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Leere Strände und Geschäfte: Tourismus leidet unter Coronavirus

Die Ausbreitung des neuartigen Coronavirus in China schockiert die Tourismusbranche in Asien. Auch in Europa ist die Branche in Alarmstimmung.

Die Ausbreitung des neuartigen Coronavirus in China schockiert die Tourismusbranche in Asien. Mit drastischen Reisebeschränkungen versuchen die chinesischen Behörden, den Erreger im Zaum zu halten, durch den bereits mehr als 80 Menschen gestorben sind. Urlaubsorte in Japan, Thailand und auch in Australien spüren bereits erste Folgen. Die Touristiker in Europa sind ebenfalls in Alarmstimmung.

Denn Reisen ins Ausland erleben bei den Chinesen einen wahren Boom: Seit 2003 hat sich die Zahl der Chinesen, die im Ausland Urlaub machen, nach Angaben der Forschungsfirma Capital Economics fast verzehnfacht. Allerdings weckt die Epidemie Erinnerungen an den gefährlichen SARS-Erreger, der in den Jahren 2002 und 2003 dem Tourismus in Asien schwer zusetzte. Damals schrumpfte die Zahl der chinesischen Touristen um ein Drittel.

Urlaubsziele, die zahlreiche Touristen aus China erwarten, trifft der Ausbruch des neuen Coronavirus schon jetzt. Sie berichten von “verwaisten” Stränden sowie leeren Läden – und machen sich Sorgen um ihre Zukunft.

In Japan ist der Rückgang der chinesischen Urlauber bereits in Asakusa spürbar – einem beliebten Touristenziel in Tokio, das für seine kleinen Läden, Restaurants und den Sensoji-Tempel bekannt ist. “Wir haben in diesem Jahr auf jeden Fall weniger Menschen zu Gast”, sagt Yoshie Yoneyama, die ein kleines Geschäft für traditionelle Süßspeisen führt. Es seien “weniger als die Hälfte” als im vergangenen oder vorvergangenen Jahr, schätzt die 31-Jährige.

Dabei hat die Zahl der chinesischen Urlauber in Japan zuletzt kräftig zugelegt: Sie stieg von 450.000 im Jahr 2003 auf knapp 8,4 Millionen im Jahr 2018. Mehr als ein Viertel der ausländischen Touristen in Japan kommt nach Angaben der japanischen Tourismusorganisation aus China.

Der Ausbruch des Coronavirus mache es für Japan “sehr schwierig”, das diesjährige Ziel von 40 Millionen ausländischen Touristen zu erreichen, warnt Yuki Takashima von Nomura Securities. Und das obwohl die Olympischen Sommerspiele, die zahlreiche Fans auch aus dem Ausland anlocken, heuer in Tokio stattfinden.

Dass die Touristen aus China ausbleiben, bekommen nicht nur Hotels, Restaurants und beliebte Ausflugsziele zu spüren. Denn viele Chinesen zieht es zum Shoppen nach Japan. Elektronische Geräte und Beautyprodukte stehen bei ihnen laut Takashima für gewöhnlich ganz oben auf der Einkaufsliste. Deshalb seien auch die Gewinnziele des Einzelhandels in Gefahr.

Die Sorge über das Virus drückt bereits den japanischen Aktienindex Nikkei. Die Kurse der bei Chinesen beliebten Kosmetikfirma Shiseido und des Mutterkonzerns der Modekette Uniqlo, Fast Retail, brachen am Montag um mehr als fünf Prozent ein. Die Kurse könnten weiter fallen, sagt Analyst Stephen Innes von AxiCorp. Japan sei dabei aber noch besser gerüstet als ein anderes Top-Reiseziel der Chinesen: Thailand.

Strände auf Phuket verwaist

Der Tourismus ist ein wichtiges Standbein für das südostasiatische Land. Mehr als ein Viertel der ausländischen Urlauber kommt aus China. Das Tourismusministerium in Bangkok warnte wegen des Coronavirus bereits vor einer Krise, die das Land schätzungsweise 1,6 Mrd. Dollar (1,45 Mrd. Euro) kosten könnte.

Auf der Insel Phuket sind die ersten Folgen spürbar. “Seit zwei Tagen sind die Geschäfte und die Strände verwaist”, sagt Claude de Crissey, dem dort ein Hotel mit 40 Zimmern und einem Restaurant gehören. Phuket habe sich “fast ausschließlich” auf Touristen aus China konzentriert. “Wenn es so weitergeht, wird das auf uns alle Auswirkungen haben.”

Das wird auch in Australien der Fall sein, das ohnehin schon unter den Folgen der verheerenden Buschbrände leidet. Innerhalb von sechs Jahren hat sich dort die Zahl der chinesischen Urlauber bis Juni 2019 verdoppelt. 15 Prozent der ausländischen Touristen stammen aus China.

Die Branche sorgt sich deshalb länderübergreifend um ihre Zukunft. Für den Vorsitzenden des Pazifischen-Asiatischen Reiseverbands, Mario Hardy, ist es schwer abzuschätzen, wie lang die Krise um das Coronavirus noch andauert. “Das hängt davon ab, wie sich die Lage in den nächsten Wochen entwickelt.”

Auch in Europa ist die Tourismusbranche in Alarmstimmung ob des neuartigen Virus, wenngleich es noch zu früh ist, Auswirkungen in Zahlen zu sehen. In Wien erwartet der Stadt-Tourismus einen Knick bei den Buchungen von chinesischen Gästen, zumal ja Peking am Freitag ein Verkaufsverbot von Pauschalreisen ins In- und Ausland erlassen hat. Zudem sind laut Medienberichten seit heute, Montag, alle Gruppenreisen aus China ins Ausland untersagt.

In Hallstatt noch keine Auswirkungen

Der WienTourismus ist aber breit aufgestellt, wirbt in 17 Märkten, daher werde ein Buchungsrückgang verkraftbar sein. Im bei Chinesen beliebten Salzkammergut-Ort Hallstatt merkt das Tourismusbüro ebenfalls noch nichts vom Coronavirus, wie es zur APA hieß.

Bei den Austrian Airlines (AUA) werde man die Auswirkungen des jüngst verhängten Reiseverbots chinesischer Reisegruppen durchaus spüren, sagte ein AUA-Sprecher zur APA. Ob in Folge auch Flüge nach und aus der Volksrepublik reduziert werden müsse, könne man derzeit noch nicht sicher sagen. Bisher fliegt die AUA neunmal wöchentlich nach China, davon sind fünf Peking- und vier Shanghai-Verbindungen. Das Bordpersonal, das für die AUA nach China fliegt, sei über die Situation informiert worden und habe Verhaltensempfehlungen bekommen – beispielsweise häufiges Händewaschen, nur durchgegartes Fleisch essen und nach Möglichkeit das Hotel in China nicht verlassen.

In den heimischen Reisebüros herrscht indessen so etwas wie Ruhe vor dem Sturm. “Unsere Reisebüros spüren momentan noch nichts von den Auswirkungen des Coronavirus. Sollte sich der Virus im asiatischen Raum weiter verbreiten, wird es wahrscheinlich Auswirkungen auf Asien-Buchungen geben”, so Sarah Peters vom Reisebüro Mondial zur APA.

Im Incoming-Bereich sieht die Situation bei Mondial schon jetzt dramatischer aus. “Die chinesische Regierung hat veranlasst, dass keine Reisegruppe das Land verlassen darf, bis sich die Situation beruhigt hat. Da China einer unserer wichtigsten Märkte im Incoming-Bereich ist, bei dem wir über 1 Million Umsatz im Jahr machen, würde uns das sehr treffen, wenn die Situation mehrere Monate anhalten würde.”

Ein Thema bei den Touristikern sind auch Geschäftsreisende. Das Verkehrsbüro, Österreichs größtes Tourismuskonzern, hat Geschäftsreisende nach China schon vorige Woche via Alert-Info über das Coronavirus in Kenntnis gesetzt, am Montag gibt es erneut eine Lagebesprechung der Konzernspitze.

Chinesische Gäste bleiben kurz

Chinesen werden für den österreichischen Tourismusmarkt immer wichtiger, ihr Anteil ist mit 3,1 Prozent an den gesamten Ankünften ausländischer Gäste im Jahr 2019 aber noch nicht so groß. Auf diesen “relativ kleinen Bereich” wies auch Petra Nocker-Schwarzenbacher, Obfrau der Bundessparte Tourismus und Freizeitwirtschaft in der Wirtschaftskammer (WKÖ), im ORF-Mittagsjournal hin. Chinesische Gäste bleiben im Schnitt nicht einmal eineinhalb Tage in Österreich. Aber: “Natürlich schmerzt jeder Gast, der nicht nach Österreich kommt.”

In Deutschland gibt sich der Deutsche Reiseverband bei China-Reisen bisher gelassen. Wegen der vorherrschenden Kälte sei derzeit keine Reisezeit, teilte der DRV mit. Die Saison beginne erst etwa Mitte April, erklärte eine Sprecherin. Bei seinen Empfehlungen orientiere sich der Verband vor allem am Auswärtigen Amt und beziehe auch die Weltgesundheitsorganisation (WHO) und das Robert-Koch-Institut mit ein. Dem Verband zufolge reisen im Jahr 600.000 bis 650.000 Deutsche nach China, zwei Drittel davon sind Geschäftsreisende.

Der Münchner Reiseveranstalter Studiosus hingegen hat alle Reisen nach China bis Mitte April abgesagt. Die Verantwortlichen des Unternehmens rechneten nicht mit einer raschen Entspannung. Die nächsten China-Reisen wären ansonsten ab dem 15. März in die Saison gestartet. Die weitere Entwicklung werde beobachtet und jeweils bis spätestens zwei Monate vor dem Abreisetermin werde entschieden, ob geplante China-Reisen stattfänden oder abgesagt würden. Allen Kunden mit Abreise bis zum 31. Mai werden ab sofort kostenlose Umbuchungen oder Stornierungen der China-Reisen eingeräumt.

Kostenlos umbuchen muss auch die AUA-Mutter Lufthansa. Auf Anordnung der chinesischen Regierung können Lufthansa-, AUA- und Swiss-Passagiere ihre Flüge von und nach China bis 30. September 2020 verschieben. Dies gilt für Tickets, die bis 23. Jänner ausgestellt wurden und für den Reisezeitraum 24. Jänner bis 23. Februar.

(APA/Reuters/AFP)

Source: DiePresse.com – Economist
Continue reading Leere Strände und Geschäfte: Tourismus leidet unter Coronavirus

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Εκτός φυλακής μετά από 7 χρόνια ο Γιάννης Σμπώκος

Αποφυλακίστηκε μετά από 7 χρόνια στις φυλακές για υποθέσεις καταγγελλόμενης διαφθοράς σε εξοπλιστικά προγράμματα, ο πρώην γενικός γραμματέας της Διεύθυνσης Εξοπλισμών του υπουργείου Εθνικής Άμυνας Γιάννης Σμπώκος. Ο κ. Σμπώκος  αποφυλακίστηκε την περασμένη Πέμπτη .

Ο άλλοτε στενός συνεργάτης του Άκη Τσοχατζόπουλου εμπλέκεται σε σειρά δικογραφιών που αφορούν την προμήθεια εξοπλιστικών και οι ποινές του έχουν συγχωνευθεί, με εξαίρεση την τελευταία 10ετή κάθειρξη που του επιβλήθηκε με αναστολή, για “ξέπλυμα” στην υπόθεση της προμήθειας των ιπτάμενων ραντάρ από την σουηδική Ericsson.

Στον Γιάννη Σμπώκο επιβλήθηκαν οι περιοριστικοί όροι της απαγόρευσης εξόδου από τη χώρα και εμφάνισης δύο φορές τον μήνα στο αστυνομικό τμήμα της περιοχής του. 

Π. Στάθης 

Source: Τελευταίες ειδήσεις απο το Capital.gr
Author: Continue reading Εκτός φυλακής μετά από 7 χρόνια ο Γιάννης Σμπώκος

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Cholamandalam Investment opens QIP with floor price of Rs 322.59 per share


Investment and Finance Company Ltd has authorised opening of the issue of its Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP) on Monday, approving a floor price of Rs 322.59 per share.


The company has rcently issued a postal ballot seeking shareholders’ approval to raise upto Rs 1000 crore by way of to eligible qualified institutional buyers in one or more tranches.



The company said that it may offer a discount of not more than five per cent on the floor price so calculated for the issue

Source: Companies
Continue reading Cholamandalam Investment opens QIP with floor price of Rs 322.59 per share

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British Steel: Rival bidder on standby if Jingye sale fails

Turkish industrial giant Cengiz says it is ready to bid for British Steel if a planned sale to Jingye falls through.

“We are watching developments closely and are ready to make a bid for the whole of British Steel,” Cengiz said.

China’s Jingye has offered £50m for the ailing UK steel business, with a deal due to be completed in the coming weeks which would save about 4,000 jobs.

But Cengiz’s decision to go public comes amid speculation about job cuts and the future of a Jingye rescue.

Cengiz’s interests include mining, construction, power generation, tourism, and railways. Its founder and owner, Mehmet Cengiz, is a close ally of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a statement, Cengiz chief executive Omer Mafa said: “With a strong balance sheet and annual revenues of $7bn we are well placed to acquire overseas assets.

“The UK is one of our target countries that we want to invest in and are looking at a range of opportunities such as major infrastructure projects and industrial assets. British Steel is an important asset.”

A company source told the BBC that Cengiz has “made it clear to the government that it has the money, experience and credibility” to acquire British Steel.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy would not comment specifically about any Cengiz talks.

But a spokesman said: “The government believes the Jingye transaction will complete in the coming weeks, and welcome that they have recently reached an agreement with the unions.

“Officials have met and continue to meet all parties interested in acquiring British Steel, as the government is not bound by the exclusivity agreement signed by the bidder and the official receiver.”

Union backing

British Steel has been kept running by the government via the Official Receiver since May, when the company went into liquidation.

Last week, the Jingye rescue won the backing of unions, an important step in clearing opposition to a sale.

However, unions warned the takeover could involve cutting around 10% of the company’s workforce. Jingye has promised to invest about £1.2bn in the business.

Alasdair McDiarmid, operations director for the Community union, said last week: “Faced with challenging circumstances we believe that the dialogue between Jingye and the unions has produced a better deal for employees than what was otherwise on the table.

“We look forward to working with everyone to securing the future of British Steel under Jingye’s ownership.”

Jingye could not be reached for comment.

Source: BBC News – Business
Author: Continue reading British Steel: Rival bidder on standby if Jingye sale fails

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ΠΟΥ: Διόρθωσε σε “υψηλή” την εκτίμησή του για την απειλή του κοροναϊού σε διεθνές επίπεδο

O Παγκόσμιος Οργανισμός Υγείας διόρθωσε σήμερα την εκτίμησή του για το μέγεθος της απειλής που συνδέεται με τον νέο κοροναϊό, χαρακτηρίζοντάς το “υψηλό” σε διεθνές επίπεδο και όχι “μέτριο”, όπως έγραφε έως σήμερα στις αναφορές του εξαιτίας ενός “λάθους στη διατύπωση”, όπως παραδέχθηκε.

Έως σήμερα, ο ΠΟΥ έγραφε ότι ο κίνδυνος είναι “πολύ υψηλός στην Κίνα, υψηλός σε περιφερειακό επίπεδο και μέτριος σε διεθνές επίπεδο”.

“Πρόκειται για ένα σφάλμα διατύπωσης και το διορθώσαμε” εξήγησε στο Γαλλικό Πρακτορείο μια εκπρόσωπος τύπου του οργανισμού που εδρεύει στη Γενεύη.

“Αυτό δεν σημαίνει σε καμία περίπτωση ότι αλλάξαμε την εκτίμηση σχετικά με τον κίνδυνο που υπάρχει, όμως αυτό το λάθος ξέφυγε” στις εκθέσεις σχετικά με την υφιστάμενη κατάσταση, συμπλήρωσε η αξιωματούχος.

Ο ΠΟΥ δημοσίευσε έξι εκθέσεις από την έναρξη της κρίσης.

Από την τρίτη, που δημοσίευσε την 23η Ιανουαρίου, προχωρούσε σε μια εκτίμηση του κινδύνου.

Στην έκτη έκθεση σχετικά με την κατάσταση που έχει διαμορφωθεί, που δημοσίευσε τη νύχτα της Κυριακής προς Δευτέρα, ο ΠΟΥ διόρθωσε την ανάλυσή του, επιβεβαιώνοντας ότι “η εκτίμησή του σχετικά με τον κίνδυνο (…) δεν έχει αλλάξει (…): πολύ υψηλός στην Κίνα, υψηλός σε περιφερειακό επίπεδο και υψηλός σε διεθνές επίπεδο”.

“Επρόκειτο για ένα λάθος στη διατύπωση στις εκθέσεις της 23ης, 24ης και 25ης Ιανουαρίου, το οποίο διορθώσαμε” εξήγησε στο AFP η εκπρόσωπος τύπου.

Η διόρθωση αυτή δεν αλλάζει το γεγονός ότι ο ΠΟΥ δεν θεωρεί πως η επιδημία συνιστά μια “επείγουσα κατάσταση δημόσιας υγείας διεθνούς εύρους”.

ΠΗΓΗ: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ

Source: Τελευταίες ειδήσεις απο το Capital.gr
Author: Continue reading ΠΟΥ: Διόρθωσε σε “υψηλή” την εκτίμησή του για την απειλή του κοροναϊού σε διεθνές επίπεδο

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Factbox: Latest on the coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

(Reuters) – The coronavirus outbreak that began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, in the province of Hubei, has killed 81 people in China so far and infected more than 2,750 globally, most of them in China.

People wear face masks as they line up at the checkout in a supermarket in Beijing, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, January 25, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The virus has caused alarm because it is still too early to know how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. Also because it is new, humans have not been able to build immunity to it.

Here is what we know so far:

**As of Jan. 27 the death toll in China had risen to 81, with 76 in Hubei province, authorities reported. Another 2,744 people in China had been infected. As of the end of Jan. 26, there were 1,423 confirmed cases in Hubei province.

**Thailand and Hong Kong have each reported eight cases of infection; the United States, Australia, Taiwan and Macau have five each; Japan, Singapore and Malaysia each have reported four; France and South Korea three each; Vietnam two, and one each in Canada and Nepal.

**No fatalities have been reported outside China.

**The previously unknown coronavirus strain is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

**The World Health Organisation said that while the outbreak was an emergency for China, it was not yet a global health emergency.

**Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Most of those affected are older people and those with underlying health conditions.

**China says the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.

**Two scientific analyses of the epidemic say each person infected is passing the disease on to between two and three other people.

**Three research teams have begun work on developing potential vaccines, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations said. Scientists hope to be testing the first possible vaccines in three months’ time.

**China is testing the HIV drug Aluvia as a treatment.

**There are severe travel restrictions in Wuhan, with urban transport shut and outgoing flights suspended.

**Among other measures to contain the virus, China will halt all group tours, affecting tourism both at home and to other countries, from Jan. 27.

**Hong Kong has barred residents of Hubei province from entering the city.

**France, Italy, Japan, Australia and the United States have all said they are working to evacuate citizens from Wuhan.

**Airports around the world have stepped up screening.

**Some experts believe the virus is not as dangerous as the 2002-03 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that killed nearly 800 people, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has killed more than 700 people since 2012.

Compiled by Stephen Coates; Editing by Tom Hogue

Source: Reuters: Top News
Author: Continue reading Factbox: Latest on the coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

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Trump offers China ‘any help’ necessary as coronavirus toll hits 81

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump offered China any help needed on Monday to control a coronavirus outbreak in the central city of Wuhan that has killed 81 people and stranded tens of millions during the biggest holiday of the year.

With provincial authorities taking increasing flak from the public over their initial response, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan to encourage medical workers, supervise their efforts and promise reinforcements.

Shares tumbled worldwide and China’s yuan hit a 2020 low as worries grew about the impact of the virus after the world’s second-biggest economy ramped up travel bans and extended the Lunar New Year holidays.[MKTS/GLOB]

“We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus,” tweeted Trump, who waged a bruising 18-month trade war with Beijing.

“Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch. We have offered China and President Xi (Jinping) any help that is necessary. Our experts are extraordinary!”

Beijing authorities reported the capital’s first coronavirus death on Monday – a 50-year-old person who had been to Wuhan, state media said. It was not clear if that was included in the latest toll of deaths, all in China.

Visiting Wuhan in a blue protective suit and mask, Li praised medics, said 2,500 more workers would join them in the next two days, and visited the construction site of a new hospital due to be built in days.

“Li … thanked frontline medical workers for their all-out efforts in treating patients and urged them to pay attention to their own protection,” Xinhua news agency said.

Li, the most senior leader to visit Wuhan since the outbreak began, was shown on state TV leading medical workers in chants of “Wuhan jiayou!” – an exhortation to keep their strength up.

On China’s heavily censored social media, local officials have faced mounting anger over the virus.

Some lashed out at the governor of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, after he corrected himself twice during a news conference over the number of face masks being produced.

“If he can mess up the data multiple times, no wonder the disease has spread so severely,” said one user of the Weibo social media platform.

Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster CCTV the city’s management of the crisis was “not good enough” – rare public self-criticism – and said he was willing to resign.

A medical official takes the body temperature of a man at the departure hall of the airport in Changsha, Hunan Province, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, China, January 27, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

CITY IN LOCKDOWN

The city of 11 million people is in virtual lockdown and much of Hubei, home to nearly 60 million people, is under some kind of travel curb.

People from the region have come under scrutiny within mainland China as well, questioned about their recent travels.

“Hubei people are getting discriminated against,” a Wuhan resident complained on Weibo.

A small number of cases linked to people who traveled from Wuhan have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, including Thailand, France, Japan and the United States.

Investors are worried about the impact on travel, tourism and broader economic activity. The consensus is that in the short term, economic output will be hit as authorities impose travel restrictions and extend the week-long New Year holiday – when millions traditionally travel by rail, road and plane – by three days to limit the spread of the virus.

Asian and European shares tumbled, with Japan’s Nikkei average sliding 2%, its biggest one-day fall in five months. Demand spiked for safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen and Treasury notes. European stocks fell more than 2%.

During the 2002-2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally, air passenger demand in Asia plunged 45%. The travel industry is more reliant on Chinese travelers now than it was then.

The total number of confirmed cases in China rose to 2,835, with about half in Hubei. But some experts suspect the number is much higher.

Slideshow (23 Images)

Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, which has had eight confirmed cases, banned entry to people who had visited Hubei in the past 14 days.

The number of deaths from the virus in Hubei climbed to 76 from 56, officials said, with five deaths elsewhere in China.

The newly identified coronavirus is believed to have originated late last year in a Wuhan market illegally selling wildlife. Much is not known, including how easily it spreads and just how deadly it is.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus arrived in China to check the response, his agency said. Governments from Japan to Spain were working on repatriating nationals from the Wuhan area.

Reporting by Winni Zhou, Wu Huizhong, Sun Yilei and Josh Horwitz; Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo, Lidia Kelly in Sydney, Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva, Kate Kelland in London said Cheng Leng in Shanghai; Writing by Robert Birsel, Tony Munroe, Nick Macfie and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Alison Williams and Lisa Shumaker

Source: Reuters: Top News
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Factbox: What is known about the new coronavirus

(Reuters) – A new virus that has killed 81 people in China can spread before symptoms show up, Chinese health authorities said, adding that its incubation period can range from one to 14 days.

A traveller wears a mask at Pearson airport arrivals, shortly after Toronto Public Health received notification of Canada’s first presumptive confirmed case of novel coronavirus, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

Here are more facts on the virus, called 2019-nCoV, which can be transmitted among humans and belongs to the same coronavirus family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

**Unlike SARS, which also originated in China, the new virus can spread during the incubation period, National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei said on Sunday. SARS killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

**The current outbreak was spreading “relatively fast” and “now entering a more severe and complicated period”, Ma added, saying that authorities had limited knowledge of the virus and were unclear about the risks posed by its mutations.

**Last Thursday, the World Health Organisation called the outbreak an emergency for China, but stopped short of designating it a global emergency.

**Coronavirus infections have a wide range of symptoms, including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Severe cases can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and death.

**Many of those who died had pre-existing medical conditions or were elderly, authorities have said.

**Like the viruses that cause SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the new one is an RNA virus, with RNA as its genetic material, rather than DNA. That means the virus blends with its host’s DNA, and can mutate rapidly.

**The total number of confirmed cases in China rose about 30% to 2,744, about half of them in the central province of Hubei, whose capital is Wuhan.

**Cases have also been reported in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam. No deaths have been reported outside China.

**The virus is believed to have originated late last year in a food market in Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife. Chinese researchers believe it may have been transmitted to humans from snakes, which in turn may have got it from bats. Both animals were known to have been sold at the market.

**The WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City on Dec. 31 and on Jan. 7. Chinese authorities confirmed they had identified a new virus.

Compiled by Gabriel Crossley, Cate Cadell and Edwina Gibbs; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters: Top News
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UK asks those who have travelled from Wuhan to isolate themselves

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) – Anyone who has returned to Britain from Wuhan in China in the last fortnight should self-isolate and stay indoors, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday, due to concerns about pre-symptom transmission of coronavirus.

As of 1400 GMT on Monday, Britain had tested 73 people for the Wuhan coronavirus but has not had any confirmed cases of the disease that has killed 81 people in China.

“We are … asking anyone in the UK who has returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days to self-isolate, to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people,” Hancock said, advising those people to contact the National Health Service via phone.

“Public Health England officials are continuing to trace people who have arrived in the UK from Wuhan. Having eliminated those who we know have since left the country, there are 1,460 people we’re seeking to locate.”

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Alex Richardson

Source: Reuters: Top News
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Coronavirus: Death toll rises to 81 as China extends holiday

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The number of people killed in China by the new coronavirus has risen to 81, with almost 3,000 confirmed ill.

The national new year holiday has been extended by three days to Sunday, in an attempt to contain the spread.

The number of deaths in Hubei rose from 56 to 76, with five deaths elsewhere. Wuhan is in lockdown and several other cities have imposed travel bans.

At least 44 cases have been confirmed abroad, including in Thailand, the United States, and Australia.

There have been no deaths outside China.

In Shanghai, the government has stopped businesses from returning to work until 10 February. The ban applies to all companies apart from utilities, medical firms, medical suppliers, and supermarkets.

Meanwhile, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is in Beijing to discuss the outbreak with the Chinese government and health experts.

Man in mask

EPA

Coronavirus cases in ChinaSource: National Health Commission, as of end of 26 January, plus state media

The BBC’s Robin Brant in Shanghai says extending the main holiday of the year is a highly unusual move. But after the pre-new year travel surge, the prospect of half a billion people getting back on trains, planes and buses and criss-crossing the country again is the last thing the government wants, he adds.

On Monday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and centre of the outbreak.

Experts suspect many more people are infected, but actual figures are hard to ascertain due to a number of factors like some people being asymptomatic.

Prof Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College, London, told the UK’s Guardian newspaper his “best guess” put the number at 100,000 infected, while figures put together by the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong suggest the number was closer to 43,000.

However, the University of Hong Kong research also suggested that – without public health intervention – tens of thousands more could be infected every day when the outbreak reaches its height. As a result of their projections, Gabriel Leung, the dean of the faculty of Medicine, was advising “substantial, draconian measures” to limit population mobility.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine.

Most of the deaths have been of elderly people or those with pre-existing respiratory problems.

What is happening in Wuhan?

Travel from the city, home to 11 million people, has been severely restricted and non-essential vehicles have been banned from the roads.

At the Hubei border, workers are checking people’s temperatures before allowing them into the province.

The local government in Wuhan said no-one from the city had left China in the past four days. Some 4,096 tourists from Wuhan are still out of the country, while five million new year travellers left the city before the lockdown.

More than half a million medical staff have joined the province’s prevention, control and treatment operations, while two makeshift hospitals are being built.

What is the situation in China?

New year celebrations were scaled back and four major cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Tianjin – have banned long-distance buses.

Schools and official institutions will remain closed for the rest of this week.

Beijing has closed the Forbidden City for tourists, as well as a section of the Great Wall. Both Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai have closed.

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In Guangdong province, several cities have made face masks mandatory in public.

Hong Kong, which has eight confirmed cases, has declared a city-wide emergency, with schools closed until 17 February. Mongolia – which has yet to record a case of the virus – has closed its border with China. It has also closed schools until 2 March, and banned public events.

Meanwhile, He Qinghua, a top official with China’s National Health Commission, told reporters some areas still “lack determination in controlling the epidemic”, according to the state-run newspaper Global Times. He said rural villages, in particular, were failing to deal with the crisis “in a timely manner“.

Over the weekend, Chinese officials warned the virus was able to spread during its incubation period, believed to be between one and 14 days, making it harder to contain the illness.

What is the situation internationally?

According to the World Health Organization and national authorities, there have been at least 44 confirmed cases outside China.

  • Eight cases: Thailand
  • Five: USA, Australia
  • Four: Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea
  • Three: France, Japan
  • Two: Vietnam
  • One: Nepal, Canada, Cambodia

In the UK, 73 people have been tested – but no-one has resulted to have contracted the virus.

Almost all had recently been to Wuhan or had been in close contact with someone who had.

Where did the virus emerge?

The virus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan.

Authorities have since temporarily banned the sale of all wildlife in China. The virus itself is a new, or “novel” coronavirus – a family that normally affects animals.

‘As long as we leave, they don’t mind’

Stephen McDonell, BBC News, Hubei / Henan

Police and officials in the impact zone in Hubei and Henan provinces are now very keen to move us on wherever we arrive.

They don’t seem to mind where we go – as long as we leave their towns.

We explain that the world wants to see the important, tiring work they’re doing to combat the virus. But they’re not interested. It could be that they’re worried that our presence might imply to some that their patch is not handling this emergency well enough.

One police officer at the entrance to a small town in Henan said to me: “We don’t have a problem here any more so there’s no need for you to be here.”

He said this at a checking station as cars were being pulled up behind him. Medical staff covered head to toe in protective clothing were then screening every passenger.

They also checked the inside of all vehicles. I’m not sure what they were looking for – but it certainly didn’t look like business as usual.

What can people do to stay safe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises its “standard recommendations” focusing on “hand and respiratory hygiene”.

That essentially means washing hands or using disinfectants, and covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

The advice also suggests avoiding contact with live animals in places where there have been coronavirus cases, and not to eat raw or uncooked animal products.

Learn more about the new virus

Are you in China? Have you been affected by the lockdown in various cities? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Source: BBC News – China
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