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Cruise operator bans Chinese nationals from its ships – as it happened

A woman wearing a protective mask walks through the financial district in Singapore.
A woman wearing a protective mask walks through the financial district in Singapore. Photograph: Wallace Woon/EPA

Summary

  • A drop in the number of new coronavirus cases for two days has been cautiously welcomed by the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
  • The world is running out of masks and other protective gear, with demand increasing 100-fold and prices soaring, the WHO has warned.
  • The test used to diagnose coronavirus is being rolled out to laboratories across the UK from Monday, increasing testing capacity to more than 1,000 people a day.
  • Hong Kong has announced six-month jail terms for breaching quarantine conditions. The 14-day mandatory quarantine for visitors arriving from mainland China is expected to reduce the number of people crossing the border.
  • Art Basel, Asia’s largest annual art fair, has been cancelled. It was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 19 March.
  • A British man on a Japan cruise ship has tested positive for coronavirus. He is one of 61 passengers diagnosed aboard the Diamond Princess, moored off Yokohama.
  • Singapore reported three more coronavirus cases with no travel history in China. The country moved its disease outbreak response up a level to “orange”
  • The first plane carrying Canadian evacuees from Wuhan touched down in Ontario. The 176 to arrive today will be followed by a second group of 39 tomorrow.

Cruise operator bans Chinese nationals from its ships

The cruise line operator Royal Caribbean has said it will refuse any passengers with Chinese, Hong Kong or Macao passports, regardless of when they were last in China.

The remarkable statement comes after reports that about two dozen passengers aboard a cruise ship that docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Friday morning were screened for coronavirus and four were sent to a local hospital for further screening.

In a statement published on its website, Royal Caribbean said that none of the four passengers tested showed clinical signs or symptoms of coronavirus, although one tested positive onboard for flu. However, the company said it would be adopting a number of health screening protocols, including the following:

Regardless of nationality, any guest or crew member traveling from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau less than 15 days prior to their sailing will be unable to board any of our ships.

    1. Any guests holding a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport, regardless of when they were there last, will not be allowed to board our ships.
    2. Any guest or crew member that has been in contact (which the CDC defines as 6 feet or 2 meters) with someone that has traveled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau less than 15 days.

Additionally, there will be mandatory specialized health screenings performed on:

a. Guests who are unsure if they have been in contact with individuals who have traveled from, to or through mainland China or Hong Kong in the past 15 days;

b. Guests who report feeling unwell or demonstrate any flu-like symptoms;

c. Any guest presenting with fever or low blood oximetry in the specialized health screening will be denied boarding.

Updated

Burberry has said the coronavirus is having a devastating effect on the luxury goods market, as wealthy Chinese consumers stay away from shops, and travel restrictions curb overseas shopping sprees, Zoe Wood reports.

The British company closed 24 of its 64 stores in mainland China and those that remained open were operating with reduced hours because shopper numbers had plunged 80%. None of the group’s employees in China had been diagnosed with the illness, it said.

The chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, said: “The outbreak of coronavirus in mainland China is having a material negative effect on luxury demand.

“While we cannot currently predict how long this situation will last, we remain confident in our strategy. In the meantime, we are taking mitigating actions and every precaution to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees.”

Updated

Canadian coronavirus evacuees land in Ontario

A plane carrying 176 Canadians repatriated from Wuhan, the city at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic, has touched down in Ontario, Reuters reports.

A second group of 39, who left China on a US flight, should arrive later on Friday after switching planes in Vancouver, Francois-Philippe Champagne, minister of foreign affairs, told reporters on Thursday.

The plane carrying 176 Canadians repatriated from Wuhan touches down at Trenton air force base, in Ontario
The plane carrying 176 Canadians repatriated from Wuhan touches down at Trenton air force base, in Ontario Photograph: Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock

No one on board the plane, which landed in Trenton airforce base, showed symptoms of the coronavirus or other illness during the flight, health minister Patty Hajdu told CBC Radio.

All evacuees will be quarantined on the base for two weeks, separated from each other in a building that resembles a small hotel, with families kept together.

Updated

There is growing concern that the new coronavirus may be going undetected in Indonesia, where officials have not confirmed a single case of infection among the 272 million-strong population despite the country’s close links to China, reports Rebecca Ratcliffe, the Guardian’s south-east Asia correspondent.

As of Thursday, Indonesia said it had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus and that 238 people evacuated from Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, had not shown symptoms of the illness, although it said they hadn’t been tested.

More than 630 people have been killed by the virus in China, while confirmed infections have passed 30,000 globally. Most cases are concentrated in China, though the virus has been recorded in countries across Asia, as well as Europe, Australia and the US.

Updated

China is the workshop of the world. It’s where most of the west’s consumer electronics come from. And if you were worried that supplies of digital goods might run out, fear not. The juggernaut of capitalist production continues.

Foxconn, the electronics company that supplies Apple, has begun manufacturing its own surgical masks, allowing Chinese workers to churn out iPhones uninterrupted as the coronavirus crisis continues, Rob Davies reports.

The Taiwanese company’s production lines have been shut down because of the disruption caused by the outbreak, slowing down the supply chain that feeds Apple’s global retail network.

However, in a statement released via the Chinese social media platform WeChat, Foxconn said it hoped to get around the problem by switching some of its own production lines to make masks, for its own staff and to supply the soaring global demand for them.

Demand for masks, gowns, gloves and other protective gear has risen by up to 100 times and prices have soared due to the China coronavirus outbreak, producing a “severe” disruption in supply, the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is reported as saying by Reuters.

“This situation is exacerbated by widespread use of personal protective equipment outside patient care,” he told reporters in Geneva, adding that he had spoken to manufacturers and distributors to ensure supplies for those who need them.

He also said he could see practices such as hoarding in order to ensure higher prices, and called for solidarity from the public and private sector.

Updated

The upgrading of the coronavirus alert level in Singapore has sparked panic-buying of essentials in some shops across the island, Reuters reports.

Earlier, we reported that the city state had raised its alert level to orange, after three more cases of the illness were diagnosed. According to Reuters:

With the disease reviving memories of Sars, which killed more than 30 people in Singapore and hundreds worldwide, shoppers started clearing shelves of toilet paper, noodles and rice, and formed long queues in supermarkets across the island on Friday evening, videos posted on social media showed.

Singapore’s trade minister, Chan Chun Sing, said in a Facebook post:

I understand that people are concerned after the announcement this afternoon. However, we must ... not hoard items unnecessarily. This will create undue panic and is unhelpful to the situation at hand.

Panic buying: People fill shopping trolleys in Singapore, where the alert level has been raised to orange, its second-highest level
Panic buying: People fill shopping trolleys in Singapore, where the alert level has been raised to orange, its second-highest level Photograph: Reuters Tv/Reuters

Updated

This is Damien Gayle taking over the live blog now for the rest of the afternoon (it’s 3.20pm here in London). As usual you can reach me on email at damien.gayle@theguardian.com, or via my Twitter profile, @damiengayle

Coronavirus diagnostic test to be rolled out across UK

The test used to diagnose coronavirus is being rolled out to laboratories across the UK from Monday, increasing testing capacity to more than 1,000 people a day.

Currently coronavirus is tested and diagnosed in one laboratory in London, but testing will be extended to 12 labs across the country over the coming weeks.

An electron microscope image of a coronavirus.
An electron microscope image of a coronavirus. Photograph: AP

At its laboratories in London, Public Health England (PHE) has the capacity to process samples from more than 100 people a day.

Now, to ensure that the country is prepared for further cases and to speed up the time taken to get results, the test will be carried out by trained scientists across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This will increase testing capacity to more than 1,000 people a day for England.

Prof Yvonne Doyle, PHE’s medical director, said:

Once China confirmed that they had identified a novel coronavirus, Public Health England was ready to test potential cases in this country.

We have now trained scientists in labs across the UK to conduct the specialist test – ensuring that we are well prepared should we begin to see an increased number of cases across the country.

The test, developed by PHE, made the UK one of the first countries outside China to have assured testing capability for the new coronavirus.

When a clinician suspects coronavirus in a patient, they take samples from the nose, throat and deeper respiratory tract and send them for laboratory testing.

Using the diagnostic test, scientists can look for evidence of the presence of any type of coronavirus and then hone in on specific genetic clues that identify the novel coronavirus associated with this outbreak.

The UK-wide roll-out is the fastest deployment of a new test to PHE and NHS labs in recent history, including in the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

In addition to processing samples from suspected cases in the UK, PHE is now working as a reference laboratory for WHO, testing samples from countries that do not have assured testing capabilities.

Updated

Passengers on a cruise ship that docked in New York City on Friday morning are being tested for the coronavirus, it has been confirmed.

An official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told CNN:

There are folks on the ship that have a history of travel to China and so CDC and local health officials are going to board the ship when it docks to do an assessment in port for coronavirus.

Video footage showed ambulances and stretchers on standby near the port at Bayonne, and personnel boarding the ship.

An earlier post said that the first North Korean case had been confirmed. In fact, the North Korean authorities are yet to confirm the South Korean media report on the development.

The original post has now been deleted.

You can read more about the situation here.

Updated

Hong Kong announces jail terms for quarantine breaches

Travellers from China face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of HK$25,000 (£2,491) for breaching quarantine measures, Hong Kong’s government has announced.

At a press conference on Friday, the chief secretary, Matthew Cheung, said the 14-day mandatory quarantine for visitors arriving from mainland China is expected to reduce the number of people crossing the border.

People involved in cross-border logistics and workers essential to government services would be exempted from quarantine but monitored closely.

From Saturday, people entering the city will be required to sign a document consenting to the quarantine measures, while travellers with visas or permits valid for less than 14 days will be barred from entering Hong Kong.

Cheung stressed the quarantine policy would not affect the flow of goods from the mainland. He said:

I urge these people, especially those quarantined at home, to have a social conscience and civic responsibility, be cooperative and self-disciplined.

Any rule breakers will be breaking the law.

One person in Hong Kong has died from coronavirus.

Updated

Communist party investigators in China are looking into issues raised by the public about a whistleblower doctor who was threatened by police for sharing his concerns about the virus, from which he later died.

Following an online uproar over the government’s treatment of Dr Li Wenliang, the ruling Communist party said it was sending a team to fully investigate relevant issues raised by the public regarding the case.

People wearing masks attend a vigil for Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who died of coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan.
People wearing masks attend a vigil for Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who died of coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Li, 34, was one of eight medical professionals in Wuhan who tried to warn colleagues and others about the new virus.

He wrote on Weibo that on 3 December he saw a test sample that indicated the presence of a coronavirus similar to Sars, which killed nearly 800 people in a 2002-2003 outbreak.

After he reported seven patients had contracted the virus, he said he was visited by police on 3 January, who forced him to sign a statement admitting to spreading falsehoods and warning him of punishment if he continued.

Li later developed a cough and fever before he was hospitalised on 12 January and began to have trouble breathing.

His death was confirmed on Friday, prompting a deluge of mourning and outrage at the way he and the seven others had been treated.

Even the staunchly pro-government Global Times newspaper said the eight whistleblowers’ treatment “was evidence of local authorities’ incompetence to tackle a contagious and deadly virus”.

Most of the deaths from the virus have been of older people with existing health problems, but disease specialists said Li’s work may have increased his exposure and made his illness severe.

Updated

More fall-out to the spread of the coronavirus outside China as Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson has become the latest firm to pull out of an international conference in Barcelona later this month because of the outbreak.

The telecoms equipment manufacturer has withdrawn from the Mobile World Congress in the Spanish city, which is scheduled to take place between 24 and 27 February. It comes after South Korean tech firm LG and Chinese mobile firm ZTE also pulled out.

The conference attracts more than 100,000 visitors and has come under increased scrutiny since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus epidemic a public health emergency of international concern, Reuters reports. There has been only one confirmed coronavirus case in Spain to date.

In a statement on the conference’s website, organisers confirmed Ericsson’s decision to withdraw, saying:

“We respect their decision and are reassured by their commitment that they will be at MWC Barcelona 2021 in full force and our rebook trends for next year’s event remain high. Ericsson’s cancellation will have some impact on our presence at this time and will potentially have further impact.”

The statement adds:

The GSMA continues to monitor and assess the potential impact of the coronavirus on MWC Barcelona 2020 as the health and safety of our exhibitors, attendees and staff are of paramount importance... the GSMA has implemented many measures to help to mitigate the spread of the virus and is continuing to add other actions regularly. In particular, there are extensive additional health measures that have been put in place.

Updated

A leading UK academic who studies infectious diseases says it is difficult to tell whether the levelling off of coronavirus cases in the past two days is due to an actual decline or just difficulties in recording cases.

John Edmunds, professor in the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said:

I think time will tell - it’s now about the time we would expect to see if there is an impact of the interventions they put in place. We would start to see an effect now if it is having an effect.

Updated

Drop in new coronavirus cases is cautious good news

A drop in the number of new coronavirus cases for two days is good news, says the director general of the World Health Organization.

However, he cautions against reading too much into it.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the numbers could go up again, but the last two days were showing a declining trend.

There were roughly 3,900 new cases reported worldwide on 5 February, 3,700 on 6 February and 3,200 on 7 February - the vast majority in China, WHO figures show.

At the Science Media Centre, Paul Hunter, professor in Medicine at the University of East Anglia, said:

Over the last two days we have actually seen the first of two consecutive declines in the number of new cases, which is nice, but whether that is sustainable or not we will only know in about a week or so.

The infection, like most droplet-spread infections, tend to spread more in winter than in summer, so it’s quite plausible that even if the spread does continue, at least in the northern hemisphere we will see a decline during the summer

The big question then will be whether it reappears in November as we move into the traditional flu seasons where these sorts of viruses ... tend to predominate.

Ghebreyesus also reported that in response to his appeal earlier this week for more countries to share information about the outbreaks in their countries, not all nations had provided the requested information.

“There are some countries who have yet to send detailed case reports to WHO,” he said. “We urge those member states to share that information immediately.”

Updated

The third patient to be diagnosed with coronavirus in the UK is being treated at St Thomas’ hospital in Westminster.

St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The patient is thought to have been diagnosed in Brighton, and brought to St Thomas’, where there is an infectious diseases unit, on Thursday afternoon.

The other two patients with the virus in the UK are being treated at the Royal Victoria Infirmary infectious diseases centre in Newcastle.

None of the patients have been identified, but the first two cases are a University of York student and his mother, who had recently travelled from China.

The third patient caught the virus in Singapore, and is thought to be a middle-aged man.

Updated

A passenger quarantined on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan has described the “great amount of fear” he feels awaiting results of his coronavirus test.

Spencer Fehrenbacher is travelling with three friends and was alarmed when the ship announced another 41 passengers had tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 61.

He told the BBC:

When they made the announcement it was a very scary feeling if I’m being honest. I was tested for the virus about three days ago and I have not yet been told whether my results are positive or negative.

There is still the unknown that I could be getting a knock on my door at any moment with the news that I’m being taken off the ship.

This is one of the best places I can imagine being quarantined. We feel very fortunate but it is in the midst of a great amount of fear.

A British passenger on his honeymoon is among the 41 new coronavirus cases.

Alan Steele, from Wolverhampton, has been separated from his new wife, Wendy, and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. In a Facebook post, he said he is not displaying any symptoms.

Fellow British passenger, David Abel, described in a video how he felt when he found out his friend had tested positive for the virus.

Updated

The child who has been tested for coronavirus at a hospital in Northern Ireland is believed to be less than a year old.

The baby and his mother are still being held in isolation at Altnagelvin hospital in Derry city.

It is understood the child was admitted yesterday to Altnagelvin’s A&E department, only a few days after returning to Northern Ireland from Hong Kong.

A source told Belfast Live:

The baby and family were met at the hospital by a fully prepared medical team who were wearing medical hazmat gear and masks.

The NHS protocol is in place and the child has been placed in isolation while tests are being carried out.

It will take a little time to get the results back which would allow the medical team to actively treat for the virus if the tests are positive.

For now the child is undergoing tests and being treated along lines of the protocol and the situation is under control.

Updated

Global shortage of anti-virus protective masks

The world is running out of masks and other gear to protect against the new coronavirus, the World Health Organization has warned.

The WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told the organisation’s executive board in Geneva:

We’re sending testing kits, mask, gloves, respirators and gowns to countries in every region.

The world is facing a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment.

People line up to receive free face masks in Hong Kong.
People line up to receive free face masks in Hong Kong. Photograph: Jérôme Favre/EPA

Ghebreyesus added that he will be speaking to the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to identify the bottlenecks, find solutions and “push with fairness in distribution of equipment”.

Updated

A woman from China has taken ill at Copenhagen airport, prompting a small area to be cordoned off.

The Copenhagen airport press officer Kenni Leth said the woman was transported to hospital by ambulance after arriving from China via Helsinki on Friday morning.

The passenger contacted airport staff on arrival and was found to have influenza-like symptoms, leading to fears she could have contracted coronavirus.

Leth said:

Given that the passenger contacted airport staff with influenza-like symptoms we, in accordance with procedures agreed with authorities, contacted emergency services and the passenger was picked up by ambulance.

An area of terminal 3 where the woman contacted staff has been cordoned off and will be sanitised in accordance with procedure.

“You can still easily go to terminal 3 and use most of the terminal. It is not affecting airport traffic,” Leth said.

Updated

The British luxury fashion brand Burberry said coronavirus was damaging demand for luxury goods in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The label said 24 of its 64 stores in mainland China were closed, and remaining stores were operating with reduced hours and with significant declines in footfall.

Burberry sign with Union Jack flag.
Burberry said coronavirus is hitting demand for luxury goods. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

The chief executive, Marco Gobbetti, said:

The outbreak of the coronavirus in mainland China is having a material negative effect on luxury demand.

While we cannot currently predict how long this situation will last, we remain confident in our strategy.

Spending by Chinese tourists in Europe and other locations has been less impacted, but as further travel restrictions are introduced around the globe, the company anticipated the situation would worsen over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile Uniqlo will temporarily close about half of its stores in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Women take a selfie outside the Uniqlo flagship store in Beijing.
Women take a selfie outside the Uniqlo flagship store in Beijing. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

A spokesperson for Fast Retailing, the Japanese company that owns Uniqlo, said 370 out of 750 stores had been closed.

There is no planned reopening date for the China stores yet, and the company said it was continuing to monitor the situation.

Updated

Chinese researchers have said the pangolin, an endangered mammal illegally trafficked for its scales and meat, is a potential intermediate host for the coronavirus.

A Pangolin rescued from the wildlife trade is released back into the wild.
A Pangolin rescued from the wildlife trade is released back into the wild. Photograph: Prof. Ray Jansen Francois Meyer/African Pangolin Working Group/HSI

“This latest discovery will be of great significance for the prevention and control of the origin [of the virus],” South China Agricultural University, which led the research, said in a statement on its website.

The pangolin is considered the most trafficked animal in the world and an estimated 1 million were smuggled from 2000-13.

In January, China ordered a temporary ban on the trade in wild animals until the epidemic was under control.

Updated

Donald Trump has praised China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying President Xi Jinping “strongly leads what will be a very successful operation”.

China has previously criticised US restrictions over the outbreak, which include barring entry to most foreign nationals who have visited China in the past two weeks.

Updated

Hong Kong Airlines is to cut 400 jobs and reduce its operations as coronavirus adds to the company’s financial woes.

Reduced travel demand caused by the outbreak has caused the airline to reduce its daily operations from 82 to 30 sectors from 11 February to March.

Hong Kong-based ground staff will be asked to take a minimum of two weeks’ unpaid leave a month, or switch to working three days a week between 17 February and 30 June.

A spokesman for the airline told Reuters:

As uncertainty looms with the evolving nature of this global issue, weak travel demand will likely continue into the summer season and we need to take further action to stay afloat.

There has never been a more challenging time in Hong Kong Airlines’ history as of now. These decisions are difficult but had to be made to keep the airline alive.

Rival airline Cathay Pacific Airways has also asked employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave to preserve cash, and said the situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak is as severe as the 2009 financial crisis.

Updated

The British honeymooner who has tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship in Japan is Alan Steele from Wolverhampton, PA Media has reported.

He married his wife, Wendy, last month and the couple were celebrating their honeymoon on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is in quarantine.

Alan posted on Facebook:

Just to let you all know I have been diagnosed as having the virus and am being shipped to hospital.

Would also like to say that at the moment I am not showing any symptoms so just possibly a carrier.

Will let you know how I am going on when possible.

Steele has been separated from his wife and removed from the ship to be treated at a nearby hospital.

The Washington Post reported that Wendy was due to celebrate her 52nd birthday on 11 February, and her husband was due to start a new job on 10 February.

Updated

Singapore reports three more coronavius cases of unknown origin

Singapore is reporting three more coronavirus cases with no links to previous cases or travel history in China.

The country moved its disease outbreak response up a level to “orange” on Friday as the new cases emerged, according to the Straits Times. This means the outbreak is thought to have moderate to high public health impact.

Office workers wear protective masks while queueing to collect hand sanitiser in Singapore.
Office workers wear protective masks while queueing to collect hand sanitiser in Singapore. Photograph: Wallace Woon/EPA

Code orange is one step below red, the most severe category, and this is only the second time it has been activated since the coding system was set up after the Sars outbreak in 2003. It was previously activated for the swine flu outbreak in 2009.

The new cases include a 53-year-old man who visited Malaysia in January, a 42-year-old woman who is a teacher at Victoria junior college, and a 39-year-old woman who was also in Malaysia in January.

The cases were discovered because hospitals in Singapore had started testing all pneumonia patients for the virus, the health ministry said.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Singapore is now 33. Four of these are not connected to previous cases and have no travel connections to China.

The health minister, Gan Kim Yong, said at a press conference:

We have been preparing for this scenario and we are ready to manage this situation. The key is quick detection and managing the local spread.

Updated

Asia's largest art fair cancelled over outbreak

Art Basel, Asia’s largest annual art fair, has been cancelled due to the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus.

The event was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 19 to 21 March.

Marc Spiegler, Art Basel global director, said:

The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us. We explored every other possible option before doing so.

Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.

Last year the event, a key date on the global arts calendar, attracted almost 90,000 visitors from over 70 countries.

Collector Michael Xufu Huang was reported by CNN as saying: “I could see (the decision) coming.

“Even if the virus were to be contained by March ... there’s so much organisation that goes into planning beforehand - shipping, traveling. And with travel restrictions it would be impossible for people in the mainland to go.”

Updated

Medical workers in Hong Kong demanding the government close all borders with mainland China are voting on whether to extend their five-day strike.

Hong Kong health workers call for mainland China border closure to contain coronavirus outbreak.
Hong Kong health workers call for mainland China border closure to contain coronavirus outbreak. Photograph: Jérôme Favre/EPA

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), a medical workers’ union, said earlier today it will hold a vote on whether to extend or end the strike.

The strike will continue if more than 6,000 members vote in favour of it.

Yesterday, more than 6,400 union members went on strike, the HAEA said, and public hospitals have had limited services most of the week.

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has introduced mandatory quarantines for travellers coming from mainland China, and closed all but three of the border crossings.

Updated

A woman in North Korea has become the first person in the country to test positive for the coronavirus, a South Korean newspaper claimed on Friday.

The woman, who lives in the capital, Pyongyang, displayed symptoms after returning from a trip to China, the conservative broadsheet the JoongAng Ilbo said, citing an anonymous source in North Korea.

The North’s state media has not confirmed any infections. In its most recent update, on 2 February, the state broadcaster said no infections had been confirmed.

“As the chances of coronavirus spreading into North Korea increase, authorities started putting all people who had made overseas trips recently into quarantine for a certain period,” the source was quoted as saying, according to an English translation in the Korea Times. “The first patient is a woman living in Pyongyang. All people who had contact with her are being quarantined.”

The report did not give details of when the woman was diagnosed or her state of health.

North Korea has introduced several measures to guard against the disease – which has affected all of its neighbours – amid warnings that an epidemic could put an intolerable strain on its poor healthcare infrastructure.

It has suspended flights from China and Russia and closed train routes across its borders with those two countries. It has also imposed a ban on foreign tourism and suspended operations at a liaison office it runs with South Korea just north of the demilitarised zone, the heavily armed border dividing the Korean peninsula.

The country’s authorities have increased border inspections and health screenings of North Koreans returning from overseas business trips, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ party.

Updated

British man on Japan cruise ship tests positive for coronavirus

A British man on his honeymoon is among 41 more passengers to have tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship in Japan, taking the total to 61.

The man has not been identified but has been removed from the ship and taken to a nearby hospital, according to Japan’s health ministry.

The man’s wife will remain onboard the Diamond Princess which is anchored at Yokohama port.

In a Facebook video, fellow British passenger David Abel said:

41 additional passengers have been found positive for coronavirus, one of whom is a friend of ours on honeymoon who is going to be split from his wife. He is going to be taken to a medical facility and she is going to remain on board, so that is going to be very very tough indeed.

It must be dreadful, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for them.

Updated

Amnesty International has said the death of whistleblower Chinese doctor Li Wenliang highlights human rights failings in China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Li Wenliang was reprimanded by police for “spreading false rumours” after raising alarm over the virus back in December.

Black and white photo of Li Wenliang next to bouquets of flowers on pavement outside hospital.
A photo of the late ophthalmologist Li Wenliang is seen with flower bouquets at Wuhan Central Hospital. Photograph: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Nicholas Bequelin, regional director of Amnesty International, said:

The case of Li Wenliang is a tragic reminder of how the Chinese authorities’ preoccupation with maintaining ‘stability’ drives it to suppress vital information about matters of public interest.

China must learn the lesson from Li’s case and adopt a rights-respecting approach to combating the epidemic. Nobody should face harassment or sanctions for speaking out about public dangers, just because it may cause embarrassment to the government.

World's most productive car plant closes over coronavirus

Hyundai has suspended operations at its giant Ulsan complex in South Korea, the most productive car factory in the world, due to a lack of parts caused by the coronavirus lock down in China.

According to AFP, Hyundai has ran out of the engine wiring harnesses which are imported from China, and closed the factories on Friday. Hyundai said the supplier’s factory had shut down after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.

Rows of cars in Ulsan
Rows of Hyundai cars parked for shipping in the South Korean port of Ulsan. Photograph: -/YONHAP/AFP via Getty Images

The five-plant network can make 1.4 million vehicles a year, and the closure puts 25,000 workers on forced leave and partial wages.

Analysts estimate closing the factory complex for five days, would cost Hyundai - the world’s fifth-largest car manufacturer - at least six hundred billion South Korean won ($500m).

Hyundai is not the only car manufacturer being affected by the outbreak. Renault is considering stopping its factory in South Korea next week and Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley also told the FT his firm could be forced to halt one of its European factories over supply shortages.

Hyundai operations in South Korea are expected to resume by early next week.

Updated

It’s Jessica Murray, taking over the live blog from Alison Rourke. I’ll be following the latest developments of the coronavirus outbreak as the number of cases across the world continues to climb.

Italy has just confirmed its third case of the virus, after an Italian national tested positive.

The first two confirmed cases in the country were Chinese tourists, so this is the first Italian citizen to contract the virus.

The patient travelled back from Wuhan last week, and is being treated at Lazzaro Spallanzani Institute, an infectious disease hospital in Rome, a statement said.

Like many countries, Italy has seen rise in prejudice and discrimination against Chinese nationals as a result of the virus outbreak.

In a video posted by the Chinese-Italian Youth Union, Massimiliano Martigli Jiang takes a silent protest against this discrimination on the streets of Florence, holding a sign that reads: “I am not a virus. I’m a human. Eradicate the prejudice.”

Updated

Summary

  • The death toll stands at 636 inside China (up 73 on the previous day), one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines
  • Infections inside China stand at 31,161
  • Global infections have passed 280 in 28 countries
  • There’s been an outpouring of anger and grief over the death of the Chinese doctor, Li Wenliang, who first warned about the virus in December
  • China’s National Supervisory Commission has announced a“full investigation” into the handling of the death of Dr Li
  • There were 41 new cases on the quarantined cruise liner in the port of Yokohama south of Tokyo, bringing the total diagnosed on the ship to 61
  • Taiwan, which has 16 cases, banned international cruise ships from docking.
  • The ratings agency S&P slashed its forecast of China’s economic growth for this year by 0.75 percentage points, saying the coronavirus will deliver a big temporary hit to the country’s economy that will spill over to the whole world. Its new growth forecast is 5%
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping assured Donald Trump in a phone call that China is doing all it can to contain the virus. Xi also urged the US to respond reasonably to the virus outbreak, a veiled message over quarantine restrictions in America
  • Canadian and US evacuation flights are due to land back in their respective countries on Friday
  • North Korea confirms first case of virus
  • The Chinese city of Xiaogan, around 70km north-west of Wuhan in Hubei province, has become only the second city in China (after Wuhan) to record more than 2,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

The New York Times is reporting on the deteriorating conditions in Wuhan and measures to control the virus, including house-to-house temperature checks, rounding up the sick and mass confinements at quarantine centres.

The measures follow the visit of Vice Premier Sun Chunlan to Wuhan on Thursday. She said the country faced “wartime conditions” and “there must be no deserters, or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever”.

Updated

Canadian evacuees due to arrive home on Friday

Two groups of evacuees are set to arrive on Friday at a Canadian air force base from Wuhan. One flight of 176 people is expected in the early hours of Friday morning. A second group of evacuees, who left China on a US flight, should arrive later in the day, after switching planes in Vancouver. All the evacuees will be quarantined on the base, in Trenton, Ontario, for two weeks, separated from each other in a building that resembles a small hotel, with families kept together.

China’s National Supervisory Commission, which some on twitter are calling the country’s “much-feared disciplinary watchdog”, says it is sending a team to Wuhan to conduct a “full investigation” into the handling of the death of Dr Li Wenliang, the whistleblower who first raised concerns about the coronavirus in December. Chinese state media reported his death, retracted it and then confirmed it.

Updated

I mentioned earlier about the anger inside China over the death of the whistleblower doctor in Wuhan, Li Wenliang.

You can read our full report on it below:

‘Hero who told the truth’: Chinese rage over coronavirus death of whistleblower doctor

Australia publishes first epidemiological report on coronavirus cases in the country

Australia has published its first report on the coronavirus cases in the country. The report, covers the first 12 cases diagnosed up to 1 February (there are now 14 cases in the country). The report says:

  • All twelve cases reported a travel history to China, and 92% (11/12) had a travel history to Wuhan
  • The majority of cases (92%, 11/12) developed mild to moderate symptoms, with one case (8%, 1/12) admitted to intensive care

The report says: “Clinical care of suspected patients with 2019-nCoV should focus on early recognition, immediate isolation, implementation of appropriate infection prevention and control measures and provision of optimised supportive care.”

You can read the full report here.

Updated

US evacuation flights due to arrive home on Friday

We’re getting more details on the two US planes with about 300 passengers, mostly American citizens, took off from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday bound for the United States. It’s the third group of evacuees from the city, the US State Department said.

One of the flights had room to accommodate more than 60 Canadians, who will disembark on a stopover in Vancouver, British Columbia, before the remaining passengers continue on to the United States, a State Department spokeswoman told Reuters.

The plane stopping in Vancouver will fly on to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Southern California, the Pentagon said in a separate statement.

The second aircraft is headed for Omaha, Nebraska, by way of Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, following a refuelling stop in California, the Defense Department said. Both planes are due to arrive on Friday.

Updated

We’re getting more on President Xi Jinping’s phone call with Donald Trump from the Associated Press:

China’s official news agency says President Xi Jinping has urged the US to respond reasonably to the virus outbreak in a phone call with President Donald Trump.

China’s foreign ministry has previously complained that the US was flying its citizens out of the worst-hit city of Wuhan but not providing any assistance to China.

More generally, China has said other countries, many of whom have imposed travel bans or quarantines on travellers from China, should follow WHO recommendations on reacting proportionately to the threat.

Workers arrange beds in a convention centre that has been converted into a temporary hospital in Wuhan.
Workers arrange beds in a convention centre that has been converted into a temporary hospital in Wuhan. Photograph: AP

Updated

The New York Times reporter in Hong Kong has just posted a video that sums up the concern in the city about the spread of the coronavirus.

S&P slashes forecast for China's economic growth

The ratings agency S&P has slashed its forecast of China’s economic growth for this year by 0.75 percentage points, saying the coronavirus will deliver a big temporary hit to the country’s economy that will spill over to the whole world.

S&P said it now forecast Chinese GDP growth of 5%, down from its previous estimate of 5.7%, but cautioned that it was less confident in its figures than usual because of continuing uncertainty over the severity of the outbreak.

This will flow through to the global economy because China accounts for a third of worldwide growth, S&P said.

“The global impact will be felt through four real economy channels: sharply reduced tourism revenues, lower exports of consumer and capital goods, lower commodity prices, and industrial supply-chain disruptions,” it said.

“If the virus cannot be contained, a material risk, the economic impact could develop exponentially with significant credit implications.”

The agency said it expected a rebound next year that would make up lost ground, increasing its estimate of 2021 GDP growth from 5.6% to 6.4%.

S&P said it expected travel restrictions to ease from next month.

Updated

Here is a global rundown of the latest figures for cases and deaths reported by health authorities around the world so far.

China: 636 deaths and 31,161 confirmed cases on the mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has had one death, and 22 cases. Macao has had 10 cases.

Japan: 86 cases
Singapore: 30
Thailand: 25
South Korea: 24
Australia: 14
Germany: 13
United States: 12
Taiwan: 16
Malaysia: 14
Vietnam: 12
France: 6
United Arab Emirates: 5
Canada: 6
India: 3
Philippines: 3 cases, including 1 death
Russia: 2
Italy: 2
Britain: 3
Belgium: 1
Nepal: 1
Sri Lanka: 1
Sweden: 1
Spain: 1
Cambodia: 1
Finland: 1

Xi says China has taken 'most comprehensive containment measures'

Reuters has the latest on a phone call between Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, and Donald Trump. It says:

The Chinese government has spared no effort in its fight to contain the coronavirus outbreak, having taken the most comprehensive and stringent prevention and containment measures, President Xi Jinping told US President Donald Trump.

In its battle against the coronavirus, China is gradually achieving results, Xi told his US counterpart on a phone call on Friday morning, according to state television.

China is fully confident and capable of defeating the epidemic, and the long-term trend of the country’s economic development will not change, Xi said.

We have been reporting about death in Wuhan of Li Wenliang, the doctor who had tried to raise the alarm about the danger of the virus in December.

The 34-year-old became a household name in China, known to hundreds of millions of people as the face and conscience of the spiralling crisis. (You can read our full story about him here.)

Li’s initial efforts to raise the alarm about the virus were met by the security forces accusing him of “making false comments”. He signed a statement agreeing not to discuss the disease further.

The news of his death was muddled by state media, who initially reporting it, then rowed back on their confirmation, only to finally confirm that he died in hospital after having contracted the virus.

It’s prompted an outpouring of grief and anger on Chinese social media .

Toyota has extended the closure of its 12 factories in China by a week.

Toyota cars at the port of Shenzhen.
Toyota cars at the port of Shenzhen. Photograph: China Stringer Network/Reuters

The Japanese carmaker had planned to reopen its car and component-making plants this weekend but will now keep them shuttered until 16 February “after considering various factors, including guidelines from local and region governments, parts supply, and logistics”.

Impact on Chinese economy is temporary – officials

Officials at the Beijing press conference said they had confidence in the economic system and that the impact on the economy from the outbreak would be “temporary. It will be limited and will not affect the fundamentals, and the economy is sound and stable”.

They added:

The outbreak has taken place during the spring festival and the impact on services is notable. The holiday has been extended and the construction sector and other sectors will be affected. There will be an impact on economic performance in Q1 but the economy will return to productivity when the epidemic is over. Look at 2003 Sars outbreak. There was disrupted growth in Q2 but in Q3 it rebounded. When the epidemic is controlled, the economy will rebound and pent-up investment and consumption released. The Chinese econony will have a quick recovery. it is promising and resilient. The funadmentals will not change. There is ample room for macro regulation – China is one of the few major economies that have normal monetary policy so we have sufficient tools to repsond.

Officials also said that the rise in the Chinese stock market since its reopening on Monday proves that it is becoming more mature. The benchmark Shanghai Composite is index lost 8% on Monday but is now off by 4.5% on the week so has regained some ground.

Updated

Scott Morrison has urged all Australians to leave China as soon as possible

Just doubling back on that press conference we have just heard from the Australian PM, Scott Morrison. He has told Australians to get out of China by commercial means if possible and that he cannot guarantee assisted flights out will continue in the future.

Australians and immediate family members – if you are there, then there are still commercial flights coming out of China, mainland China to Australia and I strongly suggest you avail yourself of those. The government cannot guarantee that similar types of assisted flights would be able to be put on in the future either into the mainland or Wuhan

On Wednesday, the British government told its citizens “if you are in China and are able to leave, you should do so”. On Thursday, Canada followed suit, telling its citizens who did not have to be in China, that they should get out on commercial flights if possible: “If your presence in China isn’t essential, you should consider leaving by commercial means,” the advice said.

Updated

China provides emergency funding for key manufacturers

China’s finance ministry has created a special fund of billions of yuan to target lending for companies involved in the manufacture of key medical supplies such as safety goggles, face masks and disinfectant, officials have said at a media conference in Beijing.

A list of companies will be drawn up by the government and banks will be expected to hand over cash to them to enable them to keep production flowing.

Morrison is asked if he would consider stopping cruise ships coming to Australia, given the infections on the cruise ship that has docked in Japan?

“No. That is not under advice at the moment. No-one has recommended that. But those Australians who are on board that vessel (stuck in Yokohama) and a number of additional cases have been confirmed amongst the Australians on that vessel, which is up in Japan and they are getting consular support. They have been transferred to medical facilities in Japan as the other two were and there are quite a number of other Australians on board this ship that are in quarantine on the vessel.”

Updated

Australian PM 'strongly suggests' citizens take commercial flights out of China if possible

We are hearing a news conference from the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, on plans for a second evacuation flight from Wuhan.

He confirms that the government is looking at a second quarantine facility in Australia’s Northern Territory. The first evacuees were taken to Christmas Island, a former detention centre for refugees and asylum seekers.

The site being considered isa a mining camp facility in the NT’s capital city, Darwin.

Morrison also has a message for Australians who are still in mainland China – that they should get out on commercial flights if possible:

“Australians and immediate family members – if you are there, then there are still commercial flights coming out of China, mainland China to Australia and I strongly suggest you avail yourself of those. The government cannot guarantee that similar types of assisted flights would be able to be put on in the future either into the mainland or Wuhan.”

Updated

We reported yesterday that clinical trials had begun in China for the drug Remdesivir on coronavirus patients. State media says the first person to receive treatment was a 68-year-old man with serious symptoms in Wuhan’s Jinyintan hospital. More than 750 patients will take part in the trial.

Second Chinese city, Xiaogan, records more than 2,000 coronavirus cases

The Chinese city of Xiaogan, around 70km north-west of Wuhan in Hubei province, has become only the second city in China (after Wuhan) to record more than 2,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Chinese state media is reporting Beijing’s financial support during the virus outbreak.

Hong Kong cancels major art show

Hong Kong has cancelled a major a major cultural and business event for the city, amid the virus outbreak.

The annual Art Basel Hong Kong, which drew more than 80,000 people last year, had been scheduled to take place on 19-21 March.

It’s the latest in a range of cultural, academic and sporting events canceled or postponed in China, Hong Kong and elsewhere because of the outbreak.

Hong Kong has reported 22 cases of the virus and has ordered a 14-day quarantine for all travellers entering the city from mainland China from Saturday.

On Thursday Hong Kongers faced long queues at some shops as shelves emptied amid concerns over the virus. You can see the South China Morning Post’s front page below.

Two planes carrying US citizens have left Wuhan for the United States

The US State Department said on Thursday that two planes have left Wuhan, China, en route to the United States amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The State Department statement did not say how many evacuees were on the flights or where in the United States they were headed.

A security guard wears a mask while standing by the Houhai Lake during a snowfall in Beijing.
A security guard wears a mask while standing by the Houhai Lake during a snowfall in Beijing. Photograph: Wu Hong/EPA

Updated

Taiwan says one it its evacuated citizens from Wuhan has virus

Taiwan and China are embroiled in a new spat over the fate of Taiwanese stranded in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Reuters reports, after Taiwan said one of its citizens sent back on the first flight was infected with coronavirus.

Only one flight from China has so far evacuated 247 of the estimated 500 Taiwanese in Wuhan. Beijing has permitted countries from the United States to Japan to send often several flights to Wuhan to collect their nationals. But Taiwan and China have been unable to agree on further flights to take out the Taiwanese.

Taiwan’s China policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said the first flight back, on Monday, had one passenger confirmed to be affected and three others who had fevers. All the passengers are now in quarantine in Taiwan.

The presence of the sick passenger “created a tear in virus prevention”, the council said in a statement on Friday.

“This also caused an overlap infection risk for the people on the same flight, and if there are even more infected people caused by this then the serious consequences don’t bear thinking about.”

China should be prioritising the elderly, the young and other vulnerable groups amongst the Taiwanese and those only on short-term visits to Wuhan to send back first, but China ignored this request when it returned the first batch, it added.

China has said Taiwan should not be putting up obstacles to evacuate the Taiwanese, and further planned evacuation flights this week had been put off due to Taipei blocking them.

“Some people in Taiwan had been bad-mouthing arrangements for the homecoming of Taiwan compatriots, which has fully exposed the vile nature of their ignoring of the Taiwan compatriots’ interests,” China’s Taiwan affairs office said late on Thursday.

Taiwan should stop its “political games” and let the flights resume, it added.

Taiwan and China are already at loggerheads over the handling of the virus outbreak, especially over Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Taiwan has 16 cases of the virus.

Japan cruise ship new virus cases

Here are the nationalities of the newly diagnosed passengers onboard the Diamond Princess: 21 from Japan, eight from the US, five from Australia, five from Canada, one from Argentina and one from Britain.

Japanese health officials said that none of the newly diagnosed patients was displaying severe symptoms of the virus.

Updated

Johns Hopkins University has put those updated figures from China into its virus tracker.

Johns Hopkins University CSSE coronavirus tracker.
Johns Hopkins University CSSE coronavirus tracker. Photograph: Johns Hopkins University CSSE

Let’s have a look at those figures from China’s National Health Commission in a little more detail.

  • The vast number of new cases are in Hubei again. Of 3,143 new cases announced, 2,447 were from Hubei province
  • Of the 73 new deaths, 69 were in Hubei

But perhaps the more interesting figures are the suspected cases and their location.

On Friday the NHC said there are 4,833 new suspected cases and, of that, 2,622, or 54% of those new cases, are in Hubei province – the centre of the infection.

The commission has given this comparison figure each day since last Saturday (previously it was just a national suspected cases figure). Here’s what they showed:

  • Friday: 4,833 suspected cases; 2,622 or 54% in Hubei
  • Thursday: 5,328 suspected cases; 3,230 or 60% in Hubei
  • Wednesday: 3,971 suspected cases; 1957 or 49% in Hubei
  • Tuesday: 5,072 suspected cases; 3,182 or 63% in Hubei
  • Monday: 5,173 suspected cases; 3,260 or 70% in Hubei
  • Sunday: 4,562 suspected cases; 2,606 or 57% in Hubei

Another 41 people quarantined aboard a cruise liner off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of infected passengers to 61.

The dramatic jump in fresh cases follows 10 positive diagnoses among Diamond Princess passengers on Wednesday, and a further 10 on Thursday.

The new cases were among 171 remaining test results. The results of all 273 tests have now been confirmed.

About 3,700 passengers and crew are aboard the ship, but tests were conducted only on people who displayed symptoms or had been in close contact with a Hong Kong man who tested positive after leaving the ship at the end of last month.

Twenty-one of the 41 patients are Japanese, the health minister, Katsunobu Kato, told reporters on Friday. The nationalities of the remaining passengers were not immediately available.

The age range of the newly diagnosed patients suggests that older passengers are particularly vulnerable.

The new cases include three people in their 20s to 40s, three in their 50s, eight in their 60s, 21 in their 70s and six in their 80s, Kato said.

The health ministry said the patients would be transferred to hospitals in Tokyo and several other prefectures, according to public broadcaster NHK.

A woman waves after hanging a Japanese flag that reads “shortage of medicine” on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where 61 people have tested positive for coronavirus.
A woman waves after hanging a Japanese flag that reads “shortage of medicine” on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where 61 people have tested positive for coronavirus. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Updated

Australia’s ABC TV is talking to their reporter on the scene where the Diamond Princess is docked. He says some people onboard the ship have been let out of their rooms for short times, but there are others who he believes are still confined to their room.s

Updated

Stricken cruise ship records 41 more cases of virus

Another 41 passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise liner moored in the Japanese port of Yokohama have been diagnosed with coronavirus. This brings the total on the ship to 61. By my calculations also raises Japan’s number of confirmed infections to 86.

The Diamond Princess is anchored at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama.
The Diamond Princess is anchored at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, with me, Alison Rourke.

The Chinese Health Commission has just released its latest figures for deaths and infections. The headline figures are 636 deaths and more than 31,000 confirmed infections. I’ll bring you some analysis of the figures shortly, but the other key points so far are:

  • Japanese media reports another 41 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on the stricken cruise ship in Yokohama, bringing the total to 61
  • The doctor who tried to raise the alarm about the virus in its early days, has died after becoming infected
  • President Xi has declared a “people’s war” on the virus and warned of its global impact on business
  • Singapore has said it will evacuate its citizens from Wuhan
  • New cases have been reported in Germany, Italy and Britain

You can stay up-to-date on all of our coronavirus outbreak coverage here, including our latest comment pieces:

Updated

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