China battles coronavirus outbreak
The death toll in China from the new coronavirus rose to 213 on Friday, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.
Beijing said there are at least 9,692 people confirmed to have the infection, which has spread from Wuhan’s Hubei province to every one of China’s 31 provinces.
Another 102,000 people were also reportedly under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.
Friday, January 31
Turkish Airlines halts all flights to and from mainland China
Turkish Airlines has suspended all flights to and from mainland China and is redirecting four flights currently in the air back to Istanbul.
The flights will be suspended until February 9, while flights to and from Hong Kong will remain in operation, the company said.
Mongolia to close all ports of entry from, into China
Mongolia will close all ports of entry from and into China until March 2, the government said.
It will give its citizens currently in China until February 6 to return home, though non-Chinese foreign nationals travelling to Mongolia will not be able to do so via China.
South Korea confirms four more cases
South Korea has confirmed four more cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 11.
One is a 62-year-old South Korean woman who visited Wuhan, while the three others are presumed to be classified as person-to-person transmission cases, as they have not visited China recently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here.
WHO declares global health emergency – but what does it mean?
The WHO’s declaration of a global health emergency over the coronavirus means there is now more money available to combat the outbreak, Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Hong Kong, said.
“That means the WHO now has more funds that it can throw at the problem but it also effectively gives the WHO more power because member nations, including China, have a binding obligation to accept and implement any decisions that the WHO makes.”
Vietnam carrier Vietjet to suspend China flights
Vietnamese carrier Vietjet will suspend all flights to and from China from February 1, the company said.
“Vietjet has already planned to suspend all of its flights to China,” it said in a statement. “The suspension is effective from February 1.”
Turkey to evacuate its citizens, others, from Wuhan: Health minister
Turkey’s health minister has said 34 Turkish citizens and several others will be airlifted from Wuhan.
The others include 7 Azeris, 7 Georgians and 1 Albanian.
The plane will take off from the Turkish capital, Anakara on Friday.
RwandAir suspends all flights to China
RwandAir has halted flights to and from China until further notice.
“RwandAir is to suspend flights with immediate effect between the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the Chinese city of Guangzhou,” the airline said in a statement. “The decision will be reviewed later in February”.
Vietnam to ban visas for Chinese tourists
Authorities in Vietnam are introducing a temporary ban on issuing travel visas to Chinese tourists, a government statement said.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has called on immigration officials to stop issuing visas to Chinese tourists amid growing concern over the new coronavirus, the statement read.
Vietnamese citizens were also encouraged not to travel to the Chinese border, while Vietnam’s travel authorities have asked all travel companies to suspend flights to infected regions in China.