China on Friday reported 121 more deaths from the coronavirus outbreak, 116 of which are from the epicentre of the infection in Hubei Province alone, bringing to at least 1,488 the total number of deaths across the country.
Hubei and its capital Wuhan, where the infection now known as COVID-19 is thought to have originated in late December, also reported a further 4,823 new cases of the infection, taking the total in the province alone to 51,986.
Nationwide, there are 5,090 new cases pushing the total number to nearly 65,000.
At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei. Three deaths have been recorded outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong one in the Philippines, and the most recent in Japan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the virus poses a “grave threat” to the world, with chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying the virus could have “more powerful consequences than any terrorist action”.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has ordered a lockdown on a community of 10,000 residents northwest of the capital Hanoi, becoming the first location outside of China to have ordered a quarantine for at least 20 days.
Here are the latest updates:
Friday, February 14
Cruise passengers land in Cambodia after two weeks at sea over virus fears
Passengers on MS Westerdam cruise ship that was turned away from ports around Asia, over fears they could be carrying the new coronavirus, finally began disembarking in Cambodia on Friday.
Cambodia’s strongman premier Hun Sen welcomed around 100 tourists who were handed flowers as they stepped ashore after an uncertain two weeks at sea.
The Westerdam was supposed to be taking its 2,257 passengers and crew on a 14-day cruise around east Asia, beginning in Hong Kong on February 1 and ending on Saturday in Yokohama, Japan.
But the vessel was turned away from Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand over fears it was carrying someone with COVID-19, a virus that has now killed almost 1,500 people and sickened 65,000, mostly in China.
The Westerdam also reportedly sought permission to dock in Malaysia, before it was finally allowed in Cambodia.
US ‘prepared to help’ North Korea combat threat from coronavirus
The United States is “deeply concerned” about the possible impact of a coronavirus outbreak in North Korea and is prepared to help US and international organisations contain the spread of the virus, the State Department said on Thursday.
“We strongly support and encourage the work of U.S. and international aid and health organizations to counter and contain the spread of coronavirus in the DPRK,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement after the Red Cross called for an urgent exemption to sanctions on Pyongyang to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
“The United States is ready and prepared to expeditiously facilitate the approval of assistance from these organizations,” it added.
The White House released a budget request three days ago that slashed funding for these very same “international aid organizations” https://t.co/NooY9FxUBC
— Mark Leon Goldberg (@MarkLGoldberg) February 13, 2020
Economic Advisor: White House ‘disappointed’ in China’s transparency
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Thursday said the Trump administration was “disappointed” with China’s response to the coronavirus and the fact that no US health officials have been invited in to help with the outbreak.
“We thought there was better transparency coming out of China, but it doesn’t appear to be,” Kudlow said.
Trumps says China handling coronavirus ‘professionally’
US President Donald Trump praised China over its handling of the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak in an interview that aired on Thursday, adding that the United States was working closely with Beijing.
“I think they’ve handled it professionally, and I think they’re extremely capable,” Trump said in a podcast broadcast on iHeart Radio.
Asked if China was telling the truth about virus, Trump said: “Well, you never know. I think they want to put the best face on it”.
Indian generic drugmakers may face supply shortages from China
Shortages and potential price increases of generic drugs from India loom if the coronavirus outbreak disrupts suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients in China past April, industry experts told Reuters news agency.
An important supplier of generic drugs to the world, Indian companies procure almost 70 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China.
India’s generic drugmakers say they currently have enough API supplies from China to cover their operations for up to about three months.
WHO: No major change in ‘trajectory’ of coronavirus outbreak
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a spike of 14,000 coronavirus cases in China on Thursday was the result of new counting methods and did not represent a significant shift in the outbreak.
“This increase that you’ve all seen in the last 24 hours is largely, in part, down to a change in how the cases are being reported,” Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies programme, told reporters.
Ryan also said he expected members of a WHO-led international mission to China to arrive over the weekend.
US confirms 15th case of COVID-19
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday confirmed the 15th case of the coronavirus in the US, and said the person under federal quarantine at an airbase in Texas was the latest confirmed case.
It is the first person under quarantine at the airbase among a group of people that arrived from China on February 7 who had symptoms and tested positive for the disease, the CDC said.
Read the updates from Thursday, February 13 here.