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Could the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Be a Victim of COVID-19?

In a promotional video featuring Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, as well as fans of different nationalities, the organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games revealed on Feb. 17 the event’s official motto: United by Emotion.

Yet if there’s one emotion linking the world today, it might be fear. The COVID-19 outbreak shows little sign of weakening. As of Feb. 19, the disease has infected more than 75,000, killed 2,014 and prompted over 50 countries and territories to close their borders to arrivals from China. The “devil” virus, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has called it, has already surpassed the combined death toll of SARS and MERS and lies on the cusp of becoming a pandemic that spreads around the globe. The next few weeks will determine whether containment efforts can prevent COVID-19 becoming the “black swan event” that Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang has warned may derail the global economy.

The economic repercussions already look severe. According to analysis by research firm Capital Economics, COVID-19 will cost the world economy over $280 billion in the first quarter of this year, meaning that global GDP will not grow from one quarter to the next for the first time since 2009. China’s growth is expected to slow to 4.5% over the same period. Some 5 million companies have Chinese suppliers, according to data company Dun & Bradstreet, and all are under threat from slashed manufacturing capacity.

Korean automaker Hyundai has shut its huge factory in Ulsan due to a shortage of parts. Apple has told investors it will fail to meet quarterly revenue targets and warned of global “iPhone supply shortages” from the shutting of Chinese factories. The slowdown may also undermine U.S. plans to massively boost exports of agricultural goods, energy and services to China, hampering any potential recovery in farming communities and the Rust Belt.

Travel in and around the region has ebbed significantly. Some 21 airlines have cancelled all flights to mainland China. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has cut 40% of network capacity and asked 27,000 employees to take unpaid leave to help it stay afloat. Events from the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens to K-Pop concerts have been cancelled or postponed.

Now, speculation is mounting about one of the year’s biggest events due to take place directly in the orbit of the outbreak—the 2020 Olympic Games, which are to be held in Tokyo beginning July 24. Japan has the second highest rate of COVID-19 infections after China, with 695 people testing positive for the virus, most of them on a cruise ship docked at the city of Yokohama. Yet the Olympics torch relay is due to begin next month and traverse to all of Japan’s 47 prefectures over 121 days, coinciding with its popular cherry blossom bloom.

The chill on visitor numbers across Asia already risk making the Games a subdued affair. Japan received 9.6 million visitors from China in 2019, accounting for a third of foreign tourist expenditure, but Chinese arrivals have virtually ceased since the outbreak. According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Tokyo 2020 organizing committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said on Feb.5 he was “extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games.”

Officials have since closed ranks as speculation about the Games has increased. Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori insisted Feb. 13, “we are not considering a cancelation or postponement of the Games—let me make that clear.” As he spoke, some 3,700 people remained quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner, anchored less than two miles from Yokohama Baseball stadium, a key Tokyo 2020 venue. (Those uninfected were scheduled for release beginning Feb. 19.)

Four days later, the city canceled the Tokyo Marathon due to take place on March 1 for all except elite runners. Dick Pound, a former Olympian swimmer and member of the International Olympic Committee, told TIME the organisation was monitoring the situation closely but said no one was talking about relocation or cancelation with five months still to go. “If there’s a legitimate pandemic that is potentially a lot more lethal than normal illnesses of flu, that’s when you need to start thinking about it. But not at this stage.”

Mori’s confidence is in line with projections that COVID-19 will fade during warmer and more humid summer months, as SARS did in 2003. But it’s still not clear why SARS declined as temperatures rose. Some coronavirus strains—like MERS—thrive in the heat, says Prof. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. The theory of COVID-19’s summer regress is simply “based on wishful thinking,” he says. “There is no data to support it.”

It’s hard to overstate the economic impact on Japan were the Olympics forced to be canceled or relocated. The investment surrounding the event is staggering; the Games are set to cost $25 billion, according to latest predictions, nearly four times the original estimate. According to hospitality research firm CBRE Hotels, 80,000 hotel rooms were forecast to open across Japan’s nine major cities between 2019 and 2021. Tokyo’s Okura hotel reopened in September after a $1 billion renovation. In May, national carrier Japan Airlines is due to launch a low cost subsidiary, Zipair Tokyo, at a cost of around $200 million, to meet increased demand surrounding the Olympics. It will be based at Tokyo Narita International Airport, which is currently undergoing an expansion to nearly double capacity. (Tokyo’s other main airport, Haneda, is also due to boost capacity by 70%.)

The coronavirus is already keeping international visitors away beyond China. Capital Economics research suggests tourism arrivals in Japan will fall by 40% this quarter due to COVID-19, knocking off 0.4 percentage points from growth. The U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization forecasts that Japan could lose $1.29 billion in tourism revenue over the same period. Koichiro Takahara, CEO of Tokyo-based ride-sharing app nearMe, says he fears the Olympics could get cancelled if the outbreak worsens. That, he says, “would have a big impact on my business, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

It would also impose a political cost on Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Already, his insistence during the bidding process that radiation from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown would be tackled has been called out after Greenpeace found radiation hotspots in December near where the Olympic torch relay will pass. Similar assurances that COVID-19 will not disrupt the Games will be treated with skepticism, says Jules Boykoff, a politics professor at Pacific University, Oregon who studies the Olympics and played soccer for Team USA. “For many, when they hear Abe and other officials saying that COVID-19 will not affect the Olympics, they hear the unmistakable ring of previous empty promises.”

But it’s unclear what a Plan B might look like. Simon Chadwick, professor of the Eurasian Sport Industry at France’s Emlyon business School, suggests a networked event held across different countries is a more likely alternative. (The 2020 UEFA European Soccer Championships and 2022 Commonwealth Games are slated for such a format.) Yet there will be considerable resistance from sponsors and broadcasters who have already ploughed vast resources into securing rights deals and promotional activities. NBC alone spent $1.4 billion on broadcasting rights for Tokyo 2020. In this regard, both host and business interests will be furiously resisting any deviation. “The Japanese government is surely lobbying the IOC hard as it seeks to protect its multitude of investments,” says Chadwick.

That might explain an apparent unwillingness to address the uncertainty. Asked what contingency plans were in place for moving or postponing the Games, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government told TIME, “We cannot provide a definitive answer to a hypothetical situation.” Yet as the virus spreads its tendrils further into the Asia region, the risks are only becoming more tangible.

By Charlie Campbell February 20, 2020

Source: Could the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Be a Victim of COVID-19?

코로나19 확산 일로…도쿄 올림픽도 불안감 증폭 With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics just five months away from kicking off in the Japanese capital,… the COVID-19 outbreak is raising concerns about whether the world’s biggest and most-celebrated sporting event might have to be called off. Lee Seung-jae reports. The Tokyo Marathon scheduled for March 1st will be held on a much smaller scale than originally planned this year in the light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Roughly 38-thousand amateur runners will not be allowed to participate,… instead it’ll be limited to only 200 elite runners and wheelchair participants. However, the bigger concern is the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games that’s scheduled to start on July 24th. As the COVID-19 outbreak is not yet under control,… there are concerns over whether the event could even take place. The WHO says it hasn’t made a decision on the matter. “We have not offered advice to the IOC for the Olympics one way or the other, and neither would we. It is not the role of WHO to call off or not call off any event. It is the role of WHO to offer technical advice, to support a considered a multi-layered risk assessment around an event, to offer advice on risk reduction and risk mitigation measures, to offer advice on risk response measures and it is the decision of hosting countries and the organizing agencies to make that decision.” According to the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee chairman,… the committee isn’t even considering cancelling or delaying the event,… and will press on with the Olympics regardless. Citing a Japanese virologist,… the New York Post reported on Wednesday,… that if the Olympics were to happen tomorrow,… they would have to be cancelled. The Tokyo organizing committee and the IOC have reiterated that they’re going to continue following the advice of the WHO. It raises the possibility that, if the outbreak spreads further,… the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could be postponed or completely called off. Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News. #COVID19 #coronavirus #Olympics Arirang News Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangtvnews

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No Customers, Closed Stores: Chinese Entrepreneurs Brace For The Worst Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Zhou Yuxiang was not in the mood for festivities during China’s Lunar New Year holiday this year. The 30-year-old CEO of Shanghai-based software startup Black Lake Technologies had to figure out how to manage his company amid the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak. Working from home to comply with local quarantine rules has lowered productivity, while expenses remained high as he still needs to pay rent even when no one is using the office.

What’s more, Zhou says, clients are slower to take on new contracts as factories remain shut and production is delayed, hurting his otherwise fast growth.

“This epidemic caused production suspension for a considerable number of factory clients,” he says, who counts 300 factory owners as customers of his cloud-based management software. “Unpredictability on when factories could resume production has increased uncertainty for our first quarter growth.”

As the deadly virus, temporarily called 2019-nCoV, shows no sign of slowing, China’s vast business scene is taking a hit. While some companies, including Zhou’s, hope to recoup any losses before the year’s end, others are suffering a much more devastating blow.

This is because the epidemic’s economic damage is far and wide. It is believed to be more contagious than the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, causing the Chinese government to impose nationwide mall closures, movie cancellations and factory shutdowns to prevent the disease’s further spread. As manufacturing and business activities cease, first quarter GDP growth will plummet to 3.8%—which equals to $62 billion in lost growth—and drag full-year GDP growth below 6% to 5.4%, according to UBS economist Wang Tao.

Sectors that are hardest hit include catering, entertainment, hospitality, retail and transportation. These businesses tend to have heavy inventory or a lot of expenses, but they can’t generate any meaningful revenue when people stay indoors.

Jia Guolong, founder of popular restaurant chain Xi Bei, told local media this week that his company only had enough cash for the next three months. He still needs to pay rent and salary to more than 20,000 employees, even when his restaurants are largely empty. To preserve cash, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific has asked its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave, warning that the condition is as grave as the 2009 global financial crisis. And fast-food operator Yum China is expecting negative impact on 2020 full-year sales and profit, after temporarily shutting down 30% of its stores in China.

While these larger businesses may eventually have the resources to weather through, smaller startups could experience a life-and-death moment. Zhang Yi, founder of Guangzhou-based consultancy iiMedia Research, says he won’t be surprised if a wave of bankruptcies occur. And Wang Ran, founder of Beijing-based investment firm CEC Capital, urged startups to do whatever they can to survive.

“Downsize if you need to, relocate if you need to and lay off people if you need to,” Wang wrote in a recent blog post. “Only those who lived through this can see spring, and have a future.”

Beijing has put out rescue measures. The country’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, announced on February 2 that it would pump $174 billion worth of liquidity into the markets to help cushion the impact. Local governments have called for rent deductions and more flexible salary arrangements, with the Shanghai municipal government promising tax and insurance refunds to employers who don’t engage in layoffs.

But analysts say business survival may ultimately depend on whether the virus can be contained. Since originating in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, it has spread across the country, infecting more than 28,000 people and killing over 500. There are now coronavirus cases around the world, including Japan, Thailand, Germany, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency and dozens of nations, including Italy, Singapore and the U.S., have placed travel restrictions from China.

“The longer this drags on, the bigger the damage,” iiMedia Research’s Zhang says. “If it lasts for another month, then it would be unbearable for any business.”

Startups are doing what they can to minimize damage. Black Lake’s Zhou is offering discounted services, especially to clients who are based in the most affected areas. Zhou Wenyu (not related to Zhou Yuxiang), founder of Shaoxing-based software startup Youshupai, is slowing down marketing activities and transferring its first quarter sales goal to the second quarter. And Joanne Tang, founder of travel and marketing agency Infinite Luxury, says she is diversifying to other Asian markets while reminding overseas-based clients not to reduce efforts in China.

“For sure, we are in a challenging time,” Tang says. “We have to monitor how it goes, but we won’t be standing still and just wait until this is over.”

I am a Beijing-based writer covering China’s technology sector. I contribute to Forbes, and previously I freelanced for SCMP and Nikkei. Prior to Beijing, I spent six months as an intern at TIME magazine’s Hong Kong office. I am a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Email: ywywyuewang@gmail.com Twitter: @yueyueyuewang

Source: No Customers, Closed Stores: Chinese Entrepreneurs Brace For The Worst Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports on how the coronavirus outbreak is expected to take a serious toll on China’s economy. Expect supply disruptions as China takes measures to contain an ongoing coronavirus outbreak, says REYL Singapore’s Daryl Liew. “The sharp action taken by the Chinese government to basically delay workers going back to work is definitely going to cause some supply disruptions,” Liew, who is chief investment officer at REYL Singapore, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Thursday. With the virus infecting at least 7,700 and killing 170 in China, authorities have taken measures to curb the disease’s spread. At least three provinces have declared that businesses, other than some essential industries, are barred from resuming work before Feb. 10. In Hubei province, where the majority of cases have been found, resumption of local business has been delayed till at least Feb. 14. A “big question mark” remains over how long the disruptions could last, Liew said, as it depends on whether the situation can be contained. That comes as manufacturing numbers were showing “some normalization,” he added. “It’s a bit of a lagging indicator but the December ISM numbers have all been broadly positive, especially for Asian economies … which suggest essentially that global trade is normalizing. It’s not bouncing back significantly but it is rebounding,” Liew said, adding that that has translated to better manufacturing numbers. “The current virus … and the extended shutdown in China will definitely put a crimp to that,” Liew said. Potential impact on US businesses The outbreak has sent tremors across markets in Asia and beyond in recent days, as investor concerns about the potential economic impact grow. “We’re concerned that there could start to be … some overall impact on the Chinese economy which could lend itself, from a sentiment perspective, to greater concerns … for the global economy,” Shannon Saccocia, chief investment officer at Boston Private, told CNBC on Thursday. That could spillover into the performance of U.S. businesses at a time when the “strain of lower production” is being felt stateside, Saccocia said. “If we start to see that upended by the fact that factories aren’t opening and … we’re not able to get the components that we need from the Chinese economy, you know, that could … certainly slow any sort of manufacturing reacceleration that we were hoping for in the first two quarters of 2020,” she said. The Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, is the epicenter of the outbreak, and authorities have placed multiple cities in the province under partial or complete lockdown. Wuhan and the surrounding region of Hefei and Jiangsu are major manufacturing hubs that work with American firms. But they have also been shut down due to the virus outbreak. “As an investor, you need to understand … where the supply chain starts and ends and factor in to your expectations … for those companies,” Saccocia said, though she acknowledged that it’s “a little early” to “paint the picture that half of the year is going to be meaningfully lower from a growth standpoint due to this virus.” For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://www.cnbc.com/pro/?__source=yo… » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic Turn to CNBC TV for the latest stock market news and analysis. From market futures to live price updates CNBC is the leader in business news worldwide. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC #CNBC #CNBC TV

Coronavirus Pushes Airlines To Their Worst Financial Hit In 17 Years

The deadly coronavirus discovered in China has traveled by air to some 25 other countries. It’s no wonder a lot of those countries are restricting flights and handing airlines their worst event-driven financial hit since 2003.

More than 25,000 flights were canceled in the first full week of February, according to data from air travel intelligence firm OAG. Thirty airlines have suspended services to China, reaching a combined 8,000 seats per week, OAG says. The virus, discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has sickened more than 40,000 people and killed over 900 as of February 10.

Airlines will feel a financial pinch that reminds them of the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that started in China in 2003, aviation experts predict. They say today’s suspensions are already as bad as the SARS peak from March through June 2003. They attribute that to the coronavirus’s quick, widely-reported spread and the equally fast moves around the world to ban travel-related activity—a result of everyone learning from the SARS crisis.

“The levels of cancelations that we are seeing are unprecedented and exceed any other pandemic event that we can recall,” says Mayur Patel, head of Asia at OAG. He attributes the pileup of cancelations to “swift action from regulators and airlines.”

The SARS epidemic hollowed out 8% of annual revenue per kilometer for Asia Pacific airlines and cost them $6 billion in revenues due to lost business, Singapore’s Business Times reports. That epidemic hit Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore as well as major mainland Chinese cities.

Losses expected from the coronavirus-linked cancelations are “broadly consistent with the SARS level” when China-headquartered airlines alone slashed at least 50% of flights, says Eric Lin, aviation analyst in Hong Kong with the investment bank UBS. He anticipates industry losses at least in the first quarter this year.

Mainland Chinese airlines have felt most of the impact this year to date, Lin says. Among those are state-owned carriers such as Air China and China Southern Airlines. Privately-owned peers including Hainan Airlines have cut back, too.

Taiwan’s airlines and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific will be especially hit hard because of their dependence on China flights, Lin forecasts. Going farther out, United Airlines and British Airways have both reduced China flights.

A spokesperson for Taiwan-based EVA Airways said Friday the carrier planned to scale back China flights through April and that it was “monitoring the development of coronavirus outbreak and passengers’ travel demand to adjust route network and flight frequency.” Taiwanese peer China Airlines set up a Q&A website for worried passengers on February 4 and said it would refund fares booked directly through the company.

Losses this year could add up further if the virus spreads more outside China, Moody’s Investors Service said in a January 31 research note, though a dip in oil prices might offset that. “Carriers with weaker business models or liquidity profiles are likely to be hit harder and take longer to recover,” Moody’s said in the note.

Airlines will probably cope with losses by cutting costs, including non-paid leave for employees, Lin says. But some diversified routes to avoid depending on China, he adds. On whether or not airfares will rise, “do not expect a lot of bargains,” he says.

Civil aviation will bounce back fast once the virus recedes, if the SARS progression repeats this year, analysts believe. The main airport in Beijing, a SARS outbreak area, reported peak passenger flows a month after SARS passed, while the country’s airlines were selling 90% of their seats, China Daily reported back then.

Lin expects a V-shaped recovery from the coronavirus slump that’s now addling airlines. That’s because passengers who spiked travel during the disease outbreak suddenly jump back into it with extra demand, Lin says.

“Our experience of such events is that air services will return quickly after the virus has been contained and demand will rapidly follow,” Patel says.

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As a news reporter I have covered some of everything since 1988, from my alma mater U.C. Berkeley to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where I followed Communist officials for the Japanese news agency Kyodo. Stationed in Taipei since 2006, I track Taiwanese companies and local economic trends that resonate offshore. At Reuters through 2010, I looked intensely at the island’s awkward relations with China. More recently, I’ve studied high-tech trends in greater China and expanded my overall news coverage to surrounding Asia.

Source: Coronavirus Pushes Airlines To Their Worst Financial Hit In 17 Years

Airlines have begun suspending flights as fears mount over the coronavirus epidemic. Indonesia’s Lion Air is halting all flights to and from China from Feb 1, while Jetstar Asia will suspend flights between Singapore and several cities in China because of a drop in demand. British Airways said it is stopping all direct flights to and from mainland China. Subscribe to our channel here: https://cna.asia/youtubesub Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: https://cna.asia/telegram Follow us: CNA: https://cna.asia CNA Lifestyle: http://www.cnalifestyle.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/channelnewsasia Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/channelnews… Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/channelnewsasia

Why This Week Could Be Pivotal for Understanding the Coronavirus Outbreak

It has been less than two months since authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan announced they were investigating a mysterious pneumonia-like viral infection. In that time, the pathogen—later identified as novel coronavirus 2019-nCov—has spread around China with abandon—from a few dozen suspected cases to more than 20,000 confirmed infections, and causing more than 420 deaths.

But this week could prove crucial for understanding how much farther the outbreak is likely to spread and whether the dramatic efforts of Chinese authorities to contain the coronavirus have been effective.

Officials in China began placing entire cities on lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus on Jan. 23, when outbound trains and flights from Wuhan— the biggest city in Hubei province, population 11 million— were suspended. The next day authorities broadened the lockdown to include 13 cities, and by Jan. 25 the blockade had expanded to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million, creating what is believed to be the largest quarantine in human history.

“This week we should start to see the effects of the containment strategy,” Ben Cowling, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, tells TIME. “This week is a critical week.”

The virus appears to have an average incubation period of about five days, according to a study published by researchers in China on Jan. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study focused on the first 425 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Wuhan, where it is believed to have originated in a seafood market. Cowling says it can take at least another five days for a sick person to be tested and receive confirmation of a coronavirus infection.

“If the number of reported cases begin to slow, this might be an early indication that control measures are working, or are least having an effect on the trajectory of the virus,” Charles Chiu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says.

Chiu adds that if the number cases continue to rise significantly this week, it’s reason for additional concern. “It would suggest that the stringent control measures that have been put into place by China to prevent spread… are not adequate to prevent spread of this virus,” Chiu says.

Researchers caution that there are a lot of details they don’t know for sure that could change this calculus. For instance, it’s still not certain how long the incubation period lasts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Additionally, it’s still not clear whether the virus can be transmitted in the incubation period—while patients are asymptomatic.

Katherine Gibney, an infectious diseases physician at Royal Melbourne Hospital and an epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, tells TIME that if the control measures delay the epidemic from taking off in countries outside of mainland China—so far there are less than 200 confirmed cases elsewhere—it might buy medical experts time to develop a vaccine or antiviral medication.

Some researchers believe that, despite the efforts of Chinese authorities, that the number of infections is likely to rise for several months. Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at the University of Hong Kong said in a Jan. 27 press conference that by his projections, the outbreak might only peak in April or May in major cities in China.

That around 5 million people fled Wuhan before the lockdown went into effect might also have hampered containment efforts. The virus is transmissible enough that the average sick patient, according to the NEJM paper, will infect about two others.

Another factor that could push up infection numbers is the mild symptoms some patients experience. Shira Doron, an infectious disease doctor and epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, says that the first patients diagnosed are often those who are very sick, and it might be possible that in the coming weeks it will become apparent that the number of people with mild illness, or even asymptomatic infection, is much larger than currently recorded. Doron says that the death rate reported early in an outbreak often “grossly overestimates the true fatality rate.”

Infections shot up from 639 cases in mainland China on Jan. 23, when officials started putting control measures in place, to around 9,700 cases a week later on Jan. 30. As of Tuesday, the number of cases on the mainland stands at around 20,500. In mainland China, the number of both infections and deaths from the virus has already surpassed that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 348 people on the mainland and infected more than 5,000 during an outbreak in 2002 and 2003.

The first cases outside of mainland China were confirmed in Thailand and Japan on Jan. 13 and 16. Cases in South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. were confirmed on Jan. 21, and there are now more than 194 cases in over 23 countries.

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As of Tuesday, 425 people have died in mainland China. There has also been one death in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

As infection counts have grown in China, other countries have imposed their own strict measures to curb the advance of the virus—most of them targeting travelers from the world’s most populous nation. Italy and Israel have cancelled all flights from China. Mongolia and Russia have shut their borders with the country, and Singapore has banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued in Hubei province. In the U.S., the Trump Administration on Jan. 31 declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency and announced that it will temporarily deny entry to any foreign national who “poses a risk” of transmitting the virus. But on Monday, U.S. authorities confirmed the country’s second case of human-to-human transmission in a person who had no recent history of travel to China.

Experts will be watching closely this week for signs that the virus is continuing to grow and spread—especially outside the province where Wuhan is located.

“What we’re worried about is that we don’t see any reduction in the steady increase,” Cowling says.

By Amy Gunia February 4, 2020

Source: Why This Week Could Be Pivotal for Understanding the Coronavirus Outbreak

148K subscribers
An outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness that started in the city of Wuhan has put health authorities on high alert in China and around the world. The new coronavirus—named 2019-nCoV—is thought to have originated in the food market of the central China metropolis and has since infected hundreds of people. China first reported the outbreak on Dec. 30. Most of the deaths have been in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital. Ahead of the Lunar New Year on Jan. 25—often dubbed the largest annual human migration in the world—Chinese authorities have restricted some travel to try and stop the illness’s spread. In Wuhan, public transportation and ride-hailing services have been suspended, trains and flights from the city have been stopped and people have been told to leave only for essential reasons. Similar travel restrictions were announced in at least 11 other Chinese cities, impacting more than 40 million people. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm QUICKTAKE ON SOCIAL: Follow QuickTake on Twitter: twitter.com/quicktake Like QuickTake on Facebook: facebook.com/quicktake Follow QuickTake on Instagram: instagram.com/quicktake Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/2FJ0oQZ Email us at quicktakenews@gmail.com QuickTake by Bloomberg is a global news network delivering up-to-the-minute analysis on the biggest news, trends and ideas for a new generation of leaders.

WHO Warns of Global Shortage of Protective Equipment Due to Coronavirus as Death Toll Hits 638

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world is facing “severe disruption” in the market for personal protective equipment due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal and prices are up to 20 times higher,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Friday press conference.

General Ghebreyesus says there are depleted stockpiles of equipment like masks and respirators and a 4-6 month backlog of orders for necessary supplies.

“We need to make sure we get it [supplies] to the people who need it most in the places that need it most,” General Ghebreyesus said.

The State Department announced that they are offering $100 million to help China and other countries dealing with the virus.

Meanwhile, a Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about the coronavirus outbreak and was subsequently punished by police died of the virus Thursday in Wuhan.

The Wuhan Central Hospital reported Dr. Li Wenliang’s death on social media, saying that he was “unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection,” the Associated Press reported.

After initial reports of Li’s death, WHO offered its condolences. “We’re very sorry to hear of the loss of any frontline worker who has attempted to care for patients,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.

The coronavirus—known as 2019-nCoV—has infected 31,530 patients globally, according to Johns Hopkins University’s virus tracker.

The virus has also killed one person in the Philippines, and another in Hong Kong.

In Japan, officials said Friday that 41 new cases of the virus had been found on a cruise ship that’s been quarantined in Yokohama harbor, bringing the total number of infections onboard to 61. The ship was quarantined after the company learned that a passenger from Hong Kong who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus sailed on the ship, the Diamond Princess, last month.

Japan and Singapore have reported the most patients outside of China, with 45 and 28 respectively.

The number of cases in Japan rose significantly after 10 more people tested positive on a quarantined cruise ship that docked in Yokohama Wednesday,local media reported. The ship was quarantined after the cruise company learned that a passenger from Hong Kong who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus was on board last month.

So far, 99% of confirmed cases are in China and 80% of the cases in China are in Hubei Province, the WHO stated on Wednesday. Excluding China, there are more than 190 cases across 24 countries. At least 31 of those cases involve people with no travel history to China, but all of those cases involve people considered in close contact of a confirmed case or of someone from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

On Friday morning, 27 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship were screened for possible coronavirus sickness when the ship was docked in Bayonne, New Jersey. No cases were confirmed from the screening

On Wednesday, authorities in Hong Kong announced that all arrivals from mainland China would be quarantined for 14 days starting Saturday, acknowledging that there is risk of an outbreak in the city. However, Chief Executive Carrie Lam once again stopped short of closing the border, despite demands from many Hong Kong residents, including thousands of medical workers who went on strike in an attempt to force the action.

Chinese state media said Thursday that the second hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, officially opened on Thursday. A rush-built hospital with 1,000 beds was completed earlier in the week. Both hospitals were constructed in a matter of days to treat coronavirus patients, an attempt by authorities to contain the deadly outbreak.

Medical experts are suggesting that the illness could be passed from mother-to-fetus as two newborn babies tested positive for the illness, according to Chinese state media.

World Health Organization coordinates global response

The WHO has announced plans to raise at least $675 million for a strategic plan to respond to the outbreak and a forum to convene global researchers to fast-track solutions.

Part of that money — $60 million — is to fund WHO’s operations, while the remainder is for “countries that are especially at risk,” said WHO Director-General Tedros at a press conference on Wednesday.

Tedros had reiterated that the agency’s “greatest concern” is the potential for the respiratory illness to spread to countries with weak health systems.

“Our message to the international community is: invest today or pay more later,” Tedros said. “$675 million U.S. dollars is a lot of money, but it’s much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now during the window of opportunity that we have.”

Tedros thanked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for already pledging up to $100 million and Japan for contributing $10 million.

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The WHO is monitoring all public health measures taken by all member states, and will “try and bring some cohesion and order to that process in the coming days,” Ryan said.

Tedros also downplayed criticism from John Mackenzie, a member of WHO’s coronavirus emergency committee, who said that China’s initial response to the outbreak was “reprehensible” and that they did not report cases quickly enough. Tedros said he would expect more cases to spread from China to the rest of the world if China was hiding cases, but noted that the WHO would still have a retrospective review in the future.

American response

The State Department announced on Friday that they are sending medical supplies, including masks, gowns and respirators to China to assist with the virus.

The United States is also prepared to spend up to $100 million in funds to help China and other countries impacted by the spread.

A second wave of American evacuations from Wuhan took place Wednesday as a plane with 178 passengers landed at Travis Air Force Base in California, the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control confirmed. Those on board are now subject to a 14-day federal quarantine and will stay at the air force base temporarily.

Those entering the U.S. within 12 days of having been in Hubei or the rest of mainland China will be directed to one of 11 U.S. airports for an additional health assessment, according to the CDC. They include Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Honolulu International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Americans traveling back to the U.S. from Hubei province 14 days before returning to the country will be subject to up to 14 days of a mandatory quarantine, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters at a White House press briefing. Any American citizens who were in mainland China 14 days before returning to the U.S. will have to undergo a “self-imposed” quarantine for 14 days.

International cases and response

At least 191 patients have tested positive for the illness across 24 countries, according to the WHO.

A 44-year-old man died in the Philippines on Saturday, the country’s Department of Health confirmed, marking the first person to succumb to the virus outside of China. The man, a resident of Wuhan, China, had arrived in the Philippines on Jan. 21 with a 38-year-old woman, who was also infected.

A 39-year-old man in Hong Kong died on Tuesday, making him the second death outside of mainland China. The patient reportedly had an underlying illness.

There are 24 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hong Kong, which was hard-hit by the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). More than one-third of the nearly 800 deaths from SARS worldwide were in Hong Kong, and the semi-autonomous Chinese territory had more than 1,700 of the 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

Hong Kong’s neighbor, the gambling hub of Macau, confirmed its 10th case of the virus Tuesday. Macau announced the same day that it would be shutting its casinos for two weeks. (The city’s casinos are overwhelmingly reliant on mainland Chinese tourists.)

Russia, Sweden, Spain, the Philippines, Italy, India and the U.K. confirmed their first cases of coronavirus last week.

There are also at least 25 confirmed cases in Japan, 30 in Singapore, 25 in Thailand, 25 in Hong Kong and 24 in South Korea, according to Johns Hopkins University’s virus tracker. Governments and health officials in Nepal, Canada,Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia,Sri Lanka, UAE, France, the U.K., Italy, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Germany have also reported patients testing positive for the virus.

Several countries have tightened their borders to restrict the flow of mainland Chinese visitors.

In Hong Kong, the government has closed all but two entry points, leaving a cross-border bridge and a port in a northwestern part of the territory open. (Visitors can still fly to Hong Kong, though flights between mainland China and Hong Kong have been cut by half.) All travelers coming from China will be quarantined for 14 days starting Feb 8.

Singapore has said it is banning visitors with recent travel history to mainland China and has also banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued by China’s Hubei Province.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Thursday that Russia would be closing its land border with China from Friday at least until March 1, the Associated Press reported.

Multiple countries are also warning against unnecessary travel to China, and many have already started evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.

Evacuees from Spain, Japan, the U.S. and Europe are among those who have been flown out of Wuhan on government planes.

China travel restricted

Chinese officials have shut down travel in and out of Wuhan — home to 11 million people — and enacted similar, strict transportation restrictions in a number of other cities. Wuhan has suspended immigration administration services, local authorities said Monday, according to Chinese state media.

People in China have started going back to work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday ended, according to the South China Morning Post.

China’s Hubei Province has also suspended services to apply for passports and exit-entry permits.

Apple said Saturday it would close stores, corporate offices and contact centers in China “out of an abundance of caution,” the New York Times reported.

Royal Caribbean also announced restrictions, including the cancellation of eight cruises out of China due to the outbreak, according to the AP. The cruise line announced Monday that it would also prohibit any guest or crew member, regardless of nationality, to board a ship if they traveled through mainland China or Hong Kong less than 15 days prior.

Japanese officials said that Japan would ban foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province within two weeks before their arrival. Those carrying Chinese passports issued in Hubei are also banned from entering the country, although special exceptions may be made, government officials said, according to Japan Times.

Australia said it would ban travelers who have visited or transited through mainland China from Saturday onwards for the next two weeks. The restrictions will not apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family, although these groups will be asked to isolate themselves for two weeks from when they departed China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Additionally, Singapore has banned all travelers arriving from mainland China who had been there in the past 14 days from entry and transit by Sunday morning. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says that Vietnam has suspended almost all flights from and to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau until May 1, according to the New York Times.

As the deadly virus spreads, a growing number of airlines including British Airways, Air France, Delta and Lufthansa are suspending all flights to China. Many have cut down the number of flights, and some have stopped flying to major cities.

China organized at least three flights to bring home more than 300 Hubei residents from abroad and plans to dispatch nine flights to bring home about 2,000 Chinese tourists in the Philippines., according to Chinese state media.

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CDC confirms second human-to-human transmission in the U.S.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the second case of the disease transmitting from person-to-person within the U.S. The first American patient diagnosed with the new coronavirus was also discharged from hospital.

A patient in California, who had not recently traveled to China, tested positive for the virus. The patient is married to a person who had previously traveled to China and tested positive for the respiratory illness, according to the California Department of Public Health.

On Monday, hospital officials at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, said the 35-year-old man who was the first to test positive for the new coronavirus in the U.S. has left the facility, the Associated Press reported. The unidentified man is recovering and looking forward to life returning to normal, he told the AP.

The CDC has now confirmed at least 12 cases of the coronavirus infection in the U.S. across Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts, California, Washington state and Illinois. On Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reported an additional confirmed case of the virus in an adult “with a history of travel to Beijing.”

“The individual is isolated at home, and is doing well,” the agency said.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, maintained that the risk to the American public continued to be low, but that the CDC expects to find additional cases in the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the first 2019 new coronavirus diagnostic Tuesday, before which the test had been limited to being used at CDC’s laboratories. The authorization now allows the test to be used at any CDC-qualified lab in the U.S.

The CDC said as of Wednesday morning that 293 individuals across 36 states were considered to be “persons under investigation.” Of those, more than 200 had so far tested negative for the disease. The status of another 76 cases is currently pending.

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U.S. and Others Enact Strict Travel Restrictions as Over 12,000 Coronavirus Outbreak Cases Confirmed

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The U.S., Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore have announced strict travel restrictions against visitors flying in from China, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended against “limiting trade and movement” as a response to containing the new coronavirus. The respiratory illness has killed more than 250 people in China and infected thousands within the country and dozens beyond its borders, prompting the WHO to declare a global public health emergency.

The total number of global confirmed cases of infection has risen to 12,024 as of Saturday and the death toll is at 259, according to a virus tracker maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. In Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, more than 7,100 cases have been confirmed.

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The Trump Administration declared a public health emergency in the U.S. on Friday, announcing that any foreign national who “poses a risk” of transmitting the virus would be temporarily denied entry. The administration maintained that risk to the American public remained low but said it would ban entry to any foreign national who has been in China, barring immediate family of American citizens and permanent U.S. residents.

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This week, Japanese officials reported the country’s 20th case of the virus and said that Japan would ban foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province within two weeks before their arrival. Those carrying Chinese passports issued in Hubei are also banned from entering the country, although special exceptions may be made, government officials said, according to Japan Times.

Australia will ban travelers who have visited or transited through mainland China from Saturday onwards for the next two weeks. The restrictions will not apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family, although these groups will be asked to isolate themselves for two weeks from when they departed China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Additionally, Singapore has banned all travellers arriving from mainland China who had been there in the past 14 days from entry and transit by Sunday morning. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says that Vietnam has suspended almost all flights from and to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau until May 1, according to the New York Times.

The new infection figure surpasses the tally of worldwide cases of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) during the 2002 and 2003 outbreak. SARS had nearly 8,100 confirmed infections and killed nearly 800 people.

As the deadly virus spreads, a growing number of airlines including British Airways, Air France, Delta and Lufthansa are suspending all flights to China. Many have cut down the number of flights, and some have stopped flying to major cities.

American Airlines announced Friday morning it would also suspend all flights to China, just a day after a union representing 15,000 American Airlines pilots sued the company to pressure the carrier to halt flights. The Allied Pilots Association cited “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus,” adding that the risk posed to staff and passengers is “unacceptable.”

As several countries are evacuating their citizens from Wuhan, China organized three flights to bring home more than 300 Hubei residents from abroad, according to Chinese state media.

Although the vast majority of cases have occurred in Hubei province, the disease has also spread to over a dozen countries, including the U.S., where eight cases have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Thursday, the CDC announced the first case of the disease transferring from person-to-person within the U.S.

Sweden confirmed its first case of new coronavirus on Friday — a woman who recently visited Wuhan, according to Reuters. Spain also confirmed its first case of the virus on Friday, a German who had contact with patients who tested positive for the disease in Germany, Reuters reported.

Experts are skeptical that official numbers capture the full extent of the outbreak. Researchers in Hong Kong have warned that the actual number of people infected in Wuhan could be more than 30 times higher than the official tally. It’s unclear how long the outbreak will last and how bad it may get.

Experts say symptoms can be very difficult to detect and that many of those who died from the disease had underlying health conditions that involved weakened immune systems, like hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They note that there is still a lot to be learned about the virus’ origins, clinical features and severity. Chinese health officials have said that the virus can be transmitted by touch, that young children can be infected and that the disease’s incubation period is usually between three to seven days.

A taskforce in China is coordinating the efforts to contain the disease and as of Tuesday morning, 4,130 medical staff from around China had arrived in Hubei province; it is expected that a total of 6,000 will arrive. At least two makeshift hospitals created to respond to the virus are being constructed in Wuhan and national health officials have said more than 10,000 beds will be ready in Wuhan soon.

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The construction of one hospital is more than halfway complete and is expected to be attending to patients on Feb. 6. A second hospital is expected to be functional from Feb. 5, according to state media.

On Wednesday, state media reported that nine tons of emergency medical supplies provided by Japan arrived in Wuhan. A government committee to respond to the virus held a meeting on Wednesday and said the situation is still severe. The Chinese New Year public holiday has been extended in an effort to keep people at home. By Thursday morning, more than 900 tons of medical and living supplies, including masks, protective suits and disinfectants, had been transported by road and air to Hubei Province, according to state media. As residents struggle to obtain masks, the Chinese city of Xiamen has decided to sell masks through a lottery, Chinese state media reports. (Health experts say that wearing face masks is probably effective in Wuhan — the epicenter of the crisis — but not in countries with a low risk of community spread, like the U.S.)

American response

From Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, flights from China to the U.S. will be funneled through seven airports with enhanced health screenings, the White House announced on Friday. They include Los Angeles International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AIrport, Honolulu International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Americans traveling back to the U.S. from Hubei province 14 days before returning to the country will be subject to up to 14 days of a mandatory quarantine, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters at a White House press briefing. Any American citizens who were in mainland China 14 days before returning to the U.S. will have to undergo a “self-imposed” quarantine for 14 days.

Following travel alerts from the U.S. Department of State and news of human-to-human coronavirus spread in the U.S., the CDC had announced that it will quarantine 195 passengers who were repatriated back into the U.S. from the disease’s epicenter in Wuhan, China.

The passengers were evacuated from Wuhan and taken by plane to March Air Reserve Base in California. But around 1,000 Americans still remained in the city, and many said they felt abandoned by the U.S. government.

The CDC announced Friday that all of those individuals who were brought to March Air reserve Base must stay there for 14 days, in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus within the U.S. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, called the rare step a necessary response to “an unprecedented public-health threat.”

The State Department has encouraged Americans in China to consider leaving; it is not clear how the CDC will handle future flights returning from China. “The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus,” the Level 4 Travel Advisory said.

The State Department alert on Thursday, which puts China in the same travel category as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and North Korea, acknowledged the WHO’s declaration earlier in the day that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak was a global public health emergency.

Azar indicated that China had been much more transparent in its handling of the novel coronavirus compared with the SARS response; the Chinese government had been accused of covering up SARS. “The posture of the Chinese government and levels of cooperation and interaction with us is completely different from what we experienced in 2003 and I want to commend them for that,” Azar said.

The stock market has also taken a hit, as major US indexes fell more than 1% on Monday; the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped as many as 500 points, the Associated Press reported. On Wednesday, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell referred to the coronavirus outbreak as a “very serious issue” but said it was too early to know the extent of economic damage in China and globally, according to the AP.

WHO declares global health emergency

The WHO reconvened an emergency committee and declared a global health emergency Thursday about a week after saying it was “too early to do so.”

The WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference that the decision was “not a vote of no confidence in China,” which he praised for a swift, transparent and effective response to the “unprecedented outbreak.”

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” Tedros said. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, which are ill prepared to deal with it.”

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Tedros said the WHO opposes “any restrictions on travel and trade and other measures against China.”

The organization highlighted concerns about eight cases of human-to-human transmission in four countries — Germany, Vietnam Japan and the U.S., as well as the “rapid acceleration” of confirmed cases of the disease.

The WHO said it has asked member states to share standardized data with the organization on a daily basis so the organization can work towards building a “comprehensive global database” to track the disease’s evolution.

International cases and response

At least 132 patients have tested positive for the illness across 23 countries, according to the WHO. The majority of cases outside China are associated with travel to the mainland, and of those, the most involve visiting Wuhan, the agency says.

Russia and the UK confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday. In the UK, two people who are members of the same family have been infected, according to the National Health Service.

“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately,” said Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty in a public statement. “We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

Russia also has confirmed two cases, according to Russia Today, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikivoa.

The Philippines, Italy and India confirmed their first cases of the deadly virus on Thursday. In India, a student from the southern state of Kerala who attends a university in Wuhan tested positive for the virus, while in the Philippines, a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan was diagnosed despite being reportedly asymptomatic.

There are also at least 19 confirmed cases in Thailand, 18 in Singapore, 12 in Hong Kong, nine in Taiwan, seven in Macau and nine in Australia. Governments and health officials in Japan, Nepal, Canada, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, UAE, France, the UK, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Germany have also reported patients testing positive for the virus.

Several countries have tightened their borders to restrict the flow of mainland Chinese visitors. Hong Kong announced Tuesday that it would deny entry to individual travelers and close a high-speed rail that connects the city to Southern China. Singapore said Friday it is banning visitors with recent travel history to mainland China.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Thursday that Russia would be closing its land border with China from Friday at least until March 1, the Associated Press reported.

Mongolia’s official news agency has said the country closed border crossings with China on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

7,000 people were stuck on a cruise ship in Italy in a port near Rome as a couple was being tested for the virus, according to CNN.

In a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus, Hong Kong announced Tuesday that it will deny entry to individual travelers from the mainland, dramatically expanding a ban that had previously applied only to visitors from Hubei province. The semi-autonomous city will also sharply reduce cross-border transit, shutting down rail and ferry service to China, halving flights and decreasing tour buses. Several border checkpoints will also close in what Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lame termed a “partial shutdown” during a livestreamed press conference. The measures went into effect on Jan. 30.

Singapore has banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued by China’s Hubei Province from Wednesday onwards.

Chinese authorities have said they will suspend tour groups and travel packages.

Multiple countries are also warning against unnecessary travel to China, and some have already started evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.

A group of 21 Spanish citizens were evacuated and flown from Wuhan and landed in Madrid on Friday, according to Spanish media.

Two government-chartered planes carrying more than 300 Japanese citizens from Wuhan arrived on Wednesday and Thursday. At least three Japanese citizens on the flight tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to local media.

The British government confirmed that an evacuation flight from Wuhan’s airport to the UK can depart on Friday at 5 a.m. local time.

Pakistan has chosen not to evacuate Pakistanis in China after learning that four Pakistani students in China tested positive for the virus. State health officials have said they are “monitoring the situation around the clock.”

Two planes would be mobilized to repatriate E.U. citizens from the Wuhan area to Europe, according to the European Commission. The E.U. said it would co-finance the transport costs; the first aircraft was scheduled to leave from France on Wednesday and a second plane will leave later in the week. Authorities estimated that about 250 French citizens would be transported in the first flight and more than 100 E.U. citizens from other countries will be on board the second aircraft.

Wuhan travel restricted

Chinese officials have shut down travel in and out of Wuhan — home to 11 million people — and enacted similar, strict transportation restrictions in a number of other cities. Immigration authorities said on Monday that no passengers have left the Chinese mainland over the past four days through the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport or the Hankou Port. China’s Hubei Province has also suspended services to apply for passports and exit-entry permits.

The head of the health commission of the Chinese city of Huanggang was sacked Thursday night, the South China Morning Post reported.

Videos appearing to originate from Wuhan show residents chanting from their homes, “Wuhan, stay strong” as cases across the country continued to increase.

Apple said Saturday it would close stores, corporate offices and contact centers in China “out of an abundance of caution,” the New York Times reported.

High school students have turned to online classes to prepare for exams.

Wuhan’s mayor acknowledged that information was not disclosed quickly enough at the virus’ outset, and said he is willing to resign if it would help contain the outbreak.

Authorities have also banned all forms of wildlife trade and implemented strict regulations on activities related to wild animals. The virus was first detected as a form of viral pneumonia centered on a seafood market in Wuhan on Dec. 12. Many of the first reported cases were people who worked at the market, which also sold wild animal meat. Officials closed down the market.

So far, no deaths from the virus have been confirmed outside the Chinese mainland. The city of Beijing reported its first death on Monday and last week confirmed that a 9-month-old tested positive for the disease.

CDC confirms first human-to-human transmission in the U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an eighth case of the new coronavirus in the U.S. on Saturday. On Friday, the CDC announced that they had detected the disease in California in a patient who recently returned from Wuhan.

The CDC has now confirmed eight cases of the coronavirus infection in the U.S. — one in Arizona, one in Massachusetts, three in California, one in Washington state and two in Illinois.

On Thursday, the CDC announced the first case of the novel coronavirus transferring from person-to-person within the U.S. — a Chicago resident in his 60s who had not traveled to China recently. The patient is married to an Illinois woman whom the CDC previously confirmed as testing positive for the virus.

The man has an underlying medical condition but public health officials would not elaborate on what he suffered from.

The agency said as of Friday that 241 individuals across 36 states were considered to be “persons under investigation” of which more than 100 had so far tested negative for the disease.

“Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield “We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”

The CDC’s travel precaution is currently at a level three, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China because of the disease.

Companies tell employees to work from home, avoid travel

Companies across China are taking precautions, as well. Chinese gaming giant Tencent and the tech company ByteDance, which owns the app TikTok, have told staff to work from home, according to the BBC.

The co-working company WeWork is temporarily shutting more than 50 offices across China, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Facebook has stopped non-essential travel to China, and Starbucks is temporarily closing some of its China stores, according to Bloomberg. Several major cruise lines have also suspended some voyages leaving from China.

Flight attendants working for Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship airline, will be allowed to wear facemasks while working.

In Hong Kong, the government notified its workers on Monday that all workers except essential public servants and emergency services personnel can work from home until Feb. 2.

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Source: U.S. and Others Enact Strict Travel Restrictions as Over 12,000 Coronavirus Outbreak Cases Confirmed

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