“The Philippines has confirmed this morning the second coronavirus case in the country and, notably, the first death in the country and the first outside China” Philippines’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
Deaths from the coronavirus outbreak have now reached 304 today. 14,551 people are now confirmed with the virus. An increasing number of countries are also imposing restriction on travel to and from China in efforts to reduce the global spread of the virus, officially described as 2019-nCoV coronavirus.
The fatality rate remains at 2% with the current level of cases.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has confirmed this morning of the second coronavirus case and, notably, the first death in the country and the first outside China.
Duque reports that the 44 year old Chinese male partner of the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the country, a 38 year old Chinese woman, also tested positive for the virus and died yesterday.
In recent days Britain, Russia and Sweden have confirmed their first infections, the virus has now spread to 27 countries. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, US, Germany, Vietnam and the UAE have all added cases to their lists over the past 24 hours.
Both the US and Australia are among a growing list of countries that are putting temporary travel restrictions on Chinese nationals or those who have travelled to China within the last two weeks.
Australian officials have confirmed that they were barring entry to non-citizens arriving from China, while Australian citizens who had travelled there would be required to go into “self-isolation” for two weeks. Australians are debating the option of locating the quarantined citizens on the controversial Christmas Island, on offshore refugee camp that many nickname the country’s “leper colony”.
Vietnam has now suspended all flights from mainland China, effective from yesterday, while Russia announced it would halt visa-free tourism for Chinese nationals.
Thailand was mulling a similar change to its free visas-on-arrival but the Thai PM has asked his Public Health Ministry to reconsider their recommendation after the country’s tourism minister said the revocation would be catastrophic for Thai tourism. As of this morning, Chinese nationals can still arrive, albeit on a much-reduced schedule of flights, and get a visa-on-arrival.
The US, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations had already advised their citizens not to travel to China.
The UK says it was temporarily withdrawing some diplomatic staff and their families from across China. This comes a day after the US State Department ordered embassy employees to send home family members under 21 years of age.
The US emergency declaration now requires US citizens returning from Hubei province, the epicentre of the current coronavirus outbreak, to be placed in mandatory 14 day quarantine.
With local anger mounting in China, Ma Guoqiang, the Communist Party chief for Wuhan, admitted that authorities there had acted too slowly.
“If strict control measures had been taken earlier the result would have been better than now.”
China finally launched into unprecedented action last week, effectively quarantining entire cities across Hubei province and more than 50 million people. Wuhan officials have been heavily criticised online for withholding information about the outbreak until late December despite knowing of it weeks earlier, according to a Reuters report.
Unprecedented safeguards are imposed nationwide include postponing the return of students to school following the Chinese New Year holidays, cutting bus and train services, and tightening health screening on travellers nationwide.
In Thailand, health officials announced on Friday that a taxi driver was the kingdom’s first case of human-to-human transmission.
Four Chinese airline passengers from China’s Hubei province, and one Thai citizen – a taxi driver – have now been confirmed as infected with the novel coronavirus. The taxi driver was the first instance of a local human-to-human viral transmission. The driver had never travelled to China, let alone since mid-December when the Wuhan coronavirus was first identified. Since his diagnosis, Thai health officials have traced 13 people who had been in close contact with the taxi driver, but none have tested positive for the virus at this stage – the update from the deputy head of the disease control department, Tanarak Plipat.
Thailand now joins China, Vietnam, Germany, Japan, France and the US with confirmed domestic infections.
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