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Live updates as new coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak worsens

Olympics going ahead

The Japanese government has said preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics are progressing as scheduled despite concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) veteran Dick Pound said the rate at which the virus, known as Covid-19, is spreading could force the cancellation of the 2020 Olympics.

However Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has stressed that Mr Pound does not speak for the IOC and there are no plans to cancel or postpone the games.

“With regard to this member’s comment, the IOC has responded that this is not their official position, and that (the) IOC is proceeding with preparations toward the games as scheduled,” Mr Suga said.

On Monday, Mr Pound said organisers had a three-month window to decide the fate of the Games.

“In and around that time”, he said, “I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?’”

Mr Pound, who represented Canada in swimming at the 1960 Rome Olympics, also said that if Tokyo cannot host the games, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation”.

Call for Six Nations match to be scrapped

The Guinness Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy on March 7 should not take place due to the risk posed by the coronavirus, the Health Minister of Ireland has said.

China has reported 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths following the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus that has spread to a variety of countries, including Italy where authorities have swiftly put in restrictions.

The Department of Health in Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team recommended the game should be postponed following a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, but the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has since called for the Minister to explain the “specific reasoning” behind his comments.

Health Minister Simon Harris told RTE news: “The very clear view of the public health emergency team was that this game should not go ahead and that it would constitute a significant risk, because a very large number of people will be travelling from what is now an affected region.

“So my department will be contacting the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) in relation to this.

“I know (it will) cause a great disappointment to many, but it is important to make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.”

The IRFU said in a statement it would seek “an urgent meeting with Minister Harris as to the specific reasoning behind calling for the cancellation of the Ireland v Italy Six Nations fixture in the context of the Government’s overall travel policy to and from Italy and other affected countries.”

The statement continued: “Until such time as the IRFU has had contact with the Minister and gets an understanding of the government’s strategic policy on travel to and from Ireland and the cancellation of mass gatherings, it is not in a position to comment further.

A statement from Six Nations organisers read: “Six Nations is aware of today’s recommendation from the Irish Health Minister in relation to the upcoming Six Nations Championship match between Ireland and Italy on Saturday March 7.

“The IRFU has sought an urgent meeting with the Irish Government to discuss the matter further and we will remain in close contact with them regarding the outcome of those discussions.”

Drinks business says it may lose £200million because of virus

Drinks giant Diageo has warned over an earnings hit of up to £200 million this year from coronavirus as the outbreak impacts sales throughout Asia.

The Gordon’s gin and Captain Morgan rum maker said demand has been knocked across greater China, where the outbreak started, as bars and restaurants have been closed, with sales across the rest of Asia Pacific also lower amid a fall in conferences and banquets.

Sales are also being weighed on as the spread of the Covid-19 virus has led to reduced international passenger traffic.

Diageo is bracing for 2020 net sales to be knocked by between £225 million and £325 million due to coronavirus, which is set to impact operating profit by £140 million to £200 million this year.

It said it has seen “significant” disruption since the end of January, which it expects to last at least into March.

But the group is expecting a gradual improvement in sales, returning to normal levels towards the end of its financial year in June.

Diageo said: “Public health measures across impacted countries in Asia Pacific, principally in China, have resulted in restrictions on public gatherings, the postponement of events and the closure of many hospitality and retail outlets.

“Several countries and many businesses have also imposed restrictions on travel.”

It added the outbreak is “dynamic and continues to evolve”.

“It is difficult to predict the duration and extent of any further spread of the Covid-19 outbreak both in and outside of Asia,” Diageo said.

The coronavirus woes come as a further blow to Diageo, which warned over full-year sales last month due to a backdrop of global uncertainty.

It cautioned that full-year sales are expected to be on the lower end of forecasts of between 4% and 6% growth after being affected by volatility in world markets.

South Korea reports 115 more cases

South Korea has reported 115 more cases of the new coronavirus, raising its total to 1,261.

The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that 82 of the new cases have been recorded in the south-eastern city of Daegu and nearby areas.

Most of the country’s cases have been located in that region over the past eight days.

Earlier on Wednesday, the US confirmed its first case among American soldiers based in the Asian country.

The US soldier is quarantined at his off-base home and several base amenities have been closed.

South Korea’s total is expected to rise again as health workers test members of a Daegu church which has an infection cluster.

China reported another 406 cases and 52 deaths, all in the hard-hit Hubei province.

PHE not advising schools to close

Public Health England has confirmed it is not advising that schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The organisation’s medical director Paul Cosford told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing.

“What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools.

“What we are clear about is if you have been in the area of northern Italy of concern and you have symptoms – it is a cough, shortness of breath or fever – then you do need to self-isolate, you need to phone NHS 111 and await advice for further assessment or testing.

“Of course if you’ve been to one of the specific towns that are identified by the Italian government and essentially closed down, then our advice and requirement is to self-isolate anyway.”

He said Public Health England was available to talk to schools about their “specific circumstances” and “help them make the right decisions for them”.Public Health England has confirmed it is not advising that schools shut in an attempt to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The organisation’s medical director Paul Cosford told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Schools have to take difficult decisions given the complexity of issues that they are facing.

“What I would say is that our general advice is not to close schools.

“What we are clear about is if you have been in the area of northern Italy of concern and you have symptoms – it is a cough, shortness of breath or fever – then you do need to self-isolate, you need to phone NHS 111 and await advice for further assessment or testing.

“Of course if you’ve been to one of the specific towns that are identified by the Italian government and essentially closed down, then our advice and requirement is to self-isolate anyway.”

He said Public Health England was available to talk to schools about their “specific circumstances” and “help them make the right decisions for them”.

Schools in the Uk are closing

Schools in the UK are taking drastic action to protect against Covid-19 as the illness continues to spread across Europe amid fears of a global pandemic.

Some have closed while others have sent pupils home for fear they may have been exposed to coronavirus during ski trips to northern Italy.

It comes as travellers returning to the UK from northern Italy were told they may need to self-isolate as part of measures to stop the spread of illness.

Public Health England@PHE_uk

�� Today @CMO_England has updated advice for travellers returning to the UK from specific areas affected by #COVID19. Find out more on our blog: http://bit.ly/30MCmMy

Illustration of COVID-19 produced by the CDC.Coronavirus - what you need to know

Coronavirus - read our blog to find out what you need to know.

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Authorities in Italy reported on Tuesday night that the number of people infected in the country grew to 322, or 45% in 24 hours, and deaths of patients with the virus rose to 11.

Austria, Croatia and Switzerland reported their first cases, while Spain and France recorded new ones, also involving people who had been to northern Italy.

The first positive test in South America has been recorded after 61-year-old Brazilian man who had recently been to northern Italy tested positive, it has been reported.

Coronavirus in Italy(PA Graphics)

Meanwhile, Public Health England announced that flu patients will now be assessed for coronavirus to see if it is spreading.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said official advice has been changed to say people who have been to anywhere in Italy north of Pisa should self-isolate if they develop flu-like symptoms on their return to the UK.

On Tuesday, Cransley School in Northwich, Cheshire, and Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough announced they would be closed for the rest of the week.

Both schools said that this was to allow for a “deep clean” after pupils and teachers had returned from ski trips in northern Italy.

Trinity Catholic College said that a “small number of staff and pupils” had started showing mild flu-like symptoms following a ski trip.

CoronavirusA Carabinieri (Italian paramilitary police) officer checks transit to or from the cordoned area in Codogno, Italy (Antonio Calanni/AP)

Lutton St Nicholas and Gedney Church End primary schools in Lincolnshire also said they had closed “because of a potential connection to the Coronavirus by an individual within the school” and St Christopher’s C of E High School in Accrington told parents it would be shut on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Sandbach High School in Cheshire said students and staff who visited Aprica, in Italy’s Lombardy region, were to stay indoors and self-isolate.

A third Cheshire school, Brine Leas School in Nantwich, said its sixth form was closed due to staff shortages following Government advice regarding travel to Italy.

Students from Penair School in Truro, Cornwall, Salendine Nook High School in Huddersfield, Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby and Newquay Tretherras in Newquay, have also been advised to stay home after returning from ski trips.

Britons who have been in locked-down regions of Italy – including Lombardy and Veneto – were told they should self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they have no symptoms.

The Foreign Office later updated its travel advice, with a spokesman saying: “We advise against all but essential travel to 10 small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, which are currently in isolation due to an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.

Department of Health and Social Care@DHSCgovuk

UPDATE on coronavirus (#COVID19) testing in the UK:

As of 25 February 2020, a total of 6,795 people have been tested:

6,782 negative.


13 positive.

All future figures will now include the four cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

▶️https://gov.uk/coronavirus

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“Any British nationals already in these towns should follow the advice of the local authorities.”

Britons were also among the estimated 1,000 guests at hotel in Tenerife who were told to stay in their rooms after an Italian doctor there was diagnosed with coronavirus.

The Italian doctor, who had travelled with his wife, tested positive on Monday and has been placed in isolation in hospital, local media reported.

A Foreign Office spokesman said its staff was offering advice and support to British people at the hotel.

The 108-room Grand Hotel Europa in the Alpine tourist hub of Innsbruck in Austria was sealed off after a receptionist was one of the first two cases of the virus in the country, Reuters reported.

Health ministers from seven European nations have met in Rome to discuss a coordinated response.

The European Commission, which enforces the rule book for the open-border Schengen Area, encouraged countries to adopt measures based on scientific evidence and “in coordination and not in a fragmented way”, a spokeswoman said.

Symptoms of Covid-19 include a cough, fever and shortness of breath.

CoronavirusAirport staff check the temperatures of passengers returning from Milan at Debrecen airport, Hungary (Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI/AP)

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said schools could be shut and public transport reduced if coronavirus became a global pandemic.

He said: “There’s no secret there’s a variety of things you need to look at, you look at things like school closures, you look at things like reducing transport.”

Prof Whitty said families could also be asked to self-isolate if one of them had symptoms of the virus.

As of February 25, a total of 6,795 people have been tested in the UK with 13 positive cases.

The Department of Health also added Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and parts of northern Italy to the list of places where travellers need to follow clinical advice.

China has reported 78,064 cases and 2,715 deaths, while South Korea has the second highest number of cases with 1,261 and 11 deaths.

Early on Wednesday the US military said one of its soldiers based in South Korea has also tested positive for Covid-19.