Coronavirus quarantine hotel in China collapses: Live updates

Approximately 70 people are reportedly trapped in the collapsed hotel used for quarantine in the city of Quanzhou.

Rescue workers move casualty on the site where a hot

The number of cases from the new coronavirus has topped 100,000 worldwide as official Chinese data showed a significant hit to the country’s exports after the outbreak caused massive disruptions to business operations and economic activity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called the spread of the virus “deeply concerning” as a wave of countries reported on Saturday their first cases of the COVID-19 disease, which has now killed nearly 3,500 people and infected more than 100,000 across 92 nations and territories.

In South Korea, authorities reported hundreds of new cases of infections on Saturday, bringing the total above 7,000, while the United States was battling to contain an outbreak on the Grand Princess cruise ship where 21 people have tested positive for the virus. 

Here are all the latest updates.

Grand Princess
According to the Princess Cruises, the Grand Princess vessel, which is stranded off the coast of California, can hold up to 2,600 passengers and 1,150 crew members [California National Guard via AP]

Saturday, March 7

20:30 GMT – About 30 people remain trapped in China hotel

About 30 people remained trapped after a five-storey hotel being used for coronavirus quarantine collapsed in the southeast Chinese port city of Quanzhou, state media said.

About four hours after the collapse, the Quanzhou municipality said 38 of the 70 or so people who had been in the Quanzhou Xinjia Hotel had been rescued.

A video stream posted by the government-backed Beijing News site showed rescue workers in orange overalls clambering over rubble and twisted steelwork carrying people towards ambulances.

20:00 GMT – Inside Story: Can we stop the panic over coronavirus?

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story discusses how to deal with the anxiety surrounding the coronavirus as the number of cases rises around the world and fear spreads.

18:50 GMT – Sixteen dead from coronavirus in France: official

Sixteen people in France have died from coronavirus, the head of the country’s public health service, Jerome Salomon, said, an increase of five since the previous toll.

France now has 949 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Salomon said. 

17:59 GMT – Paraguay confirms first case

Paraguay has registered its first confirmed case of coronavirus, the Health Ministry said on Twitter.

No other details about the case were included in the tweet, which said ministry officials were scheduled to hold a news conference on the matter later in the day.

17:30 GMT – Number of coronavirus deaths and cases rise in Italy

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy slowed down, but the total number of cases in the country leapt by over 1,200, the Civil Protection Agency said.

Deaths due to the infectious virus were up 36 to 233, the head of the agency, Angelo Borrelli, said in a news conference. They were up 49 on Friday, in the biggest rise since the outbreak of the illness in Italy.

The total number of cases in the country was up to 5,883 compared to 4,636 announced on Friday, showing that contagion shows no sign of slowing down.

16:36 GMT – Coronavirus spreads in French parliament

A second member of France’s National Assembly has been taken to hospital after contracting coronavirus, and five other legislators are being tested for the illness, the lower house’s presidency said in a statement.

The Assembly did not name the two legislators who have caught the disease, but local media in the eastern region of Alsace have reported that the first of the two politicians is Jean-Luc Reitzer, who represents one of the departments most affected by the outbreak and is currently under intensive care.

The second one is a woman, according to the statement by the parliament. 

15:46 GMT – Number of coronavirus cases in Germany jumps to 684

The number of coronavirus patients in Germany jumped to 684, with concern growing at the economic impact of the spreading epidemic on one of the world’s most trade-dependent economies.

The number of patients recorded by the Robert Koch Institute had risen by 45, with large clusters in the west and south, where one initial outbreak centred on a car supplier with a unit in Wuhan, where the infection was first detected.

The total is more than 10 times larger than it was a week ago. There were 66 cases on February 29.

15:30 GMT – Scores trapped as hotel used for quarantine collapses in China

Approximately 70 people were trapped in a collapsed hotel in the city of Quanzhou, in southeastern Fujian province, the city government said on its website.

The collapsed hotel is used for coronavirus quarantine, according to the official People’s Daily. Twenty-three people were rescued, the city government said.

GMT 14:34 – Number of UK coronavirus cases rises to 206

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom has risen to 206, a rise of 43, British health officials said.

So far in the UK, two patients who had confirmed positive for the virus have died, the health ministry and the Public Health England agency said.

12:45 GMT – Pope to deliver Sunday prayer by livestream 

Pope Francis has cancelled his main public appearances to avoid crowds gathering to see him and will stream them on the internet from inside the Vatican because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

The Vatican said the pope would not address crowds from a window overlooking St Peter’s Square and would not hold his general audience there either on Wednesday.

They will be held without general public participation from inside the Vatican.

The 83-year-old pope cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy, but the Vatican has said he is suffering only from a cold that is “without symptoms related to other pathologies”.

12:30 GMT – ‘I ain’t playing’ with no fans: NBA player 

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said he will not take to the court if the NBA bars fans from attending games to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

American media reported that the NBA had sent a memo to teams detailing the need for contingency plans in case it becomes necessary to play games with only essential staff present.

“Play games without the fans? No, that’s impossible. I ain’t playing,” James told reporters after the Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-103 on Friday to clinch a playoff berth.

“That’s who I play for. I play for my team-mates, I play for the fans, that’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do,” added the 35-year-old James, who is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players of all time.

12:15 GMT – Leader of Italy’s co-ruling Democratic Party tests positive 

Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of Italy’s co-ruling Democratic Party, is the latest person to have tested positive for coronavirus in Europe’s hardest-hit country.

“I have coronavirus too,” Zingaretti said in a video posted on Facebook, adding he was in self-isolation at home.

The 54-year-old said he was well, adding that all the people he had been interacting with in recent days were being contacted for tests.

“No panic,” the leftish leader added. “I’ll give the good example following doctors’ instruction by working from home. I’m fighting for each of us and for the whole country,” he said.

With 4,636 registered cases, Italy is behind only China, South Korea and Iran in terms of the number of infected people.

11:45 GMT – Second case in South Africa 

South Africa has found a second case of the new coronavirus, according to the health ministry. 

The latest patient is a 39-year-old woman from the northern province of Gauteng who was in contact with the country’s first case from KwaZulu-Natal, a coastal province of the south.

She was part of a group that travelled to Italy, according to a statement by the ministry, which assured that the whereabouts of the other members of the group have been found and that they have all been tested.

Authorities are currently waiting for the results.

11:20 GMT – First Cambodian tests positive 

Cambodia has confirmed its second case of coronavirus: a 38-year-old man who had direct contact with a Japanese visitor who later tested positive for the virus.

Health ministry spokesman Or Vandin told reporters that the Japanese man had left Cambodia from Siem Reap, close to the ancient Angkor Wat temple, one of the region’s top tourist attractions.

Cambodia had earlier reported a virus infection in a Chinese man. He recovered and went home.

11:00 GMT – First case in Malta 

A 12-year-old Italian girl becomes Malta’s first case of coronavirus. The girl, who lives in the Mediterranean island, is currently receiving treatment in the infectious diseases unit of the state hospital, said Health Minister Chris Fearne. 

She returned in late February from the northern Italian region of Trentino, passing through Italy’s capital Rome with her parents and sister. 

The family self-quarantined as instructed, but the girl started to experience symptoms. She was tested on Friday and results came back positive on Saturday morning.

10:45 GMT – Iran death toll jumps to 145

Over the past 24 hours, Iran has registered 21 more deaths due to the coronavirus, bringing the total to 145.

A health ministry official also said the people testing positive for the virus had risen to 5,823.

10:31 GMT – Vietnam records new cases

Following a swift response by authorities in Vietnam, where the first 16 people who tested positive for the coronavirus fully recovered, the country has now registered two more cases.

The Ministry of Health confirmed on Saturday that a 27-year-old patient who had been to the South Korean city of Daegu, returned to Vietnam on a Vietject flight on Wednesday and was quarantined upon his landing. 

On Friday, authorities reported the country’s first case in three weeks after a woman, 26, returned to Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, from Europe. 

Police are now in the process of verifying the 201 passengers and 16 crew members on board the 26-year-old woman’s flight. All the streets in the area where the woman lives have been closed and disinfected. 

09:38 GMT – Maldivian islands locked down

Three islands in the Maldives have been locked down after several foreign nationals were feared to have contracted the new coronavirus, according to health officials.

Two tourists from Italy were staying on Kuredu resort, an island off the capital, Male, and were due to be shifted to a quarantine facility for treatment. Summer Island in Kaafu Atoll was also placed in lockdown after two French tourists showed symptoms.

Thinadhoo island was also in lockdown after it became known that an Italian tourist who stayed there tested positive after returning home. A doctor working on the island has also shown symptoms of the virus and was transferred to a quarantine facility.

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Friday decided to ban all passengers from Italy as well as those who travelled to the European country within the past 14 days.

08:53 GMT – Iranian MP dies: Tasnim

Fatemeh Rahbar, who was recently re-elected as a member of Iran’s parliament, has died from the new coronavirus, according to Tasnim news agency.

The semi-official news agency said Rahbar, 55, had spent two days in a coma in a hospital in the capital, Tehran.

08:23 GMT – South Korea reports 274 new cases

The total number of people infected in South Korea has risen to 7,041, as the country confirmed 274 more cases.

The announcement came hours after South Korean authorities reported 483 new cases of infections.

08:11 GMT – Philippines confirms community transmission

The health ministry of the Philippines said it had confirmed its first case of community transmission for the new coronavirus, prompting officials to call on the president to declare a public health emergency to contain its spread.

The case involves a 62-year-old male Filipino who had not travelled abroad recently. His 59-year-old wife has also been infected, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to six, the health ministry said, adding that both are being treated at a government hospital.

The health ministry declared a code red alert which calls on medical professionals to be prepared to report for duty and recommended that President Rodrigo Duterte declare a public health emergency to help with the procurement of critical supplies as well as with quarantine measures.

“This is a pre-emptive call to ensure that national and local governments and public and private healthcare providers can prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque told reporters.

07:56 GMT – Qatar reports 12th case

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health announced the country’s 12th case: a Qatari citizen who returned from Iran recently who was subjected to quarantine upon his arrival.

The patient is in stable condition, the ministry said in a statement, adding that the infected person “has not had contact with community members since his arrival”.

“The risk of outbreaks of the disease in the wider community in Qatar is still low,” the statement noted.

07:34 GMT – China trade takes major hit

China’s exports fell by double digits in the first two months of the year as anti-virus controls closed factories, while imports sank by a smaller margin.

Overseas shipments tumbled 17.2 percent from a year earlier to $292.4bn, a sharp reverse from December’s 7.8 percent rise, customs data showed. Imports declined 4 percent to $299.5bn, down from the previous month’s 16.3 percent gain.

Trade was poised for a boost after Beijing and Washington removed punitive tariffs on some of each other’s goods in a trade truce signed in January. But that was offset by Chinese anti-virus controls that shut down much of the world’s second-largest economy in late January.

Exports to the US plunged 27.7 percent in January and February to $43bn, worsening from December’s 12.5 percent decline. Imports of US goods crept up 2.5 percent to $17.6bn, but China still recorded a $25.4bn trade surplus with the US.

China’s global trade balance fell to a $7.1bn deficit for the first two months of the year.

07:15 GMT – US tourist is Costa Rica’s first coronavirus case

A US tourist on a trip to Costa Rica has tested positive for the coronavirus, the first confirmed case in Central America, the country’s health minister announced.

The 49-year-old woman had contracted the virus before entering the country on March 1, Health Minister Daniel Salas said, according to the AFP news agency.

The woman is currently “in strict isolation” in a hotel in the capital San Jose with her husband, who Salas said had contact with people in New York who had tested positive for the virus.

“The man has not manifested symptoms. The lady has, but they are very mild flu symptoms, diarrhoea and abdominal pain,” the minister told a news conference hosted jointly with President Carlos Alvarado.

04:00 GMT – Two dead in Florida

Florida health officials announced that two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus have died.

The Florida Department of Health said the patients were in their 70s and had travelled overseas.

One was a man with underlying health issues in Santa Rosa County, in Florida’s Panhandle, according to the statement. It added that the second death was that of an elderly person in Lee County, in the Fort Myers area.

The statement did not indicate where the two had travelled.

As of Friday, Florida authorities said seven people in the state have tested positive for coronavirus.

02:54 GMT – US raises travel alert levels for Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan

The US State Department has raised its alert level for travel to Azerbaijan, warning Americans to reconsider travel there due to a coronavirus outbreak and response measures implemented by the country’s government.

The State Department also raised its alert level for travel to Turkmenistan due to travel restrictions and quarantine procedures instituted in response to the virus.

Neither country has reported many cases but both border Iran, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus.

The State Department slapped a travel advisory warning on Iran last month, urging Americans not to travel to the country.

02:25 GMT – S Korea confirms 483 new coronavirus cases

South Korea on Saturday reported 483 additional coronavirus cases from late on Friday, taking the national tally to 6,767, Yonhap news agency quoted the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (KCDC) as saying.

The death toll also rose to 46 from 44, Kwon Jun-wook, the KCDC deputy director, told a briefing.

Most of the cases of infections were traced from a religious sect in Daegu, a city of 2.5 million people.

South Korea - coronavirus
South Korea’s total reported infections – the largest number outside China, where the virus first emerged – rose to 6,767 on Saturday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said [Yonhap via AFP]

01:38 GMT – 2 US health screeners at LAX positive for coronavirus

Two federal health screeners at Los Angeles International Airport have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email sent to their colleagues late on Friday, Reuters reported on Saturday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employees were conducting a secondary screening of passengers arriving from overseas, including from China, and have been directed to self-quarantine until March 17, the email said.

“At this time, we cannot confirm where these two screeners were exposed,” said the email, which was sent by a senior CDC official.

“Let us keep our colleagues in our thoughts during this period.”

00:56 GMT – Two AIPAC conference attendees test positive for coronavirus

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbying group, also known as AIPAC, reported late on Friday that two attendees of its recent conference in Washington, DC, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group earlier this week hosted a conference attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

00:22 GMT – China reports 28 new deaths, 99 new confirmed cases

China’s National Health Commission reported on Saturday at least 28 new coronavirus deaths as of the end of Friday, taking the nationwide death toll to 3,070.

The government also reported 99 new confirmed cases on March 6, down from 143 the previous day, with a total of 80,651 cases nationwide. Most of the new cases and deaths were from Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak in China.

Meanwhile, on Friday, China’s health agency reported that at least 53,726 people have been discharged from hospitals after recovery.

China - coronavirus
Chinese authorities said more than 53,000 people have recovered from coronavirus and were discharged from hospitals nationwide [Stringer/AFP]

23:17 GMT Friday – G20 pledges monetary actions in coronavirus response

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors on Friday pledged to take “appropriate” fiscal and monetary measures in responding to the coronavirus outbreak and to protect economic growth against shocks, according to Reuters.

In a joint statement issued by G20 chair Saudi Arabia, the ministers, who met in Riyadh last month, said they welcomed measures and plans already put forward by countries to support economic activity.

“We are ready to take further actions, including fiscal and monetary measures, as appropriate, to aid in the response to the virus, support the economy during this phase and maintain the resilience of the financial system,” the group said.

22:13 GMT – Second coronavirus death confirmed in England

A second patient in England who tested positive for coronavirus has died, the United Kingdom’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty confirmed. The patient was being treated at Milton Keynes University Hospital and had underlying health conditions.

22:05 GMT – South by Southwest cancelled

The city of Austin in the US has cancelled the March dates for SXSW, or South by Southwest, and SXSW EDU.

“We are devastated to share this news with you. ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” organisers said. 

The event, held in Texas, is one of the world’s biggest international music festivals and showcases talent from dozens of countries, styles and traditions.

In 2019, more than 400,000 people attended the festival.

Click here to read all the updates from March 6.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies