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Boris Johnson admits he is concerned by Leicester outbreak as lockdown looks set to remain in the city



There has been more than one million cases of Covid-19 in the 22 countries of the World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean region, the WHO confirmed on Sunday.

As of 11:00 on Sunday, 1,025,478 cases and 23,461 deaths have been recorded from the region, which spans from Morocco to Pakistan.

While cases in Europe have been largely declining, several countries in the region have been seeing increases in the number of cases and deaths. Countries recently reporting increases in cases include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, occupied Palestinian territory and Oman.

The WHO said it is especially concerned about the spread of the virus in war-torn countries such as Syria, Yemen and Libya due to poor infrastructure and fragile health systems vastly weakened by conflict. In all countries, it said, there is still a clear need for expansion of testing and more accurate reporting of cases and deaths to inform targeted responses.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the WHO’s regional director for the region, said: “This is a very concerning milestone. As shops, restaurants, mosques, businesses, airports and other public places begin to open up, we need to be more vigilant and cautious than ever before. One million people have been infected, tens of thousands have died, and many more are still at risk in our region.

“We cannot relax our efforts. In fact, many countries lifting restrictions are seeing marked increases in cases, which signifies the need to accelerate public health response measures. Communities must remain vigilant and play a key role in keeping themselves and their countries safe.”





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Coronavirus outbreak ‘getting bigger’: All the latest updates | News


Hopes that the coronavirus would be contained to China have vanished as the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria and stock markets took a pounding amid fears of a global recession.

In China – the epicentre of the deadly disease – the National Health Commission reported on Friday at least 44 new coronavirus deaths, bringing to 2,788 the number of fatalities nationwide.

Coronavirus has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 83,000 worldwide.

More:

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, February 28

19:00 GMT – Italy coronavirus death toll rises to 21, positive cases 888

A civil protection official in Italy said that four more people have died from coronavirus, bringing the total to 21, while the number of those testing positive for the illness jumped to 888 from 650 the day before. Of those infect, 46 are said to have recovered. 

Northern Italy’s Lombardy region said it will ask the government to maintain for at least another week the containment measures already implemented against the outbreak. 

18:20 GMT – Pakistan re-opens border with Iran 

Pakistan re-opened its border with neighbouring Iran, allowing hundreds of its stranded citizens to return home.

“We have reopened the border to allow our citizens to enter [the country] in batches,” Liaquat Shahwani, a spokesperson for the government of southwestern Balochistan province that borders Iran was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.

Those who have touched the virus-hit areas in Iran are being quarantined until they are declared clear.”

18:00 GMT – EU health ministers to hold extraordinary meeting

European Union health ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting on March 6 to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, an EU official said.

EU health ministers held a first extraordinary meeting earlier in February on the epidemic, where they decided to coordinate their response to the outbreak.

17:50 GMT – More US coronavirus cases likely

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the number of additional coronavirus cases in the US is likely to increase but that does not mean they will “skyrocket” in North America.

Kudlow, in an interview with Fox Business Network, added that while there are not currently US supply chain problems that does not mean they will not surface.

17:40 GMT – Countries not ready to take same measures as China: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report that much of the global community is not yet ready to implement the types of measures that have contained the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak in China.

“These are the only measures that are currently proven to interrupt or minimize transmission chains in humans,” the report said.

“Fundamental to these measures is extremely proactive surveillance to immediately detect cases, very rapid diagnosis and immediate case isolation, rigorous tracking and quarantine of close contacts, and an exceptionally high degree of population understanding and acceptance of these measures.”

17:30 GMT – Corona virus unlikely to vanish next year: US health official 

Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said the coronavirus is unlikely to disappear next year and that many more cases should be expected in the US.

Fauci told lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that the US currently does not have enough coronavirus testing resources. 




Coronavirus: Scientists in the US race to find a vaccine (2:04)

16:55 GMT – Coronavirus risk is at very high global level: WHO chief 

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the risk of spread and impact of the coronavirus is now ‘very high’ at a global level. 

Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva the 329 cases reported in China over the past 24 hours made it the lowest there in more than a month. 

16:50 GMT – Coronavirus increases economic risks: Swiss National Bank 

The Swiss National Bank said in a statement that the widening coronavirus outbreak has increased economic risks which would have negative consequences for Switzerland and increase the attraction of the safe-haven franc. 

“The coronavirus has increased the economic risks. If the international environment were to deteriorate, this would have consequences for Switzerland as a small, open economy,” the central bank said in a statement. 

16:30 GMT – Pompeo says US ready to help Iran with coronavirus 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his country offered to help Iran in its efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak which has killed 34 people and raised questions about Tehran’s willingness to share information. 

Pompeo told a House Foreign Affairs Committee said authorities in the Islamic Republic were poorly equipped to deal with the health crisis. 

Heavy economic sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump have made it difficult for the country’s health sector to import vital medical equipment and pharmaceutical products.

16:15 GMT – British man on board Diamond Princess dies 

Japan’s Kyodo news agency said a British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship has passed away after being infected by the coronavirus. 

The British national’s death, the first of a foreign passenger, brought the death toll aboard the ship to six. 

16:00 GMT – Two more cases confirmed in Romania 

Nelu Tataru, Romania’s deputy health ministry, said two more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, raising the total number of patients to three. 

“They are a 45-year-old man from the county of Maramures and a 38-year-old woman from (the western city of) Timisoara,” Tataru told reporters, adding that they had both recently returned from Italy. 

15:40 GMT – France: Companies can declare ‘force majeure’

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced that companies can declare ‘force majeure’ when dealing with small-to-medium sized enterprises. 

“We are going to consider the coronavirus as a case of force majeure,” Le Maire told reporters, referring to instances where parties to a contract are unable to meet their obligations due to external circumstances. 




Coronavirus in Latin America: Health officials on alert (2:36)

15:30 GMT – Kenya High Court orders flights from China suspended 

Kenya’s High Court has ordered flights from China temporarily suspended, following a petition by the Law Society of Kenya. 

“I find that unless conservatory orders sought are granted Kenyans will continue to be exposed to the deadly disease coronavirus,” Judge James Makau said. 

15:20 GMT – Almost 60 confirmed cases in Germany 

A spokesperson for the German health ministry said nearly 60 people had tested positive for the coronavirus, adding that the number included those who recovered. 

“At the moment in Germany, we have almost 60 but it’s a very dynamic situation, as we keep saying.” 

14:50 GMT – Coronavirus outbreak ‘getting bigger’ after Nigeria case: WHO 

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the coronavirus outbreak is getting bigger after Nigeria diagnosed the first case in sub-Saharan Africa, reiterating that the virus could reach “most, if not, all countries”. 

Christian Lindmeier, a spokesperson for WHO, told a new conference in Geneva that the agency was investigating the possibility of patients getting re-infected. 

“But in general a person who had coronavirus infection would be immune for at least a while,” he added. 

14:30 GMT – Brussels Airlines to reduce flights to northern Italy by 30 percent 

Brussels Airlines, a Lufthansa subsidiary, said it was cutting flights to northern Italy, including routes to Milan, Venice and Rome, by 30 percent for 12 days starting March 2. 

“Because of the rapidly declining demand in air travel within Europe, Brussels Airlines has taken the decision to reduce flight frequencies on a number of routes in order to limit the negative economic impact on its business,” it said in a statement.

14:20 GMT – Prefecture in northern Japan declares state of emergency over coronavirus 

Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture, declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, asking that residents avoid going outdoors during the weekend. 

“Hokkaido has been doing everything it can to contain the virus but the crisis is deepening,” said Governor Naomichi Suzuki in a televised news conference, adding that the state of emergency would go on until March 19.

13:50 GMT – Israel confirms fourth case of coronavirus

Israel’s health ministry confirmed its fourth case of coronavirus in a person which it said had been in close contact with a man who tested positive after returning from a trip to Italy. 

“Another coronavirus patient who was in close personal contact with the patient who returned from Italy was diagnosed with a positive result and transferred to isolation,” the health ministry said in a statement. 

Two Israeli passengers had last week tested positive and were put in quarantine after traveling on the Diamond Princess, a virus-stricken cruise ship. 

13:40 GMT – First case in France’s Nice

Authorities in the southern French city of Nice have confirmed a first case of the deadly coronavirus in a woman who had recently returned from Milan. 

“I have been informed of a first case of coronavirus diagnosed this morning at the Nice hospital,” wrote Mayor Christian Estrosi on Twitter. 


This is Ramy Allahoum in Doha taking over from Usaid Siddiqui

Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:

Thirty-four people have been confirmed dead in Iran with a total of 388 people infected.

Wales identified its first case and two new cases were found in England, taking the total tally  in the UK to 19.

12:40 GMT – Two Abu Dhabi hotels under quarantine after guests diagnosed

Guests at two hotels in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi have been placed under quarantine after interacting with two Italians diagnosed with coronavirus, state news agency WAM reported.

Other people who also interacted with the two Italians on Yas island have been isolated at home, the agency said, citing the health department of Abu Dhabi.

The Italians individuals were diagnosed with the disease on Thursday.

11:50 GMT – More guests leave Canary Islands hotel

Three small groups of guests left a Tenerife hotel in minibuses on its fourth day of quarantine over the coronavirus.

At least two people could be seen leaving in an ambulance, but around 700 holidaymakers remained in the compound. It was not clear where they were being taken or whether those in the ambulance had any symptoms of the virus.

The regional government of Canary Islands cleared 130 guests on Thursday to leave the hotel, after it was  placed on lockdown when four cases of the coronavirus were detected there.




Coronavirus in Pakistan: Panic buying of masks leading to shortages

11:17 GMT – Second case confirmed in Georgia

Georgia confirmed its second case of the coronavirus, according to the director of National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.

Amiran Gamkrelidze said the new case arrived from Italy. The first case reported in Georgia was on February 26.

10:56 GMT – One more confirmed case in Thailand, total now 41

Thailand recorded one new case bringing the total in the South East Asian country to 41.

According to the health ministry, the case is of a 25-year-old Thai national and tour guide who recently returned from South Korea.

10:45 GMT – Death toll in Iran rises to 34 – health ministry

Thirty-four people have been confirmed dead in Iran because of the coronavirus, a health ministry spokesman said.

The number of people diagnosed with the disease now stands at 388, 143 more than Thursday – from different parts of the country had tested positive for the virus, Kianush Jahanpur told reporters.

10:15 GMT – Second case confirmed in Netherlands – health authorities

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the Netherlands, health officials said

This latest case was reported in Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, while the first case, identified on Thursday, was confirmed in the southern city of Tilburg.

Both individuals had recently travelled in Northern Italy.




Coronavirus outbreak: Death toll rises to 17 in northern Italy

10:10 GMT – Nigeria’s first case travelled through Lagos before detection – minister

Nigeria’s first confirmed case was not detected at airport, and travelled through Lagos before he became ill and went to a hospital, the country’s health minister said.

The Italian man, who authorities said arrived in Nigeria from Milan on the evening of February 24, did not have symptoms when the plane landed.

Authorities are now working to “meet and observe” all those who were on the flight with him, and are also identifying all the people he met and places he visited in Lagos, a city of some 20 million people.

09:50 GMT – First case in Wales reported, UK tally now 19

The United Kingdom is now reporting 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus after Wales identified its first case and two new cases were found in England, health authorities said on Friday.

“The total number of UK cases is 19,” the health ministry said.

09:45 GMT – Pope cancels more official appointments over cold

Pope Francis was working from home, and cancelled postponed his official appointments, the Vatican said, a day after cancelling a scheduled appearance at mass because of “a mild ailment”.

Francis had appeared earlier in the week to be suffering from a cold, seen blowing his nose and coughing during the Ash Wednesday service.

While the Pope, 83, celebrated morning mass, and greeted participants at the end, he cleared his schedule of everything apart from meetings at the Saint Martha’s guest house at the Vatican where he resides, chief press officer Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

Pope Francis speaks at a conference hosted by the Vatican on economic solidarity, at the Vatican

 Francis had appeared to be suffering from a cold earlier in the week [File: Remo Casilli/Reuters]

09.40 GMT – Switzerland suspends all major events to combat virus

The Swiss government has suspended all events in the country involving more than 1,000 participants until mid-March in a bid to stop the novel virus

“Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March,” the government said in a statement after the country registered 15 cases.

“In the case of public or private events at which fewer than 1,000 people would gather, event organisers must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent cantonal authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held”, the statement read.

09:16 GMT – Online virus game in China removed: developer

A popular game that allows players to create a virus and spread it worldwide has been pulled from Apple’s App Store in China, its developer said, as the country battles a real-life epidemic.

Users based in China could not download “Plague Inc” on Friday after the cyberspace watchdog ordered its removal over “illegal” content, UK-based Ndemic Creations said.

Ndemic said it was not clear if the decision was linked to the deadly new coronavirus outbreak, which began in central China in December. “We have a huge amount of respect for our Chinese players and are devastated that they are no longer able to access and play Plague Inc,” Ndemic said.

08:43 GMT – Russia restricts Iran, South Korea travellers over virus

Moscow has announced new restrictions on people travelling to Russia from Iran and South Korea, two countries hit hardest by the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in statement announced a temporary suspension of visas for Iranians travelling to Russia for employment, tourism, education and transit purposes.

A separate decree imposed restrictions on travel to Russia from South Korea, with exceptions including members of official delegations.




Is the spread of coronavirus out of control?

08:26 GMT – Recovered patients found not to be infectious – official

Recovered coronavirus patients who were discharged from hospitalization but later tested positive again have been found not to be infectious, an official at China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said.

A hospital administration official, Guo Yanhong, told reporters at a daily press conference that there is a need to deepen the understanding of the new coronavirus, while improving health tracking and management of patients who recovered.

08:00 GMT – Two South Africans test positive on cruise ship

A pair of South Africans working on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19, the South African health ministry said.

“On 25 February 2020, we were informed by the Japanese authorities that two of these South Africans tested positive for COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement.

“They are currently being treated in Japan and the latest reports indicate that they are currently asymptomatic,” the statement said.

07:40 GMT – Mongolian President under quarantine: state media

Mongolia President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and his accompanying staff who travelled to China on Thursday have been placed under quarantine, according to Mongolian state media outlet Montsame. 

Battulga was the first foreign leader to visit China amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

In January, Mongolia shut its borders with China, to prevent the spread of the virus. So far no cases of coronavirus have been reported in Mongolia.

mongolia president and Xi

Mongolia’s President Khaltmaagiin Battulga, left, poses with Chinese President Xi Jinping for a photo during a meeting on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing [Liu Bin/Xinhua/AP]

07:30 GMT – Qatar evacuates citizens from Iran

All Qatari citizens have been evacuated from Iran and arrived in Doha, the Government Communications Office (GCO) confirmed in a press release.

All individuals will be quarantined in a hotel facility for 14 days, where they will be provided with all necessities and taken care of, the GCO said.

07:20 GMT – Belarus announces first case of coronavirus – TASS

Belarus has reported the first case of coronavirus infection in the country, according to Russian news agency TASS,

“We would like to inform you that February 27 tests conducted at the Republican Scientific and Practical Center of epidemiology and microbiology showed the presence of coronavirus 2019-nCoV in one of the students from Iran,” TASS quoted the Belarussian Ministry of Healthcare.

06:50 GMT – WHO: ‘Pandemic potential’ as infections spread globablly

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said all nations should prepare themselves for potential pandemic, as nations aside from China now accout for three-quarters of new infections.

“This virus has pandemic potential,” Tedros revealed in Geneva. About 12 countries reported their first virus cases in past 24 hours.

According to WHO, outside China the virus has spread to a further 46 countries, where about 3,700 cases and 57 deaths have been reported so far.

WHO news conference on the novel coronavirus (COVID-2019)

The WHO director said this was “not a time of fear” but time to take action to save lives [ File: Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

 


 

I’ll be handing over this page shortly to my colleague Usaid Siddiqui in Doha.

Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:

Nigeria becomes the first sub-Saharan country to confirm a coronavirus case, while several Asian and European countries, as well as New Zealand, also confirm their first infections.

Meanwhile,it’s becoming increasingly clear the virus will take a large toll on the global economy, as the markets have their worst week since 2008.

06:15 GMT – Kyrgyzstan resident in Japan tested positive for virus

A Kyrgyz citizen staying in Japan has tested positive for coronavirus and will be hospitalised there until full recovery, Kyrgyz deputy foreign minister Nurlan Abdrakhmanov said.

The man was one of the crew of the Diamond Princess cruise ship berthed in Japan’s port of Yokohama. Kyrgyzstan has reported no coronavuris cases on its own territory.

06:05 GMT – New Zealand reports first virus patient; case linked to Iran

New Zealand health officials said the country had its first coronavirus case, a person in their 60s who recently returned from Iran.

The person was being treated at the Auckland City Hospital and members of their household had also been isolated as a precaution.

Authorities said the patient arrived on an Emirates flight that landed in Auckland on Wednesday. They said anybody on the flight who had any concerns should contact health experts.

05:35 GMT – Stock markets take a pounding worldwide

Stock markets around the world have plummeted as it has become increasingly clear the virus will take a huge toll on the global economy.

Stock markets in Asia plunged again in opening trade on Friday morning, tracking huge losses in the United States and Europe.The Dow shed nearly 1,200 points, or 4.4 percent, on Thursday, taking its losses for the week to more than 11 percent.

“There was more coronavirus carnage on the markets,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.”One of the worst weeks in recent memory and terrifyingly, it’s not over yet. Friday is a tricky proposition.”

Share prices were on track for the worst week since the global financial crisis in 2008.




California reports first ‘unknown’ coronavirus case

05:15 GMT – Coronavirus fear touches off a global run on face masks

Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite medical experts’ advice that most people who aren’t sick don’t need to wear them.

Many businesses are sold out, while others are limiting how many a customer can buy. Amazon is policing its site, trying to make sure sellers don’t gouge panicked buyers.

Ordinary people trying to protect themselves from the outbreak are not the only ones encountering shortages. Some health care professionals are seeing them as well.

05:10 GMT – Virus detected in sub-Saharan Africa, global stocks tank

Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa on Friday, as global stock markets tanked on deepening fears of a pandemic and the World Health Organization warned against the “fatal mistake” of complacency.

On Friday, Nigeria reported its first case: an Italian man who returned to densely populated Lagos early this week. Cases had previously been reported in Egypt and Algeria, but not in the sub-Saharan region.

The low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, has puzzled health specialists and raised questions about authorities’ capabilities to detect the virus.

Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

03:58 GMT – Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

Lithuania’s government reported the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in a woman who returned this week from a visit to Italy’s northern city of Verona.

Italy is the European nation worst hit by the virus, with its death toll at 17, while the numbers of those testing positive for the illness increased by more than 200, to 350.

In a statement, the Lithuanian government said the stricken woman had been isolated in hospital in the northern town of Siauliai.She has been under observation since and is showing only slight symptoms.

The woman, aged 39, was attending a conference with colleagues in Italy before flying to the southern city of Kaunas, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said.

03:40 GMT – K-pop group BTS cancel concerts over coronavirus scare

K-pop megastars BTS on Friday cancelled four Seoul concerts due in April as the number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea passed 2,000.

The seven-piece boy band – currently one of the biggest acts in the world – had scheduled four gigs at the capital’s Olympic Stadium to promote their new album, Map of the Soul: 7.

More than 200,000 fans were expected to attend, their agency Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement, with “a number of global production companies and a large group of expert international crew” also involved.

03:30 GMT – New Zealand limits entry of travellers from Iran

New Zealand said on Friday that it was placing temporary restrictions on incoming travellers from Iran as a precautionary measure to protect against the coronavirus outbreak.

“This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate,” Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.

The death toll in Iran from coronavirus had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China.

01:56 GMT – Tokyo Disneyland to close through mid-March on coronavirus concerns

Tokyo Disneyland will be closed starting on Saturday through to March 15 amid an outbreak of coronavirus infections in Japan, operator Oriental Land Co Ltd said on Friday.

Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will be affected, the company said.




Is the spread of coronavirus out of control?

The move comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all schools to close to stop the coronavirus from spreading. The government has also urged that big gatherings and sports events be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks.

01:01 GMT – South Korea reports 256 new coronavirus cases, total 2,022 – KCDC

South Korea reported 256 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,022, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said.

Of the new cases, 182 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, the location of a church at the centre of South Korea’s outbreak, the KCDC said in a statement.

The death toll from the virus stood at 13, unchanged from the day earlier.

The coronavirus, which originated in China, has rapidly spread to more than 40 other countries and territories.

China

A worker disinfects journalists visiting the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday [Ng Han Guan/AP]

00:02 GMT – Coronavirus risk to Americans low, but can change: US health secretary

The risk to American people from coronavirus is low, but that could change, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Thursday.

“We have really been able to keep the risk to the Americans low right now so that everyday Americans don’t need to be worried, but that can change and that’s why it’s important for all of us to prepare,” Azar said at a White House event with President Donald Trump.

23:48 GMT – Thursday – US grants sanctions waiver for humanitarian trade to Iran

The US on Thursday granted a licence to allow for certain humanitarian trade transactions with Iran’s sanctioned central bank, a move it said was in step with the formalisation of a Swiss humanitarian trade channel.

The newly created channel, which the US Treasury Department said became fully operational on Thursday as it granted the licence, would allow for companies to send food, medicine and other critical supplies to Iran.

This comes as Iran is grappling with a rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases which have already killed at least two dozen people.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus from our bureau in Kuala Lumpur – Ted Regencia

Click here to read updates from Thursday, February 27.





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