The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the “unprecedented” outbreak of coronavirus an international public health emergency, as officials bid to prevent infections in countries with weak healthcare systems. Shortly afterwards, the UK’s four chief medical officers upgraded the risk level in Britain from low to moderate.
The WHO praised China‘s response to the outbreak which began in the city of Wuhan, and said that “we’re all in this together”. Director-general Tedros Adhanom said governments must work together “in a spirit of solidarity” to control the spread of the new pathogen.
Almost 8,000 cases have been recorded, including some 212 deaths. There are about 100 cases in countries outside China, and eight cases of human-to-human transmission in four countries. The announcement came as the UK prepared to bring its nationals back from Wuhan; they will be held in isolation for two weeks at a facility on Merseyside.
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Death toll spike in China as cases soar past 7,500
China reported its biggest single-day jump in coronavirus deaths on Thursday as fatalities rose from 132 on Wednesday to 170 (a 29 per cent spike).
The virus has already infected more people in China than were sickened there during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, which ultimately killed 774 people in 17 countries.
The spike in deaths came as the WHO said it would reconsider whether to declare a global health emergency over the outbreak.
The International Health Regulations Emergency Committee will meet today to advise on how to respond to the virus.
Chinese Super League postponed indefinitely over outbreak
There has been more disruption to sport in China today over the spread of coronavirus.
The country's domestic football season has been postponed in an attempt to control the outbreak in a dramatic move that follows the postponement of the World Indoor Athletics Championships.
In a statement released this morning, the China Football Association (CFA) said the move was taken to help with the "prevention and control of the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection, and to protect the health of the majority of fans, media, players, coaches, game officials, clubs and district staff".
Padraig Collins has the full story below:
Plane due to carry British nationals from Wuhan will land at military base, minister says
Nick Gibb, a Conservative minister, has confirmed that British nationals who are flying back to the UK from the city of Wuhan will land at a military base.
They will then be placed in quarantine at an "NHS facility" for 14 days as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mr Gibb has told Sky News that “discussions are happening now” between the UK and the Chinese government to finalise plans for the evacuation.
“My understanding is that if people are infected then they won’t be able to leave Wuhan,” Mr Gibb added.
However, the minister could not confirm if a flight back to the UK would take place tonight.
Hospitals in Wuhan ‘facing severe supply shortage’
William Yang, the East Asia correspondent for Germany’s Deutsche Welle, has reported that hospitals in Wuhan are running out of medical supplies and have sent an urgent call for help.
The city, which is home to an estimated 11 million people, was quarantined on 23 January and has severe travel restrictions in place.
Philippines confirms first coronavirus case
The Philippines has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, according to Reuters.
A 38-year-old Chinese woman, who arrived in the country from Wuhan, China, on 21 January, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Francisco Duque, the health secretary, told a news conference.
Mr Duque has said the patient, who is confined in a government hospital, is currently asymptomatic.
India confirms first case of virus
India, the world’s second most populous country, has also reported its first case of the new coronavirus today in the southern state of Kerala, the government has said.
The patient has tested positive for novel coronavirus and is stable and in isolation at a hospital, the statement added.
British Airways has said it has suspended its flights to and from mainland China until Monday “as we continually review our schedule according to advice from the authorities”.
Japanese evacuees who tested positive for coronavirus had no symptoms
Two of the three Japanese people who were evacuated from China and were found to be infected with coronavirus had not shown any symptoms, Japan’s health ministry said on Thursday.
The two people who were confirmed as infected but had not shown symptoms were the first such cases in Japan, adding to concerns that the virus may be more difficult to control than previously thought.
On Tuesday, Japan classified the virus a “designated infectious disease”, which would allow compulsory hospitalisation and the use of public funds for treatment.
However, the designation - which takes effect on 7 February after ordinances are issued - does not apply to people without symptoms.
Ma Xiaowei, China’s national health commission minister, said this week that the virus was infectious during incubation, which can range from one to 14 days.
Here’s a suggestion from Michael Smith, China correspondent for the Australian Financial Review, that China might not be 100 per cent supportive of plans to evacuate citizens.
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