Jiang Chaoliang replaced in province where cases have jumped by 15,000 in one day, as 44 more passengers diagnosed on stricken cruise ship
- China purges regional leaders hours after spike in deaths
- 800 Pakistan students plead for help to escape Wuhan
- UK prepares for more cases after first London diagnosis
- Share your experiences
European Union health ministers are holding an emergency meeting today on how to prevent the Covid-19 virus from further spreading across Europe.
Ministers from the 27 member states gathered in Brussels, while Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, will also join the debate via video link.
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has thanked the 83 Britons leaving quarantine today for their “bravery and patience”.
This will not have been an easy time for them and I would like to express my gratitude for their bravery and patience.
Each individual has been given a clean bill of health, and the nation can be reassured that their departure presents no risk to the public.
Another update on the situation with the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan, after 44 new cases were confirmed onboard.
Japan’s health minister, Katsunobu Kato, said five of the patients sent to hospitals earlier have severe symptoms and are on artificial respirators or under intensive care.
It’s like we are seeing a very condensed version of what could happen in a local community.
We should assume that the virus has already been spreading in Japan.
The NHS chief executive has thanked the Britons who have spent two weeks in quarantine for setting “an important example” in how to stop the disease from spreading.
Sir Simon Stevens said:
As our first group of guests leaves Arrowe Park hospital, we want to thank them for the highly responsible, pragmatic and stoical way they have played their part in keeping both themselves and others safe.
They have set an important example, recognising that over the coming weeks many more of us may need to self-isolate at home for a period to reduce this virus’s spread.
With about 72 hours’ notice they, and subsequently their colleagues in Milton Keynes, have mobilised clinical teams, personal support and pastoral care to look after over 200 people returning to this country under extremely trying circumstances.
They have been hugely helped by the volunteers, residents, schools and those from local councils.
A British honeymooner diagnosed with the new coronavirus has said a language barrier meant he mistakenly believed he had tested negative for the disease.
Alan Steele, who was taken to hospital from a quarantined cruise ship off the coast of Japan last week, said a second test came back negative and he will be released from quarantine if a third does the same.
The Japanese health authorities have said if anyone tests negative, they will be given the option to either stay onboard and continue their quarantine onboard, or they could go to a Japanese housing unit or something and do it there.
But for us, if that was the case for us, we’re obviously going to be better off language-wise staying onboard than we are if we go into some sort of facility run by Japanese.
My biggest fear is we are going to be tested in the next couple of days because of our age. They’ve done over-80s, now they’re going to do over-70s.
We have been together 50 years and, if one of us is infected and the other one isn’t, we will be separated. And that I don’t particularly relish.
‘Kate, you look absolutely fabulous.’
David and Sally Abel, who are quarantined on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship due to the coronavirus, are in great spirits! pic.twitter.com/q58fyzD1cU
Jessica Murray here taking over from Alexandra Topping on the latest coronavirus developments – feel free to get in touch via email@example.com or on Twitter (@journojess_) with your questions and comments.
After today’s news that the first London diagnosis has been confirmed it’s a good chance to take stock and consider how the outbreak might be affecting your mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation has issued some guidance on how to stay mentally healthy as you follow coverage of the outbreak.
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current coronavirus, can be scary. While it is important to stay informed, there are many things we can do to manage our wellbeing.
The chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the UK has a four-stage preparation plan, and while containment of coronavirus is the current aim the country is also preparing to delay the onset of an outbreak of the virus.
“Delay is the next stage of what we need to do,” he said. “Because if we are going to get an outbreak here in the UK, and it is an if, not a when, putting it back in time into the summer away from the winter pressures on the NHS, buying us a bit more time to understand the virus better and possibly gives us a seasonal advantage is a big advantage.”
“Broadly this goes one of two ways. The first way is that China gets on top of the epidemic […] and that there are spillover cases all over the world but those are contained and we will have cases in the UK, that is highly likely, we may even get a bit of onward transmission in the UK and then the epidemic goes away. That is possible. The two things that may do that are the extraordinary efforts of the Chinese government and possibly a change in the seasons,” he said.
“The alternative is this is not possible to contain in China and then this starts to spread, probably initially quite slowly around the world and at that point unless the seasons come to our rescue then it is going to come to a situation where we have it in the EU, and in the UK. “
“At this point in time […] we have a strategy that relies on four tactical aims. The first is to contain, the second is to delay, the third is to do the science and the research, and the fourth is to mitigate so that we can actually brace the NHS.”
People talk about vaccines, it will in my view be a long while until we have a vaccine that is ready to deploy but we need to get on with that,” he said.
“We need to look at existing drugs, like existing HIV drugs, and the Chinese are starting to do this, and test if the existing drugs work against this virus. Some may, some may not.
Biggest thing we have to do is around isolation and delay and trying to work out the patterns of that.
All the things that are going to make it more difficult to transmit this virus are good and sensible things we need to do to stop the transmission of any virus,” he said. Remember in the UK, roughly 8,000 people in the UK die of flu.
People should be covering their mouths when they sneeze, disposing of handkerchiefs.
“This epidemic, where it is to happen, we don’t know where the peak would be and absolutely critically we don’t know the proportion of people who have this disease without symptoms. Until we do [know] we really only have a best estimate,” he said.
“The best estimate for the number of people dying at the top end of the range is about 2%, in my view it could be considerably less than that, but we have to prepare for the worst.”
I think it’s a mistake to use numbers which are entirely speculative […] At the moment the numbers we are seeing out of China are so variable that it is really difficult to put a fixed figure.
If it looks like there is an epidemic rolling our way, which is possible, I would be delighted to come back and talk about real numbers instead of speculative numbers.
The latest coronavirus statistics from China’s National Health Commission are snapping on Reuters
The Press Association reports that the warning from doctors comes after a London woman became the ninth person in the UK to test positive for the deadly virus.
There are concerns the city’s status as a transport hub could exacerbate the spread of the virus, however doctors have said the risk of infection for residents in the capital remains low.
“In general, if an initial case is in a densely populated area, then the risk of sustained person-to-person transmission following is higher,” Dr Robin Thompson of Oxford University said.
This is exacerbated by the fact that London is a transport hub, and the underground could provide a network to spread the virus quickly.
“It should also be noted that of the 1,750 tests carried out so far in the UK, over 99% of those tested have been negative for the coronavirus.
“Thus, risks to Londoners and UK residents remain low, though people should continue to keep an eye on guidance for the general public.”
“The key factor here is the number of contacts that this infected individual has had prior to being isolated,” he said.
“If this is low, then the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is also low.”
“Provided the individual followed the government’s advice (to self-isolate) there should be little concern of transmission to the general public in London,” she said.
Here’s a summary of the latest news on the coronavirus, now known as Covid-19.
The South China Morning Post’s correspondent in Beijing, Jun Mai, says the changes to key leaders in personnel in Hubei don’t just bring in new leaders who are proteges of President Xi, but people with strong backgrounds in security.
2.Many have noted both Ying Yong, Hubei’s new party boss and Chen Yixin, dispatched from Beijing to co-lead Wuhan ground team, are Xi’s proteges. But please also mind their extensive background in security. They are experts of maintaining stability;
Looks like I’m not the only person waiting for the Chinese government to update the latest national figures.
More on #COVID19 – More than 28 hours after #China released its last nationwide coronavirus stats, the nationwide number has not been updated. So far, the total confirmed case stands at 59881, with 16067 suspected cases. 1368 has died from the infection and 5950 were discharged. pic.twitter.com/0Y6yvAqOzX
Scott Morrison acknowledges the impact on Australia from the curb on tourism from China because of the virus.
“In tourism (in Australia) it’s a double blow because of the bushfires,” Morrison says.
Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, says he wants to keep the travel ban for the moment because of the continued rise in cases inside and outside Hubei province.
He describes the jump in cases in Hubei today as “very significant”.
Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt, is talking now. He confirms that there is no change to the 15 people confirmed as having the virus in Australia.
“That means the measures we have taken are protecting Australians,” he says.
We are hearing from the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, on entry restrictions on travellers from China. He says the 14-day ban on tourists travelling from China to Australia, due to expire on Saturday, will be extended for another week.
Reuters has published a list of airlines that have cancelled all flights to China
And Reuters have also published this list of airlines that have cancelled some China flights/routes:
Vietnamese media is reporting that a community near Hanoi has been quarantined after an eighth virus case was confirmed there. I’ll bring you more on this when I have the details.
This was quite a jolt from the state-run Global Times, given today’s purge of senior Hubei officials and the steep rise in virus numbers.
You can read our latest wrap on developments today. including leadership changes in Hubei and a big spike in virus numbers, below.
The Global Times is reporting that a district in central Hubei province has implemented wartime control measures for the next 14 days, including the full closure of all buildings, the first time during the virus outbreak.
The order, applying to a district in the city of Shiyan, says only those who are fighting the epidemic are allowed to leave their homes as of Thursday. All residential areas are being manned around the clock, it says.
The wartime control measures were put in place after the district reported 137 confirmed cases of infection with the COVID-19, the second highest number in the city of Shiyan, where 562 were reported as of the end of Wednesday.
Local neighbourhood committees will distribute basic necessities at a fixed time and fixed prices. The committees will help residents purchase medicines if they are urgently needed.
China’s first wartime control measures implemented amid national epidemic battle in Zhangwan district, Shiyan in Central China’s Hubei Province, triggering public speculations over whether other areas will follow suit if measures prove effective. https://t.co/Rb8pvZmA9f pic.twitter.com/dxYvkH2LMo
The ABC in Australia is reporting that the federal government is expected to extend its travel ban from mainland China due to the coronavirus or Covid-19 threat. It had been due to expire on Saturday. The current ban imposes a 14-day ban on tourists travelling from China to Australia. We’ll bring you more on that when we have it.
Federal Government expected to extend travel ban from mainland China amid coronavirus threat https://t.co/azclDsmXki
Vietnam Airlines has given an early indication of the financial impact on the industry as it announced it is losing 250bn dong (US$10.8m) a week in revenue due to travel curbs resulting from the coronavirus.
The carrier said in an emailed statement it was reducing operations and trying to cut costs to “achieve a positive financial result” for this year.
The epidemic has significantly reduced the travel demand of domestic and international tourists in the Vietnam network.
Here’s some more confusing news on the numbers of infections.
This morning the Hubei Health Commission said as of midnight on 12 February, there were 14,840 new cases of coronavirus of Covid-19 (much higher than the previous day due to changes in how cases are counted).
Until Feb 12 17:00, Wuhan has inspected 10.6 million people of 4.243 million families.
From the result of door-to-door visits, Wuhan has
-16,568 confirmed #coronavirus patients
-14,596 suspected patients
-17,473 people exposed to virus
-7,961 fever patients pic.twitter.com/rov2q981Mz
On Thursday, Chinese state media announced several high profile firings, as the number of infections and deaths from the outbreak jumped.
Are the big changes in officials today related to the big jump in confirmed cases of Covid-19? The New York Times’ Asia tech columnist, Li Yuan, certainly seems to think so.
The huge jump in confirmed cases in Hubei and the province’s leadership change are of course related. It offers a relatively clean slate to the new officials. The infections and the deaths are the faults of their predecessors. They’re here to clean up the mess.
The Australian stock market has closed flat on Thursday afternoon. The ASX200 opened strongly in the morning but animal spirits were curbed by the terrible virus infection figures out of China.
They weren’t considered bad enough to send the index into the red for the day and it closed again just shy of the record high 7,090 points.
Events are moving very quickly today. We now know that in addition to the sacking of Hubei’s provincial leader, Jiang Chaoliang, Wuhan’s party chief, Ma Guoqiang, has also been replaced,
Wang Zhonglin, Party Chief of Jinan, Shandong and a member of the Standing Committee of #Shandong Provincial Party Committee, has been appointed #Wuhan‘s new Party chief, replacing Ma Guoqiang. pic.twitter.com/1jZ4d9quNI
North Korea has announced it will impose a 30-day quarantine for all foreign visitors and others suspected to have Covid-19, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports.
“All the institutions and fields of the state and foreigners staying in the DPRK should obey it unconditionally,” KCNA says.
We are still waiting for China’s National Health Commission to give its daily update of figures across the country. By my calculations, it has been delayed by several hours, compared with when it has been published for the past 10 days.
Samoa’s decision to refuse entry into the country of eight of its citizens over coronavirus fears has been criticised as a violation of international law by a legal expert.
Eight people were denied entry into Samoa over the weekend as they returned home from India, travelling through Singapore. The day before their flight, Singapore was added to a list of countries from which the Samoan government said it would not accept travellers until they had been quarantined for 14 days.
Members of China’s Uighur minority living in exile are sounding the alarm over the risk of the coronavirus spreading in camps inside the country, where it is believed up to 1 million people are being detained.
You can read our full story on it below:
We’re now hearing that China is replacing the head of its office that oversees matters in Hong Kong.
Zhang Xiaoming would be removed as director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the human resources ministry said, to be replaced by Xia Baolong, 67, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Another 44 people onboard a cruise liner moored off Japan’s east coast have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the number of infections on the ship to 218.
The latest cases were confirmed after a further 221 people onboard the Diamond Princess were tested, the health minister, Katsunobu Kato, said on Thursday.
Indonesia’s Jakarta Post is reporting that a man who flew from Wuhan to Bali on 22 January has tested positive for Covid-19 on his return to China.
It says authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui announced the case on Weibo.
The Singapore Sevens rugby tournament is expected to be postponed until October due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Reuters reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The tournament is due to take place in the city-state on 11 and 12 April. Singapore has reported 50 cases of the virus.
Another big change in Hubei province. It’s been announced that Jiang Chaoliang, the party chief of Hubei province (effectively the leader of the province), has been replaced by the deputy party chief in Shanghai, Ying Yong.
Earlier this week two other senior Hubei officials were replaced: Zhang Jin, the Communist party chief of Hubei’s Health Commission, and Liu Yingzi, its director, were both fired. They were replaced by a national-level official, Wang Hesheng, the deputy director of China’s National Health Commission.
Ying Yong has been appointed secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), replacing Jiang Chaoliang, according to a decision by the CPC Central Committee. pic.twitter.com/kcgzY1ohSd
A team of officials will board the MV Westerdam to conduct health checks as the cruise ship remains anchored 1km (0.6 miles) off the coast of Sihanoukville port in Cambodia, the regional governor, Kouch Chamrouen has told Associated Press.
The ship, which has 1,455 passengers and 802 crew onboard, arrived at the port early on Thursday. The passengers, who are mostly American, Canadian, British and Dutch, will not be allowed off until the checks are done.
Our Embassy team has arrived in #Sihanoukville and is standing ready to assist U.S. citizens with disembarking from the #Westerdam and transiting to their onward destinations. For U.S. citizen emergencies, please call +855 23-728-402, or after business hours +855 23-728000.
A state-run tabloid, the Global Times, is reporting that Hubei has now adopted a stricter standard than other parts of the country in terms of recording cases, by adding the “clinically diagnosed” cases to those who have tested positive.
Adopting a stricter standard than other parts of the country, Hubei Province, epicenter of the #COVID19 outbreak, has begun including clinically diagnosed cases in its daily epidemic report. https://t.co/XYoGAB3LQG pic.twitter.com/1kW6gsP6di
A Chinese state media outlet, the People’s Daily, is reporting the “great work from home experiment in China” as a result of the virus. I assume it is not being ironic.
Office exodus? When 2020 kicked off, so did the great work from home experiment in China. Chinese workplaces reacted quickly to #COVID19, allowing many employees to answer emails or conduct video conference calls at home. For more details, click: https://t.co/rS7XIuRDWC pic.twitter.com/vs2L8Dm4v1
The Hubei Health Commission has said the change in counting figures is to speed up treatment of patients. The rise comes from the daily “suspected cases” figures. The statement on their website says this is “in order to be consistent with the classification of case diagnosis used by other provinces across the country, starting today (Thursday), Hubei province will include the number of clinically diagnosed cases into the number of confirmed cases for publication”.
Suspected cases in China as listed by the National Health Commission over the past few days are as follows:
Children in Hong Kong have been told that schools in the city will remain closed until at least the middle of March.
We’re getting some clarification from the Hubei Health Commission on the changes in the way they are counting new cases of Covid-19.
A statement says it has added “clinical diagnosis” to the way of confirming cases, so that patients who have been “clinically diagnosed”, presumably by a doctor, can receive the same treatment as those who have tested positive to the virus.
AFP has more on officials in Hubei saying they were broadening their definition for Covid-19 cases by including people “clinically diagnosed” with the virus in the daily tally.
This means officials can use lung imaging on suspected cases to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests.
Hong Kong police have arrested a man for stealing eight boxes of face masks from a car.
【 Man arrested for theft of surgical masks from vehicle 】
In the small hours of 11 February, offenders broke the windows of a private car parked in San Shing Avenue, Sheung Shui and stole eight boxes containing a total of 160 N95 surgical masks from the car. pic.twitter.com/XEZoUkQjWc
Earlier, the chief of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, praised Cambodia for allowing the Westerdam to dock.
“This is an example of international solidarity we have been consistently calling for,” Tedros said before the ship’s arrival. “Outbreaks can bring out the best and the worst in people.”
The cruise ship MV Westerdam has arrived in Cambodia after spending two weeks at sea because no other country would allow the liner to dock over fears about coronavirus.
The ship, which was turned down by Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand after its original destination of Shanghai was closed, is moored in the Cambodian port town of Sihanoukville.
Share prices across Asia Pacific are showing little sign of stress today despite the alarming jump in new Covid-19 cases in China.
Australia’s ASX200 has soared to a record high this morning, climbing by 0.2% to 7,100 points, although it has come down a bit from earlier highs. In Tokyo, the Nikkei is flat and the Kospi index is up 0.37% in Seoul.
Equity markets have brushed off coronavirus fears day after day, hitting new all-time highs.
Will they show the same resilience today after a dramatic increase in reported cases?
China’s cash markets opening in 15 minutes could let us know… pic.twitter.com/XY8FPPKyuX
I mentioned earlier that Hubei authorities had begun including cases diagnosed through new clinical methods from Thursday in its daily figures.
Reuters is reporting that Chinese state media said last week that Hubei would start recognising computerised tomography (CT) scan results as confirmation of infections, allowing hospitals to isolate patients more quickly.
We have confirmation now that the latest person to be diagnosed with the virus in the US (bringing the US total to 14), was an evacuee from Wuhan.
The patient was among 232 individuals who had been placed under quarantine at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar after being airlifted from Wuhan.
The big rises in figures today cast a shadow on Beijing’s touted “positive results” from efforts to contain the virus.
President Xi Jinping had chaired a meeting of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee after figures showed that the number of new cases dropped on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to the rise of new cases, there has also been a significant rise in the death toll in the past 24 hours.
More than 240 deaths were recorded on Wednesday (figures published on Thursday). This compares with 97 deaths the previous day.
First up let’s have a look at the massive jump in reported new cases of coronavirus.
Nearly 15,000 new cases have been reported in a 24-hour period, taking the total number of cases to just under 60,000.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said a second patient in San Diego, California, has tested positive for coronavirus, according to CNBC.
Earlier in the week another patient in San Diego who had been evacuated from Wuhan tested positive.
Welcome to our rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. These are the top developments today: