China’s National Health Commission reported on Thursday said at least 114 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak as of the end of Wednesday, bringing to at least 2,118 the number of fatalities nationwide.
The national health commission also reported 394 new confirmed cases, significantly lower than the 1,749 cases reported nationwide the previous day, bringing the total to 74,576.
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The drop, the largest in almost a month, came after Chinese authorities changed their methodology for counting cases in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, to only include those confirmed through genetic testing.
Here are all the latest updates:
Thursday, February 20
KLM airlines extends ban on China flights due to coronavirus
KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France KLM, has said it will extend a ban on flights to China due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“All KLM flights to Beijing and Shanghai have been suspended until 28 March 2020,” the airline said on its website. “Flights are expected to resume on 29 March 2020.”
Coronavirus cases on Japan cruise ship rise to 634: Ministry
Another 13 people on board a cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan have been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, the country’s health ministry said on Thursday.Confirmation of the new cases, from 52 additional test results, brought the total number of infections diagnosed on board the Diamond Princess so far to 634, the ministry said in a statement.
634 people on board the Diamond Princess have been diagnosed so far [Franck Robichon/EPA]
Three more infections reported in Iran
Three patients have tested positive for the coronavirus in Iran, a health ministry spokesman said.
“Two people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Qom and one person in Arak, bringing the total of confirmed cases to five in Iran,” Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet.
Ukraine residents protest evacuees landing
Residents in central Ukraine protested the arrival of a plane carrying evacuees from China’s Hubei province on Thursday, fearing they could be infected with the coronavirus despite authorities insisting there was no danger.
Protesters from the village of Novi Sanzhary blocked the road leading to a sanatorium where the evacuees are due to be held in quarantine for at least two weeks to make sure they were not carrying the virus.
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, a group of medical personnel stand ready at the Ukrainian aircraft chartered by the Ukrainian government for evacuation from the Chinese city of Wuhan [The Associated Press]
South Korea reports first death
South Korea health authorities have reported the first death from coronavirus in the country.
Infections have ballooned in recent days, raising the total to 104, with many traced to a church in the central city of Daegu. On Thursday alone, the country announced 53 new cases.
Workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant against the coronavirus in front of a church in Daegu, South Korea [Lee Moo-ryul/The Associated Press]
Egyptair to resume flights to China from next week
Egyptair has said in a statement that it will resume some flights to and from China starting next week.
The national airline suspended all flights to China in early February over the coronavirus outbreak.”Egyptair has decided to resume a flight weekly every Thursday,” the statement said.
China lab says conspiracy theories hurting efforts to curb virus
An outbreak of disinformation in China and elsewhere has hurt global efforts to combat the new coronavirus, said a specialist infectious disease lab located at the epicentre of the epidemic – and at the heart of a number of conspiracy theories, including that it had “artificially synthesised” the virus.
In a statement, the state-backed Wuhan Institute of Virology said “internet rumours” had “received close attention from all walks of life” and “caused great harm to our research staff on the front line of scientific research”.