The death toll from China’s coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,600 on Sunday, as the World Health Organization (WHO) praised the country’s efforts to contain the new disease, saying they have “bought the world time” and that other nations must make the most of it.
France, meanwhile, reported Europe’s first death from the infection, a Chinese tourist from Hubei province, where the disease, known as COVID-19, emerged in December.
More than two dozen countries have confirmed cases, and several have suspended trade and travel links with China in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, urged governments to step up their efforts to prepare for the virus, saying “it’s impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take.”
The agency is “concerned by the continued increase in the number of cases in China”, and by reports about the number of health workers who have been infected or died, Tedros said, criticising what he called a “lack of urgency in funding the response from the international community”.
Here are all the latest updates:
Canada to evacuate passengers from virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship
The Canadian government has chartered a plane to evacuate its citizens onboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner docked in Yokohama, Japan.
Canadian passengers who exhibit symptoms of the coronavirus infection will not be permitted to board the flight, however. They will instead be transferred to the Japanese health care system to receive appropriate care, the government said in a statement.
After arriving in Canada, the passengers will undergo a 14-day period of quarantine, it added.
Hong Kong to arrange flights to take home passengers from Diamond Princess ship
The government of Hong Kong will send aircraft to Japan to bring back some 330 of its residents from the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred.
In a statement late on Saturday, the Security Bureau said chartered flights would return Hong Kong residents to the city for free once Japanese authorities had confirmed the plan.
The passengers will be required to undergo a further 14 days of quarantine after arriving in Hong Kong, the bureau added.
The cruise liner’s quarantine is set to end on Wednesday.
Coronavirus infections reach 68,500 in China
The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has reached 1,665 as of the end of Saturday, up by 142 from the previous day, the country’s National Health Commission said on Sunday morning.
Across mainland China, there were 2009 new confirmed infections on Saturday. The figure amounts to a drop in new cases for the third straight day.
The total accumulated number so far has reached 68,500
Cruise firm seeks new virus test for passenger from ship in Cambodia
The operator of MS Westerdam called for more tests to confirm that an American passenger from the cruise ship has the new coronavirus after she tested positive in Malaysia.
The 83-year-old woman was the first passenger from the MS Westerdam, currently docked in Cambodia, to test positive for the virus. She had flown to Malaysia on Friday along with 144 others.
“While the first results have been reported, they are preliminary at this point and we are awaiting secondary testing for confirmation,” Holland America said in a statement.
Cambodian authorities called on Malaysia to review its test results.
China virus toll exceeds 1,600
The number of deaths from China’s coronavirus epidemic surged past 1,600 after 139 more people died in hard-hit Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.
In its daily update, the province’s health commission also reported 1,843 fresh cases – the third day that reported new infections declined in the province.
At least 1,662 people have now died from the outbreak that first emerged in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, in December and spiralled into a nationwide epidemic.