Featured News Morning brief: Wuhan coronavirus updates for Feb 4, 2020

Morning brief: Wuhan coronavirus updates for Feb 4, 2020

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As of 5am, Feb 4, 2020:

CHINA: There are 17,315 confirmed cases of infection in China, 2,818 more than this time yesterday. The death count of the virus remained at 362 people, 361 from China and one from the Philippines. In a time period of weeks, the Wuhan coronavirus has surpassed the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China. More than 360 people in the country have died from the coronavirus, as compared to the 349 that died from SARS (over a period of nine months), which infected 5,327 people in mainland China. Because of the outbreak, the country’s economy has suffered harsh blows, with the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets—which have been closed since Jan 24—falling by  around 10% on Monday (Feb 3). Hong Kong, which has 15 confirmed cases, is closing more borders with China. Leader Carrie Lam announced that measures were being taken to “reduce people movement across the border”. Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority urged medical workers to stop their strike, “to avoid further affecting public hospital services and patient treatment”.

SINGAPORE: For the second day in a row, there were no new cases of the coronavirus in Singapore declared on Monday (Feb 3); the total number of confirmed cases remains at 18.  According to the Ministry of Health, 262 suspect cases were tested and cleared of the virus, leaving 32 cases pending results. Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong released an official statement saying that all of the 18 confirmed cases are being treated in isolation rooms, and that their conditions are improving on the whole. There is currently no evidence of local community transmission in Singapore.

ASEAN: Vietnam was the only country in the region that reported a new confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Monday (Feb 3), bringing the country’s total number of infected cases to eight. The country has also suspended all flights to mainland China and placed a ban on all foreign visitors who have travelled in China within the past 14 days.

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ASIA: Japan announced that it will deny entry to all foreign nationals who have gone to the Hubei province into the country within the last 14 days. So far, five people have been barred entry to the country under the new measure. The Japanese authorities are screening a total of 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew members on a Princess Cruise ship for any cases of infection, after a former passenger of the Diamond Princess ship tested positive for the virus. The ship has been delayed for more than 24 hours. Over the weekend, two special Air India aircrafts evacuated more than 650 Indian citizens from Wuhan. The passengers are currently under quarantine in two camps in New Delhi, which Indian returnees are describing as cramped and “scary”, in terms of sharing such close quarters with many others in isolation. Pakistan, which had previously suspended all flights with China, has resumed all direct for Chinese and Pakistani airlines. The country’s health ministry reported that it is ready to deal with the virus. Pakistan currently has no confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The United Arab Emirates suspended most flights to and from China beginning Wednesday (Feb 5), and all passengers arriving from Beijing will be put through a “six-to-eight hour” medical screening at the airport. On Monday (Feb 3), the Maldives has announced new precautionary measures against the Wuhan coronavirus, one of which is denying entry to passengers from mainland China.

EUROPE: The United Kingdom has pledged £20 million (S$35.6 million) to fund the development of new vaccines for the coronavirus and for other infections. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will be spearheading three new programs to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus. Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI said that an “investigational vaccine” could possibly be at the clinical testing stage in four months. A total of 56 Italian nationals were evacuated from Wuhan, China and returned to Italy on Monday morning (Feb 3). The passengers will remain in isolation for 14 days. The Vatican has given hundreds of thousands of face masks to the Chinese provinces of Hubei, Zhejiang and Fujian in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Russia, which has two confirmed cases of the virus, announced that foreign nationals may be deported from the country if they are infected with the coronavirus.

AMERICA: The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday (Feb 3) that it is ready to help China contain the coronavirus outbreak, but is still waiting on an official invitation. The centre is working to provide diagnostic testing for the virus to different health departments across the country. The US urged American nationals who are still in China to stock up on food and supplies and take precautionary measures to avoid risk of infection. Canada is also waiting on China, but this time for permission and approval from the Chinese government to evacuate hundreds of its citizens in Wuhan. The city’s air space is currently on lockdown, which is why special permission is needed for a plane to be able to land. Two groups of Mexican students, 29 in total, in China have returned home without symptoms of the Wuhan coronavirus and will be placed in isolation for 14 days. More students are expected to land in Mexico on Wednesday (Feb 5).

AUSTRALIA: Neither Australia or New Zealand have announced new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Australia’s total case count remains at 12, while New Zealand has not reported any case in the country.

AFRICA: As of yet, no confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have been reported in the region.

/TISG
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