Here is our latest news report by Justin McCurry, which lays out China’s anger at the US announcing a ban on foreign arrivals from China.
Thailand to evacuate its nationals from China
The evacuation of Thai nationals from the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China could take place “in a matter of days”, Thailand’s government said on Saturday.
Three officials from the Thai embassy in Beijing were expected to reach Wuhan, the capital of the central province of Hubei where the outbreak began, on Sunday to help with the evacuation, government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said.
“We have an increase from 161 to now 182 Thais in the area who have registered with us and we are verifying their documents,” she told Reuters.
“The evacuation will be in a matter of days, likely after Feb. 2,” she said.
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Apple will close its stores in China “due to recent public health and prevention concerns” until 9 February, a statement on the company’s Chinese website says.
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Agence France-Presse has details on China’s operation to fly its citizens back home to Hubei from overseas.
A Xiamen Airlines charter flight from Bangkok touched down late on Friday in Wuhan, where the infection is believed to have originated in a market that sold wild animals.
Health authorities in white, full-body protective gear stood by the cabin door as the plane’s 73 passengers disembarked, smiling through face masks and waving to news photographers.
A second Xiamen flight landed soon afterwards carrying Hubei residents from Kota Kinabalu, a popular coastal tourist destination in Malaysia.
China’s foreign ministry said earlier on Friday that the country would bring Wuhan residents back from overseas “as soon as possible” due to “the practical difficulties that Chinese citizens from Hubei, especially Wuhan, have faced overseas”.
Britain withdraws some embassy staff from China
Britain is withdrawing some staff from its embassy and consulates in China due to the coronavirus, the UK government said in a statement on Saturday.
“As of 31 January, some staff and dependants from the British Embassy and Consulates are being withdrawn from China. Essential staff needed to continue critical work will remain. In the event that the situation deteriorates further, the ability of the British Embassy and Consulates to provide assistance to British nationals from within China may be limited.”
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Australian citizens coming from China will have to be quarantined for two weeks, said Morrison. Half a million masks will also be provided for those coming off flights from China, while thermometers and special screening arrangements will also be set up at airports.
Morrison also announced that the Australian government had raised the travel advice warning to level 4, recommending that no Australian travel to anywhere in mainland China, following the spread of coronavrius beyond Hubei province
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Australia issues China travel ban
Speaking at a press conference, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announced that no-one travelling from mainland China would be allowed into Australia unless they are Australian citizens or residents. Entry will be denied to anyone who has left or transited through mainland China from 1 February
In India, 324 Indians evacuated from Wuhan arrived in Delhi this morning and have been taken to two quarantine centres. Six people were held back from taking the flight after they reported high fevers.
India has so far reported one cases of coronavirus in the country, from a student in Kerala who had studied at Wuhan university.
Beijing has criticised the US government’s decision to raise their travel warning advisory on China to the highest level of risk.
The Chinese foreign ministry said that the US travel alert levels were not a “gesture of goodwill,” as they came despite the World Health Organisation opposing travel restrictions to China being put in place.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday in an online statement: “Just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the United States rushed to go in the opposite way. Certainly it’s not a gesture of goodwill.”
Air NZ suspends daily flights to Shanghai
Air New Zealand has now suspended all daily flights to Shanghai amid coronavirus outbreak.
“Our teams are currently putting in place alternative travel options for customers impacted by the suspension and they will be contacted directly over the coming week,” said Air New Zealand’s chief David Morgan.
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According to a Reuters report, coronavirus has led to a damaging drop in tourism for beach resorts in Thailand which are hugely popular with Chinese tourists. Reduced travel from China alone could result in 50 billion baht ($1.52 billion) of lost tourism revenue, the Thai Tourism Ministry estimated.
In Phuket, which is usually thriving with Chinese tourists who travel over for the new year holiday, the streets were empty. “The impact is tremendous,” said shop owner 45-year old Ausana Akaradachakul. “Only a few days after the news broke about the virus, the Chinese tourists were visibly few. I think about 70% of them are gone.”
Qantas to suspend flights to China
The airline has announced the suspension of mainland China services from 9 February.
Here’s the statement:
Qantas will suspend its two direct services to mainland China (Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai) from 9 February until 29 March 2020.
This follows entry restrictions imposed by countries including Singapore and the United States, which impact the movement of crew who work across the Qantas International network.
These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland China services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights.
Images of the first group of Chinese residents to arrive back in Wuhan have emerged.