The death toll in China from a deadly new coronavirus rose to 170, state media said on Thursday, as more countries announced plans to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.
Most of the deaths have been Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei. It reported 37 new fatalities.
Some 7,711 people in China are now confirmed to have the infection, with 1,032 new cases in Hubei, and the first confirmed patient reported in Tibet. The virus has now spread to every one of China’s 31 provinces.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned all governments to “take action” over the SARS-like virus that originated in the Hubei capital of Hubei, as hundreds of foreigners were evacuated from the city.
Beyond China, more than a dozen countries have reported the illness, with new cases reported on Wednesday in Finland and the United Arab Emirates.
The WHO will hold an urgent meeting for Thursday over whether the outbreak should be declared a global health emergency – a designation that can lead to increased international coordination.
The agency has acknowledged the respiratory illness is an emergency in China but said last week it was too early to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. It has described the global risk from the virus as high.
Here are the latest updates:
Thursday, January 30
More countries announce evacuations from Wuhan
New Zealand, SIngapore and Indonesia say they are all making efforts to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan.
New Zealand plans to charter a 300-seat aircraft to bring home New Zealanders and would offer any additional seats to nationals from the Pacific islands and Australia
Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the flight was still subject to China’s approval.
“This is a complex operation as we work through all the necessary requirements but we are working to have the aircraft depart as soon as possible,” Peters said.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said it planned to bring home 92 citizens from Wuhan on a special flight and Indonesia’s foreign minister said it was working to evacuate its nationals “as soon as possible.”
IKEA closes all China stores
Sweden’s IKEA said on Thursday that it has temporarily closed all its stores in China because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision to close all of 30 stores follows an announcement from world’s biggest furniture retailer on Wednesday that it was closing around half of its stores and shortening the opening hours.
China football season postponed over virus fears
The Chinese Football Association said on Thursday it would postpone all domestic games in 2020 because of the coronavirus.
Matches at all levels will be postponed, the association said in a statement on its website.
Two Koreas close liaison office in North Korea until virus outbreak comes under control
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Thursday it plans to bring back 58 South Korean officials and workers from the office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong as soon as possible.
The ministry said the two countries Koreas have agreed to establish new telephone and fax lines between Seoul and Pyongyang to perform liaison duties.
South Korea has reported four cases of the illness. North Korea has not officially reported a case, but its state media have called for intensive national efforts to prevent the virus from spreading to the country.
Three Japanese evacuated from Wuhan have new coronavirus
Three people among more than 200 Japanese evacuated from Wuhan have tested positive for the coronavirus, Japan’s health minister said on Thursday.
The three people – two of whom did not have symptoms – arrived in Japan on Wednesday, on the first evacuation flight from the city.
Japan now has 11 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including two people who appear to have contracted the infection without travelling to China.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers that the three returnees would be treated in a special medical facility.
Americans evacuated from Chinese outbreak ‘symptom-free’: officials
Nearly 200 US citizens evacuated from Wuhan landed at a military base in California on Wednesday, where officials declared them free of symptoms.
They have been asked to submit samples to test for the presence of the coronavirus and will remain isolated in their quarters for a period of up to 72 hours while they are monitored, Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
The chartered plane was met on the tarmac by emergency vehicles and three buses as personnel in biological hazard suits stood by.
Alyssa Farah, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense, said the group included State Department employees and their dependents.
She added that the evacuees would “not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing.”