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

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

Morning brief




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As of 8am, Feb 19, 2020:

WORLD COUNT: There are 75,144 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 2,008. Across the world, a total of 12,057 are in critical condition, while 14,442 previously infected persons have recovered.

CHINA: There are 72,440 confirmed cases of infection in China. The country’s death count now stands at 1,870 people. China has implemented the strictest measures in four Hubei cities: 1) Wuhan, Huanggang, Shiyan and Xiaogan have sealed off all residential communities, 2) non-essential vehicles are banned from local roads and 3) neighborhood and community committees give residents daily rations and necessities as they are not allowed to leave their houses. The Chinese government announced that all doctors, nurses and medical staff who lost their lives in the fight against the coronavirus will be designated as “martyrs“—notable deaths include Li Wenliang, the whistleblower doctor, and Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan. China will monitor and screen all persons who purchased fever and cough medicine in Hubei province, and health workers will collect the information of customers who bought the medication from January 20.

Hong Kong reported two additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the country total to 62. Macao, which has a total of 10 cases, has not reported any new cases of the virus.

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SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed four additional cases of the virus, bringing the countrywide total to 81. The four new cases are a 57 year-old woman with no recent travel to China and links to the Grace Assembly of God cluster, a 35-year-old Malaysian woman with no recent travel to China and is related to a previous case, a 38 year-old woman with no recent travel to China, and a 50 year-old man with no recent travel to China and links to the Grace Assembly of God cluster. Five more COVID-19 patients were discharged from the hospital, bringing Singapore’s total of discharged patients to 29 people. Singapore Airlines announced the temporary suspension of flights to destinations such as Tokyo, Seoul, New York, London, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Seattle, Paris, and flights across Australia and Southeast Asia.

ASEAN: The Philippines announced on Tuesday (Feb 18) that citizens who are employed abroad will be exempt from the travel ban put in place by the government, which previously disallowed them from travelling back to Hong Kong and Macao. The country currently has a total of three confirmed cases and one fatality. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

ASIA: Chef José Andrés’ and his nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen, is in Japan to provide hot food to those still on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. He and his team have provided meals to millions going through natural disasters. Japan announced eight new cases of the virus, raising the countrywide tally to 74. Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama will begin disembarking on Wednesday (Feb 19). Japanese economists estimate that the COVID-9 outbreak will have an impact on Japan’s struggling economy. South Korea reported one new case of the virus, bringing the country’s tally to 31 cases. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.


World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to develop.  Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of WHO’s Infectious Hazards Management Department, said there could be a candidate for the COVID-19 vaccine in about 16 weeks, but it would need to be tested first. Ghebreyesus also announced that by the end of this week, 40 countries in Africa and 29 in the Americas should have the ability to test for and detect the virus without having to send samples abroad for testing. WHO has also sent personal protective equipment to 21 countries and will send to 106 more countries soon. Researchers in Germany, which has 16 cases of the virus, called symptom-based testing “ineffective” at identifying the coronavirus. They studied the screening process for 126 people who were repatriated from Wuha, China. Russia, which has two confirmed cases of the virus, will temporarily bar all Chinese citizens from entering their country, whether for work, private reasons, and tourist and educational reasons. The ban takes effect Thursday (Feb 20). The United Kingdom’s prime minister Boris Johnson and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak. President Xi thanked the UK for its support—donations of medical equipment. The UK currently has nine cases of the virus. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AMERICA: The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is criticizing the quarantine efforts put in place on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. There are still more than 100 US citizens on the ship or in Japan hospitals. The US currently has 15 cases of the virus. Canada, which has eight cases, has chartered a plane to evacuate Canadian citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. No other countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AUSTRALIA: Australia, which did not report any new cases of the virus, has a countrywide total of 15 confirmed cases. New Zealand still has not confirmed any cases of the infection in the country.

AFRICA: No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

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