Turkey has urged its citizens not to travel to China unless necessary to avoid infection with the coronavirus.
“It is highly recommended that our citizens do not travel to China unless it is necessary and if they travel there, they should stay away from the regions where the cases are seen, especially in Hubei province,” the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Monday.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has announced that it is working on a coronavirus vaccine, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and several other partners.
CEPI said it will “begin three programmes” aimed at creating an effective vaccine against the virus that has so far killed 82 reported cases.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that “all possible means” were being used to get in contact with the 1,460 people who have travelled to the UK from Wuhan before the city went on lockdown.
“We’re collaborating with […] Border Force, with the airlines and with others including universities, schools and cultural organisations to try to make contact,” Hancock said.
China has announced that 60.33bn yuan (6.6bn GBP) will be allocated for the sole purpose of fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
China’s Ministry of Finance and National Health Commission said funds would be used to prop up public health services and epidemic prevention.
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France expects to repatriate up to a few hundred of its 800 citizens living in the Wuhan area, though evacuees will have to spend 14 days in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus in France.
Japanese citizens who wish to return home from Wuhan are expected to be flown out via charter flights as early as Tuesday, Reuters reports. Japan’s foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said about 430 Japanese nationals had been confirmed to be in Hubei province.
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The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has questioned whether there are enough specialist beds available in the NHS to deal with any potential coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
Ashworth said specialist extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) beds might be needed for the treatment of the virus, and they were already in high demand in the UK, PA reported.
He asked the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to “update the House on how many ECMO beds are currently open and what preparations the NHS is making on that front?”
Hancock responded: “There are four centres that are stood up and ready should there be a need. The centres are in Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital (London), Liverpool, Newcastle and the Royal Free (London) and there is a further escalation if more beds are So we are ready, but of course we keep all these things under review.”
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The total number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus now stands at 2,887, with 2,827 of these in China. Australia had 4 confirmed cases, Cambodia 1, France 3, Hong Kong 5, Japan 3, Macao 2, Malaysia 3, Nepal 1, Singapore 4, Taipei 3, Thailand 5, Vietnam 2, South Korea 2, Sri Lanka 1 and the US 5.
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People who have returned to UK from Wuhan should ‘self-isolate’, says health secretary
The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has told MPs that the risk to the UK population is low and the country is “well prepared and well equipped” to respond if required. However, he added that the Foreign Office was “rapidly advancing measures to bring UK nationals back from Hubei province”.
“Coronaviruses do not usually spread if people don’t have symptoms – but we cannot be 100% certain.
“From today, we are therefore asking anyone in the UK who has returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days to self-isolate. Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people – and to contact NHS 111.
“If you are in Northern Ireland, you should phone your GP.
“If you develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to the area, and are now in the UK, call your GP or ring 111 informing them of your symptoms and your recent travel to the city.
“Do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a clinician.”
Hancock added that efforts were continuing to trace people who have arrived in the UK from Wuhan: “Having eliminated those who we know have since left the country, there are 1,460 people we are seeking to locate.
“The Foreign Office is rapidly advancing measures to bring UK nationals back from Hubei province.
“I have asked my officials to ensure there are appropriate measures in place upon arrival to look after them and protect the public.”
The health secretary asked Britons in Hubei province to get in contact with the Foreign Office.
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People’s Daily, China’s largest newspaper, has claimed on Twitter that an “antiviral spray” that can be applied to the throat and shield from infection with the coronavirus has been developed in a clinical centre in Shanghai.
The tweet seemed to imply that the spray is already being used by hospital staff in China on the frontline of the virus outbreak, as it emphasised that “mass-production for public use is not available for now”.
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The US president, Donald Trump, has commented on the coronavirus on Twitter, stating that his administration has offered help to China’s president, Xi Jinping:
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Dubai’s Emirates airline has advised its flight crews to stay in their hotels when on a layover in China to avoid infection risk with the coronavirus. According to Reuters, the airline also recommends that crew avoid areas with a potential for large gatherings of people.
The expert added that it was probably difficult for someone infected with coronavirus to transmit it to others without coughing or sneezing, but that more research was needed.
Van Kerkhove said that so far there was no evidence that the virus was mutating.
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Van Kerkhove said a lot of people were asking whether receiving mail from Wuhan posed an infection risk, and said that this was not a concern, as the virus would not survive for that long a journey.
She added that not many children had been infected so far, and that about three to six feet (1-2 metres) of distance should be kept from those carrying the virus in order to avoid infection.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has invited people to participate in a live Q&A with the epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove on Twitter. Van Kerkhove, who specialises in respiratory diseases, said that while it was confirmed that this was a “new” coronavirus, it was still being investigated whether it was transmitted from an animal. She added that currently there were 37 confirmed cases in 12 countries other than China.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a short while ago that three new cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in the US – one in Arizona and two in California – apparently all travellers returning from Wuhan.
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One wing of the specialist hospital in Wuhan has been constructed in just 16 hours, according to China’s People’s Daily. It will be handed over to the military next week.
Update: A number of Twitter users have pointed out that the above image of a modular building can be seen elsewhere on the internet, for example here.
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Here’s a summary of the latest developments:
- The number of deaths from coronavirus has risen to 81, with the number of confirmed infections climbing above 2,700 in China alone.
- The southern province of Hainan has reported its first fatality. About 95% of deaths and more than 50% of infections are in Hubei province.
- China’s second most powerful man, Premier Li Keqiang, has become the most senior figure to visit Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak. He met medical staff, visited a supermarket, and the construction site of a new hospital.
- Wuhan’s mayor, Zhou Xianwang, has admitted the authorities were too slow in how they released information about the virus. Appearing on state TV he said: “We were not sufficiently in time, and we did not make good use of many helpful information.”
- About 73 people have been tested negative for the virus in the UK, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. Health experts say they would be surprised if the virus does not spread to the UK.
- The UK government is under pressure to evacuate Britons stranded in the city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei. The Foreign Office said it was “working to make available an option” for British nationals to leave Hubei. Britons stranded in the Wuhan say the UK response has been “pathetic”.
- The lunar new year holiday in China has been extended until 2 February across China and to 9 February in Shanghai. Chongqing municipality – one of China’s biggest – has banned inter-province bus travel for its nearly 30 million residents.
- Hong Kong has banned Hubei residents from entering. New coronavirus cases have been reported in Australia, South Korea and Canada. Cambodia has reported its first case.
- World Heath Organization chiefs have held meetings in Beijing on Monday. The WHO’s director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week urged China to ensure lockdown measures are kept “short in duration”.
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