Finland has today become the twentieth nation outside of China to confirm a case of the killer coronavirus that is rapidly sweeping the world.
Health officials revealed the Chinese woman, who travelled to Lapland from Wuhan, has been quarantined in hospital to fight the deadly infection.
The UAE this morning became the first country in the Middle East to be struck down by the never-before-seen virus, which experts say is mutating as it spreads.
Four Chinese people from the same family who travelled to the emirates from Wuhan in Hubei have been taken into hospital after becoming ill.
The Wuhan coronavirus death toll now sits at 133, and more than 6,000 people have now been infected around the world – mostly in China.
The number of people confirmed to have been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus has now exceeded 6,000 since the outbreak began almost a month ago
Markku Broas from Lapland Central Hospital in Rovaniemi (pictured) said the tourist left Hubei province five days ago, local media reports
A family who had travelled from Wuhan to the United Arab Emirates have been isolated in the United Arab Emirates, which has confirmed at least one of them is infected with the coronavirus (Stock picture of Dubai – it is unclear where the family is being held)
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 6,168, 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
Markku Broas from Lapland Central Hospital in Rovaniemi said the tourist left Hubei province five days ago, local media reports.
Finnish news website Yle claimed the tourist is a 32-year-old woman in ‘good health’. Her identity has not yet been revealed.
It added she sought medical help in Ivalo before being transferred to the hospital. It is not clear why she was taken there.
Officials at the National Institute for Health and Welfare said the risk of the killer virus spreading was still very small, despite the confirmed case.
It is thought the traveller came into contact with 15 other people. Authorities are believe to be tracking them down to monitor them.
UAE officials this morning declared its first four cases of the coronavirus, marking the first time the disease has been seen in the Middle East.
How the family managed to travel out of Wuhan and all the way to the Middle East is unknown but concerning.
The UAE is a major air transport hub with its Dubai International airport ranked the world’s third busiest, and the hub of Emirates airline.
Medical workers treat a severely ill coronavirus patient at the Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, China (Photo issued January 29)
Production workers at Jiangsu Shuoshi Biotechnology in Taizhou City are pictured working on a coronavirus testing kit
WHERE HAVE CASES OF THE CORONAVIRUS BEEN RECORDED?
The government has not yet commented on the details of the coronavirus spread to the country, Reuters reported.
But it did say those diagnosed with the virus were in stable condition and under medical observation.
Chinese authorities have said the total number of deaths from the virus, which causes flu-like illness, has risen by 26 to 133, while the number of confirmed cases has risen to at least 6,100 today.
Major UAE airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi last week said passengers arriving in China would be screened on arrival, a precaution taken by airports elsewhere.
Emirati officials said they are taking ‘all the necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization.’
Fears of the spreading virus have already pushed airlines to reduce flights to China. Emirates said on Wednesday its flights were operating normally.
British Airways today announced it would be stopping all flights to and from mainland China. It runs daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai from London Heathrow.
The airline said in a statement: ‘We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel.
WUHAN 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 lung 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 the Wuhan coronavirus kill?
Yes – 133 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Some people who catch the Wuhan coronavirus may not have any symptoms at all, or only very mild ones like a sore throat or a headache.
Others may suffer from a fever, cough or trouble breathing.
And a small proportion of patients will go on to develop severe infection which can damage the lungs or cause pneumonia, a life-threatening condition which causes swelling and fluid build-up in the lungs.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China and countries around the world have used this to create lab tests, which must be carried out to confirm an infection.
Delays to these tests, to test results and to people getting to hospitals in China, mean the number of confirmed cases is expected to be just a fraction of the true scale of the outbreak.
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 around China and are known to have spread from person to person.
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
‘We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority.
‘Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on ba.com.’
And, yesterday, the Hong Kong administration vowed to halve the number of flights between the city and the mainland, as well as shutting down ferries and trains.
This afternoon it was revealed that the killer coronavirus sweeping the world may have reached Africa as Sudan has now claimed two patients may have the deadly infection.
Both the patients – citizens of the country in northeast Africa – had returned from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the escalating outbreak.
The man and woman are currently being monitored by doctors. Officials have not yet confirmed their identities or locations.
Leading scientists fear the virus could be difficult to contain in Africa, warning that medical facilities are ‘extremely limited’ on the continent.
No other details have yet emerged for the Sudanese residents. The news agency Reuters said it was given the information by a minister.
Sudanese officials have already enforced strict screening of travellers arriving at airports and shipping ports to try and prevent the spread.
Both the US and Canada have confirmed cases, while the infection has also reached Europe with patients struck down in France and Germany.
Britain has yet to record any cases – latest figures show almost 100 people have been tested for the virus but all have come back negative.
In other developments to the ever-growing outbreak today, MailOnline this morning revealed how cases have tripled since Sunday.
Just 2,014 patients had been struck down with the SARS-like infection by January 26. This has now risen to 6,168, official figures show.
It means the escalating crisis in mainland China is now bigger than the 2003 SARS epidemic, when 5,327 cases of the killer virus were confirmed.
Health officials in Beijing have said they fear the epidemic will continue to get worse and peak ‘in the next 10 days’.
Around 200 British nationals are gearing up to be flown back to London tomorrow via chartered plane in a landmark evacuation mission.
And in a turn of events, the UK has asked the EU for help to repatriate expats – just two days before it crashes out of the bloc.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said evacuees will be held in quarantine in a military base for two weeks to stop the virus spreading on home soil.
A US evacuation flight that took off from Wuhan yesterday is on its way to a military base in Ontario, California. Japan has also already rescued residents.
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly
People at a shopping mall in Bangkok are screened to try and spot anyone with a fever. Research yesterday revealed Bangkok is the city most at risk of coronavirus outside of China because of the number of travellers who go there
Everything we know we know about the deadly coronavirus in China: But how worried should we be?
GLOBAL AIRLINES CANCEL OR REDUCE FLIGHTS TO CHINA
British Airways suspended all flights to mainland China with ‘immediate effect’ today amid the escalating coronavirus crisis which has killed 133 people.
The airline halted all bookings on its website for direct flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai until March, following the Foreign Office’s unprecedented advice last night urging Britons not to travel to mainland China unless their visit is essential.
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.
Someone who is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.
At least 133 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 6,000 have been infected in at least 18 countries and regions. 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:
What is the Wuhan coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The 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 infections on December 31.
Chinese tourists wearing protective masks queue at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok, Thailand, as they wait to board flights back to China
A pilot wearing a protective suit parks a cargo plane at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province
FAMILIES TORN APART IN SCRAMBLE TO ESCAPE WUHAN
The scramble to evacuate coronavirus ground zero is tearing families apart, including one British man who says he is being forced to leave his Chinese wife behind to get his daughter to safety.
Up to 200 Britons are due to be evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan tomorrow and will be quarantined for two weeks in a UK military base.
British teacher Jeff Siddle is among them, along with his nine-year-old daughter Jasmine – but Beijing is barring his Chinese wife Sindy from boarding the rescue flight.
Mr Siddle and his family flew to Hubei province to spend time with his partner’s family and celebrate the Chinese New Year – before the warnings were in place about the deadly coronavirus epidemic.
Mr Siddle said today: ‘My wife’s a Chinese citizen, although she’s got a permanent residency visa for the UK as a spouse.
‘But what the Foreign Office is saying is they are going to be doing an airlift, possibly tomorrow, but it’s only [for] British citizens. Chinese authorities are not allowing any Chinese residents to leave.
Mr Siddle and his wife and daughter flew to Hubei before the outbreak to celebrate Lunar New Year
‘I was put in the position to make a decision to either leave my wife here in China, or the three of us stay here (in Wuhan). We have to basically have a nine-year-old child separated from their mother. Who knows how long that is going to be for?’
Other expats stranded in Wuhan and the wider Hubei province – including PE teacher Kharn Lambert and Malcolm Lanyon – have chosen to stay in the region.
Mr Lambert said he had given up his seat on the rescue flight because he does not want ‘to come home and put everybody’s health at risk’, while Mr Lanyon refused to leave his Chinese wife behind.
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, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.
By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 133 and cases were in excess of 6,000.
Where does the virus come from?
Nobody knows for sure. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of the virus in Wuhan came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
Bats are a prime suspect – researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a recent statement: ‘The Wuhan coronavirus’ natural host could be bats… but between bats and humans there may be an unknown intermediate.’
And another scientific journal article has suggested the virus first infected snakes, which may then have transmitted it to people at the market in Wuhan.
Peking University researchers analysed the genes of the coronavirus and said they most closely matched viruses which are known to affect snakes. They said: ‘Results derived from our evolutionary analysis suggest for the first time that snake is the most probable wildlife animal reservoir for the 2019-nCoV,’ in the Journal of Medical Virology.
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
Passengers arriving from China at Incheon Airport in South Korea are all seen wearing face masks as they have their temperatures checked at a quarantine gate
A subway worker in Incheon, South Korea, disinfects a carriage. More than half a million people in South Korea have reportedly signed a petition to keep people travelling from China out of the country
WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE ALREADY EVACUATED THEIR RESIDENTS FROM WUHAN?
The US launched an emergency mission to repatriate 240 citizens yesterday, with a flight out of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport.
On board the flight, which left before dawn local time, was diplomats from the US Consulate as well as other American citizens. One British dual national also boarded the flight. It is unclear whether any medics were on board to monitor passengers for signs of infection.
It made a refuelling stop in Alaska and was due to fly on to Ontario, California – but it has since been diverted to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, where it is expected to land in the next few hours.
Passengers were screened before initially boarding in Wuhan, and then went through follow-up checks at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska. The will be screened again once they arrive in California. It is thought they will be quarantined for at least 72 hours.
The Chinese partners of US citizens were banned from the rescue flight, reportedly at the demand of Beijing.
Japanese officials also chartered a flight from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport to rescue 206 citizens stuck in the coronavirus-hit city.
The plane landed back at Haneda Airport in Tokyo this morning at around 9am local time after flying to Wuhan overnight.
The flight was carrying emergency relief supplies including 15,000 masks, 50,000 pairs of gloves and 8,000 protective glasses for medics in Wuhan. Around four medical officials were also on board to monitor returning passengers.
Officials confirmed passengers would be tested for the coronavirus strain. Japan Times the evacuees would be asked to remain at home and isolate themselves to prevent the potential spread.
France’s health minister Agnes Buzyn confirmed a plane will be sent for its stranded citizens on Thursday, to return home on Friday or Saturday. No further details have been given.
There are some 800 French citizens stranded in the Wuhan area. She said French nationals will be held in quarantine for two weeks on arrival to stop the virus spreading on home soil.
The European Union meanwhile said it would co-fund an airlift effort at France’s request, so that more than 100 nationals from other EU nations could be repatriated along with French citizens.
Australia is planning to evacuate its citizens from the epicentre of the deadly virus outbreak in China and quarantine them on an island used to detain asylum seekers.
No confirmed details have been given, with officials still thrashing out details with Chinese officials. But it is thought Australia will work with New Zealand on the operation and would seek to help Pacific nations evacuate their citizens where possible.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they would be held in quarantine for 14 days on Christmas Island, known for its notorious immigration detention centre used to detain asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by boat.
Morrison said ‘vulnerable’ Australians – including children and the elderly – and short-term visitors to Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province would be prioritised in extraction efforts.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the virus it may take between two and 14 days for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, yesterday said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has so far killed 133 people out of a total of at least 6,000 officially confirmed cases – a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
British Airways today announced it would stop all flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai because the UK Government has advised people against travelling to China at all
Coronavirus cases have TRIPLED to almost 6,200 within three days
Cases of the deadly coronavirus sweeping the world have tripled within three days, MailOnline can reveal after China warned the killer outbreak will peak in the next 10 days.
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 6,168, 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 behind the total toll of the outbreak, which infected 8,000 people.
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’.
However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed.
Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.
Can the virus be cured?
The Wuhan coronavirus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak has not officially been confirmed as either an epidemic or a pandemic yet. This is likely because, despite the global concern, the number of people who have been confirmed to be infected is still relatively low.
A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
An epidemic is when a disease takes hold of a smaller community, such as a single country, region or continent.