China reports 17 new cases of mystery virus
(Agence France-Presse) - January 19, 2020 - 11:37am

BEIJING, China — China reported 17 new cases of the mysterious SARS-like virus on Sunday, including three in a severe condition, heightening fears ahead of China's Lunar New Year holiday when hundreds of millions of people move around the country.

The new coronavirus strain has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Of the 17 new cases in the central city of Wuhan — believed to be the epicentre of the outbreak — three were described as "severe," of which two patients were too critical to be moved, authorities said.

Those infected range from 30 to 79 years old.

The virus has now infected 62 people in Wuhan, city authorities said, with eight in a severe condition, 19 cured and discharged from hospital, and the rest remaining in isolation receiving treatment.

Two people have died so far from the virus, including a 69-year-old man who died on Wednesday after the disease caused pulmonary tuberculosis and damaged multiple organ functions.

Authorities said they had begun "optimised" testing of pneumonia cases across the city to identify those infected, and would begin "detection work... towards suspected cases in the city" as a next step, as well as carrying out "sampling tests."

Scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London warned in a paper published Friday that the number of cases in the city was likely to be closer to 1,700, much higher than the number officially identified.

Authorities said Sunday that some of the cases had "no history of contact" with the seafood market believed to be the centre of the outbreak.

No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, but Wuhan's health commission has previously said the possibility "cannot be excluded."

Three cases have also been reported overseas — two in Thailand and one in Japan.

Screening measures

Although there has been no official announcement of screening measures on the mainland, Wuhan deputy mayor Chen Xiexin said on state broadcaster CCTV that infrared thermometers had been installed at airports, railway stations and coach stations across the city.

Chen said passengers with fevers were being registered, given masks and taken to medical institutions, with nearly 300,000 body temperature tests had been carried out, according to CCTV.

Authorities in Hong Kong have stepped up detection measures, including rigorous temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers from the Chinese mainland.

The US said from Friday it would begin screening direct flights arriving from Wuhan at San Francisco airport and New York's JFK, as well as Los Angeles, where many flights connect.

Thailand said it was already screening passengers arriving in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket and would soon introduce similar controls in the beach resort of Krabi.

Wuhan is a city of 11 million inhabitants that serves as a major transport hub, including during the annual Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel across the country to visit family.

CHINA PNEUMONIA OUTBREAK SARS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 25, 2020 - 4:24pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

February 25, 2020 - 4:24pm

Iranian officials report three more deaths from the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of fatalities to 15, state media reports.

Two of the dead were elderly women in the central province of Markazi and the other was a patient in the northern province of Alborz, state news agency IRNA said Tuesday. — AFP

February 25, 2020 - 10:36am

The first of two Philippine Airlines flights that will bring Filipino crew members of coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess are ready to leave for Japan.

The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, along with the Department of Health team, are also ready at Yokohama Port for the arrival of over 400 Filipinos aboard the Japanese cruise ship.

 

 

February 25, 2020 - 9:10am

China on Tuesday reports another 71 deaths from the novel coronavirus, the lowest daily number of fatalities in over two weeks, which raises the toll to 2,663.

The National Health Commission also reports 508 new confirmed cases, with all by nine in hard-hit Hubei province.

It is up from Monday's 409 cases nationwide. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 9:20pm

Hong Kong will bar non-residents arriving from South Korea from Tuesday morning in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak, the city's security chief said late Monday.

"Considering the development of the epidemic in South Korea, the Security Bureau will issue a red travel alert," John Lee told reporters. 

"We also urge Hong Kong residents not to travel there unless necessary," he added. — AFP

February 24, 2020 - 3:29pm

Authorities in Wuhan on Monday reversed a decision that would have allowed some people to leave the quarantined city at the centre of China's deadly virus epidemic, and reprimanded officials who had made the announcement.

The city government said in a statement that the previous announcement had been made by a traffic prevention and control group "without the consent" of the local leadership.

"The announcement is declared invalid. In this regard, we have seriously dealt with the relevant personnel," the city said on its official account on Twitter-like Weibo.

"Wuhan resolutely implements the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions on 'preventing leaks (of the virus)' ... strictly manages the passages leaving from Wuhan, strictly controls personnel, and strictly prevents the epidemic from going out," it said.  — AFP

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