A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 6,000 people in the mainland and more than a dozen other countries.
Some details on cases confirmed as of midday Wednesday in Beijing:
— China: 5,974 cases on the mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has eight cases and Macao has five. Nearly all of the 132 deaths have been in central Hubei province, where the illnesses began in December.
— Thailand: 14
— Taiwan: 8
— Singapore: 7
— Malaysia: 7
— Japan: 6
— Australia: 5
— United States: 5, 2 in southern California and 1 each in Washington state, Chicago, and Arizona.
South Korea: 4
— France: 4
— Germany: 4
— Canada: 3
— Vietnam: 2
— United Arab Emirates: Unspecified number of cases in one family.
— Nepal: 1
— Cambodia: 1
— Sri Lanka: 1
Chinese authorities are marshalling more resources to stop the spread of a new and deadly coronavirus, even as the number of cases grows both domestically and internationally.
Just as Beijing upped the number of medical workers it is sending to Hubei province the site of the initial outbreak to nearly 6,000, according to a health official cited by the Xinhua state news agency.
Of those, 4,130 are already in the region, in 30 teams, while another 1,800 workers are expected to arrive by the end of Tuesday.
The country has 4,515 confirmed cases of the disease: 2,714 of them are in Hubei. There have also been 106 deaths.
The question now is whether the efforts out of China will make a difference, as the disease has already made it across most of China and outside China’s borders.
Reports in the last 24 hours of new cases in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan, and the first case in Germany.
In the German, Japanese and Taiwan cases, authorities said that the sick individual was infected in those countries, highlighting how the disease is not only spreading within China.
The disease has been detected in about a dozen countries on four continents, according to data provided by the World Health Organisation on Monday.
Worries that the disease is still getting out of China have prompted more countries and regions to set up border controls, with additional safeguards reported at U.S airports.
Other safety attempts are more localised, such as Thai shopping centres distributing face masks.
Hong Kong said trains and ferries to and from mainland China have been cancelled in an attempt to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Speaking at a press conference and wearing a surgical mask, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the new measures, which also include restricting air travel and other forms of transportation.
The Philippines is temporarily suspending its visa-on-arrival scheme for Chinese nationals on group tours to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The European Union has activated its internal rapid alert system to share information as it monitors the spread of the coronavirus.
EU commissioners are to discuss the matter further on Wednesday.
Several countries, including India and South Korea also announced plans to begin pulling their nationals out of Wuhan, despite the area being under quarantine.
Germany issued a warning against travel to China, upgrading from a previous warning only directed against Wuhan.
German steel giant Thyssenkrupp also announced it was limiting business trips to China for fear of the virus.
In China, people have been urged to avoid travelling abroad to help control the spread.
In order to reduce the movement of people across the border, citizens who want to go abroad should choose the time of the trip with reason,”Xinhua said, citing the National Administration for Entry and Exit.
“If there is no particular need, it is recommended to postpone the time of the trip,’’ it added.
The point was driven home by the two new cases confirmed in Taiwan on Tuesday, a pair of women from Wuhan who were hospitalised on Saturday with fever after arriving in Taiwan days before.
“It’s likely that they contracted the new virus in Wuhan,’’ Taiwan Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang told a televised news conference.
Another Chinese tourist travelling with the two patients has been isolated and monitored by health officers, Chuang said.
China has already cordoned off entire cities in central Hubei province, in an effort to contain the spread of the disease.
The government also extended the Lunar New Year holiday for three extra days until Sunday to discourage people from travelling.
Additionally, the eastern metropolis of Shanghai has ordered many of its companies to stay closed for another two weeks.
More and more companies are also urging workers to telecommute, including German software company SAP’s Chinese interests.
Meanwhile, German retailer Metro has begun running temperature checks of its customers in its Wuhan stores.
But the number of cases keeps mounting.
According to a Xinhua report, 6,973 people are suspected of being infected and 976 remain in critical condition.
Monday alone saw 1,771 new confirmed cases, along with 2,077 new suspected cases. There were also 26 deaths reported on Monday.
In all, 47,833 people who have come into contact with the infected have been put under observation in China: Of those, 44,132 remain under observation and 914 had been discharged.
The virus belongs to the same family of coronaviruses that caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Ekemini Ladejobi
Hundreds of medics are being sent to help deal with a rising number of cases of the new coronavirus in China’s central metropolis of Wuhan, health authorities said on Monday.
Eighty people had died and 2,744 people were confirmed infected across China as of Monday, marking a rise in the death toll of 24 since Sunday morning, according to the National Health Commission.
China sent 959 medical teams from other provinces to Wuhan, in Hubei province, where the virus was first discovered in December.
Wuhan’s hospitals have been overflowing with patients, with hundreds forced to queue over the past week for medical treatment.
According to media reports and videos shared by patients and family members on social media.
Medics from the People’s Liberation Army had already been dispatched to offer relief, and construction has begun on two new hospitals that are supposed to be finished by February.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, visited Wuhan on Monday and attended a briefing about efforts to contain the disease.
China has tried to curb new infections by cordoning off entire cities in the central Hubei province right in the midst of the Lunar New Year, when millions of people normally travel to take holidays and visit family in other parts of the vast country.
The government on Monday announced that it was extending the Lunar New Year holiday until Sunday in a bid to limit the number of people travelling this week.
The holiday was initially supposed to end on Thursday.
Authorities estimate that well over 5,000 people are carrying the virus, which scientists say is infectious even during its incubation period.
The real number could be much higher. Gabriel Leung, head of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said
He said that his team’s research indicated that there were likely around 44,000 cases at the incubation stage.
Most of those who died from lung disease after catching the virus were elderly or had pre-existing conditions.
The number of cases outside the Chinese mainland and in the wider region have meanwhile continued to rise.
Eighteen cases have been reported in the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macao and in self-ruled Taiwan.
Mongolia on Monday announced it was shutting down schools and closing border crossings with China for vehicles and pedestrians amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.
Schools, kindergartens and universities across Mongolia are to close from Monday until Sunday, the Montsame news agency said.
The country has not yet reported any case of the new coronavirus so far.
Cambodia confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on Monday, carried by a 60-year-old Chinese man who had arrived from Wuhan.
Cases of the coronavirus have also been reported in South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United States, France and Australia.
Many countries in Europe and Asia are planning to repatriate their citizens from Wuhan. Japan, the United States and France have already begun repatriation operations.
Thailand is working to bring back Thai nationals following a widely publicised call for help from a university student in Wuhan.
“The planes are ready but they [the Chinese] won’t let us go yet,’’ Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters.
Germany was also considering flying home its citizens from China in light of the deadly outbreak, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
Washington was willing to offer any help that is necessary, U.S. President Donald Trump said.
“We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus. Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch,` Trump said in a tweet. (dpa / NAN)
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Isaac Aregbesola
China has withdrawn as host of an Olympic qualifying tournament next month because of concerns about the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the country, Asian football officials said on Sunday.
The four-nation women’s qualifying group matches, involving Australia, Taiwan, Thailand and China, would be moved to Sydney, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement.
“The AFC has been informed by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) that it is withdrawing as host of Group B of the women’s Olympic football tournament Tokyo 2020 Asian qualifiers final round in Nanjing,” the confederation said.
“Therefore, the AFC worked with the Football Federation Australia (FFA) and has nominated Sydney in Australia as the replacement host for the group.
“The CFA said that it was taking the decision to withdraw because of the current situation of coronavirus in the People’s Republic of China.”
On Sunday, China said the death toll from the virus had risen to 56 and that 1,975 people had been infected.
The newly-identified virus is believed to have originated in a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan, which was the original host of next month’s round-robin Olympic qualifying matches.
Last week, the Feb. 3 to Feb. 9 games were moved to Nanjing, before China’s decision to withdraw.
FFA Chairman Chris Nikou said he was pleased that Australia could step in to host the six matches.
“The safety of all players, officials and fans is of paramount importance to FFA and the AFC, and we are confident we will host a successful tournament here in Sydney,” he added.
The FFA said the match schedule would be announced soon.
The winners and runners-up from Group B will go into playoffs against the top two teams from Group A, containing South Korea, Myanmar and Vietnam, for the final two places.
The eventual winners will represent Asia alongside hosts Japan, at the Tokyo Olympics in July and August.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said novel coronavirus is not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
Several members of the WHO Emergency Committee considered that it was too early to declare it PHEIC, given its restrictive and binary nature.
In a statement issued from its headquarters in Geneva, the UN body said the Committee would reconvened in approximately ten days’ time, or earlier should the Director-General deem it necessary.
It said the members expressed divergent views on whether this event constitutes a PHEIC or not.
“ At that time, the advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC.
“ But, the Committee members agreed on the urgency of the situation and suggested that the Committee should be reconvened in a matter of days to examine the situation further.’’
The Committee, however, urged to support ongoing efforts through a WHO international multidisciplinary mission, including national experts.
“The mission would review and support efforts to investigate the animal source of the outbreak, the extent of human-to-human transmission.
“ The screening efforts in other provinces of China, the enhancement of surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections in these regions and to reinforce containment and mitigation measures.
“A mission would provide information to the international community to aid in understanding of the situation and its potential public health impact.
“WHO should continue to provide all necessary technical and operational support to respond to this outbreak and to allow for the advancement of research and scientific developments in relation to this novel coronavirus,’’ it stated.
According to the statement, in the face of an evolving epidemiological situation and the restrictive binary nature of declaring a PHEIC or not, WHO should consider a more nuanced system, which would allow an intermediate level of alert.
It said such a system would better reflect the severity of an outbreak, its impact, and the required measures, and would facilitate improved international coordination, including research efforts for developing medical counter measures.
Novel coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
All of the deaths have occurred in Wuhan, which has a population of some 11 million, similar to that of the UK capital, London. Now the entire city, has in effect, been quarantined, according to news reports.
The Chinese city of Macau reportedly confirmed its first case of Novel Coronavirus, and there have been cases in Thailand, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the US.
Several places have reportedly stepped up airport screening procedures for passengers arriving from Wuhan, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the USA, Russian and Japan.
World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday postponed taking a decision on whether the mysterious coronavirus that killed at least 17 people and sickened hundreds of others in China a global health emergency.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said physicians need more information and asked the committee which he is leading, which held an emergency meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday to reconvene on Thursday.
Tedros told roughly 150 reporters on a conference call that was delayed for almost two hours while the committee met that “today, there was an excellent discussion during the committee meeting, but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information.”
Tedros said the emergency committee on Wednesday was split on whether to designate the illness a global health emergency, noting that “WHO has researchers in China collecting data.
“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence.”
Chinese authorities said many of the patients with the new illness had come into contact with seafoods and meat markets, suggesting the virus is spreading from animals to people.
WHO physicians said they found evidence of human-to-human transmission within close contacts, citing family members, and within a health-care environment and that the virus was stable and not showing any kind of unusual activity.
WHO defines a global health emergency, also known as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, as an “extraordinary event” that is “serious, unusual or unexpected.”
The virus that emerged from Wuhan, China, had spread throughout Asia, infecting more than 540 people in China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and the Republic of Korea, according to WHO and Chinese state media.
The U.S. had also confirmed its first case on Tuesday, a Washington state man who was travelling in China, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
Meanwhile, Lawrence Gostin, a professor and faculty Director of the O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law at Georgetown University, said “WHO does not enact emergencies easily. The international health agency only applied the emergency designation five times since the rules were implemented in mid-2000.
“The last time WHO declared a global health emergency was in 2019 for the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo that killed more than 2,000 people.
“The agency also declared global emergencies for the 2016 Zika virus, the 2009 H1N1 swine flu and the 2014 polio and Ebola outbreaks.”
Taiwan on Saturday voted in presidential and parliamentary elections that will be closely watched by Beijing, which claims the democratic island as its own, in the shadow of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
China and the Hong Kong unrest have become major elements in the election as Beijing has ramped up efforts to get Taiwan to accept its rule, both through military intimidation and an offer of the “one country, two systems” model.
Speaking in Taipei, the capital, first-time voter Stacey Lin, 20, said she had voted for President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
“I saw what’s happening in Hong Kong and it’s horrible, I just want to make sure I have the freedom to vote in the future.
“She is the best among all the candidates to protect our democracy,” Lin added.
Both Tsai and main rival Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang, which favours close ties with China, have rejected the “one country, two systems” model, which provides for a high degree of autonomy, much as Beijing uses in Hong Kong.
Tsai, voting in Taipei, spoke briefly to newsmen after casting her ballot, saying she hoped everyone exercised their right to vote and the process would be smooth.
“Only Taiwan’s people have the right to decide its future.
“Taiwan has denounced China for seeking to sway the election with misinformation and gestures such as sailing its newest aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait just before the vote,’’ the president noted.
However, China denied interfering.
The current Mayor of Kaohsiung City Government, Han Kuo-yu said that he would reset ties with China to boost Taiwan’s economy, however would not compromise on defending its democracy.
Han did not speak to newsmen after voting in his city.
The polls closed at 4 p.m. (0800 GMT) and results are expected by evening.
Tsai is due to hold a news conference at 8 p.m. (1200 GMT).
Earlier in the day, people queued in long but orderly lines at many polling stations to cast their votes, with good weather likely to boost turnout.
Sam Chan, 30, who immigrated to Taiwan from Hong Kong in 2014 over fears of China’s growing control of the Asian financial hub, said Tsai was the best to protect Taiwan.
“I immigrated to Taiwan to escape from the Communist Party, so I won’t vote for pro-China political parties.”
A 67-year-old Chu Yu-min said she had voted for the Kuomintang, noting that Taiwan needs good relations with China.
“Taiwan’s economy depends on that. The economy has been bad for the past four years, this needs to change,” Chu added.
The idea of “one country, two systems” never popular in Taiwan, is even less so now, after months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
The protesters have broad sympathy in Taiwan, and both the DPP and Kuomintang have pledged to help protesters in the former British colony who flee to the island.
Taiwan has been a democratic success story since its first direct presidential election in 1996.
It has been the culmination of decades of struggle against authoritarian rule and martial law under the Kuomintang, which ruled China until it was forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949, after losing a civil war with the Communists.
Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
the island has recorded 499 serious flu cases, higher than previous years, about 91 per cent of whom were infected by the A/H1N1 virus.
A total of 26 deaths were caused by the virus in the same period.
Edited by: Halima Sheji/Muhammad Suleiman Tola
Taiwan’s top military official is among eight people killed when a military helicopter made an emergency landing in mountainous terrain, officials say.
General Shen Yi-ming and 12 others were on the Black Hawk helicopter when it was forced to land in poor weather near the capital, Taipei.
Earlier reports said some people had been found alive, with others “trapped under fragments of the helicopter”.
The general was flying to an army base in the north-east of Taiwan.
Several other top military officials were also on the helicopter, reports said.
Taiwan’s air force sent two more Black Hawk helicopters and about 80 soldiers to the scene near Tonghou Creek in Wulai, the official Central News Agency reported.
The helicopter took off from Songshan air base in Taipei at 07:54 local time (23:54 GMT), bound for a military base at Dong’ao in Yilan county for an inspection, Focus Taiwan said.
It made the emergency landing after aviation authorities lost contact with it at 08:22, the defence ministry said.
A search and rescue team tried to get to the scene as quickly as possible but efforts were complicated by the terrain, an official told the BBC.
The US sold 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters in 2010. It was not immediately clear whether the helicopter in Thursday’s incident was one of them.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who hopes to be returned to power in elections on 11 January, cancelled campaigning on Thursday.
Ms Tsai from the Democratic Progressive party is running against Han Kuo-Yu of the Kuomintang party, which wants closer engagement with China.
Taiwan has been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.
But Beijing sees the island as a province to be reunified with China one day – by force if necessary.
Taiwan’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved the long-awaited establishment of a national human rights commission (NHRC).
After 20 years of effort, the enactment of a bill to set up a national human rights institution is comforting, even if the bill is a compromise,” Covenants and Conventions Watch president Huang Lih-song told dpa.
Huang observed that the Control Yuan National Human Rights Commission Organisation Act did not establish the new body as fully independent.
The NHRC will be set up as a 10-member commission as part of the 30-member Control Yuan, the investigative agency which monitors malfeasance in all branches of government.
According to the bill, the new body will be charged with ensuring the promotion and protection of constitutional and human rights in line with international standards.
It will have the authority to investigate and provide remedy for citizen petitions regarding cases of torture or other forms of infringement on human rights.
Its chairperson and vice-chairperson will be nominated by the president require confirmation by majority vote in the Legislative Yuan.
“This set-up is not entirely in accord with the Paris Principles for national human rights commissions, but further legislation will be proposed in the next session of the Legislative Yuan to ensure the independence of the commission,” Control Yuan commissioner Kao Yung-chang said.
Edited by: Emmanuel Yashim