Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore and Thailand recorded new cases of the novel coronavirus now officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization in a bid to avoid associating the disease with China.
The new name for the disease caused by the virus was issued late last night in a WHO a bulletin citing 2015 sensitivity guidelines they not be named after a geographical location, an animal or a specific group of people ““to avoid causing offence” as complaints of anti-Chinese sentiments have been on the rise.
Another 39 people onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, have tested positive for the virus while others were told to remain in their cabins, bringing the total number of infected to 174. The ship is expected to remain quarantined another seven days.
Two more people were found with the virus in Germany, bringing the country’s total cases to 16. They are believed to be employees of car supplier Webasto, which said a Chinese employee had last month tested positive back home after visiting company headquarters in Munich.
A British man believed to have spread the virus to at least 10 others after traveling from Singapore to France and the United Kingdom has come forward to say that he has recovered. Steve Walsh, 53, works for U.K. gas analytics company Servomex, which last month held a private business meeting at the Grand Hyatt in Singapore, where a Malaysian and two South Korean employees were infected before returning home.
In the United States, the 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan have been allowed to return home after 14 days in quarantine.
The coronavirus should reach its peak soon, either in the coming weeks or by April, reports citing a Chinese senior medical adviser said, as statistics suggest the country’s death rate is slowing. China reported 108 new deaths Tuesday and 94 today.
A total of 1,114 people have died and 44,718 infected in China as of Wednesday morning, according to the nation’s health committees.
In announcing the disease’s official name yesterday, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter that it was important to “find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease … ”
Though past diseases from the Spanish Flu of a century ago and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome of three years ago have not followed that convention, Ghebreyesus said it would be a model for the future.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,” he added.
Here are updates from other parts of Asia:
Singapore announced two more cases yesterday involving a 35-year-old man from Malaysia’s Johor Bahru who works at Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa Casino, as well as another Bangladesh national who had worked at the same place as the 42nd confirmed patient. Both tested positive on Monday.
Singapore on Sunday announced the first Bangladeshi to be infected with the virus in the country.
The Johor Bahru man developed symptoms on Feb. 5 and was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital after visiting the clinic on Feb. 9.
The Bangladeshi man, 39, developed symptoms on Feb. 6 and went to the clinic the next day. Before that, he had gone to work at 10 Seletar Aerospace Heights, where the Singapore office of Canadian transport company Bombardier is located. He stays in a rental flat on Veerasamy Road.
Nine people have been discharged from hospitals after they were deemed to have recovered. Another seven are in critical condition and in the ICU.
Steve Walsh, the British man who contracted the virus after attending the Grand Hyatt business meeting, released a statement yesterday saying he has recovered.
“I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care – whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus,” his statement said.
Hong Kong announced seven more infections yesterday, bringing the city’s total tally to 49, higher than Singapore’s as of Wednesday morning.
The new infections involve three people who were among those evacuated from a Tsing Yi housing block over fears the virus could spread through connected plumbing.
Another newly infected person is linked to the hotpot and barbecue gathering where nine family members later tested positive for the virus.
The remaining three new infections have no links to other cases so far. They are a 59-year-old man who works at a church in Siu Sai Wan, a 71-year-old man from Po Lam and a 66-year-old man from Tuen Mun. Neither of them has a travel history.
Shortage of face protection masks in Hong Kong has also led to two robberies in the city. A 40-year-old Bangladeshi was robbed of 15 boxes of 750 masks and another woman was robbed of over a thousand masks from her apartment.
After refusing to allow Dutch cruise ship MS Westerdam to take port in the kingdom, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha said yesterday he had agreed to provide humanitarian help by supplying food and fuel.
The ship, operated by Holland America Line, carries more than 2,000 passengers and crew and had set out on a 14-day cruise from Hong Kong with a planned stop at Taiwan on its way to Japan.
The Thai PM said that he did not allow the ship to dock at the deep water port southeast of Bangkok in Chonburi province as it had not obtained permission 24 hours in advance.
There have been no reports of infections aboard the cruise ship, which has now been turned away by five countries, including Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and U.S. territory Guam.
Thailand also reported one new coronavirus case yesterday involving a 54-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who was in close contact with another Chinese patient. She is being treated at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province.
A previously infected Thai driver with tuberculosis was said to now be in stable condition.
The lack of a single confirmed case of the coronavirus in Indonesia has raised doubts and skepticism whether the disease is spreading undetected in the country or that authorities are ill-equipped to identify.
Indonesia’s Health Ministry yesterday dismissed rumors saying that the country does have adequate technology to identify infections through gene sequencing, similar to what it has been doing for bird flu and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS.
Siswanto, who heads the Health Ministry’s Research Division, told reporters at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta yesterday that Indonesia’s coronavirus detection method, which requires around one day to produce comprehensive results, adheres to WHO standards.
Myanmar is another nation claiming to have no infections despite significant numbers of Chinese workers and travelers; hospitals there lack the means to test for it.
Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines yesterday canceled all Taiwan-bound flights after the Department of Health included that nation in an expanded travel ban.
The cancelations left hundreds of Taiwanese travelers stranded at Philippine airports Monday night.
The department said Monday that because the World Health Organization had classified Taiwan as part of China, it must be included in a temporary ban on tourists from China, Hong Kong, and Macao.
Taiwan does not consider itself a part of the People’s Republic of China, but is regarded by Beijing as a renegade province.
As of Tuesday, the Philippines was probing at least 382 patients possibly infected with the virus. Of them, 111 have been discharged but remain under close monitoring.