Hong Kong has reported its first death from the coronavirus – a 39-year-old man with an underlying health condition died this morning (4 February). His death marks the second outside of mainland China after a Chinese national died in the Philippines on Sunday (2 February).
In addition, patrons and staff onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship – which was due to come into dock at the port of Yokohama, off the coast of Japan, on Monday evening – have been prohibited from docking after an 80-year-old passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus. Local authorities decided to quarantine the cruise ship, only allowing quarantine officers onboard on Monday evening in order to carry out health checks on the 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members.
The Japanese health ministry has reported that it is tracing people who may have disembarked from the cruise in Okinawa, the cruise’s second-to-last stop.
While businesses within the central regions of China have announced closures, land borders have been shut off and the US and Australia have announced travel bans, more recently, Macau – a Chinese region neighbouring Hong Kong – has announced that it will be shutting down its $40-billion casino industry for two weeks in a bid to counter the spread of the virus. This move comes after 10 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the area, and despite the fact that the gambling sector accounts for about 80 per cent of tax revenues.
The death toll in China has now exceeded 420, surpassing the 349 mainland fatalities caused by the SARS outbreak in the early noughties. At the time of writing, the total number infected in China now sits at around 20,483, with 17 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, 20 in Japan and 157 confirmed in 16 other countries. It’s worth noting that while there have been 427 deaths in total, 695 people have recovered from the virus.