Japan faced growing questions about whether it was doing enough to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said it would cancel or postpone major indoor events it has sponsored for the next three weeks. More than 400 Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship near Tokyo after weeks aboard in quarantine, despite reports of new cases coming in from around Japan.
Israel Confirms 1st Case | An Israeli woman who was a passenger aboard a coronavirus-hit cruise ship tested positive upon return to her home country on Friday, Israel’s health ministry said. She was one of 11 Israeli passengers who were brought back to Israel after being aboard the cruise liner Diamond Princess, carrying 3,700 people, which was quarantined off Yokohama since arriving on February 3. The woman, an adult, was being held in quarantine in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv, in central Israel, health officials said.
Hong Kong Cops in Quarantine | Dozens of Hong Kong police officers have been placed in quarantine after attending a banquet with a colleague who later tested positive for the new coronavirus The news prompted celebrations among some pro-democracy protesters, a vivid illustration of how deeply polarised the city has become after months of rallies and thousands of arrests last year.
Coronavirus on G20 Agenda | As international authorities tried to stop the outbreak in China from becoming a global pandemic, finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies meeting in Saudi Arabia over the weekend were set to discuss risks to the global economy. China has had more than 75,400 cases of the coronavirus and 2,236 people have died of the disease it causes – known as COVID-19 – most in Hubei province and its capital of Wuhan where the virus emerged in a wildlife market in December.
Iran Confirms 2 Deaths | Iran confirms13 more new coronavirus cases and two deaths among the group of new cases, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur tweets.The new cases comprised seven people diagnosed in Qom, four in Tehran and two in Gilan, Jahanpur said in the tweet. The total of cases in Iran now stands at 18, with four of those people having died.
South Korea Ups Emergency Response | South Korea’s government banned major rallies in its capital and declared a health emergency in its fourth largest city as 100 new virus cases were reported Friday, bringing the country’s total to 204. The spike forced officials to focus on steps to contain the domestic spread of the disease, not just its entry from abroad. Most of the new cases have been reported since Wednesday. The increase, especially in and around Daegu city in the southeast, has raised fears the outbreak is overwhelming the region’s medical system. Many of the cases have been linked to a church in the city.
The outbreak of the new virus threatens to erase $29 billion of this year’s revenue for global airlines, mostly for Chinese carriers, as travel crashes worldwide, according to the International Air Transport Association. The trade group for global airlines said that the virus causing COVID-19 has the potential for causing a 13% decline in demand for Asian carriers this year. The contraction comes at a time when Asian airlines’ sales had been growing, the group said.
Young Doctor Who Postponed Wedding to Treat Patients Dies of Coronavirus | A 29-year-old Chinese doctor, who postponed his wedding to treat patients infected with the deadly coronavirus, has died treating them after being infected by the virus, the ninth fatality among the healthcare providers working to contain the outbreak. Dr Peng Yinhua, doctor of a Wuhan hospital who treated patients infected with the coronavirus, died on Thursday night. Peng was hospitalised on January 25 and transferred to the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital for treatment on January 30.
‘Traumatised’ Africans Stranded by Coronavirus Plead to be Brought Home | When Margaret Ntale Namusisi’s three daughters called her in Uganda to say they were being quarantined at their university in Wuhan, China, because of the coronavirus outbreak, she sent money and told them: “Run very fast and do shopping.”
Valeria, Veronica and Vivian did just that. But nearly one month on, with no help from their government, they are now under lockdown in a crowded apartment with orders to stay indoors with the windows closed. Food, funds and morale are running low. “They are traumatised,” said Namusisi, who wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to talk to her daughters over the Chinese messaging service WeChat. “They ask, has Uganda given up on us?”
South Korea Reports 48 More Coronavirus Cases, Total 204 | South Korea reported 48 more coronavirus cases this afternoon, adding to 52 it announced in the morning, bringing the nationwide total to 204. Among the latest cases, 46 were connected to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southern city of Daegu, the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
The group that decided to do something about the lack of masks is led by a film maker who would only give one name, Tang, due to fear that he could be perceived as critical of authorities in the Chinese-ruled city. “I got angry looking for masks, they’re either all sold out, or the masks that are from overseas are sold at an inflated price,” Tang said, wearing a mask, at the factory set up close to the border with the mainland.
Hong Kongers Set Up Face Mask Factory Amid Coronavirus Panic Buying | Responding to shortages of face masks amid a frightening coronavirus epidemic spreading from the mainland, a group of citizens in Hong Kong have set up a surgical face mask factory to ease supplies and deter price gouging in some stores. After Hong Kong reported its first case of the virus last month, panicky residents queued at dawn, waiting for pharmacies to open to buy masks and sanitary wipes.
Gold Gains as Coronavirus Spreads, Set for Best week in Over 6 Months | Gold prices hit their highest in seven years today and were set to post their best week in over six months as demand for the safe-haven asset increased after a spike in coronovirus cases. Spot gold rose 0.7% to $1,630.97 per ounce by 0649 GMT, after hitting its highest since Feb. 15, 2013 at $1,631.63 earlier in the session. For the week, prices have risen 2.9% so far and were set to post their biggest weekly percentage gain since Aug. 9.
China Finds Spike in Coronavirus Cases in Jails | The new coronavirus has infected 234 people in two prisons outside the province at the centre of the epidemic and top officials deemed responsible for the outbreaks have been fired, authorities said today. The infections found in the two jails, in the northern province of Shandong and the eastern province of Zhejiang, made up most of the 258 newly confirmed cases yesterday outside the central province of Hubei, where the most cases have occurred.
Hubei province on Friday also revised up its total number of confirmed infection cases by 220 to account for cases in the province’s prison system.
Coronavirus Weakens Job Market for Record Number of Chinese Graduates | The coronavirus outbreak is denting the prospects of this year’s record 8.7 million-strong Chinese university graduating class, with many students stuck at home just as the corporate recruitment season usually swings into high gear. Graduates are worrying less about catching the virus than the impact it will have on their careers as company-organised recruiting events on campuses across China are pushed back or cancelled amid nationwide bans on public gatherings to avoid the spread of disease.
China to Play Home Leg of Olympic Qualifier in Sydney Due to Coronavirus | The Chinese women’s national team will play the home leg of their Olympic qualification playoff against South Korea in Sydney to avoid any travel complications from a coronavirus outbreak, the Asian Football Confederation said today. Last month, the Olympic qualifying tournament featuring China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand was hastily moved to Sydney from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak that has killed more than 2,200 people in China.
WTA Cancels Xi’an Open Due to Coronavirus Outbreak | The women’s Xi’an Open tennis tournament scheduled for next month in China has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, the WTA Tour said in a statement. The 125K series hardcourt event was to be played from April 13-19, with 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams. The WTA said it was monitoring the situation ahead of the tournaments scheduled to take place in China during the second half of the season.
Iraq Bans Border Crossings by Iran | Iraq banned border crossings by Iranian nationals for three days from Thursday amid fears of the coronavirus, Iraq’s state news agency said yesterday. The decision came after Iraqi Airways suspended flights to Iran. Two Iranians who tested positive on Wednesday for the disease have died, while three tested positive yesterday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in Iran to five, the Iranian health ministry said.
China’s Passenger Car Sales Tumble 92% in First Half of February Due to Coronavirus Outbreak | Retail sales of passenger cars in China crumbled 92% on an annual basis in the first 16 days of February, according to China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), as the coronavirus outbreak slammed the brakes on businesses across the country. China’s passenger vehicle sales recorded 4,909 units in the first 16 days, down from 59,930 vehicles in the same period a year earlier, data from CPCA showed, the first major figures to demonstrate just how hard the epidemic is hitting the world’s biggest auto market.
Oil Falls as Coronavirus Spread Beyond China Heightens Demand Fears | Oil prices fell today amid concerns over fuel demand as the coronavirus epidemic spread further beyond China, while major crude producers stood pat on any early action to cut output to support the market. Brent crude was down 28 cents, or 0.5%, at $59.03 a barrel by 0332 GMT, while U.S. crude was also off by 28 cents, or 0.5%, at $53.60 a barrel.
Hundreds to Leave Quarantined Cruise Ship Off Japan Coast | Hundreds of Japanese and foreign passengers were set to disembark from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship near Tokyo today amid growing disquiet in Japan about whether the government is doing enough to stop the virus spreading. The scheduled departure of more than 400 passengers from the Diamond Princess after weeks in quarantine comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a low-level travel advisory for Japan.
Death Toll in China’s Coronavirus Jumps to 2,236; Confirmed Cases Cross 75,400 | The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus has gone up to 2,236 with 118 more deaths reported, mostly from the hard-hit Hubei province, while the overall confirmed infection cases have climbed to 75,465, Chinese health officials said today. The number of deaths is higher than the previous day when 114 people died of the disease, but the country reported the lowest number of new infection cases in nearly a month, fuelling hopes that Beijing’s epidemic control efforts were working.
Coronavirus to be Big Topic for G20 as China Reports Uptick in Cases | China reported an uptick in new cases of coronavirus today although the rise in infections remained at its slowest pace since January, a downward trend which the World Health Organization (WHO) has called encouraging. The epidemic is set to be a major focus of discussion at a meeting on the weekend of finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said, amid rising risks to global growth.
Odisha Locals Fear of Coronavirus After Hong Kong Ships Dock at Dharma Port | The residents of Bhadrak district of Odisha have expressed concern that the crew members of the two Hong Kong ships, that anchored at the Dhamra Port two days ago, might have been exposed to the deadly coronavirus.
Assuaging their concern, Bhadrak Additional District Magistrate Shyambhakt Mishra said the crew had undergone screening for the virus and there was no reason to panic. “I have also spoken to Dhamra Port Company Ltd (DPCL) authorities on the matter,” he said.
Asia-Pacific Airlines Could Lose $27.8 bn to Coronavirus | Airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific region stand to lose a combined USD 27.8 billion of revenue this year in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the International Air Transport Association said yesterday. The estimate is based on projections of a 13-percent full-year decline in passenger demand, mostly in China, the trade body said. “This will be a very tough year for airlines,” IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement. “Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority.”
Coronavirus Cases on Japan Cruise Ship Rise to 634 | Meanwhile, another 13 people on board a cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, the country’s health ministry said yesterday. Confirmation of the new cases, from 52 additional test results, brought the total number of infections diagnosed on board the Diamond Princess so far to 634, the ministry said in a statement.
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