News On Coronavirus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world was in “uncharted territory” as the number of people infected with the new coronavirus went past 89,000. The US reported six deaths from the coronavirus, as the outbreak that started in China continues to spread to new countries around the world and the WHO urges countries to step up containment measures to rein in the infection.

In South Korea, the country with the most severe outbreak outside China, the number infected continues to grow with three more deaths reported on Tuesday morning.

In China, the infection seems to be slowing. It reported 125 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest since January.

The number of deaths from the virus has reached 3,056 globally, according to WHO’s latest figures.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, March 3

08:35 GMT – New cases reported as South Korea outbreak continues to grow

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 374 new coronavirus cases in its midday update on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the KCDC reported 600 confirmed cases from 24 hours prior.

This brings the total number of cases in the country to 5,186, making it the largest outbreak outside China.

08:21 GMT – Emirates airline asks staff to take unpaid leave

Major international airline Emirates is asking staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month at a time due to the spreading coronavirus. The outbreak has led to flight cancellations around the world.

Emirates has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and to most of China because of the virus, and countries around the world have placed strict restrictions on entry of foreigners.

“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” Chief Operating Officer Adel al-Redha said in a statement.

08:16 GMT – Japan could be allowed to postpone Olympics to end of year

Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows it to postpone the Games until the end of the year, Japan’s Olympics minister said on Friday, amid concern the coronavirus outbreak could force the IOC to cancel them.

“The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” Seiko Hashimoto said in response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament.

Under the hosting agreement, the right to cancel the Games belongs to the IOC.

07:45 GMT – UK not planning to cancel major events: health minister

British health minister Matt Hancock said Britain is not not planning to cancel mass gatherings or large sports events over concerns about coronavirus, but the country will need legislation in case it needs to take action in the future.

“Right now, we do not recommend the cancelling of mass events and schools as well should not be closing unless there is a positive case and the schools have the advice to close,” Hancock told BBC TV.

“There maybe things we have to do down the line that we don’t want to, but we will need the powers to do that hence proposing emergency legislation.”

07:37 GMT – UAE cancels, postpones events as coronavirus spreads in GCC

Concerts and sporting events in the United Arab Emirates, a tourism and business hub, have been cancelled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Gulf.

The March 5-6 electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi’s 25,000-capacity Du arena and the March 21 K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled.

Organisers of Ultra, where electronic group Major Lazer and DJ Afrojack were to perform, cited travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines in the wake of the rapidly-spreading virus.

The UAE, which has reported 21 cases, regularly hosts major conferences, concerts and sporting events.

07:29 GMT – Twitter staff to work from home over virus fears

Twitter staff across the world were asked to work from home starting Monday in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.

The social media platform’s decision to ask its staff to avoid the office follows similar requests by governments in virus hotspots.

“We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able,” Twitter human resources chief Jennifer Christie said in a Monday blog post.

“Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us – and the world around us.”

Working from home will be mandatory for employees at the company’s South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan offices, Christie said.

06:48 GMT – South Korea’s president declares ‘war’ on coronavirus

South Korea’s president declared war on the coronavirus, ordering additional hospital beds and more face masks to be made available.

President Moon Jae-in apologised for shortages of face masks and promised support for virus-hit small businesses in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy, which has now reported 4,812 cases of the disease and 34 deaths.

“The entire country has entered war against the infectious disease as the crisis in Daegu and Gyeongbuk province has reached the highest point,” he told a cabinet meeting, referring to the two hardest-hit parts of the country.

06:40 GMT – Pope tests negative for coronavirus: Italy report

Pope Francis, who canceled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy because he is suffering from a cold, has tested negative for coronavirus, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported.

The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, also canceled most audiences last week.

06:37 GMT – Shanghai says visitors entering from virus-hit countries must be quarantined

Shanghai will require everyone entering the city from countries with “relatively serious virus conditions” to submit to 14 days of quarantine, an official said.

The rule will apply to all people regardless of nationality, said Xu Wei, an official with the city government’s news office, speaking to reporters at a briefing.

06:25 GMT – Canada asks travelers from Iran to self-isolate

Canada has asked travelers arriving from Iran – one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus – to self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they are not showing any symptoms.

Meanwhile, health authorities asked Canadians to avoid any non-essential travel to Iran, and the northern region of Italy, which have both emerged as hotspots for the infection.

Many cases in Canada had been linked to the Iran outbreak, Canadian chief medical officer Theresa Tam told reporters.

Canada had 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.

This is Farah Najjar in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry.

04:45 GMT – G7 virus response might not detail fiscal, monetary steps – Reuters

The Group of Seven industrial powers are crafting a statement for their finance leaders to issue on countering the impact of the coronavirus, but for now it does not specifically call for new government spending or coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks, a G7 official with direct knowledge of the deliberations told Reuters on Tuesday.

In the statement, expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, the G7 countries will pledge to work together to mitigate the damage to their economies from the fast-spreading epidemic, the source said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The language of the statement is still under discussion and could change, the source said.

Share prices have been rising on expectations of measures to boost the global economy.

03:45 GMT – Guangdong imposes quarantine for visitors from virus-hit countries

China’s southern province of Guangdong says it will require travellers arriving from countries and regions with severe coronavirus outbreaks to quarantine themselves for 14 days, the government-backed Nanfang Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The report did not name specific countries.

It said that between Feb. 27 to March 1, 1,496 people had entered Guangdong from overseas areas hit hard by the virus but to date tests had shown that none had been infected.

03:40 GMT – Indonesia confirmed cases trigger panic buying

People in Jakarta rushed to supermarkets on Monday night to stock up on basic supplies shortly after President Joko Widodo announced the country had two confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Shoppers found queues were longer than usual for a weekday night and that basic supplies such as bottled water had sold out.

Panic buying hit supermarkets in Jakarta on Monday after the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed [Toh Seng Guan/Al Jazeera]

03:15 GMT – Church leader tests negative for virus

Lee Man-hee, the founder of the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus, has tested negative for the coronavirus, after he being taken to a “drive-through” test site late on Monday.

The church is the at the centre of the outbreak in South Korea and has been heavily criticised over its response to the virus.

Lee apologised on Monday and called the epidemic a “great calamity” but refused to be tested by public authorities until a local governor threatened to drag him by force to be tested. Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride is in Seoul and you can watch his story below.

02:25 GMT – Australia to use biosecurity law in virus fight

Australia’s Attorney General has said the government will use its biosecurity to law to restrict the movements of people suspected of having the coronavirus.

Speaking to the country’s public service broadcaster ABC, Christian Porter said the government would use the law to either designate some places out of bounds or place a patient in detention at home.

“Under the biosecurity act, you could have the prevention of movement from persons in and out of particular places,” Porter told the ABC.

“You might have a major sporting event where people would be in very, very close proximity to each other and… it might be determined that the risk of transmission at a venue like that was too high.”

Australia passed the biosecurity law in 2015, replacing the Quarantine Act, which had been in force for more than 100 years. You can find our more about the act in this report by two academics at the Australian National University.

02:20 GMT – Hong Kong to bring home citizens from Wuhan

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has been holding her regular weekly press briefing.

She says the territory has chartered four planes to bring back 533 Hong Kong people from Wuhan. The flights will take place on Wednesday and Thursday and the passengers will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival.

02:12 GMT – China looks to recovered to tackle COVID-19

There’s been lots of talk about vaccines for COVID-19, but they will take a long time to become available.

In the meantime, beyond not getting infected in the first place (wash your hands more and touch your face less), doctors are looking for ways to treat the illness more effectively.

My colleague, Shawn Yuan, has been speaking to medics in China about the difficulties they’ve encountered in treating the new virus. Read his story here.

Plasma donated by recovered patients has been collected for use in treating people battling severe cases of coronavirus [Yuan Zheng/EPA]

02:10 GMT – Pakistan confirms fifth case

Pakistan has reported a new case of coronavirus.

“We have now 5th confirmed case of COVID19 in federal areas,” Zafar Mirza, the country’s health minister said a in tweet early on Tuesday morning.

The patient is stable and being managed well, the minister added.

01:40 GMT – World in ‘uncharted territory’ with new virus – WHO

World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesushas said the world is in “uncharted territory” with the new coronavirus because while the infection can spread through a community, it can also be contained.

He is urging countries around the world to focus on containing the virus, calling for “early, aggressive measures”.

01:20 GMT – South Korea outbreak continues to grow

South Korea has reported 600 new coronavirus cases in its first daily update on Tuesday. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) also says three more people died overnight.

Total cases in the country now stand at 4,812, making it the largest outbreak outside China.

01:15 GMT – New York governor seeks to reassure on costs

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just issued a directive to all insurers to waive cost-sharing associated with virus testing.

“We can’t let cost be a barrier to access to COVID-19 testing,” he wrote on Twitter.

00:45 GMT – China cases continue to slow

Figures just released by China’s National Health Commission suggest the outbreak there might be slowing.

Mainland China had 125 new confirmed cases on Monday, compared with 202 the day before. That’s the lowest since the country started publishing national data in January.

In Wuhan, the number of new cases was 111, compared with 193.

The commission said 31 people died from the infection.

A recap of Monday’s major developments:

The death toll in the United States has risen to six with mounting concern that the virus has been spreading undetected in the northwestern state of Washington for weeks.

Deaths in Italy rose to 52, while Iran’s toll rose to 66. Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe, while Iran has reported the most deaths outside China.

Countries including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Tunisia announced their first cases of the disease.

China reported more cases, but the rate of infection appeared to be slowing.


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