The coronavirus is spreading in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world, even as parts of China begin to lower their emergency response level as the number of new cases reported there continues to slow.

More deaths have been reported in Italy, while South Korea on Wednesday said an 11th person had died of the disease there. The country now has at least 1,146 cases of coronavirus after 169 more infections were confirmed, most of them in and around the city of Daegu.

Globally, at least 80,000 people have been diagnosed with the illness.


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Here are the latest updates:

Wednesday, 26 February

Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture seeks closure of schools

The board of education in Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture will seek to close all public elementary and junior high schools for a few days starting from Thursday, Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday.

Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, has confirmed a total of 35 coronavirus cases – the highest number outside Tokyo. A number of them have been discovered in people who have strong links to schools, including students, teachers, school bus drivers, and cafeteria workers.

San Francisco declares emergency over coronavirus

San Francisco declared a local emergency over the coronavirus on Tuesday, despite having no cases, as US officials urged Americans to prepare for the spread of infections within their communities.

China virus
Volunteers in protective suits are sprayed with disinfectant in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak [China Daily via Reuters]

California’s fourth-largest city said it made the move to boost its coronavirus preparedness and raise public awareness of risks the virus may spread to the city.

“Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

Kuwait reports two new coronavirus cases, taking total to 11

Kuwait announced on Wednesday there were two new coronavirus cases in the country, with the infections occurring among people returning from Iran.

The new cases bring the total number to 11 in Kuwait, according to a statement from the health ministry.

Mainland China reports 406 new cases of coronavirus, 52 more deaths

Mainland China had 406 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the country’s National Health Commission said on Wednesday.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 78,064.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China rose to 2,715 as of the end of Tuesday, up by 52 from the previous day, the commission said.

The central province of Hubei, epicentre of the outbreak, reported 401 new cases on February 25 compared with 499 cases a day earlier.

South Korea-China flight quarantined: State media

A flight from the South Korean capital of Seoul to the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing was quarantined on Wednesday after three passengers were found to have a fever, state media reported.

The plane was carrying 94 passengers.

South Korea Moon in Daegu
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in visited the hard-hit city of Daegu on Tuesday, as infections in the country spread [Yonhap via Reuters]

Three more Chinese regions lower emergency response level

China’s northwestern regions of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang and the southwestern province of Sichuan have lowered their emergency response level after assessing that health risks from the coronavirus outbreak have receded, state media reported.

China has a four-tier response system for public health emergencies that determines what measures a region will implement, with level I the most serious.

Sichuan announced it would adjust its measures from level I to level II, while Inner Mongolia will change from level I to level III, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

Xinjiang, home to China’s Muslim Uighur population, also reduced its emergency response level from I to II after reporting no new cases for seven consecutive days, the official local news portal, the Tianshan Daily, said on Wednesday.

Air Canada extends flight suspension to Chinese cities, citing virus

Air Canada announced on Tuesday it was extending its suspension of flights between Canada and the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai until April 10 because of the coronavirus.

Flights from Canada to the two cities were temporarily suspended from January 30 until the end of February after the foreign ministry advised Canadians against non-essential travel to China.

Air Canada usually offers direct flights from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to Beijing and Shanghai.

The airline also extended the suspension of daily flights to Hong Kong from Toronto until April 30, citing “reduced market demand”.

Flights to and from Taipei “remain unaffected,” according to the company’s website.

Malaysia brings home more citizens from Wuhan

A second group of Malaysians arrived home on Wednesday morning after the country ran a second evacuation flight from Wuhan.

The 66 Malaysians and their family members were met at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and will remain in quarantine for 14 days.

Read updates from Tuesday, February 25 here.