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Coronavirus Update: Chinese death toll rises to 26; Thailand hit hard by Wuhan lockdown – m1nd-set – The Moodie Davitt Report – The Moodie Davitt Report

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Publisher’s Note: Given the serious implications of the coronavirus outbreak for the aviation, tourism and travel retail sectors, The Moodie Davitt Report is updating this page throughout each day with the latest news from around the world.

Although the Chinese authorities are tackling the issue with a welcome vigour and transparency, there is no doubt that the outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) offers clear and present danger for all travel-related business sectors, aviation and travel retail being high on that list.

Our tone is objective and factual, not sensationalist nor scare-mongering. We will bring you the latest information on cases, deaths and countries affected. We will bring you news of how the travel sector is being affected and how it is responding. We will examine investment community sentiment and see how key travel retail-related stocks are being impacted.

All this at a time that normally represents an exuberant global celebration of the Lunar New Year, one that coincides with an extraordinary number of travel journeys both within and from China – the epicentre of travel retail 2020-style.

Those of us who worked in this industry during the SARS crisis of 2003 know only too well what impact a major health crisis can have on travel markets, performance and stocks. We very much hope that a repeat is not on the cards but we will certainly ensure that the travel retail channel is kept up to date each and every day on developments.

JANUARY 24

EUROPE. The European Tourism Association today issued its own statement on the outbreak, highlighting its concerns but also saying that the threat – so far – has not become reality in the European travel market.

“While there is much that is unknown about this new virus,” said CEO Tom Jenkins, “we do know that the factors that led to the rapid spread of SARS are not being repeated. The Chinese authorities have been prompt in highlighting the problem, and are supplying daily updates on the situation. President Xi Jinping called upon all officials to tackle the issue as a national crisis. The Chinese may be far more mobile than they were in 2002, but the country is far better prepared and determined that the virus will be contained. Draconian measures are being put in place to halt any spread, including the banning of all outbound public transport from Wuhan.

“SARS was spread by people not knowing about the infection and, consequently, unaware that they were travelling from an infected area. This is not the case in 2020.”

He added: “In Europe, precautions are in place. Airports are installing monitoring. Major public information campaigns are being initiated. All health officials are on alert. The virus is of major international concern, but it remains a remote threat for any traveller in Europe.”

CHINA (HONG KONG). Hong Kong has today reported two more cases of patients testing positive, potentially doubling the number of cases to four. Suspected cases in the Special Administrative Region rose to 236 by Friday morning according to the South China Morning Post.

CHINA. Beijing and Shanghai today raised their public health emergency levels to the highest possible status in light of the coronavirus threat. They join Hubei, Hunan, Zhejiang, Anhui and Guangdong provinces [Source: Global Times]

CHINA. The number of deaths has increased to 26, with the number of confirmed cases across China rising to over 900, Global Times is reporting. The latest fatality is in Heilongjiang Province, making it the second death outside of Hubei Province.

Importantly too, 34 diagnosed patients had been cured and released from hospital. Four new infections have been confirmed in Beijing, bringing the tally to 26 in the Chinese capital. Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province are the only two Chinese regions to have not reported any cases. [Source: Global Times].

CHINA. As revealed yesterday, the famed Palace Museum in Beijing has been closed from tomorrow (the first day of the Lunar New Year) until further notice in order to avoid cross-infection. The Palace Museum is one of China’s most popular tourist attractions.

INTERNATIONAL. Swiss travel retail research agency m1nd-set states that Thailand will be the most-affected destination market, by quite a long margin, in terms of curtailed flights into and out of Wuhan. The agency has drawn on data from its Business 1ntelligence Service (B1S), which sources actual and forecast traffic information from IATA’s comprehensive traffic database [see below chart for more details and click to enlarge].
In a timely study on the destinations likely to be most affected by the cessation of flights to and from Wuhan (based on the past 12 months of traffic data and taking only international flights into account), m1nd-set noted that Thailand is the final destination for 33% of passengers that fly internationally from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport.

Japan follows with 12% while Malaysia accounts for 10% of final destination international traffic from the Chinese city, Singapore 9%, Hong Kong 8% and Indonesia 7%. Taiwan and South Korea both account for 6% of international traffic from Wuhan.

In terms of city destinations, the top final international destination for Wuhan origin traffic is Bangkok, where both international airports (Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang) collectively account for 21% of international traffic from Wuhan. Singapore follows with 9% then Hong Kong with 7%, Narita and Seoul both with 6%, and Denpasar and Phuket each with around 5% of Wuhan origin traffic. China Southern Airlines is the leading airline operating from Wuhan, accounting for 34% of outbound international traffic, followed by Thai AirAsia with 12%. Cathay Dragon, which yesterday announced it was temporarily suspending all flights to and from Wuhan, accounts for 7%.

With Chinese travellers being among the top nationalities for duty free shopping when travelling internationally, spend at the destination airports will inevitably be affected, m1nd-set noted. Over 50% of Chinese shop at airports, which is more than double the global average, it said.

Beauty will be the most-affected category, as it accounts for 60% of the collective Chinese spend when travelling. Alcohol and fashion & accessories are the next most popular categories.

M1nd-set Owner & CEO Peter Mohn said, “A number of clients have expressed deep concern and want to understand the overall impact the virus will have on the business. Our traffic analysis tool enables us to identify all affected destinations, not only the direct destinations but also the final destinations as many passengers from Wuhan transit at a regional hub airport to reach their final destination.

“We can see that of the 56 airlines which operate out of Wuhan, they serve 450 direct destinations and 1055 final destinations. The impact of the coronavirus will inevitably be felt well beyond Wuhan’s direct connection airports.”

The top direct destinations for passengers taking international flights from Wuhan. This differs slightly from the other graphic, which accounts for the final destination of passengers travelling internationally from Wuhan

Contact: info@m1nd-set.com; www.m1nd-set.com

JAPAN. A second case of the coronavirus (full name 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was confirmed today. The 40-year-old male patient has been living in Wuhan and recently visited Tokyo.

UK. 14 people have so far been tested for the virus, BBC reported, citing government body Public Health England statistics. Five have tested negative and nine are awaiting results. The report said that a further six individuals are being tested in hospitals in Scotland and Northern Ireland after displaying symptoms.

All those tested had been in Wuhan – the Chinese city where the new strain of the virus emerged.

The scale of the outbreak at midnight (EST) at the beginning of 24 January, according to John Hopkins University (click to enlarge)

23 JANUARY

CHINA. Global Times reports there has been the first death outside of Hubei Province, bringing the confirmed number of fatalities from the coronavirus to 18. The 80-year-old, who had lived in Wuhan for two months, died in Cangzhou in Hebei Province.

Meanwhile, a further city in Hubei has shut its train stations. Ezhou, which has a population of more than 1 million, has become the third city to take the action.

INTERNATIONAL. After what was billed by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom as “a very complex deliberation”, the Emergency Committee convened by the organisation has chosen not to declare the outbreak an emergency of international concern.

Didier Houssin, who chaired the Emergency Committee, said the decision had been taken “because of [the] limited number of cases abroad and the efforts which are presently being made [by] Chinese authorities in order to try and contain the disease”.

Adding a note of caution, Adhanom said: “This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”

The WHO added that it does not recommend any broader restrictions on travel or trade, but that it does advise exit screening at airports as part of a comprehensive set of containment measures.

VIETNAM. Two male Chinese patients have tested positive for the coronavirus at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health has announced.

One of the Chinese men was infected by his father, who travelled to Vietnam from Wuhan on 13 January and also tested positive. Both have been quarantined and doctors say their fever has abated.

INTERNATIONAL. Drinks data and intelligence analyst IWSR has raised concerns over the outbreak’s possible impact on the travel retail liquor market – and offered a reminder of how the sector was hit by SARS in 2003.

IWSR noted: “The coronavirus recalls memories of the 2003 SARS epidemic that primarily hit Southeast Asia, and that was also caused by a coronavirus, killing approximately 800 people. Although these are relatively few deaths in a global context, the SARS virus did have a negative impact on international travel. Figures from International Air Transport Association show a -2.4% drop in international passenger traffic for 2003, with a -9% decline in Asia Pacific.

“Translating this to travel retail sales, IWSR figures show spirits volumes in the travel retail channel in Asia Pacific fell by -1.6% in 2003, picking up again by +5.9% in 2004 and +5.2% in 2005. Cognac and Scotch, key categories for the Asia Pacific travel retail market, suffered similar fates; Cognac volumes fell by -7.3% and Scotch fell by -1.5% in 2003. Both categories picked up considerably in 2004, with volumes increasing by +7.0% and +6.1% respectively.”

IWSR Director Alastair Smith said: “’Restrictions on travel during this Chinese New Year won’t have a big impact on the travel retail liquor sector. The real threat will be felt by international travel. Fear was a key motivator in decreased international travel during the SARS epidemic. What is difficult to judge right now is whether the coronavirus will be contained, in which case, the impact will likely be minimal. However, if consumer fear and uncertainty around the spread of the virus rises, we may be poised to see a repeat of something closer to the scale of 2003.”

A snapshot of performance in travel retail liquor volumes in 2003 amid the SARS crisis, with a strong recovery in the two years that followed (Source: IWSR)

SINGAPORE. The Ministry of Health has confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in Singapore. A 66-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, who arrived with his family on 20 January, has tested positive. He is currently in an isolation room at Singapore General Hospital and his condition is stable.

In its latest update, the Ministry of Health added: “Singapore will expand our travel advisory to recommend that Singaporeans avoid travel to the whole of Hubei Province, in view of the travel restrictions that China has imposed on Huanggang and Ezhou. [The] Ministry of Health also advises Singaporeans to continue to exercise caution and attention to personal hygiene when travelling to the rest of China.”

CHINA. Some major cultural events that were set to take place over the Spring Festival in Beijing have been cancelled, Global Times reports. These include two big temple fairs that were due to run during the holiday period. One of the most popular visitor sites in the city, the Palace Museum (housed in the Forbidden City at the heart of Beijing) will close from 25 January, the state-owned media confirmed.

Other museums also announced plans to cancel certain activities to reduce the number of visitors during the period.

CHINA (HONG KONG). Cathay Dragon, the subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, is temporarily suspending flights to and from Wuhan from tomorrow (24 January) until the end of February.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to coordinate with the health authorities in Hong Kong and in all the ports to which we operate flights,” the airline said in a statement.

CHINA. Xinjiang has reported its first two cases of coronavirus infections. Both individuals had travelled to Wuhan, Global Times reports. Shaanxi Province in Northwest China has reported its first three confirmed cases.

CHINA. State media in China has announced that Huanggang, a city located 75 kilometres from Wuhan, will become the second city (after Wuhan) to suspend all public transport services.

Global Times reported that at midnight (local time) all subways, train stations and roads out of the urban area of Huanggang will be suspended.

Meanwhile, People’s Daily has updated the number of confirmed cases in China to 631, with new cases across multiple districts.

ASIA. Uncertainty prevailed in the Asian stock markets today, The Moodie Davitt Report Senior Retail and Commercial Analyst Min Yong Jung reports.

The Hang Seng Index slipped -1.7%, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index was down -1.5%, the KOSPI dropped -0.8% and the Nikkei 225 was down -1%.

Investors are risk-averse and, reacting to news of the coronavirus, companies dependent on China and tourism saw higher outflows. Among the share price of companies we monitored, Amorepacific (down -4.9%) and Korean Air (down -4.2) suffered the worst losses.

However, most of the stocks are trading well above their 52-week low and companies reporting their earnings in the coming weeks will hope their results will be enough to attract bargain-hunting investors.

The day-on-day percentage change of stocks for key Asian companies on 23 January

EUROPE. International payments provider Planet has warned about the impact on the luxury goods industry worldwide if the coronavirus strain continues to spread.

Planet noted: “The talk of potential travel restrictions comes at a time when luxury retailers would typically be expecting a windfall in sales to Chinese shoppers, with major national holiday Chinese New Year just days away. Luxury retailers in Europe are bracing themselves for potential hit to their sales.

“Earlier this week, major luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Cartier have all experienced stock market declines ranging between -5% and -6%. Chinese consumers are these brands biggest customers, with a recent Bain & Company report predicting that China represents around 35% of the global income of the sector.”

According to Planet’s data, sales to Chinese shoppers in Europe grow by +6% compared with the previous year, with the average spend per purchase rising by +10%.

Referring to the UK market alone, Planet said that in 2019, the average Chinese spend on watches and jewellery rose by +19% to €2,854 on average.

Planet UK Country Manager David Perrotta expressed concern but sounded a balanced note. He said:Chinese New Year is a time marked by travel and spend abroad. This is typically a major opportunity for retailers in Europe. Travel restrictions could have a significant impact on sales during this crucial two-week spending period. Of course, we need to wait and see whether the Chinese government will take steps to control the virus, so in the meantime we will all be holding tight. Not all is lost, as a big part of sales from Chinese shoppers comes towards the second half of the year during another national celebration, Golden Week, which could aid a recovery of the sector.”

CHINA. The situation has deteriorated considerably today. State-controlled media Global Times has been providing real-time updates on the crisis. Here are some of the key developments so far today:

    • 17 more coronavirus cases confirmed in Zhejiang Province; 3 more reported in Fujian Province, 1 in Jilin Province
    • Jiangsu Province in East China confirmed its first case
    • A female railroad employee on a Wuhan-bound high speed train from Northeast China’s Liaoning Province infected
    • First Hong Kong case confirmed this morning following two highly-suspected cases reported on Wednesday and Thursday
    • A second case has been reported in Macau, a hotbed for travel retail. Local tourism authorities have cancelled all Spring Festival activities, Global Times reported

The Macau Daily Times website dedicates home page coverage to the coronavirus crisis

    • According to The Macau Daily Times, the latest case involves a 52-year-old woman from Wuhan who arrived via the Border Gate, having travelled by train from Wuhan to Zhuhai first. An investigation revealed that she took a casino shuttle bus to the Landmark Macau and met with two friends before checking in. During her stay in Macau, besides dining out in restaurants near her hotel, she also gambled inside the property’s casino, the media reported.
    • Seven new cases confirmed in Shanghai as of Wednesday midnight
    • By 08.18 Beijing time, 571 coronavirus cases confirmed in China, with 17 deaths
    • This was the scene at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport earlier today as passengers looked to catch flights before the airport suspended operations at 10am (local time)

22 JANUARY

CHINA. All outbound transport from Wuhan will be suspended from 10am (local time) on 23 January, according to The People’s Daily.

The publication, which is the official newspaper of the Committee of the Communist Party of China, is reporting that train stations and Wuhan Tianhe International Airport will shut down, as will buses, subways and ferries.

INTERNATIONAL. The Emergency Committee convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it will need more information to determine whether to declare a public health emergency of international concern.

“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom said.

The Emergency Committee will meet again tomorrow (23 January) to continue their discussion and look at further evidence.

HONG KONG. The first “preliminary positive” case of the virus has been diagnosed in Hong Kong, confirming earlier news reports (see below). A 39-year-old man was quarantined after arriving from Wuhan to Hong Kong on Tuesday via high-speed rail from Shenzhen, and was detected with a fever at the border crossing. Health Minister Sophia Chan said he was in a stable condition in an isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The government said it would be contacting and testing passengers who sat near him. They will also be observed in isolation wards, according to reports in Reuters, Bloomberg and the South China Morning Post, citing local officials.

Minister Chan did not confirm local media reports of a second person with similar test results, Bloomberg reports.

Also in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Airways has said crew members and front line employees are permitted to wear surgical masks on mainland China flights, after the flight attendants union raised concerns this week.

CHINA. The Hubei Provincial Health Commission has confirmed eight new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of fatalities to 17. The number of confirmed cases in Hubei (in which Wuhan is located) has also risen to 444, bringing the total across Mainland China to 509 and the total globally to 517.

INTERNATIONAL. The Moodie Davitt Report Senior Retail and Commercial Analyst Min Yong Jung has assembled data from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission to give a timeline on the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The number of confirmed cases has increased rapidly in recent days (click to enlarge)

Key data to watch for include infections among medical staff infections and case fatality rates. During the SARS crisis in 2003, cases among medical staff treating patients helped to spread the outbreak. To date, confirmed numbers of infections among hospital staff from this new coronavirus strain have not yet been released, but authorities say that some hospital workers have been infected.

Meanwhile, the case fatality rate for SARS was 9.6%; the fatality rate of this coronavirus is not nearly as severe currently, as the chart above underlines.

The most recent figures on confirmed cases outside of Hubei Province show the current global spread of the coronavirus

INTERNATIONAL. The World Health Organization (WHO) is today holding an emergency meeting to establish if the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and what recommendations should be put in place, including possible travel restrictions.

“Based on currently available information, there is no justification for any restriction of travel or trade. Should this situation escalate, WHO may provide guidance on the risk of travel to affected areas,” a WHO spokesperson said.

The organisation added that more cases should be expected in other parts of China and possibly additional countries in the coming days.

CHINA (HONG KONG). Local broadcasters in Hong Kong (RTHK, Cable TV and TVB) are reporting a first case of the coronavirus in the territory. The patient took the high-speed rail line from Wuhan to Shenzhen and then to Hong Kong, according to the reports.

RTHK breaks the news of the first case in Hong Kong

INTERNATIONAL. Our Senior Retail and Commercial Analyst Min Yong Jung has looked at the impact of the outbreak on the global stock market. While yesterday was a tough day for benchmark stocks in the US and Asia, Asian markets did recover during trading today. Read his full analysis here.

CHINA (MACAU). Macau officials today confirmed the first case of the new coronavirus strain: a 52-year-old businesswoman from Wuhan who arrived on Sunday and checked into hospital on Tuesday, officials said. Details were provided by Macau Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Ao Leong Lu, who heads a task force set up to respond to the virus threat.

Casinos and hotels have tightened temperature screening measures around the city and according to media reports locally, all casino staff and civil servants have been ordered to wear face masks.

Macau is a popular Lunar New Year destination for many Mainland Chinese.

CHINA. Chinese National Health Commission officials said today that the coronavirus could mutate with a risk of the epidemic spreading to other regions. The news was reported by state-owned Global Times, which added that 440 cases of infection have been confirmed and nine deaths reported.

In a press conference in Beijing today, National Health Commission Vice Head Li Bin said that confirmed cases are mostly confined to Wuhan (although there are a limited number of cases elsewhere in China and overseas).

How Global Times reported the news today of the virus spread and the risk of further mutation

The sudden rise in confirmed cases, said Li, is due to improved and effective diagnosis. Overall, Li said, 2,197 people who were in close contact with infected patients have been tracked; among them 1,394 are being observed by medical teams.

To prevent the virus strain from spreading, the local government has urged people not to travel to the city and discouraged Wuhan residents from travelling outside. The report said that reducing the flow of people should decrease the chances of the virus spreading.

In Wuhan, body temperature screening devices have been deployed in the airport, train stations and long-distance bus stations to monitor people as they leave, Global Times reported.

The source of the new coronavirus has yet to be confirmed and the transmission route of the virus is yet to be fully understood, according to officials. But the Chinese government is confident of winning this fight, Li said.

GERMANY. German airports association ADV has issued a statement on the coronavirus outbreak, saying that its members are giving the unfolding situation their “highest attention”. The ADV stressed that the WHO had not issued any guidelines about travel restrictions, though it is in close contact with the relevant authorities.

Five major German airports – Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich und Berlin – have emergency plans and capacity in place. Any flight with a suspected case arriving in Germany will be diverted to one of these locations. ADV said it was confident that the processes that have been established for many years at airports to cope with an infection outbreak would robustly protect public health.

CHINA. OAG, which provides digital flight information, intelligence and analytics for airports, airlines and travel tech companies, has assessed the possible impact on air travel to and from Wuhan. As reported, some airports have introduced screening for flight arrivals from the city.

OAG schedules data for Q1 2020 show that nearly 90% of flights go to other cities in China. The largest international markets are Thailand with nearly 107,000 seats, Japan with 67,000 seats and Singapore with 42,000 seats. (The table shows Q1 2019 bookings by key destination, which OAG says represents a proxy for likely travel patterns this year).

The leading destinations from Wuhan by country and city in this period last year (click to enlarge)

Many travellers from China’s regions connect through the country’s international hubs to travel overseas. From Wuhan, Guangzhou is the key gateway to other destinations, says OAG, followed by Shanghai Pudong, Beijing Capital, Hong Kong International and Kunming (based on Q1 2019 seat figures).

21 JANUARY

US. The country has revealed its first confirmed diagnosis of the coronavirus strain, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today.

How CNN reported the first diagnosed US case of the new coronavirus strain

According to CNN, the male patient is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. The resident of Snohomish County in Washington travelled from Wuhan to Washington. CNN said that the officials are compiling a list of people the patient may have had contact with since his return to the US.

CHINA. President Xi Jinping has ordered “resolute” efforts to curb the spread of the new strain of coronavirus that has led to a mounting number of pneumonia cases and four deaths.

State-owned media Global Times reported the leader’s call today, noting that as of 6 p.m Monday, 224 cases of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus strain had been reported in China. Of those, 217 had been confirmed and seven remained suspected.

Overseas, the report said, one case has been confirmed in Japan, two in Thailand, and one in the Republic of Korea.

In a reflection of much greater transparency than during the SARS outbreak of 2003, Chinese state media titles are dedicating widespread coverage to the latest crisis

In a separate report, Global Times said that Wuhan has established headquarters for the control and treatment of the pneumonia. A meeting on Monday of involved groups requested a range of protective measures, including body temperature checks at airports, railway stations and ports.

Wuhan is enforcing strict entry and exit health controls ahead of the peak travel season later this week as the Chinese New Year holidays begin.

Airports and medical authorites overseas are introducing protective measures. The Ministry of Health in Singapore is expanding temperature screening at Changi Airport and issuing Health Advisory Notices for all inbound travellers on flights arriving from China from tomorrow, 22 January

Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, is the epicentre of the outbreak (Image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The outbreak has spurred unwelcome memories of the SARS crisis of 2003 which resulted in 8,098 cases and 774 deaths across 37 countries and had severe repercussions for the global travel retail industry.

Traffic slumped at airports across the world, with passenger volumes at key locations such as Singapore Changi and Hong Kong International down by -50% to -70% during the worst of the crisis in April and May of that year.

However, Zhong Nanshan, the head of the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China told reporters that there was no danger of a repeat of the SARS epidemic as long as suitable precautions are taken. The travel retail industry worldwide will be hoping he is right.

The Ministry of Health in Singapore is expanding temperature screening at Changi Airport and issuing Health Advisory Notices for all inbound travellers on flights arriving from China from tomorrow, 22 January

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Coronavirus Live Updates: Some Carriers Might Show No Symptoms, Researchers Say – The New York Times

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The outbreak of a dangerous respiratory virus in China is putting a strain on hospital staff and medical resources.CreditCredit…The Central Hospital of Wuhan, via Reuters

The medical journal The Lancet published a study on Friday suggesting that people infected with the new coronavirus might be able to spread it even if they do not have flu symptoms.

Researchers studied a family of seven in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, five of whom had traveled to Wuhan, the center of the outbreak. Two of them came into contact with an infected relative in a hospital there. Testing conducted days later, after they flew home, found that six members of the family had the coronavirus, including one who had not gone to Wuhan.

One infected family member, a child, had no symptoms, suggesting that people with the virus might be spreading it without knowing that they have it, the study found.

“It shows this new coronavirus is able to transfer between person to person, in a hospital setting, a family home setting, and also in an inter-city setting,” Yuen Kwok-yung, an author of the study, said in an interview. “This is exactly what makes this new disease difficult to control.” Dr. Yuen characterized the disease as “asymptomatic walking pneumonia.”

The researchers cautioned that the study was limited to early cases of the virus, and that it was difficult to assess risk factors at this stage. But they stressed the importance of quarantining patients as early as possible, given the early signs of asymptomatic transmission.

Another study in The Lancet found that symptoms of early coronavirus cases showed similarities to SARS, the respiratory disease that killed nearly 800 people worldwide in an outbreak that began in China in 2002. Those symptoms included fever, dry cough and shortness of breath.

Fifteen more people have died in the city of Wuhan, the capital of the Chinese province of Hubei and the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, the provincial health authorities said.

The new figures, announced early Saturday, represented a nearly 60 percent jump from the previous death toll of 26.

Just three of the 41 deaths reported over all have taken place outside of Wuhan: one in another city in Hubei Province, one in Hebei Province, and one in Heilongjiang, near the Russian border.

The new victims ranged from 55 to 87 years old. Eleven were male, and four female.

Nationwide, more than 400 new cases of the virus were diagnosed, officials said early Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in China to nearly 1,300.

All of the reported deaths have been in China, but travelers have spread the virus to numerous other countries. Cases have been confirmed in Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, France and the United States.

A construction site for a field hospital being built to treat patients with the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, on Friday.
Credit…Chinatopix, via Associated Press

A fleet of earth movers tore into the soil. Workers and trucks swarmed around the site.

Under pressure to show an emphatic response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese authorities have begun building a hospital in Wuhan, the center of the outbreak. They hope to complete it in 10 days.

The Wuhan government on Friday said it was building the temporary Huoshenshan Hospital to treat patients with the previously unknown virus that has sickened hundreds in the city. The hospital will have space for 1,000 beds and is expected to be completed by Feb. 3, according to a local media report posted to the Wuhan government’s website.

The authorities met on Thursday evening to come up with a plan and a design for the makeshift hospital, which is modeled after a facility built by the government of Beijing in 2003 during the SARS outbreak.

The authorities dispatched 35 backhoes, 10 bulldozers and eight road rollers to a 270,000- square-foot plot in Wuhan’s Caidian district, the report said. The land sits on the northwestern bank of the Yangtze River, it said.

The Communist Party long ago realized that its authoritarian rule over China came with trade-offs. In times of disaster, for example, the government could quickly be blamed for causing the problem or responding slowly.

As some people online question the government’s response to the deadly outbreak, building a hospital in less than two weeks could serve as a symbol of Beijing’s commitment to address the outbreak head-on.

For people in the United States with close ties to China, the outbreak has brought unexpected worry, disappointment and scrutiny. Some in the Chinese-American community have had their Lunar New Year holiday plans waylaid, as travel schedules for the coming week and beyond get interrupted.

Some are gearing up for the outbreak to get worse. Hardware stores and pharmacies around the United States are selling out of masks that could help prevent the spread of the disease. In the New York City neighborhood of Flushing, masks have been sold out for much of the week.

Chinese-Americans networking with their friends and family in China have scrambled to send aid. One woman in Los Angeles has amassed 20,000 masks to ship overseas.

Sean Shi, of Issaquah, Wash., said he shipped several boxes of masks to China in a friend’s luggage, with hopes that the masks could reach friends in the Wuhan area as soon as possible. Later in the day, Mr. Shi was back at a local hardware store, buying another 46 masks for some of his former peers at Wuhan University.

“We understand it’s a tough situation over there — the panic, the shortage of equipment,” Mr. Shi said. “We just realized the situation is very serious — more serious than we thought.”

Reporting was contributed by Tiffany May, Vivian Wang, Chris Buckley, Rick Gladstone, Mike Baker and Jeffrey E. Singer. Research was contributed by Yiwei Wang.

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China coronavirus Death toll rises

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Health officials in China say a coronavirus has killed 15 more people in the province of Hubei, where the outbreak first started.

There are currently 1,287 confirmed cases in China, 41 of whom have died.

It comes as China is begins celebrations of the Lunar New Year, one of the most important dates in its calendar.

Many events have been cancelled and a new hospital is being built in the city of Wuhan.

The virus has now spread to Europe, with three cases confirmed in France.

The first case was in Bordeaux, while the other two were in the Paris area, the French health minister said on Friday night.

And one case has been confirmed in Australia.

Chinese media outlets said the new 1,000-bed hospital could be ready within six days. A total of 35 diggers and 10 bulldozers are currently working on the site.

The project will “solve the shortage of existing medical resources” and would be “built fast [and] not cost much… because it will be prefabricated buildings”, the Changjiang Daily said.

Pharmacies in Wuhan have begun to run out of supplies and hospitals have been filled with nervous members of the public.

Symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, leads to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital treatment.

Around one-in-four cases are thought to be severe.

What restrictions are in place in Hubei?

Travel restrictions vary from city to city.

Wuhan is effectively on lockdown: all bus, metro and ferry services have been suspended, and all outbound planes and trains cancelled.

Residents have been advised not to leave, and roadblocks have been reported.

Ezhou, a smaller city in Hubei, shut its railway station. The city of Enshi has suspended all bus services.

And the rest of China?

City officials in the capital, Beijing, and Shanghai have asked residents who return from affected areas to stay at home for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus, local media report.

  • Have you been affected? Get in touch: haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

Authorities have also shut major tourist sites including the Forbidden City in Beijing and a section of the Great Wall, and cancelled major public events in other parts of the country, including:

  • Traditional temple fairs in Beijing
  • An international carnival in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong’s annual football tournament
  • All public Lunar New Year celebrations in Macau

Shanghai’s Disney Resort is temporarily closing, as are McDonald’s restaurants in five cities.

On Thursday, a coronavirus patient died in northern Hebei province – making it the first death outside Hubei.

Another death was later confirmed in north-east Heilongjiang province, more than 2,000km (1,200 miles) from Wuhan.

Earlier, when the death toll was 17, information from China’s National Health Commission said the youngest person who died from the virus was 48 and the oldest was 89.

But 15 of the 17 were over 60, and more than half suffered from other chronic diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes. Just four were women.

What’s the global situation?

French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said one of the French cases, a 48-year-old man of Chinese origin who had been visiting Wuhan, had been hospitalised in Bordeaux. Little was known about the second case, in hospital in Paris, except that the patient had been travelling in China.

It was likely other cases would occur in Europe, Ms Buzyn added.

She confirmed a third case, in Paris, later on Friday evening.

On Saturday, Australia reported its first case, a patient who is in hospital in Melbourne, after arriving from China last weekend.

Earlier on Friday a case was confirmed in Chicago, the second in the US.

Singapore confirmed its third case, known to be the son of another patient, also on Friday. Nepal recorded its first case on the same day.

Thailand has five cases confirmed; Japan, Vietnam and South Korea two each; and one in Taiwan.

Other nations are investigating suspected cases, including the UK, US, and Canada.

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The World Health Organization has not classed the virus as an “international emergency”, partly because of the low number of overseas cases.

“It may yet become one,” said the WHO’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


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Federal Government Increasing Measures to Monitor Wuhan Novel Coronavirus Risks at Canadian Airports, Including Pearson – Government of Ontario News

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TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and co-chair of the federal-provincial-territorial health table, released the following statement on Ontario’s preparedness for the Wuhan novel coronavirus following a joint call with her federal and provincial counterparts:

“While there remain no confirmed cases of the virus in Canada, the federal government is putting in place enhanced screening and detection measures at Toronto Pearson International Airport to further protect the health of the public from the Wuhan novel coronavirus.

Today, I joined Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health for Canada, and my ministerial colleagues from each of the provinces and territories to share important information and further coordinate our joint efforts to protect the health and well being of all Canadians, including Ontarians, from the emerging issues of the Wuhan novel coronavirus. The federal government outlined their enhanced measures, which now include:

  • Screening questions at border kiosks will now include questions about previous travel to Wuhan, China in the past 14 days. A positive response would trigger an enhanced screening process, including sending the traveller to a Canadian border agent for further questioning about their health status. The border agent will determine whether the traveller needs to seek immediate medical assessment and treatment and, if so, EMS will transport the traveller from the airport directly to hospital. This screening will be done in Vancouver and Montreal as well.
  • Fact sheets are also being developed in English, French and Chinese for people who have travelled to China and are not currently exhibiting signs of illness. These fact sheets will outline the symptoms that individuals should watch for and any next steps should they experience symptoms, including seeking an immediate medical assessment.

The federal government’s enhanced screening measures build on Ontario’s robust and comprehensive protocols in place to actively monitor for, detect and contain any suspected cases of Wuhan novel coronavirus. The federal government’s measures will further support my ministry, in collaboration with Public Health Ontario, local health units, hospitals and health care providers, to monitor the Wuhan novel coronavirus and contain any cases, should one present in Ontario.

While the risk to Ontarians remains low, we will continue to be in close contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other jurisdictions to monitor this developing situation and safeguard the health of all Ontarians.

I’d like to thank all our partners for their on-going efforts in responding to this emerging situation. I want to reiterate our top priority will always remain safeguarding the health of the public, patients and care providers.”

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