The World Health Organization (WHO) has said a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready in 18 months, as the UN health body announced that the official name for the virus would be COVID-19.
The announcement came as the death toll in mainland China reached more than 1,000, after 108 people died from the virus on Monday – the highest daily toll since the outbreak began late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
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The total number of deaths on the mainland was 1,016, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, while 42,638 infections have been reported. The vast majority of deaths and infections are in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province.
Two deaths have been recorded outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines.
At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, February 11
Germany confirms two more cases
Germany has confirmed two more cases of coronavirus in the southern state of Bavaria, raising the overall total to 16.
The two new cases are related to infections among staff at a company in the Starnberg district west of Munich, the Bavarian health ministry said.
Car supplier Webasto said last month that a Chinese employee had tested positive for the virus on returning to China following a visit to the headquarters near Munich. The employee apparently infected several German colleagues during the visit.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here.
US health official hopeful some evacuees may be released from quarantine today
An official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said she hoped the first group of US citizens evacuated from Wuhan could be released from quarantine today.
Dr Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal director, told a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington that 195 people who arrived in the US on January 29 are being assessed, and she is hopeful they will travel home on Tuesday after 14 days in quarantine.
Researchers ramp up efforts to develop coronavirus vaccine
World must consider coronavirus ‘public enemy number one,’ WHO says
The WHO has asked countries to be “as aggressive as possible” in fighting the newly-named COVID-19 coronavirus.
“If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider the virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.
“We are still in containment strategy and should not allow the virus to have a space to have local transmission,” he said.
WHO says vaccine could be ready in 18 months
The first vaccine targeting the coronavirus could be available in 18 months, “so we have to do everything today using available weapons”, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.
He also announced that the new name of the virus would be COVID-19, explaining it was important to avoid stigma and that other names could be inaccurate.
“If we invest now … we have a realistic chance of stopping this outbreak,” Tedros said.
New coronavirus will be named ‘Covid-19′: WHO
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “COVID-19” would be the new official name for the deadly coronavirus.
“We now have a name for the disease and it’s COVID-19,” Tedros told reporters in Geneva, explaining that “co” stood for “corona”, “vi” for “virus” and “d” for “disease”.
Read the full story here.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 11, 2020
US allows government staff to leave Hong Kong
The United States has authorised the voluntary departure of US government employees and their family members from Hong Kong, the State Department said.
According to a department spokesperson the authorisation was made “out of an abundance of caution related to uncertainties associated” with the coronavirus.
Departure is not required and the US consulate in Hong Kong remains open to the public.
Xi: Coronavirus prevention, control work having positive results
Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China’s prevention and control work on the new coronavirus is having positive results, and the country will win the battle against the virus, state media reported.
China will be more prosperous after the battle against the virus is won, the report cited Xi as saying.
Xi’s comments came a day after he made his first public appearance since the outbreak began [File: Aly Song/Reuters]
Situation in China’s Huanggang remains severe: Communist Party
The Communist Party boss of China’s Hunggang city, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak said the situation in the city was still severe.
It continues to face shortages of medical supplies such as face masks and protective goggles, Liu Xuerong told a news conference carried live on state television.
UK team tests coronavirus vaccine on mice
A team of UK scientists believe they are among the first to start animal testing of a vaccine for the new coronavirus.
Researchers at Imperial College London said their ultimate goal was to have an effective and safe way of halting the strain’s spread by the end of the year.
“At the moment we have just put the vaccine that we’ve generated from these bacteria into mice,” researcher Paul McKay told AFP.
“We’re hoping that over the next few weeks we’ll be able to determine the response that we can see in those mice, in their blood, their antibody response to the coronavirus.”
Indonesia says it has nothing to hide with no cases detected
Indonesia’s health minister said the country is not hiding anything, after some medical researchers expressed concern that coronavirus cases may have gone undetected in the world’s fourth most populous country.
While the virus has quickly spread from China throughout much of the rest of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago of more than 260 million people has not recorded any cases.
“We have kits to check coronavirus and they’re certified … nothing is concealed,” Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said after a cabinet meeting in Jakarta.
Researchers have expressed surprise that no cases have been recorded in Indonesia [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]
Second plane carrying evacuees from China arrives in Canada
A second plane carrying 185 Canadian evacuees from Wuhan has landed at an air-force base in Trenton, Ontario, CBC news reported.
GM’s South Korean unit to suspend output for two days
General Motors’ South Korean unit said that it plans to suspend production at one of its factories on February 17 and 18, becoming the latest automaker affected by a Chinese parts shortage stemming from the coronavirus outbreak in China.
The affected line, located in the city of Bupyeong near Seoul, produces the Chevrolet Trailblazer crossover for export to the United States and other markets and domestic sales, she said.
Novacyt biotech company says winning race for high-speed virus test
Franco-British biotech company Novacyt says it can offer a coronavirus test that is faster than rival methods by focusing on a narrow sequence of DNA coding, as it fights stiff competition to turn the outbreak into a business opportunity.
Novacyt shares have risen by almost 400 percent so far this year after it said it had designed a test able to detect the coronavirus in less than two hours. Current testing, which can also identify other strains, can take up to a day.
The test has not received regulatory approval but Novacyt hopes to receive a green light from the European Union next week and has applied to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.
Coronavirus: UK declares ‘serious and imminent threat’ (03:18)
Malaysia drafting stimulus for tourism, retail and aviation
Malaysia is crafting a stimulus package for tourism, retail and aviation industries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said, after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
“Today’s meeting discussed specifically the impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economic growth,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Among the sectors identified are the services sectors such as the tourism, retail and aviation industries.”
Two Japanese evacuees confirmed infected
Two Japanese citizens evacuated from Wuhan have been diagnosed with the infection after initially testing negative, the health ministry said.
One of the two, a man in his 50s who returned on the first Japanese evacuation flight on January 29, previously twice tested negative for the virus.
However, a third test 12 days later found the man – who has been isolated in his hotel room since his return – was infected.
The second evacuee, a Japanese man in his 40s, returned from Wuhan on January 30 and initially tested negative for the virus, but was diagnosed after a second test on Monday.
China’s top virus expert says outbreak may peak this month
China’s coronavirus epidemic may peak in February and then plateau before easing, the government’s top medical adviser on the outbreak said.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters news agency, Zhong Nanshan, a leading epidemiologist who won international fame for his role in combating the SARS epidemic in 2003, said the situation in some provinces was already improving, with the number of new cases declining.
Zhong, who had previously predicted an earlier peak, said the forecast was based on modelling and developments in recent days, as well as government action.
Zhong Nanshan rose to national prominence during the SARS outbreak [Thomas Suen/Reuters]
WHO: Coronavirus emergency ‘holds a very grave threat’ for world
The coronavirus outbreak poses a “very grave threat for the rest of the world”, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an appeal for sharing virus samples and accelerating research into drugs and vaccines.
“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in opening remarks to a meeting of more than 400 researchers and national authorities, including some participating by video conference from mainland China and Taiwan.
Coronavirus: Death toll passes 1,000 (02:16)
German car supplier to reopen HQ
German auto parts supplier Webasto will on Wednesday reopen its headquarters close to Munich, it said, after eight of its employees contracted the new coronavirus.
Workspaces, meeting rooms, kitchen facilities and sanitary installations were cleaned and disinfected before workers return, the company added.
South Korea raises concerns over Hong Kong travel
South Korea will implement “strict quarantine screening” on people arriving from Hong Kong and Macau beginning on Wednesday, the country’s health authority said.
Jung Eun-kyeong, head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Yonhap News Agency the decision was taken as “the possibility of an inflow of coronavirus patients from such regions heightened”.
Taiwan advises against Hong Kong, Macau travel
Taiwan’s government raised its travel warning for the new coronavirus, advising people not to visit Hong Kong or Macau unless they have to, and to take precautions if going to Singapore or Thailand.
Singapore expects up to 30 percent drop in visitor numbers
The Singapore Tourism Board said it expected visitor numbers to the city-state, the location of one of the world’s busiest airports, to take a “significant hit” of up to 30 percent because of the virus.
Beijing has banned the departure of tour groups in response to the outbreak, while neighbouring countries have imposed restrictions on Chinese visitors.
Visitors from China made up a fifth of Singapore’s 2019 total, with tourism accounting for almost six percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Thailand records one more case of coronavirus
A health official from Thailand said the country had recorded its 33rd case of coronavirus.
The new case is a 54-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who was put in quarantine after coming into contact with another Chinese virus patient while in Thailand, said Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchia, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control.
Officials in Bangkok give out masks free of charge as a preventive measure against the coronavirus [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]
“The 33rd patient got sick from contact and her condition is not severe,” Suwanchai said.
Ten of the infected people have recovered and returned home, while 23 are still being treated in hospital
Hong Kong urges people to stay at home
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday appealed for residents to stay indoors as much as possible.
“As part and parcel of enhancing social distancing we are making an appeal to the people of Hong Kong to stay at home as much as possible,” Lam told reporters.
“But at the moment, we’re making this appeal, we’re not going for compulsory closures because Hong Kong is a free society.”
Parts of Hong Kong, including restaurants, shopping malls and cafes, are almost deserted as people work from home and schools remain closed.
Taiwan urges Philippines to lift Taiwan travel ban
Taiwan urged the Philippines on Tuesday to lift a travel ban on its citizens after Philippine airlines cancelled flights to Taiwan following a government ban on all foreigners travelling from the island.
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou made the comments at a regular news briefing in Taipei, adding that some Taiwanese were stranded at airports in the Philippines as a result of the ban.
Senior Hubei health officials removed from posts: report
China’s state broadcaster CGTN said two senior health officials from the worst-affected province of Hubei had been removed from their posts.
#Hubei removes director and Party secretary of provincial health commission from posts https://t.co/OLWAYJlsK4
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) February 11, 2020
Vietnam’s coronavirus cases climb to 15, baby infected
Vietnam confirmed its 15th case of the new coronavirus on Tuesday, a three-month-old baby, infected by her grandmother.
The infant tested positive for the virus on February 9, the ministry said in a statement.
It said 10 out of 15 confirmed cases are from the northern province of Vinh Phuc.
Vietnam has made plans to quarantine hundreds of its citizens returning from China, including 950 at military camps outside Hanoi, and 900 at temporary facilities on the Vietnam-China border.
Hong Kong health officials say four people from evacuated building have symptoms
Four people evacuated from a building in Hong Kong where a man and a woman were confirmed with the coronavirus both lived have shown symptoms of the flu-like virus, a government official said on Tuesday.
About 100 people were evacuated from the block in the early hours of the morning.
Authorities are investigating pipes within the building amid concerns the virus may have been spread through the system, raising concerns of a community outbreak.
Residents were evacuated from the public housing block after two people living there were found to have the coronavirus [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan was speaking after a 62-year-old woman was confirmed as having lived in the same block as another virus patient, triggering the evacuation.
United States reports 13th coronavirus case
The US reported a new case of coronavirus, bringing the total across the country to 13, after a person who was on board its first evacuation flight from Wuhan was confirmed to have the infection.
‘Permission to disembark refused’: Thailand bars cruise passengers
Thailand has refused permission for passengers from Holland America’s cruise ship MS Westerdam to disembark, its health minister said on Tuesday, the latest country to turn it away amid fears of the spreading coronavirus.
The company, owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp, on Monday said that passengers would disembark in Bangkok on February 13 and that there was no reason to believe anybody on board had the virus.
“I have issued orders. Permission to disembark refused,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Facebook post.
China companies seek billions in loans
More than 300 Chinese companies are seeking bank loans totalling at least 57.4 billion yuan ($8.2bn) to help soften the effect of the coronavirus outbreak, two banking sources told Reuters News Agency.
Among the prospective borrowers are food delivery giant Meituan Dianping, smartphone maker Xiaomi, ride-hailing provider Didi Chuxing Technology, facial recognition start-up Megvii Technology and internet security business Qihoo 360 Technology, the sources said, adding that the companies seeking loans were either involved in the control of the epidemic or had been hardest hit.
Philippine Airlines cancel Taiwan flights over coronavirus
Philippine Airlines cancelled flights to Taiwan after the government expanded its travel ban to include all foreigners coming from the island to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific said they were cancelling flights to and from the self-ruled island.
“These restrictions are in relation to the coronavirus situation, in the interest of public health and safety,” PAL spokeswoman Cielo Villaluna said in a statement.
The Bureau of Immigration said late on Monday the travel ban would take effect immediately and follow the same procedures as in the previously announced restriction that covered China, and its Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. More than 115,000 Filipinos live and work in Taiwan, mainly in factories and as household helpers.
Read all the updates from Monday, February 10 here.
China still spying on U.S. coronavirus vaccine efforts, Wray tells Congress
Chinese hackers are still trying to snoop on American coronavirus vaccine efforts, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Thursday, saying they can actually track the attempts. Mr. Wray said they’ll see a public announcement from a company on its vaccine progress, then within days they’ll see cyber penetration efforts against that company “that ties…
Chinese hackers are still trying to snoop on American coronavirus vaccine efforts, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Thursday, saying they can actually track the attempts.
Mr. Wray said they’ll see a public announcement from a company on its vaccine progress, then within days they’ll see cyber penetration efforts against that company “that ties back to Chinese actors.”
“They’re trying to essentially jump to the front of the line by stealing information from others,” Mr. Wray said.
He declared China the largest counterterrorism focus of the FBI, and pointed to thousands of open investigations into Chinese attempts to penetrate American institutions.
Mr. Wray first warned in early summer that China was attempting to compromise U.S. coronavirus efforts.
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China attempted to cover up scope of COVID-19, could have largely prevented outbreak: GOP report
China could have prevented two-thirds of its coronavirus cases before the end of February had it followed international health guidelines at the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, a new congressional report concluded. The report, released Monday and authored by Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoes earlier findings that China made efforts…
China could have prevented two-thirds of its coronavirus cases before the end of February had it followed international health guidelines at the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan, a new congressional report concluded.
The report, released Monday and authored by Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoes earlier findings that China made efforts to cover up the severity of the initial spread of the virus and that the government harassed and detained journalists, scientists and health care professionals who were voicing concerns about its handling of the outbreak.
“It is beyond doubt that the [Chinese Communist Party] actively engaged in a cover-up designed to obfuscate data, hide relevant public health information, and suppress doctors and journalists who attempted to warn the world,” the report said. “Research shows the CCP could have reduced the number of cases in China by up to 95 percent had it fulfilled its obligations under international law and responded to the outbreak in a manner consistent with best practices.”
The report also said that the Chinese government was “legally obliged” on Dec. 27 to inform the World Health Organization that the outbreak in Wuhan may constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan. 30.
The report’s conclusions take aim at the WHO, from which President Trump announced a U.S. withdrawal in May, and said that the United Nations-backed organization was “heavily influenced by the Chinese Communist Party” in its messaging of the outbreak.
“The WHO has been complicit in the spread and normalization of CCP propaganda and disinformation,” the report stated, citing outside experts. “By repeating as truth statements that were misleading, if not lies, the WHO negatively impacted the global response.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas Republican and ranking member of the Democrat-led committee, said in a statement Monday that “it is crystal-clear that had the CCP been transparent, and had the head of the WHO cared more about global health than appeasing the CCP, lives could have been spared and widespread economic devastation could have been mitigated.”
There have been over 31 million reported cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 961,000 people have died from the virus, with 199,525 deaths in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The global population currently stands at 7.8 billion.
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China slams US ‘bullying’, warns of action over TikTok, WeChat |NationalTribune.com
China has accused the United States of “bullying” and threatened to take “necessary” countermeasures after Washington banned downloads of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok and effectively blocked the use of the messaging super-app WeChat. “China urges the US to abandon bullying, cease its wrongful actions and earnestly maintain fair and transparent international rules and order,”…
China has accused the United States of “bullying” and threatened to take “necessary” countermeasures after Washington banned downloads of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok and effectively blocked the use of the messaging super-app WeChat.
“China urges the US to abandon bullying, cease its wrongful actions and earnestly maintain fair and transparent international rules and order,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Saturday.
“If the US insists on going its own way, China will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.”
The United States Commerce Department announced the bans on Friday, citing national security grounds although China and the companies have denied US user data is collected for spying
Under Friday’s order, the Tencent-owned WeChat app would lose functionality in the US from Sunday onwards. TikTok users will be banned from installing updates but could keep accessing the service through November 12.
The timeframe gives TikTok’s parent group ByteDance some breathing space to clinch an agreement over the fate of its US operations.
“We disagree with the decision from the Commerce Department, and are disappointed that it stands to block new app downloads from Sunday and ban use of the TikTok app in the US from November 12,” ByteDance said in a statement.
“We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order.”
START HERE | Should TikTok be banned? (10:50)
TikTok says it has 100 million US users and 700 million globally.
‘Very very popular’
Friday’s order follows weeks of deal-making over TikTok, with US President Donald Trump pressuring ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US operations to a domestic company to satisfy Washington’s concerns over TikTok’s data collection and related issues.
California tech giant Oracle recently struck a deal with TikTok along those lines, although details remain foggy.
Trump said on Friday said he was open to a deal, noting that “we have some great options and maybe we can keep a lot of people happy,” suggesting that even Microsoft, which said its TikTok bid had been rejected, might continue to be involved, as well as Oracle and Walmart.
Trump noted that TikTok was “very, very popular,” said “we have to have the total security from China,” and added that “we can do a combination of both”.
The bans are in response to a pair of executive orders issued by Trump on August 6 that gave the Commerce Department 45 days to determine what transactions to block from the apps he deemed pose a national security threat. That deadline expires on Sunday.
The Trump administration has ramped up efforts to purge “untrusted” Chinese apps from US digital networks amid escalating tensions with Beijing on a range of issues from trade and human rights to the battle for tech supremacy.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the Commerce Department’s order “violates the First Amendment rights of people in the United States by restricting their ability to communicate and conduct important transactions on the two social media platforms”.
INSIDE STORY | Why does Trump want to ban Tiktok? (24:11)
The action against WeChat, used by over 1 billion people worldwide, bars the transfer of funds or processing of payments to or from people in the US through it. Users could also start to experience significantly slower service or sporadic outages from Sunday night.
WeChat developer Tencent Holdings’ called the order “unfortunate” but said it “will continue to discuss with the government and other stakeholders in the US ways to achieve a long-term solution”.
WeChat has had an average of 19 million daily active users in the US, analytics firms Apptopia said in early August. It is popular among Chinese students, ex-pats and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.
The order does not ban US companies from doing businesses on WeChat outside the US, which will be welcome news to US firms such as Walmart and Starbucks that use WeChat’s embedded ‘mini-app’ programmes to facilitate transactions and engage consumers in China, officials said.
The order will not bar transactions with Tencent’s other businesses, including its online gaming operations, and will not prohibit Apple, Google or others from offering TikTok or WeChat apps anywhere outside the US.
WeChat users have sued to stop the ban, and a federal judge in California on Friday set an emergency hearing for Saturday at 1:30 pm Pacific time.
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