Thu, 30 Jan 2020 01:45:56 +0100 (MET)

Washington, Jan 30, 2020 (AFP) - The period between exposure to the new coronavirus that originated in China and symptoms is 5.2 days on average, but varies greatly among patients, according to one of the largest studies yet published on the deadly epidemic.  While admitting that the estimate is "imprecise," the Chinese team behind a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on Wednesday said their findings support a 14-day medical observation period for people exposed to the pathogen.

The World Health Organization said in an update Monday that the incubation period ranged from between two and 10 days before symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath and acute respiratory distress emerged.   The incubation period estimate in the new study was based on 10 patients.  The researchers also studied the virus's first 425 patients in order to establish two other fundamental characteristics of the outbreak.  Since it first emerged in Wuhan in December, the number of cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus doubled every 7.4 days, the researchers wrote.

They also estimated that each infected person then infected an average of 2.2 other people, a figure known as the basic reproductive number, or R0 (pronounced "R-naught").   The figure doesn't predict how big an epidemic will eventually be, but is a useful measure nonetheless. In this case, it is relatively low: close to the seasonal flu (around 1.3), much less than the measles (12 or higher) and comparable to the SARS-epidemic of 2002-2003 (3).  The team also found that human-to-human transmission had been occurring among close contacts since the middle of December 2019.

The Chinese findings echo research by a team in the Netherlands that found an incubation period of 5.8 days, with large variations.    And a 27-year-old Vietnamese man who was infected by his father who had travelled to Wuhan showed symptoms in around three days, according to a letter published in NEJM.   In the major Chinese study, half of the 425 cases were patients over the age of 60, and none were under 15 years old.
Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2020 00:40:49 +0100 (MET)

Wuhan, China, Jan 29, 2020 (AFP) - The number of confirmed deaths from China's viral epidemic has risen to 169, the government said on Thursday, as hard-hit Hubei province reported 37 new fatalities.   Hubei, the epicentre of a contagion that is causing mounting global fear, also reported 1,032 new confirmed cases of infection.   The numbers are likely to rise further when nationwide figures are released later Thursday.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday warned all governments to "take action" over the deadly SARS-like virus spreading from China, as hundreds of foreigners were evacuated from the epicentre of the outbreak.   Besides the China toll, more than a dozen countries have reported the contagion, with new cases reported on Wednesday in Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

The WHO called an urgent meeting for Thursday over whether the viral epidemic should be declared a global health emergency -- a designation that can lead to increased international coordination.   Airlines around the world are either suspending or paring back services in and out of China, following cases of human-to-human transmission outside the country.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter that the organisation "deeply regrets" what he called a "human error" in WHO reports last week that referred to the global risk of the outbreak as "moderate" instead of "high".
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2020 21:12:22 +0100 (MET)

Paris, Jan 29, 2020 (AFP) - A number of airlines say they are halting or reducing flights to China as the country struggles to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.   China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours, while several countries have urged their citizens to avoid travel to China if possible.  The coronavirus epidemic has killed 132 people, infected nearly 6,000, and spread to some 15 countries.
Airlines that have announced changes:

- Air France -
Air France suspended its three weekly flights to Wuhan on January 24, but as of Wednesday morning said it was maintaining its 23 weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

- Air KBZ -
This Myanmar-based airline has confirmed it will halt flights to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou from February 1.

- American Airlines -
American Airlines said it will suspend flights from Los Angeles to Beijing and Shanghai from February 9 through March 27.  Flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Beijing and Shanghai have been maintained, the US carrier said.

- British Airways -
British Airways said it had suspended all flights to and from mainland China. The airline flies daily from London's Heathrow airport to Shanghai and Beijing.   The airline said it had taken the move following UK government advice against all but essential travel to China.

- Cathay Pacific -
The Hong Kong-based carrier said it would progressively reduce capacity by 50 percent or more on its routes to mainland China from Thursday through to the end of March.  The reduction concerns both Cathay Pacific and its Cathay Dragon subsidiary.

- Finnair -
Finnair, which offers many connections between Europe and Asia, said the suspension of group travel from China was leading it to suspend some flights beginning February 5 through most of March.  For the moment it will continue daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai, two daily flights to Hong Kong, and two flights a week to Guangzhou.

- Iberia -
Iberia announced the suspension of its flight to Shanghai, the only flight they have to China.   The suspension will begin on Friday.

- Lion Air -
Indonesia's Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia's biggest carrier by fleet size, is halting all flights to and from China owing to the deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said Wednesday.   The suspension, which affects routes to 15 different Chinese cities, takes effect from February 1 until further notice.  Indonesia attracts more than one million Chinese tourists annually and hosts tens of thousands of guest workers.

- Lufthansa -
German flag carrier Lufthansa is cancelling flights to mainland China until February 9. The Lufthansa group, one of Europe's largest airline companies, said the decision also applied to flights run by its subsidiaries Swiss and Austrian Airlines.  Each of the carriers will fly to their respective destinations in China "one last time" to give passengers and crew "the opportunity to return to Germany, Switzerland and Austria", the group said in a statement.   The Lufthansa group normally operates 73 connections to and from mainland China a week, mainly to Beijing and Shanghai.

- Myanmar Airways International -
MAI has announced a suspension effective from Friday for charter flights to 10 Chinese cities and was allowing passengers booked on its regular service to Guangzhou to change their travel plans without charge.

- KLM -
From Thursday KLM will suspend its direct flights to Chengdu and Hangzhou and reduce the number of weekly flights to Shanghai from 11 to seven.  From Friday it will suspend direct flights to Xiamen.

- Myanmar National Airlines -
MNA has said it will halt flights to Hong Kong and Chengdu from Saturday.

- SkyUp Airlines -
The low-cost Ukrainian airline said it will halt charter services to China's resort island of Hainan until March 28.

- Ukraine International Airlines -
UIA said it would halt services to the Chinese resort island of Hainan until February 24.

- United Airlines -
US carrier United Airlines said it will trim its services to China from the United States in light of a big drop in demand following a call by US health officials to avoid non-essential travel to the country.   United said certain flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai beginning February 1 through February 8 from three US cities were affected.

- Urals Airlines -
Russia's Urals Airlines, which had already suspended flights to several destinations in China, announced on Wednesday it was cutting some services to Europe popular with Chinese tourists, including Paris and Rome, because of the outbreak.

- Kazakhstan -
Kazakhstan says it will halt all transport links with China, beginning with road transport on February 1 and flights from February 3.  Some airlines say that for the moment they are not adjusting their operations to China, including SAS and Virgin Atlantic.
Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2020 01:07:04 +0100 (MET)

Wuhan, China, Jan 27, 2020 (AFP) - China's central government said on Monday that the nationwide total of confirmed infections from a deadly respiratory virus had risen to 2,744, with 769 new cases coming to light.   However, it said no new deaths were confirmed outside of Hubei province, which had earlier reported 24 new fatalities to bring the national total to 80 dead.
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2020 22:16:28 +0100 (MET)

Beijing, Jan 26, 2020 (AFP) - Chinese authorities have ordered the extension of a public holiday in an effort to contain an epidemic that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000 worldwide, state-run media reported.   A working group chaired by Premier Li Keqiang to tackle the outbreak decided on Sunday "to reduce population flows" by extending the Spring Festival holiday which had been scheduled to end on January 30, state news agency Xinhua said.   It was not immediately clear how long the extension is.

The group also ordered changes to "the starting dates of schools" and "people to work from home by working online."   "The meeting stressed that the country is at a crucial time in the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak, urging Party committees and governments at all levels to take more 'decisive, powerful and orderly, scientific and well-planned' measures to effective curb the spread," Xinhua reported.   In a bid to slow the spread of the respiratory virus, the government had previously locked down hard-hit Hubei, a province in central China that is at the outbreak's epicentre, in an unprecedented operation affecting tens of millions of people.

The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pathogen, which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.   Originating in Hubei's capital of Wuhan, the virus has spread throughout China and across the world -- with cases confirmed in around a dozen countries including as far away as the United States.   Several countries were making arrangements to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, where an eery calm pervades as new restrictions prohibit most road traffic in the metropolis of 11 million.
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