The new Covid 19 is fast spreading across the globe especially the Middle East and Europe. As China begins to lower its emergency response level as the number of new cases reported there continues to slow, the death toll in Iran and Italy are rising. On Wednesday, South Korea reported its 11th death caused by the disease.
Globally, at least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness.
Here are the latest updates:
Wednesday, 26 February
Singapore charges man with coronavirus for lying
A Chinese man infected with coronavirus and his wife have been charged in Singapore for lying to health authorities investigating whether they had passed the illness to others, officials said.
The couple faces a fine of up to $7,150 and six-month imprisonment if convicted.
Iran reports 19 new deaths
Iran’s state television says 19 more people were killed by the coronavirus and the total number of confirmed cases rose to 139.
The official cited in the report urged limiting nonessential travel.
Kuwait says six more coronavirus cases confirmed, tally now 18
Kuwait’s health ministry said that the number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the country rose to 18 after six more cases were confirmed, the state news agency reported.
The ministry also confirmed in a statement that the six new cases were all Kuwaiti citizens “who are related to travel to Iran”.
France reports first French national death
France reported three new infections, including one new death, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 17 and the death toll to two.
The latest victim was a 60-year-old man, the first French national to die of the disease, the health ministry said. The first victim was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist, who died in mid-February.
Bahrain reports three new cases
Bahrain’s number of infections rose to 26 after three Bahraini women who arrived from Iran were confirmed to have the coronavirus, according to the health ministry.
About 3,000 Hong Kong people seek help in Hubei
The Hong Kong government says it has been contacted by about 3,000 Hong Kong people in mainland China’s Hubei province, including 532 in Wuhan city, seeking help.
It says those affected in Hubei need to register by February 28 in order to return to Hong Kong.
|Italy struggles with virus ‘that doesn’t respect borders’ (02:12)|
Mongolia restricts travel from capital to curb risks
Mongolia, China’s landlocked northern neighbour, will restrict travel from its capital Ulaanbaatar to other provinces until March 3 in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, a minister said.
Mongolia, which has not reported any infections, has suspended all flights from Japan, adding to previous restrictions on flights from China and South Korea.
It will also take precautions with other flights from Europe, Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan, said Enkh-Amgalan Byambasuren, the country’s road and transportation minister, during a briefing.
Egyptair postpones resumption of flights to China
Egyptair said it would postpone the resumption of its flights to and from China because of the new coronavirus outbreak.
The Egyptian national airliner first suspended its flights to China on February 1, and had said it would resume services from Thursday.
South Korea reports 115 more cases
South Korea has reported 115 new cases, bringing the total to 1,261, according to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).
KCDC said the 169 coronavirus cases announced earlier included a US soldier.
Guatemala on ‘maximum alert’ over coronavirus
Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei has declared a “maximum alert” over the possible arrival of coronavirus to the country, saying medicinal supplies are fully available at local hospitals.
Giammattei also confirmed that there are no infected cases at the moment, although he said a family was in quarantine after returning to Guatemala from South Korea.
“Better safe than sorry,” Giammattei said.
Philippines imposes travel ban on S Korea’s North Gyeongsang
The Philippines barred travellers from South Korea’s coronavirus-impacted North Gyeongsang province from entering the country.
Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing the government would also conduct a risk assessment within 48 hours to determine whether the travel ban should be expanded to other parts of South Korea.
El Salvador to bar entry of foreign nationals from Italy, S Korea
El Salvador will bar the entry of foreign nationals arriving from Italy and South Korea to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that has killed more than two thousand people worldwide, President Nayib Bukele said.
Salvadoran nationals and diplomats who arrive from these countries will have to spend 30 days in quarantine, Bukele wrote on his Twitter account.
Iran: Virus could spread across the nation
Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told reporters in Tehran the outbreak was “likely” to spread to unaffected provinces “soon”.
He said Iran hoped to contain the virus before the Persian new year, which starts on March 20.
“A more pessimistic prospect is that we will reach the containment phase by late April,” Jahanpour added.
Kazakhstan to suspend Iran flights
Kazakhstan plans to suspend flights to and from Iran from March 1 because of the spread of coronavirus in the Gulf nation, Kazakhstan’s chief sanitary doctor, Zhandarbek Bekshin.
Kazakhstan will also reduce the number of flights to and from South Korea, another country with a large number of coronavirus cases, he told a briefing.
No coronavirus in Turkish citizens returning from Iran
Turkish citizens returning from Iran amid coronavirus fears tested negative for infection, said the health minister.
A total of 132 Turkish citizens arrived in Ankara, the Turkish capital, on Tuesday after they were evacuated from Iran where 15 deaths from coronavirus were confirmed so far. The evacuees are in 14-day quarantine in a hospital.
Addressing a news conference, Koca said there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Turkey so far thanks to effective measures against the disease.
UAE says it is equipped for ‘worst-case scenarios’
The United Arab Emirates, which reported 13 cases, is “well prepared and equipped for the worst-case scenarios” as the coronavirus spreads in the Middle East, an official from the UAE National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority told Reuters news agency.
The UAE has enough facilities to quarantine patients and relevant bodies have been instructed to undertake “complete surveillance of all people entering the country”, the official said.
Pompeo: Iran may have suppressed vital COVID-19 details
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that Iran may have covered up information about the spread of coronavirus there, and accused China of mishandling the epidemic through its “censorship” of media and medical professionals.
“The United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country,” Pompeo told reporters as Iran’s coronavirus death toll rose to 16, “all nations, including Iran, should tell the truth about the coronavirus and cooperate with international aid organizations.”
Qatar Airways lowers Iran flight frequency
Qatar Airways said on Twitter that it has lowered the frequency of its flights to Iran.
Brazil reports first possible case of coronavirus
A 61-year-old man from Sao Paolo who recently returned from Italy is being tested for coronavirus, Brazil’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
The man travelled to Lombardy – the epicentre of the Italian outbreak – from February 9 to 21- and had developed symptoms including a sore throat and fever, the ministry said.
If the case is confirmed, it will be the first in South America.
Thailand reports three new coronavirus cases
Thailand reported three new cases of a coronavirus on Wednesday, taking total infections to 40, a health ministry official said.
Two of the new patients, all Thai nationals, had returned from holidays in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido and came into contact with the third, said Sukhum Kanchanapimai, permanent secretary at the ministry.
Dozens allowed off Japan virus-hit ship have ‘symptoms’: minister
Dozens of passengers who were allowed off the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have developed symptoms including fever and will be asked to take tests for the coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said on Wednesday.
Some 970 passengers were allowed off the boat last week after testing negative for the virus, but several have subsequently been found to be carrying the disease.
Passengers were allowed off the Diamond Princess, quarantined in Yokohama, last week. Some have now been found to have coronavirus symptoms [Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images]
The ministry found “45 people had certain symptoms,” health minister Katsunobu Kato told parliament.
“We asked all of them (who have symptoms) to see a doctor and to take tests,” Kato said.
Kuwait bans foreign ships – except oil tankers – to fight virus
Kuwait has barred foreign ships, except those carrying oil, from several countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to a notice seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
The notice, dated February 25, banned vessels from and to South Korea, Italy, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Iraq.
US military reports South Korea virus case
An American soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, commanders said on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old man is the first confirmed infection among the 28,500 US soldiers stationed in the south.
Based at Camp Carroll, 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Daegu, the serviceman is in self-quarantine at his home, US Forces Korea said, adding it was conducting “contact tracing” to determine whether other soldiers had been exposed.
Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture seeks closure of schools
The board of education in Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture will seek to close all public elementary and junior high schools for a few days starting Thursday, Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday.
Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, has confirmed a total of 35 coronavirus cases – the highest number outside Tokyo. A number of them have been discovered in people who have links to schools, including students, teachers, school bus drivers, and cafeteria workers.
San Francisco declares emergency over Covid19
San Francisco declared a local emergency over the coronavirus on Tuesday, despite having no cases, as US officials urged Americans to prepare for the spread of infections within their communities.
Volunteers in protective suits are sprayed with disinfectant in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak [China Daily via Reuters]
California’s fourth-largest city said it made the move to boost its coronavirus preparedness and raise public awareness of risks the virus may spread to the city.
“Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.
Kuwait reports three new coronavirus cases, taking total to 12
Kuwait announced three new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with the infections occurring among people returning from Iran.
The new cases bring the total number to 12 in Kuwait, according to a statement from the health ministry.
Mainland China reports 406 new cases of Covid19, 52 more deaths
Mainland China had 406 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday.
That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 78,064.
The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China rose to 2,715 as of the end of Tuesday, up by 52 from the previous day, the commission said.
The central province of Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, reported 401 new cases on February 25 compared with 499 cases a day earlier.
South Korea-China flight quarantined: State media
A flight from the South Korean capital of Seoul to the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing was quarantined on Wednesday after three passengers were found to have a fever, state media reported.
The plane was carrying 94 passengers.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in visited the hard-hit city of Daegu on Tuesday, as infections in the country spread [Yonhap via Reuters]
Three more Chinese regions lower emergency response level
China’s northwestern regions of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang and the southwestern province of Sichuan have lowered their emergency response level after assessing that health risks from the coronavirus outbreak have receded, state media reported.
China has a four-tier response system for public health emergencies that determines what measures a region will implement, with Level I the most serious.
Sichuan announced it would adjust its measures from Level I to II, while Inner Mongolia will change from Level I to III, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.
Xinjiang, home to China’s Muslim Uighur population, also reduced its emergency response level from I to II after reporting no new cases for seven consecutive days, the official local news portal, the Tianshan Daily, said on Wednesday.
Air Canada extends flight suspension to Chinese cities, citing Covid19
Air Canada announced on Tuesday it was extending its suspension of flights between Canada and the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai until April 10 because of the coronavirus.
Flights from Canada to the two cities were temporarily suspended from January 30 until the end of February after the foreign ministry advised Canadians against non-essential travel to China.
Air Canada usually offers direct flights from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to Beijing and Shanghai.
The airline also extended the suspension of daily flights to Hong Kong from Toronto until April 30, citing “reduced market demand”.
Flights to and from Taipei “remain unaffected,” according to the company’s website.
Malaysia brings home more citizens from Wuhan
A second group of Malaysians arrived home on Wednesday morning after the country ran a second evacuation flight from Wuhan.
The 66 Malaysians and their family members were met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and will remain in quarantine for 14 days.