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President Donald Trump has revealed he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, despite public health officials warning it may be unsafe.

Speaking at the White House, the president told reporters he started taking the malaria and lupus medication recently.

President Trump said: “I’m taking it for about a week and a half now and I’m still here, I’m still here.”

There is no evidence hydroxychloroquine can fight coronavirus, and regulators warn the drug may cause heart problems.

Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of the Pan American Health Organization – part of the WHO – has also since stressed that no clinical trials have recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus.

President Trump, 73, was hosting a meeting devoted to the struggling restaurant industry on May 18, when he caught reporters unawares by revealing he was taking the drug.

“You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it,” he told reporters.

“I happen to be taking it.”

“Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

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Asked what was his evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s positive benefits, President Trump said: “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.”

He added: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right I’m not going to get hurt by it.”

Though some people in the White House have tested positive for coronavirus, President Trump said again he had “zero symptoms” and was being tested frequently.

He added that he had been taking a daily zinc supplement and received a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic meant to prevent infection.

When asked whether the White House physician had recommended he start taking the disputed remedy, President Trump said he himself had requested it.

Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, said in a statement issued through the White House later on May 18 that President Trump was in “very good health” and “symptom-free”.

The US Navy officer added: “After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”

The FDA last month issued an advisory saying that hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”.

The agency cited reports that the drug can cause serious heart rhythm problems in Covid-19 patients.

The FDA warned against use of the medication outside hospitals, where the agency has granted temporary authorization for its use in some cases. Clinical trials of the drug are also under way.

The CDC says there are no approved drugs or therapeutics to prevent or treat Covid-19, which is confirmed to have infected more than 1.5 million people in the US, killing more than 90,000 patients.

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Applications of foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the US will be suspended because of the coronavirus crisis, President Donald Trump said.

A day after he announced the move in an ambiguous tweet, President Trump said the measure would protect American jobs.

It is not clear how effective it will be as most visa services have already been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Critics say President Trump is trying to distract attention away from his response to the virus. The US has nearly 45,000 deaths.

Democrats also accuse the Trump administration of using the pandemic to crack down on immigration. The issue has traditionally been a strong campaigning theme for President Trump, a Republican, but has taken a back seat during the crisis and in the lead-up to the November election.

Image source Wikipedia

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At a White House coronavirus briefing, President Trump said the executive order with the decision was likely to be signed on April 22. The ban could be extended “much longer” depending on how the economy was doing, he said.

After vowing to suspend “all immigration” to the US on April 20, President Trump apparently changed his original plan after a backlash from some business leaders. It would reportedly impact immigrants given temporary working visas, like farm laborers and hi-tech employees.

More than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus outbreak, and President Trump said the government had a “solemn duty” to ensure they regain their jobs.

He said: “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad.”

The president added that there could be some exemptions to the measure.

He also said: “We want to protect our US workers and I think as we move forward we will become more and more protective of them.”

President Trump’s order could spark legal challenges.

The US has the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world – more than 820,000 – according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the disease globally.

Green cards give immigrants legal permanent residence in the US and the opportunity to apply for American citizenship.

In a typical year, nearly one million green cards are issued in the US. The majority – roughly 70% – go to those with relatives living in the US, according to a 2018 report from the US Senate. For employment-based green cards, a common form of the residency status, roughly 80% are issued to those already in the country, shifting from a temporary visa to permanent residence.

Italy and Austria seek to ease restrictions brought in to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The European Commission has urged EU countries to co-ordinate with each other to relax measures gradually.

An internal document sent by the Commission to EU governments said that even phased measures would “unavoidably lead to a corresponding increase in new cases”.

Lifting restrictions had to wait for the spread of the virus to be reduced for a significant period, it said, with enough capacity in intensive care units to cope with a second surge in cases and increased testing, along with mass antibody tests.

Garden centers, DIY stores and small stores can open but with strict rules on social distancing.

Spain has allowed some businesses to return to work, and Denmark is reopening schools for younger children. Poland has said it will gradually lift restrictions on its economy from April 12, probably starting with general stores.

Spain reported its lowest increase in infections since March 20 on April 14. There has been a 1.8% increase from April 13 to 3,045. The number of deaths has gone up by 567 to 18,056.

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In France, President Emmanuel Macron extended France’s lockdown for another four weeks until May 11, as he said current restrictions had slowed the virus but not beaten it.

In Germany, the head of Robert Koch public health institute said that while there had been a slowdown it was too early to talk of a clear trend.

In Italy, where over 20,000 people have died in the pandemic, a limited number of shops and businesses have been allowed to reopen.

However, some of the worst-hit regions have decided to hold off.

Lombardy and other regions in the north will maintain their measures for longer.

After five weeks under lockdown, bookstores, stationery and clothes for babies and young children can reopen their doors but with strict rules on customer numbers and hygiene.

Businesses, stores and schools should lead the way, followed by limited reopening of restaurants, bars and cafes.

The reopening of bookshops and clothes stores for young children is a glimmer of hope, after Italy saw 20,465 fatalities, second only to the US in the number of deaths officially caused by Covid-19.

The daily toll of fatalities is now falling and the number of patients in intensive care has dropped for 10 days in a row to 3,260. However, Lombardy, where Italy’s outbreak began, still saw another 280 deaths declared on April 13, and officials have decided to allow children’s clothing shops to open, but not bookshops.

Also in the north, some of the worst-affected areas of Emilia-Romagna will stay locked down, while in Veneto officials are talking of a “soft lockdown”. Bookstores and clothing stores can open for two days a week, says Veneto governor Luca Zaia, and a ban on exercising more than 200m away from home has been lifted. But residents will still need to wear a mask and gloves if they go out.

Austria was one of the first European countries to follow neighboring Italy in imposing strict lockdown measures about a month ago, and the government says it has managed to flatten the curve of new infections. It has so far reported about 14,000 cases and 368 deaths.

Last week, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz unveiled plans to lift restrictions gradually.

In an open letter to the country on April 11, Sebastian Kurz said he wanted to “come out of this crisis as quickly as possible and fight for every job in Austria”.

From April 14, stores under 400 sq m (4,300 sq ft) in size are allowed to reopen, along with hardware stores and garden centers.

However, it is also compulsory for people to wear a mask in supermarkets and pharmacies.

Economy Minister Margarete Schramböck told Austrian TV: “Experience in countries that have handled it well has taught us that we have to move gradually.”

Larger stores, shopping centers and hairdressers are due to reopen from May 1, while restaurants and hotels could reopen from mid-May if health conditions allow, Austria’s chancellor has said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed the slowing down of infections in some European countries but warned against lifting restrictions too early, so as not to prompt “a deadly resurgence”.

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Speaking at his Easter vigil service in an almost empty St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis has urged people not to “yield to fear” over coronavirus, calling on them to be “messengers of life in a time of death”.

Members of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholic community could follow a live stream of the service.

Lockdown measures are still in place across Italy, hard hit by the pandemic.

Italy’s PM Giuseppe Conte praised the leader of the Roman Catholic Church for his “gesture of responsibility” in marking Easter without a congregation.

Catholic Christians around the world are celebrating Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, despite the restrictions that have left hundreds of millions confined to their homes. Many priests are conducting services in churches without congregations.

Image source: Vatican Media

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Pope Francis recalled the Biblical account of a woman finding Jesus’s tomb empty on the day Christians believe he rose from the dead.

He said: “Then too, there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt. A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour.”

“Do not be afraid, do not yield to fear: this is the message of hope. It is addressed to us today,” the Pope added.

The Pope’s service, normally held in front of thousands of worshippers, was attended by only around a couple of dozen people. Several traditional features were also scaled back, including the baptism of converts.

On April 12, the Pope will give his Easter Sunday address at a ceremony behind closed doors. Historically it has been given to crowds in St Peter’s Square.

Speaking at his Easter vigil service in an almost empty St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis has urged people not to “yield to fear” over coronavirus, calling on them to be “messengers of life in a time of death”.

Members of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholic community could follow a live stream of the service.

Lockdown measures are still in place across Italy, hard hit by the pandemic.

Italy’s PM Giuseppe Conte praised the leader of the Roman Catholic Church for his “gesture of responsibility” in marking Easter without a congregation.

Catholic Christians around the world are celebrating Easter, the most important festival in the Christian calendar, despite the restrictions that have left hundreds of millions confined to their homes. Many priests are conducting services in churches without congregations.

Pope Francis recalled the Biblical account of a woman finding Jesus’s tomb empty on the day Christians believe he rose from the dead.

He said: “Then too, there was fear about the future and all that would need to be rebuilt. A painful memory, a hope cut short. For them, as for us, it was the darkest hour.”

“Do not be afraid, do not yield to fear: this is the message of hope. It is addressed to us today,” the Pope added.

The Pope’s service, normally held in front of thousands of worshippers, was attended by only around a couple of dozen people. Several traditional features were also scaled back, including the baptism of converts.

On April 12, the Pope will give his Easter Sunday address at a ceremony behind closed doors. Historically it has been given to crowds in St Peter’s Square.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has warned the coronavirus pandemic will turn global economic growth “sharply negative” this year.

She said the world faced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The head of the International Monetary Fund forecast that 2021 would only see a partial recovery.

Lockdowns imposed by governments have forced many companies to close and lay off staff.

Earlier this week, a UN study said 81% of the world’s workforce of 3.3 billion people had had their place of work fully or partly closed because of the outbreak.

Kristalina Georgieva made her bleak assessment in remarks ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings.

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Emerging markets and developing countries would be the hardest hit, the IMF chief said, requiring hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid.

She said: “Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020.

“Today, that number has been turned on its head: we now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”

Kristalina Georgieva added: “In fact, we anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.”

She said that if the pandemic eased in the second half of 2020, the IMF expected to see a partial recovery next year. But she cautioned that the situation could also worsen.

Kristalina Georgieva’s comments came as the US reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits had surged for the third week by 6.6 million, bringing the total over that period to more than 16 million Americans.

On April 9, following marathon talks, EU leaders agreed a €500 billion ($546 billion) economic support package for members of the bloc hit hardest by the lockdown measures.

The European Commission earlier said it aimed to co-ordinate a possible “roadmap” to move away from the restrictive measures.

Earlier this week, the International Labor Organization (ILO), a UN agency, warned that the pandemic posed “the most severe crisis” since World War Two.

The ILO said the outbreak was expected to wipe out 6.7% of working hours across the world during the second quarter of 2020 – the equivalent of 195 million full-time workers losing their jobs.

Last month, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that the global economy would take years to recover.

OECD secretary general Angel Gurría said that economies were suffering a bigger shock than after the 9/11 terror attacks of 2001 or the 2008 financial crisis.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Some workers at food delivery company Instacart and US and Italian workers at Amazon have walked out, complaining of inadequate protection.

Pressure is growing on Amazon and other delivery companies to improve protection for workers worried about getting infected with coronavirus.

US senators have also written to Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to express concerns.

Instacart and Amazon have said they are taking extra precautions, amid booming demand for delivery services due to the virus.

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An Amazon spokesman said in a statement: “We are going to great lengths to keep the buildings extremely clean and help employees practice important precautions such as social distancing and other measures.

“Those who don’t want to work are welcome to use paid and unpaid time off options and we support them in doing so.”

Amazon said it had adjusted its practices, including increased cleaning of its facilities and introducing staggered shift and break times.

In Italy, Amazon said it had reduced deliveries since March 22. However, union leaders say workers need access to better protection.

“Several employees working at the site use face masks for days instead of having new ones each day,” one union representative told Reuters.

A group of workers at Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, plan to walk out on March 31, citing similar problems.

Whole foods told NBC it has “taken extensive measures to keep people safe.”

In 2019, the company faced criticism for cutting healthcare benefits for 1,900 part-time employees.

Earlier this month, Jeff Bezos – who is one of the world’s richest people with an estimated $115.6 billion fortune – addressed the worries in an open letter to staff, thanking them for their work.

Amazon, which is looking to hire 100,000 more warehouse workers in the US to help address the surge in orders, has also said it would boost pay for warehouse staff around the world, including by $2 per hour in the US and by £2 per hour in the UK, where staff have been told to work overtime.

However, US lawmakers have questioned Amazon over reports of shortages of protective and cleaning supplies, as well as its sick leave policies.

Amazon earlier faced strikes by workers in France and Italy and has been hit by legal complaints over the issues in Spain, according to a global alliance of unions coordinated by UNI Global Union.

A strike on March 30 against Instacart was organized by the Instacart Shoppers and Gig Workers collective, which had accused the company of profiting by putting people making its deliveries “directly in harm’s way”.

They said the company should provide protective gear, offer hazard pay and extend the pay for those unable to work because of the virus, whether due to a required quarantine or pre-existing condition.

On March 29, after the call about March 30 strike, Instacart said it was working with a manufacturer to produce its own hand sanitizer and changing its tip policy. It had earlier said it would pay bonuses and provide 14 days of sick leave for its shoppers or part-time employees diagnosed with the virus or placed under isolation orders.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The IOC has decided that the Tokyo Olympic Games will start on July 23, 2021 and run to August 8 after being postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 30, the International Olympic Committee’s executive board met to make the decision.

The Olympics will still be called Tokyo 2020 despite taking place in 2021.

The Paralympic Games, originally due to start on August 24, 2020, will now take place between August 24 and September 5, 2021.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge.

“Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

The decision to postpone both events was taken to protect the health of the athletes and everyone involved, and to support the containment of the new coronavirus.

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The new dates also took into consideration the rest of the global sports calendar after the men’s soccer European Championship was postponed to the summer of 2021.

The World Athletics Championships, originally set to take place in Oregon, USA, between August 6 and August 15, 2021, will now be postponed until 2022.

Olympic organizers hope the delay will allow sufficient time to finish the qualification process which will follow the same mitigation measures planned for 2020.

It has previously been confirmed that all athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned will remain unchanged.

Purchased tickets would be valid for rescheduled events or a refund could be requested when the new dates were set, organizers previously confirmed.

On March 24, Japan’s PM Abe Shinzo said the Games would be held in their “complete form” and no later than summer 2021.

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said he had proposed the July 23 to August 8 timeframe to the IOC, and that Thomas Bach had agreed, following consultations with the international sports federations.

It is the first time in the Olympic Games’ 124-year modern history that they have been delayed, though they were cancelled altogether in 1916 because of World War One and again in 1940 and 1944 for World War Two. Cold War boycotts affected the summer Games in Moscow and Los Angeles in 1980 and 1984 respectively.

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UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both tested positive for coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease.

It comes after the UK government’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty has said he is self-isolating after experiencing symptoms of coronavirus last night.

Prof. Chris Whitty has led the UK’s medical response and appears in the government’s public information films. Known symptoms of the virus include a persistent dry cough and a raised temperature.

PM Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus after displaying “mild” symptoms.

He is continuing to work in his Downing Street office although he will not be taking part in March 27 daily government briefing.

Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who is several months pregnant, is self-isolating elsewhere.

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A total of 759 people have now died of the coronavirus in the UK, while 14,579 have tested positive.

The death toll jumped by 181 on March 27 – a rise of 31% – making it the biggest rise in deaths that the country has seen so far, surpassing March 26’s record of 115.

In England, patients were aged between 29 and 98 years old.

According to health officials, all but four patients, aged between 82 and 91 years old, had underlying health conditions.

The UK has the seventh highest number of recorded deaths in the world after Italy, Spain, China, Iran, France and the US.

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Image by Vektor Kunst from Pixabay

Governments from around the world have asked people to stay at home to help preventing and slowing down the spread of coronavirus.

Self-isolating means cutting yourself off from the rest of the world.

From now on, if one person in a household starts to display flu-like symptoms – defined as a fever of above 100F (37.8C) or a persistent cough – everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days.

The person with the symptoms should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, and keep away from other people in the home.

They should ask for help for groceries, other shopping or medication, which can be dropped off on the doorstep by friends, family or delivery drivers.

The Covid-19 disease can cause a fever, cough and breathing problems. It takes five days on average for people to start showing the symptoms.

What if someone self-isolating shares a home?

If someone is self-isolating and shares a kitchen, they should try to avoid using it when other people are there and take meals back to their room to eat. Clean all the surfaces at home with household cleaning products daily.

Although they might not be able to entirely separate themselves from family members or flat-mates, the advice is to limit contact as much as possible.

If possible, stay at least 6ft from other people they live with and sleep alone. Keep away from vulnerable people.

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People living with someone in isolation should wash their hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after coming into contact with them.

Other people shouldn’t share towels, toiletries or other household items with someone in isolation, who should have a separate bathroom. If that is not possible, the isolated person should use the bathroom last, cleaning it thoroughly afterwards if they are able.

Any rubbish that the isolated person has been in contact with should be double-bagged and kept.

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Image by Vektor Kunst from Pixabay

Authorities in most of the coronavirus affected countries have asked people to stop non-essential contact with others and avoid all unnecessary travel. This is known as social distancing.

Social distancing means trying to avoid contact with other people.

It means spending less time in public places, where a lot of people are around.

Usually, governments want:

  • People to start working from home wherever possible
  • All unnecessary travel stopped
  • Restaurants, pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues to be avoided
  • Stay at least 6ft from other people
  • Keep away from vulnerable people
  • Anyone living with someone who has a cough or a temperature to stay at home for 14 days.

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Under the US coronavirus task force’s new guidelines, President Donald Trump has urged:

  • All older Americans to stay home
  • Work and schooling should be at home
  • Discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits should be avoided
  • Anyone in a household who tests positive for the new coronavirus should stay at home along with everyone who lives there.

Global stocks have plunged again despite central banks around the world announcing a coordinated effort to ease the effects of the new coronavirus.

The Dow Jones index closed 12.9% down after President Donald Trump said the economy “may be” heading for recession.

Meanwhile, London’s FTSE 100 ended 4% lower, and other major European markets saw similar slides.

On March 15, the Fed cut its interest rates by 100 basis points to a target range of 0% to 0.25% and said it would offer at least $700 billion for support to the markets in the coming weeks.

The move was part of coordinated action announced alongside the eurozone, the UK, Japan, Canada, and Switzerland.

It comes as local officials across the US shut schools, restaurants and bars, sports leagues cancel tournaments, and retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Nike, and Gap announce hundreds of temporary store closures.

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Speaking after the announcement, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said: “The virus is having a profound effect.”

Investors are worried that central banks now have few options left to combat the impact of the pandemic.

In New York, steep falls as markets opened triggered another automatic halt to trading, which is meant to curb panic selling. Before last week, such halts, known as circuit breakers, had not been used in more than two decades.

However, the sell-off continued after the 15-minute suspension, with the Dow losing nearly 3,000 points or 12.9%, its worst percentage drop since 1987.

The wider S&P 500 dropped 11.9%, while NASDAQ dropped 12.3%. All three indexes are now down more than 25% from their highs.

In London, companies in the travel sector saw big falls. Share in holiday company Tui sank more than 27% after it said it would suspend the “majority” of its operations. BA-owner IAG fell more than 25% after it said it would cut its flight capacity by at least 75% in April and May.

The FTSE 250, which includes a number of well-known UK-focused companies, ended down about 7.8%.

All the main European share indexes fell sharply, though they later regained some ground. France’s Cac 40 index fell more than 5.7% and Germany’s Dax dropped more than 5.3%.

In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 2.5% and the Shanghai Composite in China ended the day 3.3% lower.

Oil prices, which have been shaken by a price war between exporters, fell again. Brent crude dropped by more than 10% to less than $32 a barrel while West Texas International crude fell more than 8% to less than $30 a barrel.

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Image source France24

France has ordered the closure of all non-essential places used by the public from March 14 midnight as the coronavirus outbreak spreads.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the number of people in intensive care was growing and earlier guidelines for the public were being ignored.

The measure applies to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and nightclubs as well as non-essential businesses.

It would not, the prime minister said, affect essential businesses which he listed as food shops, chemists, banks, tobacco shops and petrol stations.

Edouard Philippe also asked people to reduce their travel, especially between towns.

“The best way to slow down the epidemic is social distancing,” he said.

“I say this gravely – we must all together show greater discipline in the application of these measures,” the prime minister added.

However, local elections due on March 15 would also still go ahead, he said. Religious buildings would remain open but gatherings and ceremonies should be postponed.

France reported a sharp rise in cases on March 14, from 3,661 to 4,499. It recorded 12 more deaths, bringing the toll to 79.

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Meanwhile, Spain has confirmed a 15-day lockdown as part of emergency measures.

There will also be a reduction in medium-distance rail traffic to stem the spread of people around the country, and economic measures to support businesses and workers.

After a lengthy meeting of the country’s government cabinet, Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez said a partial lockdown would be in place across the country, with the armed forces on standby to assist with relief efforts.

All stores will be forced to close, except for those selling food and other basic necessities.

Pedro Sánchez said the state of emergency could be extended with congressional approval.

Authorities recorded 1,800 more cases since March 13 – many in the capital Madrid.

This will be the second state of emergency in the country since the transition to democracy began in 1975, the first being a 2010 air traffic controllers’ strike.

With 191 deaths and 6,046 infections, Spain is the worst-hit European country after Italy.

Rome declared a nationwide lockdown on March 16. More than 1,440 people have died in Italy.

Meanwhile, the US is extending its European coronavirus travel ban to include the UK and Republic of Ireland. The ban will begin at midnight EST on March 16, VP Mike Pence announced.

On March 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Europe was now the “epicenter” of the pandemic.

The WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilization and social distancing to save lives.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as planned in July, despite coronavirus concerns resulting in the postponement of sporting events, Japan PM Shinzo Abe said.

The prime minister added the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would have the final decision whether Tokyo 2020 goes ahead.

He said: “We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned.”

Japan has had more than 1,400 cases and 28 deaths resulting from coronavirus.

According to organizers, the Tokyo Games is expected to cost about 1.35 trillion yen.

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The Japan section of the Olympic Torch relay is due to start in Fukushima on March 26. The recent torch-lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia was held without spectators, before the rest of the relay in Greece was suspended to avoid attracting crowds.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said: “We’re taking thorough infection measures with regards to the torch relay domestically.”

Several Olympic trials events in the US have been postponed, including wrestling, rowing and diving.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as planned in July, despite coronavirus concerns resulting in the postponement of sporting events, Japan PM Shinzo Abe said.

The prime minister added the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would have the final decision whether Tokyo 2020 goes ahead.

He said: “We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned.”

Japan has had more than 1,400 cases and 28 deaths resulting from coronavirus.

According to organizers, the Tokyo Games is expected to cost about 1.35 trillion yen.

The Japan section of the Olympic Torch relay is due to start in Fukushima on March 26. The recent torch-lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia was held without spectators, before the rest of the relay in Greece was suspended to avoid attracting crowds.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said: “We’re taking thorough infection measures with regards to the torch relay domestically.”

Several Olympic trials events in the US have been postponed, including wrestling, rowing and diving.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

UK’s health minister Nadine Dorries has been diagnosed with coronavirus.

She showed symptoms on the day she attended an event with PM Boris Johnson.

Nadine Dorries, 62, said she has been self-isolating at home.

The Department of Health said the minister first showed symptoms on March 5 – the same day she attended an event hosted by the prime minister.

Six people with the virus have died in the UK, which has a total of 382 cases.

The latest person to die was a man in his early 80s who had underlying health conditions.

The Bank of England earlier announced an emergency cut in interest rates from 0.75% to 0.25% in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak

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It is not known how many meetings Nadine Dorries had attended at Westminster or in her constituency in recent days, but she was at an event at Downing Street on March 5 to mark International Women’s Day.

She also held a surgery in her constituency on March 6 which was attended by up to 12 people, according to Steven Dixon, chair of the Mid Bedfordshire Conservative Association.

Steven Dixon said the details of all those who attended the surgery have been passed to the NHS.

The Flitwick Club, where the surgery took place, is undergoing a deep clean as a precaution.

The Department of Health said ministers – including the prime minister – would not need to undergo testing as Public Health England (PHE) has assessed the risk of Nadine Dorries’ close contacts and only those with symptoms needed to self-isolate.

Nadine Dorries added she was worried about her 84-year-old mother who was staying with her and began to cough on March 10.

The number of total cases for the UK include 324 cases in England, 27 in Scotland, 16 in Northern Ireland and 15 in Wales.

There are 91 in London, with the next highest infected area being the south-east, with 51 cases. The latest person to die, on March 9, was a man in his 80s, with underlying health conditions, who was being treated at Watford General Hospital.

The man caught the virus in the UK and officials are trying to trace who he had been in contact with.

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has surged to 400, amid international efforts to contain the spread of the deadly outbreak.

Italy is the main focus of infection in Europe.

The rise represents a 25% surge in 24 hours.

Several European countries announced new cases traced to Italy.

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On February 26, the World Health Organization said that for the first time the virus was spreading faster outside China, where it originated.

Globally, more than 80,000 people in about 40 countries have been infected with the new coronavirus, which emerged in December. The vast majority remain in China.

Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, has killed more than 2,700 people so far.

On February 26, authorities reported a total of 400 cases – a rise of 80 from February 25.

The worst-affected areas are in the industrial north of Italy – Lombardy, the region around Milan, and Veneto near Venice. The outbreak has killed 12 people in the country so far.

Government officials have sought to reassure the public, and insisted steps were being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

Schools, universities and cinemas have been closed and several public events cancelled.

Eleven towns at the epicenter of the outbreak – home to a total of 55,000 people – have been quarantined.

There are fears that the outbreak may tip Italy into economic recession.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told reporters after meeting the Italian health minister in Rome: “This is a situation of concern, but we must not give in to panic.

“There are still many unknowns about this virus and in particular its origin and how it spreads.”

In the past two days, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Norway, Switzerland, Georgia and North Macedonia reported their first coronavirus cases. Many of them involved people who had been to Italy.

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Most coronavirus infections are in China, the original source of the virus, where 77,000 people have the disease and nearly 2,600 have died. The number of new cases there is now falling.

More than 1,200 cases have been confirmed in about 30 other countries and there have been more than 20 deaths. Italy reported four more deaths on February 24, raising the total there to seven.

China’s government announced a ban on the consumption of wild animals and a crackdown on the hunting, transportation and trade of prohibited species, state media say.

It is thought that the outbreak originated at a market in the city of Wuhan selling wild animals.

On February 24, China reported 409 new infections, the bulk of which were in Wuhan.

South Korea has the largest number of confirmed cases outside China. On February 24, the Asian country reported another 231 COVID-19 infections on taking the total there to more than 830. Eight people have died.

Around 7,700 troops have been quarantined after 11 military members were infected.

However, the biggest virus clusters have been linked to a hospital and a religious group near the south-eastern city of Daegu.

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Italy has the largest number of cases in Europe, 229, and announced a series of drastic measures over the weekend to try to contain the outbreak.

In the regions of Lombardy and Veneto, a lock-down is in place in several small towns. For the next two weeks, 50,000 residents will not be able to leave without special permission.

Even outside the zone, many businesses and schools have suspended activities, and sporting events have been cancelled.

Three deaths announced on February 24 were all in Lombardy, Italian media reported.

It is not yet clear how the virus entered the country, officials said.

On February 23, Iran announced it had 61 confirmed cases of coronavirus, most of them in the holy city of Qom. Twelve of those infected have died, the highest number of deaths outside China.

On February 24, a lawmaker in Qom accused the government of covering up the extent of the outbreak, saying there were 50 deaths in the city alone. However, the country’s deputy health minister quickly denied the claim.

On the same day, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain reported their first cases, all involving people who had come from Iran. Officials in Bahrain said the patient infected there was a school bus driver, and several schools had been closed as a result.

Chinese health officials have released the first details of more than 44,000 cases of new coronavirus, Covid-19, in the largest study since the outbreak began.

Data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) finds that more than 80% of the cases have been mild, with the sick and elderly most at risk.

The research also points to the high risk to medical staff.

On February 18, a hospital director in the city of Wuhan died from the virus.

Liu Zhiming, 51, was the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan – one of the leading hospitals in the virus epicenter. He is one of the most senior health officials to die so far.

Hubei, whose capital is Wuhan, is the worst affected province in China.

The report by the CCDC shows the province’s death rate is 2.9% compared with 0.4% in the rest of the country.

The findings put the overall death rate of the coronavirus at 2.3%.

China’s latest official figures released on February 18 put the overall death toll at 1,868 and 72,436 infections.

Officials reported 98 new deaths and 1,886 new cases in the past day, with 93 of those deaths and 1,807 infections in Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak.

According to Chinese authorities, more than 12,000 people have recovered.

The study, published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology on February 17, looked at more than 44,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in China as of February 11.

While the results largely confirm previous descriptions of the virus and patterns of infection, the study includes a detailed breakdown of the 44,672 confirmed cases across all of China.

The study finds that 80.9% of infections are classified as mild, 13.8% as severe and only 4.7% as critical. The number of deaths among those infected, known as the fatality rate, remains low but rises among those over 80 years old.

Looking at the sex ratio, men are more likely to die (2.8%) than women (1.7%).

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The research also identifies which existing illnesses put patients at risk. It puts cardiovascular disease at number one, followed by diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and hypertension.

Pointing out the risk to medical staff, the study says that a total of 3,019 health workers have been infected, 1,716 of which were confirmed cases. Five had died by February 11, which was the last day of data included in the research.

On February 13, China broadened its definition of how to diagnose people, including “clinically diagnosed cases” which previously were counted separate from “confirmed cases”.

Looking forward, the study finds that “the epidemic curve of onset of symptoms” peaked around January 23-26 before declining up to February 11.

It suggests that the downward trend in the overall epidemic curve could mean that “isolation of whole cities, broadcast of critical information  (e.g., promoting hand washing, mask wearing, and care seeking) with high frequency through multiple channels, and mobilization of a multi-sector rapid response teams is helping to curb the epidemic”.

The authors also warn that with many people returning from a long holiday, the country “needs to prepare for the possible rebound of the epidemic”.

China’s response to the new coronavirus has seen the lockdown of Wuhan – the largest city in Hubei – and the rest of the province as well as severe travel restrictions on movements across the country.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus cases are not rising dramatically outside China despite a spike in Hubei province.

The only exception was on the Diamond Princess cruise liner docked in Japan, where 44 new cases were reported, bringing the total there to 218.

According to the WHO, there was also no major shift in the coronavirus’s pattern of mortality or severity.

On February 12, Hubei recorded 242 deaths, the deadliest day of the outbreak.

There was also a huge increase in cases, with 14,840 people diagnosed but most of this was down to Hubei using a broader definition to diagnose people, said Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies program.

He said: “This does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak.”

Outside China there had been two deaths and 447 cases in 24 countries, he said.

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On February 13, Japan announced its first coronavirus death – a woman in her 80s who lived in Kanagawa, south-west of Tokyo.

The woman’s diagnosis was confirmed after her death and she had no obvious link to China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, Japanese media reported.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship is in quarantine in Yokohama. Not all the 3,700 people on board have been tested yet.

People with the virus are taken to hospitals on land to be treated, while those on board are largely confined to their cabins.

On February 13, Japan said it would allow those aged 80 or over who have tested negative for the coronavirus to disembark.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said they could be allowed off the ship as early as February 14 but would have to stay in accommodation provided by the government, the Japan Times reported.

Meanwhile another cruise ship – the MS Westerdam – carrying more than 2,000 people docked in Cambodia after being turned away by ports in Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines and Thailand despite having no sick patients on board.

Until February 13 increases, the number of people with the virus in Hubei was stabilizing.

The new cases and deaths in the province have pushed the national death toll above 1,350 with almost 60,000 infections in total.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said there had been “surprise” in the US at the new cases.

He said: “We’re a little disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese, these numbers are jumping around.”

The Trump administration was also disappointed that China had not accepted a US offer to send experts to help China respond to the outbreak, Larry Kudlow said.

China sacked two top officials in Hubei province hours after the new figures were revealed.

Only Hubei province – which accounts for more than 80% of overall Chinese infections – is using the new definition to diagnose new cases.

The spread of the deadly coronavirus is accelerating, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned, after holding a special government meeting on the Lunar New Year public holiday.

China is facing a “grave situation” President Xi told senior officials.

The new virus has killed at least 56 people and infected almost 2,000 since its discovery in the city of Wuhan.

Meanwhile, the US has announced that staff at the Wuhan consulate will be evacuated on a special flight on January 28.

According to the State Department, private Americans most at risk will also be able to board the flight to San Francisco.

Meanwhile, UK-based researchers have warned of a real possibility that China will not be able to contain the virus.

Travel restrictions have come in place in several affected cities. From January 26, private vehicles will be banned from central districts of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak.

According to Chinese state newspaper the People’s Daily, a second emergency hospital is to be built there within weeks to handle 1,300 new patients, and will be finished in half a month. It is the second such rapid construction project: work on another 1,000-bed hospital has already begun.

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Specialist military medical teams have also been flown into Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.

The urgency reflects concern both within China and elsewhere about the virus which first appeared in December.

Lunar New Year celebrations for the year of the rat, which began on January 25, have been canceled in many Chinese cities.

Across mainland China, travelers are having their temperatures checked for signs of fever, and train stations have been shut in several cities.

Hong Kong has declared the highest level of emergency and school holidays were extended.

Several other nations are each dealing with a handful of cases, with patients being treated in isolation.

A coronavirus is a family of viruses which include the common cold.

However, this virus has never been seen before. It is called 2019-nCov, for “novel coronavirus”.

New viruses can become common in humans after jumping across the species barrier from animals.

The SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome] outbreak of 2003 started in bats and transferred to the civet cat which passed it on to humans.

This new Chinese virus also causes severe acute respiratory infection.

Symptoms seem to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, lead to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital treatment.

There is no specific cure or vaccine.

Based on early information, it is believed that only a quarter of infected cases are “severe”, and the dead are mostly – though not exclusively – older people, some of whom have pre-existing conditions.

The Chinese authorities suspect a seafood market that “conducted illegal transactions of wild animals” was the source of the outbreak.

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The new virus discovered in China, known also as 2019-nCoV, is understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised people to avoid “unprotected” contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe disease. It’s not yet clear how bad this new coronavirus is.

If a patient has recovered from the infection, they should not pose a significant risk to others and can be sent home from hospital provided they are well enough.

The first human cases were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.

There have not been any other suspected human cases reported prior to this.

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Given the type of virus, the incubation period (how long it takes for symptoms to appear after catching the infection) is days, rather than weeks.

It is not yet known how or when the virus became infectious to people.

Experts believe the first cases were transmitted by an animal.

At the moment, there is no vaccine that can protect people against this type of coronavirus, but researchers are looking to develop one.

It is a new strain that hasn’t been seen in humans before, which means doctors still have lots to learn about it.

Based on currently available information, the WHO has not recommended any restrictions on travel or trade.

You should re-check the latest travel advice before you depart.

Extra airport checks such as temperature scans have been put in place to screen some travelers in some countries/states.

Airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo have been screening air passengers from Wuhan and US authorities last week announced similar measures at three major airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

It is not yet known how the virus was transmitted. Other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, came from cats and camels respectively.

Experts are working to find the source.

Standard recommendations to prevent infection apply. These include:

  • regular hand washing
  • covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
  • thoroughly cooking meat and eggs

Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

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A new research suggests that dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly MERS coronavirus that emerged last year.

Tests have shown the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus, or one that is very closely related, has been circulating in the animals, offering a potential route for the spread.

The study is published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

But the scientists say more research is needed to confirm the findings.

The MERS coronavirus first emerged in the Middle East last year. So far, there have been 94 confirmed cases and 46 deaths.

While there has been evidence of the virus spreading between humans, most cases are thought to have been caused by contact with an animal. But until now, scientists have struggled to work out which one.

To investigate, an international team looked at blood samples taken from livestock animals, including camels, sheep, goats and cows, from a number of different countries.

Dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly MERS coronavirus

Dromedary camels could be responsible for passing to humans the deadly MERS coronavirus

They tested them for antibodies – the proteins produced to fight infections – which can remain in the blood long after a virus has gone.

Professor Marion Koopmans, from the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment and Erasmus University in The Netherlands, said: “We did find antibodies that we think are specific for the MERS coronavirus or a virus that looks very similar to the MERS coronavirus in dromedary camels.”

The team found low levels of antibodies in 15 out of 105 camels from the Canary Islands and high levels in each of the 50 camels tested in Oman, suggesting the virus was circulating more recently.

“Antibodies point to exposure at some time in the life of those animals,” Prof. Marion Koopmans explained.

No human cases of the MERS virus have been reported in Oman or the Canary Islands, and the researchers say they now need to test more widely to see if the infection is present elsewhere.

This would include taking samples from camels in Saudi Arabia, the country where the virus is the most prevalent.

Prof. Marion Koopmans said: “It is a smoking gun, but it is not definitive proof.”

Health officials say confirming where the virus comes from is important, but then understanding how humans get infected is a priority.

Gregory Hartl, from the World Health Organization, said: “Only if we know what actions and interactions by humans lead to infection, can we work to prevent these infections.”

Data suggests that it is not yet infectious enough to pose a global threat and is still at a stage where its spread could be halted.

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The new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which has killed half of those infected, is “unlikely” to reach the same scale as SARS, ministers in Saudi Arabia say.

Most of the 90 MERS cases reported so far have been in Saudi Arabia.

MERS is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and SARS, which killed 774 people.

However, a detailed analysis of the Saudi cases, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, did warn of “major gaps” in understanding of the virus.

The MERS coronavirus emerged in 2012 and has infected 90 people worldwide, 45 of them have died.

MERS is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and SARS, which killed 774 people

MERS is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and SARS, which killed 774 people

The global concern is that cases could spread much further, echoing the SARS outbreak.

Cases have been centered on the Middle East – with patients in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additional cases in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia and the UK have all been linked to travel to the Middle East.

Researchers in Saudi Arabia have published details of the 47 cases reported in the country.

They suggest a pattern of mostly older men being infected. Most cases were also in people with other medical problems, more than two-thirds of the reported cases also had diabetes.

The lead researcher and Deputy Minister for Public Health, Prof. Ziad Memish, said: “Despite sharing some clinical similarities with SARS, there are also some important differences.

“In contrast to SARS, which was much more infectious especially in healthcare settings and affected the healthier and the younger age group, MERS appears to be more deadly, with 60% of patients with co-existing chronic illnesses dying, compared with the 1% toll of SARS.

“Although this high mortality rate with MERS is probably spurious due to the fact that we are only picking up severe cases and missing a significant number of milder or asymptomatic cases.

“So far there is little to indicate that MERS will follow a similar path to SARS.”

However, the latest Saudi investigation both highlighted the need to find where the virus was coming from.

Prof. Ziad Memish’s report said: “Reducing the rate of introduction of MERS coronavirus into human beings is unpredictable because the source of the virus is not yet known.

“We are searching vigorously for the source.”

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it appears likely that the new coronavirus (NCoV) can be passed between people in close contact.

This comes after the French health ministry confirmed a second man had contracted the virus in a possible case of human-to-human transmission.

Two more people in Saudi Arabia are also reported to have died from the virus, according to health officials.

NCoV is known to cause pneumonia and sometimes kidney failure.

WHO officials have expressed concern over the clusters of cases of the new coronavirus strain and the potential for it to spread.

Since 2012, there have been 33 confirmed cases across Europe and the Middle East, with 18 deaths, according to a recent WHO update.

Cases have been detected in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and have spread to Germany, the UK and France.

“Of most concern… is the fact that the different clusters seen in multiple countries increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact this novel coronavirus can transmit from person to person,” the WHO said on Sunday.

French health ministry confirmed a second man contracted the new coronavirus in a possible case of human-to-human transmission

French health ministry confirmed a second man contracted the new coronavirus in a possible case of human-to-human transmission

“This pattern of person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters and so far, there is no evidence to suggest the virus has the capacity to sustain generalized transmission in communities,” the statement adds.

France’s second confirmed case was a 50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room in Valenciennes, northern France, with a 65-year-old who fell ill with the virus after returning from Dubai.

“Positive results [for the virus] have been confirmed for both patients,” the French health ministry said, adding that both men were being treated in isolation wards.

Meanwhile, the Saudi deputy minister of health said on Sunday that two more people had died from the coronavirus, bringing the number of fatalities to nine in the al-Ahsa governorate in the east of Saudi Arabia, Reuters news agency reports.

WHO officials have not yet confirmed the latest deaths.

In February, a patient died in a hospital in Birmingham, England, after three members of the same family became infected.

It is thought a family member had picked up the virus while travelling to the Middle East and Pakistan.

Novel coronavirus is from the same family of viruses as the one that caused an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that emerged in Asia in 2003.

However, NCoV and SARS are distinct from each other, the WHO said in its statement on Sunday.

Coronavirus is known to cause respiratory infections in both humans and animals.

But it is not yet clear whether it is a mutation of an existing virus or an infection in animals that has made the jump to humans.

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