China is ramping up containment measures as the spread of a new coronavirus that has killed 56 people and infected at least 1,975 more in the country, accelerates.
More than 56 million people almost 20 cities are affected by travel restrictions, which have been introduced amid fears the transmission rate will balloon as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Health authorities around the world are taking action to prevent a global pandemic as more countries report cases. Confirmed cases have so far been announced in Europe, North America and several Asian countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged that the respiratory illness, which has been traced to the city of Wuhan, is an emergency in China but the organisation said on Thursday it was too early to declare it a global health emergency.
Here are the latest updates:
Sunday, January 26
China’s health commission to hold daily morning briefings
China’s National Health Commission will hold daily morning briefings on the new coronavirus outbreak starting on Monday 27 January, a spokeswoman from China’s State Council said.
Timeline: How the new coronavirus spread
The new coronavirus from China is now making headlines around the world but the first hint of the outbreak came on December 31.
Virus getting stronger: Chinese health official
China’s National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said the transmission ability of the new coronavirusis getting stronger and that the number of infections could continue to rise.READ MORE
Coronavirus: Hubei cities fearful as medical supplies run low
Ma, speaking at a press briefing, also said authorities’ knowledge of the new virus is limited and that they are unclear on the risks posed by mutations of the virus.
Third case confirmed in the United States
A third case of the new coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States.
It is the first case in Orange County, California, the OC Health Care Agency said in a press release, adding that the patient was a traveler from Wuhan and is now in a “good condition” in isolation at a local hospital.
The US has reported two other confirmed cases, one in a man living near Seattle and another in a woman in Chicago.
Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here.
China bans wild animal trade until viral outbreak eases
China has ordered a temporary ban on the trade of wildlife in markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms as the country struggles to contain the new coronavirus, which is believed to have been spawned in a marked that sold wild animals as food.
The new coronavirus is believed to have originated at a seafood market where wild animals were also sold [File: Stringer via Reuters]
Raising, transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden “from the date of the announcement until the national epidemic situation is over,” a joint directive from three agencies including the Ministry of Agriculture said.
Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler, reporting from Beijing, said establishments that previously conducted trade in wildlife would be isolated and disinfected.
Shantou city reverses plan for partial lockdown
China’s coastal city of Shantou in Guangdong province will not ban cars, ships and people from entering the city but will strengthen disease controls such as disinfection efforts, local state media STRTV reported, reversing an earlier government statement.
More cities in China impose travel restrictions
The city of Shantou in southern China said non-emergency vehicles would not be allowed into the city and all passengers arriving at train stations would be screened and “urged to return”, in an attempt at “preventing and controlling” the spread of the virus, city officials said.READ MORE
Which countries have confirmed cases of new coronavirus?
Buses, ferries, public transport and taxis will also be suspended, Shantou authorities said on their official social media account.
The north-central city of Xian, meanwhile, said it would suspend all long-distance and intercity bus services, as well as taxis and ride-hailing operations from 6pm (10:00 GMT) on Sunday.
US to start Wuhan evacuation on Tuesday
The US State Department said it would move staff at its Wuhan consulate to the United States and offer a limited number of seats to other US citizens on a flight out of the city scheduled for Tuesday.
The flight is scheduled to leave Wuhan on January 28, bound for San Francisco on the west coast of the US. Private individuals at greater risk from the coronavirus will be given priority, the statement said
Hong Kong theme parks to close
Hong Kong’s popular theme parks Disneyland and Ocean Park have been closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, state media CCTV reported.
However the hotels inside Hong Kong Disneyland were operating as normal, CCTV reported.
Hong Kong has joined Shanghai in closing its Disneyland resort amid the outbreak [James Pomfret/Reuters]
Tianjin to suspend long-distance bus services
The northeastern city of Tianjin will halt long-distance bus services from Monday, authorities said.
Officials from the city of about 15 million people announced the move on their official Weibo account, a day after Beijing announced a similar measure.
Death toll rises to 56; Shanghai reports first death
Shanghai – a city of 24.24 million people – reported its first death from the new coronavirus as state media reported the death toll rose to 56 on Saturday.
The number of people infected was 1,975, state media said.
Some 24.24 million people live in Shanghai [Aly Song/Reuters]
Canada identifies first ‘presumptive’ case of coronavirus
Canada announced its first “presumptive” confirmed case of the coronavirus in a resident who returned last week from Wuhan.
Dr David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said they are 95 percent certain the patient has the new coronavirus, but that more tests were required.READ MORE
China virus death toll rises to 56, with nearly 2,000 infected
Ontario health officials told a news conference the patient is a man in his 50s, who arrived in Toronto on January 22 and was hospitalised the next day after developing symptoms of respiratory illness.
Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, told reporters that the man is being treated in a public hospital and is in a stable condition.
Death toll rises to 54
The number of deaths from the viral outbreak has risen to 54, with authorities in hard-hit Hubei province reporting 13 new fatalities and 323 new confirmed cases.
The latest numbers from Hubei, the epicentre of the contagion, would put the nationwide total of confirmed infections at 1,610, based on figures previously released by the central government.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES