The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China reached at least 1,868 as of the end of Monday, with additional 93 deaths from Hubei and five more in other parts of the country, according to the country’s health commission on Tuesday.

The government also reported an additional 1,886 new infections across the country, but mostly from Hubei, bringing the nationwide total to at least 72,436.


The news comes as the Beijing-based financial and news media organisation, Caixin, reported on Tuesday that more than 3,000 Chinese healthcare workers may have already been infected by the coronavirus, almost twice as many as the numbers reported by the government.

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A report published on Monday by Al Jazeera detailed the difficulties nurses and doctors are facing in Wuhan, as they try to help contain the spread of the disease.

According to the report, 1,716 healthcare workers were infected, citing a government statement on February 14.

The news site also reported that almost half of the patients in critical condition die.

Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Chinese medical data showed that more than 80 percent of patients have mild symptoms and will recover, while 14 percent suffer from severe complications such as pneumonia, 5 percent are in critical condition and 2 percent die from the disease.

Here are all the latest updates:

Tuesday, February 18

Japan to start trials using HIV treatment for coronavirus

Japan is aiming to start trials soon using an HIV treatment for the coronavirus, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday.

“We’re currently preparing to start clinical trials using HIV medication on the novel coronavirus,” Suga, the government’s top spokesman said at a daily press briefing.

He added that he could not comment on how long it would take for the new drug to be approved.

Japan now has seen over 500 coronavirus cases, with more than 450 of them from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama.

Canada’s charter flight heads to Japan to evacuate citizens from cruise ship

A plane chartered by the Canadian government has left for Japan to evacuate its nationals aboard a virus-hit cruise ship off Yokohama, TV Asahi reported on Tuesday.

TV Asahi said the plane would return to Canada on Tuesday evening and head to a Canadian airbase in the eastern part of the country. The Canadian embassy in Tokyo was not immediately available for comment.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been under quarantine since early this month and around 400 people have tested positive with the virus that spread inside the ship.

Virus causes mild disease in four out of five people infected: WHO

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Chinese medical data shows that more than 80 percent of patients have mild symptoms and will recover, while 14 percent suffer from severe complications such as pneumonia, 5 percent are in critical condition and 2 percent die from the disease.

“It appears that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS,” the WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, adding that officials were starting to get a clearer picture of the outbreak.

The UN health agency’s chief also said that children were not suffering from COVID-19 in the same way as adults and that the risk of death increases the older you are.

Chinese doctors ‘using plasma therapy’ on patients

Doctors in Shanghai are using infusions of blood plasma from people who have recovered from the coronavirus to treat those still battling the infection, are reporting some encouraging preliminary results, said Dr Lu Hongzhou, professor and co-director of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre.

According to Lu, the hospital had set up a special clinic to administer plasma therapy and was selecting patients who were willing to donate. “We are positive that this method can be very effective in our patients,” he said.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Dr Mike Ryan, the head of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said using convalescent plasma was a “very valid” approach to test, but that it has to be carefully timed to maximise the boost to a patient’s immunity.

Two more cases confirmed in Taiwan

Taiwan has reported two more confirmed cases of the coronavirus, saying they were linked to the island’s first death and lifted the number of those infected to 22.

The mother of the deceased, who died on Saturday and a male relative were tested positive, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung told a televised news conference.

Asian Weightlifting Championships moved to Uzbekistan

The International Weightlifting Federation announced the relocation of its Asian tournament from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan because of the coronavirus.

The IWF said Kazakhstan had restricted travel to and from countries neighbouring China, forcing organisers to seek other options.

They settled on Uzbekistan which will now host the April 16-25 competition in its capital, Tashkent.

Organisers cancel Tokyo marathon for 38,000 runners over coronavirus

Organisers of the Tokyo Marathon Foundation said they are cancelling the amateur portion of the Tokyo marathon, affecting around 38,000 runners, on fears about the spread of the new coronavirus in Japan.

“We reached the conclusion that unfortunately it is difficult to organise the event … after several cases (of the virus) were confirmed in Tokyo,” the Foundation said in a statement.

Russia says citizen aboard cruise ship has coronavirus

A Russian woman who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise liner docked in Yokohama, Japan, has tested positive for coronavirus following examinations by the Japanese authorities, the Russian Embassy to Japan said.

The woman will be taken to a hospital and treated, the embassy said in a post on Facebook. The woman is thought to be the first Russian national to contract the virus after the two previous cases found in Russia were Chinese nationals.

Cruise operator races to track Cambodia passengers

A US cruise operator is working to track down hundreds of passengers who disembarked from a luxury liner in Cambodia after one traveller was later diagnosed with the deadly new coronavirus.

The Westerdam was at sea for two weeks during which it was barred from Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. Cambodian officials had cleared the passengers, but Malaysian officials said a US woman who had been on the ship tested positive for the virus.

Beijing to fast-track new mask factory in virus fight

The Chinese capital of Beijing will set up a new mask factory within just six days to meet soaring demand for protective gear in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The factory, to be converted from an industrial building by China Construction First Group, will be able to turn out 250,000 masks each day, it said, adding that work began on Monday and was set to be completed by Saturday.

Japan confirms 99 more cases of new virus on cruise ship

Japanese officials have confirmed 99 more people infected by the new virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry has been carrying out tests on passengers and crew on the ship, docked in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo. Outside China, the ship has had the largest number of cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus that emerged in China late last year.

Read the updates from Monday, February 17 here.

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Confused about the coronavirus? | Start Here