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Friday, Apr 10, 2020

Coronavirus: cruise ship accounts for more than half of cases outside China – as it happened

Coronavirus: cruise ship accounts for more than half of cases outside China – as it happened

WHO issues latest briefing; South Korean city sees surge in cases; and two Japanese passengers from stricken Diamond Princess ship die

The World Health Organization is coordinating with the African Union to prepare the continent’s countries for potential arrivals of people infected with coronavirus.

Last week, the first case of coronavirus in Africa was confirmed when a case emerged in Egypt.


The World Health Organization has issued a plea to a dozen manufacturers of personal protective equipment to help in a bid to protect health workers from the spread of coronavirus.

“I’ve written to 12 chief executives of manufacturers of personal protective equipment to seek their cooperation to ensure supply to protect health workers,” said the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom.


WHO: more than half of coronavirus cases outside China occurred onboard Diamond Princess
Over half of the coronavirus cases outside of China are onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, the World Health Organization’s director general has said.

Giving the WHO’s daily update, Tedros Adhanom said there were now more than 1,000 cases outside mainland China, and seven deaths.


Here’s the latest country-by-country breakdown of the coronavirus outbreak, as the number of those infected worldwide hits nearly 75,000.

According to Associated Press, the latest figures provided by each government’s health authority as of Thursday are:

Mainland China: 2,118 deaths among 74,576 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei
Hong Kong: 65 cases, 2 deaths
Macau: 10
Japan: 727 cases, including 634 from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, 3 deaths
Singapore: 84
South Korea: 51, 1 death (the number of cases has since risen after reports of new cases at a ‘cult’ church have taken the total number to 82)
Thailand: 35
Taiwan: 24 cases, 1 death
Malaysia: 22
Vietnam: 16
Germany: 16
United States: 15 cases; separately, 1 US citizen died in China
Australia: 14
France: 12 cases, 1 death
United Kingdom: 9
United Arab Emirates: 9
Canada: 8
Iran: 5 cases, 2 deaths
Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death
India: 3
Italy: 3
Russia: 2
Spain: 2
Belgium: 1
Nepal: 1
Sri Lanka: 1
Sweden: 1
Cambodia: 1
Finland: 1
Egypt: 1


Summary

Here are the main things that have happened today:

Two Japanese passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise liner have died after becoming infected onboard. Both were in their 80s.

China’s national death toll stands at 2,118, with 74,576 confirmed infections in total.

New cases of the virus in China have dropped, partly because the way cases are counted was changed for the second time in a week.

Scientists have signed an open letter in support of Chinese colleagues who have been targeted on social media with conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus.

UK passengers on the Diamond Princess are expected to be flown out from Tokyo on Friday. They will land at Boscombe Down airbase in Wiltshire. The Foreign Office is also helping Britons who were on the Westerdam cruise ship to come home from Cambodia.

The South Korean city of Daegu is facing an “unprecedented crisis”, its mayor has said, after a cluster of cases at a church grew to account for nearly half of the nation’s total cases.

Iran has reported two deaths from the coronavirus, and an additional three cases in the city of Qom.

Australia has extended its travel ban for arrivals from China into a fourth week. It will last until 29 February.


Scientists sign open letter of support for Chinese colleagues over social media conspiracy theories

Our health editor, Sarah Boseley, reports that 27 prominent public health scientists from nine countries have signed a joint statement of support for Chinese colleagues who are being criticised on social media, and even threatened with violence as false rumours circulate about the origins of the coronavirus.

“We work very closely with the Chinese scientists. We have had incredible openness with the labs in China for the last 15 years, since Sars,” said Dr Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance in the United States.

“We collaborate on what are dangerous viruses and get incredible information that helps public health around the world. That is all under threat right now.”

There is a worry that the open and transparent relationship between the Chinese scientists and their western counterparts will come to an abrupt end, impeding the sharing of data and the hunt for treatments and vaccines against Covid-19.

The scientists cite conspiracy theories circulating on social media which claim that the coronavirus was artificially manufactured in a lab conducting bioweapons research. They are “crackpot theories that need to be addressed, but in the age of social media it is just impossible”, Daszak said.

UK companies have begun to flag up the economic impact of the coronavirus. Aveva, which is one of Britain’s biggest tech groups and earns 5% of its revenues from China, said Chinese sales had been knocked by the disruption. Shares in the FTSE 100-listed firm dropped 4% after its update.

Shares in the kitchen and bathroom supplier Norcros plummeted 13% when it alerted over profits because of the impact of the disease on Chinese-based suppliers.

And the recruitment group Hays says its business in China has slowed. Its chief executive, Alistair Cox, told PA Media that recruitment in China had been “very subdued”. “Everyone has been concerned about their own health and safety and that of their families – it has to be everyone’s priority.”

US military forces in South Korea have just issued a statement about their response to the situation in Daegu.


The measures are intended to restrict unnecessary travel, and schools and children’s centres used by military staff have been closed.

Daegu, which is two hours south of the capital, Seoul, accounts for nearly half the confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. Infections have centred on a controversial “cult” church. A 61-year-old woman who worships there has been linked to the 37 other members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus who have been confirmed as infected.

Daegu’s mayor, Kwon Young-jin, has said the city faces “an unprecedented crisis”.

While, naturally, people’s health is the primary concern with the coronavirus outbreak, it is also undoubtedly having a global economic impact as well.

Air France-KLM, Qantas, and the global container shipping giant Maersk have become the latest businesses to warn about the financial impact from the continued spread of the coronavirus.


My colleague Joanna Partridge has the full story.

There is some more detail from Iran of the coronavirus cases there. Three cases have been confirmed today, in addition to the two people who were known to have died from it.

The cases have all been in Qom, which is around 140km (86 miles) south of the capital, Tehran. According to the official IRNA news agency all schools and universities, including religious Shia seminaries, were shut down in the city.

Mohammad Mahdi Gouya, Iran’s deputy health minister, said the three people with the coronavirus did not appear to have had any contact with Chinese nationals. Authorities were now investigating the origin of the disease, and its possible link with religious pilgrims from Pakistan or other countries.

British Airways have announced a further round of flight cancellations. A spokesperson for the airline said: “In line with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s continued advice against all but essential travel to mainland China, we are cancelling flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until April 17 2020. We continue to fly to and from Hong Kong. We will keep the situation under review.”

The company said it would be contacting customers on cancelled flights to discuss their travel options, which includes the possibility of rebooking on to other carriers, refunds, or flying on a later date.

Here’s a summary of the main events so far today.

Two Japanese passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise liner have died after becoming infected onboard. Both were in their 80s.

China’s national death toll stands at 2,118, with 74,576 confirmed infections in total.

New cases of the virus in China have dropped, partly because the way cases are counted was changed for the second time in a week.

UK passengers on the Diamond Princess are expected to be flown out from Tokyo on Friday. They will land at Boscombe Down airbase in Wiltshire. The Foreign Office is also helping Britons who were on the Westerdam cruise ship come home from Cambodia.

The South Korean city of Daegu is facing an “unprecedented crisis”, its mayor has said, after a cluster of cases at a church grew to account for nearly half of the nation’s total virus cases.

Iran has reported two deaths from the coronavirus.

Australia has extended its travel ban for arrivals from China into a fourth week. It will last until 29 February.

PA is reporting that the plane carrying British passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship will land at the MoD base Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Around 70 Britons will be on the repatriation flight, which is expected to leave Tokyo late tomorrow night.

Sources have told the PA news agency that the Britons in Cambodia who left the Westerdam cruise ship are being assisted by the Foreign Office to make their way home. They are being quite coy about it though – refusing to disclose how many Britons are involved, or indeed whether they may have already arrived back in the country.

The group, who have all tested negative for coronavirus while in Cambodia, are receiving health advice and being helped with commercial flight bookings.

Public Health England said airport health teams would meet the flights and speak to Westerdam passengers about any symptoms, and they would be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Hong Kong’s Information Services Department has issued some photos of passengers arriving at Hong Kong international airport on a flight from Tokyo. A total of 106 Hong Kong residents, who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Yokohama, were permitted to leave Japan and have flown back to Hong Kong. Upon arrival they were taken straight to a designated quarantine site.

Australia may have extended its ban on foreign travellers from China for another week until 29 February, but Melbourne is trying to do something to make the Chinese population currently there feel more welcome. The Victoria state government has decided to light up a series of landmarks including the Arts Centre, the National Gallery Victoria and Melbourne town hall in red and gold as a show of solidarity with China over the coronavirus outbreak.

Perhaps more practically, it has proposed that as soon as it is safe to visit China again, the city will send a 100-strong trade delegation.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, has also urged people to support Chinese businesses. “Go and visit a Chinese restaurant, go to a precinct which is dominated by Asian businesses, go and show your support for them, because a lot of them are having it very, very tough at the moment as people stay away.”

A British couple who published video diaries from a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan have confirmed that they have the coronvirus as they posted Facebook updates from hospital.

Sally and David Abel, who were among thousands of passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, said that Japanese doctors had told them that vaccinations which they had in the past for the flu had stopped the virus from spreading further.

The were not displaying any symptoms and were in good spirits, their son Steve added in a live post on Facebook as they awoke on Thursday morning to see photos of his smiling parents in two beds in the same hospital room.

David Abel posted: “Outside the hospital I came over a bit weird and nearly passed out. Every pore on my body opened and i was wheelchaired to our room.”

“Full health inspection and now we know what’s going on. We both contracted a cold (unaware of) and it has not yet turned into pneumonia. (we do have corona virus).

“Tomorrow the big tests commence. chest x-rays, ECG, chest scan, urine + more.”

Three Iranian patients have tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, according to the state’s semi-official ISNA news agency.

The latest development in Iran comes after its health ministry said on Wednesday that two people had died after preliminary tests came back as positive for Covid-19.

ISNA reports that five hospitals have been designated for the treatment of cases.

A Japanese government official has described coronavirus as the biggest risk to the economy in a country which has already been heavily criticised by others, including US authorities for its handling of quarantined cruise ship passengers.

His comments came monthly report said that the Japanese labour market remained solid, but warned about risks to the outlook from the coronavirus epidemic.

Japan’s financial watchdog has begun conducting an emergency survey on domestic financial institutions with business operations in China to gauge how the coronavirus outbreak could affect credit costs.

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