Coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

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Hopes that the coronavirus would be contained to China have vanished as the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria and stock markets took a pounding amid fears of a global recession.

In China – the epicentre of the deadly disease – the National Health Commission reported on Friday at least 44 new coronavirus deaths, bringing to 2,788 the number of fatalities nationwide.

Coronavirus has killed more than 2,800 people and infected about 83,000 worldwide.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, February 28

10:10 GMT – Nigeria’s first case travelled through Lagos before detection – minister

Nigeria’s first confirmed case was not detected at airport, and travelled through Lagos before he became ill and went to a hospital, the country’s health minister said.

The Italian man, who authorities said arrived in Nigeria from Milan on the evening of February 24, did not have symptoms when the plane landed.

Authorities are now working to “meet and observe” all those who were on the flight with him, and are also identifying all the people he met and places he visited in Lagos, a city of some 20 million people.

09:50 GMT – First case in Wales reported, UK tally now 19

The United Kingdom is now reporting 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus after Wales identified its first case and two new cases were found in England, health authorities said on Friday.

“The total number of UK cases is 19,” the health ministry said.

09:45 GMT – Pope cancels more official appointments over cold

Pope Francis was working from home, and cancelled postponed his official appointments, the Vatican said, a day after cancelling a scheduled appearance at mass because of “a mild ailment”.

Francis had appeared earlier in the week to be suffering from a cold, seen blowing his nose and coughing during the Ash Wednesday service.

While the Pope, 83, celebrated morning mass, and greeted participants at the end, he cleared his schedule of everything apart from meetings at the Saint Martha’s guest house at the Vatican where he resides, chief press officer Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

Pope Francis speaks at a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity, at the Vatican

Francis had appeared to be suffering from a cold earlier in the week [File: Remo Casilli/Reuters]

09.40 GMT – Switzerland suspends all major events to combat virus

The Swiss government has suspended all events in the country involving more than 1,000 participants until mid-March in a bid to stop the novel virus

“Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March,” the government said in a statement after the country registered 15 cases.

“In the case of public or private events at which fewer than 1,000 people would gather, event organisers must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent cantonal authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held”, the statement read.

09:16 GMT – Online virus game in China removed: developer

A popular game that allows players to create a virus and spread it worldwide has been pulled from Apple’s App Store in China, its developer said, as the country battles a real-life epidemic.

Users based in China could not download “Plague Inc” on Friday after the cyberspace watchdog ordered its removal over “illegal” content, UK-based Ndemic Creations said.

Ndemic said it was not clear if the decision was linked to the deadly new coronavirus outbreak, which began in central China in December. “We have a huge amount of respect for our Chinese players and are devastated that they are no longer able to access and play Plague Inc,” Ndemic said.

08:43 – Russia restricts Iran, South Korea travellers over virus

Moscow has announced new restrictions on people travelling to Russia from Iran and South Korea, two countries hit hardest by the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in statement announced a temporary suspension of visas for Iranians travelling to Russia for employment, tourism, education and transit purposes.

A separate decree imposed restrictions on travel to Russia from South Korea, with exceptions including members of official delegations.

Is the spread of coronavirus out of control?

08:26 – Recovered patients found not to be infectious – official

Recovered coronavirus patients who were discharged from hospitalization but later tested positive again have been found not to be infectious, an official at China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said.

A hospital administration official, Guo Yanhong, told reporters at a daily press conference that there is a need to deepen the understanding of the new coronavirus, while improving health tracking and management of patients who recovered.

08:00 GMT – Two South Africans test positive on cruise ship

A pair of South Africans working on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19, the South African health ministry said.

“On 25 February 2020, we were informed by the Japanese authorities that two of these South Africans tested positive for COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement.

“They are currently being treated in Japan and the latest reports indicate that they are currently asymptomatic,” the statement said.

07:40 GMT – Mongolian President under quarantine: state media

Mongolia President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and his accompanying staff who travelled to China on Thursday have been placed under quarantine, according to Mongolian state media outlet Montsame.

Battulga was the first foreign leader to visit China amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

In January, Mongolia shut its borders with China, to prevent the spread of the virus. So far no cases of coronavirus have been reported in Mongolia.

mongolia president and Xi

Mongolia’s President Khaltmaagiin Battulga, left, poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a photo during a meeting on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing [Liu Bin/Xinhua/AP]

07:30 GMT – Qatar evacuates citizens from Iran

All Qatari citizens have been evacuated from Iran and arrived in Doha, the Government Communications Office (GCO) confirmed in a press release.

All individuals will be quarantined in a hotel facility for 14 days, where all they will provided and taken care of, the GCO said.

07:20 GMT – Belarus announces first case of coronavirus – TASS

Belarus has reported the first case of coronavirus infection in the country, according to Russian news agency TASS,

“We would like to inform you that February 27 tests conducted at the Republican Scientific and Practical Center of epidemiology and microbiology showed the presence of coronavirus 2019-nCoV in one of the students from Iran,” TASS quoted the Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare.

06:50 GMT – WHO: ‘Pandemic potential’ as infections spread globablly

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said all nations should prepare themselves for potential pandemic, as nations aside from China now accout for three-quarters of new infections.

“This virus has pandemic potential,” Tedros revealed in Geneva. About 12 countries reported their first virus cases in past 24 hours.

According to WHO, outside China the virus has spread to a further 46 countries, where about 3,700 cases and 57 deaths have been reported so far.


I’ll be handing over this page shortly to my colleague Usaid Siddiqui in Doha.

Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:

Nigeria becomes the first sub-Saharan country to confirm a coronavirus case, while several Asian and European countries, as well as New Zealand, also confirm their first infections.

Meanwhile,it’s becoming increasingly clear the virus will take a large toll on the global economy, as the markets have their worst week since 2008.

06:15 GMT – Kyrgyzstan resident in Japan tested positive for virus

A Kyrgyz citizen staying in Japan has tested positive for coronavirus and will be hospitalised there until full recovery, Kyrgyz deputy foreign minister Nurlan Abdrakhmanov said.

The man was one of the crew of the Diamond Princess cruise ship berthed in Japan’s port of Yokohama. Kyrgyzstan has reported no coronavuris cases on its own territory.

06:05 GMT – New Zealand reports first virus patient; case linked to Iran

New Zealand health officials said the country had its first coronavirus case, a person in their 60s who recently returned from Iran.

The person was being treated at the Auckland City Hospital and members of their household had also been isolated as a precaution.

Authorities said the patient arrived on an Emirates flight that landed in Auckland on Wednesday. They said anybody on the flight who had any concerns should contact health experts.

05:35 GMT – Stock markets take a pounding worldwide

Stock markets around the world have plummeted as it has become increasingly clear the virus will take a huge toll on the global economy.

Stock markets in Asia plunged again in opening trade on Friday morning, tracking huge losses in the United States and Europe.The Dow shed nearly 1,200 points, or 4.4 percent, on Thursday, taking its losses for the week to more than 11 percent.

“There was more coronavirus carnage on the markets,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.”One of the worst weeks in recent memory and terrifyingly, it’s not over yet. Friday is a tricky proposition.”

Share prices were on track for the worst week since the global financial crisis in 2008.

05:15 GMT – Coronavirus fear touches off a global run on face masks

Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite medical experts’ advice that most people who aren’t sick don’t need to wear them.

Many businesses are sold out, while others are limiting how many a customer can buy. Amazon is policing its site, trying to make sure sellers don’t gouge panicked buyers.

Ordinary people trying to protect themselves from the outbreak are not the only ones encountering shortages. Some health care professionals are seeing them as well.

05:10 GMT – Virus detected in sub-Saharan Africa, global stocks tank

Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa on Friday, as global stock markets tanked on deepening fears of a pandemic and the World Health Organization warned against the “fatal mistake” of complacency.

On Friday, Nigeria reported its first case: an Italian man who returned to densely populated Lagos early this week. Cases had previously been reported in Egypt and Algeria, but not in the sub-Saharan region.

The low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, has puzzled health specialists and raised questions about authorities’ capabilities to detect the virus.

Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

03:58 GMT – Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

Lithuania’s government reported the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in a woman who returned this week from a visit to Italy’s northern city of Verona.

Italy is the European nation worst hit by the virus, with its death toll at 17, while the numbers of those testing positive for the illness increased by more than 200, to 350.

In a statement, the Lithuanian government said the stricken woman had been isolated in hospital in the northern town of Siauliai.She has been under observation since and is showing only slight symptoms.

The woman, aged 39, was attending a conference with colleagues in Italy before flying to the southern city of Kaunas, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said.

03:40 GMT – K-pop group BTS cancel concerts over coronavirus scare

K-pop megastars BTS on Friday cancelled four Seoul concerts due in April as the number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea passed 2,000.

The seven-piece boy band – currently one of the biggest acts in the world – had scheduled four gigs at the capital’s Olympic Stadium to promote their new album, Map of the Soul: 7.

More than 200,000 fans were expected to attend, their agency Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement, with “a number of global production companies and a large group of expert international crew” also involved.

03:30 GMT – New Zealand limits entry of travellers from Iran

New Zealand said on Friday that it was placing temporary restrictions on incoming travellers from Iran as a precautionary measure to protect against the coronavirus outbreak.

“This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate,” Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.

The death toll in Iran from coronavirus had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China.

01:56 GMT – Tokyo Disneyland to close through mid-March on coronavirus concerns

Tokyo Disneyland will be closed starting on Saturday through to March 15 amid an outbreak of coronavirus infections in Japan, operator Oriental Land Co Ltd said on Friday.

Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will be affected, the company said.

The move comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all schools to close to stop the coronavirus from spreading. The government has also urged that big gatherings and sports events be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks.

01:01 GMT – South Korea reports 256 new coronavirus cases, total 2,022 – KCDC

South Korea reported 256 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,022, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said.

Of the new cases, 182 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, the location of a church at the centre of South Korea’s outbreak, the KCDC said in a statement.

The death toll from the virus stood at 13, unchanged from the day earlier.

The coronavirus, which originated in China, has rapidly spread to more than 40 other countries and territories.

00:02 GMT – Coronavirus risk to Americans low, but can change: US health secretary

The risk to American people from coronavirus is low, but that could change, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Thursday.

“We have really been able to keep the risk to the Americans low right now so that everyday Americans don’t need to be worried, but that can change and that’s why it’s important for all of us to prepare,” Azar said at a White House event with President Donald Trump.

23:48 GMT – Thursday – US grants sanctions waiver for humanitarian trade to Iran

The US on Thursday granted a licence to allow for certain humanitarian trade transactions with Iran’s sanctioned central bank, a move it said was in step with the formalisation of a Swiss humanitarian trade channel.

The newly created channel, which the US Treasury Department said became fully operational on Thursday as it granted the licence, would allow for companies to send food, medicine and other critical supplies to Iran.

This comes as Iran is grappling with a rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases which have already killed at least two dozen people.

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