IND Coronavirus - Live coverage - The Independent

IND Coronavirus

    The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 80 as China expanded efforts to contain the viral disease by extending the Lunar New Year holiday to keep the public at home.
     
    A total of 17 cities with more than 50 million people have been placed on lockdown in the most far-reaching disease-control measures ever imposed.
    1/27/2020 7:56:36 AM
    Some 52 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK as of Sunday afternoon, according to the Department of Health (DoH), although all tests have returned negative.
     
    England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said there was a "fair chance" cases would emerge in Britain as the overall number reported around the world climbed to about 2,744.
    1/27/2020 8:09:14 AM
    Public Health England's medical director, Dr Yvonne Doyle, has told Sky News she suspects there were already cases of cornavirus in the UK.
     
    But she said the country was "well-prepared". 
    1/27/2020 8:24:05 AM
    Britons trapped in the Chinese province at the centre of the outbreak have been urged to leave the area if they are able to do so.

    The Foreign Office updated its guidance to "advise against all travel to Hubei province", which has been on lockdown for several days as China seeks to contain the illness.

    But the guidance also added: "If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so. This is due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak."

    Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the government was "looking at all options" to help Britons leave Wuhan following reports that officials have been asked to examine the logistics for an airlift from the city.
    1/27/2020 8:38:42 AM
    Here are the key questions and answers about travelling to and from China, from our travel correspondent Simon Calder:

    Everything you need to know about travelling to, from and around China as coronavirus continues to spread

    Big airlines from mainland China are offering refunds, while some cruise lines are cancelling departures from Shanghai
    1/27/2020 8:57:10 AM
    The Foreign Office has confirmed it is working on making an "option available" for British nationals to leave Wuhan in the Hubei province in China.

    British citizens in the region have been told to call the FCO on (+86) (0) 10 8529 6600 or (+44) (0)207 008 1500 should they need assistance.
     
    A spokesperson said: "We continue to monitor developments closely and are in close touch with the Chinese authorities. The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern."
    1/27/2020 9:12:25 AM
    One academic has said his "best guess" was that 100,000 people had been infected by the coronavirus.
     
    Professor Neil Ferguson, from Imperial College London, told The Guardian: "There are very large numbers of Chinese tourists across Europe right now.

    "Unless the Chinese manage to control this, and I'm sceptical about whether that is possible, we will get cases here."
    1/27/2020 9:26:56 AM
    Health officials are continuing to track down around 2,000 people who have recently flown into the UK from Wuhan, the area of China worst affected by the outbreak.

    The Department of Health confirmed it is trying to find "as many passengers as we can" who arrived from the region in the past two weeks to check on their wellbeing.

    It is understood Border Force officers have been recruited to help speed up the search for passengers as testing for the virus continues in the UK.

    A public health hub has been set up in Heathrow, staffed by a rotating team of seven clinicians working in shifts to support patients on arrival.
    1/27/2020 9:47:39 AM
    Here's a map showing which countries have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, by Statista
     
    1/27/2020 10:07:27 AM
    Jeremy Hunt has suggested airlifts for UK citizens in China and warned of the pressure the coronavirus could put on the NHS.
     
    Asked if he supported flying Britons back from Wuhan and elsewhere, the former foreign secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think I would be very sympathetic and I'm sure the Foreign Office would be too."

    He said the NHS was well-equipped to deal with patients returning with the virus but warned it could strain the service.

    "This is a very difficult time of year for the NHS - it is the most difficult time. But, again, my experience is that the NHS does know how to cope with these kinds of emergencies.

    "I think the thing that will be difficult is the knock-on impact on other NHS services," he said.

    "I think it would be very, very challenging for the NHS in terms of the regular workload but I have absolutely no doubt that, when it comes to doing what comes to necessary to isolate the virus and keep the public safe, our doctors and nurses will do exactly what they need to do."
    1/27/2020 10:23:55 AM
    Thailand and Hong Kong have each reported eight cases of infection; the United States, Australia, Taiwan and Macau have five each; Japan, Singapore and Malaysia each have reported four; France and South Korea three each; Vietnam two, and one each in Canada and Nepal.
    1/27/2020 10:38:00 AM
    Big businesses across China are temporarily shutting stores or advising staff to work from home to guard against the spread of the cornavirus.
     
    Companies are also offering longer holidays, cancelling events and imposing quarantine, as they brace for longer-term impact following China's weekend decision to extend the week-long Lunar New Year holiday by three days to 2 February, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
     
    Hotpot restaurant chain Haidilao International Holding said it would shut stores across China from Sunday to Friday, while gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and social media firm ByteDance told staff to work from home.

    Many companies, including e-commerce firm Pinduoduo, bank UBS Group AG and property developer Country Garden also advised employees returning from Wuhan or Hubei province to stay in quarantine at home.
    1/27/2020 10:56:43 AM
    The Spanish government is working with China and the European Union to repatriate Spanish nationals from Wuhan, the country's foreign minister has said.
     
    "We're working ... with our consulate in Beijing, and officials in China and the European Union to repatriate around 20 Spaniards in Wuhan, Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus. We will continue to update on any advances," Arancha Gonzalez Laya wrote on Twitter.
    1/27/2020 11:16:57 AM
    France has said it expected to evacuate hundreds of its 800 citizens from Wuhan.
     
    "French citizens will be repatriated by airplane to France, with the agreement of Chinese authorities. This will take place midweek," the country's health minister, Agnes Buzyn, told reporters on Sunday.
     
    Evacuees will have to spend 14 days in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus in France.
     
    The US State Department said on Sunday it would evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate to the US and will offer a limited number of seats to private US citizens.
    1/27/2020 11:28:38 AM
    China will ensure ample supplies to Wuhan's markets and maintain price stability, Premier Li Keqiang said during a visit to Wuhanon Monday, CCTV state television reported.

    Mr Li went to the city to inspect efforts to contain the epidemic, and spoke with patients and medical staff.
    1/27/2020 11:50:41 AM
    Britain is talking to its international partners to find solutions to help British and other foreign nations leave Wuhan, a spokesman for Boris Johnson has said.
     
    "The Foreign Office have said this morning that they are exploring options for British nationals leaving the province. The Foreign Office are in close contact with international partners, including the US and European countries, to investigate possible solutions," the prime minister's spokesman told reporters.

    "The safety of British nationals is our top priority."
    1/27/2020 12:05:44 PM
    Cambodia has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the country's health minister has announced.
    1/27/2020 12:25:12 PM
    Hospital workers caring for those infected with coronavirus are reportedly wearing adult diapers because they do not have time to go to the bathroom:

    Coronavirus doctors 'wearing adult diapers because they do not have time to go to bathroom'

    Vital medical supplies dwindling as government rushes to build two hospitals to cope with demand
    1/27/2020 12:39:21 PM
    A pair of British teachers who have been working in Wuhan say they have not left their apartment for five days, that all transport has been stopped and "there is no place to go" and "so we are pretty much stuck".

    Jason Neal and Sophie Hunt told BBC Breakfast there has been no reassurance from the British authorities whom they have "struggled" to contact, possibly because of the time difference and them being closed over the weekend. They have about five days of food left and are keeping in touch with colleagues online while the scene outside is now like a "ghost town".

    Mr Neal said: "Even if the news is just to sit tight and nothing is going to change - I think it is just the silence that is disconcerting.

    "We have not heard anything from outside of Wuhan for a week now."

    He said there is a support group for people who may need help and to get masks and some volunteers are going out to make deliveries.

    Ms Hunt said emailing and trying to ring the authorities has brought a "useless automated response back from the embassy saying not to go" to the area.

    She feels the Chinese authorities have made the right decision by shutting down the city, adding: "All we keep hearing is that the death toll is accelerating every day. All we can do really is sit tight and wait for more news.

    "Although it is hard us being stuck here, we know that it is the safest possible option for us at the moment."
    1/27/2020 1:07:49 PM
    One British man, who had travelled to Wuhan to visit his girlfriend, is stuck in the city after his return flight on 3 February was cancelled, and he described trying to get out of the area as "impossible".

    The 29-year-old, who did not want to be named, told the PA news agency: "There is no news on when the airport will reopen therefore the airline [China Southern] have just cancelled the flight.

    "I've also had no help from the UK Embassy in Beijing who are conveniently closed for the weekend."
    1/27/2020 1:33:49 PM
    Hong Kong has confirmed two more cases of coronavirus, raising its total to eight.
    1/27/2020 1:56:30 PM
    Some 73 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK and all tests have come back negative, the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement.
    1/27/2020 2:13:53 PM
    A further person in Scotland has tested negative for coronavirus, taking the total to seven.
    1/27/2020 2:29:39 PM
    Boris Johnson has insisted plans are being worked on to help UK citizens in Wuhan and assured "we are doing everything" to screen people arriving from affected regions.

    In an interview at the King's College London Mathematics School after launching a post-Brexit visa plan, the prime minister was asked for detail on how frustrated citizens would be assisted.
     
    "We are looking at everything we can to give reassurance to those people in Wuhan and you will be hearing a bit more in due course but I don't want to pre-empt the decisions we are going to make," he replied.
     
    "Obviously, we are doing everything we can to ensure that people who do come to this country are properly screened and checked if they have come from an area that is known to have the infection.
     
    "So far there is still no case of somebody with coronavirus here the UK but clearly there are a lot of cases in China and it is spreading."
     
    1/27/2020 2:48:44 PM
    Donald Trump has said his administration is in "close communication" with China on the coronavirus. 
     
    "Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch," he tweeted. "We have offered China and President Xi any help that is necessary. Our experts are extraordinary!"
    1/27/2020 3:07:31 PM
    Three new cases of coronavirus infection have been identified in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.
     
    One case was found in Arizona and two others in California.
    1/27/2020 3:30:44 PM
    Beijing has reported its first death caused by the coronavirus, the state television station CCTV said.
     
    The 50-year-old, who had been to Wuhan, returned to the capital city and had been confirmed infected with the virus on 22 January, CCTV reported.
    1/27/2020 3:42:29 PM
    The director-general of the World Health Organisation has flown to China to meet with government officials and health experts trying to contain the spread of a deadly virus that has killed 81 people in China and infected 2,750.

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said the UN health agency wants "to understand the latest developments and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against the outbreak."

    Last week, WHO held off on declaring the virus a global health emergency. It said China had taken very strong measures — including locking down cities that are home to 50 million people — that the agency hoped would be effective in containing the virus and "short in duration."

    Mr Tedros said he would not hesitate to reconvene the WHO emergency committee at a moment's notice if the situation in China changed. He said that could happen "in a day" if that was needed.
    1/27/2020 3:57:52 PM
    Dubai's Emirates airline is advising its flight crew to stay in their hotels when on a layover in China due to the new coronavirus outbreak.
     
    Emirates flies to three mainland China cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. It does not fly to Wuhan, where the virus first appeared.
    1/27/2020 4:05:42 PM
    The mayor of the Chinese city where the deadly virus broke out has said he would be willing to resign if it helps the government contain its spread.

    Mayor Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster CCTV both he and Wuhan's Communist Party secretary are willing to take responsibility for closing off the city, including being removed from office.

    As the virus spread through China and overseas, transportation links to the city were cut last week to prevent more people from leaving.

    Mr Zhou also responded to allegations the city was slow to disclose information in the early days of the outbreak, saying local governments are restricted from releasing information about infectious diseases without authorisation.
    1/27/2020 4:12:09 PM
    Spain and Portugal working to repatriate nationals from Wuhan

    The governments of Spain and Portugal are working with China and the EU to repatriate their nationals in the Wuhan area struck by coronavirus, according to the two countries’ foreign ministers.
     
    “We're working ... with our consulate in Beijing, and officials in China and the European Union to repatriate around 20 Spaniards in Wuhan, Hubei, the epicentre of the coronavirus. We will continue to update on any advances,” Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Spain’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter.
     
    Meanwhile, Augusto Santos Silva, Portugal’s foreign minister, has told state broadcaster RTP that his ministry is exploring whether Portuguese citizens in Wuhan could return on a civilian plane with citizens from other European countries.
     
    “Unlike other countries such as the United States or France, who have large numbers of citizens in Wuhan and carry out their own repatriation programmes, it makes more sense for a country like Portugal, which has only a few citizens there, to carry out coordinated operations, if possible,” he said.
     
    Between 10 and 14 Portuguese citizens are reportedly in Wuhan, according to local media.
     
    The outbreak has killed 81 people in China so far and infected more than 2,800 globally, most of them in China.
    1/27/2020 4:35:32 PM
    1/27/2020 4:55:17 PM
    1/27/2020 5:13:36 PM
    Sri Lanka confirms first coronavirus case
     
    Sri Lanka has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a senior health official for the country has said.

    “A Chinese lady, who is in her 40s, arrived on the 19th as a tourist and fell ill on the 25th and was confirmed as having the coronavirus following a test on Monday,” Sudath Samaraweera, the chief epidemiologist with Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health, told Reuters on Monday.
    1/27/2020 5:17:28 PM
    UK health secretary says people who have recently returned from Wuhan should 'self-isolate'
     
    Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said people who have returned to the UK from Wuhan should “self-isolate” even if they have no symptoms for coronavirus.
     
    In an update to MPs, Mr Hancock said coronaviruses “do not usually spread if people don’t have symptoms” but added that the government cannot be “100 per cent 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,” he told MPs.
     
    “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.”
     
    The health secretary added that efforts to trace people who have recently arrived from the virus-hit Chinese city are ongoing.
     
    “Having eliminated those who we know have since left the country, there are 1,460 people we are seeking to locate,” Mr Hancock said.
    Source: EPA
     
    1/27/2020 5:27:58 PM
    Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, has asked Mr Hancock if there will be enough specialist beds available in the NHS to deal with any potential outbreak of coronavirus in the UK.

    Mr Ashworth noted that specialist Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) beds might be needed for treatment of the virus.
     
    “There are four centres that are stood up and ready should there be a need,” Mr Hancock replied.
     
    “The centres are in St Guys and Thomas' Hospital (London), Liverpool, Newcastle and the Royal Free (London) and there is a further escalation if more beds are needed.
     
    “So we are ready, but of course we keep all these things under review.”
    1/27/2020 5:43:29 PM
    Stocks tumble over coronavirus fears
     
    Stocks markets tumbled worldwide on Monday as investors worried about the possible economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

    China's yuan tumbled to a 2020 low and commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar, fell amid mounting concern. 
     
    The Japanese yen was the main beneficiary, although its move higher was limited, according to Reuters.
     
    “The market was due for a fall and coronavirus is a perfect case of an unknown unknown. An increase in uncertainty causes the market to fall but the real question here is does it affect the global economy?” David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds in New York, told the agency.
     
    The Shanghai stock exchange is set to reopen on 3 February after China extended its Lunar New Year holiday in an attempt to contain the virus.
    Source: AP
     
    1/27/2020 6:04:07 PM
    Countries evacuating nationals from virus-hit Wuhan areas
     
    A number of countries have announced plans to evacuate diplomatic staff and private citizens from Chinese areas which have been badly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

    On Monday, the UK Foreign Office announced it was “working to make an option available for British nationals to leave Hubei Province” - a province of China that has been hit with heavy travel restrictions to contain the virus.
     
    This is what other countries are doing:
     
    -    France is planning to repatriate up to a few hundred of its 800 citizens living in the Wuhan area. Evacuees will have to spend 14 days in
    quarantine upon arriving back in the country.
     
    -    Japan is expected to arrange charter flights as early as Tuesday for any of its citizens (about 430 people) who wish to return from Wuhan, according to Reuters sources.
     
    -    The US will evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate and offer a limited number of seats to private US citizens on a flight, according to the country’s state department.
     
    -    Spain's government is working with China and the European Union to repatriate Spanish nationals from the Wuhan area, the country’s foreign minister has said.
     
    -    Russia has been in talks with China about evacuating its nationals from Wuhan and Hubei province, according to the Russian embassy in China.
    1/27/2020 6:25:47 PM
    Ukraine warns against non-essential travel to Hubei Province

    Ukrainian authorities have warned citizens against non-essential travel to China’s Hubei Province – where the coronavirus outbreak was first identified.
     
    The country also advised citizens on Monday to take precautions, such as avoiding contact with people showing signs of having respiratory diseases, if they are travelling to China.
    1/27/2020 6:38:01 PM
    1/27/2020 6:52:38 PM
    1/27/2020 7:10:00 PM
    Germany plans to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, local media reports
     
    Germany is the latest country to announce plans to evacuate its citizens from the virus-hit area of Wuhan, according to Der Spiegel magazine.
     
    The German air force is reportedly planning to repatriate 90 Germans living in area.
     
    The announcements mean Germany joins countries such as France, Portugal, Spain, Britain and the United States who have announced plans to evacuate staff and citizens.
     
    “The crisis team has decided that the government is in principle ready to evacuate German citizens who are not ill,” a German Foreign Ministry official said.
     
    “Operational questions still need to be settled, including with the Chinese side.”
    1/27/2020 7:30:00 PM
    What does 'self-isolation' mean?
     
    After Matt Hancock’s comments earlier today, you might be wondering what “self-isolation” actually entails.
     
    According to Public Health England (PHE), people who have been asked to self-isolate should remain at home and should not go to work, school or into public areas.
     
    They should also avoid having visitors to their home, where possible, and avoid using public transport or taxis until 14 days after returning from Wuhan.
     
    However, friends and family will not be at risk if they drop off food parcels, medicines or other supplies, according to PHE’s guidance.
     
    The health organisation has said the new approach to the outbreak is a highly precautionary measure.
     
    Additional reporting by PA
    1/27/2020 7:53:52 PM
    1/27/2020 8:01:58 PM
    1/27/2020 8:11:23 PM
    Morocco joins list of countries evacuating nationals from China
     
    King Mohammed VI of Morocco has ordered the repatriation of 100 Moroccan nationals, mostly students, from the Wuhan area of China, according to the country’s Royal Cabinet.
     
    The move comes after a number of countries, such as France and Germany, have announced plans to evacuate their nationals from the virus-hit region.
     
    The King has also ordered measures to prevent the spread of the disease to be taken at airports, ports and hospitals.
     
    No cases of coronavirus have been registered so far in Morocco.
    King Mohammed VI of Morocco with Pope Francis in March 2019 (Source: FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)
     
     
    1/27/2020 8:29:29 PM
    Here are the major coronavirus developments from the day so far…

    -    The Foreign Office confirmed it was working on making an “option available” for British nationals to leave Wuhan in the Hubei province in China.

    -    The latest figures from the Department of Health and Social Care showed 73 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK and all tests have come back negative.

    -    Beijing reported its first death (a 50-year-old who had been in Wuhan) from the virus, according to Chinese state TV.

    -    Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said people who have recently returned to the UK from Wuhan should “self-isolate” even if they have no symptoms for coronavirus.

    -    The US State Department advised travellers to “reconsider travel to China” due to the outbreak in an escalation of its previous travel warning.
    1/27/2020 8:54:46 PM
    That's all from The Independent's rolling coverage of the coronavirus outbreak for today.
     
    We'll be back tomorrow with more updates on the virus.
    1/27/2020 8:58:06 PM
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