Great Britain

Coronavirus news – live: All Britons now told to leave China as death toll tops 425 and more than 20,000 infected globally

A passenger plane has been forced to land in Canada after a man falsely announcing to passengers he had coronavirus.

The man was arrested and charged with mischief after the flight from Toronto to Jamaica returned to the airport, police said.

Julie-Anne Broderick, a passenger on the plane, said she saw the man taking a selfie and announcing he had the virus.

The captain then told passengers he thought the incident was a hoax but had to return to Toronto, she added.

A doctor who led the World Health Organisation's response to the 2002-03 Sars outbreak said it is too early to tell when the coronavirus will peak, but it appears the disease is still on the increase.


Dr David Heymann said the spike in China's caseload in recent days was partly attributable to the fact Chinese officials expanded their search to include milder cases, not only people with pneumonia.

He declined to predict whether the virus would ultimately cause a pandemic, or worldwide outbreak.

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Heymann said as the new virus starts to spread beyond China, scientists will gain a much better understanding of the disease.


"What we will see is the clearer natural history of the disease," he said. "That will occur because all the contacts of people who have come into contact into these countries [where the virus has been exported] are being traced and watched very closely."

The Department of Health has said 414 people have tested negative for coronavirus as of Tuesday.

Two patients with the virus are still being treated in Newcastle.

Uzbekistan has evacuated 250 people from China and will place them in quarantine when they arrive in Taskhent, the country's state airline has said.

Uzbekistan Airways said in a statement the passengers were being accompanied by doctors and specialists with protective equipment.

Royal Caribbean has cancelled eight cruises which were due to depart from China in the next month.


The company – which already cancelled three trips scheduled for February after consulation with health authorities – said it expects the cancellations and some modifications to its itineraries to reduce earnings by 25 cents per share.


Royal Caribbean also said it would deny boarding to people who had visited mainland China or Hong Kong over the past 15 days. It will also screen Chinese and Hong Kong passport holders and people showing flu-like symptoms.

The decision comes as thousands of passengers and crew on a US-operated cruise ship are tested for the coronavirus in Japan after one passenger was found to have contracted the virus.

Japanese health officials are conducting extensive medical checks on all 3,700 passengers and crew of a cruise ship that returned to the country after one passenger tested positive for the new coronavirus.

A number of people on board are ill, officials have said, though no one else has yet tested positive for the fast-spreading virus.

The US-operated Diamond Princess returned to a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, late on Monday, ending a 14-day tour during which it stopped at Hong Kong and several other Asian ports before returning to Japan.

Japanese government and tour company officials say they were notified by Hong Kong that an 80-year-old male passenger who got off the boat on the island tested positive for the virus.

The Foreign Office has urged all British nationals to leave China due to the coronavirus outbreak:

The Foreign Office has advised British people to leave China amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 420 people

Ukraine's last planned flight from China before a ban over the coronavirus is enforced is due to arrive in Kiev shortly, with around 200 passengers on board, Ukraine International Airlines has said.

More than 100 Malaysians have been quarantined after being evacuated from Wuhan.


An AirAsia plane carrying 107 Malaysians and their non-Malaysian spouses and children landed at the Kuala Lumpur airport early on Tuesday.


They immediately underwent medical screenings, and the National Disaster Management Agency said two people who did not pass the screenings were immediately taken to the hospital.

Medical workers in Hong Kong have gone on strike for a second day to demand the border with mainland China is shut completely in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

All but two of Hong Kong's land and sea crossings with the mainland were closed at midnight after more than 2,000 hospital workers went on strike on Monday.

But on Tuesday, health authorities reported two additional patients without any known travel to the virus epicenter, bringing the number of locally-transmitted cases up to four.

According to the Hospital Authority Employees' Alliance, the strike organizer, more than 7,000 members joined the strike to demand closure of the border across which tens of thousands of people continue to travel daily.

Britain's National Union of Students has said it is concerned about reports of Chinese students "experiencing discrimination and hate" amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Erica Ramos, from the NUS, said: "The NUS believes that all forms of hate and prejudice are unacceptable and shall continue to support students’ unions on any issues they may face around hate crime and xenophobia.

"We have a continued responsibility to ensure our spaces are inclusive and accessible to all students, any student facing these issues should get in touch with their student’s union.”
 

Malaysia has reported its first citizen to be infected with the coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 10.

Health authorities said the 41-year-old Malaysian had travelled to Singapore for a meeting last month with colleagues from China, including one from Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic.

He only showed symptoms on 29 January, nearly a week after returning to Malaysia.

More coronavirus cases are expected in the UK, the health secretary has said.

Speaking before a meeting with Germany's health minister, Jens Spahn, Matt Hancock said the UK was working with other countries to research a vaccine.

"We haven't seen the peak of the coronavirus by a long stretch and we expect more cases in the UK," he said.


"We have a full plan in place to treat all those who have symptoms and test positively for coronavirus and we are working with international partners both to slow the spread and also to do the research that we need to do to find a vaccine."

Mr Spahn said no matter the future relationship between the UK and EU it was important they continue to co-operate.


He added: "The virus obviously knows no borders and is a threat to all our citizens. What's important for the international community is actually to join forces when it comes to research, when it comes to detecting the virus and combating it.

"Whatever might happen for the future between the EU and UK I find it important that there is good co-operation."

Singapore has announced its first local coronavirus transmission, with six more cases being reported.

Four of those were local transmissions, linked to a health products shop that primarily serves Chinese tourists, the country's health ministry said.

The other two were Singapore residents evacuated from Wuhan on Thursday.

"Though four of these cases constitute a local transmission cluster, there is as yet no evidence of widespread sustained community transmission in Singapore," the ministry said in a statement.

It takes the country's total number of infections to 24.

At least 425 people in China have died from the coronavirus outbreak. The disease has also claimed one life in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.

A chart comparing coronavirus deaths in mainland China with those of Sars, from Statista

On Monday, China accused the US of spreading fear by pulling its citizens out and severely restricting travel.


Washington has "unceasingly manufactured and spread panic," said Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, noting  the WHO had advised against trade and travel curbs.


"It is precisely developed countries like the United States with strong epidemic prevention capabilities and facilities that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to WHO recommendations," she said.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defended the measures taken by the US, including suspending the entry of foreign nationals who had visited China within the past 14 days.

New coronavirus cases have been reported in the US, including a patient in California infected through close contact with someone in the same household who had been infected in China.


It was the second instance of person-to-person spread in the US after a case reported last week in Illinois.


"We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread," said Dr Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A coronavirus vaccine is a "long way off", a health expert has warned.

Such a vaccine will not be ready in time for the current outbreak said David Heymann, professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

"A vaccine is a long way off," Prof Heymann told a briefing at Chatham House in London. "There will not be a vaccine probably to deal with this outbreak, but there is work being done on coronavirus vaccines in general. I'm confident that there will one day be a coronavirus vaccine."

He continued: "Sars caused major outbreaks when it was exported from China, major hospital outbreaks - that hasn't yet happened in this outbreak, this disease so that's one point to compare.


"That's not to say it won't happen in the future but it hasn't happened yet. The world is much more prepared to deal with these things now than it was then."