Deaths from the coronavirus outbreak have now reached 305 today, including the first outside China, a 44 year old Chinese man in the Philippines. 14,559 people are now confirmed with the virus, the vast majority in China. Whilst the fatality rate remains at 2% with the current level of cases, many have also recovered and returned home. Many remain in hospitals around the world and continue to recover from symptoms.
But, in efforts to control the spread of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus, an increasing number of countries are also imposing restriction on travel to and from China.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed this morning the first death in the country and the first outside China.
Duque reports that the 44 year old Chinese male partner of the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the country, a 38 year old Chinese woman, also tested positive for the virus and died yesterday.
Milestones of the Wuhan Coronavirus
December 8: First patient develops symptoms of Wuhan coronavirus
December 31: Earliest cases of virus reported to World Health Organisation
January 1: Wildlife market in Wuhan, Hubei, the epicentre of the outbreak, is closed for disinfection
January 7: Chinese scientists identify the pathogen as new strain of coronavirus (like SARS and MERS)
January 9: First death linked to virus
January 20: First reported cases outside Hubei, in Beijing and Shenzhen
January 23: Wuhan is placed on lockdown, with movement halted in or out of the city. 60 million+ people affected by travel restrictions in Wuhan and neighbouring cities. WHO says virus is not yet a public health emergency of international concern
January 28: Death toll tops 100. The number of confirmed cases in mainland China overtakes the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak
January 30: WHO declares a “public health emergency of international concern”
January 31: Thailand health officials confirm first case of human-to-human transmission
February 2: First Wuhan coronavirus death reported outside of mainland China, in Philippines
Meanwhile, back at the epicentre of the outbreak, Wuhan authorities have finished building a new 1,000 bed hospital especially to treat coronavirus patients. The Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang handed the new Huoshenshan Hospital over to the military this morning. According to CCTV, 1,400 military medical personnel will start working in the hospital from tomorrow. The facility has been constructed in three weeks.
China finally launched into unprecedented action last week, effectively quarantining entire cities across Hubei province and more than 50 million people. Wuhan officials have been heavily criticised online for withholding information about the outbreak until late December despite knowing of it weeks earlier, according to a Reuters report.
Unprecedented safeguards are imposed nationwide include postponing the return of students to school following the Chinese New Year holidays, cutting bus and train services, and tightening health screening on travellers nationwide.
In recent days Britain, Russia and Sweden have confirmed their first infections, the virus has now spread to 27 countries. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, US, Germany, Vietnam and the UAE have all added cases to their lists over the past 24 hours.
France government officials announced that they are helping evacuate 10 Mexican citizens from Wuhan. The 10 Mexican nationals are first flying to France after being examined to confirm they don’t have symptoms.
Both the US and Australia are among a growing list of countries that are putting temporary travel restrictions on Chinese nationals or those who have travelled to China within the last two weeks.
Australian officials have confirmed that they were barring entry to non-citizens arriving from China, while Australian citizens who had travelled there would be required to go into “self-isolation” for two weeks. Australians are debating the option of locating the quarantined citizens on the controversial Christmas Island, on offshore refugee camp that many nickname the country’s “leper colony”.
Vietnam has now suspended all flights from mainland China, effective from yesterday, while Russia announced it would halt visa-free tourism for Chinese nationals.
Thailand was mulling a similar change to its free visas-on-arrival but the Thai PM has asked his Public Health Ministry to reconsider their recommendation after the country’s tourism minister said the revocation would be catastrophic for Thai tourism. As of this morning, Chinese nationals can still arrive, albeit on a much-reduced schedule of flights, and get a visa-on-arrival.
The US, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations had already advised their citizens not to travel to China.
The UK says it was temporarily withdrawing some diplomatic staff and their families from across China. This comes a day after the US State Department ordered embassy employees to send home family members under 21 years of age.
The US emergency declaration now requires US citizens returning from Hubei province, the epicentre of the current coronavirus outbreak, to be placed in mandatory 14 day quarantine.
With local anger mounting in China, Ma Guoqiang, the Communist Party chief for Wuhan, admitted that authorities there had acted too slowly.
“If strict control measures had been taken earlier the result would have been better than now.”
In Thailand, health officials announced on Friday that a taxi driver was the kingdom’s first case of human-to-human transmission.
Four Chinese airline passengers from China’s Hubei province, and one Thai citizen – a taxi driver – have now been confirmed as infected with the novel coronavirus. The taxi driver was the first instance of a local human-to-human viral transmission. The driver had never travelled to China, let alone since mid-December when the Wuhan coronavirus was first identified. Since his diagnosis, Thai health officials have traced 13 people who had been in close contact with the taxi driver, but none have tested positive for the virus at this stage – the update from the deputy head of the disease control department, Tanarak Plipat.
Thailand now joins China, Vietnam, Germany, Japan, France and the US with confirmed domestic infections.
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