South Africa confirms first case of coronavirus: Live updates | News

Thursday

The US Congress has voted for a $8.3bn emergency funding package to fight the coronavirus.

The move comes as the country reported a total of 11 deaths, including one in California, the first outside Washington state. More cases have also emerged in New York and Los Angeles with California declaring a state of emergency. 

Meanwhile in Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia have marked their first cases of coronavirus while the biblical Church of Nativity in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank closed due to coronavirus fears.

Globally, more than 95,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the vast majority of them in China where the virus originated late last year.

More:

The country’s National Health Commission announced on Thursday that a further 31 people had died from the illness pushing the death toll above 3,000.

80,565 people in China have been infected with the virus according to the World Health Organization, although many have now recovered.

This is Mersiha Gadzo in Doha taking over for Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Here are all the latest updates.

Thursday, March 5

12:20 GMT – Egypt reports first case in an Egyptian national

Egypt recorded the first coronavirus case in an Egyptian national who had returned from Serbia via France, a joint statement from the health ministry and the World Health Organization said.

The North African country registered two cases before in foreigners, one of whom recovered and was released from quarantine.

12:06 GMT – Formal proposal to postpone matches shared: FIFA

FIFA shared a formal proposal to postpone upcoming matches in the Asian FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers with relevant member associations.

“For both FIFA and the AFC, the well-being and health of all individuals involved in football matches remains the highest priority,” FIFA’s statement read, adding that it will provide an update in the coming days following consultation with AFC member associations.

“Other topics of discussion were the women’s Olympic play-off between Korea Republic and China PR, as well as the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020,” it said.

12:00 GMT – South Africa confirms first case of coronavirus

South Africa’s Health Ministry confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the country.

The patient is a 38-year-old male who travelled to Italy with his wife, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement.

The couple returned to South Africa on March 1 and the patient consulted a private practitioner two days later with symptoms of fever, headache, malaise, a sore throat and a cough.

The patient has been in isolation since then as well as the doctor.

Passenger wearing protective face masks arrive from Shenzhen in China, at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, on March 2, 2020 amid concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic c

Travellers wearing protective face masks arrive from Shenzhen in China, at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa [Phill Magakoe/AFP]

11:33 GMT – New Delhi primary schools closed

All government-run primary schools in the Indian capital will remain closed until March 31 as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, the local education minister said. 

11:17 GMT – US, Israel cancel military exercise

The US and Israel have scrapped the remainder of their joint military exercise Juniper Cobra 20 over the coronavirus outbreak, the US European Command based in Germany said.

“The decision is in alignment with recent Israeli Ministry of Health guidelines on COVID-19, and a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of all participants,” USEUCOM said in a statement.

10:54 GMT – Palestinian Authority issues foreign tourist ban

The Palestinian Authority ordered hotels in the occupied West Bank to stop receiving foreign tourists after four suspected cases of the coronavirus were found in Bethlehem.

The two-week restriction, announced by the Palestinian Tourism Ministry, goes into effect on Friday.

A visitor wearing a mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus takes pictures in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasm

A visitor wearing a mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus takes pictures in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank [Mussa Qawasma/Reuters]

10:44 GMT – Iran says deaths reach 107 amid 3,513 confirmed cases

Iran announced 15 deaths and 591 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 107 dead amid 3,513 infected cases across the country, health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a televised news conference.

10:30 GMT – China’s Alibaba to offer $144m in subsidies as shopping suffers

China’s Alibaba Group will provide one billion yuan ($144m) in spending subsidies for a March online shopping festival to counter the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Alibaba’s announcement, made in a social media post, comes as the e-commerce giant wrestles with depressed consumer spending in China, which is in a state of semi-quarantine.

10:20 GMT – Iran closes schools, universities until March 20

According to Iran’s health minister, Iran will close schools and universities until the end of the Iranian calendar year on March 20 due to the coronavirus.

10:16 GMT – Bethlehem church to close

The Church of Nativity in the biblical city of Bethlehem, revered as the birthplace of Jesus will close after a suspected outbreak of the coronavirus, a church official said.

The Palestinian health ministry called for local churches, mosques and other institutions to close after a number of suspected cases at a hotel in the Holy Land city of Bethlehem.

Foreign tourists visit the Church of the Nativity, revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on March 05, 2020.

Tourists visit the Church of the Nativity, revered as the birthplace of Jesus Christ, in Bethlehem, occupied West Bank  [AFP]

10:15 GMT  – Slovenia confirms first case

Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec said the first case of COVID-19 has been detected in Slovenia.

Slovenia’s Health Minister Ales Sabeder said the person detected with the virus had traveled from Morocco to Italy and then to Slovenia.

09:55 GMT – COVID-19 accompanied by conspiracy theories

Coronavirus’ rapid spread has been accompanied by an outbreak of false claims and conspiracy theories on social and mainstream media, allowing misinformation on the origins of the virus and hoaxes on cures to travel as fast as the infection.

One study by the US State Department, reported on by the Washington Post, said roughly two million tweets touting conspiracy theories about the virus – such as claims it was caused by a bioweapon – had been posted outside the US over the three-week period when the disease began to spread outside China.

Read more here.

09:37 GMT – Airlines could lose up to $113bn in revenue: IATA

Airlines could lose $63bn to $113bn in revenue for passenger traffic globally in 2020, depending on how the coronavirus spreads, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

IATA on February 20 estimated the outbreak would cost carriers $29.3bn in revenue.

09:35 GMT – Kuwait confirms two more cases

Kuwait’s Ministry of Health confirmed two more coronavirus cases, during the past 24 hours.

The ministry said that the two cases came from Iran, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 58.

09:20 GMT – Germany reports 109 new cases within a day

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 109 within a day, a public health institute said.

As of Thursday morning, there were 349 cases across all but one federal state, up from 240 on Wednesday morning and compared with 262 on Wednesday afternoon, the Robert Koch Institute said.

The hardest-hit state is the western region of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous, with 175 cases.

09:15 GMT – More than 290 million students missing school: UN

More than 290 million students have been affected by school closures across 13 countries to curb the coronavirus outbreak, the UN said.

“While temporary school closures as a result of health and other crises are not new unfortunately, the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education,” Audrey Azoulay, director general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said in a statement.

Italy: Coronavirus death toll to 107; 3,089 cases

09:06 GMT – Switzerland reports first death

A 74-year-old woman in western Switzerland has died after contracting the new coronavirus, the country’s first death, regional police said.

The woman had been hospitalised in the canton of Vaud since Tuesday, police said. She was a high-risk patient suffering from chronic disease, authorities said.

07:43 GMT – Bosnia and Herzegovina reports first two cases

Bosnia and Herzegovina has reported its first two cases of coronavirus, confirmed by the health ministry of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska entity. 

Alen Seranic, the regional health minister said at a press conference that a middle-aged man, who returned to Bosnia a month ago from Italy where he works, has been infected with coronavirus as well as his child.

The man was confirmed earlier this week as having coronavirus. He’s currently in stable condition and is being kept in isolation in hospital in the city of Banja Luka.

Health authorities will test school children who have had contact with the infected child, as well as all other members of the infected family, he said. The school will be closed for the next couple of days.

07:36 GMT – Chinese President Xi’s visit delayed

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan has been postponed because as countries have agreed to prioritise the fight against the coronavirus outbreak, Japan’s top government spokesman said.

The Asian neighbours agreed that a new itinerary would be arranged at a better time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Suga said the delay in Xi’s visit, which had been originally planned for early April, would not affect Japan-China relations.

06:42 GMT – Greece reports tenth case, shuts schools in three areas

Greece reported its tenth case of coronavirus. The person had recently returned from a religious pilgrimage to Israel and Egypt, health authorities said.

Greece on Wednesday ordered schools to be closed and banned public gatherings in three districts in western Greece from Thursday as a precaution after a person from the region tested positive for coronavirus.

The ban was in effect for 48 hours and subject to review, authorities said.

US House approves $8.3bn in spending to fight coronavirus

06:41 GMT – Italy may raise support spending to five billion euros

Italy’s government is likely to increase to five billion euros ($5.57bn) the value of measures to help the economy withstand the largest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli said.

“It is likely that the government will reach [five billion euros]” Castelli said in an interview with daily Il Messaggero, adding that she thought it was “necessary to raise the bar as much as possible”.

Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri has promised tax breaks and other measures for the affected sectors worth 3.6 billion euros.

A government source told Reuters on Wednesday this may be raised to 4.5 billion, or 0.25 percent of GDP.

06:35 GMT – UAE advises against travel abroad

The United Arab Emirates has urged citizens and other residents to avoid travelling abroad because of concerns over a coronavirus, state news agency WAM said.

Authorities in the Gulf state may order medical checks on returning travellers and ask them to stay in isolation at home, pending the outcome, WAM said, citing a health ministry statement.

The UAE, which has closed schools and educational institutions for four weeks, said students and education workers would have to spend two weeks in home isolation on returning to the country.

06:30 GMT – IMF: Virus will slow global economic growth this year

The spread of the coronavirus will hold 2020 global output gains to their slowest pace since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday.

The IMF now expects 2020 world growth to be below the 2.9 percent rate for 2019 and revised forecasts will be issued in the coming weeks.

The IMF is making available $50bn in emergency funding to help poor and middle-income countries with weak health systems respond to the epidemic, Georgieva said after a call with the IMF’s steering committee.

Read more here.

05:40 GMT – More people evacuated from Hong Kong

Hong Kong is evacuating more of its people from Wuhan where the coronavirus originated late last year.

The first group of evacuees arrived on Wednesday, after going through health checks before boarding. They will spend 14 days in quarantine.

Coronavirus Hong Kong

Hong Kong is evacuating its citizens from Wuhan in China [Information Services Department, Hong Kong SAR Government/Al Jazeera]

05:20 GMT – Thailand reports four more cases

Thailand has diagnosed four more cases of coronavirus; an Italian man who arrived in the country on March 1, a Thai man who returned from Italy, a Chinese man who was in transit from Iran to China and was found to have the virus during screening. and a Thai student who had come back from Iran.

The country now has 47 confirmed cases. 

04:35 GMT – Japan’s Anges to work on vaccine with Osaka University

Reuters is reporting that Japanese biopharmaceutical firm Anges will work with Osaka University on developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Anges says it will be a ‘preventative DNA vaccine’, according to Reuters, which also cites a professor at Osaka University saying such vaccines could be mass produced in a short period of time.

Researchers around the world have been working to develop effective treatments and vaccines since Chinese scientists first isolated the coronavirus genome back in January.

Coronavirus how to stay safe

04:20 GMT – China, Hong Kong cautiously getting back to work 

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan has been giving us an update from Hong Kong where she says there are now more people on the street, and more traffic than there have been in weeks.

China is also trying to get its people back to work after a prolonged shutdown to stop the virus from spreading.

The strict quarantines appear to be paying off in terms of lower numbers of daily confirmed cases, but there was a slight uptick in the data released on Thursday – 139 new cases, compared with 119 the day before – and the country has revised its counting methods a few times. 

“China is far from out of the woods,” Gopalan says. “It’s changed the way it tallies the numbers several times. At the moment, it does not include those who are asymptomatic – people who have the virus but are not showing symptoms.” 

03:52 GMT – UK airline Flybe collapses as coronavirus hits flights 

Britain’s biggest operator of domestic flights, Flybe, has announced that it is grounding all its flights following a declaration of bankruptcy, as the coronavirus epidemic takes toll on airline companies worldwide.

“All flights have been grounded and the UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect,” said the airline, which employs an estimated 2,000 people.

02:45 GMT – Olympics will go ahead: Minister Seiko Hashimoto 

Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto said on Thursday the country was still preparing for the Summer Games, which are due to start in July.

“Cancellation or delay of the Games would be unacceptable for the athletes,” Hashimoto told the Upper House budget committee. “An environment where athletes can feel at ease and focus should be firmly prepared.”

Hashimoto was speaking as the western prefecture of Shiga reported its first coronavirus case – a man in his 60s – and the country’s total number of cases rose above 1,000.

Japan Olympics

There has been speculation over whether the Olympics will be delayed amid the global coronavirus outbreak [Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

02:15 GMT – Australia announces second death; more travel restrictions

Australia says a second person has died from the coronavirus; an elderly woman who was diagnosed with the illness after a worker at the nursing home where she lived was confirmed to have the virus.

Most of Australia’s 52 cases are people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined off Japan, but the country has also introduced travel restrictions with a number of countries.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said non-Australians coming from South Korea would not be allowed to enter the country, while people arriving from Italy would have to go through enhanced screening.

A ban on visitors from China and Iran was also being extended, he said.

02:05 GMT – South Korea cases continue to climb

South Korea has just given its first update of the day on the coronavirus situation there. It’s confirmed 438 new cases taking total infections to 5,766.

The Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention also said three more people died from the virus, bringing the total to 35.

The US has also reported two more cases among the 28,500 soldiers stationed in the country, bringing the total to six.

01:55 GMT – Watchdog tells Qantas to improve cleaning standards

Australia’s national carrier has been told to spruce up its cleaning to ensure passengers are better protected from the coronavirus.

The Sydney Morning Herald says Safework NSW issued a notice to the airline on February 26 warning of an “inadequate system of work used to clean planes that may have transported passengers with an infectious disease.” 

01:35 GMT – Singapore delays flight after passenger confirmed with COVID-19

Singapore’s Transport Ministry grounded a Turkish Airlines flight on Wednesday after one of the passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

TK54, a Boeing 787-9, arrived in Singapore from Turkey on March 3, but was delayed on the return leg after the case was discovered, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

“(The) Ministry of Health has started contact tracing for flight passengers who may have had contact with the case while the case was infectious,” it said.

Local media reported there were 220 people on the plane, which flew back to Turkey with crew but no passengers in the early hours of Thursday morning.

00:35 GMT – China coronavirus deaths exceed 3,000

China’s National Health Commission has just released its daily update on the coronavirus.

It reported 139 new cases on Wednesday, compared with 119 the day before. That brings the total number of cases on the mainland 80,409.

The number of deaths rose to 3,012 after an additional 31 people died from the illness.

00:25 GMT – California declares state of emergency over virus

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus after the state  reported its first death from the disease.

Newsom told a media briefing the state had 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur opening today’s blog.

A recap of Wednesday’s developments:

The US Congress has approved emergency funding of $8.3bn to tackle the coronavirus with more than 100 people diagnosed with COVID-19 and 11 deaths. The upper house will vote on the measure on Thursday.

Other countries tackling more severe outbreaks of the disease announced new measures.

Italy, where the death toll has risen to 107, is closing schools and universities and no fans will be allowed to attend large sporting events.

Iran has banned top government officials from leaving the country. The vice president, the deputy heath minister and 23 members of parliament have all been diagnosed with the disease.

In Iraq, a second person died from COVID-19.

Click here to read all the updates from March 4.

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