At least one Briton is among cruise ship passengers quarantined on a liner in Japan after 10 people aboard were found to be infected with coronavirus. Some 3,700 passengers and crew are now locked down on the Diamond Princess – with just 31 results of 273 tests having come back.
It came as the global death toll neared 500 and a Belgian woman who boarded an evacuation flight to the UK tested positive for coronavirus. Hundreds of people are being held aboard another cruise ship in Hong Kong, where the airline Cathay Pacific has also reportedly asked 27,000 staff to take unpaid leave.
The number of infections around the world is closing in on 25,000, but the majority are in China. The UK has urged its citizens to avoid all travel to the Chinese mainland, while Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has warned that he expects more cases to be diagnosed in Britain.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Please allow a moment for the blog to load
Difficulty policing outbreak
Chinese authorities are arresting a growing number of people for breaking quarantine rules and hiding the fact they’ve visited coronavirus-hit areas of the country, according to a report from CNN.
State media further reported a specific case in which a man who worked in Wuhan returned home, failed to isolate himself, lied to officials about where he’d been and concealed symptoms including fever.
The man’s son – who had travelled abroad – also came with him, the state media outlet said. Both are infected with coronavirus.
Tesla will temporarily delay a planned delivery of some Chinese-made Model 3 vehicles that was due in early February, an executive has said.
‘Rely on the facts’
Senior medical and assistance experts have urged travellers to keep the risks of the new coronavirus in perspective, writes Simon Calder.
Dr Mark Parrish, regional medical director for International SOS, told The Independent: “A 2 per cent death rate for this virus is lower than 35 per cent for coronavirus when it mutated into Middle East respiratory virus, which is still happening, and 10 per cent for Sars.
More China deaths
The coronavirus death toll in mainland China has risen to 490, authorities said early on Wednesday.
Total cases have risen to 24,324, as officials move patients into newly built or converted hospitals in the hardest-hit city of Wuhan.
The latest figures are up from 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed cases on Tuesday.
Hong Kong clamps down
Hong Kong is to impose a mandatory two-week quarantine on all people coming over from mainland China.
It will also close two terminals where cruise ships dock as it seeks to halt the spread of coronavirus.
The city has already clamped down on border crossings and has seen 21 infections so far.
Medical staff went on strike for a second day, demanding full closure of the border with China.
Share and share alike
South Korea is planning to crack down on citizens who stockpile face masks and hand sanitiser gel amid the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC reports.
Anyone found guilty reportedly could be fined or jailed for two years.
“Keep fighting” is the message from a Thai taxi driver who recovered from coronavirus, after catching it from Chinese tourists.
“Even I can beat it. So can you,” the driver told people in Wuhan as he was discharged from hospital. “I watched the news every day from my quarantine room and send my support to Wuhan.”
The unnamed cabbie added: “When I found out I had the virus, I cried because I have to take care of my family. But I don’t have a bad feeling against tourists or the Chinese. I drive a taxi, tourists are my breadbasket.”
Foxconn, the huge Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, has said it intends to “gradually” begin working its factories in China back up to speed next week, Reuters reports citing an anonymous source.
However, full production capacity is apparently not expected until late in February.
Foxconn makes iPhones, among other popular tech. The coronavirus effect is likely to dent its 2020 profits.
Beijing admits failings
China’s leadership has finally admitted what doctors and international health experts have been warning for some time – that there were “shortcomings and deficiencies” in its emergency response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, writes Adam Withnall.
President Xi Jinping, chairing a second meeting of the top decision-making Politburo Standing Committee since the outbreak began, said China faced a “race against the clock” to stem the tide of new infections.
It remains the case that far more people have recovered from coronavirus than have died. The tally stands at 942 recoveries against 493 deaths, according to a tracker run by the elite John Hopkins University.
A man onboard a flight falsely claimed he had coronavirus, forcing the plane to turn around, writes Helen Coffey.
The WestJet service had been en route to Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Toronto, Canada, when the 29-year-old Canadian national announced he had the deadly virus, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 400 people.
“A male was causing a disturbance on the flight, saying he had been to China and had the coronavirus,” a police spokeswoman told Reuters.
New Hong Kong total
There are 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hong Kong, the city’s leader Carrie Lam has said.
Two Malaysian citizens flown back from Wuhan have tested positive for coronavirus, the nation says. Twelve people there are now infected.
Malaysia sent a flight to Wuhan on Monday to bring back more than 100 of its citizens who were stranded.
Get out if you can
Amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, the Foreign Office is now warning: “If you’re in China and able to leave, you should do so. The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be at heightened risk.”
British citizens have plenty of options for leaving the People’s Republic, writes Simon Calder. These are the key questions and answers.
Russia has repatriated its first batch of citizens from Wuhan.
A group of 78 people flew to a camp in Siberia where they will be quarantined for two weeks.
In all, Russia plans to bring back 144 people, including 16 nationals of ex-Soviet countries, from China’s Hubei province, where the virus was first detected late last year. A second military plane is due to land in Tyumen later in the day.
The tentacles of the coronavirus have embraced the oil market, and Opec seems set to decide on an emergency cut in oil production to offset a collapse in demand from China, writes Hamish McRae.
The oil market gives a snapshot of what is happening to the world economy, and in particular to world trade. Airlines cutting their flights to China have an immediate impact on aircraft fuel, but that is just an early sign of wider pressure.
If factories in China shut down production, they will use less power. Many products use petroleum as a feedstock. If fewer goods are being produced, fewer ships will be needed to carry those goods around the world. So demand for bunker fuel declines.
Health secretary makes first TV appearance since outbreak
Matt Hancock says the government is “taking no chances” with the virus.
A Hong Kong man who is aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship – quarantined in Yokohama, Japan – has told of his fears for the quarantine period.
The 43-year-old is in a windowless cabin with his wife and son, he told Reuters. “I am not looking forward to the range of emotions in the next two weeks,” he said. “Will deal as they come.”
Hong Kong is testing some 1,800 passengers and crew aboard a cruise ship and is not allowing anyone to disembark without permission.
The World Dream ship, operated by Dream Cruises, was denied entry in the southern Taiwan port of Kaohsiung on Tuesday. On Monday, the ship visited Taiwan’s Keelung port.
Impact on Tokyo 2020
The chief organiser of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has warned that the coronavirus outbreak may throw “cold water over the growing momentum” of the games.
“I am seriously concerned. I hope this will be resolved as soon as possible,” Toshiro Muto said at a meeting in Tokyo with the organisers of the Paralympic Games.