China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

The death toll from a new coronavirus epidemic in China surged past 1,500 on Saturday, a day after people returning to the capital from holidays were ordered to quarantine themselves for 14 days to try to contain the virus’s spread.

State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as China’s foreign minister, acknowledged that the virus, now known as COVID-19, was a significant challenge but defended Beijing’s management of the epidemic and lashed out at the “overreaction” of some countries. “Through our efforts the epidemic is overall under control,” he told the Reuters News Agency on Friday. 

More than two dozen countries have confirmed cases and several nations have suspended trade and travel links with China in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. Three deaths have been recorded outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong one in the Philippines, and the most recent in Japan.

Egypt reported its first case of the coronavirus on Friday, becoming the first country in the African continent to confirm a case, and the second in the Middle East region, after the United Arab Emirates diagnosed its first cases late last month. 

Saturday, February 15

France reports first death from coronavirus

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist hospitalised in France has died from the new coronavirus, the first fatality confirmed in Europe and outside of Asia, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said.

France has recorded 11 cases of the virus. 

Three deaths have so far been recorded outside mainland China – in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan. 

WHO: China running 82 trials for virus treatment

China is currently running more than 80 trials for treatment of the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Michael Ryan, director of the WHO’s Emergencies Programmes called on nations around the world to work with Beijing to fight the virus.

“There are 82 different trials under way in China right now – everything from traditional medicine all the way through to anti-HIV drugs and that’s in collaboration with the the external scientists and investigators,” Ryan said.

“Some of these trials will have results in two to three weeks,” he added.

Beijing orders returnees to self-quarantine for 14 days

Officials in China’s capital, Beijing, have ordered people returning to the city from holiday to self-quarantine for 14 days, in another drastic effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

All new arrivals to the Chinese capital will have to quarantine themselves at home or undergo observation for 14 days, state media said.

The new measures, introduced by the group of leaders charged with disease control and prevention for the city, promised strict punishment for violators, the Beijing Daily reported. 

Another 67 people tested positive on cruise ship in Japan

Sixty-seven more people on board a cruise ship quarantined off Japan’s coast have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the country’s health minister said.

The new cases, from 217 tests, bring the number of people diagnosed on the Diamond Princess, docked in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, to 286, including a quarantine officer who contracted the illness.

China confident epidemic will be over soon: minister

China is confident the coronavirus epidemic will be over soon and that the subsequent economic impact will only be temporary, Qin Gang, China’s vice minister of foreign affairs said. 

“The impact of the epidemic on the Chinese economy will be short term and temporary,” he said at the Munich Security Conference.

“When the epidemic is over, the subdued consumer demand will be released rapidly and the economy will rebound strongly,” Qin added. 

US to evacuate citizens from cruise ship in Japan

The United States government is preparing to evacuate American citizens aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been quarantined at Japan’s Yokohama port since early February, the US embassy said.

Washington plans to send a chartered plane to Japan for the evacuation on Sunday, it said in a letter to US citizens on board.

The evacuees will be required to undergo a further quarantine of two weeks following their arrival in the US, the letter said.

“We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease,” it added.

Thailand reports new case of coronavirus

Thailand has recorded one new case of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 34 since January, a health ministry official said. 

The new case is a 35-year-old Thai female medical worker, who was infected through contact with a patient, Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchia, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, told a news conference.

Fourteen patients in Thailand have recovered from the infection and returned to their homes.

Coronavirus epidemic at ‘most critical moment’

Liang Wannian, a senior official at China’s National Health Commission, said the COVID-19 epidemic in the country was “at the most critical moment or in a state of stalemate confrontation”.

Speaking in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, Liang said it was a good sign that the number of confirmed cases in all provinces except Hubei have been on the decline for the past 10 days. Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, has been the most hard-hit by the virus. 

Wang Hesheng, the new top health official of Hubei province, said Wuhan will build more field hospitals to take on all the confirmed and suspected cases. So far, Wuhan has built nine field hospitals with over 6,900 beds, he said.

Source: Aljazeera

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