The novel coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, in December, has now infected more than 67,000 people and killed over 1,500, the vast majority in mainland China. Beijing quarantine: Beijing has ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers returning to the city, with novel coronavirus cases continuing to rise in China and international experts warning there’s no immediate end in sight.
Global spread: The coronavirus has now spread to 28 countries — with Japan reporting the highest number of cases outside China.
There has been one death and 258 confirmed cases in Japan, 219 of which are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that is currently docked in Yokohama Bay under quarantine.
First case in Africa: Friday marked the first confirmed coronavirus case in Africa, with a single patient in Egypt.
Impacts felt by the global economy: The coronavirus has also sent reverberations through the global economy. China is struggling to return to work after businesses were shut and schools suspended for weeks. Millions are now working from home, with Chinese President Xi Jinping warning on Monday that the country needed to stabilize its economy and avoid mass layoffs.
But it’s not just China affected — the closing of Chinese plants has disrupted supply chains globally, threatening to cause a recession in Germany and smartphone shortages worldwide.
Malaysia has confirmed two new novel coronavirus cases, raising the total confirmed cases in the country to 21, according to a report from state media Bernama on Saturday. The two cases are both Chinese nationals. A 27-year-old businessman from Guangzhou showed symptoms during a screening on Friday at the Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs in Kedah, near the country’s border with Thailand. He was then taken to an isolation ward and tested positive for Covid-19. The other case is a 32-year-old female resident in Malaysia, who was reported to have visited China from Jan 22 to 30.
Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked in quarantine in Japan since February 4, will be disembarked over several days beginning February 21, said the president fo the cruise operator. Crew on board will likely begin their own quarantine once all passengers have left the ship, said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz in a letter read to passengers by the ship’s captain. This does not apply to the Americans taking the US Government evacuation charter flight on Sunday. Delay on testing: According to Swartz, the Japanese government said they may start a new testing process starting February 18 — which may push back the disembarkment. The quarantine originally was set to lift on February 19. “We understand there is a limit to the number of tests the Japanese government can complete each day, so testing all of our remaining guests could take a few days to complete,” Swartz said. Because each test takes several days to process results, the first guests would not disembark until February 21. Extra quarantine for crew: Crew members were not quarantined from the start because “the Japanese government view the guests as more susceptible to the virus due to age, health profiles, among other factors. Therefore, guests were potentially at higher risk, for this reason a different quarantine protocol was implemented.” “Once the final guest leaves the ship, we believe that most if not all members of our team onboard may be required to begin a formal quarantine,” he said. “Of course, all teammates will continue to be compensated throughout the entire period, and two months of paid time off they receive will begin after they are released from quarantine.” “It is disappointing for all of us,” Swartz said.
A Thai medical worker was confirmed with the novel coronavirus today, bringing the national total to 34 cases, according to health officials. The new confirmed case is a 35-year-old woman, said Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, Director General to Disease Control Departments. She is a medical staff, and she has a record of having close contact with another confirmed patient who is receiving treatment at Bamrasnaraduna Infectious Disease Institute,” he said. No further information was released about the medical worker to avoid any stigma on the profession, he added. Of Thailand’s 34 confirmed cases, 20 patients are still hospitalized. 14 patients have recovered and been discharged.
A World Health Organization-led joint mission to China is expected to touch down this weekend, with about a dozen international and WHO experts meeting a similar number of Chinese expert counterparts. The experts will be reviewing data and making field visits to several Chinese provinces, to determine next steps for both China and the world in terms of response and containment. The experts will stay as long as they are needed, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ✔ @DrTedros We convened experts & R&D funders at @WHO to set priorities for stopping the #COVID19 outbreak, incl: -how to apply diagnostics -the best approaches for infection prevention -potential therapies that could be used now -existing vaccine candidates -how to address the infodemic 222 8:35 AM – Feb 13, 2020 Twitter Ads info and privacy 154 people are talking about this US offers expert help: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered to send experts to China, but the offer has not yet been accepted. “It’s dependent on the Chinese to make their decisions and facilitate that,” Azar said. “The World Health Organization, we believe, has secured agreement to deploy a WHO team with our US public health experts as part of that team. We are ready to go and we are waiting for final clearance from the Chinese government to make that happen.”
Recession fears are stalking Europe again after Germany’s economy flatlined at the end of 2019 — and now, the coronavirus outbreak could slam exports to China. The German economy did not grow in the final three months of last year, setting up the country for a difficult 2020 just when it was meant to begin experiencing a revival. Across the eurozone, growth slumped to a seven-year low of 0.1% in final quarter of last year — making Europe especially vulnerable to the looming hit from the coronavirus outbreak. “The (eurozone) economy should be about to turn a corner, but the coronavirus now means that (the first quarter) could well be a write-off,” Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a research note. Recession looms: Germany was already in a feeble condition, logging growth of just 0.6% for the whole of 2019 amid weak global auto sales, the US-China trade war and uncertainty over Brexit. Now economists are once again talking about the prospect of a recession, or two consecutive quarters of negative growth — Germany relies heavily on exports to China, whose economy has been paralyzed by the outbreak. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of Europe. Should the situation continue to deteriorate, the European Central Bank may need to step in, pushing interest rates further into negative territory or increasing monthly bond purchases.
All asymptomatic residents of a Hong Kong public housing building can return home on Sunday after their quarantine ends, the government said today. The building was partially evacuated this week after four residents on different floors tested positive for the virus. About 100 residents then tested negative for the virus, and were transferred to quarantine centers. The four patients: A 62-year-old female resident was confirmed with the virus about a week and a half after a 75-year-old man in the same building became infected. The woman’s son and daughter-in-law, who live with her, were confirmed with the virus soon after. Transmission through pipes: The cases set off alarm bells among health officials that the virus could have been transmitted through pipes in the building. In densely populated Hong Kong this could lead to hundreds of people becoming infected in the supposed safety of their own homes. The authorities said today they have finished cleaning and disinfecting the building, including the apartments of the confirmed cases. They have also adjusted a vent pipe in the female patient’s apartment after it was found to have been altered without authorization.