Coronavirus latest news: China death toll climbs to 80 with more than 2,700 cases – live updates


Powered by article titled “China virus death toll hits 82 as 73 test negative in UK – as it happened” was written by Jedidajah Otte (now), Matthew Weaver and Alison Rourke (earlier), for on Monday 27th January 2020 19.09 UTC

7.09pm GMT

Evening summary

Here’s a summary of the latest developments:

That’s all for now, we will update the blog later if there are new developments.

6.57pm GMT

Ukraine has advised its citizens against all non-essential travel to the Hubei Province in China, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ukrainian authorities also advised citizens traveling to China to take precautions, including avoiding contact with people displaying signs of respiratory diseases.

6.35pm GMT

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) said on Monday that “the immediate health risk from [coronavirus] in the U.S. is currently considered low.”

According to new figures published on its website on Monday, there are 73 people in the US still under investigation, 32 confirmed negative and 5 positive.

“There is an ongoing investigation to determine more about this outbreak. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available,” a statement said.

The CDC added that reported illnesses in infected people had ranged from little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

Updated at 6.49pm GMT

6.12pm GMT

Turkey has urged its citizens not to travel to China unless necessary to avoid infection with the coronavirus.

“It is highly recommended that our citizens do not travel to China unless it is necessary and if they travel there, they should stay away from the regions where the cases are seen, especially in Hubei province,” the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement on Monday.

6.04pm GMT

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has announced that it is working on a coronavirus vaccine, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and several other partners.

CEPI said it will “begin three programmes” aimed at creating an effective vaccine against the virus that has so far killed 82 reported cases.

5.55pm GMT

Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs that “all possible means” were being used to get in contact with the 1,460 people who have travelled to the UK from Wuhan before the city went on lockdown.

“We’re collaborating with […] Border Force, with the airlines and with others including universities, schools and cultural organisations to try to make contact,” Hancock said.

5.47pm GMT

China has announced that 60.33bn yuan (6.6bn GBP) will be allocated for the sole purpose of fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

China’s Ministry of Finance and National Health Commission said funds would be used to prop up public health services and epidemic prevention.

Updated at 5.49pm GMT

5.32pm GMT

France expects to repatriate up to a few hundred of its 800 citizens living in the Wuhan area, though evacuees will have to spend 14 days in quarantine to avoid spreading the virus in France.

Japanese citizens who wish to return home from Wuhan are expected to be flown out via charter flights as early as Tuesday, Reuters reports. Japan’s foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said about 430 Japanese nationals had been confirmed to be in Hubei province.

Updated at 5.44pm GMT

5.24pm GMT

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has questioned whether there are enough specialist beds available in the NHS to deal with any potential coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

Ashworth said specialist extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) beds might be needed for the treatment of the virus, and they were already in high demand in the UK, PA reported.

He asked the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to “update the House on how many ECMO beds are currently open and what preparations the NHS is making on that front?”

Hancock responded: “There are four centres that are stood up and ready should there be a need. The centres are in Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital (London), Liverpool, Newcastle and the Royal Free (London) and there is a further escalation if more beds are So we are ready, but of course we keep all these things under review.”

Updated at 5.43pm GMT

5.20pm GMT

The total number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus now stands at 2,887, with 2,827 of these in China. Australia had 4 confirmed cases, Cambodia 1, France 3, Hong Kong 5, Japan 3, Macao 2, Malaysia 3, Nepal 1, Singapore 4, Taiwan 3, Thailand 5, Vietnam 2, South Korea 2, Sri Lanka 1 and the US 5.

  • This post was amended on 29 January 2020 to change “Taipei” to Taiwan.

Updated at 11.24am GMT

5.09pm GMT

People who have returned to UK from Wuhan should ‘self-isolate’, says health secretary

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has told MPs that the risk to the UK population is low and the country is “well prepared and well equipped” to respond if required. However, he added that the Foreign Office was “rapidly advancing measures to bring UK nationals back from Hubei province”.

“Coronaviruses do not usually spread if people don’t have symptoms – but we cannot be 100% certain.

“From today, we are therefore asking anyone in the UK who has returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days to self-isolate. Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people – and to contact NHS 111.

“If you are in Northern Ireland, you should phone your GP.

“If you develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of travel to the area, and are now in the UK, call your GP or ring 111 informing them of your symptoms and your recent travel to the city.

“Do not leave your home until you have been given advice by a clinician.”

Hancock added that efforts were continuing to trace people who have arrived in the UK from Wuhan: “Having eliminated those who we know have since left the country, there are 1,460 people we are seeking to locate.

“The Foreign Office is rapidly advancing measures to bring UK nationals back from Hubei province.

“I have asked my officials to ensure there are appropriate measures in place upon arrival to look after them and protect the public.”

The health secretary asked Britons in Hubei province to get in contact with the Foreign Office.

Updated at 5.40pm GMT

4.59pm GMT

People’s Daily, China’s largest newspaper, has claimed on Twitter that an “antiviral spray” that can be applied to the throat and shield from infection with the coronavirus has been developed in a clinical centre in Shanghai.

The tweet seemed to imply that the spray is already being used by hospital staff in China on the frontline of the virus outbreak, as it emphasised that “mass-production for public use is not available for now”.

Updated at 5.00pm GMT

4.51pm GMT

The US president, Donald Trump, has commented on the coronavirus on Twitter, stating that his administration has offered help to China’s president, Xi Jinping:

Updated at 5.37pm GMT

4.22pm GMT

Dubai’s Emirates airline has advised its flight crews to stay in their hotels when on a layover in China to avoid infection risk with the coronavirus. According to Reuters, the airline also recommends that crew avoid areas with a potential for large gatherings of people.

3.57pm GMT

The expert added that it was probably difficult for someone infected with coronavirus to transmit it to others without coughing or sneezing, but that more research was needed.

Van Kerkhove said that so far there was no evidence that the virus was mutating.

Updated at 4.43pm GMT

3.52pm GMT

Van Kerkhove said a lot of people were asking whether receiving mail from Wuhan posed an infection risk, and said that this was not a concern, as the virus would not survive for that long a journey.

She added that not many children had been infected so far, and that about three to six feet (1-2 metres) of distance should be kept from those carrying the virus in order to avoid infection.

Updated at 4.41pm GMT

3.41pm GMT

The World Health Organization (WHO) has invited people to participate in a live Q&A with the epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove on Twitter. Van Kerkhove, who specialises in respiratory diseases, said that while it was confirmed that this was a “new” coronavirus, it was still being investigated whether it was transmitted from an animal. She added that currently there were 37 confirmed cases in 12 countries other than China.

Updated at 4.41pm GMT

3.27pm GMT

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a short while ago that three new cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in the US – one in Arizona and two in California – apparently all travellers returning from Wuhan.

Updated at 4.40pm GMT

2.53pm GMT

One wing of the specialist hospital in Wuhan has been constructed in just 16 hours, according to China’s People’s Daily. It will be handed over to the military next week.

Update: A number of Twitter users have pointed out that the above image of a modular building can be seen elsewhere on the internet, for example here.

Updated at 4.36pm GMT

2.49pm GMT


Here’s a summary of the latest developments:

Updated at 4.38pm GMT

2.31pm GMT

The mayor of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, has acknowledged criticism over his handling of the crisis, admitting that information was not released quickly enough.

Zhou Xianwang wore a mask for protection as he told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV: “We haven’t disclosed information in a timely manner and also did not use effective information to improve our work.”

He said he would resign if it helped with public opinion but pointed out the local government was obliged to seek permission before fully disclosing information about the virus, and that its response had since become “tougher than others”.

Updated at 4.14pm GMT

2.06pm GMT

73 people tested negative in the UK

The number of people tested for the virus in the UK has now reached 73, with all coming back been negative. The latest figures come in a 2pm update from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Updated at 2.09pm GMT

1.44pm GMT

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has put out some very rigorous hand-washing guidance, that includes using a paper towel to turn the tap off.

1.24pm GMT

Here’s video of Wuhan’s mayor admitting the city had been slow to provide information about the virus.

1.23pm GMT

A second case of the virus has been confirmed in Canada. Officials in Ontario said it had been diagnosed in the wife of a man who was already being treated in Toronto, CBS reports. The couple travelled back from Wuhan last week.

Updated at 1.27pm GMT

1.11pm GMT

Cambodia has confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country, its health minister, Mam Bunheng, said on Monday, Reuters reports.

The patient is a Chinese national in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, he said. More than a dozen countries have reported cases, although most are in China.

AP has more on the Cambodia case.

Mam told a press conference that the 60-year-old Chinese man had flown directly from Wuhan to Sihanoukville on 23 January. He displayed symptoms of the illness on Saturday.

The Pasteur Institute in the capital, Phnom Penh, confirmed the infection from a blood sample. The man is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Sihanoukville.

Sihanoukville is a popular destination for Chinese visitors. The man’s three travelling companions from Wuhan were found not to have the virus.

Updated at 1.34pm GMT

1.10pm GMT

British citizens trapped in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, say the UK government’s response has been slow and unclear, and its travel advice pathetic.

Up to 300 British citizens are thought to be stuck in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located and where most of the 81 deaths associated with the disease have occurred.

It is not clear whether the British government will conduct an evacuation, though the US and Japan are preparing airlifts. The French carmaker PSA Group has also said it will evacuate its employees.

Kharn Lambert, 31, from Lancaster, who works as a PE teacher in Wuhan, described the city as a ghost town. All planes and trains have been cancelled and most private vehicles banned from the roads, as officials try to stop the spread of the virus.

Updated at 1.14pm GMT

1.06pm GMT

12.29pm GMT


Here’s a summary of the latest developments:

Updated at 1.05pm GMT

12.08pm GMT

On his visit to Wuhan, China’s premier, Li Keqiang, visited the site of a special new hospital being constructed to treat coronavirus patients.

The hospital is due to be completed as soon as next week.

Li delivered an upbeat message. He said:

“To get the epidemic under control in Wuhan and the good health of people in Wuhan will be good news for the whole country. We wish the people of Wuhan a safe, healthy and long life. Let’s go, Wuhan!”

China’s Premier Li Keqiang visits a construction site of a new hospital being built to treat patients of a deadly virus outbreak in Wuhan. Li became the most senior Chinese leader to visit Wuhan since the city was struck by the outbreak
China’s Premier Li Keqiang visits a construction site of a new hospital being built to treat patients of a deadly virus outbreak in Wuhan. Li became the most senior Chinese leader to visit Wuhan since the city was struck by the outbreak
Photograph: STR/AFP via Getty Images

11.55am GMT

The front page of the Evening Standard, edited by the former chancellor George Osborne, underlines the growing pressure facing the UK government to evacuate Britons stranded in Wuhan and Hubei.

Updated at 1.01pm GMT

11.50am GMT

Footage has emerged of people clamouring for face masks at the gates of a factory in Jiujiang, in Jiangxi province, 230km (142 miles) south-east of Wuhan.

11.44am GMT

Germany is also considering evacuating its citizens from Wuhan, AP reports.

The foreign minister, Heiko Maas, told reporters that the German government’s crisis response committee would meet shortly with medical experts to evaluate the situation.

The foreign ministry currently advises Germans to refrain from or postpone “non-essential travel” to China.

Maas said the German embassy is in touch with its citizens in Wuhan, which a spokeswoman said number about 90 people. Mass said: “We are examining and preparing for all options.”

A consular team is expected to arrive in Wuhan later on Monday to provide Germans there with assistance.

Updated at 1.00pm GMT

11.41am GMT

Here’s our latest coronavirus explainer.

11.17am GMT

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed m (£7.6m) to tackling the virus.

The money will be split between China and countries in Africa.

11.02am GMT

One supermarket shopper was unfazed by the visit to Wuhan of China’s prime minister Li Keqiang, Keith Zhai from Reuters reports.

10.49am GMT

Death toll reaches 81

The death toll from the virus has risen to 81, after the southern island province of Hainan in the South China Sea reported its first fatality, an 80-year-old woman whose family arrived from Wuhan on 17 January, AP reports.

Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, has accounted for 76 of the deaths reported so far. There have been one each in Shanghai and the provinces of Hebei in the north, Heilongjiang in the north-east and Henan in central China.

The number of confirmed cases in China has reached 2,744.

Updated at 12.58pm GMT

10.47am GMT

Officials in Shanghai, a city with a population of more 25 million people, have extended the lunar new year holiday to 9 February. It has ordered sports stadiums and religious events closed.

Shanghai has gone further than the rest of China where the holiday was pushed back from Sunday to Thursday to reduce mass gatherings in an effort to block spread of the virus.

Updated at 12.57pm GMT

10.37am GMT

Britain’s embassy in Beijing has said it is “working to make available an option” for British nationals to leave the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus as the UK’s response was contrasted with that of other countries with active evacuation plans.

The announcement on Monday came as the former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt backed the idea of airlifts for British citizens in China and Public Health England said the first case of the virus was likely to come from somebody already in the UK.

“Our view is that, although airports are important, the most likely place that we might find a case is somebody in the country already, and it’s absolutely critical that the public health service and the NHS are ready to diagnose that and are able to designate the person to the right facilities,” said Prof Yvonne Doyle, the medical director and director of health protection for PHE.

Updated at 12.57pm GMT

10.27am GMT

Here’s a map showing how the virus has spread across the world in terms of confirmed cases.

Coronavirus global spread

10.25am GMT

Wuhan’s mayor admits the city was slow to provide information

In that appearance on Chinese TV, Wuhan’s mayor, Zhou Xianwang, admitted the authorities were too slow in how they released information about the virus, AFP’s Xinqi Su reports.

Updated at 12.55pm GMT

10.17am GMT

Chinese officials at the centre of the crisis are coming under fire for incompetence and being ridiculed for not properly wearing protective masks, AFP reports.

Many Chinese social media users were incensed by what they perceived as a series of errors at a televised press conference Sunday by three local officials at the heart of the new virus outbreak.

Governor of central Hubei province, Wang Xiaodong, held the press conference without wearing a mask – in violation of the provincial capital Wuhan’s own rules mandating masks in public spaces.

Meanwhile the mayor of Wuhan was wearing his mask incorrectly by having it on inside out, pointed out Chinese users on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform.

“If the mayor doesn’t even know how to wear a mask, how will everyday people know?” criticised one user.

“Incompetent and irresponsible politicians,” wrote another in a scathing comment about the press briefing.

The comments are a rare instance of public anger outpacing the army of online censors in China, where criticism of government figures is usually scrubbed.

By Monday afternoon, a hashtag on the press briefing had more than 680 million views on Weibo.

Online users also focused in on Wang’s repeated fumble of Hubei’s annual mask production – giving three revisions to his answer from 10.8 billion to 1.8 billion, to 1.08 million.

“As the governor of Hubei province, how can you not know how many masks Hubei province produces?” asked one incredulous user.

Updated at 12.53pm GMT

10.09am GMT

Stranded Brits: ‘UK’s response has been a joke’

Britons stranded in Wuhan and other Chinese cities are frustrated by the UK government’s response. They have been speaking to Michael Standaert, a Guardian stringer in Beijing.

Matthew Heard, a 31-year-old education consultant from London, has been living in Wuhan on and off for more than five years.

Confusion would be the word to describe what’s going on. There’s a lot of information flying around.

There’s posts flying around group chats and no one really knows what’s going on. That’s the main frustration.

I’ve been holed up for the last maybe three days. On the first day I started out to the supermarket and got a good few things to keep me tied over for the foreseeable eight or nine days, but I’m going to consider perhaps going out again. I know a few others who are venturing out most days just to go to the shops or to the supermarket to see if they can restock on supplies and things.

Asked he was in touch with the UK embassy, Heard said:

They don’t really seem to be doing too much, you send an email and whether you get a response or not is entirely a guess.

The Foreign Office is what people are relying on for information. It is staying relatively quiet, with very tentative statements, thinking about potential action, things like that and it’s not really helping anyone. I think what people want to hear is whether there is a plan, and what the situation for us is, and what we should be doing, because so far their advice has just been to get out of the city which is impossible, because the cities are locked down.

Asked what he’s doing to pass the time, Heard said:

This year I pledged to myself at the beginning of 2020 I was gonna read 50 books this year, and I’m making a good bit of progress on that.

Kharn Lambert, 31, from Lancaster, Lancashire, is working in Wuhan as a PE teacher for an international school.

We are still being advised to stay in the house as it’s the safest place and only go out when absolutely necessary. My biggest worry is my grandmother who suffers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This city is pretty much a ghost town apart from the odd person walking the streets to get necessities, some cars are out and about.

We have enough supplies for now probably enough food for the next two weeks, I’ve got enough masks for the amount of time I think I’ll be outside, I’m trying to go out as little as possible, with my grandmother’s condition I don’t want to jeopardise her health.

The response from the UK government has been an absolute joke.

They were helpful at the beginning, they put us in touch with a doctor for more medication for my grandmother, but since then they have been quiet, we have not even had a hello from any of the British consulate staff in Wuhan. I presume they have been evacuated in secret because they seem to have left Wuhan, the advice from the embassy is to keep checking the travel advisory website for updates.

The update is absolutely pathetic – “get out if you can” – how can we? We are on lockdown.

The FCO have been absolutely shocking in their response.

The school are desperately trying to help with the situation as they fear for my grandmother’s health if she was to contract this virus.

Updated at 12.51pm GMT

9.37am GMT

The head of the World Health Organization will hold a special meeting with officials in Beijing on Monday to discuss how to contain the coronavirus that has killed 80 people and left more than 400 in a critical condition.

In an effort to reduce chances of infection during what is China’s busiest travel season, officials announced the end of this week’s lunar new year holiday would be postponed until at least 2 February. Authorities have also widened sweeping restrictions on travel across the country.

On Monday, Chongqing municipality, which has a population of 30 million, said it had banned long-distance bus services. The municipality borders Hubei province, where the vast majority of deaths have been recorded. It follows similar announcements over the weekend by Beijing, Shanghai and the eastern province of Shandong.

The suspension of long-distance bus services, the cheapest way to travel, is likely to slow down the return of millions of migrant workers who have visited their families over the lunar new year.

By postponing the end of the holiday to Sunday from Friday, officials hoped to “effectively reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic”, a cabinet statement said.

Many of China’s big retail chains have also said they will temporarily close their stores, while some online businesses and banks have advised employees returning from Hubei province to work from home.

Updated at 12.47pm GMT

9.20am GMT

Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha Gonzalez, has said Spanish officials are trying to repatriate 20 Spaniards stranded in Wuhan and Hubei.

Updated at 12.46pm GMT

9.10am GMT

A pair of British teachers who have been working in Wuhan say they have not left their apartment for five days, that all transport has been stopped and “there is no place to go” and “so we are pretty much stuck”, PA Media reports.

Jason Neal and Sophie Hunt told BBC Breakfast there has been no reassurance from the British authorities whom they have “struggled” to contact, possibly because of the time difference and them being closed over the weekend. They have about five days of food left and are keeping in touch with colleagues online while the scene outside is now like a “ghost town”.

Neal said: “Even if the news is just to sit tight and nothing is going to change – I think it is just the silence that is disconcerting. We have not heard anything from outside of Wuhan for a week now.”

He said there is a support group for people who may need help and to get masks and some volunteers are going out to make deliveries.

Hunt said emailing and trying to ring the authorities has brought a “useless automated response back from the embassy saying not to go” to the area.

She feels the Chinese authorities have made the right decision by shutting down the city, adding: “All we keep hearing is that the death toll is accelerating every day. All we can do really is sit tight and wait for more news.

“Although it is hard us being stuck here, we know that it is the safest possible option for us at the moment.”

Meanwhile, health officials are continuing to track down around 2,000 people who have recently flown into the UK from Wuhan, the area of China worst affected by the outbreak.

The DoH confirmed it is trying to find “as many passengers as we can” who arrived from the region in the past two weeks to check on their wellbeing.

It is understood Border Force officers have been recruited to help speed up the search for passengers as testing for the virus continues in the UK.

One British man, who had travelled to Wuhan to visit his girlfriend, is stuck in the city after his return flight on 3 February was cancelled, and he described trying to get out of the area as “impossible”.

The 29-year-old, who did not want to be named, told the PA news agency: “There is no news on when the airport will reopen therefore the airline (China Southern) have just cancelled the flight.

“I’ve also had no help from the UK Embassy in Beijing who are conveniently closed for the weekend.”

9.06am GMT

Foreign Office ‘making an option available’ for Brits to leave Wuhan

The Foreign Office has confirmed it is working on making an “option available” for British nationals to leave Wuhan in Hubei province in China.

British citizens in the region have been told to call the FCO on +86 (0) 10 8529 6600 or (+44) (0)207 008 1500 should they need assistance.

A spokeswoman said: “We continue to monitor developments closely and are in close touch with the Chinese authorities. The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern.”

Updated at 11.43am GMT

8.54am GMT

The Australian government does not know how many of its citizens are caught in the vast quarantine lockdown imposed across China, as it and governments around the world scramble to try to evacuate their nationals.

But it appears increasingly unlikely foreign countries will be allowed to simply extricate their citizens in the face of militarily enforced lockdowns. Indonesia has said it “seems to be impossible”, while Australia has said it “needs to abide by the travel restrictions … placed there for precisely the purpose of containing the coronavirus”.

A hotline for family members of Australian citizens has received 385 calls, but the foreign minister, Marise Payne, has said it was “unwise to speculate” on how many citizens this represented or how quickly they could be brought out.

Updated at 12.43pm GMT

8.44am GMT

The former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has joined calls for the UK to organise airlifts for UK citizens in China and warned of the pressure the coronavirus could put on the NHS.

Asked if he supported flying Britons back from Wuhan and elsewhere, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think I would be very sympathetic and I’m sure the Foreign Office would be too.”

He said the NHS is well-equipped to deal with patients returning with the virus but warned that it could strain the service.

“This is a very difficult time of year for the NHS – it is the most difficult time. But, again, my experience is that the NHS does know how to cope with these kinds of emergencies.

“I think the thing that will be difficult is the knock-on impact on other NHS services.

“I think it would be very, very challenging for the NHS in terms of the regular workload but I have absolutely no doubt that, when it comes to doing what comes to necessary to isolate the virus and keep the public safe, our doctors and nurses will do exactly what they need to do.”

Updated at 12.42pm GMT

8.40am GMT

On the global markets, oil prices and shares are selling off as the death toll from the coronavirus rises and more cases are confirmed around the world.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost more than 110 points in early trading, falling 1.5% to 7472.877. Stock markets in Germany and France were also down 1.5% while France’s CAC index slid 1.7%. Chinese and other Asian markets were closed for the lunar new year holiday but Japan’s Nikkei lost 2%, its biggest one-day fall in five months.

Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, tumbled .3 to .39, a 2.2% fall. China is the world’s biggest oil importer and if its economic slowdown deepens as the virus spreads, it will need less oil.

The virus outbreak has sparked a flight to safe-haven investments: investors are buying the Japanese yen, the Swiss franc , gold and US Treasury bonds.

8.10am GMT

More than 50 negative tests in the UK

More than 50 people have now been tested for coronavirus in the UK, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, although all tests have returned negative, PA reports.

As of Sunday afternoon, some 52 people across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been tested for the deadly flu-like virus.

The current risk to the public remains low, the department said, adding that the government is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said there was a “fair chance” cases would emerge in Britain as the overall number reported around the world climbed to about 2,744 including 80 deaths, which have all occurred in China.

Britons trapped in the Chinese province at the centre of the outbreak have been urged to leave the area if they are able to do so.

The Foreign Office updated its guidance to “advise against all travel to Hubei province”, which has been on lockdown for several days as China seeks to contain the illness.

But the guidance also added: “If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so. This is due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.”

Prof Whitty said following a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergency committee in Whitehall on Friday that the virus looked “a lot less dangerous” than contracting Ebola, the recent coronavirus, Mers and “probably less dangerous” than Sars virus.

But he added:

“What we don’t know is how far it’s going to spread, that really is something we need to plan for all eventualities.

We all agree that the risk to the UK public remains low, but there may well be cases in the UK at some stage.”

“We think there’s a fair chance we may get some cases over time. Of course this depends on whether this continues for a long time, or whether this turns out to be something which is brought under control relatively quickly.”

Updated at 12.39pm GMT

7.41am GMT

The UK government is coming under pressure to evacuate UK citizens from Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei.

Both the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, have said ministers are considering an evacuation plan, but both stopped short of committing to one.

The response of other countries has added weight to calls for the UK to order a full evacuation plan.

AP has a roundup of what countries are doing for their citizens.


Its chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said 560 Japanese citizens are confirmed in Hubei and chartered evacuation flights are being prepared to leave as soon as possible. The Japanese embassy in Beijing said the initial evacuation is limited to those in Wuhan. Evacuees are expected to include employees of Honda, Electron, Aeon other Japanese companies operating in Wuhan. The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said his cabinet will designate the new coronavirus as an infectious disease subject to forced hospitalisation and isolation. Such preventative measures appear to be preparation for the evacuation.

United States

The US consulate in Wuhan plans a charter flight on Tuesday to evacuate its personnel and some other Americans. The US embassy in Beijing said the limited capacity on the flight to San Francisco meant priority will be given to to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus.


The health minister, Agnès Buzyn, said French citizens who want to leave Wuhan will be taken on a direct flight to France in the middle of the week, and then held in quarantine for 14 days. French carmakers PSA, which produces Peugeot and Citroen cars, said it was evacuating its expatriate employees and their families from Wuhan and quarantining them in another city.

Updated at 12.37pm GMT

6.59am GMT


Updated at 12.33pm GMT

6.48am GMT

The Associated Press has just published a useful list of the latest figures on coronavirus infections. It says these are up-to-date as of midday on Monday in Beijing:

  • China: 2,744, with 769 of those newly confirmed in the 24 hours through midnight Sunday. Five are in Hong Kong and two in Macao. Nearly all of the 80 deaths have been in Hubei province, with four elsewhere in China.
  • United States: 5, 2 in southern California and 1 each in Washington state, Chicago, and Arizona.
  • Thailand: 8
  • Australia: 5
  • South Korea: 4
  • Japan: 4
  • Singapore: 4
  • Malaysia: 4
  • France: 3
  • Taiwan: 3
  • Vietnam: 2
  • Canada: 1
  • Nepal: 1

6.45am GMT

As I mentioned earlier, China’s premier, Li Keqiang, has been visiting Wuhan. There’s been plenty of video clips on social media of him meeting medical staff. He also visited a store where he had his temperature scanned upon entry.

6.43am GMT

Singapore said on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak will hurt its economy this year. So far it has reported four cases of the virus.

“We certainly expect there to be an impact on our economy, business and consumer confidence this year especially as the situation is expected to persist for some time,” its trade minister, Chan Chun Sing, said.

Singapore is currently forecasting growth in a wide range of 0.5-2.5% this year.

The country has announced a raft of new measures on Monday to halt the spread of the virus, including urging all school students and staff with a recent travel history to China to stay at home for a fortnight.

Updated at 12.31pm GMT

6.24am GMT

WHO to hold special meeting in Beijing

The head of the World Health Organization will hold a special meeting with officials in Beijing on Monday to discuss how to contain the coronavirus.

The WHO chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Twitter: “My WHO colleagues and I would like to understand the latest developments and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against the outbreak.”

You can find our latest update on the virus outbreak below.

Updated at 12.30pm GMT

5.42am GMT

As I reported earlier, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, has travelled to Wuhan, the centre of the virus outbreak. Li is China’s second most powerful man. According to the government outlet, the Global Times, he told medical staff at Wuhan hospital: “I am here to cheer you up.”

Updated at 12.29pm GMT

5.34am GMT

Hainan province confirms first death from coronavirus

The Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has said that Hainan province confirmed on Monday that an 80-year-old woman has died after being infected with the coronavirus, marking the province’s first fatality in the rapidly spreading outbreak.

5.33am GMT

China’s state media is reporting that of the more than 2,700 people infected with coronavirus, 461 are in a critical condition. Eighty people are known to have died in China from the virus.

Updated at 12.28pm GMT

5.28am GMT

China’s CGTN state TV channel has launched a live feed of the construction of the 1,000-bed hospital in Wuhan. You can see it here.

Updated at 12.28pm GMT

5.26am GMT

The BBC’s China correspondent, Stephen McDonell, is reporting that China’s massive film studio, Hengdian studios, has suspended filming because of the virus. The studio’s website says it is the biggest film and TV shooting base in the world.

5.13am GMT

University student in Sydney confirmed with virus

More on the Australian cases of the virus, and the University of New South Wales, which is in Sydney, has confirmed that one of its students has tested positive for the virus. I am assuming that this is the 21-year-old woman referred to by the health authorities at a press conference in the past hour. The university says the student arrived back in Sydney on 22 January and was not infectious on the flight.

“The student did not attend any classes at the University and stayed on her own in campus accommodation with no close contact before she was admitted to hospital,” the university said.

Updated at 12.26pm GMT

5.00am GMT

So after that flurry of news conferences, I’ll just double back on one of the key points from Australian authorities. That is, they don’t believe there have been any human-to-human transmission of the virus in the country. This is significant for a number of reasons, but particularly as the country’s schools are due to return this week from the long summer break. Medical advice is if children have been in close contact with a CONFIRMED case of the virus, they should not attend school for 14 days.

The New South Wales department of education describes close contact as “living in the same household, 15 minutes face-to-face contact with a person with confirmed coronavirus in any setting, or sharing a closed space with a person with confirmed coronavirus for more than 2 hours”.

Updated at 12.26pm GMT

4.54am GMT

Payne has also asked anyone who is still in affected Chinese provinces to get in touch with her department. She says the contact line has already had 385 calls. She has given out the two numbers again: ph 1300 555 135 from inside Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 from outside the country.

4.51am GMT

Payne has advised Australians in China not to attend public gatherings: “People will be safer if they continue to follow the advice that has been given by health authorities, both in Australia and in China. That does mean avoiding major gatherings, staying away from crowded areas, as much as possible, and following strict hygiene precautions,” Payne says.

Updated at 4.54am GMT

4.50am GMT

Now we are hearing from Australia’ s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne.

She says where possible, her government is looking to assist Australians who want to leave Hubei province. A number of countries have been looking at how to get their citizens out of affected Chinese provinces which are affected by coronavirus, particularly Hubei.

Updated at 12.24pm GMT

4.19am GMT

Australia’s chief medical officer says no human-to-human transmission in country

Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Brendan Murphy, says the majority of people who have been tested in Australia have tested negative for coronavirus. He says there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus in Australia. Every flight from China is now being met by border security officers, who are giving out information about the virus and are also working to identify potentially infected passengers.

Updated at 12.24pm GMT

4.15am GMT

Four adults in Western Australia are also being tested to see if they have contracted the deadly coronavirus.

The WA Department of Health would not confirm any further details about the patients on Monday but said they each met specific travel criteria.

There have been no confirmed cases in WA with three people returning negative test results.

4.11am GMT

Fresh case confirmed in Australia

In New South Wales, a 21-year-old woman has been confirmed to have the coronavirus. She is bring treated at Sydney’s Westmead hospital. It brings the number of cases in Australia to five.

There has been concern in Australia over schools returning this week after the summer break. Kerry Chant, the chief health officer for the state of New South Wales, has just given a news conference in which she advised that if children have had contact with people confirmed to have the coronavirus, they should not attend school:

The national approach to this issue is that our advice is that people that have come back from – children that have come back from the Hubei province – we have broadened it slightly from Wuhan with the emerging evidence of transmission from adjacent areas of Wuhan, the city, to the Hubei province more broadly. We are recommending that, if you have symptoms, that you should get immediately checked if you’ve come back from that area. And also, if you’ve been in contact with any confirmed case, that you should not attend school – close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus – you shouldn’t attend school for the 14 days. Otherwise, we’re just suggesting that people monitor their symptoms. That’s the advice we’ve seen with schools. We’ve just had a national hook-up and there’s been agreement that that is the approach nationally.

Several Sydney private schools have gone further, banning students who have recently visited China from returning to school without medical certificates, as concerns grow about the spread of coronavirus.

Pymble Ladies College in Sydney’s north has told parents that if their child has recently visited an affected area in China or has been in contact with someone who has visited an affected area, they should not attend school for at least 14 days after their return to Australia or 14 days after the contact with someone who has visited an affected area. Students in that situation would require a medical certificate before returning to school.

Other private schools in Sydney, including Scots College, Ravenswood School for Girls, Kambala School and Newington College, have told parents that students who have visited affected regions in China must provide medical clearance from a doctor, the ABC reported.

A spokesperson for the NSW Education department said the department will be providing updated health advice to schools today but it was not advising that students should be kept at home, and would provide updated health advice later on Monday. Most public school students in New South Wales are due to return to classes from Wednesday.

Updated at 12.22pm GMT

3.57am GMT


Updated at 12.19pm GMT

3.34am GMT

Chinese premier Li Keqiang arrives in Wuhan

The Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, has arrived in Wuhan. Pictures show him carrying out inspections of what look like medical facilities in the city. Li is the head of the government’s coronavirus taskforce and the second most powerful man in China, after President Xi Jinping.

Updated at 12.18pm GMT

3.25am GMT

Chongqing municipality bans bus travel between provinces

Chongqing municipality, which borders the province of Hubei, where the coronavirus outbreak began, has banned bus travel between provinces from midday on Monday. The municipality has a population of around 30m people, making it one of the biggest in China. Chongqing city has a population of about 9 million.

Updated at 12.18pm GMT

3.05am GMT

In the UK 50 people have been tested for the virus and all have returned negative. The current risk to the public is described as low, but England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, said there was a “fair chance” cases would emerge in Britain. The UK’s home secretary, Priti Patel, has said the government is “looking at all options” to help Britons leave Wuhan following reports that officials have been asked to examine the logistics for an airlift from the city.

You can read our full coverage here:

Updated at 12.18pm GMT

2.57am GMT

An Irish teacher living in Wuhan, Ben Kavanagh, has made a video for Britain’s Channel 4 news, about his daily life in the locked-down city. You can see it below via YouTube, including all the precautions taken to leave the house.

Inside Wuhan: Daily life in China’s coronavirus quarantine zone

Updated at 12.16pm GMT

2.50am GMT

There are reports that a fourth person has been diagnosed with coronavirus in South Korea.

2.31am GMT

Chinese coronavirus cases outside Hubei province

Just on those figures, the government tabloid, the Global Times has recently tweeted figures of cases in provinces across China. The next most infections outside of Hubei (1,423 cases) is in Guangdong, which has 146 cases. Henan and Zhejiang provinces each have 128 cases.

Updated at 12.16pm GMT

2.13am GMT

Given the spread of the virus across China and to at least 10 other countries, I thought it’s worth mentioning that all but four deaths so far have been recorded in Hubei province, where the outbreak started. Of the 80 fatalities reported by the National Health Commission, 76 are were in Hubei (that’s 95% of fatalities).

The total number of cases reported in Hubei is 1,423, according to government figures. This makes up 51.5% of the 2,761 cases reported so far by the commission across China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Updated at 12.15pm GMT

2.06am GMT

Several of the UK’s newspaper front pages carry stories of the coronavirus spread, including pleas from Britons stranded in Wuhan.

In Australia, where five cases of the virus have been confirmed, there’s also wide coverage on Monday morning’s newspapers. Melbourne’s Age newspaper says more cases are expected.

The Australian newspaper reports on Australian children being trapped in Wuhan.

1.37am GMT

Social media is reporting discontent about the handling of the response to the virus in Hubei province, including the governor of the province apparently stumbling over the number of face masks produced there.

1.35am GMT

Keeping track of the numbers in this coronavirus story is challenging, with things changing all the time. But one figure that caught my attention from the National Health Commission this morning, was the number of people currently under medical observation for the virus. It stands at 30,453. It’s not clear from the statement where or how these people are being observed, but we do know that there’s a huge construction effort going on in Wuhan to build a 1,000-bed hospital for the virus patients. You can read our full story on this 10-day build here, but it’s fair to say the pictures of the construction are pretty incredible.

1.17am GMT

The Chinese city of Wuhan is suspending customs services for four days until Thursday, according to the government-run Global Times. I assume that this is linked to the transport shutdown in the city. I’ll bring you more information on this when it comes to hand.

1.09am GMT

Japan is to send a chartered plane to Wuhan, possibly on Tuesday, to bring back Japanese citizens who wish to return home, Kyodo news agency said, citing a foreign ministry source.

The government has so far been able to contact about 430 Japanese citizens living or staying in Hubei province, almost all of them in Wuhan, the foreign minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said on Sunday.

The prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said: “As soon as adjustments with the Chinese government are done, I will pursue all means, including a charter plane, to realise the return of all applicants” from Wuhan and elsewhere in Hubei province.

Japan’s health ministry on Sunday confirmed the country’s fourth case of coronavirus.

The patient is a man in his 40s who arrived in Japan on Wednesday as a tourist from Wuhan, the ministry said, adding he was in a stable condition. He reportedly showed no symptoms on arrival in Japan but later developed a fever and sought medical help in Aichi prefecture, central Japan.

Honda, meanwhile, said it was arranging for 30 employees, including Japanese nationals and their families, to be flown out of Wuhan on a government-chartered flight, according to the Nikkei business newspaper. The carmaker said a small number of staff would stay on in the Chinese city, where it has three factories.

Updated at 1.10am GMT

1.00am GMT

Hong Kong restricts entry to Hubei residents

Hong Kong has stepped up efforts to stop the virus’s entry. As of Monday, residents of Hubei will be banned from entering. Anyone who has visited Hubei province in the past 14 days, will also be banned from entry. The rule does not apply to Hong Kong residents. Hong Kong has six confirmed cases of the virus.

Commuters wear face masks in the Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong.
Commuters wear face masks in the Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong.
Photograph: Jérôme Favre/EPA

Updated at 3.54am GMT

12.41am GMT

With millions of people now subject to travel restrictions in China, as the country shut down transport networks in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, some countries are preparing to help their citizens leave affected areas.

Japan’s foreign minister has confirmed that there are 430 Japanese citizens in Hubei province, mostly in Wuhan. Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters that he had spoken to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, and that Wang understood Tokyo’s desire to repatriate its nationals as soon as possible. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had said earlier that his government was working with Chinese authorities to make arrangements for all Japanese nationals wishing to return from Wuhan, including with charter flights, but no schedule has been set.

The Australian government is also working to repatriate its citizens trapped in Wuhan, including about 100 schoolchildren who are stranded there.

“We are working to make sure that there is support for those Australians and we are also working on, as are other countries, trying to secure their ability to return to Australia. At this point in time, the foreign minister is working around the clock on that,” said Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt.

There have been five confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia as of Monday 27 January. Australians who believe they have family in the affected areas can contact this emergency telephone number + 61 2 6261 3305, for assistance.

You can read Guardian Australia’s latest piece on the country’s response to coronavirus here:

Updated at 12.10pm GMT

12.29am GMT

If you or your family are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, this has been one of the Guardian’s best read pieces on the illness, including the virus’s symptoms, information about transmission, where it’s been identified globally and what experts are saying about the virus.

12.26am GMT

Some more information now on the update from China’s National Health Commission with regards to the number of deaths and infections from coronavirus.

  • On Sunday 26 January 769 new cases were reported across 30 different areas of China.
  • As of midnight on Sunday into Monday, of the more than 2,700 cases reported (including in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao), the commission said 30 were severe.
  • There are nearly 6,000 suspected cases and 51 cured cases
Chinese vendors wear protective masks as they sell vegetables in the street during the Chinese New Year holiday on 26 January in Beijing.
Chinese vendors wear protective masks as they sell vegetables in the street during the Chinese New Year holiday on 26 January in Beijing.
Photograph: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

12.09am GMT

China extends lunar new year holiday until 2 February

China’s state media, CGTN (formerly CCTV), is reporting that the lunar new year holiday has been extended by three days until 2 February. All universities, schools and kindergartens will postpone the start of their spring term until further notice, it says.

Updated at 2.07am GMT

11.45pm GMT

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the outbreak of the coronavirus. I’m Alison Rourke and I will be keeping you up to date on developments as they unfold.

The first order of business to report is that the death toll in China has risen to 80, according to the National Health Commission (NHC). This is up from 56 yesterday. The NHC also says there are more than 2,700 infections reported (note that the commission has included Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan in this number).

The news comes as the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, flies to Beijing to discuss the outbreak with authorities.

Masks are being widely worn in China, including in Beijing, as authorities struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Masks are being widely worn in China, including in Beijing, as authorities struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Photograph: Betsy Joles/Getty Images

“I am on my way to Beijing, to meet with the government and health experts supporting the coronavirus response,” he said on Twitter.

“My WHO colleagues and I would like to understand the latest developments and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against the outbreak.”

You can get up to speed on the story with our latest piece from the Guardian, including fears that up to 100,000 people may be infected.

Updated at 12.22am GMT © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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