Hong Kong put animal lovers on alert after a dog potentially tested positive for the virus, while Singapore reported three new cases, Thailand one, and Malaysia announced its first involving someone who recently visited Japan.
COVID-19 has infected more than 80,000 people around the world and killed around 3,000, mostly in China. Several outbreaks continue to grow outside China, primarily in South Korea, Italy, and the Middle East, where cases continued to soar since yesterday.
In other parts of Asia, Hong Kong and Singapore have been proactively detecting new cases while the world sees a lack of response from more insular countries including Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
The World Health Organization does not yet consider the global outbreak a pandemic but recognizes its “potential” to become one.
Major updates since yesterday:
- Saudi Arabia has closed its holy sites to foreigners and barred entry to Muslim pilgrims
- The United States reported its first coronavirus case with unknown origin.
- At least seven countries reported their first cases in the past 24 hours, including Brazil, Nigeria, and Netherlands.
- Hong Kong announced yesterday they found a trace of the virus in a dog.
- South Korea reported another 256 cases today, surpassing 2,000 known infections. Half of the new cases were linked to a religious sect.
- Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe abruptly announced yesterday the closure of schools until April amid coronavirus fears. The popular Tokyo Disneyland attraction will also close through March 15.
Updates from Coconuts newsrooms in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong:
- Singapore reported three new cases last night, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 96.
- New cases involve a 12-year-old student from Raffles Institution and an elderly member of his family.
- The school, viewed by many Singaporeans as an “elite” school, suspends classes today for thorough cleaning as well as most extra-curricular activities for two weeks.
- Singapore has been seeing only a handful of new cases each day but the number could rise anytime, the Health Ministry’s chief health scientist reportedly said yesterday, adding that “it is premature to say that the worst is over.”
- Hong Kong authorities confirmed this morning that the pet dog of one COVID-19 patient has tested “weak positive” for the new coronavirus.
- The dog is believed to be the pet of a 60-year-old woman from Tai Hang and a Jockey Club member. One of her domestic workers also subsequently tested positive for the virus, and her family was quarantined.
- An 89-year-old woman from Tseung Kwan O has become the latest person to contract the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 93.
- Three Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in New Clark City, Tarlac, showed COVID-19-like symptoms – coughing and sore throat – and were transferred to a hospital. Two later tested negative for COVID-19 while the results for the third were still pending.
- Their samples were sent to a local research institute.
- The health department is tracking down around 26 South Koreans who landed in Cebu from Daegu City on Tuesday, a day after the government imposed travel restrictions on North Gyeongsang province, where most coronavirus infections in the country have been found.
- The Philippines imposed a travel ban on the South Korean province after over 1,200 people tested positive for the virus there, at least 12 of whom have died.
- The South Koreans being traced by the health department will not be asked to return to their country but will just be observed in the Philippines.
- Thailand reported its 41st case Friday morning.
- Two schools closed in Thailand today for thorough cleaning over coronavirus fears.
- An international school in Don Mueang district closed today after a group of 500 students and teachers reportedly returned from a virus-hit country. It was unclear which country that was.
- A private school in Rayong also closed today amid rumors a pupil fell ill after returning from Japan. Many Bangkok schools were already closed this week due to hazardous air pollution.
- A Thai medical team yesterday urged those suspected of contracting COVID-19 and with recent travel history to virus-hit countries to avoid withholding any information that may be useful to health authorities.
- The announcement by Siriraj Hospital’s medical team comes after a newly infected man, 65, who recently traveled to Japan, did not disclose his travel history until his test results came out.
- Malaysia reported another case yesterday involving a person who recently traveled to Japan.
- The 53-year-old Malaysian woman tested positive yesterday, days after she returned from Japan on Feb. 23.
- The American woman from the MS Westerdam cruise ship who tested positive for the infection in Malaysia has “recovered fully,” Malaysia’s health authority said.
Case no 22, American woman tested positive COVID-19 twice on 15 Feb has recovered fully. Her husband was admitted for severe pneumonia & both were discharged today. Kudos to Dr Suresh, Dr Benedict and all our staff in Sg Buloh Hospital for the great care given to the couple. pic.twitter.com/J3dDTGxFPc
— Noor Hisham Abdullah (@DGHisham) February 27, 2020
- The Jakarta Globe reported yesterday that a man suspected of having COVID-19 had died in Semarang in Central Java. But doctors from the Kariadi Hospital said test results showed he had swine flu.
- Indonesia’s health minister yesterday reportedly defended the country’s absence of coronavirus, saying that it had been a “blessing from the Almighty,” Reuters reported.
- Meanwhile, an Indonesian national who tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan has been posting cheerful TikTok videos.
Additional reporting Khyne Palumar, Vicky Wong.
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