Russia announced it will suspend entry for Chinese citizens from February 20, as daily infections on the Chinese mainland fell below 2,000 for the first time since January.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China reached at least 1,868 with 72,436 infections confirmed, according to health officials.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the COVID-19 outbreak – which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province – is not yet out of control, but it has become a “very dangerous situation”.
Here are all the latest updates:
Tuesday, February 18
Ukraine plans to evacuate citizens from China
Ukraine is preparing to send a plane to evacuate some 49 of its citizens as well as up to 25 foreign nationals from China, Health Minister Zoriana Skalteska said.
Any foreigners evacuated will be monitored in Ukraine, she said.
It is not clear when the plane will depart but Skalteska said it was “almost ready”.
Russia to suspend entry for Chinese citizens from Thursday
Russia will suspend entry of Chinese citizens to its territory starting from Thursday, Russian authorities in charge of coronavirus prevention said in a statement.
The suspension will be for Chinese citizens entering Russia for employment, private, educational and tourist purposes.
The suspension will be temporary, the statement said.
China’s EU envoy says economic impact of outbreak ‘manageable’
China’s ambassador to the European Union hub Brussels has said that the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak would be “limited, short term and manageable” and that Beijing had enough resources to step in if needed.
“With business activity deferred and demand for services reduced, there is some impact on the Chinese economy but it is limited, short term and manageable,” Zhang Ming told a briefing in Brussels.
WHO reports 92 cases of human-to-human transmission outside China
There have been 92 cases of human-to-human spread of the coronavirus in 12 countries outside China but the World Health Organization (WHO) does not have the data to make comparisons with China, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
He added that the WHO had not seen sustained local transmission except in specific cases, such as on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan.
Social media shows support for Chinese nurses
Chinese social media users have been showing their support for the mostly female nurses whose faces have been trending online in recent days.
Many of the women have deep lines on their faces from where surgical masks have dug into their skin. Some hospital staff in Wuhan have reportedly been wearing adult nappies to save time normally spent on bathroom breaks.
Nurses pay a heavy price as China fights coronavirus epidemic
A now-deleted video posted by a Chinese newspaper showed female nurses having their heads shaved to combat cross infection and to cut down on the time it takes to put on and take off their protective suits. It drew criticism from users who said the action was sexist and unnecessary.
On Weibo, a topic called Sisters Go Fight The Virus We’ve Got Your Back has reached more than 220 million views and one organisation has raised money to provide female nurses with 180,000 sanitary pads, however a volunteer said those donations would only help one third of the women.
Asian stocks fall after Apple warns of low profit
Shares across Asia declined after smartphone maker Apple Inc warned that it would not be able to meet sales targets for the quarter due to production delays caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Japanese stocks slid to a two-week low as the benchmark Nikkei fell 1.2 percent by the midday break and the broader Topix dropped 1.2 percent.
Read the full story here.
Jaguar Land Rover to run out of parts for UK production in 2 weeks
Jaguar Land Rover has enough parts from China to maintain its UK production for the next two weeks but not beyond that at the moment, Chief Executive Ralf Speth said.
The head of the UK’s biggest carmaker also told reporters that sales were not currently happening in China.
Prada postpones fashion show in Japan
Italian fashion house Prada has put off a show in Japan in May due to the coronavirus outbreak, it said.
“Due to the current uncertainty related to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Prada Resort fashion show originally scheduled for May 21 in Japan will be postponed,” the company said in an emailed statement.
It added that the decision had been taken as a precautionary measure as well as “an act of responsibility and respect” for all those working on and planning to attend the show.
“Japan remains one of Prada’s strategic markets and relevant events will be scheduled in the country at a more appropriate moment,” the statement said.
One Russian on cruise ship has virus: Embassy
Russia’s embassy in Japan has said that a Russian woman earlier said to have been diagnosed with coronavirus does not have the virus, but that her husband, who is also on board, had tested positive.
The couple has been hospitalised, the embassy said in a Facebook post.
UK PM offers sympathies to China’s Xi in phone call
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping and expressed his sympathies to those hit by the coronavirus outbreak, a spokeswoman for Johnson’s office said.
“He offered his sympathies for those affected by the outbreak of coronavirus in China, President Xi thanked the UK for its support and in particular welcomed the donation of vital medical equipment to China,” the spokeswoman said.
She added: “The Prime Minister and President agreed on the importance of the UK-China relationship and resolved to work together across a range of issues including strengthening the economic partnership to benefit the people of both China and the UK.”
Around 500 to leave quarantined Japan ship Wednesday: official
Around 500 passengers will leave the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan on Wednesday after testing negative for the new coronavirus that has infected hundreds on board, a health ministry official said.
“The number (who will leave Wednesday) is changing, largely because it is up to passengers (if they get off),” the official told reporters. “But it will be around 500 people.”
China cuts pension, insurance costs to help firms hit by coronavirus
China will cut some pension contributions and insurance fees to help companies affected to the coronavirus outbreak, state television quoted a cabinet meeting as saying.
Companies in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, will be exempted from paying pensions, jobless insurance and work injury insurance from February to June, it said. The government will keep the minimum purchase price for rice stable this year and will accelerate hog production and increase state reserves of frozen pork, it added.
Guterres: New virus outbreak is ‘a very dangerous situation’
The UN secretary general has told The Associated Press that the virus outbreak that began in China “is not out of control but it is a very dangerous situation”.
Antonio Guterres said in an interview that “the risks are enormous and we need to be prepared worldwide for that.” Guterres added the spread of the virus to countries with “less capacity in their health service” would require a great deal of international solidarity.
Taiwan to evacuate citizens from coronavirus-hit ship in Japan
Taiwan will charter a plane to evacuate its citizens on the Diamond Princess cruise liner docked in Japan that was hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the Taiwan government said.
Four Taiwanese onboard were confirmed to have the virus, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters. He did not say when the evacuation will take place. More than 20 Taiwanese were on the ship, which contains the most coronavirus infections outside of China.
Thieves steal 6,000 hygiene masks in Japan
Thieves in Japan have made off with some 6,000 surgical masks from a hospital, with the country facing a mass shortage and a huge price hike online due to the coronavirus.
Four boxes containing the face masks disappeared from a locked storage facility at the Japanese Red Cross hospital in the western port city of Kobe, a hospital official said.
Visitors wearing masks amid concern over the spread of a new coronavirus take a selfie in front of a snow sculpture on the first day of the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido, northern Japan. [File: Kyodo/Reuters]
“We still have a large number of masks – enough to continue our daily operations at the hospital, but this is so deplorable,” the official told AFP.
88 more people test positive for coronavirus on ship off Japan
An additional 88 people have tested positive for coronavirus on a quarantined cruise ship off the Japan coast, the health ministry said.
The new cases came from a total of 681 fresh results, the ministry said, taking the total number of positive cases on the Diamond Princess to 542.
Tour companies indicate North Korea looks to hold ‘Mass Games’ this year
Despite North Korea’s ban on foreign tourism over coronavirus fears, the isolated nation has announced plans to stage its “Mass Games”, featuring thousands of dancers, gymnasts and singers, as soon as August, tour companies said, according to the Reuters news agency.
North Korea has not reported any virus cases, but it stopped flights and train services with its neighbours, set up month-long mandatory quarantines, suspended tourism, and imposed a near-complete lockdown on cross-border travel.
New French health minister: ‘Credible risk’ of pandemic
New French health minister Olivier Veran said there is a “credible risk” the coronavirus outbreak could turn unto a pandemic.
“This is both a working assumption and a credible risk,” Veran told France Info radio, when asked about the possibility of the coronavirus becoming a pandemic. He said France was ready to deal with all the possibilities and its…