International Asia Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 20, 2020

Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 20, 2020




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As of 8am, Feb 18, 2020:

WORLD COUNT: There are 75,676 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 2,123. Across the world, a total of 12,064 are in critical condition, while 16,342 previously infected persons have recovered.

CHINA: There are 74,552 confirmed cases of infection in China. The country’s death count now stands at 2,115 people. Researchers in China published a letter in The New England Journal of Medicine, noting that those infected with COVID-19 may have the same viral load, or amount of virus in the body, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms. The researchers monitored viral loads in samples from 18 patients in China’s Guangdong province. The largest and most comprehensive study done so far on the coronavirus has found it to be highly contagious but not as fatal as compared to similar diseases in the past, specifically severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated a case fatality rate of 2.3 per cent for COVID-19. International experts warn that it is still too early to make decisive proclamations about the virus. The Chinese government announced it is revoking the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters and expelling them over an opinion piece entitled “China is the real sick man of Asia”, which criticised China’s initial response to the coronavirus outbreak and went on to assess what effect the epidemic might have on the economy and government.

Hong Kong confirmed three more cases of the virus, and one new fatality. This brings the total case count to 65 and the death count to two. The person who died was a 70-year-old male who suffered from chronic diseases prior to catching the virus.

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Macao’s case count stands at 10 cases.

SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (Feb 19), the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed three additional cases of COVID-19 in the country. Singapore’s total number of confirmed cases has reached 84. The first case is a 57-year-old Singaporean woman with no recent travel history to China. The second case is a 54-year-old Singaporean man with no recent travel history to China, but who travels frequently to Malaysia on business. The third case is a 35-year-old Singaporean woman, also with no recent travel history to China but with links to a previously confirmed case (who, in turn, is linked to the cluster at Grace Assembly of God).

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

ASIA: Taiwan reported another coronavirus case, raising the total number of infected persons to 23. The Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is docked Yokohama, confirmed 79 new cases of the virus, with 68 who were asymptomatic. The total number of infected persons from the ship is 621. Passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 began disembarking on Wednesday (Feb 19), despite “mounting evidence from infectious disease experts” that they could unknowingly be carrying the virus back into society. Iran confirmed its first two cases of the virus—they are also the country’s first two deaths. Two elderly people have died after testing positive. The deaths were the epidemic’s first fatalities in the Middle East. South Korea reported a spike in cases, with 27 new cases confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 51. The South Korean government announced on Tuesday (Feb 18) that it would send its presidential aircraft to evacuate citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Mongolia, which has not reported any cases of COVID-19, has announced that it is keeping all schools and all levels closed until the end of March, in response to the outbreak. Thirty-two Mongolians were repatriated from Wuhan, China, in early February.

EUROPE: According to an excerpt from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) situation report for Feb 19 noted that “WHO is working with an international network of statisticians and mathematical modelers to estimate key epidemiologic parameters of COVID- 19, such as the incubation period (the time between infection and symptom onset), case fatality ratio (CFR, the proportion of cases that die), and the serial interval (the time between symptom onset of a primary and secondary case).”  No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AMERICA: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new travel advisory for Hong Kong, the only coronavirus-related travel advisory outside of mainland China.  International trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which is based in Washington, D.C., said that the cruise industry is now “focused on protecting the health and safety of passengers and crew” amid the coronavirus outbreak and implementing enhanced screening measures for COVID-19. The United States currently has 15 cases of the virus.  No countries in the region reported new cases of COVID-19.

AUSTRALIA: Australia’s case count is at 15 cases, and New Zealand has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in the country.

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

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