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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Feb. 9 to Feb. 15, Beijing to quarantine all arrivals for 14 days

China reports 143 new deaths on mainland as cases surpass 66,000

A staff member wearing a face mask stands in front of a restaurant on Valentine's Day in Beijing.   © Reuters

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Follow the latest updates here.

China's National Health Commission on Saturday raised the total number of cases to 66,492, as of the end of the previous day, marking an increase of 2,641. The official mainland death toll is 1,523.

Cases have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Russia, Finland, Spain, Sweden and Belgium.

For more on the spread of the virus and measures being taken to prevent further infections, see our list of the six things you must know about the coronavirus.

Here is what happened last week (Tokyo time):



Saturday, February 15

9:30 a.m. China's National Health Commission confirmed 2,641 additional coronavirus cases on the mainland, bringing the total to 66,492, as of the end of Friday. The death toll reached 1,523, up by 143 from the previous day, with Hubei Province alone reporting 139.

7:33 a.m. Now that several cases of coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Japan, fears are rising about a homegrown outbreak there. But the nation may not be fully prepared.

7:18 a.m. Global demand for oil and iron ore is falling as the coronavirus epidemic has brought industrial activity to a standstill in China, the manufacturing hub of the world.

4:36 a.m. Apple said it would reopen one of the seven retail stores in Shanghai from Saturday with reduced working hours, a day after the iPhone maker reopened a few retail stores in Beijing.

3:40 a.m. Japan is considering extending the screening process for the coronavirus beyond those who had visited China's Hubei and Zhejiang provinces. The move comes following the death of an elderly woman who had no direct connection to China.

3:30 a.m. Egypt has confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in the country, bringing the total cases in the Middle East to 9, including 8 in the United Arab Emirates.

2:36 a.m. The Chinese capital city of Beijing imposed a 14-day self-quarantine on people returning to the city from holidays to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and threatened to punish those who failed to comply. It was not immediately clear how the restriction would be enforced or whether it would apply to non-residents of Beijing or foreigners arriving from abroad.

1:51 a.m. Japan's Yokohama municipal government said one of the firefighters who transported infected passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess to hospitals became infected with the coronavirus. The city said the man, in his 30s, was wearing a protective suit.

Friday, February 14

7:40 p.m. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged 4.7 billion Hong Kong dollars ($605 million) to the city's Hospital Authority as the region struggles to corral the coronavirus outbreak.

5:00 p.m. Experts stressed that Japan should increase efforts to track down transmission routes of the new coronavirus at an academic seminar in Yokohama. Dr. Nikki Shindo, a medical expert in epidemic diseases at the World Health Organization, said, "Besides China, Japan is the only country where infection cases of which transmission routes cannot be traced back have been found."

4:00 p.m. China's National Health Commission said that 1,716 health workers had been infected and six had died as of Tuesday, including whistleblower Li Wenliang. Most of these cases were in the epicenter of Wuhan.

A medical worker in protective suit moves a novel coronavirus patient in a wheelchair at a hospital in Wuhan.   © Reuters

1:30 p.m. Honda Motor said it will postpone the restart of its plants in Wuhan by one week. The Japanese automaker now plans to resume production from Feb. 24 or later. Honda's move came after Hubei province said it will extend the suspension of business activity through Feb. 20.

12:10 p.m. China's National Health Commission said 5,090 additional coronavirus cases had been confirmed on the mainland, bringing the total to 63,581, as of the end of Thursday. It also reported 121 additional deaths.

11:30 a.m. Officials in Japan's southwestern Wakayama Prefecture said a patient who was treated at a local hospital where a doctor was recently found to be infected also tested positive. The officials are investigating whether the patient and doctor had direct contact.

10:00 a.m. Passengers on the Westerdam, a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over coronavirus fears, started disembarking in Cambodia. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen personally greeted 400 passengers.

9:00 a.m. China's Hubei Province announced another 116 deaths and an additional 4,823 cases as of the end of Thursday.

5:55 a.m. Large-scale events are being canceled across Asia due to coronavirus fears, forcing businesses to seek alternative ways to show off their latest products.

5:45 a.m. The jump in China's reported coronavirus cases was due to the reclassification of past cases and not the "tip of an iceberg" of a wider epidemic, a top World Health Organization official said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

5:03 a.m. Concern is mounting in Japan that the coronavirus is spreading in the country without detection because the first domestic death and newly confirmed infections involve people with no connections to China.

2:19 a.m. Wednesday's massive jump in reported coronavirus cases in Hubei Province, the center of the epidemic, is providing fodder to skeptics of the Chinese government's figures.

1:21 a.m. Vietnam has sealed off the district of Son Loi, located near Hanoi, in response to a flare-up of the new coronavirus. It appears to be the first such widespread quarantine imposed outside China,

12:25 a.m. Japan's health ministry reported the first confirmed death from the new coronations in that country, saying a woman in her 80s infected with the virus died Thursday.

Thursday, February 13

6:32 p.m. A taxi driver in Tokyo has been diagnosed with coronavirus infection, Kyodo News reported, citing sources close to the matter. The government is investigating how he contracted the virus, Kyodo said.

5:30 p.m. Reflecting the significant rise in Hubei Province cases, China's National Health Commission raised the nationwide infection total to 59,804, with a death toll of 1,367, as of the end of Wednesday.

4:00 p.m. Australia has extended an entry ban on foreign nationals from mainland China for another week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. The ban was initially set on Feb. 1 for 14 days and was due to expire on Saturday. There have been 15 cases in the country, with no new cases reported since the ban was put in place. The ban will be reviewed each week.

Jiang Chaoliang, secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, inspects a hastily built hospital in Wuhan on Feb. 2. He has been removed from office.   © Reuters

12:50 p.m. The Communist Party chief in China's Hubei Province has been relieved of duty, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Other media reports say Ma Guoqiang, the party chief in the city of Wuhan, has also been replaced, while Zhang Xiaoming has been removed as head of the Hong Kong and Macao affairs office.

12:25 p.m. Another 44 virus cases have been found aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined at Yokohama, Japan, bringing the total on the vessel to 218. The Japanese government also said it intends to let suffering from chronic illnesses leave the ship as early as Friday -- as long as they test negative. The quarantine period is to expire next Wednesday.

11:30 a.m. The head of the organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics reiterated that the games will go ahead as planned despite the outbreak. "I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered," Yoshiro Mori said at a preparatory meeting with the International Olympic Committee.

10:30 a.m. The Westerdam cruise ship arrived at Cambodia's port of Sihanoukville this morning, after being turned away by five other destinations. "Guests will be able to go ashore," the ship's operator, Holland America, said in a statement. "All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support."

9:30 a.m. Health officials in Hubei Province said 242 more people had died from the flu-like virus. The officials also reported 14,840 new cases in the province alone after adopting a new methodology for counting infections.

7:00 a.m. The Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile trade show hosted by Barcelona, was canceled after major players such as Ericsson and Nokia withdrew due to concerns over the outbreak.

4:03 a.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping and members of his administration are calling counterparts around the world, seeking to persuade them to reverse their decision to restrict the entry of visitors from China. Such travel restrictions have been imposed by 128 countries so far.

2:28 a.m. Taiwanese experts took part in a World Health Organization meeting on the coronavirus outbreak this week, with mainland China making an exception to its stance of blocking what it considers a breakaway province from international forums.

12:42 a.m. There is no reason to cancel the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona over coronavirus fears, Spanish health officials said. With major companies pulling out of the event, Spanish authorities have come under pressure to declare the event a public health risk -- a potential trigger for insurance payouts for organizers.

Wednesday, February 12

11:58 p.m. OPEC downgraded its forecast for global oil demand for the year, citing the impact of the outbreak on China's economy. The group, which said production fell sharply in January, is weighing whether to restrain output further to offset slow demand. Oil prices have fallen 15% this year.

9:45 p.m. Formula 1 announced it is postponing the 2020 Chinese Grand Prix due to the outbreak. The auto race was scheduled for April 19 in Shanghai. F1 hopes to hold the race "later in the year" if the situation improves.

8:45 p.m. Cambodia has agreed to let the cruise ship MS Westerdam dock, and let its passengers disembark, the vessel's operator Holland America Line said. The Westerdam had been turned away by five countries over concerns that someone aboard might have the coronavirus.

5:10 p.m. China's Civil Aviation Administration said it had brought back 1,107 stranded Chinese from overseas on chartered flights as of Feb. 9. Many countries including Japan, Singapore and Vietnam have reduced or suspended air travel to and from mainland China since the outbreak of coronavirus.

1:28 p.m. Mazda Motor has postponed restarting its auto factory in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province for at least five days due to difficulties obtaining parts since the outbreak. The Japanese automaker had planned to resume work by Feb. 12 or later, but now will not restart until at least Feb. 17. The supply chain disruption in China has become a big headache for other automakers as well.

11:30 a.m. China's National Health Commission said the death toll from coronavirus on the mainland hit 1,113 as of the end of Tuesday, up by 97 from the previous day.

9:00 a.m. Japan's health ministry said another 39 people on a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama have tested positive for coronavirus. A quarantine officer was also diagnosed with the virus.

8:30 a.m. China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported 94 people died and there were 1,068 new coronavirus cases as of Tuesday.

8:12 a.m. Doctors in Thailand and Japan say that there are indications that treatments used to combat the HIV virus that causes AIDS may also be effective against the coronavirus.

5:58 a.m. Japan will permit any hospital with proper equipment to admit coronavirus patients in an emergency, as the country faces a potential shortage of beds should the outbreak spread.

5:48 a.m. Thailand became the fifth authority to deny the cruise ship Westerdam permission to dock, leaving the luxury liner and its 1,455 passengers with no where to head to.

5:05 a.m. American Airlines, the largest U.S. carrier, said it would extend the suspension of its China and Hong Kong flights through April 24, amid reduced travel demand due to a coronavirus outbreak.

2:44 a.m. China expects 160 million people to travel between Tuesday and Feb. 18 as citizens return to work after the Lunar New Year holidays, raising the risk of a broader outbreak.

2:22 a.m. The Japanese government decided to bar entry to travelers from Zhejiang province, expanding its entry restrictions beyond Hubei Province.

1:34 a.m. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the American economy appears resilient and that the Fed is content with where interest rates are. The Fed is monitoring developments stemming from the coronavirus, but it is too early to assess the economic threat, Powell told a House committee. He noted that the economy "is in a very good place," with strong job creation and moderate growth.

"We'll be watching that carefully," Powell said of the virus's economic effects on the U.S. "Again, and the question we'll be asking is, will these be persistent effects that could lead to a ... material reassessment of the outlook."

1:05 a.m. China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are preparing to hold an emergency meeting of their foreign ministers this month to discuss the outbreak of the new coronavirus, diplomatic sources say.

12:52 a.m. The South Korean government advised citizens against traveling to Japan and five other destinations to curb the coronavirus spread. The advisory also includes Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan.

Tuesday, February 11

7:17 p.m. Malaysia is crafting a stimulus package for the tourism, retail and aviation industries which have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

6:48 p.m. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech at a meeting that China's coronavirus outbreak poses a "very grave threat for the rest of the world."

5:42 p.m. Mercedes-Benz has restarted production of luxury passenger cars in Beijing this week, said Ola Kaellenius, chief executive of parent company Daimler, at the annual results news conference in Stuttgart, Reuters reported.

3:48 p.m. Singapore said international visitors could fall up to 30% this year from 2019 due to entry restrictions for Chinese passport-holders aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

3:15 p.m. MediaTek, the world's second-largest mobile chip developer, said it will pull out of Mobile World Congress this year.

Vivo, the world's sixth-largest smartphone maker, also said it will withdraw from the event, canceling product launches, news conferences and exhibitions.

1:38 p.m. Intel said it will pull out of Mobile World Congress this year, following the withdrawals of Nvidia, LG, Sony, and Ericsson. On Monday, the organizer asked all participants from China to prove that they had not been in China for at least 14 days prior to the show.

12:33 p.m. Taiwan urged the Philippines to lift a travel ban on its citizens after Philippine Airlines canceled flights to Taiwan following a government ban on all foreigners traveling from the island to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou made the comments at a regular news briefing in Taipei, Reuters reported.

10:15 a.m. China's Hubei Province dismissed provincial health commission party boss Zhang Jin and director Liu Yingzi, state media CCTV reported.

10:13 a.m. Thailand has refused to allow passengers from Holland America cruise ship MS Westerdam to disembark, according to its health minister, Reuters reported.

9:27 a.m. China's National Health Commission raised the domestic death toll from the coronavirus to 1,016 as of Monday, after another 97 patients died. There were 2,478 new confirmed infections, bringing the total to 42,638.

4:22 a.m. China is going to unusual lengths to protect its capital from the coronavirus outbreak, virtually shutting down the city. Long-haul bus routes into Beijing have been cut and the subways are deserted.

2:16 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump said in remarks at the White House that the coronavirus outbreak will be gone by April. "The heat generally kills this kind of virus," according to Trump.

1:52 a.m. The head of WHO warns that the transmission of the coronavirus between people who have not traveled to China could be "the spark that becomes a bigger fire." An advance team from the global health agency has arrived in China to assess the situation.

12:16 a.m. Jewelry chain Chow Tai Fook temporarily closed 40 outlets in Hong Kong and Macao in response to the virus outbreak. Other sites in the two cities will operate on shorter hours. Its locations in affected areas of the mainland are already shut on a temporary basis.

Monday, February 10

7:12 p.m. Nissan will suspend production at a plant operated by its Kyushu unit because it has become difficult to procure parts from China due to supply chain disruption from the new coronavirus. Two lines will be closed on Feb. 14, and another line for exports on Feb. 17.

A Nissan plant in Japan's Fukuoka Prefecture: Amid a shortage of parts from China, the automaker has no choice but to stop the production line. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

3:30 p.m. Taiwan's Epidemic Control Center announced it is temporarily banning people from Hong Kong and Macao from entering Taiwan. Exceptions will be made those who need to comply with business obligations, spouses of people from Hong Kong and Macao who have Taiwanese residence cards, and their underage children. The policy will become effective from Tuesday, Feb. 11.

3:19 p.m. More than 70 companies, including Lockheed Martin and 12 Chinese entities, have withdrawn from this year's Singapore Airshow over fears of the virus.

3:00 p.m. Over 60 more people on the cruise ship anchored off Yokohama have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections on board to about 130.

2:51 p.m. Hopes that the Chinese economy would return to normal on Monday after an extended Lunar New Year holiday as several companies announced they will remain closed due to concerns over the coronavirus.

10:30 a.m. Princess Cruises, the U.S. company that operates the Diamond Princess ship quarantined off Yokohama, said it will compensate passengers for all expenses incurred, including tour and hotel fees before and after the cruise.

8:50 a.m. Chinese authorities raised the death toll to 908 as of Sunday, after another 97 patients died. The number of confirmed cases rose by 3,062, up from the additional 2,656 reported the previous day.

5:53 a.m. has withdrawn from this month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona because of the outbreak, the company said in a statement.

5:31 a.m. An advance team of World Health Organization experts has left for Beijing to investigate the epidemic, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted on Sunday from Geneva.

3:37 a.m. Thirty-four Brazilians evacuated from Wuhan landed in Brazil on Sunday, where they will begin 18 days of quarantine, Reuters reported.

Sunday, February 9

11:26 p.m. The U.K. confirmed its fourth case of the new coronavirus, after a patient contracted the illness from a previously confirmed British case while in France, health officials said. The earlier patient is believed to have stayed in France for a few days on his way home, passing the virus on to others there.

9:00 p.m. Six more people on a cruise ship quarantined off Yokohama have tested positive for the virus, Japan's health ministry said, bringing the total number of onboard patients to 70.

8:49 p.m. China's finance ministry said in a statement on its website that all levels of government had allocated a total of 71.85 billion yuan ($10.26 billion) as of Saturday afternoon to fight the virus.

7:33 p.m. China's iFlytek, an artificial intelligence company blacklisted by the U.S., has applied to the U.S. Department of Commerce for an exemption in order to buy medical resources to stem the coronavirus, according to a filing.

Passengers wearing masks and covered with plastic bags walk outside a railway station in Shanghai on Feb. 9, 2020.   © Reuters

6:51 p.m. China's cabinet says workers in key industries must be helped to return to work as soon as possible in order to resume the production of vital food and medical supplies disrupted by the outbreak, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

5:31 p.m. Japan saw the lowest number of flu patients in late January in roughly 10 years, in part due to preventive measures against the Wuhan coronavirus, authorities said.

4:51 p.m. The northern Chinese province of Hebei will keep its schools shut until at least March 1 to control the coronavirus outbreak, the Communist Party-run People's Daily newspaper reported, citing the local education bureau.

Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, is one of a number of provinces and municipalities extending school shutdowns until the end of the month, with others including Shandong, Jiangsu and Shanghai.

12:26 p.m. China's National Health Commission called for the "reasonable use" of protective suits in a statement on Sunday and cautioned against "excessive and disorderly" use of the clothing that would waste resources and could also increase infection.

12:25 p.m. The Philippines evacuated 30 people, including an infant, from virus-hit Wuhan. The evacuees arrived home on Sunday morning and will be quarantined in the Athletes' Village in New Clark City for 14 days.

11:30 a.m. The organizer of the Singapore Airshow said that more than 70 trade exhibitors have pulled out of the event amid concerns over the coronavirus. To limit attendance, the number of public tickets available will be less than half of those on offer in 2018. The show opens on Tuesday and runs until Sunday.

11:29 a.m. Singapore's central bank issued an advisory to financial institutions to take additional measures and precautions after the city-state's government raised the coronavirus alert level.

10:12 a.m. A second evacuation flight is bringing back another 174 Singaporeans and their family members from Wuhan on Sunday morning, Singapore's foreign ministry said.

9:31 a.m. China's National Health Commission reported the death toll in China had reached 811, surpassing the global count of deaths from SARS in 2002-2003, as of the end of Saturday. The toll was up by 89 from the previous day. There were 2,656 new confirmed infections, bringing the cumulative total to 37,198.

2:21 a.m. The world's economy relies on China to a degree never seen before, and the coronavirus outbreak reveals the price of that dependence, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

1:02 a.m. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Saturday that a WHO-led coronavirus probe team will leave for China on Monday or Tuesday.

0:16 a.m. The vice governor of Hubei Province on Saturday said that the region's supply of medical goods had improved, Reuters reported.

Saturday, February 8

11:01 p.m. French regional health officials said that two schools near a ski resort where five Britons had been diagnosed with the new coronavirus would be shut next week.

7:10 p.m. The United Arab Emirates confirmed two more cases -- one Chinese and one Filipino -- of the new coronavirus. Both patients are receiving medical treatment, according to the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention.

4:15 p.m. Key iPhone supplier Foxconn's plan to resume production on Feb. 10 has been called off by the Chinese authorities due to worries surrounding the outbreak, the Nikkei Asian Review has learned.

2:30 p.m. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said that an American citizen diagnosed with the new coronavirus in Wuhan died on Thursday. It is believed to be the first death of an American in the outbreak.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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