Anger and virus cases grow in China with 722 total deaths

BEIJING (AP) - The number of confirmed cases of the new virus has risen again in China while fatalities increased to 722 on Saturday, as the ruling Communist Party faced anger and recriminations from the public over the death of a doctor who was threatened by police after trying to sound the alarm about the disease over a month ago.

A woman wearing face mask walks past empty shelf of tissue papers at supermarket in Hong Kong, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. Ten more people were sickened with a new virus aboard one of two quarantined cruise ships with some 5,400 passengers and crew aboard, health officials in Japan said Thursday, as China reported 73 more deaths and announced that the first group of patients were expected to start taking a new antiviral drug. (Source: AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

The government announced that another 3,399 people had been diagnosed over the last 24 hours, reversing two days of declines, and raising the total accumulated number of cases on the mainland to 34,546.

Following an online uproar over the government’s treatment of Dr. Li Wenliang, the ruling Communist Party said it was sending a team to “fully investigate relevant issues raised by the public” regarding the case.

Wenliang’s death triggered an outpouring of praise for him and fury that communist authorities put politics above public safety. He died at the hospital where he worked and likely contracted the virus while treating patients.

A prominent Chinese disease researcher called him a hero and said, “Dr. Li Wenliang is immortal.”

In death, Li became the face of simmering anger at Chinese officials who frequently are accused of abusing the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information to lie about or hide disease outbreaks, chemical spills, dangerous consumer products or financial frauds.

Cruise ship passengers faced more woe as Japan reported three more cases for a total of 64 on one quarantined vessel. Another has been turned away.

Evacuation flight from Wuhan lands in Vancouver

A plane carrying Canadian citizens from Wuhan, China, has landed in Vancouver.

The evacuation flight organized by the Canadian government is refueling in Vancouver before flying to a military base in Ontario.

Several dozen more Canadian passengers left China on board a United States government flight that departed a few hours later.

All 176 evacuees from Wuhan will spend 14 days under quarantine at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where they will be monitored to see if they have contracted the virus.

Canada has now six confirmed cases and the U.S. 12.

The Asian Development Bank says it will distribute $2 million to strengthen measures to detect and respond to the virus in China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The bank said Friday that the money will pay for diagnostic and laboratory equipment and for improved outbreak surveillance and response, especially in rural areas.

The viral outbreak that began in China’s central Hubei province has infected more than 31,400 people worldwide. China confirmed 31,161 cases and 636 deaths as of Friday. More than 310 cases have been confirmed outside mainland China, including two deaths in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Cruise ship turned away as virus alarm doctor dies in China

Japan has reported 41 new cases of a virus on a quarantined cruise ship and turned away another luxury liner while the death toll in mainland China rose to 636, including a doctor who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the disease threat.

Following an online uproar over the government’s treatment of Dr. Li Wenliang, the ruling Communist Party said it was sending a team to “fully investigate relevant issues raised by the public” regarding the case.

Wenliang’s death triggered an outpouring of praise for him and fury that communist authorities put politics above public safety. He died at the hospital where he worked and likely contracted the virus while treating patients.

A prominent Chinese disease researcher called him a hero and said, “Dr. Li Wenliang is immortal.”

In death, Li became the face of simmering anger at Chinese officials who frequently are accused of abusing the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information to lie about or hide disease outbreaks, chemical spills, dangerous consumer products or financial frauds.

Two docked cruise ships with thousands of passengers and crew members remained under 14-day quarantines in Hong Kong and Japan.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says Japan will deny entry of foreign passengers on another cruise ship heading to Japan.

Tech firm Ericsson pulls out of big trade show due to virus

Wireless equipment maker Ericsson, which is a rival to China’s Huawei, is pulling out of the industry’s biggest trade fair this month to protect employees from potential exposure to the new virus outbreak.

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. has reported sales in China by the company and its partners fell nearly 12% from a year earlier in January due to the outbreak of a virus in central China’s Wuhan and extended Lunar New Year holidays in many parts of China.

Rival Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday that it was extending a production stoppage at its plants in China by an extra week, to Feb. 16. Toyota said its non-manufacturing staff are due to resume work from Monday.

Meanwhile, Fast Retailing Co., parent of Uniqlo fashion chain, said it has temporarily closed about half of its 750 outlets in mainland China due to the outbreak.

World stock markets retreat after surge on China tariff cut

Global stock markets have retreated following a surge driven by a Chinese tariff cut on U.S. imports.

Benchmarks in London, Paris and Tokyo fell on Friday while Shanghai recovered from earlier losses.

Major share markets had jumped more than 2% on Thursday’s announcement of Beijing’s tariff cut as part of a truce with Washington in their trade war.

Chinese factories and offices were starting to reopen following an extended Lunar New Year holiday, but companies are forecasting big revenue declines due to the closure of stores, amusement parks, cinemas and other businesses.

Major Japanese automakers said they are keeping their factories in China shut for now.

Singapore raises health alert due to virus cases

Singapore has raised its public heath alert status to orange and says three new cases of a virus have no clear source of infection.

The health ministry said Friday the three new cases were in Singaporeans who have no travel history to China nor links to previous cases but two of them visited Malaysia last month.

It said the city state, which now has 33 cases, has "planned for such a scenario involving community spread" and will introduce additional precautions.

The ministry is advising large events be canceled or attendees strictly screened.

Employers are required to conduct daily health checks such as checking workers' temperatures, and it urged companies to plan for further steps such as allowing staff to telecommute or segregating workers.

The ministry previously said it was investigating a business conference last month where attendees appear to have contracted the virus.

A Malaysian and two South Koreans who attended the meeting tested positive, and Britain said Friday that its third confirmed case was a man who attended a conference in Singapore.

The BBC said the man attended the same conference at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, which disinfected public areas upon learning of the cases.

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