Deaths rise to 1,868 in China as nation battles against epidemic

Morning brief: COVID-19 update for Feb 17, 2020

China reports 2,048 more coronavirus cases, 105 deaths

The death toll from a coronavirus outbreak in mainland China rose to 1,868 as of the end of Monday, up by 98 from the previous day, the National Health Commission said 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. Caixin's in-depth reports showed that in the early stage of the epidemic, uninformed doctors had close contact with infected patients without enough protection and that shortages of protective supplies and substandard gear also left workers exposed to infection. Up to this point, the virus is not actively spreading in the United States.

The restrictions prevent foreign nationals travelling from, or travelling through, mainland China from entering New Zealand.

In an official account of the Standing Committee's meeting on 7 January published by Xinhua, the state news agency, there was no mention of the coronavirus or an epidemic being discussed during the reunion.

The new study reported on 44,672 cases confirmed in China as of February 11.

More than 300 American cruise liner passengers, including 14 who tested positive for coronavirus, were flown to military bases in the United States, after two weeks under quarantine off Japan.

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That's lower than for SARS and MERS, two similar viruses, but COVID-19 ultimately could prove more deadly if it spreads to far more people than the others did.

Four of the Americans who tested positive for the virus were transported to California hospitals.

The reopening will be conditional based on criteria the city's Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong didn't specify in making the announcement.

Apple Inc. doesn't expect to meet its revenue guidance for the quarter ending in March due to work slowdowns from the outbreak of coronavirus in China.

"These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide", the company said.

World Health Organization officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

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The passengers were evaluated and cleared by US medical staff, the State Department said.

Japan now has 413 confirmed cases, including 355 from a cruise ship, and one death from the virus.

The woman will be taken to a hospital and treated, the embassy said in a post on Facebook. People with symptoms were banned from the flights.

Chinese authorities say the stabilization in the number of new cases is a sign that measures they have taken to halt the spread of the disease are having an effect. Health Ministry officials said they have now tested 1,723 people on the ship, which had about 3,700 passengers and crew aboard. "Every scenario is still on the table", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "We have to be really careful" of such suggestions.

"I think we need to be extremely cautious in using the term 'pandemic.' We had lots of controversies during the H1N1 situation, around when it was pandemic and when it wasn't pandemic, and I think we need to be careful", he said, referring to the swine flu virus.

Taiwan has to date confirmed 20 cases.

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