Coronavirus UPDATE – Confirmed cases surpass 20,000

There are now 20,638 cases of the Novel Coronavirus . So far, there have been 427 deaths, all but one in China. There have also been 688 people recovering from the virus. Importantly, the death rate has been only 2%, a low rate compared to similar outbreaks of flu-like viruses in the past.

Even though the outbreak has spread around China and to 27 other countries, the Chinese government and the World Health Organisation are confident that the situation is much better understood and, mostly, under control in most locations where cases have been confirmed, particularly outside China.

The World Health Organisation’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has again repeated the world health agency’s view that there is no need to impose restrictions that “unnecessarily” interfere with international travel and trade. He told their executive board yesterday that “global collectiveness is a weakness” as the coronavirus continues to spread “but it is also our greatest strength.”

Snippets of Coronavirus news from around the world for your Tuesday morning…

• Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority resorts that a 39 year old man has died this morning in the city’s first death related to the coronavirus. Details of the case will be announced this afternoon at a 4.30pm (local time) media conference. This is likely to be the second known death outside of mainland China. On Sunday, officials confirmed that a Wuhan resident, travelling in Philippines, died in a hospital in Manila.

South Korea’s Hyundai has announced that it has decided to suspend production assembly lines from operating at all of its plants due to disruptions in the supply of parts from China, where many factories are shut down due to the coronavirus. The suspensions will start from February 7 but some productions lines are expected to resume a week later. Hyundai says that it is reviewing ways to minimise the disruption to its operations, including seeking alternative suppliers in the region

• Japan authorities have quarantined an entire cruise ship carrying 3,500 passengers and were testing for the new coronavirus this morning after a passenger who left the cruise in Hong Kong tested positive. Television footage shows several quarantine officers entering the Diamond Princess cruise ship at the port of Yokohama to check the health of all 2,500 passengers and the 1,000 crew members.

An 80 year old passenger, who disembarked on January 25 in Hong Kong tested positive for the virus.

• World scientists and disease experts are now speculating that the 2019-nCoV outbreak (coronavirus) could soon be declared a “pandemic”. The World Health Organisation last week designated the coronavirus a “public-health emergency of international concern.” But describing the virus as a pandemic would take it to a new level since that term usually refers to a more global situation.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the coronavirus is “very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic.”

• Organisers of the biennial Singapore Airshow say the event will proceed as planned from Feb 11 for five says, but a related summit involving 300 aviation leaders, including government officials, airline executives, and civil aviation authorities, has been cancelled.

• The first US patient who was confirmed with a case of novel coronavirus, a man in his 30s, is now recuperating at home after being discharged from the Providence Regional Medical Centre in Washington.

“The patient remains in isolation at home and is being monitored by the Snohomish Health District, in coordination with his care team at Providence. For the privacy of the patient, we will not be disclosing the exact date of discharge or any additional details regarding his discharge process.”

• There are at least 11 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the US. 6 cases have been confirmed in California, 1 in Massachusetts, 1 in Washington state, 1 in Arizona and 2 in Illinois. There have been two instances of human-to-human transmission, 1in Illinois and 1 in California.

• The Thai Ministry of Public Health released some more information about their claim of a discovery of a medical treatment that rendered the new viral strain “impotent in 48 hours”.

The breakthrough discovery was made in the case of a 70 year old Chinese woman who was admitted to a hospital for pneumonia and excessive fluid in the lungs caused by the coronavirus. The unnamed woman had repeatedly tested positive for coronavirus for 10 days before doctors administered her with a combination of anti-HIV and flu treatment medication, Rajavithi Hospital lung physician Kriangsak Atipornwanich said at a news conference, according to Khaosod English.

“The patient then tested negative just 48 hours later. The lab result was cross-examined and confirmed by Chulalongkorn Hospital and the Department of Medical Sciences. The anti-HIV medicines used in the treatment were a cocktail of Ritonavir and Lopinavir, while the flu medication was identified as Oseltamivir.”

Department director Somsak Akkslip says the hospital is sharing their findings with the international medical community.

• A new case of the virus has been identified in Bavaria, Germany. That brings the total number of cases within Germany to 11. The eleventh case was identified in a child from the district of Traunstein, who tested positive just a week after the child’s father was found to have been infected. The information from the State Office for Health and Food Safety. The 33 year old father is an employee at a company in the district of Starnberg, where 6 other employees previously tested positive with the virus.

• Following the extension of the Chinese New Year holiday because of the outbreak of coronavirus, China’s government has reinforced labour laws that require employees to be compensated while on vacation. Local government agencies have also formulated their own announcements based on the law.

• Apple’s Q1 prospects have taken a hit due to the Coronavirus outbreak, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He forecasts a 10% decrease in shipments, down to 36-40 million units for the first quarter of 2020, despite assurances from Foxconn last week that production will not be affected. iPhone camera parts and other components are made in Foxconn’s factory in Wuhan. The company has temporarily shut all of its 42 stores in China in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

• US franchises, Starbucks and McDonalds, have closed all their Hubei stores indefinitely while car-makers Honda and Renault have extended the shutdown period in their Wuhan plants until February 13. Peugeot and Toyota have halted operations at their Chinese plants.

• Two specially chartered Air India flights brought home more than 650 Indian passengers from Wuhan over the weekend. The passengers have been quarantined in two separate camps in and around the country’s capital, New Delhi.

• The Canadian government is still waiting on permission, as well as flight lists and document approval, from the Chinese government in order to repatriate Canadians from Wuhan. François-Philippe Champagne has formally thanked the Chinese and Vietnamese authorities for their cooperation, adding “it is a multistep process given the complexity of this evolving situation.”

• Hong Kong’s hospital authority is urging healthcare workers to return to work after they began a strike yesterday in response to the government’s handling of the coronavirus. The HA is calling “all healthcare workers participating in industrial action to return to work as soon as possible to avoid further affecting public hospital services and patient treatment.”

• The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has listed 260 “patients under investigation” for the coronavirus across 36 states of the US. The memo dated yesterday, notes that it’s an increase of 19 patients from the last update, provided Friday. Of the 260 patients under investigation, 11 have tested positive, 167 negative, and 82 are still pending.

Covid-19 News

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