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No known effective treatments for China virus, says WHO

China has reported an increase in fatalities and infections as the virus has claimed over 500 lives, with the number of cases soaring overnight. Thousands were quarantined on cruise ships in Japan and Hong Kong.

Nearly 25,000 cases have been reported in 24 countries and territories. Chinese authorities said the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak.

Governments, global companies and international health organizations rushed to contain the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus. Global airlines have suspended or scaled back direct flights to China’s major cities. As containment efforts intensify, the likelihood of the virus disrupting global businesses and the world’s second-largest economy appears to be growing.

Anxiety is growing amid evidence that the disease has an incubation period of as long as two weeks before those infected start to show signs of the illness. That raises the possibility that people who are carrying the virus but don’t show symptoms could infect others.

Here are the latest developments:

“No known effective” treatments for new coronavirus: WHO

The World Health Organization played down media reports on Wednesday of “breakthrough” drugs being discovered to treat people infected with the new coronavirus which is causing an epidemic in China and has spread to at least 20 other countries.

A Chinese TV report said that a research team at Zhejiang University had found an effective drug for the virus, while Britain’s Sky News said researchers had made a “significant breakthrough” in developing a vaccine.

Asked about the reports, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said: “There are no known effective therapeutics against this 2019-nCoV (virus).”

China shuts more cities as virus death toll rises

Millions more people have been ordered to stay indoors as China battles to curb the spread of a new virus that authorities said Wednesday has already killed nearly 500 people, AFP reported.

With more than 24,000 cases in China, a growing number of cities have been imposing a range of restrictions in recent days far from central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, as authorities struggle to contain the virus.

Some 56 million people in Hubei have been under virtual lockdown since last week, with its capital Wuhan at the heart of the health emergency.

Foxconn cuts outlook, quarantines iPhone base

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Apple Inc.’s main production partner, announced plans to isolate workers for up to weeks at its main iPhone-making base. The company earlier cut its 2020 revenue growth outlook after assessing the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hon Hai, known also as Foxconn, makes the vast majority of the world’s iPhones from Zhengzhou, central China. The contagion will likely disrupt Apple’s carefully calibrated production chain.

Hong Kong will quarantine China arrivals

The city will quarantine people arriving from mainland China, including Hong Kong residents and visitors entering via its international airport, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said.

The policy will go into effect on Feb. 8 at midnight. Lam also said Hong Kong will close the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in its Victoria Harbor, and announced a HK$10 billion ($1.3 billion) fund for those affected.

Vietnam quarantines 900 people arriving from China

Vietnam has quarantined about 900 people who arrived in the country from China as the government steps up efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Most of those under quarantine are Vietnamese and are being held near the country’s northern border gates, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said during a briefing in Hanoi.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issues order banning all foreigners who have spent time in China during the last two weeks from entering Vietnam. The government last week suspended the issuance of tourist visas to those seeking to visit Vietnam after spending at least some time in Chine the past 14 days.

Cathay Pacific asks 27,000 staff to take unpaid leave

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific is asking its 27,000 employees to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave, CEO Augustus Tang said Wednesday, as the airline faces a crisis in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak, AP reported

“I am hoping all of you will participate, from our frontline employees to our senior leaders, and to share in our current challenges,” Tang said in a video message posted online.

Virus cases linked to Singapore spur multinational inquiry

Coronavirus cases in South Korea and Malaysia tied to a business meeting in Singapore attended by visitors from China have prompted an investigation into the infection’s international spread.

A 41-year-old man in Malaysia and a 38-year-old man in South Korea were infected with the virus after attending a meeting at a Singapore hotel in the third week of January, health authorities said. The World Health Organization is coordinating with Singapore’s Ministry of Health in relation to the event, said Olivia Lawe Davies, the agency’s Manila-based regional communications manager.

Hong Kong cruise passengers under quarantine

Hong Kong authorities are keeping 3,600 passengers and crew members under quarantine on the cruise ship World Dream after three previous travelers were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

The three confirmed virus patients had disembarked in China on Jan. 24, according to Chief Port Health Officer Leung Yiu-hong at a briefing at the cruise terminal. The cruise ship, owned by Genting HK’s Dream Cruises, docked in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning.

Trump cites efforts on virus in state of the union

President Donald Trump said in his State of the Union address that the U.S. is working with China to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China,“ Trump said. “My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.”

Apple supplier Hon Hai cuts sales outlook

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Apple Inc.’s main production partner, cut its 2020 revenue growth outlook after assessing the potential impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Hon Hai, which makes the vast majority of the world’s iPhones from the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, is now projecting a sales increase of 1% to 3% this year, Chairman Young Liu told Bloomberg News in a text message. That’s down from a Jan. 22 forecast of 3% to 5% before the epidemic spread further around the globe.

China cases rise above 24,000

The number of total confirmed cases of coronavirus in mainland China rose to 24,324 as of 4 February, according to the National Health Commission. The death toll is at 490, it said in a statement.

Most of the fatalities — 479 — have occurred in the province of Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak. Hubei reported 3,156 new confirmed cases, bringing the total in Hubei to 16,678.

Outside the mainland, Hong Kong reported a death on Tuesday. A man from Wuhan died in the Philippines on Feb. 1.

WHO Says 684 People Have Recovered From Coronavirus

Six hundred eighty-four people have recovered from coronavirus infections, according to Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist serving on the World Health Organization’s emergency committee. The death toll has climbed to at least 425, the group said Tuesday.

The UN agency plans to hold a research meeting on the virus next week, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing in Geneva. The outbreak was declared an international public health emergency by the WHO last week.

The WHO estimated the cost of supporting member countries during the outbreak at $676 million.

Two more planes evacuate Americans from Wuhan

The United States evacuated more than 300 more people on two new flights out of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the fast-spreading new coronavirus, the State Department said Tuesday.

The two flights left Wuhan on Tuesday US time after the passengers were screened, a State Department official said.

The official said that the United States has now brought home more than 500 passengers on three fights. A first flight, with 195 Americans on board, left Wuhan last week and landed in California.

Ten passengers on cruise liner docked in Japan test positive

Ten people on a cruise liner in the port of Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus, Japan said on Wednesday, a figure that could rise as more results come in and authorities continue to monitor thousands of passengers and crew.

The 10 infected people will be transported to a medical facility, Japan Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said, while the the remaining around 3,700 people will remain quarantined on board the Carnival Corp ship for 14 days.

United, American Halt Hong Kong Flights

United Airlines Holdings Inc. suspended flights to Hong Kong, beginning Feb. 8 until Feb. 20, citing a drop in demand because of the coronavirus. The carrier follows a move on Tuesday by American Airlines Group Inc., which also halted flights to the city through Feb. 20.

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a blow to airlines in China and around the world as they suspend flights to and from a key market in a bid to control the spread of the virus.

WHO Puts Outbreak Costs at $675.7 Million

Key public health measures to respond to the coronavirus outbreak will cost an estimated $675.7 million through April, the World Health Organization said in a draft plan.

Scaling up country preparedness and response operations will account for more than $640 million of the total needed from Feb. 1 to April 30, according to the draft of the WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan. The 28-page document outlines measures the international community “stands ready to provide to support all countries to prepare for and respond to” the novel pneumonia-causing virus.

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