President Joko Widodo has urged the public to remain vigilant and ordered health officials to monitor developments of the Wuhan virus closely as infections and fatalities continue to skyrocket in China and the first case was reported in Cambodia.
The virus has yet to be detected in Indonesia and as governments wrestle with barring arrivals from China, where the virus has now infected more than 4,000 and killed 106, Jakarta said there are no plans to further restrict travelers from that country despite concerns about human-to-human transmission. Direct travel to and from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has already been suspended.
The novel coronavirus has spread to at least 13 other countries outside of China – Cambodia confirmed its first case last night in a Wuhan man who had visited Sihanoukville city earlier this month.
China has attempted to seal off Wuhan and around 10 other Chinese cities in a bid to contain the virus, locking down more than 50 million people. However, 5 million had already fled Wuhan before the quasi-quarantine was put in place, city mayor Zhou Xianwang told reporters Sunday. Zhou also confessed to withholding information about the outbreak.
China was also rushing to build a hospital there to treat coronavirus patients that it expects to complete this week.
Singapore confirmed its fifth case yesterday. Officials also announced that university dorms are being converted into quarantine zones, with students given a day to evict.
Teachers and students returning from China will also have to go on a 14-day mandatory leave of absence as a precautionary measure, it was announced yesterday.
The government will not ban Chinese tourists from entering the country despite an ongoing petition that has now garnered more than 20,000 signatures.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong yesterday cautioned Singaporeans against “overreacting” or “turning xenophobic.”
The Foreign Affairs ministry last week revealed 35 Singaporeans in Wuhan, adding that they have all “reported that they are well.” There are no plans to evacuate them.
While Singapore was not planning to airlift citizens from Wuhan, Thai officials said they were devising plans to evacuate citizens from the city, where there are 64 Thai students and workers. The meeting came after a viral plea from a Thai student at Wuhan University who said students were trapped in the city with insufficient food.
Thai Air Force commander Manat Wongwat said that up to four C-134 planes with medical staff and equipment were on stand-by to evacuate Thais from hotspots in China.
Malaysia is temporarily barring entry for Chinese tourists from Hubei province and its capital city of Wuhan by suspending their visas amid the pneumonia virus outbreak.
The decision comes after more than 300,000 signed a petition calling the country to ban entry for Chinese tourists.
Myanmar and Indonesia are still free of the coronavirus but remain vigilant as the outbreak spreads to neighboring countries. Indonesia has investigated around 15 suspected cases, most of them tested negative. The results of three cases are pending.
The SARS-like virus, also known as 2019-nCoV, is a member of the coronavirus family that has never been encountered before. Like other coronaviruses, it also comes from animals, and is believed to have emerged from a now-shuttered market that sold exotic wildlife such as bats. China has temporarily suspended all wildlife trade.
The head of the World Health Organization was in Beijing today to discuss the outbreak, days after he said the Wuhan pneumonia virus did not yet constitute a global health emergency due to the limited number of cases abroad.
Canada, Germany and France are among countries outside of China with confirmed cases. In other parts of Asia, new cases have been confirmed in Cambodia and Sri Lanka, while Hong Kong now matches Thailand’s eight confirmed cases.
Hong Kong has declared the Wuhan virus outbreak an emergency in the city amid pressures for the government to act. It has also banned entry of people from Hubei province, excluding Hong Kong residents.
The Philippines has suspended its visa-on-arrival program for Chinese travelers and repatriated more than 600 Chinese tourists back to Wuhan, in addition to canceling all direct flights. The country, which is still free of the virus, is investigating 11 suspected cases.
Several Metro Manila schools have suspended classes. Up to 50 Filipinos are in Wuhan and say they want to return home.
Additional reporting by Sheany
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