The death toll in China from the new coronavirus rose to 213 on Friday, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the...

The death toll in China from the new coronavirus rose to 213 on Friday, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

Beijing said there are at least 9,692 people confirmed to have the infection, which has spread from Wuhan’s Hubei province to every one of China’s 31 provinces.

Another 102,000 people were also reportedly under medical observation with possible symptoms of the respiratory ailment.


On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency. The virus has spread to at least 18 other countries.

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, January 31

Italy to discuss declaring coronavirus emergency

Italy’s government is set to discuss declaring a state of national emergency over the new coronavirus, after confirming its first two cases, a cabinet statement said on Friday.

Evacuation of Germans from Wuhan to begin shortly: FM

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that a German military plane would be leaving for China shortly to evacuate more than 100 German citizens, none of whom are infected with coronavirus or suspected of having contracted it.

Maas said the plane would arrive in Germany on Saturday and the evacuees would be kept in quarantine for two weeks.

UK confirms first cases of coronavirus

The United Kingdom has confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus in two patients from the same family in England, England’s chief medical officer said.

“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus,” Chris Whitty said.

“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contact the patients had, to prevent further spread,” he added.

Read more about which countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus here.

Thailand confirms first case of human-to-human transmission

Thailand has confirmed its first human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus inside the country, a health official said.

The patient is a Thai taxi driver, said Tanarak Pipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control.

“The Thai person who got infected does not have the record of travelling to China and it is likely that he was infected from a sick traveler from China,” Tanarak said.

Read more about which countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus here.

Oman advises against travelling to China

Oman’s health ministry has advised against travel to China.

“It is advisable not to travel to China unless it is absolutely necessary,” the ministry said in a post on Twitter.

Facebook to remove coronavirus misinformation

Facebook has said it will take down misinformation about the coronavirus in a rare departure from its approach to health content.

The company said in a blog post that it would remove content about the virus “with false claims for conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities,” saying such content would violate its ban on misinformation leading to “physical harm”.

Turkish Airlines halts all flights to and from mainland China

Turkish Airlines has suspended all flights to and from mainland China and is redirecting four flights currently in the air back to Istanbul.

The flights will be suspended until February 9, while flights to and from Hong Kong will remain in operation, the company said.

Mongolia to close all ports of entry from, into China

Mongolia will close all ports of entry from and into China until March 2, the government said.

It will give its citizens currently in China until February 6 to return home, though non-Chinese foreign nationals travelling to Mongolia will not be able to do so via China.

South Korea confirms four more cases

South Korea has confirmed four more cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 11.

One is a 62-year-old South Korean woman who visited Wuhan, while the three others are presumed to be classified as person-to-person transmission cases, as they have not visited China recently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here.

WHO declares global health emergency – but what does it mean?

The WHO’s declaration of a global health emergency over the coronavirus means there is now more money available to combat the outbreak, Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from Hong Kong, said.

“That means the WHO now has more funds that it can throw at the problem but it also effectively gives the WHO more power because member nations, including China, have a binding obligation to accept and implement any decisions that the WHO makes.”

Vietnam carrier Vietjet to suspend China flights

Vietnamese carrier Vietjet will suspend all flights to and from China from February 1, the company said.

“Vietjet has already planned to suspend all of its flights to China,” it said in a statement. “The suspension is effective from February 1.”

Turkey to evacuate its citizens, others, from Wuhan: Health minister

Turkey’s health minister has said 34 Turkish citizens and several others will be airlifted from Wuhan.

The others include 7 Azeris, 7 Georgians and 1 Albanian.

The plane will take off from the Turkish capital, Anakara on Friday.

Diary of a Wuhan native: A week under quarantine

A teacher living in the epicentre of the deadly outbreak shares her experiences of isolation with Al Jazeera as the quarantine in Wuhan continues.

Read the full story here.

Wuhan, China

An elderly man collapsed and died in the street in Wuhan on Thursday [Hector Retamal/AFP]

RwandAir suspends all flights to China

RwandAir has halted flights to and from China until further notice.

“RwandAir is to suspend flights with immediate effect between the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and the Chinese city of Guangzhou,” the airline said in a statement. “The decision will be reviewed later in February”.

Vietnam to ban visas for Chinese tourists

Authorities in Vietnam are introducing a temporary ban on issuing travel visas to Chinese tourists, a government statement said.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has called on immigration officials to stop issuing visas to Chinese tourists amid growing concern over the new coronavirus, the statement read.

Vietnamese citizens were also encouraged not to travel to the Chinese border, while Vietnam’s travel authorities have asked all travel companies to suspend flights to infected regions in China.

What’s the economic impact of China’s coronavirus outbreak?

Plane leaves Wuhan with 110 Britons and foreigners on board

A plane carrying 83 British and 27 foreign nationals has flown out from Wuhan, the UK government said.

The civilian aircraft chartered by the Foreign Office left the city at 09:45 local time (0145 GMT) and is due to arrive in the UK at 1300GMT before going to Spain, where the home countries of European Union citizens will take responsibility for the remaining passengers.

“We know how distressing the situation has been for those waiting to leave,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, according to a notice on the government’s website. “We have been working round the clock to clear the way for a safe departure.”

Kenya Airway suspends all flights to China

Kenya Airways has suspended all flights to and from China until further notice.

“We have temporarily suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou starting Friday until further notice,” the airline said in a statement on its Twitter account.

Xiamen Airlines flights to fly citizens back to Wuhan

China’s civil aviation authority announced that it will dispatch two Xiamen Airlines planes to fly Wuhan citizens back from Bangkok, Thailand and Malaysia, according to the newspaper, People’s Daily.

China’s foreign ministry announced the decision earlier in the day in view of “practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas”.

Japan urges citizens to avoid non-urgent trips to all of China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament the government has decided to raise its infectious disease advisory level for China, excluding Hubei province, to 2, urging citizens to avoid non-urgent trips to the country.

The government is already telling its citizens not to take any trips to China’s central province of Hubei.

China to bring home overseas citizens from Hubei

The Chinese government is to send charter planes to bring citizens from virus-hit Hubei province who are overseas back “as soon as possible”, the foreign ministry said.

This is in view of “practical difficulties that Hubei citizens, especially those from Wuhan, have faced overseas”, said ministry of foreign affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

US gov’t warns US citizens against China travel over virus

The US State Department increased its travel advisory for China, as the death toll from a fast-spreading virus rose to more than 200 and the WHO declared a global health emergency.

In a notice posted on its website, the State Department said: “Do not travel to China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.”

China - Jiujiang

A woman who arrived from Hubei province on Friday talks to security personnel at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge in an attempt to cross at a checkpoint in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

German foreign ministry warns against travel to Hubei

The German Foreign Ministry has warned against travel to China’s Hubei province.

The ministry also recommended that non-essential travel to China be postponed “if possible.”

Travellers were also advised to heed the advice of local Chinese authorities.

The ministry urged travellers to “get vaccinated against influenza with the current northern hemisphere vaccine” before setting off, according to the partial travel warning posted on the ministry’s website.

LPGA event cancelled, Olympic football qualifiers changed

The elite women’s LPGA golf tour has cancelled an event in China and Olympic football qualifying matches in Australia are being shuffled.

The four-team women’s football tournament involving China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand was moved from Wuhan and hastily rearranged to be held in Australia by the Asian Football Confederation.

Organisers were forced to change their match schedule after China’s team, who arrived in Australia on January 29, were placed in quarantine in Brisbane until after February 5.

Meanwhile, the LPGA said its Blue Bay tournament due to be held on Hainan island from March 5-8 had been cancelled.

Japan to enforce special measures for coronavirus from Saturday: NHK

Japan plans to bring forward the date that the coronavirus will become a “designated infectious disease” to Saturday from February 7, public broadcaster NHK said.

Japanese Minister of Health Katsunobu Kato said that the government was considering moving up the date, without elaborating.

The government classified the virus as a designated infectious disease on Tuesday, a move that allows compulsory hospitalisation, stricter screening of people entering the country, and the use of public funds for treatment, among other measures.

In line with regulations, the designation was only set to take effect on February 7 after ordinances are issued.

Coronavirus symptoms

China has confidence to win war against coronavirus: foreign ministry

China has the confidence and capability to win the war against the new coronavirus, said the country’s foreign ministry spokeswoman in responding to WHO’s decision to declare the virus outbreak in China as a global emergency.

Hua Chunying, the ministry spokeswoman, also said China will continue to work with the WHO and other countries to maintain global and regional public health security.

Charter flight carrying South Koreans from Wuhan arrives home

A charter flight carrying 367 South Koreans from Wuhan landed at the Gimpo International Airport on Friday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.

The first of up to four flights planned to evacuate South Koreans from Wuhan departed on Friday morning, after an unexpected hours-long delay because China had only approved one flight.

About 700 South Koreans have signed up for the charter flights.

More French citizens evacuated from Wuhan

A jet carrying approximately 200 French citizens flew out of the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday, according to AFP journalists on board the flight.

The French military aircraft is bound for southern France, where the passengers will undergo a 14-day quarantine.

More Canadians ask for help to leave China

The number of Canadians looking to flee China because of the coronavirus epidemic rose to nearly 200 on Thursday while a third suspected case in Canada was confirmed.

Officials told a parliamentary committee that 196 Canadians in Wuhan – the epicentre of the epidemic – have requested help getting back home, an increase from Wednesday when the government announced an airlift for 160.

The Globe and Mail newspaper said the families of Canadian diplomats in China who were “vulnerable” to infections were also being repatriated. The foreign ministry was not immediately available to confirm the report.

They include people with existing medical conditions, over the age of 65 or under five, said the daily.

Read updates from Thursday, January 30 here.

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