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The United States has sent nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China, including masks, gowns and respirators, a State Department official said.

An American became the first confirmed non-Chinese victim of the new coronavirus on Saturday while a Japanese man also died with symptoms consistent with the disease, as the epidemic looked set to pass the death toll from the SARS pandemic in rapid time.

The 60-year old U.S. citizen diagnosed with coronavirus died at Jinyintan Hospital in China’s Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak, on Feb. 6, a U.S. embassy spokesman in Beijing said.

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“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” the spokesman told Reuters. “Out of the respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment.” A Japanese man hospitalised with pneumonia in Wuhan also died after suffering flu-like symptoms consistent with the new coronavirus, Japan’s foreign ministry said.

The man in his sixties was suspected of having been infected with the coronavirus but due to difficulties in diagnosing the disease the cause of death was given as viral pneumonia, the ministry said citing Chinese medical authorities. As of noon on Thursday, 17 foreigners were being quarantined and treated for the disease in China, according to government figures. No updated figures were immediately available.

The total death toll in mainland China rose by 86 to 722 on Saturday, according to Chinese authorities, and is poised to pass the 774 deaths recorded globally during the 2002-2003 pandemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus that jumped from animals to humans in China.

During the SARS outbreak between November 2002 and July 2003, the number of reported cases was 8,098, suggesting a far lower transmission rate than the latest coronavirus, but a higher mortality rate.

So far only two deaths have been reported outside mainland China – in Hong Kong and the Philippines – from about 332 cases in 27 countries and regions. Both of those victims were Chinese nationals.

“It is hard to say how lethal this novel coronavirus infection is,” Professor Allen Cheng, an infectious diseases expert at Monash University in Melbourne, told Reuters.

“While the crude mortality appears to be around 2%, there are likely to be many people who have been infected that haven’t been tested … We probably won’t know the true case fatality for some time yet.”

Hubei officials on Saturday reported 81 new deaths, 67 of those in Wuhan, a city under virtual lockdown. Across mainland China, excluding the 2,050 people who had recovered and those who had died, the number of outstanding cases stood at 31,774.

Beijing’s communist leadership has sealed off cities, cancelled flights and closed factories to contain the epidemic, with ripple effects for global markets and businesses dependent on the world’s second-biggest economy.

Saturday marked the final day of the Lunar New Year celebrations, usually characterised by family gatherings, fireworks, riddle-guessing and the lighting of lanterns.

This year, most people were eating dumplings, a traditional custom, at home alone. On national television a gala show will feature recitation of poems on counter-virus efforts instead of the usual music and dancing.

News of the death on Friday of Li Wenliang, a doctor who raised the alarm about the new coronavirus, sorrow and outrage on Chinese social media and rekindled memories of how Beijing was slow to tell the world about the SARS outbreak.

Li, who succumbed to the disease in a Wuhan hospital, was among eight people reprimanded by police in the city for spreading “illegal and false” information after he shared details of the virus with colleagues.

PANIC BUYING

Hong Kong was introducing on Saturday quarantine for two weeks for all people arriving from the mainland, or who have been there during the last 14 days.
Matthew Cheung, chief secretary for administration, said that Hong Kong people returning from the mainland must stay home for a fortnight or risk a HK$25,000 ($3,200) fine and 6 months’ jail.

Non-Hong Kong residents must stay in government isolation centres or hotel rooms for the same period, facing the same penalties. While China is bearing the brunt, anxiety levels are spiking across Asia, with Japan alarmed by the rising number of cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship, major foreign companies pulling out of an international airshow in Singapore, and Thailand losing money as Chinese tourists stay home.

Another three people on the cruise liner off Japan tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases from the ship to 64, Japan’s health ministry said.

Taiwan and Hong Kong urged residents not to hoard goods such as toilet paper amid signs of panic buying, and the World Health Organization (WHO) chief warned of worldwide shortages of medical gowns, masks and other protective equipment.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd on Friday banned “any guests holding a Chinese, Hong Kong or Macau passports, regardless of when they were there last” from boarding the company’s ships.

WHO emergency expert Mike Ryan said reports of Asians being shunned in the West over a perceived connection to coronavirus was “utterly and completely unacceptable and it needs to stop.”

Taiwan’s government said that starting from Monday it would suspend all direct passenger and freight shipping between the island and China. It had already decided to suspend most flights from Monday between Taiwan to China.

Hundreds of foreigners have been evacuated out of Wuhan over the past two weeks. A second evacuation plane to airlift Australians out of Wuhan was delayed after China did not give it clearance to land, Australian officials said on Saturday. Global equity markets and government debt yields slumped on Friday, as growing concerns about the virus’ impact on global growth overshadowed a strong U.S. jobs report.

Apple Inc, however, said it was working to reopen its China corporate offices and call centres next week, and was making preparations to reopen retail stores there. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said the United States was prepared to spend up to $100 million to assist China and support coronavirus efforts by the WHO.

The United States has sent nearly 17.8 tons of medical supplies to China, including masks, gowns and respirators, a State Department official said.

The WHO said out of $675 million it is seeking for its coronavirus response through April, it has received pledges of $110 million, $100 million of that from the Gates Foundation.

The measures include isolation wards at port hospital and premises, throat swab collection by district authority and referral to higher centres in severe cases, the government said. (Twitter image/ File)

The government on Friday said it has directed all 12 major ports to immediately put in place screening, detection and quarantine system for disembarking seafarers and cruise passengers as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

The direction comes against the backdrop of the virus — which first emerged in Wuhan city in China’s central Hubei province — spreading to 25 countries, including India (three confirmed cases have been reported from Kerala).

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The Ministry of Shipping said it has issued necessary directions to the 12 major ports to “place a screening, detection and quarantine system immediately for disembarking Seafarers or Cruise Passengers”.

Directions have also been issued to ports to procure N-95 masks as well as thermal scanners to screen passengers, besides obtaining self-declaration from arriving crews/passengers, it said in a statement.

“Between January 27 and February 6, 2020, 85 ships form China and 4274 passengers have been screened,” it said.

Daily reporting is being done to Cabinet Secretariat about the status of vessels at major ports and screening of crew members and passengers.

Major ports have taken a number of steps, including issuing standard operating procedure (SoP) for surveillance of vessels and crew besides management of passengers, it added.

The measures include isolation wards at port hospital and premises, throat swab collection by district authority and referral to higher centres in severe cases, the government said.

To create awareness, the ports have also taken IEC (information, education and communication) activities through electronic/print media, besides LED display boards at port trusts and hospitals, it added.

India has 12 major ports — Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61 per cent of the country’s total cargo traffic.

The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus epidemic has risen to 636 with 73 new mortalities reported, mostly from the worst-affected Hubei province, while the total number of confirmed cases has crossed 31,000, as per Chinese health officials.

China and countries around the world are scrambling to contain the spread of coronavirus which fiirst surfaced in Wuhan city in the Central Hubei province of China.

Two new cases of coronavirus infection have been detected in the UAE, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the deadly disease to seven, the country’s health ministry has said.

The death toll in China’s coronavirus outbreak rose to 811 on Sunday, while over 37,000 people have been confirmed as being infected with the virus that is wreaking havoc in China and has spread to more than 25 countries.

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The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) said on Saturday that “two new cases of coronavirus” were detected in the country through a routine check-up system set according to standards set by the World Health Organization.

The ministry said in a statement that the two new patients, a Chinese national and a Filipino, were receiving medical care as per the highest health standards available in the country.

It said that all health facilities will continue to report any new cases suspected to have coronavirus.

Last week, a family of four who arrived from Wuhan for a holiday in Dubai were diagnosed with coronavirus. A fifth patient, who also arrived from the Chinese city, was confirmed to have been infected with the virus, but is reportedly in a stable condition.

China and countries around the world are scrambling to contain the spread of coronavirus which fiirst surfaced in Wuhan city in the Central Hubei province of China. Apart from China, two deaths have occurred in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Besides Germany, Britain and Italy, other European nations with cases of the virus include France, Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and Spain.

Coming up with any vaccine typically takes years, and involves a lengthy process of testing on animals, clinical trials on humans and regulatory approvals.

Scientists from the United States to Australia are using new technology in an ambitious, multi-million-dollar drive to develop a vaccine in record time to tackle China’s coronavirus outbreak. The new virus has spread rapidly since emerging late last year in China, killing more than 800 people in the mainland and infecting over 37,000. Cases have been reported in two dozen other countries. Coming up with any vaccine typically takes years, and involves a lengthy process of testing on animals, clinical trials on humans and regulatory approvals. But several teams of experts are racing to develop one quicker, backed by an international coalition that aims to combat emerging diseases, and Australian scientists hope their’s could be ready in six months. “It is a high-pressure situation and there is a lot of weight on us,” said senior researcher Keith Chappell, part of the group from Australia’s University of Queensland. But the scientist added he took “some solace” knowing several teams around the world were engaged in the same mission. “The hope is that one of these will be successful and can contain this outbreak,” he said.

But even a timeframe of six months looks agonisingly slow with the virus, believed to have emerged from a market selling wild animals, killing close to 100 people every day in mainland China. Efforts are being led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a body established in 2017 to finance costly biotechnology research in the wake of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people. With a mission to speed up the development of vaccines, CEPI is pouring millions of dollars into four projects around the world and has put out a call for more proposals. The projects hope to use new technology to develop vaccines that can be tested in the near future.

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The body’s CEO, Richard Hatchett, said the aim was to start clinical testing in just 16 weeks. German biopharmaceutical company CureVac and US-based Moderna Therapeutics are developing vaccines based on “messenger RNA” — instructions that tell the body to produce proteins — while Inovio, another American firm, is using DNA-based technology. DNA- and RNA-based vaccines use the genetic coding of the virus to trick the body’s cells into producing proteins identical to those on the surface of the pathogen, explained Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the emerging infectious diseases programme at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

The immune system learns to recognise the proteins so that it is ready to find and attack the virus when it enters the body. The Australian researchers are using “molecular clamp” technology invented by the university’s scientists that allows them to rapidly develop new vaccines based solely on a virus DNA sequence. French scientists at the Pasteur Institute are modifying the measles vaccine to work against the coronavirus, but do not expect it to be ready for about 20 months. Meanwhile, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also started developing vaccines, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Health authorities weigh the risks and benefits in vaccine approvals and if there is a public health emergency, the process could be shortened, said Ooi of the Duke-NUS Medical School. But he added that “paradoxically, if the situation improves, then actually the pathway for vaccines would be longer”. “If there’s a lot of these new coronavirus cases around, then you accept some risk, because of the tremendous amount of benefit you can derive, whereas if there are not many cases, the tolerance for risk would be very low.”

While there is no vaccine for the coronavirus, some doctors are trying out a potent brew of anti-retroviral and flu drugs to treat those infected, but the science is inconclusive as to whether they are effective. Ultimately, scientists may end up in the same situation they were during the 2002-2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) — it died out before a vaccine could be fully developed. A close cousin of the new coronavirus, SARS spread around the world and killed nearly 800.

But Ong Siew Hwa, the director of Acumen Research Laboratories, a biotech company in Singapore, said efforts to develop a vaccine for the new virus should continue even if the outbreak ends. “I think a vaccine will definitely be important,” she said. “If it’s not in time for this round, it is important for the next time.”

The virus has spread rapidly since emerging late last year in China, killing more than 800 people in the mainland and infecting over 37,000.

Aviation regulator DGCA has stopped the pre-flight breathalyzer (BA) test for the aircrew operating out of Kerala’s four airports during the next 15 days in the wake of the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak.

The breathalyzer (BA) test measures whether a person is drunk or not.

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“The mandatory BA test for flight crew who are operating out of Kerala’s airports has been stopped for the next 15 days in light of coronavirus situation,” a senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

He, however, added that the crew working in flights departing from any one of Kerala’s four airports – Calicut, Kannur, Trivandrum and Cochin – will compulsorily undergo post-flight BA tests at the next immediate city where they land.

India has so far reported three novel coronavirus cases, all from Kerala. The Indians tested positive for the disease are students who recently returned from China’s Wuhan city, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.

The virus has spread rapidly since emerging late last year in China, killing more than 800 people in the mainland and infecting over 37,000. Cases have been reported in two dozen other countries.

The DGCA had stated on Saturday that foreigners who have been to China on or after January 15 won’t be allowed to enter India.

The aviation regulator, in its circular to airlines on Saturday, reiterated that all visas issued to Chinese nationals before February 5 have been suspended.

However, it clarified, “These visa restrictions will not apply to aircrew, who may be Chinese nationals or other foreign nationalities coming from China.”

Among the Indian airlines, IndiGo and Air India have suspended all their flights between the two countries. SpiceJet, however, continues to fly on the Delhi-Hong Kong route.

On February 1 and February 2, Air India had conducted two special flights to Wuhan, evacuating 647 Indians and seven Maldivians.

Outside China, there have been more than 350 infections reported in almost 30 places with two deaths, one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong.

Expressing concern over instances of coronavirus infection among people with no travel history to China, the head of the World Health Organization has warned that the small number of cases could be the “spark that becomes a bigger fire”, urging the countries to use the “window of opportunity” to contain the novel virus that has killed over 1,000 people.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said while the spread of the respiratory disease appeared to be slow, it could accelerate. His remarks have come a day after he warned the overseas coronavirus spread may be “tip of the iceberg”. “In recent days we have seen some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China, like the cases reported in France yesterday and the UK today. The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire,” Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Monday.

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He said the detection of this small number of cases for now was only a spark and the objective for countries “remains containment”. “We call on all countries to use the window of opportunity that we have to prevent a bigger fire,” he said. The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus outbreak has gone up to 1,016 with 108 new fatalities reported mostly in the worst-affected Hubei province while the confirmed cases of infection have soared to 42,638, Chinese health officials said on Tuesday.

Outside China, there have been more than 350 infections reported in almost 30 places with two deaths, one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong. Apart from Germany, Britain and Italy, other European nations with cases of the virus include France, Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and Spain. The overall pattern of infections has not changed, Ghebreyesus said, adding that 99 per cent of the reported cases were in China, and most cases are mild.

WHO’s Director of Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases Sylvie Briand said that 80 per cent of cases displayed mild symptoms, 15 per cent were severe – developing into pneumonia – and three to five per cent required intensive care. “This is of course too many,” the WHO chief said of the fatalities, noting that many questions still needed answering, such as where the outbreak was growing and where it was getting better or worse.

As part of measures to coordinate an international response to the epidemic, on Sunday, Tedros confirmed that WHO had sent an advance team of international epidemiology experts to Beijing, to assist the authorities with the outbreak. Leading them is Bruce Aylward, a WHO veteran outbreak expert, who recently coordinated the agency’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. His job will be to “lay the groundwork” for a larger international team of experts which is expected to follow to China, Tedros said.

WHO’s other measures have included equipping laboratories in some 14 countries with kits to “fast diagnose” infections, including to Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Tunisia and Zambia. This was essential to being able to identify coronavirus infections which can resemble other respiratory bugs, the WHO chief said.

To date, WHO has identified 168 labs around as having the right technology to identify the coronavirus. On concerns that the incubation period for the coronavirus could easily be as long as 24 days, WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme chief Michael Ryan said that the agency was not considering changing the current 14-day quarantine requirement period.

The UN health agency also reported that all crew and passengers on board a cruise ship harboured in Yokohama, Japan, were being quarantined for a 14-day period on board. Their quarantine period will come to an end on February 19, but will be extended for any close contacts of newly confirmed cases, WHO said.

The virus, which has killed more than 800 people in China, has prompted extreme measures within the country as well, with more than 50 million people quarantined in Hubei, the central Chinese province where the pathogen originated.

The trader tracking U.S. markets overnight from an apartment in Zhejiang. The student who might not get back to Sydney in time to graduate. A Silicon Valley executive left out of meetings. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens who live overseas but returned home for the Lunar New Year holidays are now stuck in the country as a growing list of nations bar those who have been in China from entering to curb the spread of the deadly new coronavirus. Among the nearly 11 million Chinese migrants around the world, they’re trying to find ways get back to their jobs and schools, and going to extreme measures to keep up with work and study.

“I’m working like a slave right now and haven’t slept in 24 hours” said Louis Yang, a New York-based trader at a U.S. fund, who’s currently stranded in the eastern province of Zhejiang after the U.S. said on Jan. 31 that it would bar travelers from China. “Basically I’m working both the China and U.S. time zones, so I start working at noon in China till 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., and sometimes until the early morning.”

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The travel bans — put in place with little warning by nations from New Zealand to Italy — have caused confusion and disruption for many Chinese expats who returned for the annual holiday to see family. Return flights were canceled as airlines slashed services to and from China, visa applications went into limbo and many who’ve built lives in other countries found themselves separated from their loves ones and homes indefinitely.

The virus, which has killed more than 800 people in China, has prompted extreme measures within the country as well, with more than 50 million people quarantined in Hubei, the central Chinese province where the pathogen originated. Several other cities and regions have started to restrict movements too. The Chinese government has pushed back at countries that have enacted travel bans, accusing them of “spreading panic” as the nation struggles to control the outbreak that has spread to more than 20 nations.

One senior Silicon Valley-based tech executive surnamed Wu said he’s considering flying to a third country to circumvent the ruling that foreign nationals who have been in China for the last 14 days aren’t allowed into the U.S.

This idea is gaining popularity in chat groups on Chinese social media platforms where those stranded are gathering to swap stories and tips. Popular third-country destinations include Thailand and Dubai, according to conversations seen by Bloomberg News.

The loss of Chinese workers and students is causing disruption from banks on Wall Street to construction sites in Singapore. About 30,000 foreign workers from China left Singapore over the New Year break and have not returned. As China’s importance on the world stage has grown, so has the spread of its diaspora, particularly in industries like science and education.

“The virus is a body blow to the Chinese economy, and the ill effects are reverberating across the globe,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “If Chinese workers and students aren’t able to travel to their jobs and universities for over two months, this will cause significant adjustments and economic costs.”

Alternative Routes

Wendy Wu, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, is currently waiting out her two weeks in Bangkok before trying to return to the U.S. “I’m just hoping I can get back by the end of the month, or I’m not sure if I can still graduate on time.”

Wu is one of the 1.53 million Chinese students studying or conducting research abroad, according to 2018 data from the education ministry. Students like her are a crucial source of revenue for universities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, one that could be threatened as the virus outbreak forces the cancellation of exams they need take in order to apply for admission.

Chinese students in the U.S. had a $22 billion impact on the economy last year, according to Rahul Choudaha, executive vice president of global engagement and research at Studyportals. China is still the largest source of international students for the U.S., despite the two-year trade war, and applications to the U.K. have also risen.

Last week, Australia’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg warned that the virus will have a “significant” impact on the country’s economy in part because the number of Chinese students there has doubled since the SARS epidemic 17 years ago.

Internet Restrictions

For those already enrolled in school overseas, the situation threatens to jeopardize their studies. “My research work requires hands-on experiments, so it’s basically stagnant right now,” said Tom Liu, a 27-year-old Ph.D. student at Stanford University, who’s now stuck in his hometown in Hubei province. “It makes sense to me that a small country restricts travel to protect its people, but for such a powerful nation like the U.S., I don’t really understand why they are in such a rush to restrict travel.”

The U.S. said Saturday it will temporarily suspend regular visa services in mainland China from Monday as the outbreak leaves it with “limited staffing.” Though it may provide some emergency appointments.

Like others stuck at home, Liu has been working remotely from China. Aside from the time difference and limitations of working on a laptop, China’s internet restrictions also make that task more challenging.

Common websites including Google and a raft of foreign news providers are not accessible in China except through Virtual Private Networks, which help users circumvent internet controls. These can be unreliable and occasionally blocked by the authorities.

Economic Hit

Simon Wang, a 30-year-old senior financial analyst at a bank in San Francisco now stuck in China, said he wakes up at four or five in the morning to catch up with his colleagues in California and take advantage of the better VPN connection when fewer people are online.

“The situation could deteriorate as companies face increasing difficulties in delivering output in the mid- to long-term due to a shortage of Chinese workers,” said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp in Singapore. “If key personnel can’t return quickly, the economic impact to those companies and countries could last longer and be deeper.”

More travel bans could be put in place, worsening the situation for Chinese nationals and travelers to the country. India, which has confirmed only three cases of the virus, said existing visas are no longer valid for any foreign national traveling from China. Saudi Arabia, where there are no infections yet, has barred non-citizen residents who travel to China from returning to the country.

For Rachel Lu, a 22-year-old Beijing native who had planned to return to Australia this week for her final semester at the University of Sydney, life remains on hold.

“I’ve lived in Sydney for six years and now I can’t go back,” said Lu. “My fiance, dog and cat are still there. This has ruined all my future plans.”

Most of the illnesses and deaths have been in central Hubei province.

A viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 43,000 people globally. The latest figures reported by global health authorities as of Tuesday in Beijing: — China: 1,016 deaths among 42,638 confirmed cases on the mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has had 42 cases, including one death. Macao has had 10 cases. Most of the illnesses and deaths have been in central Hubei province, where illnesses from the new type of coronavirus were first detected in December.

— Japan: 161

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— Singapore: 45

— Thailand: 33

— South Korea: 28

— Malaysia: 18

— Taiwan: 16

— Australia: 14

— Germany: 14

— Vietnam: 15

— United States: 13. Separately, one U.S. citizen died in China

— France: 11

— United Kingdom: 8

— United Arab Emirates: 8

— Canada: 7

— Philippines: 3 cases, including 1 death

— India: 3

— Italy: 3

— Russia: 2

— Spain: 2

— Belgium: 1

— Nepal: 1

— Sri Lanka: 1

— Sweden: 1

— Cambodia: 1

— Finland: 1

 

The huge jump came as local officials said they were changing the way they diagnose COVID-19 cases.

The number of fatalities and new cases from China’s coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis.

At least 1,355 people have now died nationwide and nearly 60,000 have been infected after Hubei’s health commission reported the new numbers.

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In its daily update, Hubei’s health commission confirmed another 14,840 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December.

The huge jump came as local officials said they were changing the way they diagnose COVID-19 cases.

In a statement, the Hubei health commission said it would now include cases that were “clinically diagnosed” in its official toll.

This means lung imaging on suspected cases can be considered sufficient to diagnose the virus, rather than the standard nucleic acid tests.

Of the dramatic jump in figures Thursday, it said the new classification accounted for 13,332 of the cases and just over half the new death toll.

Hubei health commission said the change would mean patients could get treatment “as early as possible” and be “consistent” with the classification used in other provinces.

It said it had made the change “as our understanding of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus deepens, and as we accumulate experience in diagnosis and treatment”. (AFP) RHL

50 of the patients who tested negative are being discharged from hospitals

Fifty six of the 60 people, who have been quarantined in Maharashtra so far for suspected exposure to the novel coronavirus, have tested negative, with 50 of them being discharged from hospitals, a state government official said on Sunday. A person who had alighted from a Filipino cruise vessel in Mumbai and was isolated after he complained of cough and fever has also tested negative for the virus, the official said, adding that the ship has now reached Porbandar in neighbouring Gujarat.

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“Of the 60 people who were kept in isolation wards, 56 have tested negative and 50 of them have been discharged. The test results of the other four are yet to arrive and are expected in the next two days. All samples were tested at
Pune’s National Institute of Virology,” he said. A Maharashtra government release said 36,028 people have undergone screening at the Mumbai international airport since January 18. It said 216 people have returned to Maharashtra from Covid-19 affected areas in China, of which 137 have completed their 14-day follow up period.

Those arriving from China and other areas affected by the virus are being kept under observation for a period of 14
days, the release said. Maharashtra, where no positive case for the virus has been reported so far, has set up 39 isolation compartments comprising 361 beds. The death toll in China from the epidemic has climbed to 1,665 on Saturday after 142 more people died, mostly in the worst-hit Hubei Province, and the confirmed cases jumped to
68,500.