China battles coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates


The death toll in China from the new coronavirus has risen to 170, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

Some 7,711 people in China are now confirmed to have the infection, which has spread from Wuhan’s Hubei province to every one of China’s 31 provinces.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday urged governments around the world to “take action” over the SARS-like virus, cases of which have been confirmed in almost 20 countries.

The WHO will hold an urgent meeting on Thursday over whether the outbreak should be declared a global health emergency – a designation that can lead to increased international coordination.

Here are the latest updates:

Thursday, January 30

South Korea confirms two new cases, first human-to-human transmission

South Korea has confirmed two new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to six.

Of the two, one patient recently returned from Wuhan but the other was confirmed to be the country’s first human-to-human transmission, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

The two patients were immediately quarantined.

Vietnam confirms three new cases

Three new cases of coronavirus have emerged in Vietnam,the official health ministry said, bringing the number of active cases in the country to four.

Two people are being treated for the virus in the capital, Hanoi, while another is receiving treatment in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, a report in the Suc Khoe & Doi Song newspaper said.

All three had recently returned from Wuhan.

Russia to shut border with China: PM

Russia will close its border with China to prevent the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told a government meeting that the order had been signed “to take measures to close the border [with China] in the Far East,” Russian news agencies reported.

Russia to pause issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals

Russia will temporarily stop issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals from Thursday, the foreign ministry said.

On Wednesday, Russia said it would limit its railway links with China from January 31, leaving only direct trains between Moscow and Beijing.

Vaccines likely will not be ready in time for Tokyo 2020: Professor

Vaccines against the coronavirus probably will not be ready by the start of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, a professor who looked at health risks ahead of the Games said, adding that he hopes there was enough time to build defences.

Koji Wada, a professor of public health at the International University of Health and Welfare in Tokyo, co-authored a paper in 2018 that looked at health risks from the influx of visitors to the 2020 Games in July.

“We may have more information about the risk of infection and the risk of severity of getting the virus, so we can prepared,” Wada told Reuters news agency. “So we can have some precautions for infection control … but I hope we can conduct the Tokyo Olympics as scheduled.”

US to arrange more evacuation flights from Wuhan

The US government will lay on extra evacuation flights from Wuhan with capacity for private US citizens on or about February 3, the State Department said in a statement.

Individuals on the flights would be subject to screening, health observations and monitoring requirements.

It did not say how many planes it would deploy for how many US citizens.

Cambodia leader blasts online misinformation

Cambodia’s leaders urged citizens to remain calm about the new virus, while threatening to kick out reporters or officials seen wearing a face mask.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a live televised address that people should not be scared because the real illness they faces was fear, based on inaccurate information on social media.

“The prime minister does not wear a mask, so why should you be wearing a mask here,” he said.

One case of the virus has been reported in Cambodia, which has not cancelled flights to China and said there are no plans to repatriate Cambodians in China.

Virus fears push Asian stocks to seven-week low, but gold gains

Asian stocks and currencies fell as the number of deaths from the coronavirus rose and more cases were reported around the world.

India confirms first case of coronavirus

India has reported its first case of the coronavirus in the southern state of Kerala, the government said in a statement.

The patient – a student at Wuhan University – has tested positive for the virus and is stable and in isolation at a hospital, the statement added.

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