After deadly Corona virus outbreak, China faces H5N1 bird flu

The deadly novel coronavirus has so far spread to at least 24 countries, including Germany, Australia and the United States. The US State Department told Americans not to travel to China as the first case of person-to-person transmission reported in the country on Thursday.

China has reported an increase in fatalities and infections as the virus has claimed over 304 lives, with the number of cases soaring overnight.

Nearly 14,380 cases have been reported in 24 countries and territories. Chinese authorities said the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak.

Governments, global companies and international health organizations rushed to contain the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus. Global airlines have suspended or scaled back direct flights to China’s major cities. As containment efforts intensify, the likelihood of the virus disrupting global businesses and the world’s second-largest economy appears to be growing.

Anxiety is growing amid evidence that the disease has an incubation period of as long as two weeks before those infected start to show signs of the illness. That raises the possibility that people who are carrying the virus but don’t show symptoms could infect others.

Here are the latest developments:

White House analyzing potential virus impact on US economy

The White House National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers are analyzing the potential short- and long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the US economy, the Washington Post reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Officials who spoke to the Washington Post called the study preliminary and precautionary.

President Donald Trump on Friday signed an order temporarily barring entry to foreigners who had visited China, unless they were immediate relatives of US citizens or permanent residents. Flights from China to the US were restricted to seven airports from Sunday.

China has not yet accepted US help with coronavirus: White House adviser

China has been more transparent about the coronavirus than it has been in previous crises but Beijing has not yet accepted a US offer of help to contain the epidemic, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said today.

“So far the Chinese have been more transparent certainly than in past crises and we appreciate that,” O’Brien said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

However, Beijing has still not responded to US offers of help from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health professionals to help contain the fast-moving, flu-like virus that has killed more than 300 people in China.

Honda Motor to restart wuhan Plant on 14 Feb: reports

Japan’s Honda Motor Co. plans to resume car production at the plant it owns with DongFeng Automobile in Wuhan on Feb. 14, Reuters reported, citing a company statement today.

Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei, is the suspected epicenter of the outbreak of the coronavirus. On Jan. 30, Honda said it would halt operations in the factory until Feb. 13, as the government extended the annual Lunar New Year holiday break by several days to curb potential exposure.

Plane repatriating 250 Europeans from China’s Wuhan lands in France

A plane repatriating 250 French and European nationals from China’s Wuhan, centre of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, landed at a military airbase in Istres, southern France, on Sunday.

About 65 French nationals will be quarantined either at a holiday resort at Carry-Le-Rouet, in the south of France, or at a firefighters’ training centre near Aix-en-Provence, Secretary of State for Child Protection Adrien Taquet told reporters.

Situation in virus-hit Hubei province ‘severe and complicated’: vice governor

The situation in Hubei province, the centre of China’s virus outbreak, remains “severe and complicated” and medical resources at county level are relatively weak, vice governor Xiao Juhua said in news conference today.

Wang Wei, director of Hubei’s science and technology department, told the briefing that the time needed to confirm cases with test kits had halved to no more than two hours, and that the kits’ accuracy had improved.

Has coronavirus disease cure cracked? Thai doctors say so

Thai doctors have seen success in treating severe cases of the new coronavirus with combination of medications for flu and HIV, with initial results showing vast improvement 48 hours after applying the treatment, they said on Sunday.

The doctors from Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok said a new approach in coronavirus treatment had improved the condition of several patients under their care, including one 70-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who tested positive for the coronavirus for 10 days.

The drug treatment includes a mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.

Three having China virus symptoms admitted to Jaipur govt hospital in India

Three persons suspected to have symptoms of coronavirus were admitted to SMS Government Hospital in Jaipur, an official said on Sunday.

“They were admitted to the hospital on Saturday. Their blood samples have been collected and the report is expected to come by Sunday evening,” Dr D S Meena, Superintendent of SMS hospital said.

He added that the patients have been kept in isolation.

Hong Kong hints at tighter travel curbs

A Hong Kong executive council member said that residents should avoid traveling to the mainland or risk having difficulties returning to the city, according to an RTHK report, a sign the government could ramp up border control restrictions. Lam Ching-choi said on Sunday that possible measures include shortening opening times for ports, limiting transportation and introducing laws to curb cross border traffic, the report said.

More Infections in India, Vietnam, South Korea

India reported a second coronavirus case in a patient with a travel history to China. The patient is in a stable condition, it said.

Vietnam said a 73-year-old Vietnamese American was tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Jan. 31, more than two weeks after transiting in Wuhan. He had a two-hour stopover at a Wuhan airport on the way to Vietnam from the U.S on Jan. 15. That brings the total there to seven.

South Korea has 15 confirmed cases now, and authorities on Jeju Island have asked the central government to temporarily ban entrance of Chinese nationals.

New Zealand restricts entry from China

New Zealand will deny entry to foreigners traveling from mainland China. The ban covers anyone who is traveling from or has transited through China, and will be effective Feb. 3 and last up to 14 days, the government said. It has also raised its travel advice about all of mainland China to “do not travel,” the highest level.

US confirms eighth cases

A Boston man who recently returned to the US from Wuhan has been confirmed as infected with the coronavirus, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Boston Public Health Commission said on Saturday.

The man had sought medical care soon after returning to Massachusetts, according to a statement. He has been isolated and will remain so until cleared by health officials. His few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for signs of symptoms, according to the statement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the postive test result late Friday, the state and city agencies said.

Chinese army to oversee virus hospital

China’s army on Sunday was given control of a nearly-finished field hospital that will treat patients at the epicentre of a deadly virus epidemic that has severely strained medical facilities, AFP reported.

Some 1,400 military medics will treat patients at the 1,000-bed hospital, dubbed “Fire God Mountain”, which will receive its first patients on Monday — just 10 days after construction began, according to state media.

It is one of two makeshift medical facilities that the authorities decided to build in order to relieve hospitals swamped with patients in Wuhan, the central city at the epicentre of the national health emergency.

Evacuation of Indians from Wuhan complete, says government

India’s evacuation of its nationals who were stranded in China’s Wuhan, the epicentre of novel coronavirus epidemic, was completed on Sunday with around 650 people brought back in two phases, IANS reported.

Official sources said as of now the evacuation process is “complete” even as six Indians down with fever and other flu-like symptoms could not board the second Air India flight on Sunday.

“We had planned to send two flights of Boeing 747 and they have as per the plan evacuated around 650 Indians on two consecutive days. However, six people had to be left behind because the consent forms which all the evacuees signed beforehand, explicitly required everyone to get a medical clearance after a basic screening,” an official told IANS.

China culls 18,000 chickens after H5N1 bird flu cases in Hunan

A city in China’s central Hunan province reported that it had culled almost 18,000 chickens after an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in statement on its website, Bloomberg reported.

The statement didn’t say when the outbreak occurred, or when the cull happened. Hunan is next to Hubei, the epicenter of the separate coronavirus outbreak.

The avian influenza, found in a farm in Shaoyang City, killed 4,500 chickens, more than half the farm’s flock, the ministry said. The city culled almost 18,000 poultry after the outbreak. The statement said the outbreak was of a “highly pathogenic subtype” of the H5N1 flu.

Air India’s 2nd flight lands in Delhi with 323 Indians

Air India evacuated 323 more Indians from Wuhan in China in its second special flight, which landed at Delhi airport on Sunday morning.

Earlier, a special Air India plane carrying 324 Indians landed in the national capital on Saturday.

Six Indians in China stopped from boarding special flight to India

Six Indians stranded at the coronavirus-hit Wuhan city were stopped from boarding the first special Air India flight to India due to high fever, officials said on Saturday.

The first flight left early Saturday with 324 stranded Indians mostly students from Wuhan.

Officials here told PTI that six Indians could not board the flight as they were stopped by the Chinese immigration officials after they tested for high temperature.

The six students may have to undergo tests to determine whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus.

Russian armed forces aircraft to evacuate citizens from China: Report

Russia’s aerospace defence forces, part of the armed forces, will start evacuating Russian citizens today from China due to the coronavirus outbreak, news agencies reported, citing the Kremlin spokesman.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the evacuation would take place in regions that had been most affected by the outbreak, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported.

Russia joins other countries in evacuating their citizens from China, where the number of cases of the new virus is rising.

WHO says prepare for local outbreaks

World Health Organization (WHO) official said other governments need to prepare for“domestic outbreak control” if the disease spreads in their countries, reported AP.

WHO said it was especially concerned that some cases abroad involved human-to-human transmission.

“Countries need to get ready for possible importation in order to identify cases as early as possible and in order to be ready for a domestic outbreak control, if that happens,” Galea told AP.

Coronavirus lurking in feces may reveal hidden risk of spread

While doctors have focused on respiratory samples from pneumonia cases to identify coronavirus patients, they might have ignored a less apparent and hidden source of the spread: diarrhea.

The novel coronavirus was detected in the loose stool of the first US case — a finding that hasn’t featured among case reports from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. However, that doesn’t surprise scientists who have studied coronaviruses, nor doctors familiar with the bug that caused SARS.

Diarrhea occurred in about 10-20% of patients afflicted with severe acute respiratory syndrome about 17 years ago and was the source of an explosive SARS outbreak in the Amoy Gardens residential complex in Hong Kong.

China to exempt taxes for imports of products related to virus control

China will implement tax exemptions for imports of products related to curbing the coronavirus outbreak, the finance ministry said today

Materials directly used for epidemic control will be exempt from import tariffs from Jan. 1 to March 31, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Imports of donations including ambulances and disinfectant products will also be exempt from tariffs, value-added tax and consumption tax, it said.

China seeks EU’s help on medical supplies

China’s Premier Li had a call with European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen on Saturday afternoon, asking the EU to facilitate China’s urgent procurement of medical supplies from its member states through commercial channels, according to a statement on State Council’s website.

Von Der Leyen said the EU is ready to help China to the best of its ability and use all possible resources, and will coordinate relevant member states to facilitate China’s procurement of medical supplies, according to the statement.

Virus may be lurking in feces

While doctors have focused on respiratory samples from pneumonia cases to identify coronavirus patients, they might have ignored a less apparent and hidden source of the spread: diarrhea.

The novel coronavirus was detected in the loose stool of the first U.S. case — a finding that hasn’t featured among case reports from Wuhan. Squat latrines, common in China, lacking covers and hands that aren’t washed thoroughly with soap and water after visiting the bathroom could be a source of virus transmission, said John Nicholls, a clinical professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong.

104 Indians evacuated from China admitted to ITBP facility in Delhi

A total of 104 Indians have been admitted to an ITBP facility in New Delhi after they were evacuated from coronavirus-affected Wuhan city of China by a special Air India flight on Saturday, a senior official said.

Out of the total 324 who landed here this morning, 88 women, 10 men and six children were brought to the special quarantine facility in south west Delhi’s Chhawla area, ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.

“All the passengers were first screened at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport and now a second screening is being done by doctors at the Chhawla facility,” he said, adding that doctors and other specialists will work at the centre round-the-clock.

Apple to shut down all official stores in Chinese mainland

Apple today said it has decided to shut down all of its official stores in mainland China until Feb 9., as fears over the coronavirus outbreak mounted and the death toll more than doubled to over 250 from a week ago, Reuters reported.

Apple, in a statement on its Chinese website, says it will temporarily close through February 9 “due to recent public health and prevention concerns.”

Australia bars entry to foreign nationals travelling from mainland China

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the county will deny entry to all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China from today due to the increasing threat from the coronavirus epimedic.

Morrison also announced that Australia was raising its travel guidance for China to the highest level, advising people against visiting the country at all.

“We’re in fact operating with an abundance of caution in these circumstances,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney. “So Australians can go about their daily lives with confidence.”

The Australian travel restrictions came just hours after the United States announced border curbs on foreign nationals who have been in China amid fears that the virus could spread further overseas.

India to evacuate its remaining citizens from China, flight from Delhi at 12.50 pm today

India has begun preparations to airlift the remaining Indians from China, hours after it evacuated 324 Indian nationals from the coronavirus-hit Wuhan city as the death toll from the deadly disease rose to 259 in the country.

“We look forward to operating another flight to evacuate remaining Indian nationals, who have consented to leave Hubei Province for the time being,” the Indian Embassy said in a tweet on Saturday.

An Air India spokesperson said that another flight will depart to Wuhan from Delhi at 12.50 pm on Saturday with a different set of crew, same doctors’ team with other aircraft.

“We urge all Indian citizens from Hubei who intend to avail this flight for India and not yet contacted the Embassy, to urgently call the hotlines (+8618610952903 and +8618612083629) or dedicated email ID before 0800 hours on February 1, 2020,” the Embassy said in the tweet.

Qantas to suspend mainland China services

Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s largest airline, will suspend services to mainland China from Feb. 9, as the deadly coronavirus outbreak spreads, Bloomberg repoorted.

The airline’s Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai flights will be halted until March 29, it said in a statement Saturday. Services to Hong Kong will remain unchanged.

The move follows entry restrictions imposed by countries including the U.S. and Singapore, which impact the movement of crew who work across the Qantas international network, the carrier said.

Air India evacuates 324 Indians from China’s Wuhan

Air India’s jumbo B747 plane, evacuating 324 Indian nationals from the novel coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China, landed here on Saturday morning, PTI reported.

The plane reached Delhi around 7.30 am, the agency said.

There were five doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital and one paramedical staff on board, said an Air India spokesperson.

The evacuees from Wuhan comprised three minors, 211 students and 110 working professionals, the spokesperson said.

The Indian Army has set up a quarantine facility in Manesar near Delhi to keep those evacuated from China’s Hubei province.

India bans export of all kind of respiratory masks

The Indian government yesterday banned exports of all kinds of personal protection equipment, including clothing and masks used to protect people from air borne particles, PTI reported.

The move assumes significance as there could be a spurt in demand for such products due to outbreak of deadly coronavirus that has claimed more than 200 lives in China while the number of confirmed cases reached near 10,000.

“Exports of all varieties of personal protection equipment including clothing and masks used to protect the wearer from air borne particles and/or any other respiratory masks or any other personal protective clothing (including coveralls and N95 masks)…is hereby prohibited with immediate effect till further orders,” the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) said in a notification.

US imposes entry limits

The Trump administration will put a temporary ban on foreign nationals who have visited China in the past 14 days from entering the US and pose a risk of spreading the illness, unless they are immediate relatives of US citizens or permanent residents. The measures take effect 2 February.

US citizens who have been in Hubei province during the past two weeks will be subject to the quarantine, said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Citizens returning from elsewhere in China will be subject to screening, and have to self-quarantine for two weeks while being monitored.

All US-bound flights coming from China will be routed to one of seven airports in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Honolulu and Los Angeles. More drastic flight restrictions are not currently being considered.

A new wave of flu risks patient confusion

A new wave of influenza is picking up in the US, raising the risk that patients who get the seasonal illness may think they have coronavirus, which has almost identical symptoms early on in a patient’s illness.

The CDC estimates that more than 19 million Americans have fallen ill with the flu so far this season, including 180,000 people who ended up in the hospital. About 10,000 Americans have died, including more than 60 children.

This season of flu began early in the US after stalling, it’s picked back up with a new strain of H1N1 influenza, according to a government survey of the illness.

CDC puts Americans returned from Wuhan in Quarantine

The government has put about 200 U.S. citizens repatriated from Wuhan under legal quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California. The group includes State Department personnel, family members, children and other Americans. It’s the first time such a policy has been used in the U.S. since the 1960s, when a quarantine order was issued to stop the spread of smallpox.

The quarantine was implemented after one person wanted to leave.

Major US airlines cancel China flights

All three major US airlines announced the cancellation of flights to mainland China on Friday as the US government unveiled additional steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which originated in China.

The trio of carriers, United Airlines Holdings Inc , Delta Air Lines Inc and American Airlines Group Inc , had already moved to reduce flights to China amid a sharp drop in demand due to the flu-like virus.