World - updates

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WHO upgrades global risk of virus spread to highest level

Feb 28, 2020 - 11:44 PM

'We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level,' says WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

'VERY HIGH.' World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a press conference on the situation regarding the COVID-19 at Geneva's WHO headquarters on February 24, 2020. File photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Filipino coronavirus patient in Singapore discharged

Feb 28, 2020 - 10:26 PM

The 41-year-old Filipino leaves the hospital nearly a week after he tested positive for COVID-19

CASE 89. Visitors walk along a walkway at Marina Bay in Singapore on February 18, 2020. File photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP

Hong Kong pets face coronavirus quarantine after dog tests positive

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:55 PM

The move is the first reported case anywhere in the world of a government quarantining pets over the outbreak and is prompted by a positive test in the pet of an infected patient

DOGS, TOO. A man takes photos of dogs wearing masks in a stroller in Shanghai on February 19, 2020. File photo by Noel Celis/AFP

Pope cancels more official appointments over cold

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:52 PM

This comes as Italy grapples with the largest outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe. But the Vatican makes no reference to the disease in its announcement.

MORE CANCELLATIONS. Pope Francis (L) kisses a child at the end of his weekly general audience on February 26, 2020, in St Peter's square at the Vatican. Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP

WATCH: Coronavirus fears ruin leap year birthday

Feb 28, 2020 - 5:11 PM

Marian Choi is turning 40 years old on her 10th birthday, but she can't celebrate it

LEAP YEAR BABY. Hong Konger Marian Choi's leap year birthday is spoiled by the coronavirus fears. AFP Photo

Tokyo Disney theme parks to close through March 15 over coronavirus

Feb 28, 2020 - 1:28 PM

Oriental Land Company, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, says they are closing the theme parks in compliance with a government request to cancel or postpone big events for two weeks

Photo by Kyodo News

WHO: 9 countries, including PH, show coronavirus 'can be contained'

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:56 PM

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III says the Philippines draws inspiration from the WHO citation but will stay vigilant against the novel corinavirus

PROTECTION. Metro Manila commuters wear face masks as protection from the coronavirus on February 3, 2020. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

Japan gov't says pupils should stay home while schools closed over virus

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:48 PM

Japan's education ministry formally request all elementary, junior and high schools in the country to close next Monday several weeks ahead of the start of their spring break in late March

STAY HOME. File photo of Japanese puplis going to school. Photo by Kyodo News

'Crash Landing On You' star Son Ye-jin donates to coronavirus-hit Daegu

Feb 28, 2020 - 12:30 PM

The Korean star hopes her donation can help lower-income residents in Daegu, South Korea, and says that news about the COVID-19 outbreak in her hometown is 'especially heartbreaking' for her

Virus detected in sub-Saharan Africa as markets plunge

Feb 28, 2020 - 10:56 AM

The World Health Organization warns that African health systems are ill-equipped to respond to the deadly coronavirus outbreak

POLLS. A woman sits beside a campaign poster for Atiku Abubaka on February 9, 2019. Photo by Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP

U.S. health workers exposed to virus without protective gear – reports

Feb 28, 2020 - 10:46 AM

The unprotected teams worked alongside personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who wore 'full gown, gloves, and hazmat attire,' the complaint says

PROTECTION. Cameron Nightingale adjusts his mask and gloves, a precaution to protect himself from coronavirus, while walking by the cable car in San Francisco, California on February 27, 2020. Photo by Josh Edelson/AFP

Olympics chief: IOC 'committed' to Tokyo Games despite virus

Feb 28, 2020 - 10:40 AM

The fate of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been in the spotlight amid the widening virus outbreak

epa08251597 Visitors wearing face masks walk past the Olympic Rings monument in front of the Japan Olympic Committee headquarters near the new National Stadium, venue of the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, in Tokyo, Japan, 27 February 2020. Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled to start on 24 July 2020, continue as planned despite the spreading Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, organizers confirmed. EPA-EFE/KIMIMASA MAYAMA

China reports 44 new virus deaths, lowest rise in new cases in over a month

Feb 28, 2020 - 10:34 AM

The general decline in new infections in China comes as infections in other countries gather pace

DISINFECT. A man (L) who has recovered from the COVID-19 coronavirus infection is being disinfected by medical staff before leaving the hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. Photo by STR/AFP

Rejected by Jamaica, Caymans over virus fears, cruise ship docks in Mexico

Feb 28, 2020 - 10:06 AM

'We cannot act inhumanely. Imagine the desperation," says Mexico's president, referring to the 6,000 people aboard

DOCKED. MSC Meraviglia cruise ship (L) is seen in Cozumel, Mexico, on February 27, 2020. Photo by Jose Castillo/AFP

South Korea coronavirus cases pass 2,000 – authorities

Feb 28, 2020 - 9:42 AM

South Korea's total is expected to increase further

DRESSED UP. People in traditional Korean hanbok dresses wear face masks as they visit Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul on February 23, 2020. Photo by Jung Yeon-je/AFP

Virus enigma: Experts ask why Africa seems to have few cases

Feb 28, 2020 - 9:29 AM

If the continent can count itself lucky so far, experts say it is just a question of time

LINE UP. Women wait in a line to receive relief supplies from South Africa's disaster relief organization Gift of the Givers. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP

U.N. prepared to make humanitarian exemptions for North Korea on coronavirus

Feb 28, 2020 - 9:16 AM

Ill-equipped North Korea has weak medical infrastructure and has cut itself off from the outside world

LEADERS. People pay their respects before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP

Iran coronavirus deaths jump to 26, vice president infected

Feb 28, 2020 - 9:06 AM

Among the latest coronavirus sufferers is one of Iran's 7 vice presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, who oversees women's affairs

CLEANER. A Tehran Municipality worker cleans a bus to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 illness on February 26, 2020. Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP

Spain probes 1st local coronavirus transmissions

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:54 AM

'Coronavirus has recruited me,' jokes sports reporter Kike Mateu, who is among the latest diagnosed with the infection

MASKED MONA. Italian urban artist Salvatore Benintende aka "TVBOY" depicts Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa wearing a protective face mask and holding a mobile phone reading "Mobile World Virus" in a street of Barcelona on February 18, 2020. Photo by Pau Barenna/AFP

U.S. patient with coronavirus of unknown origin denied test for days

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:23 AM

This comes as California monitors some 8,400 people for possible infection

TESTS. Lab technicians register samples from potential victims of the novel coronavirus at the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases of Thailand at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok on February 5, 2020. Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP

WHO says virus at 'decisive point' as world battles spread

Feb 28, 2020 - 8:03 AM

It's feared that poor countries with weak health infrastructures will not be able to cope

ARRIVAL. A passenger looks on while wearing a protective mask at the arrival hall of Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, on February 27, 2020. Photo by Jack Guez/AFP

Facebook cancels F8 developers conference due to coronavirus

Feb 28, 2020 - 4:06 AM

The F8 gathering in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose – set for early May – typically draws thousands of software makers from around the world who collaborate with Facebook on its platform

NO F8 FOR 2020. In this file photo taken on April 30, 2019 People attend the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.  File photo by Amy Osborne/AFP

Virus quarantines must be 'proportionate,' respect rights – U.N.

Feb 27, 2020 - 7:27 PM

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet also voices serious concern for 'vulnerable groups' of people 'living in collective institutions, including many older people and people deprived of their liberty'

QUARANTINE. Workers in protective clothes stand before passengers disembarking off the Diamond Princess cruise ship, in quarantine due to fears of new COVID-19 coronavirus, at Daikoku pier cruise terminal in Yokohama on February 21, 2020. Photo by Philip Fong/AFP

Japan PM calls for closure of public schools over virus

Feb 27, 2020 - 6:08 PM

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requests public schools to close temporarily from March 2 until their spring break

CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS. Pupils of the Ariake-nishi Gakuen elementary school wear face masks during an event marking 6 months till the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo on February 25, 2020. File photo by Charly Triballeau/AFP

Virus strikes another blow at religious tourism in Iraq

Feb 27, 2020 - 6:00 PM

In 'normal' times, income from pilgrims creates jobs for Iraqis and brings in billions of dollars per year. But with the novel coronavirus, visitor numbers are plunging.

Pilgrims wearing masks walk through the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Ali on February 25, 2020 in the holy Iraqi central city of Najaf, where the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 has been documented in Iraq. - Iraq on February 24 confirmed its first novel coronavirus case in an elderly Iranian national in Najaf, according to health officials. A country with a dilapidated healthcare system, Iraq often hosts pilgrims and religious students from Iran, where at least a dozen people have died of the novel coronavirus since an outbreak there was first reported last week. Iraq had blocked travel to and from the Islamic republic days before announcing a seminary student in Najaf was the country's first confirmed case. (Photo by Haidar HAMDANI / AFP)

Another Filipina tests positive for novel coronavirus in Hong Kong

Feb 27, 2020 - 5:29 PM

The patient is in isolation and under close observation at a hospital, says the Department of Foreign Affairs

HONG KONG. A worker wears a face mask, as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, as he takes a rest in a storeroom of a public toilet in Tsim Sha Tsui of Hong Kong on February 12, 2020. The death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic climbed past 1,100 on February 12 but the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, raising hope the outbreak could peak later this month.
Philip FONG / AFP

Events around the world affected by novel coronavirus outbreak

Feb 27, 2020 - 5:19 PM

From sporting events to governments' parliament sessions, the deadly novel coronavirus is causing the cancelation or postponement of events around the world

CANCELED OR POSTPONED. Carnival revelers crowd at the roadside and watch a float depicting the 'carnival virus' (R) making a fool of the coronavirus during the Rose Monday carnival street parade in Duesseldorf, western Germany on February 24, 2020. File photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP

Taiwan accuses mainland Chinese trolls of sowing virus panic

Feb 27, 2020 - 4:05 PM

'We suspect that mainland Chinese Internet trolls are making up and spreading the false messages based on the content and the phrases,' says Taiwan's Investigation Bureau

This photo taken on February 23, 2020 shows Taiwan flags hung along a street in the Chinatown district in Yokohama. Japan has more than 130 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus and four have died. Three of those deaths were passengers who had been on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, quarantined off in Yokohama, where the number of infections is now at 630. Philip FONG / AFP

Japan woman tests positive for virus after 'recovery'

Feb 27, 2020 - 3:16 PM

The case is the first time a patient apparently cleared of the virus has subsequently tested positive for it, says a local official in Osaka

People wearing face masks travel on a train in Tokyo on February 25, 2020. Japan has more than 150 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus and five have died. Four of those deaths were passengers who had been on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, quarantined off in Yokohama, where the number of infections is over 690. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Crew of virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship to start disembarking

Feb 27, 2020 - 2:09 PM

The disembarkation of about 240 crew members, including many foreign nationals, is expected to last several days, according to the Japan health ministry.

VIRUS-HIT. Photo taken February 26, 2020, shows the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama Port near Tokyo. Photo by Kyodo News

Shincheonji: The secretive sect in South Korean virus outbreak

Feb 27, 2020 - 1:21 PM

At their services Shincheonji members sit close together on the floor without chairs and desks, praying extensively in what critics say creates an ideal environment to spread viral infections

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu on February 24, 2020. South Korea reported 161 more coronavirus cases on February 24, taking the nationwide total to 763 and making it the world's largest total outside China. The country has seen a rapid surge in the number of coronavirus cases -- adding more than 700 cases in less than a week -- since a cluster of infections emerged from a religious sect in the southern city of Daegu. Jung Yeon-je / AFP

U.S., South Korea postpone joint military exercises over virus

Feb 27, 2020 - 11:56 AM

An American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll is in self-quarantine after testing positive for the virus

FRIENDSHIP. A child sits atop a GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb during an 'air power' open day event at the US air force base in Osan, south of Seoul. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP

China reports 29 more coronavirus deaths, lowest since January

Feb 27, 2020 - 10:25 AM

There are now nearly 78,500 cases in total

WORKING. A man who has displayed mild symptoms of COVID-19 using a laptop at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province. Photo by STR/AFP

Trump downplays epidemic fears as virus spreads around world

Feb 27, 2020 - 10:09 AM

(UPDATED) His comments contradict US health officials who urge Americans to be ready to cancel mass gatherings and work from home. There are 60 cases in the US so far.

CONSULTATION. US President Donald Trump turns to address US Secretary of Health Alex Azar as he speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 outbreak at the White House on February 26, 2020. Photo by Eric Baradat/AFP

Pandemic: What does it mean and does it matter?

Feb 27, 2020 - 9:45 AM

WHO Chief Tedros hints that designating the outbreak a pandemic prematurely might do more harm than good

PANDEMIC. Netflix's latest documentary series Pandemic discusses the world's capability of surviving fast-moving viruses. Screenshot from trailer

Why coronavirus could help save China's endangered species

Feb 27, 2020 - 9:04 AM

However, there are fears that humans could come to blame pangolins for the outbreak, and seek revenge

BABY. A baby pangolin is held up by a human caretaker. Photo by Greg Yann

Saudi bans pilgrims from holy sites over virus as Iran deaths jump

Feb 27, 2020 - 8:48 AM

(UPDATED) China is no longer the only breeding ground for COVID-19 as countries worry about possible contagion from other hotbeds of infection, including Iran, South Korea and Italy

KAABA. Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia on August 28, 2017. Photo by Karim Sahib/AFP

Tim Tebow excited to join Philippines in World Baseball Classic

Feb 27, 2020 - 8:34 AM

Born in Makati, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow continues his baseball quest by suiting up for the Philippine team

AT BAT. Tim Tebow has been competing in preseason workouts with the Mets. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

South Korea starts virus checks on 200,000-plus 'cult' members

Feb 27, 2020 - 8:10 AM

Most of South Korea's novel coronavirus are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, an entity often accused of being a cult

SPRAY. Market workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant at a market in the southeastern city of Daegu on February 23, 2020 as a preventive measure after the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Yonhap/AFP

'Fear and panic' as coronavirus threatens Afghanistan, Pakistan

Feb 27, 2020 - 7:41 AM

'People are illiterate, you can't get the message through to them,' says a Kabul-based physician

FREE MASKS. A volunteer hands out free face masks to people as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Herat city on February 26, 2020. Photo by Hoshang Hashimi/AFP

Mixed day for global stocks as coronavirus continues to spread

Feb 26, 2020 - 11:40 PM

(UPDATED) 'We don't know what stage of this we're in and we don't know how much economic damage will be done,' says analyst Art Hogan

A pedestrian walks past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Nikkei 225 Index (R, top) and other Asian stock markets in Tokyo on February 26, 2020. - Tokyo stocks opened lower on February 26 extending losses on Wall Street, as the coronavirus continued to spread and public officials warned of the increasing likelihood of a pandemic. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

Scramble to contain coronavirus as infections spread in Europe

Feb 26, 2020 - 11:17 PM

New cases linked to Italy have emerged in several countries in Europe and beyond, amid warnings from health experts that nations are not ready to contain a global outbreak

Brazil confirms Latin America's 1st coronavirus case

Feb 26, 2020 - 10:54 PM

Another 20 cases are under investigation

FIRST IN LATIN AMERICA. Passengers, wearing masks as a precautionary measure to avoid contracting the COVID-19 virus, travel through Guarulhos International Airport, in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo, Brazil on February 26, 2020. Photo by Nelson Almeida/AFP

Lufthansa to freeze hiring, cut costs over coronavirus

Feb 26, 2020 - 10:10 PM

German airline Lufthansa will also offer employees unpaid leave and more part-time work

GROUNDED. Airplanes of German airline Lufthansa are parked in front of the Lufthansa terminal at the Franz-Josef-Strauss airport in Munich, southern Germany, on November 29, 2016. Christof Stache/AFP

In Singapore, Ash Wednesday is do-it-yourself amid coronavirus

Feb 26, 2020 - 8:20 PM

Using ashes in small plastic packets, Catholics in Singapore trace small crosses on their own foreheads while watching Mass on YouTube

ASH WEDNESDAY. The Church of the Sacred Heart in Singapore distributes ashes in plastic packets to Catholics who want to observe Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020, despite the suspension of public Masses in the city-state due to COVID-19. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler

Evian maker Danone sees $109-million hit from coronavirus in Q1 2020

Feb 26, 2020 - 7:35 PM

China is the 2nd largest market of Danone, whose brands include Evian and Volvic

EVIAN. Danone's brands include Evian. Photo from Shutterstock

Singapore charges man with virus for lying to health officials

Feb 26, 2020 - 7:01 PM

Singapore's health ministry says the couple 'had given false information...about their movements and whereabouts' to officials investigating whether they could have passed the infection on to others

PROTECTION. A couple wearing protective face masks amid fears about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus walk on the street in Singapore on February 21, 2020. File photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP

Coronavirus to cut sales of Johnnie Walker maker by up to $422 million

Feb 26, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Diageo, which produces Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Smirnoff, and Guinness, expects the novel coronavirus outbreak to hurt its profits

WHISKEY. Bottles of Johnnie Walker for sale at the Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Photo from Shutterstock

Preparations continue as Tokyo Olympics faces cancelation fears

Feb 26, 2020 - 5:32 PM

'Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?' says senior IOC official Dick Pound

CANCELATION? The Tokyo 2020 Olympics faces a possibility of cancelation rather than a postponement. Photo by Kimimas/EPA-EFE

Hong Kong to give big cash handouts as economy reels from virus

Feb 26, 2020 - 3:10 PM

Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or above will each get HK$10,000 ($1,280)

CORONAVIRUS. People wear masks on a train on the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Rat in Hong Kong on January 25, 2020. Photo by Dale De La Rey/AFP