US backs $8.3bn funds, China death toll tops 3,000: Live updates | Coronavirus outbreak News

The US Congress has voted for a $8.3bn emergency funding package to fight the coronavirus as Italy closes schools, and cancels public events and countries around the globe report more cases.

The US move came 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. 

Globally, more than 93,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the vast majority of them in China where the virus originated late last year.

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.

The country has now confirmed 80,409 people with the virus although many have now recovered.


Here are all the latest updates.

Thursday, March 5

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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