The number of deaths from China’s coronavirus outbreak has risen to 717 on Saturday, surpassing the toll from the SARS outbreak on the mainland and Hong Kong almost two decades ago.
Another 81 people died from the virus in central Hubei province, where the disease emerged in December, according to the regional health commission.
There had been a further 2,841 cases detected in Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, taking the total in the province to 24,953, and the to more than 34,000 infections across the country.
The virus has also killed two people outside mainland China, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines, and at least 25 countries have confirmed cases.
On Friday, the death of 34-year-old Wuhan doctor, Li Wenliang, who was punished for raising the alarm about the virus in December sparked an outpouring of grief and anger over the government’s handling of the crisis.
The virus has prompted several governments to ban arrivals from China and urge their citizens to avoid travelling to the country. Some have recommended their citizens leave China.
Major airlines have suspended flights to and from China.
Here are the latest updates:
Saturday, February 8
Royal Caribbean bans China, HK, Macau passport holders from ships
Royal Caribbean Cruises said on Friday it would ban guests holding China, Hong Kong or Macau passports from boarding its ships.
Guests or crew members who have traveled to, from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau, or been in contact with someone who has, less than 15 days before sailing will not be allowed to board the company’s ships under the new rules.
The company would also screen guests with flu-like symptoms and those who are unsure if they had been in contact with individuals who who had visited the any of the three locations in the past 15 days.
US offers $100m to China, others to fight coronavirus
The US will offer up to $100m to China and other impacted countries to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
“This commitment – along with the hundreds of millions generously donated by the American private sector – demonstrates strong US leadership in response to the outbreak,” Pompeo said in a statement.
— Department of State (@StateDept) February 7, 2020
Has the coronavirus cracked China’s Great Firewall?
Al Jazeera’s Inside Story programme discusses how Chinese censors are struggling to contain online outrage over the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Read more here and watch the full episode below.
China doing ‘very professional job’ against coronavirus: Trump
US President Donald Trump has said that China is doing a “very professional job” in combating coronavirus.
Trump said that he had discussed the crisis with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a “very good” phone call late on Thursday.
He added that the US and China were “working together” on the issue.
WHO warns against hoarding of protective gear
Demand for masks, gowns, gloves and other protective gear has risen by up to 100 times and prices have soared due to the coronavirus, producing a “severe” disruption in supply, the WHO’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“This situation is exacerbated by widespread use of personal protective equipment outside patient care,” he told reporters in Geneva, adding that he had spoken to manufacturers and distributors to ensure supplies for those who need them.
He also said he could see practices such as hoarding in order to ensure higher prices and called for solidarity from the public and the private sector.
Singapore lifts virus alert to SARS level
Singapore has raised its coronavirus alert level to orange – a level reached during the 2003 SARS outbreak and the 2009 H1N1 influenza which indicates the virus is severe and passes easily between persons.
Singapore has reported 33 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus.
SK couples unfazed by virus take part in mass wedding
South Korea’s Unification Church held a mass wedding amid the outbreak.
About 6,000 couples took part in the ceremony at the Cheongshim World Peace Centre in Gapyeong, about 40 miles (60 kilometres) northeast of the capital, Seoul.
The couples said they were unfazed by the new coronavirus and the organiser said the venue had been thoroughly sterilised and that a thermal surveillance camera had been put in place.
Find out more here.
Italy contradicts China over possible air traffic restart
Italy has contradicted China’s assertions over a possible resumption of flights between the two countries.
Rome’s decision on January 31 to block flights to and from China was greeted with dismay by Beijing, which has been lobbying in the past few days to have the ban lifted.
“The block on flights is a measure take to immediately deal with any emergency and we will keep it in place as long as health authorities and therefore the scientific community tell us we should,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told a news conference in Madrid.
First Canadians repatriated from Wuhan land in Canada
A plane bringing home the first Canadians from Wuhan has landed at a military base in Canada, where the returnees will be quarantined.
The government-chartered jetliner landed at Trenton air force base east of Toronto, shortly after 6:30 am local time (11:30 GMT), after a stopover in Vancouver, Canadian TV showed.
The plane carried 176 passengers.
Will evacuating foreigners from Wuhan hasten the spread of the coronavirus?
Hong Kong unveils virus quarantine plans, up to six month jail for dodgers
Hong Kong will deploy an army of volunteers to bolster plans to forcibly quarantine all arrivals from mainland China, warning that anyone caught breaching the new rules faces up to six months prison.
In a major escalation of its battle against the new coronavirus, the international finance hub has said anyone arriving from the mainland from Saturday will have to undergo 14 days compulsory quarantine.
Read the full story here.
Read updates from Friday, February 7 here.