China coronavirus outbreak

The death toll in mainland China from the coronavirus has surged to 811, the National Health Commission said on Sunday, as a Japanese and an American became the first foreigners to die of the illness in China.

The Commission reported 89 deaths nationwide up to midnight on Saturday with 81 of the fatalities in Hubei, the central province at the heart of the outbreak.

More people have now died from coronavirus in China than did worldwide during the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the total number of infections in the country rising to 37,198.

Two people have died from the virus outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines – and at least 25 countries have confirmed cases.

Major airlines have suspended flights to and from China and several countries have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan and the wider Hubei province in a bid to stop the spread of the infection.

Sunday, February 9
Schools in China’s Hebei to remain shut until March – state media
The northern Chinese province of Hebei will keep its schools shut until at least March 1 to control the coronavirus outbreak, the Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper said, citing the local education bureau.

Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, is one of a number of provinces and municipalities to extend the school shutdown until the end of the month, with others including Shandong, Jiangsu and Shanghai.

Hong Kong lifts quarantine on cruise ship
Hong Kong has lifted a quarantine on the World Dream cruise ship after clearing all its crew members of the new virus.

The ship, which has 1,800 mostly Hong Kong passengers and an equal number of crew members, had been placed under quarantine since it docked on Wednesday after eight mainland Chinese passengers on a voyage last month were diagnosed with the virus.

Port official Leung Yiu-hon said tests on all 1,800 crew members were completed ahead of schedule and were negative.

Malaysia expands China traveller ban
Malaysia has expanded a ban on visitors from China to include Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, after China’s decision to lock down cities in the provinces to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Southeast Asian nation on January 27 imposed a temporary ban on travellers arriving from the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, and the surrounding province of Hubei.

“Travel restrictions will be enforced in accordance with the lockdown region imposed by the Chinese government,” Wan Azizah said in a statement.

Shandong province to keep all schools closed until end of February
China’s northern Shandong province said all schools will stay closed until the end of February, the province’s education bureau said in a statement on its official website on Sunday.

The decision, which applies to all types of schools, is being implemented to guarantee students’ safety, it added.

Singapore Airshow to go ahead despite coronavirus fears
Organisers scrambled on Sunday to shore up the Singapore Airshow, one of Asia’s biggest aerospace exhibitions, after more than 70 exhibitors pulled out because of the coronavirus.

Few deals are expected at the biennial show, which begins on February 11 and is usually a magnet for planemakers, suppliers and arms buyers.

Organisers advised trade visitors to avoid shaking hands and to choose alternative forms of greeting such as bowing or waving. The number of public tickets available will be halved.

This week’s show will still feature a rare head-to-head, superpower fighter display from the United States and China, the US flying the F-35B while the People’s Liberation Army Air Force aerobatics team, Ba Yi, will put on a display with its J-10 fighters.

China health body warns against excessive use of protective suits
China’s National Health Commission called for the “reasonable use” of protective suits in a statement on Sunday, cautioning against “excessive and disorderly” use of the clothing that would waste resources and could also increase infection.

The statement was issued as China faces a severe shortage of equipment, including suits, masks and goggles, to protect medical workers from infection.

Though supplies of protective clothing have improved, they are still insufficient, said the statement.

Philippines evacuates 30, including infant, from Wuhan
Thirty Filipinos returned to the Philippines on Sunday from Wuhan, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

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