To fight further spread of the new coronavirus outbreak in China and globally, and protect states with weaker health systems, the World Health Organisation has called for a US$675 million preparedness and response plan covering the months of February through to April 2020.
“My biggest worry is that there are countries today who do not have the systems in place to detect people who have contracted with the virus, even if it were to emerge,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.”
The death toll from the coronavirus has risen sharply to 636 in China, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong, with reported cases reaching 31,210 in mainland China and 325 in 27 other countries, including Hong Kong and Macau. A total of 1,778 people have now recovered from the virus.
More than 7,300 people are being quarantined on two cruise ships off Hong Kong and Japan amid concerns passengers and crew were exposed to the coronavirus by infected passengers. Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess is anchored off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo, with 1,045 crew and 2,666 passengers onboard. The second ship, Dream Cruises’ World Dream, is docked at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal with more than 3,600 passengers and crew members onboard.
Japan’s Health Ministry said that at least 61 people onboard the Diamond Princess had been infected. Princess Cruises said that the other passengers onboard will remain under quarantine for at least 14 days, “as required by the Ministry of Health”. They are being provided with complimentary WiFi.
Royal Caribbean International has cancelled eight cruises out of China through to early March and will offer those guests full refunds. The cruise line said yesterday: “After consultation with medical experts and public health authorities, regardless of nationality, any guest or crewmember travelling from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau less than 15 days prior to their sailing will be unable to board any of our ships. Additionally, we have tightened our health screening requirements and the following guests will need to undergo extra screenings to ensure safety at the cruise terminal:
– Anyone that has been in contact with individuals that have travelled from, to, or through mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the last 15 days.
– Anyone that holds a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport – regardless of when they were there last.
– Anyone that feels unwell or demonstrates flu-like symptoms.