China’s National Health Commission reported on Thursday at least 114 new deaths from the coronavirus outbreak as of the end of Wednesday, bringing to at least 2,118 the number of fatalities nationwide.
At least 108 of the new fatalities were from Hubei Province, the epicentre of the epidemic.
The national health commission also reported 394 new confirmed cases, significantly lower than the 1,749 cases reported nationwide the previous day.
The latest confirmed number of cases is the biggest drop in almost a month.
Of the new infections, at least 349 were from Hubei. Nationwide, the cases have now reached 74,576.
The national health commission also announced that Hubei has lowered its coronavirus count, by removing “clinically diagnosed patients” with negative ribonucleic acid test results.
Meanwhile, two people have died of the virus in Iran, becoming the first fatalities in the Middle East.
Here are all the latest updates:
Thursday, February 20
South Korea reports 31 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total to 82
South Korea reported 31 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the number of people infected in the country to 82, Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement.
Of the new cases, 23 cases were traced to church services that a 61-year-old patient who has tested positive had attended in the central city of Daegu, the agency said.
On Wednesday, Shincheonji Church posted a statement on its website confirming 10 of its members were infected by the woman, who had attended services.
Japan cruise ship passengers arrive in Australia
A group of Australians landed in Darwin airport on Thursday after being evacuated from the virus-stricken cruise ship in Japan.
About 180 nationals and permanent residents had earlier left Japan on a Qantas plane chartered by the Australian government, local media reported.
The evacuees had been confined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama for the past two weeks.
The ship had a total of 621 confirmed cases of the virus, the most in any single location outside of China.
Pompeo denounces China’s expulsions of WSJ reporters
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denounced China’s expulsion of three Wall Street Journal newspaper reporters and urged Beijing to respect freedom of the press.
“Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinion. The correct response is to present counter-arguments, not restrict speech,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The move follows a complaint about the headline of an opinion article, which referred to China as the “Real Sick Man of Asia” and a decision by Washington earlier this week to treat five government-controlled Chinese news organisations as foreign government functionaries.
All Ukrainians being evacuated from China are healthy: Deputy health minister
All Ukrainians being evacuated from China’s Hubei province this week are in a healthy condition, Dmytro Koval, the deputy health minister, told reporters.
“Everyone is healthy,” he told a televised briefing. “There is no threat”.
Ukraine is evacuating 48 of its citizens in response to the outbreak. They are expected to arrive on a charter plane at 8am local time (06:00 GMT) and be put in quarantine for two weeks. A number of foreigners are being evacuated on the same flight.
Man with coronavirus in Egypt recovering, no longer a carrier: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the person previously confirmed as having coronavirus in Egypt is on his way to recovery, after latest tests showed he was “no longer carrying the virus”.
“He will remain in quarantine until the full 14-day period is over and will be undergoing further required tests to ensure he was fully recovered,” WHO spokeswoman Inas Hamam wrote in an email.
Two Iranians die after testing positive for virus
Two Iranians have died in hospital after testing positive for the new coronavirus in the central city of Qom, the head of the city’s University of Medical Sciences told Iran’s Mehr news agency, saying the two had died of a “respiratory illness”.
Separately, Health Ministry official Kianush Jahanpur said in a post on Twitter that “both patients died in ICU due to age and immune system deficiency”.
Iran had confirmed the two cases – the first in the country – earlier on Wednesday.
Read the full story here.
Surviving coronavirus in Wuhan
Scrambled eggs with tomatoes – that’s the first dish Yangyang made for herself after being discharged from No 7 Hospital in Wuhan.
After escaping what she describes as a near-death experience, Yangyang is now one of the estimated 14,000 people in mainland China who have beaten the COVID-19 virus.
Read the full story here.
Malaysia firm offers AI-based profiling of Chinese visitors for virus
Malaysia’s MYEG Services Bhd said it had developed a coronavirus risk-profiling system for visitors from China and was offering the artificial intelligence-based serviced to the government of Malaysia and the Philippines.
The fully-automated system analyses a “vast number of available data points, including visitors’ previous known whereabouts as well as heart rate and blood pressure readings crossed-referenced against public transportation ridership and exposure to locations with incidences of infections,” MYEG said in a statement to the stock exchange.
HIV patients in China risk running out of drugs: UNAIDS
HIV patients in China risk running out of life-saving drugs because quarantines and lockdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus disease outbreak mean they cannot replenish vital medicine stocks, the United Nations AIDS agency said.
Nearly a third of the more than 1,000 HIV-positive people surveyed by UNAIDS said lockdowns and restrictions on movement in China meant they were at risk of running out of their HIV treatment in the coming days.
Of these, almost half – 48.6 percent – said they did not know where to collect their next antiretroviral therapy refill form.
Read the updates from Wednesday, February 19 here.