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Morning brief: Wuhan coronavirus update for Feb 5, 2020

Morning brief




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As of 5am, Feb 5, 2020:

WORLD COUNT: There are 23,874 confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the world. A total of 28 countries and territories have been affected so far, with Belgium having reported its first case on Tuesday (Feb 4). Currently, the number of deaths has risen to 492. Hong Kong also reported its first death from the virus. Across the world, a total of 876 previously infected persons have recovered.

CHINA: There are 20,502 confirmed cases of infection in China. The country’s death count now stands at 425 people. China’s coronavirus figures have been jumping by large margins in recent weeks. On January 9, the first coronavirus patient died in China. By January 28, the country’s death toll had topped 100; by January 31 it topped 200; the very next day, February 1, it topped 300; and today, it topped 400. Factors behind the big jumps include possible delays between time of infection and rise of symptoms, or delays in seeking medical attention, being tested and being put under quarantine. Officials in China reported that the current death rate in the country stands at 2.1%, and in Hubei province, which accounts for 97 percent of worldwide deaths, the rate is 3.1%. On Tuesday (Feb 4), Hong Kong reported its first death from the coronavirus virus. The 39-year-old man had gone to Wuhan on January 21 and returned to Hong Kong two days later. The fatality was the 13th confirmed Wuhan virus case in the territory. The country’s total now stands at 17 confirmed cases. Macao confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its total to 10 cases.

SINGAPORE: On Tuesday (Feb 4), Singapore reported an additional six cases of the Wuhan coronavirus. The country’s total is now up to 24 cases. Four of the six cases were confirmed to be cases of local transmission—four women who had not travelled to Wuhan. Two of the cases work in a Chinese health products shop on Cavan Road, one of the cases is the domestic helper of one of the women, and the fourth is a tour guide who had taken groups to the shop. Along with the four women who contracted the coronavirus, another two confirmed cases were announced. The two were part of a group of 92 people flown back to Singapore from Wuhan on a Scoot flight last Thursday (Jan 30). At a press conference on Tuesday (Feb 4), the Ministry of Health (MOH) referred to the new cases as “limited local transmission”, and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that there is still no evidence of “widespread community transmission”.

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ASEAN: Thailand has confirmed an additional six cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, which brings the countrywide total to 25. The Director General for the Disease Control Department Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoen said that four of the new cases are Thai nationals and two are Chinese. Malaysia reported a one new case of the virus, increasing the country’s case total to 10. With Vietnam announcing two more cases of coronavirus infection, the country has a total of 10 cases.


Japan’s Ministry of Health announced three more coronavirus cases on Tuesday (Feb 4), bringing the countrywide total to 23. All three had travelled from Wuhan. Two Japanese airlines—All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines—have announced that they are reducing and suspending  flights to mainland China due to the coronavirus outbreak. All Nippon Airways will suspend flights between Narita and Beijing from February 10 to March 29, and flights from Haneda to Beijing will be cut in half. Flights between Narita and Wuhan will be suspended until March 28. In South Korea, hoarders of surgical masks and hand sanitisers can be sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison or fined up to US$42,000 (S$57,600). The measure, which takes effect on Wednesday (Feb 5) and will be enforced until April, should prevent manufacturers and retailers from profiting massively from the coronavirus outbreak. The government defines hoarding as being in possession of more than 1.5 times the amount of a monthly average sale of two items for more than five days. Taiwan announced a ban on all foreign nationals that have travelled to China in the last 14 days. The new measure will be in effect on Friday (Feb 7).

EUROPE: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is not yet a pandemic, which is defined as the worldwide spread of a new disease, taking into consideration factors such as population immunity and disease severity. The last official pandemic to be reported was the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, which killed hundreds of thousand worldwide. WHO’s Director General has advised countries not to impose travel and trade restrictions over the coronavirus as such actions could increase “fear and stigma” worldwide. Belgium reported its first case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Tuesday (Feb 4). The patient was one of the nine Belgian citizens who had been evacuated out of Wuhan last weekend. England has sequenced the coronavirus genome in order to study it and stop its rapid spread. Scientists at Public Health England have confirmed that the virus has not evolved “to better infect humans” since its genome was first sequenced in China. The United Kingdom’s British Foreign Office has advised British citizens remaining in China to leave amidst the coronavirus outbreak. On Tuesday (Feb 4), Russia announced that citizens evacuated from Wuhan will be quarantined in Siberia, in the region of Tyumen.

AMERICA: A Canadian citizen was denied entry at the northern border of the United States as a part of President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on people with recent travel history to China before their arrival in the US. Two additional flights to evacuate American citizens from Wuhan to military bases in California was scheduled to leave on Tuesday (Feb 4) with 550 passengers on board. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that “life-saving personal protection equipment and medical and humanitarian relief supplies” have been sent to China from the US. The US has 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.  Canada reported one new case of the virus; the country’s total is now at five cases.

AUSTRALIA: Australia announced one new confirmed case of the coronavirus on Tuesday (Feb 4). Australia’s total case count has increased to 13, while New Zealand has not reported any cases of the coronavirus in the country.

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


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