transmitting disease. 

It also said workers should return in “batches” and not all at once in order to reduce infection risks.

Spain confirms its second coronavirus case

A British man has tested positive for coronavirus in the Spanish island of Mallorca, the second case of the the new virus to be confirmed in the country, Spain’s National Centre for Microbiology said.

The patient is one of four members of a British family taken into observation in Mallorca on Friday after coming into contact with someone in France who was subsequently diagnosed with the virus.

Read more about the confirmed cases

Final British evacuation flight from Wuhan lands in UK 

Britain’s final evacuation flight from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak, landed at a Royal Air Force base in central England.

The British government said on Saturday the plane had more than 200 people on board, including non-British nationals.

The passengers also included staff who facilitated the flight as well as medics. They will be quarantined for 14 days. 

Schools in China’s Hebei to remain shut until March – state media

The northern Chinese province of Hebei will keep its schools shut until at least March 1 to control the coronavirus outbreak, the Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper said, citing the local education bureau.

Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, is among several provinces and municipalities to extend the school shutdown until the end of the month, with others including Shandong, Jiangsu and Shanghai.

Hong Kong lifts quarantine on cruise ship 

Hong Kong has lifted a quarantine on the World Dream cruise ship after clearing all its crew members of the new virus.

The ship, which has 1,800 mostly Hong Kong passengers and an equal number of crew members, had been placed under quarantine since it docked on Wednesday after eight mainland Chinese passengers on a voyage last month were diagnosed with the virus.

Port official Leung Yiu-hon said tests on all 1,800 crew members were completed ahead of schedule and were negative.

The World Dream cruise which had been denied entry in Taiwan amid concerns of coronavirus infection on board, is seen docked at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kon
The World Dream cruise ship, which had been denied entry in Taiwan amid concerns of coronavirus infection on board, is seen docked at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong, China [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

Malaysia expands China traveller ban

Malaysia has expanded a ban on visitors from China to include Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, after China’s decision to seal off cities in the provinces to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Southeast Asian nation on January 27 imposed a temporary ban on travellers arriving from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and the surrounding province of Hubei.

“Travel restrictions will be enforced in accordance with the lockdown region imposed by the Chinese government,” Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in a statement.

Shandong province to keep all schools closed until end of February

China’s northern Shandong province said all schools will stay closed until the end of February, the province’s education bureau said in a statement on its official website on Sunday.

The decision, which applies to all types of schools, is being implemented to guarantee students’ safety, it added.

Singapore Airshow to go ahead despite coronavirus fears

Organisers scrambled on Sunday to shore up the Singapore Airshow, one of Asia’s biggest aerospace exhibitions, after more than 70 exhibitors pulled out because of the coronavirus.

Few deals are expected at the biennial show, which begins on February 11 and is usually a magnet for planemakers, suppliers and arms buyers.

Organisers advised trade visitors to avoid shaking hands and to choose alternative forms of greeting such as bowing or waving. The number of public tickets available will be halved.

Members of China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) watch an aerial display by the Ba Yi Aerobatics team during a media preview of the Singapore Airshow [Edgar Su/Reuters]

This week’s show will still feature a rare head-to-head, superpower fighter display from the United States and China, the US flying the F-35B while the People’s Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team, Ba Yi, will put on a display with its J-10 fighters.

Read the full story here.

China health body warns against excessive use of protective suits

China’s National Health Commission called for the “reasonable use” of protective suits in a statement on Sunday, cautioning against “excessive and disorderly” use of the clothing that would waste resources and could also increase infection.

The statement was issued as China faces a severe shortage of equipment, including suits, masks and goggles, to protect medical workers from infection.

Though supplies of protective clothing have improved, they are still insufficient, according to the statement.

Philippines evacuates 30, including infant, from Wuhan

Thirty Filipinos returned to the Philippines on Sunday from Wuhan, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

China Philippines
Filipinos board a chartered plane from Wuhan to return home [Department of Foreign Affairs via Reuters]

Twenty-nine adults and an infant flew on a chartered flight arranged by the foreign affairs and health departments which landed at Clark Air Base, northwest of the capital, Manila.

The returning passengers and a 10-member government team were transferred from the plane into buses that took them to the nearby Athlete’s Village in New Clark City for a 14-day quarantine.

There were about 300 Filipinos in Hubei, based on the Philippine government’s estimate, but it said not all wanted to be evacuated.

Singapore prime minister urges public to remain calm

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged people to keep calm over the spread of the coronavirus in the city-state after the decision to raise the alert level for the infection led shoppers to rush to supermarkets and clear the shelves of essential items.

“There is no reason to panic,” Lee said in a video that was shared on social media. “We are not locking down the city or confining everybody to stay at home. We have ample supplies. There is no need to stock up with instant noodles, or tinned food or toilet paper.”

Singapore, which has reported 33 cases of the virus, raised its alert level on Friday to “orange”, the same as during the SARS outbreak in 2003. The alert level indicates that the virus is severe and passes easily between people.

Coronavirus ‘fake news’ network uncovered in Hungary

Hungarian police said on Saturday they had uncovered a network of “fake news” websites that reported alleged coronavirus-related deaths in Hungary, which is so far free of reported infections from the deadly virus.

A man and woman are suspected of “operating dozens of fake news portals and linked Facebook pages” claiming that several people had been infected and died from coronavirus, said a statement on the police website.

Computer equipment was seized at several locations during raids that took place on Friday, said the statement.

Singapore evacuating 174 on second flight from Wuhan

Singapore mounted a second evacuation flight from Wuhan on Sunday, bringing home 174 Singaporeans and their family members, its foreign ministry said.

The city-state evacuated 92 Singaporeans from Wuhan on January 30, some of whom have since been confirmed as infected.

The returning passengers will undergo medical screening on arrival at Singapore’s Changi Airport, the foreign ministry said on Sunday. Those with fever or respiratory symptoms will be taken to designated hospitals for further examination, while the remaining passengers will be quarantined for 14 days.

The flight also took some Chinese nationals back to Wuhan, it added

Read the updates from Saturday, February 8 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies