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Coronavirus UPDATE: 81 dead, Beijing 50 year old dies, more cases in the US

The Thaiger

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Coronavirus UPDATE: 81 dead, Beijing 50 year old dies, more cases in the US | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Patients queue up in front of the Wuhan Red Cross - ABC News
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The death toll in China from the respiratory illness called the Wuhan Coronavirus or the Novel Coronavirus, has now reached 81. There are no deaths reported outside China and the vast majority of deaths are in the province of Hubei (76) where Wuhan is the capital. The coronavirus has now infected nearly 3,000 people, and the numbers are expected to grow. It was around 2,000 over the weekend.

The mayor of Wuhan reported yesterday there were about 3,000 patients in the city being treated for confirmed or suspected symptoms.

Officials in the Chinese capital, Beijing – 1,200 kilometres away – have announced the first death in the city from coronavirus. The patient, a 50 year old man, had travelled to Wuhan on January 8 and developed a fever after returning to Beijing on January 15. He was diagnosed a week later and died of respiratory failure on January 27.

Current situation

• There have been 2,744 confirmed cases across China, of which 1,423 cases were in Hubei Province. The youngest confirmed case is a 9 month old girl in the Chinese capital.

• Thailand and Hong Kong have now both reported eight confirmed cases of coronavirus infection. The US, Taiwan, Australia and Macau have five. Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia have four. France has three; Canada and Vietnam have two. Nepal and Cambodia each have one case.

• The Chinese government has extended Chinese New Year holidays by three days – from this Thursday to the following Sunday – in an effort to limit people travelling, and the further spread of the virus, at this crucial phase.

• The lockdown, affecting 56 million people, principally in Hubei cities and other strategic locations, could actually be making the situation worse, according to some medical experts. They say the lockdowns slow the movement of critical medical supplies and also make the lockdown cities a hotbed of panic.

• Stocks have tumbled and oil prices fallen over the past 24 hours as the spread of coronavirus spooks investors around the world. China’s yuan has also fallen in value, while investors continued their move into safe havens like gold. China’s A-shares, the mainland share markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen, is down by more than 5% yesterday.

• In the US, at least 110 people are being tested for coronavirus. Three University of Washington students, recently returned from Wuhan, China, have become sick and are being tested for the virus, but officials claim they are not confirmed cases. The three have been isolated and treated in their dorms and not hospitalised.

SARS

Comparing to the SARS outbreak in China in 2002/2003, at the current rate of around 1,000 new cases a day, the coronavirus should have infected half of the 8,096 people stricken with the SARS virus, by mid-week. SARS took around 8 months to reach that level of cases. Health officials speculate that Coronavirus, in comparison, appears to be more virulent but less deadly.

In total 774 people died from SARS, according to the World Health Organisation. The SARS virus stayed in the world news cycle for 8 months. There has no cases of SARS detected ever since. In that case, the disease was traced to bats. The Wuhan coronavirus is also being traced to animals, including bats, believed to have been consumed by Wuhan locals.

The Mayor of Wuhan

Wuhan’s leading Communist Party officials have offered to step down amid the growing criticism that the local authorities’ response was too slow. Mayor Zhou Xianwang says that he and Ma Guoqiang, the city’s Communist party secretary, will take responsibility for the crisis and resign to “appease public indignation.”

The mayor says the ban on travel is “unprecedented in human history”. The ban was enacted last week and effectively cut off the city of 11 million people.

Medical workers in the city continue to accuse the Wuhan civil government of reacting too slowly to the crisis. Residents are using social media to complain about the ban on travel that is making it difficult to get food and health care into the city.

Yesterday, Wuhan shops remained mostly closed. But supermarkets, fresh produce markets and shops, and pharmacies, remained open. Many pharmacies report that they have run out of protective masks and hand disinfectant.

Wuhan’s streets remain mostly free of cars. Many residents walked or rode bicycles to do their shopping.

SOURCES: Forbes | CNN | New York Times | Science Today

Coronavirus UPDATE: 81 dead, Beijing 50 year old dies, more cases in the US | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus

Thailand welcomes cruise ship shunned in Vietnam over virus fears

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thailand welcomes cruise ship shunned in Vietnam over virus fears | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The AIDAvita - Cruisemapper

German cruise ship AIDAvita has been welcomed in Thailand, days after it was blocked from docking in Vietnam due to fears of the COVID-19 coronavirus spreading across the region. Authorities in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province, home to UNESCO world heritage site Ha Long Bay, barred passengers on the AIDAvita from disembarking on Thursday, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Germany’s AIDA Cruises, the owner of the AIDAvita, did not respond to requests for comment. AIDA Cruises is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp. The vessel, with some 1,100 passengers and 400 crew, docked early yesterday at the eastern Laem Chabang port, according to a Thai Maritime Security official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“This morning Department of Disease Control officials have monitored all the passengers and right now there has been no report of any patients inside. The situation on this ship is normal and officials have not found anyone with fever over 37.5 degrees.”

Stoking fears in countries that usually allow cruise ships to dock is the quarantine in Japan of the Diamond Princess, also managed by a unit of Carnival Corp. Of the 3,700 passengers and crew on that vessel, 335 have now tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. The ship remains quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama port. Phuket recently allowed two cruise ships to dock after turning away the MS Westerdam, which was eventually allowed to dock in Cambodia.

The AIDAvita was scheduled to disembark in Phuket today. However, because of worries about the virus, AIDA says it will now send the Aidavita and another vessel, the AIDAbella, for tours in other parts of the world. Rerouting these ships away from Asia, in effect cancelling them, will affect some 3,300 passengers.

SOURCES: The Star | Reuters

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Coronavirus

UPDATE: China coronavirus deaths reach 1665, Taiwan reports first fatality

Greeley Pulitzer

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UPDATE: China coronavirus deaths reach 1665, Taiwan reports first fatality | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Streets across much of China are empty as the governmentthere tries to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus - AFP

UPDATE: Taiwan has confirmed its first death from the coronavirus. Malaysia says it won’t allow any more passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship to enter the country from Cambodia, after an American woman who flew into Kuala Lumpur was diagnosed with the coronavirus.

China said today the number of coronavirus cases nationwide had reached 68,500, with the death toll rising to 1,665. Hubei province reported fewer new infections for a second straight day, and 139 deaths. It had 1,843 new cases, dropping from 2,420 a day earlier.

SOURCE: Bloomberg

ORIGINAL STORY: New cases of COVID-19 coronavirus infection dropped for a third consecutive day today, as World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned it is “impossible” to predict how the outbreak will develop. Concern remains high around the world about the spread of the virus, which emerged in China’s central Hubei province in December. The first death outside Asia was reported in France yesterday. An 80-year-old Chinese tourist was the fourth person outside of China to die from the virus, with the other deaths occurring in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.

The death toll climbed to 1,665 in mainland China today after 142 more deaths were reported. More than 68,000 people are now infected, but the number of new cases of the COVID-19 strain is falling. In Hubei, the number of new cases slowed for a third day and at 139, the number of deaths was equal to Saturday’s toll. The number of new cases in other parts of the country has dropped for twelve straight days.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was cautious, however. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he said:

“[It is] impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take. We ask all governments, companies, and news organisations to work with us to sound the appropriate level of alarm without fanning the flames of hysteria”

“China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time.”

The UN health body has asked China for more details on how diagnoses are being made, after a spike in reported cases on Thursday when authorities in Hubei changed their “methodology for diagnosing the coronavirus,” retroactively adding thousands of new patients to their tally. Hubei added more than 14,000 cases in a single day after officials there started counting people clinically diagnosed through lung imaging, in addition to those with a positive lab test result.

Chinese authorities have placed around 56 million people in Hubei, and its capital Wuhan, under quarantine, virtually sealing off the province from the rest of the country and the world, in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus. Beijing’s municipal government has enacted a rule requiring all people coming to the capital to quarantine themselves for 14 days, warning that violators would be punished, according to state media.

The biggest cluster outside China is on a quarantined cruise ship off Japan, with 335 infections as of today. A US State Department spokesperson says Americans stranded on the vessel will be evacuated and face further quarantine of two weeks in the United States. Hong Kong also announced it will charter a flight for the city’s residents on the ship, who will stay at a quarantine centre for 14 days on their return. Several countries have banned arrivals from China and major airlines have cut services to the country.

With China’s government facing criticism over its handling of the crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for tighter policing “to protect social stability.”

“[The government must] increase use of police force and strengthen the visible use of police to ensure stability during the crisis.”

China’s central bank says it will also banknotes with ultraviolet light or high temperatures and store them for up to 14 days before they are put back into circulation.

SOURCE: AFP

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Coronavirus

New coronavirus case confirmed in Thailand, brings total to 34

The Thaiger

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New coronavirus case confirmed in Thailand, brings total to 34 | The Thaiger

A new case of the coronavirus (covid-19) has now been confirmed in Thailand which brings the total in the country to 34 since the start of this year. The public health ministry made the announcement yesterday.

The new case is a 35 year old Thai female, a medical personnel, who was infected after contact with a patient, Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchia, according to the director-general of the Department of Disease Control.

Health workers are among the most vulnerable groups exposed to the coronavirus. The Chinese government revealed this week that 1,716 medical workers there have been infected, with six already dying from the virus.

The vast majority of infections among health workers have been in Wuhan, Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, where many lack proper protections in hospitals dealing with a deluge of patients.

In Thailand, 14 people, previously identified with coronavirus, have recovered and returned home.

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