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Coronavirus: Death toll tops 500 — live updates

February 5, 2020

Hundreds of US nationals landed in California after being evacuated from China's Wuhan due to the coronavirus. The WHO has called for $675 million (€613 million) in donations from UN countries to fight the outbreak.

Man wearing a face mask sweeps snow in Beijing
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Schiefelbein

- The number of confirmed deaths from the virus has reached at least 560.

- Passengers aboard two cruise ships are stranded off the coasts of Japan and Hong Kong after passengers tested positive for coronavirus.

- The aviation industry has been taking a hit, with Cathay Pacific announcing a three-week unpaid leave for 27,000 workers and Airbus halting production in Tianjin.

- Germany has the highest number of infections in Europe with 12.

All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC/GMT)

23:25 This concludes our live updates on the coronavirus outbreak for the moment. More information on the outbreak is available on our page and on DW TV. Thank you for joining us.

22:30 China's health commission has given a further update regarding fatalities and infections. Hubei province has reported an additional 70 deaths from the virus along with 2,987 new cases.

20:58 Italy's National Fashion Chamber presented an initiative called "China We Are With You" ahead of the Milan Fashion Week in February. While Chinese shoppers, journalists and designers are expected to be absent due to the coronavirus outbreak, the fashion week organizers said they would stream all events online and allow the users to interact.

"We will do everything to bring emotions and fashionable ideas to those who are far away from the runways," said the chief of Italy's National Fashion Chamber, Carlo Capasa.

Chinese consumers spend more on luxury goods than any other nation in the world. In Italy, they shop more than Russians, Arabs, and Americans combined according to a 2019 study by a tax refund company Global Blue.

20:34 While some UK researchers hailed a "breakthrough" towards a coronavirus vaccine, others warned it would take at least a year until a vaccine is approved.

"It will take at least 12 to 18 months, which means in the acute situation we are in now - at least in China - that will not create a benefit," Thomas Breuer, the chief medical officer at the British GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company, was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

19:07 China's ambassador to Paris, Lu Shaye, publicly slammed Hong Kong medical workers over their decision to go on strike.

"I think it's shameful," he told reporters in Paris. "These people are not working to save lives, their actions have grave consequences. It only serves to underscores their perversity," he added. Medical staff, most of them nurses, has been on strike for the least three days in Hong Kong, demanding a complete bloc of the border with mainland China.

18:53 At least 5,000 Chinese tourists were stranded on the island of Bali after Indonesian government halted all trips to China, the local Chinese consulate said.

18:50 France advised its citizens who live in China to avoid returning to the Asian country.

"In this evolving situation, and as a precautionary measure, French citizens —especially families — who do not have urgent reasons to return to China are advised to stay out of the country temporarily and to postpone their return," the French foreign ministry said on its website.

17:47 Stock markets rallied in Asia and across the world and the price of oil grew, with experts contributing at least some of the traders' optimism to the news that a "significant breakthrough" had been made towards a coronavirus vaccine. Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index was up 1.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4% on Wednesday.

17:11 Organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games are "extremely worried" over the coronavirus outbreak, the CEO of the games, Toshiro Muto, said.

The outbreak "could pour cold water on momentum for the Games," he said. "I hope that it can be eradicated as quickly as possible."

17:07 China's Wuhan faces a "severe" shortage of beds, said local official Hu Lishan, despite the new hospital which was built in ten days. Chinese authorities also converted several public spaces into makeshift hospitals to house thousands of patients. The city also faced a shortage of "equipment and materials," Hu Lishan told reporters.

16:58 Canadian citizens "whose presence in China is not essential" should leave on commercial flights and other means of transport while such means "remain available," said Canada's Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. Previously, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada planned to fly out 200 of its citizens on Wednesday but delayed the flight for 24 due to bad weather.

16:50 Two planes carrying some 350 US nationals landed at a US military base in California after evacuating the passengers from Wuhan. They are set to spend 14 days in quarantine housed in a hotel at the base.

16:47 The world's largest diamond mining company, Russia-based Alrosa, said it would move its March auctions from Hong Kong. Instead of holding the events in the former UK colony, the diamonds auctions will be held in Moscow and the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv. Hong Kong had been forced to postpone two jewelry shows due to the coronavirus.

16:28 "There are no proven effective therapeutics for novel coronavirus," senior WHO representative Mike Ryan told reporters on Wednesday. His comments follow reports by the UK Sky News that researchers had made a "significant breakthrough" towards finding a vaccine.

16:23 Medical experts will meet in Geneva next week set the agenda on drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for the new coronavirus, the WHO said.

16:01 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged up to $100 million (€92.1 million) to the global response to the coronavirus epidemic.

15:59 The WHO has released $9 million form their emergency fund to fight the outbreak. The organization also said it was sending 500,000 masks and 40,000 respirators to 24 countries from its warehouses in Dubai and Accra.

15:52 A group Senegalese families urged the government to evacuate their relatives from Wuhan, after the country's president Macky Sall said Senegal did not have the resources to bring them home.

15:49 The World Health Organization (WHO) requested $675 million (€613 million) in donations to fight the virus. The amount would be enough to "fund the plan for the next three months," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He said that "$675 million is a lot of money, but it is much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now."

15:42 A Wuhan medic told DW that there are likely many more deaths and infections than the official numbers show. The local emergency number 120 is overwhelmed and no longer works, the man said. Click here to read the full story.

15:21 The small African state of Equatorial Guinea said they would give $2 million (€1.82 million) to China to help Beijing fight the coronavirus. The unusual move is a sign of "support and solidarity," said authorities in Equatorial Guinea. The African nation has developed close ties with the Asian superpower.

15:13 Members of China's airforce have been cleared to take part in the upcoming Singapore Airshow, despite Singapore banning entry to Chinese nationals and foreigners with a recent history of travel to China. The airshow, set be held next week, will feature nine Chinese military planes, with over 100 personnel from China.

15:05 After several pharmacies in Russia hiked up the prices of face masks in the wake of the coronavirus, Russia's Vladimir Putin said such businesses should be closed.

"They should be stripped of their licenses to carry out their work, that's all," Putin said. "They've decided to rake in the cash."

14:56 An international business meeting in Singapore left at least three Asian businessmen infected and other showing symptoms, local officials said. Over 100 people attended the hotel conference in mid-January, including the first infected Malaysian and two infected South Koreans.

14:44 Airplane producer Airbus was forced to close a plant in northern China where its A320 passenger jets are assembled. The site is Tianjin is one of only two plants finalizing the airliners, with the other once located in the US state of Alabama. 

14:41 Thousands of Pakistani students remain stranded in China's Wuhan after the Pakistani authorities decided not to evacuate them, a student told DW. Click here to read more.

14:33 Italy and Turkey said they would start checking the temperatures of all arriving passengers at their respective airports. Turkish officials said that thermal cameras would begin screening on Thursday, while Italy said they would use thermo-scanners.

14:21 Singapore says another four infections are confirmed, including a six-months baby and both parents, bringing its total tally of people infected with the coronavirus to 28 in the island state.

13:45 Indonesia suspended flights to and from mainland China. At least five thousand Chinese tourists are currently stranded in Bali, according to Gou Haodong, the Chinese Consul General in Denpasar.

13:33 China declined Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's request to visit Wuhan to comfort stranded Cambodian students. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said due to the lockdown, China could not "properly arrange" a trip during this period of time.

12:53 European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said the spread of the coronavirus worldwide presents "a new layer of uncertainty" for the European economy. 

Read more: How will the coronavirus affect the world economy?

11:51 World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Tarik Jasarevic cautioned against believing in "breakthrough" drugs that could cure the virus. "There are no known effective therapeutics against 2019-nCoV," he said, reported Reuters news agency. 

11:45 Two military bases in California, US are expecting the arrival of 350 Americans evacuated from Hubei province, China. The Pentagon said in a statement that the evacuees are expected to arrive on Wednesday. One of the two US Department of State-chartered flights will land at Travis Air Force Base and one will continue to the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. Following what has now become standard procedure, those on the flights will be monitored for 14 days to check for signs of the virus.

Read more: Coronavirus: Shunning is 'sad, wrong, no surprise'

11:25 Airbus halted output of its A320 aircraft family at its aircraft production facility in Tianjin, outside of the capital, Beijing, joining the list of companies scaling down operations in China due to the virus. "China domestic and worldwide travel restrictions are posing some logistical challenges. The Tianjin final assembly line facility is currently closed," Airbus said in a statement.

11:06 German sports brand Adidas announced it will close a "considerable" number of its outlets in the country due to the virus. "We can confirm that we are currently experiencing a negative impact on our business in China. However, it is too early to assess the extent of this impact at the moment," a spokeswoman said.

China Adidas Store
German sportswear brand Adidas announced it is closing a "considerable" number of its stores in ChinaImage: picture-alliance/Zumapress/SIPA Asia/Y. Xiang

10:30 State broadcaster CCTV and China Daily reported that pregnant women infected with the new coronavirus may be able to pass it to their unborn child. The news outlets quoted doctors who said vertical transmission may be possible after an infected coronavirus patient gave birth to a baby on February 2.  The newborn was given a test 30 hours later and confirmed to have the virus, according to the doctors.

10:17 Some governments have yet to announce the evacuations of their nationals. DW spoke to two international students trapped in Wuhan from Nigeria and Pakistan, two countries that have yet to announce plans to evacuate its citizens.

Adam, a student from Nigeria, spoke of growing uncertainty among the Nigerian population in the city.

"We can get by right now, but who knows what could happen in one, two or three weeks," said Adam. "We just want our government to get in touch with us because at least then we feel that our government is listening to our concerns. Currently, people just feel abandoned," he added.

Thousands of students from Pakistan also remain trapped in the city at the center of the outbreak. Halima from Pakistan, who studies in Wuhan, said the Pakistani student population had "used Twitter, Facebook and every possible other way" to get in touch with their government "asking desperately for help."

"For now our government has given a final decision of not bringing us back home which is a heartbreaking and a disappointing moment for every one of us," added Halima.

09:11 Anyone crossing from mainland China to China must be put in compulsory quarantine for 14 days, said the territory's Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The announcement follows three days of strikes by medical staff demanding the border be fully shut off to mainland China and came shortly after it was announced that passengers on cruise liner World Dream would be quarantined at one of its ports.

No information was provided on how the measure would be implemented but details are expected to be announced in the coming days. The measure will be implemented from Saturday. "The measure is harsh. But I believe after we say all arrivals have to be quarantined for 14 days from February 8 the number of arrivals will reduce," Lam said.

09:00 The UK Foreign Office will fly out any British nationals still stranded in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, on a final evacuation flight scheduled for Sunday. "I encourage all British nationals in Hubei to register with our teams if they want to leave on this flight," said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Britain has advised all its nationals in China to leave. 

08:26  Hong Kong airlines Cathay Pacific asked its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave as the company massively reduces its flights in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus. "I am hoping all of you will participate, from our front-line employees to our senior leaders, and to share in our current challenges," said Augustus Tang, Cathay Airlines CEO, on Wednesday. On Tuesday the airline announced that it would reduce its flight schedule by 30%  internationally and by 90% inside mainland China.

Air New Zealand flight touching down
Countries continue to evacuate nationals from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreakImage: Getty Images/D. Purcell

07:15 Evacuation flights are continuing from Wuhan on Wednesday. A flight carrying New Zealanders from Wuhan will land in Auckland on Wednesday evening. The passengers include 98 people from New Zealand, 35 from Australia, and others from Pacific nations including Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Samoa.

The plan is to take most of the passengers by bus to a military facility where they will be quarantined for two weeks.

Russia also evacuated a further 80 of its citizens on Wednesday. The flight was bound for the Tyumen region in western Siberia, where the evacuees were going to be placed temporarily in a medical facility, according to TASS news agency. 

06:25 A second cruise ship with 1,800 passengers on board will be quarantined in Hong Kong's Kai Tak cruise terminal. The ship was turned away from Kaohsiung port in Taiwan on Tuesday after three passengers on an earlier journey were diagnosed with coronavirus. More than 30 crew members who reported symptoms are being examined and will undergo tests.

A further 3,700 passengers are also stranded aboard cruise ship Diamond Princess off the coast of Japan after one crew member and nine passengers were found to have the virus.

06:18 According to Reuters news agency, Uzbekistan Airways said in a statement that it evacuated 84 people from Wuhan. They will be placed in quarantine on arrival in the capital of Tashkent, said the nation's state airline on Wednesday.

Toshiro Muto in a suit
The chief executive officer of the Tokyo Olympics admitted on February 5 that organizers are "extremely worried" about the possible effect of the deadly new coronavirus on this summer's GamesImage: AFP/STR/Jiji Press

06:10  Organizers of the 2020 Olympic Games are "extremely worried" about the possible effects of coronavirus on the sporting event. "We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the Games," said Toshiro Muto, chief executive officer of the Tokyo Olympics, on Wednesday before a meeting with the International Paralympic Committee.

He added that organizers plan to coordinate with the International Olympic Committee, the IPC, the Japanese government and the city of Tokyo to tackle the disease and minimize its impact on the Games.

05:45: Hong Kong health officials are striking for the third day in a row, demanding that the border between Hong Kong and mainland China be completely closed in a bid to halt the virus. The first death in the semi-autonomous territory from the virus occurred on Tuesday. It has confirmed 18 cases, including four cases known to have been transmitted locally.

The virus has revived memories of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in the territory in 2003 when nearly 300 people died. Carrie Lam, the city's chief executive, has closed many crossings with the mainland but has chosen to leave some open.

04:29 Japan's foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said a fourth chartered flight on Thursday would be en route to Wuhan to bring back around 200 people. The passengers could include the Chinese spouses of Japanese citizens, Motegi said.

04:04 Thailand, Singapore and South Korea follow Japan in the total number of coronavirus infections with 25, 24 and 18 cases respectively. A total of 13 people have been infected in Australia while the highest number of cases outside of Asia and Oceania is in Germany, with 12 instances reported so far.

Beds in a makeshift hospital
Wuhan's givernment said it plans to convert three existing venues, including a gymnasium and an exhibition centre, into hospitals to take in patients with mild symptoms of the new coronavirusImage: Getty Images/AFP

03:56 Japan has overtaken Thailand for the greatest number of infections outside of China following confirmation of infection among 10 passengers on the quarantined cruise ship in Yokohama. Japan has reported 33 cases, while Thailand has 25.

03:33 China has quickly constructed hospitals to deal with the crisis, as well as converting a gymnasium, exhibition hall and cultural center in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei and epicenter of the outbreak.

Patients are being transferred into a new, 1,000-bed hospital with prefabricated wards and isolation rooms. A 1,500-bed hospital also specially built will open in the coming days, authorities have confirmed.

03:05 China's Embassy in Berlin said it has seen increased hostility toward Chinese citizens living in Germany as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak. "Recent incidents of hostility and xenophobic statements in individual media have increased after the coronavirus outbreak, and they are alarming," the embassy told German news agency dpa. 

Read more: Opinion: Drop the corona-racism against Chinese people

02:03 American Airlines announced it has suspended flights to Hong Kong through February 20 due to a lack of interest from potential customers.

United Airlines said it too would suspend Hong Kong flights from Saturday until the same date due to waning demand.

The companies have already announced a suspension of flights to and from mainland China following a US government travel advisory.

01:42 As a reminder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been 176 cases of coronavirus infection reported in 24 countries and regions outside of mainland China, excluding the cruise ship cases described below. Two individuals have died from the illness outside of China, one in Hong Kong on Tuesday and one in the Philippines last week. Both had spent time in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the viral outbreak

00:31 US sports manufacturer Nike is preparing its shareholders for losses due to the epidemic. Nike said significant effects were to be expected. "In the short term, we expect the situation to have a material impact on our operations in Greater China," it said.

Nike has already stopped operations in roughly half of its own stores in China.

Read more: How will the coronavirus affect the world economy?

00:26 The death toll in mainland China has risen to 490 after Hubei province confirmed 65 more individuals had died from the virus. This is the biggest single-day jump since the first fatalities were reported last month.

The number of confirmed infections nationwide has reached 24,324 with 3,887 fresh cases reported, the National Health Commission said.

00:01 At least ten passengers on a cruise ship that Japan quarantined on Tuesday have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the Japanese health minister said. The ship was carrying around 3,700 people, including crew, when in arrived in Yokohama Port. The process of screening passengers began after a person who had disembarked the vessel in Hong Kong was later diagnosed with the virus.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said tests had been carried out on more than 200 passengers. "From around 7:30 a.m. [2230 GMT Tuesday], we had them [the 10 who tested positive] get off the vessel, and with cooperation with the coastguard we are sending them to medical organizations," he said.

Cruise Ship Diamond Princess in Yokohama Port
Cruise ship Diamond Princess is being held in the Yokohama Port, south of TokyoImage: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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