Desperate Chinese citizens unable to buy face masks have deployed fruit and plastic bottle helmets to shield against the deadly coronavirus.
Companies have been working overtime to supply citizens with protective masks amid surging demand as the deadly flu-like virus continues to spread.
Social media posts show people donning tangerine and grapefruit skins as masks, water-cooler bottle headgear, while pranksters have mocked the health crisis with absurd alternatives, including iceberg lettuce.
As cases soared to nearly 8,200 today, Chinese health officials warned people not to re-use their masks after videos emerged of people boiling their used masks to clean them.
More than 50 million residents remain on lock-down and there have been 170 deaths.
Posts on Chinese social media sites have shown the desperate lengths some have gone to, using grapefruit peel (left) to cover their faces, while others – such as the man wearing a mask of lettuce (right) – are presumably mocking the health crisis
A man wearing a mask made out of one massive bottle and fitted with other smaller bottles, with tissues presumably fitted for some sort of filtration
A woman who has fitted her face mask with a female sanitary item (left) and another man was spotted with a bra wrapped round his ears (right)
A man waits to be served while wearing a hulking plastic bottle taken from a water cooler on top of his head in an effort to fight off germs
The figures reflected an increase of 38 deaths and 1,737 cases in 24 hours, for a total of 7,711 cases.
Of the new deaths, 37 were in the epicentre of the outbreak in Hubei province, with one in the south-western province of Sichuan.
Beijing has sent more than 6,000 doctors from around the country to Wuhan and ordered at least five coronavirus hospitals to be built in a bid to stop the epidemic.
International developments in the Wuhan coronavirus crisis today include:
- The number of cases has jumped to more than 8,200 and 170 people have died in China
- India declared its first case, making it the 21st country or territory outside of China to do so
- Three Japanese people taken home on the evacuation flight have been diagnosed with the coronavirus
- World Health Organization will meet this afternoon to reconsider whether to declare a global emergency
- British Airways extended the cancellation of flights connecting London to Beijing and Shanghai until March
- Surgical face masks sell out in the UK as Brits panic buy protective gear amid fears the virus will hit home soil
A man and young woman in China with what appear to be melon rinds held around their faces with lengths of string as they go about their daily lives
A man wearing a foil mask (left) and a woman with a plastic bag covering her face in a bid to keep the deadly virus away
The killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world has now infected every region of China and 20 other countries. The death toll is 170 and cases have soared past 8,200
Deaths have also risen to 170, with 38 patients dying in one day – the biggest 24-hour jump since the outbreak began last month.
It comes after three Japanese people who were evacuated from Wuhan have tested positive for coronavirus – while India has become the latest country to confirm a case.
Two of the Japanese nationals did not show symptoms when they boarded the plane on Wednesday – fuelling fears hosts of the virus may be spreading it unwittingly.
They were among 206 passengers flown to Tokyo from the epicentre of the outbreak.
While the vast majority of cases have been in China, more than 100 have appeared in about 20 other countries and territories, including the US, Canada, France and Australia.
Japan’s three new cases take the Asian nation’s tally to 11, while India became the latest nation to confirm a case.
The Indian patient was a medical student from the country’s Kerala region, who had been studying at Wuhan University.
The student is said to be in stable condition and is being monitored closely, India’s health ministry said in a statement.
More than 800 people have travelled from Hubei province in China, which surrounds Wuhan, and are under observation in Kerala.
World Health Organization figures show just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by Sunday, January 26. This has now risen dramatically to 8,200, with cases in the US, Australia and Canada
As well as a dramatic increase in cases of the never-before-seen virus, figures also show the number of deaths have spiralled. Since yesterday, deaths rose by 38, marking the biggest 24-hour jump since the outbreak began last month
Among Japan’s 11 cases is a tour bus driver who was infected after coming into contact with Chinese visitors.
Meanwhile 7,000 people are stranded on an Italian cruise ship after it was put on lockdown over two suspected cases of the deadly coronavirus.
Samples from a Chinese couple were sent for testing after three doctors and a nurse boarded the Costa Crociere ship in the port of Civitavecchia.
They were called in to treat a 54-year-old woman from Macau who had a cough and a fever.
Costa Crociere confirmed the ship, carrying some 7,000 people including the crew, was in lockdown.
It said the woman ‘was placed in solitary confinement in the on-board hospital last night with her travel companion’.
The Costa Smeralda, the company’s flagship and the fifth-largest cruise ship in the world, had travelled from Palma de Mallorca and is currently engaged in one-week cruises in the western Mediterranean.
The couple flew in to Milan from Hong Kong on January 25, before getting on the cruise, according to Italian media reports.
China reported its biggest single-day jump in novel coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as global fears deepened with at least 15 countries confirming infections.
The World Health Organization, which initially downplayed a disease that has now killed 170 in China, was preparing to meet Thursday to decide whether to declare it a global emergency.
Finland and the UAE yesterday became the latest countries to confirm cases of the SARS-like infection, which has now been spotted in twenty nations and territories.
Australia today announced an eighth case, with a Chinese woman in her 40s being treated in isolation in a hospital in Melbourne.
World health chiefs will meet later today to discuss whether the outbreak constitutes a global health emergency, after ruling against it last week.
The epidemic appears to be ramping up in its severity, with the number of cases more than tripling since the weekend.
World Health Organization figures showed just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by Sunday, January 26.
That number rose dramatically to 7,100 by the Wednesday, with cases in the US, Australia and Canada.
Figures also show there were just 445 cases by Wednesday last week – meaning the outbreak that is continuing to escalate has increased in size by almost 14-fold in the space of seven days.
It means the outbreak in mainland China is now bigger than the 2003 SARS epidemic, when 5,327 cases of the killer virus were confirmed.
However, it is still slightly behind the total toll of the outbreak, which infected 8,000 people – but it is expected to soar past that by this coming weekend.
It comes after a renowned scientist at China’s National Health Commission warned the spread of the infection is only going to get worse. Dr Zhong Nanshan admitted he fears the crisis will peak ‘in the next 10 days’.
Fears the coronavirus outbreak had reached Africa were raised yesterday after Sudan and Equatorial Guinea reported suspected cases
Two citizens of Sudan – believed to be a man and woman – are being monitored after displaying symptoms of the virus following a visit to Wuhan, local reports say.
And officials in Equatorial Guinea have quarantined four travellers who arrived from Beijing amid fears they may have the killer SARS-like infection.
World Health Organization chiefs said they were ‘concerned’ about any cases in Africa because the impoverished continents’ health services do not ‘have the capacity’ to handle the virus.
Leading scientists also fear the virus could be difficult to contain in Africa, warning that medical facilities are ‘extremely limited’.
Dr Michael Head, a global health scientist at the University of Southampton, today told MailOnline: ‘All countries are on high risk.
‘Whatever Sudan have in terms of facilities, will be extremely limited. If there are more than a few cases it may be difficult to contain it.’
‘There is quite a few migrant Chinese workers that go to and from Africa a lot to do work such as mining and construction.’
He added a few cases would therefore be expected, but any more than a handful in any African nation would be ‘concerning’.
Meanwhile major airlines have suspended flights to China in a desperate bid to stop the global spread of coronavirus.
British Airways cancelled all direct flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai until March.
United Airlines, the biggest US carrier to China, has also announced it will be cutting 24 flights in the near-term to China and the White House is said to be considering stopping all US-China flights completely to stop the virus spreading.
American Airlines, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Air KBZ (Myanmar), Urals Airlines, and Finnair are among carriers that have cancelled some or all China flights as countries expand travel warnings and demand plummets due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And Air India and South Korean budget carrier Seoul Air are also halting all flights to the country, and Indonesia’s Lion Air plans to do the same.
Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate its flights between Heathrow and Shanghai, the company said, but passengers who no longer want to travel will be able to rebook or obtain a refund free of charge.
Yesterday Google became the latest global franchise to shut down offices in China to prevent the virus from spreading.
The tech giant confirmed Wednesday that it is temporarily closing all of its offices in the country – including the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Google is also restricting employees from traveling to the countries and urged any employees currently in China and Hong Kong to return home and spend two weeks working from home before returning to the office.
Its offices are already closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, which the Chinese government announced on Monday it was extending to February 2 in the hope that this will encourage people to stay in their homes, reducing the spread of the disease. The holidays had been due to end on January 30.
Google’s decision to close down its offices indefinitely comes as several other tech firms have also taken steps to protect their workers in the region.
Electronics firm LG issued a blanket ban on employees traveling to China and instructed all employees currently in China to return home Wednesday.
This followed Apple CEO Tim Cook’s announcement on Tuesday live on an earnings call with investors that it was suspending travel to China, is measuring employees’ temperatures regularly, and that at least one Apple store in China had been closed.
Almost all of the big players have offices in China, given the country’s rapid growth in the tech industry over the last two decades and its large manufacturing hub.
According to Google, it has four offices in China based in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, and one office in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Bosses at Disney have shut Disney Land resorts in Shanghai and Hong Kong amid the epidemic, during what is their busiest time of year.
McDonald’s has shut all stored in Hubei province – home to 60million people – while Starbucks shut more than half of its stores in China. KFC and Pizza Hut have closed stores in the outbreak’s epicentre Wuhan.
All 30 of IKEA’s shops across China have been temporarily closed, as have 45 H&M stores. The fashion retailer has suspended business travel to and within China. Staff arriving from China are advised to stay home for 14 days.