Coronavirus updates: The latest news on the outbreak and the global response
•Global death toll rises to 427 as confirmed cases reach more than 20,000 in mainland China
•Coronavirus kills one in Hong Kong as medical workers demand border closure
•China’s president says country in the middle of “people’s war”
•Japan quarantines cruise ship after former guest tests positive for virus
•China says still no help with coronavirus outbreak from the U.S.
WHO warns of misinformation, says outbreak not a pandemic
A senior official with the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Tuesday about misinformation spread about the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“It is important to tackle misinformation as soon as possible,” Dr Sylvie Briand, director of pandemic and epidemic diseases department at WHO, said in a briefing with reporters. “When there is an unknown, people try to fill in the void.”
One example of misinformation described by Briand is an erroneous belief that there is “a cloud of virus” and it’s possible to get sick by simply breathing in air.
“This is not a situation,” she said, adding that coronavirus spreads primarily through contact with an infected person and is transmitted through respiratory droplets.
Briand also reassured that the coronavirus outbreak does not constitute a pandemic, or worldwide spread of a new disease, yet.
“Currently we are not in a pandemic, we are at a phase where we have an epidemic of coronavirus with multiple foci and we will try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,” she added.
China waging ‘people’s war’ on virus, Xi says
China is in the middle of a “people’s war” on the new coronavirus that has claimed hundreds of lives, President Xi Jingping said according to Xinhua state news agency.
Xi added that those who fail to implement and obey government’s epidemic control measures, including Communist Party officials, will be held accountable.
“Those who fail to perform their duties shall be punished according to discipline and law,” he said. — Leou Chen
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Deaths reach 425 in mainland China
The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in the mainland has jumped to at least 425 on Tuesday, Chinese health officials said.
China’s National Health Commission said that more than 20,000 cases of the coronavirus have now been confirmed.
In addition, a 39-year-old man who had been confirmed to have coronavirus passed away in Hong Kong, hospital officials said Tuesday.
The virus has also spread to other countries, including 11 cases in the United States.
On Saturday, WHO reported the first death from the virus outside of China. — Phil Helsel
The death in Hong Kong came as hundreds of medical workers began a second day of strikes to force the government to completely close the city’s borders with mainland China to stop the spread of the virus.
On Monday, city leader Carrie Lam announced that 10 out of 13 border checkpoints with the mainland would be closed, but stopped short of shutting the entire border.
She has urged striking medical workers to end their action and return to their jobs as she warned of “serious consequences” amid a growing epidemic. — Jasmine Leung
Japan quarantines cruise ship
Japan’s government said Monday it would quarantine a cruise ship bound for Yokohama, a port city south of Tokyo, after a Hong Kong man who sailed on it last month tested positive for coronavirus.
Princess Cruises, the company that owns the ship, said Tuesday the turnaround of the ship had been delayed to allow Japanese officials to review the health status of all guests and crew on board.
It’s currently moored just off Yokohama port while the precautionary testing is taking place.
The vessel has 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew on board. — Arata Yamamoto and Reuters
China says still no U.S. help with outbreak
China has yet to receive assistance from the United States despite promises, said China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying Tuesday.
“China has noted that the United States has repeatedly expressed its willingness to provide assistance to China, and hopes that the relevant assistance will be provided as soon as possible,” Hua said.
He added that the U.S. should adopt “an objective, impartial, calm and rational attitude,” refrain from overreacting, and respect China’s prevention and control efforts.
Hua has previously said that the U.S. response to the outbreak “could create and spread panic.”
U.S. has pulled its diplomatic staff from Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, and started evacuating its nationals from the city last week.
It was also the first country to temporarily suspend the entry of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the virus. — Eric Baculinao and Yuliya Talmazan
Australian evacuees to be quarantined on remote island
Australians evacuated from Wuhan arrived in the Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island on Tuesday, where they will be quarantined for two weeks.
Some 241 passengers will be stationed on the remote Australia-run island, about 870 miles northwest of mainland Australia.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday the passengers have been cleared of the coronavirus, with two remaining facing only a “minimal” chance that they have the virus.
There were 600 Australians registered in the Hubei region as of last week and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Tuesday a second evacuation flight may be arranged.
Australia on Saturday followed the United States in barring entry to all foreign nationals traveling from mainland China. — Reuters