Four Germans have contracted coronavirus without going to China in Europe’s first person-to-person transmission of the killer disease.
One of the men, a 33-year-old, became ill after coming into contact with a Chinese colleague who was visiting from Shanghai and had recently been in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
The Chinese colleague only fell ill herself on the way home from her trip to Bavaria, and the male worker had infected three others at the car parts plant where they all work before he himself showed symptoms.
Three other men, from Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan, have also been infected in their home countries through human-to-human transmission of the virus.
The Bavarian health ministry added that 40 other employees at car parts supplier Webasto in the Starnberg district had been identified as having been in ‘close contact’ with the first patient, and they will be screened on Wednesday.
All four patients are staying in an isolation ward at a Munich hospital. It came as 840 new cases were recorded in China, with 25 new deaths – raising death toll to 131.
Countries around the world are starting to cut ties with China and pull their citizens out of the crisis-hit Hubei region, where the virus emerged in the city of Wuhan.
Hong Kong’s leader today held a press conference during which she wore a face mask and said the city would stop all high-speed trains and ferries to the mainland, halve the number of flights and stop giving visas to visitors from China.
Seven cases around the world have confirmed the coronavirus is spreading from person to person outside of China among people who have not visited the country.
A Japanese bus driver in his 60s, working in the city of Nara, was infected after driving for two groups of people visiting from Wuhan, and a Vietnamese man caught the virus from his father who had recently returned from a visit to China.
In Australia, paramedics in hazmat suits were today seen at the luxury Peppers Broadbeach hotel on the Gold Coast and stoked coronavirus fears when they ushered a masked patient into an ambulance.
And a health minister in Thailand today admitted that the country is ‘not able to stop’ the spread of the virus there, where 14 people have been infected – the most in any place outside of China.
But China is maintaining a solid front – President Xi Jinping today said the nation would ‘win the battle against the devil virus’ and a Chinese scientist said he thinks the outbreak and the ‘battle of Wuhan’ will peak in 10 days’ time.
Wuhan remains in lockdown and one British man living there said he and his wife and nine-month-old daughter are too afraid to leave their home so are living off leftover food from a New Year dinner.
Other international coronavirus developments today include:
- India is preparing to evacuate all willing citizens from Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital
- Russia has closed its border with China in the regions of Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Khabarovsk and Amur
- Japan, South Korea and France have all planned charter flights to pull their citizens out of Wuhan later this week
- World Health Organisation chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said he was happy with China’s efforts to contain the outbreak after visiting with politicians in Beijing yesterday. He urged the world to stay calm
- The WHO will send a team of experts to China to help the government and international response
The HQ of car parts firm Webasto in Stockdorf, Germany, where four workers have contracted coronavirus
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, gave a press conference today while wearing a face mask and announced drastic travel restrictions between the city and mainland China
Paramedics wearing hazmat suits arrived at Peppers, on Elizabeth Street, Broadbeach, to reports of a suspected coronavirus case on Tuesday – they are pictured escorting the male patient out to an ambulance
Six villages in Hebei – the province surrounding the capital Beijing, where dozens of cases have been confirmed – have taken matters into their own hands and are building brick walls around their street to protect it, Sky News reports
Germany has confirmed that its case of coronavirus was diagnosed in a German man who was infected by a colleague visiting from China (Pictured: The headquarters of the car part manufacturer Webasto, for which the man works)
Nearly 6,000 people around the world are now confirmed to have caught the coronavirus and 131 people have died, all of them in China. Germany, Sri Lanka and Cambodia yesterday became the latest countries to declare infections
Medical workers in Guiyang, Guizhou, prepare to head into Wuhan to help with the response to the coronavirus outbreak
German officials today held a press conference to discuss the country’s first case of coronavirus, which was diagnosed last night in a man in Starnberg, Upper Bavaria (Pictured: Andreas Zapf, president of the Bavarian state office for health and food safety, and Bavarian health minister Melanie Huml)
Commenting on the person-to-person spread in Germany, Japan and Vietnam, University of Southampton researcher Dr Michael Head said: ‘The reported human to human transmission in Germany and Japan is unsurprising to see.
‘We will continue to see further similar cases outside of China, but the indications are at this stage that onwards transmission will be limited, so there will likely not be too many cases for example across Europe, and on a much lesser scale than we are seeing in China.’
WHERE HAS THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SPREAD TO?
The vast majority of confirmed infections of the Wuhan coronavirus (4,515 out of 4,585, as at 11.40am GMT on January 28) have been diagnosed in China.
But 17 countries or territories outside of the mainland have also declared infections:
- Germany: Four case confirmed, diagnosed January 27
- Sri Lanka: One case, diagnosed January 27
- Cambodia: One case, diagnosed January 27
- Canada: Two cases confirmed, first case January 25
- Australia: Five cases, first case January 25
- Malaysia: Four cases, first case January 25
- France: Three cases, first case January 24
- Nepal: One case, first case January 24
- Vietnam: Two cases, first case January 24
- Singapore: Five cases, first case January 23
- Macau: Five cases, first case January 22
- Hong Kong: Eight cases, first case January 22
- Taiwan: Eight cases, first case January 21
- USA: Five cases, first case January 20
- South Korea: Four cases, first case January 20
- Japan: Five cases, first case January 16
- Thailand: 14 cases, first case January 13
The University of East Anglia’s Professor Paul Hunter added: ‘The German case is most worrying because if the Chinese woman was indeed asymptomatic at the time of the training session it would confirm reports of spread before symptoms develop making standard control strategies less effective.’
The 33-year-old man in Germany caught the virus while at a training session hosted by a female colleague from China, who later became ill while she was flying home. She had reportedly visited her parents in Wuhan.
Health officials in Germany are now checking some 40 people that the two infected workers came into contact with, including colleagues and family members.
The Wuhan coronavirus is now confirmed to have infected nearly 6,000 people around the world and to have killed 131 in China. Germany, Sri Lanka and Cambodia yesterday became the latest countries to declare cases.
A report written by an expert at the University of Toronto has said the ‘best case scenario’ is that the outbreak dies down after summer this year.
Toronto scientist Professor David Fisman, who wrote a report for the International Society for Infectious Diseases, said: ‘The best case scenario, you would have something… where we go through the spring into the summer, and then it dies down.’
Physicist Alessandro Vespignani, from Northeastern University in Boston, added: ‘It’s not something that’s going to end in the next week or the next month.’
Despite drastic efforts inside China to control the disease, cases are appearing in various corners of the world every day.
The Japanese taxi driver today raised the worrying prospect of the virus starting to spread inside other countries – until now international cases had been diagnosed in people who had caught it in China then travelled elsewhere.
‘If this is true then he might have been infected by tourists from Wuhan. And if so, this would be the first person-to-person transmission in Japan,’ a health ministry official told AFP.
Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the country had confirmed two new cases, bringing the total so far in Japan to six.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong today resorted to a hardline transport shutdown to stop the virus – its chief executive, Carrie Lam, said at a press conference that the number of flights to and from the Chinese mainland would be halved.
She also said, in a press conference at which she wore a face mask, that high-speed trains and ferries would be stopped and that Hong Kong citizens in China should return home and isolate themselves for two weeks.
Workers at a treatment company in Yangzhou, China, work hard to cope with huge amounts of medical waste being produced during the outbreak
Medical waste is incinerated at a treatment plant in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province
Volunteers in Qingdao, Shandong, are seen spraying disinfectant into local businesses in a desperate attempt to stop the coronavirus
A volunteer sprays disinfectant in Qingdao’s residential West Coast area – Qingdao is a coastal city approximately 620miles (1,000km) away from Wuhan
Thai Airways employees are pictured disinfecting an empty plane cabin at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok today, January 28. Thailand has 14 confirmed coronavirus cases – the most outside of China
A male patient was pictured entering an ambulance accompanied by hazmat-wearing health workers (left) outside of the luxury Peppers Broadbeach hotel on Australia’s Gold Coast (right)
A worker wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant in an office building in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province, Tuesday January 28
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. Eighty-two people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 700 people in mainland China, Hong Kong and elsewhere
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MAILONLINE’S FULL Q&A ON THE CORONAVIRUS
More fears were triggered in Australia by the sight of paramedics in hazmat suits attending a male patient at the five-star luxury hotel Peppers in Broadbeach, Gold Coast, which is reportedly popular with celebrities.
A patient in ‘stable condition’ was taken to hospital from the hotel at around 1.30pm local time today, Tuesday January 28.
Australia has had five coronavirus cases confirmed already and tested at least another six people.
Globally, 17 countries and territories outside of mainland China have declared the coronavirus infection has spread there.
Germany was the latest country to declare a case, and it joins Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, France, Nepal, Vietnam, Singapore, the US, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
Thailand, the worst affected nation outside of China, has today admitted it can’t stop the disease.
Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul told Sky News today: ‘We are not able to stop the spread.
‘Our target is we will be able to detect all carriers entering Thailand and we will apply necessary measures as the situation develops.
‘Of course we expect more people to get sick but we are able to identify all of them.’
Some 22,000 people are thought to have flown to Thailand from Wuhan in January already. All but one of the 14 confirmed cases there have been among Chinese travellers.
The Thai government is now screening all air passengers from China at the airports.
Many countries, including the US, France, Japan and South Korea are chartering flights to bring their citizens home from the crisis-hit Hubei province.
Scientists cannot predict the true course of the disease and are only able to use mathematical models to compare the current number of cases to past outbreaks of similar diseases, such as SARS.
But because new information is appearing all the time, these estimates change as their understanding of the disease develops.
Until the past weekend, researchers thought that infected people were not contagious until they got symptoms such as fever, coughing or pneumonia. But Chinese authorities said on Sunday they had established the opposite.
There is also growing evidence that people can infect others without knowing they’re ill and there are ‘super-spreaders’ who pass the coronavirus on to multiple people.
In recent days experts around the world have been trying to work out how many people each infected person contaminates, and have come up with figures between 1.4 and 3.8.
This makes the Wuhan coronavirus more infectious than the flu, which has a basic reproduction number of 1.3.
Whereas SARS, a coronavirus similar to this one which resulted in 8,000 cases and 774 deaths in China in 2002 and 2003, had a reproduction rate of between two and five. For measles the figure is 12 to 18.
Quarantines and isolation measures, systematic hand washing and masks could help drive down the average number of infected people.
If the rate falls below one, the epidemic will die down as it becomes unable to sustain itself.
But the effect of the control measures China has implemented won’t be felt for another week or two, researchers say, based on the virus’s cycle.
‘The more we learn about it, the more it looks like SARS,’ said Professor Fisman. ‘SARS was controllable; hopefully this will be too. But we won’t know for a few weeks.
‘It’s going to be many weeks, probably months, and nobody knows where this will go.’
The makeshift hospital in Wuhan is taking shape after just five days – it is expected to be finished by the end of this week
Construction workers in Wuhan are making fast progress on the hospital they were ordered to build in less than a week in Wuhan to cope with soaring numbers of coronavirus patients
A China Eastern check-in desk at Incheon International Airport in South Korea is pictured deserted today, January 28. Normally, the Lunar New Year period sees millions of people travel around the Far East to visit family
Nurses in India are pictured wearing protective gear as the country is on high alert for potential coronavirus cases – none have been diagnosed there yet
SCIENTISTS ‘TWO MONTHS AWAY’ FROM HUMAN VACCINE TRIAL
A scientist in the UK claims a coronavirus vaccine she is developing could be tested on humans in two months’ time.
Dr Kate Broderick, from Inovio Pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania, US, thinks her team is the closest to developing a vaccine to protect against the Wuhan coronavirus, The Times reports.
They are testing the jab, named INO-4800, on animals this week and hope to start human trials in eight weeks’ time.
Dr Broderick and colleagues have been working on the vaccine since the outbreak was announced on December 31, and they won a $9million (£6.9m) research grant from a funding program backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
They used information about the genetic code of the coronavirus, which was shared by China, to try and develop a vaccine which they knew would destroy the virus.
The team believe the vaccine could be 90 per cent effective. If they’re right, they will try to get emergency approval from the US’s Food & Drug Administration.
Independent experts said they thought the vaccine had promise.
Professor Robin Shattock, from Imperial College London, said current indications were that the vaccine has ‘a very good chance of being effective’.
Adding that there is a global race to find a vaccine, he said: ‘Having as many options available in the pipeline as possible is prudent.
‘We may have a range of things with difficult levels of effectiveness.’
The actual number of Chinese cases, including those not yet detected, is likely to be more than 25,000, said Professor Vespignani, according to the analysis of the group coordinated by Northeastern.
And researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) estimate the number of actual cases has currently passed 40,000.
‘It’s easy to get to twice or three times as much, even just in the city of Wuhan,’ the virus’s epicenter, said Professor Vespignani.
‘If we start to have other larger areas affected, then those numbers are going to be much, much bigger.’
For people living in Wuhan, where public transport has been cancelled and roads closed, the coming days and weeks will be a waiting game.
One British man who lives in the city with his wife, who is local to the area, said they are too afraid to leave the flat out of fear of catching the virus.
He told the Press Association: ‘My wife is staying positive but inside I can tell she’s worried, we both are. We know that if our baby got sick she wouldn’t make it and that’s a horrible, dreadful feeling.
‘The flat isn’t that bad, it’s more the paranoia every time I go out in the corridor to empty bins or something like that.
‘My wife’s family gave us a lot of leftover meat and vegetables from the New Year’s dinner we had. We think that will last us a few more weeks.’
British citizens stranded in Wuhan can contact the UK Government and try to arrange to come home on a repatriation flight later this week. The man, who did not wish to be named, said he did not want to leave.
He said he doesn’t want to estimate the number of possible deaths. The mortality rate, until now, has hovered around three percent, but rates tend to fluctuate: they increase at the beginning as the most vulnerable patients die, then drop, and then rise again as others die.
The disease’s spread has seemed all but unstoppable over the last week, and scientists at Hong Kong University say more drastic action needs to be taken.
There is a risk the virus could trigger a global epidemic – when the illness spreads uncontrollably around the world – if the Chinese government doesn’t clamp down on the movement of people, the researchers said.
‘We have to be prepared that this particular epidemic may be about to become a global epidemic,’ said Dr Gabriel Leung.
‘Substantial, draconian measures limiting population mobility should be taken sooner, rather than later.’
A subway station in Seoul, South Korea, is disinfected by masked workers. More than half a million people in the country have petitioned for visitors from China to be turned away at the border
CHINA CONFIDENT IT WILL SLAY ‘DEVIL VIRUS’ AND SLOW THE OUTBREAK IN 10 DAYS
China has been maintaining a positive front in its ‘battle of Wuhan’ today.
President Xi Jinping said the country would defeat the ‘devil virus’ and a high-profile scientist said he was convinced the outbreak would peak in the next 10 days.
Chinese state television quoted President Xi as saying: ‘The virus is a devil and we cannot let the devil hide,’ Reuters reported.
‘China will strengthen international cooperation and welcomes the WHO participation in virus prevention … China is confident of winning the battle against the virus.’
And renowned scientist in China’s National Health Commission, Zhong Nanshan, said he thinks the coronavirus outbreak ‘will not increase at a large scale’.
The number of people confirmed to have the infection has skyrocketed in the past week from 308 on January 21 to 4,592 on January 28.
But Dr Zhong said: ‘I believe it should reach a peak in a week or around ten days.’
He added: ‘The battle of Wuhan is taking place under a situation where there is no clear boundary between us and the enemy.’
Other experts added that warmer weather may make it harder for the infection to spread – cold and flu-like illnesses tend to spread faster in winter weather.
Concerns about the virus have been growing as scientists say people may be passing on the virus before they even realise they are ill, and the number of predicted cases has soared dramatically.
China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei said ‘it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger’ and that it can be passed from person-to-person even before symptoms appear.
And researchers at Imperial College London have estimated that more than 100,000 people may be infected around the world already. The same team had previously thought the number was around 4,000, up to 10,000.
Professor Mark Harris, from the University of Leeds, said: ‘Its true that the numbers… look scary.
‘One positive spin is that if we are only aware of five per cent of the total cases, the implication is that 95 per cent of cases have only resulted in either mild symptoms such that the infected people did not consider it serious enough to seek medical help, or indeed the virus may be causing an inapparent infection.
‘This would significantly reduce the apparent [death] rates.’
The mayor of Wuhan, where the outbreak started, yesterday admitted he and the ruling Chinese Communist Party did not react quickly enough to the coronavirus danger.
Mayor Zhou Xianwang offered to resign when he revealed five million people managed to leave the city before he put it into lockdown.
He said: ‘On one hand, we did not reveal [information] in time; on the other, we did not use effective information to improve our work to a satisfactory level.’
And he added: ‘Regarding the untimely disclosure, [I] hope everyone can understand. [Coronavirus] is a contagious disease. Contagious diseases have relevant law and information needs to be disclosed according to law.’
The US Government is planning to send a private chartered plane into crisis-hit Wuhan to retrieve up to 240 citizens later this week
Children in Cambodia, which confirmed its first case of coronavirus yesterday, are now wearing face masks at school to stop the virus spreading. Schools in China are still closed
What do we know about the deadly coronavirus? What are the symptoms… and how worried SHOULD the world really be?
Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
At least 130 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and nearly 6,000 have been infected in more than a dozen countries. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be 100,000, or even as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases. Here’s what we know so far:
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. It is an RNA virus (RNA is a type of genetic material called ribonucleic acid), which means it breaks into cells inside the host of the virus and uses them to reproduce itself.
BRITISH FAMILY WITH UNBORN BABY BEG UK GOVERNMENT TO RESCUE THEM FROM CRISIS-HIT WUHAN
A British teacher, his pregnant wife and their two-year-old son are stuck in coronavirus-hit Wuhan and have begged the UK Government to rescue them from the deserted city.
In a desperate plea for help, Tom Williams published an open letter on Twitter to say: ‘I just want to try and share our story so I can try and get my wife, son and unborn child safely out of the city.’
Hundreds of Britons trapped in the Chinese city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak have been told to contact the embassy by 11am tomorrow if they want to come home.
Posting this picture of his family on Twitter, Mr Williams said: ‘Please read the letter below. Please help share our story. We are just an ordinary family seeking help!’
The Government’s landmark evacuation mission today moved one step closer and will reportedly happen ‘within days’.
Mr Williams wrote in his message on Twitter: ‘Local roads have been closed, which is making getting to the maternity hospital uncertain. The maternity hospital is also much closer to the initial area of the virus outbreak.’
He added: ‘I am not messaging to try and become famous. I just want to try and share our story so I can try to get my wife, son and unborn child safely out of the city.’
This coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It is currently named 2019-nCoV, and does not have a more detailed name because so little is known about it.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started seeing cases on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 4,500.
Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died.
By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 82 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
Where does the virus come from?
Nobody knows for sure. Coronaviruses in general tend to origina
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