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Jumat, 31 Januari 2020

Live updates: Coronavirus deaths soar as U.S. warns against China travel - The Washington Post

Glenn Hunt EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Flight attendants in protective face masks walk through Brisbane airport in Australia on Friday. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases soared to almost 10,000, with more than 213 deaths recorded in China.

As the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak passed 200 Friday, all of the fatalities in China, the State Department told Americans not to travel to the country and advised those in China to consider departing. Here is what we know:

●The United States has issued a “Level 4” travel advisory for China, its highest level of caution, over the rapidly spreading outbreak. Japan followed suit, urging citizens to avoid non-urgent trips, while Singapore banned Chinese nationals from entering or transiting through the city.

●Two cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Britain, and the first case in Russia was confirmed. South Korea reported an 11th case.

●China, anxious to shield Communist Party leaders from blame, dismissed a public health official over her handling of the crisis.

●The World Health Organization has declared the virus a global public health emergency, requiring states to ramp up their responses.

●In Hong Kong, officials closed schools until March as the number of confirmed cases rose to 12 and residents faced supply shortages.

WHO declares global emergency | U.S. reports first person-to-person transmission | Trump under growing pressure | U.S. airports screen travelers | Mapping the spread

9:35 AM: Risk of infection remains very low in Britain, chief medical officer says

WASHINGTON — After the United Kingdom confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus Friday, the country’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said that the risk of infection there remained low — but that the chance of China losing control of the epidemic was his main concern.

“The risk comes from the situation in China going out of control, despite best efforts by the Chinese government, and spreading more widely,” Whitty said. “So that is the thing for which we are planning, that is the risk.”

Public health officials around the world have grappled with how to keep people continually informed about the outbreak, while at the same time not stoking undue panic. So far, the disease and deaths from it have remained centered in China, where authorities initially did not share news about the emerging new virus, which consequently made it harder to control as potentially infected populations continued to move around.

In contrast, countries such as the U.K. have put in place preemptive screening and testing procedures for high-risk travelers, techniques that public health officials say can dramatically reduce the risk of an outbreak.

By: Miriam Berger

9:34 AM: Germany confirms child of patient has virus

BERLIN — The number of coronavirus cases in Germany increased to six Friday, as authorities confirmed that the child of a patient in Bavaria had been diagnosed.

All five infected adults work for Webasto, an automotive supplier near Munich. Their condition is stable, authorities said.

A 33-year-old man became the country’s first confirmed coronavirus patient Monday, after being infected by a female business visitor from Shanghai.

She and the 33-year-old met at a workshop in the offices of the German automotive supplier.

Authorities said Tuesday that around 40 individuals had come into close contact with him and the Chinese visitor. Webasto temporarily closed its headquarters near Munich on Wednesday.

By: Rick Noack

8:41 AM: Italian government sets six-month state of emergency

ROME — The Italian government said it will impose a six-month state of emergency, as the country confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus.

The declaration — set to be officially announced later Friday — will free up funding and resources aimed at preventing the virus from spreading.

The Italian move came in response to WHO’s declaration of a “public health emergency of international concern,” which requires countries to ramp up their crisis response.

“In light of WHO’s international emergency we have activated all of the precautionary legal tools allowed by our country in such cases, just like in 2003 with the SARS outbreak,” Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

Italy also suspended “all plane connections between Italy and China, until further notice,” according to a statement by the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.

States of emergency are declared relatively frequently in Italy, compared to other major European nations. A similar emergency was declared in Venice in November, when floods engulfed the city.

Even though both France and Germany have reported more coronavirus cases than Italy, neither have taken steps comparable to the Italian declaration.

By: Stefano Pitrelli and Rick Noack

8:10 AM: First coronavirus cases confirmed in Russia

MOSCOW — The first two coronavirus cases in Russia have been recorded, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told reporters Friday. Both are Chinese citizens, she said.

One case is in Russia’s Far East Transbaikal Territory, a region that borders China, while the other is in the Tyumen Region, about 1,300 miles east of Moscow.

Golikova also announced that most flights to and from China have been suspended. The exceptions are Aeroflot’s regular routes to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou and Chinese Airlines’ flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Other preventive measures include imposing stricter border-crossing restrictions for those traveling from Mongolia.

Russia has already closed its entire 2,600-mile border with China over concerns of a coronavirus outbreak, and the country put out an advisory Friday for citizens to avoid hugging, kissing and literally letting their hair down to prevent the spread of the disease.

Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer health regulator, suggested that people refrain from displays of affection, including handshakes, and secure their hair to limit contact with the face. It also advised people not to touch railings or doorknobs with bare hands.

Golikova said a decision on if to postpone an investment forum in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi amid concerns of a coronavirus outbreak will be made on Monday. The Russian Investment Forum is scheduled for Feb. 12, and one argument for pushing it back is the large Chinese delegation that was due to attend. Russia and China did $110 billion in trade last year.

By: Isabelle Khurshudyan

8:09 AM: Japan to tighten restrictions on Chinese nationals, Abe says

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday his government would bar foreigners from entering the country if they had been in the virus-hit Chinese city in the previous two weeks and would also exclude any Chinese national whose passport was issued by the provincial government of Hubei, media reports said.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the plan to tighten immigration controls would be officially announced at midnight Japan time. In a statement, it said Abe told a specially constituted task force dealing with the crisis to implement measures so that “people infected with the virus will be denied entry into Japan.” Abe added that immigration controls must be strengthened even when the presence of the infection cannot be confirmed. Nikkei and NHK both reported details of the new plan.

Singapore on Friday banned all Chinese nationals from entering or transiting through the city-state, as well as any travelers who have been in mainland China in the past two weeks.

By: Simon Denyer

7:45 AM: China dismisses public health official

HONG KONG — Mindful of the political danger, China dismissed a public health official — her departure publicized by state mouthpieces in a rare, officially sanctioned show of accountability. Tang Zhihong, the health commission head of Huanggang, a city in Hubei province with the second-largest number of cases after Wuhan, was interviewed by a state broadcaster and fumbled her answers on the city’s response to the crisis. She could not state the number of available hotel beds in her city, nor its capacity to test for the virus.

After the clip was viewed some 40 million times, Tang was dismissed on Thursday night, becoming the first Chinese official to lose her job over the crisis. Her removal was carried in English by the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper, which described her as “bumbling.”

By: Shibani Mahtani

7:30AM: First cases confirmed in Britain add to global spread

HONG KONG: The outbreak, meanwhile, continues to spread. Britain on Friday confirmed the first two cases of coronavirus in England. “We have been preparing for U.K. cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately,” chief medical officer Chris Whitty said.

In South Korea, health officials reported an 11th case. Earlier Friday, 368 South Korean evacuees from Wuhan arrived home on a government-chartered flight. They were screened for symptoms, with 18 taken to the hospital and the remainder placed in quarantine.

Germany and India, which have each confirmed cases of coronavirus, were preparing to evacuate their citizens in Wuhan by plane. More than 350 names were featured on a list drawn up by Indian officials, while Germany was planning to retrieve about 100 people.

Elsewhere, Mongolia extended the closure of its border crossings with China until March 2 and said it would not allow Chinese citizens to enter the country. Pakistan said it was halting flights to and from China with immediate effect.

By: Shibani Mahtani

7:15 AM: Significant fallout for Chinese travelers globally

HONG KONG — The fallout has been significant for Chinese travelers globally. Dozens of airlines have suspended flights to the country and many companies have urged their staff to stay away. From Italy to the Philippines, hotels and ports have been turning away Chinese citizens over fears that they may be infected.

The response at times has morphed into outright racism. In France, the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus — “I am not a virus” — began trending, with those of Asian descent sharing their experiences of racism after a newspaper used the headline “Yellow Alert” to describe the outbreak.

Restaurants in South Korea have put up signs turning away Chinese clients. A student in Britain wrote in the Guardian that commuters have avoided sitting next to him because of his ethnicity. And after 7,000 people were held on a cruise ship in an Italian port over unfounded fears that two of its Chinese passengers were infected with the virus, officials have warned of latent and widespread racism against the Chinese community.

By: Shibani Mahtani

5:00 AM: State Department travel advisory an ‘extreme’ step, expert warns

HONG KONG — The State Department issued a travel advisory urging Americans not to visit China, the highest level of caution that is in place against only a handful of countries including Iraq and Afghanistan, as the numbers of those infected by the deadly coronavirus continued to soar.

The U.S. travel advisory, analysts say, represents a strong reaction from Washington amid rivalry with Beijing and pressure from the Trump administration for American businesses to shift production back home. The step is likely to have substantial implications for the Chinese economy, even though the warning is not mandatory for U.S. travelers to observe.

But James Zimmerman, partner in the Beijing office of law firm Perkins Coie LLP and former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said in light of the departure arrangement, the State Department’s travel warning appeared “extreme.”

It is “premature and suspect, and overreacting at best,” he said Friday. “The advisory is a clear reflection of how fear and a lack of trustworthy information can be an insidious combination.”

By: Shibani Mahtani

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2020-01-31 14:45:00Z
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