Asia Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 17, 2020

Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 17, 2020

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As of 7am, Feb 16, 2020:

WORLD COUNT: There are 69,290 confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the world. A total of 29 countries and territories have been affected so far. The number of deaths has risen to 1,671. Across the world, a total of 11,298 are in critical condition, while 9,883 previously infected persons have recovered.

CHINA: There are 68,509 confirmed cases of infection in China. The country’s death count now stands at 1,666 people. In a speech this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping said knew about the coronavirus outbreak in early January, when he “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus” on January 7. The transcript of his speech was published in the Communist Party journal Qiushi on Saturday (Feb 15). Prior this, Xi allegedly only learned about the gravity of the outbreak in late January, when he publicly announced that country would make “all out efforts” to fight the virus. Hong Kong confirmed a new case of COVID-19, bringing the country tally up to 57 cases and one fatality. A 54-year-old man tested positive after not initially displaying any symptoms. The Hong Kong government is arranging a chartered flight to bring its citizens back from quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked off the coast of Yokohama, Japan.  A two-week quarantine on board the cruise liner is due to end on February 19. However, Japanese officials have said it could take days to complete the disembarkation.

“Once the Japanese authorities have confirmed the detailed arrangements, the government will inform the affected Hong Kong residents details of the return date and related arrangements as soon as possible,” the city’s security bureau said.

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“Taking into consideration the potential risk on public health, the persons concerned will be arranged to stay at quarantine centre for 14 days upon their arrival in Hong Kong.”

There are around 330 Hong Kong residents on board, including 260 holding a HKSAR passport and around 70 holding a foreign passport.

Macao, which has a total of 10 cases, has not reported any new cases of the virus.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed eight additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the countrywide total to 75. MOH said that all of the new cases had no recent travel history to China but are linked to previously confirmed cases in the city. Five of the new cases are connected to the Grace Assembly of God church cluster, one case is linked to the cluster at the Seletar Aerospace Heights construction site, one case had contact with the 59th confirmed case, and the last one is related to a separate case.

ASEAN: Health authorities in Cambodia have asked Malaysia to re-examine the positive coronavirus test results of the American traveller who was on board the Westerdam cruise ship, which docked in Cambodia after it was turned away from several other ports in Asia due to fears of COVID-19. Cambodia has one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, and Malaysia has 22. No other country in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

ASIA: Taiwan confirmed its first death from the COVID-19 virus on Sunday (Feb 16). The deceased is a Taiwanese man in his mid-60s who had a history of hepatitis B and diabetes and no history of travelling abroad. The country also confirmed two additional cases of the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases on the island to 20. Japan reported 76 new cases of the virus, hiking up the countrywide total to 414 cases. South Korea confirmed one new case of COVID-19, an 82-year-old South Korean man, bringing the total number of infections there to 29. The United Arab Emirates announced an additional case of the coronavirus, bringing the country total to nine cases. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

EUROPE: Italy announced that the government is planning to evacuate 35 Italian citizens who are aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. A flight will be departing soon to bring the Italians back, but no further details were released. The country currently has three confirmed cases of COVID-19. Meanwhile, British passengers on the Diamond Princess feel “forgotten” as other countries plan evacuations for their citizens. The United Kingdom, which currently has nine confirmed cases of the virus, has not said whether they would be bringing their citizens back from the cruise ship. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AMERICA: A large group of Americans who were onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have boarded a chartered flight at the Haneda Airport in Tokyo, bound for the United States. The Defense Department confirmed on Sunday (Feb 16) that two charter planes with around 400 Americans from the cruise ship will be arriving at two military bases: Travis Air Force Base, California and Kelly Field/Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. They will be tested and placed under a 14-day quarantine. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Senegal that “we all need to be mindful of the serious nature of the threat that is posed” by the spread of the coronavirus, adding that he was especially worried about countries “where there is not significant capable healthcare infrastructure”. The US has 15 confirmed cases of the virus. Canada has also announced that it is evacuating its citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. The plane will bring citizens to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, and then to NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ontario where they will have to undergo another 14-day quarantine. No timeline for the evacuation has yet been given. The country has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AUSTRALIA: The Australian government has contacted its citizens who are on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and is making plans to remove them and bring them back into the country. Australia’s confirmed cases are at 15 in total, and New Zealand still has no cases of the virus in the country.
AFRICA: No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.
/TISG
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