January 29, 2020
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    ramanayake

     

    The number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus has overtaken the 2003 SARS outbreak inside of mainland China, as multiple countries evacuated their citizens from the city at the heart of the outbreak.As of Wednesday, there were 5,974 confirmed cases of the virus in mainland China, including 132 deaths, according to China's National Health Commission (NHC). The number of cases grew by almost 1,500 from Tuesday, a more than 30% increase. The figures do not include Hong Kong and Macau, both of which have reported a small number of cases.
    There have been more than 80 cases of the virus reported outside mainland China, bringing the worldwide total to over 6,000.
    During the 2003 SARS outbreak, there were 5,327 confirmed cases of the disease in mainland China, with 349 deaths. Experts have previously estimated the Wuhan virus figures could still be vastly under-reported, making the novel coronavirus far more contagious, but also less deadly, than SARS.
    Wuhan's Communist Party chief Ma Guoqiang said Tuesday that testing had been streamlined in recent days, leading to a spike in diagnoses. "This does not mean the speed of the disease spreading has increased drastically," he added.
    Authorities in China also reported a suspected case of the Wuhan virus in Tibet, previously the only region to have avoided the virus. If confirmed, the spread to Tibet despite the implementation of strict checks on travelers and closing of tourist sites will renew concerns about how easily the virus is transmitted, particularly when people are asymptomatic.
    The semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, which has reported eight cases of the virus, announced Tuesday it was closing many of its border crossings with mainland China, slashing the number of tourist visas it issues to mainland Chinese visitors, and halving the number of inbound flights from the mainland.
    Hong Kong has also instructed government employees to work from home for the rest of the week, and requested private companies do the same. The streets and public transport were noticeably quiet on Wednesday morning, the first day back from the Lunar New Year holiday.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday vowed to do everything to tackle the "demon" epidemic.
    Speaking during a meeting with World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom in Beijing, Xi said the Chinese people "are engaging in a serious battle against the outbreak of the new coronavirus."
    "People's lives and health are always the first priority for the Chinese government, and the prevention and control of the epidemic is the most important task at present, so I have been directing and deploying the works myself," Xi added. "I believe as long as we can strengthen our confidence, stand together, scientifically prevent and control the epidemic and adopt precise measures, we will definitely defeat this epidemic."
    First evacuees leave Wuhan
    Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province at the center of the virus outbreak, is on effective lockdown and countries have begun repatriating their citizens trapped there.
    A flight carrying 206 Japanese nationals arrived in Tokyo Wednesday morning. The passengers are all quarantined on board and those with any pneumonia-like symptoms will be taken to a special medical center for treatment. Passengers without symptoms will be taken to separate hospitals for further screening.
    Around 450 more Japanese citizens have not yet departed. Japanese citizens who live close to the Huanan Seafood Market -- pinpointed by Chinese authorities as the likely source of the virus -- and highly-populated areas in Wuhan were given priority on the first flight.
    A plane carrying approximately 210 US citizens -- mostly diplomats and their families -- has also left Wuhan, according to a State Department spokesperson, bound for Riverside, California via Alaska. More Americans remain in the city, hoping to be evacuated at a later date.
    The plane had originally been destined for California's Ontario International Airport, but officials said late Tuesday that it would instead land at a military base near Riverside. No reason was immediately given for the change in itinerary.
    As of early Wednesday morning, the plane had landed in Anchorage, Alaska, where it will refuel before heading on to the US west coast. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said passengers will undergo health screenings there to ensure they are not experiencing coronavirus symptoms before traveling onward.
    After landing in the US, passengers will be placed in isolation for between three days and two weeks, a California official told CNN earlier. Doctors have previously recommended a two-week quarantine for people exposed to the virus.
    South Korea and New Zealand are chartering flights to bring their citizens home. More controversially, Australia said it will charter a flight to fetch citizens, but they will be transported to quarantine on Christmas Island, site of a former offshore detention camp for migrants.
    Virus spreads worldwide
    The first cases of the coronavirus were detected in Wuhan in mid-December. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has increased exponentially, and infections have been reported worldwide.
    Hospitals in Wuhan are already massively overstretched, and hundreds of emergency medical personnel have been dispatched to the city to help. Two new hospitals dedicated to treating the virus are also being built on the city's outskirts, due to be operational by next week.
    Authorities in the city said that as of January 27 there were still more than 4,000 Wuhan residents overseas. The Wuhan culture and tourism bureau said that all tour groups were canceled after the lockdown was announced, but groups that left prior to that date were still slowly returning to the city.
    More than a dozen countries have confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus, as authorities struggle to stop its spread.
    Across Asia, many countries have put in extra screening at airports and warned citizens to avoid travel to China. To China's north, neighboring Mongolia has imposed stringent border checks on travelers coming into the country. Indonesia and the Philippines have both introduced extra restrictions on Chinese tourists, while Japan has upgraded its response, allowing authorities to "force the suspicious cases for hospitalization and testing."
    Around a hundred cases have been reported worldwide, with the most, 14, detected in Thailand, a popular destination for Chinese travelers. Countries with colder climates are more at risk for future spread, as coronaviruses thrive in cold environments and do not transmit as well in sunny, hot locales.
    While most cases reported outside of China have a direct link to Wuhan, there are indications the virus is beginning to spread within other countries. Three new cases were reported in Germany on Tuesday, including what is believed to be the first human-to-human transmission in Europe.
    Multiple countries have advised citizens not to visit China due to the ongoing outbreak. On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a level 3 alert advising against all "nonessential travel" -- its highest alert on a scale of 1 to 3. However, the White House denied reports suggesting it was planning to suspend all flights between the US and China.
    A couple, wearing protective masks, kisses goodbye as they travel for the Lunar New Year holidays, at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing. Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing a deadly contagion on January 24 to 13 cities and a staggering 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A couple, wearing protective masks, kisses goodbye as they travel for the Lunar New Year holidays, at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing. Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing a deadly contagion on January 24 to 13 cities and a staggering 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed.
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    Workers manufacture protective face masks in a factory in China's Hebei Province on Thursday, January 23. Face masks stocks are running low following the outbreak of coronavirus.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Workers manufacture protective face masks in a factory in China's Hebei Province on Thursday, January 23. Face masks stocks are running low following the outbreak of coronavirus.
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    18 of 33
    An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, January 24.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, January 24.
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    19 of 33
    Passengers wear protective masks at a Beijing railway station on Thursday, January 23. Authorities in the Chinese capital have canceled all large-scale New Year celebrations to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers wear protective masks at a Beijing railway station on Thursday, January 23. Authorities in the Chinese capital have canceled all large-scale New Year celebrations to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
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    20 of 33
    A woman rides an electric bicycle on January 22 in Wuhan, China. The city where the outbreak began is under partial lockdown.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A woman rides an electric bicycle on January 22 in Wuhan, China. The city where the outbreak began is under partial lockdown.
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    21 of 33
    Medical staff transfers a patient at Hospital of Wuhan Red Cross Society, January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Medical staff transfers a patient at Hospital of Wuhan Red Cross Society, January 23.
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    22 of 33
    People in Guangzhou, China, wear protective masks on January 22.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People in Guangzhou, China, wear protective masks on January 22.
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    People go through a checkpoint in Guangzhou on January 22.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People go through a checkpoint in Guangzhou on January 22.
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    Shoppers wear masks in a Wuhan market on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Shoppers wear masks in a Wuhan market on January 23.
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    Medical staff of Union Hospital, affiliated with the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, attend a gathering to form an "assault team" in the fight against pneumonia caused by the Wuhan coronavirus on January 22.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Medical staff of Union Hospital, affiliated with the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, attend a gathering to form an "assault team" in the fight against pneumonia caused by the Wuhan coronavirus on January 22.
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    26 of 33
    Passengers from overseas are checked by a thermography device on January 23 at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers from overseas are checked by a thermography device on January 23 at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.
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    27 of 33
    Health officials hold a press conference in Beijing on January 22 following the spread of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Health officials hold a press conference in Beijing on January 22 following the spread of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.
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    28 of 33
    People wear marks while shopping for vegetables in a market in Wuhan on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wear marks while shopping for vegetables in a market in Wuhan on January 23.
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    29 of 33
    A militia member checks the body temperature of a driver in Wuhan on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A militia member checks the body temperature of a driver in Wuhan on January 23.
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    Passengers wear masks as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers wear masks as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, on January 23.
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    31 of 33
    A customer holds boxes of particulate respirators at a pharmacy in Hong Kong on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A customer holds boxes of particulate respirators at a pharmacy in Hong Kong on January 23.
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    32 of 33
    Passengers wear masks at the high-speed train station in Hong Kong on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers wear masks at the high-speed train station in Hong Kong on January 23.
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    33 of 33
    People wear protective masks as they pray at a Chinese temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday, January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wear protective masks as they pray at a Chinese temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday, January 28.
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    South Korean President Moon Jae-in wears a mask to inspect the National Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in wears a mask to inspect the National Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, on January 28.
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    Security officers wear masks at a high-speed train station connecting Hong Kong to mainland China on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Security officers wear masks at a high-speed train station connecting Hong Kong to mainland China on January 28.
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    3 of 33
    Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, speaks during a news conference about the American public health response.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, speaks during a news conference about the American public health response.
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    4 of 33
    Workers at an airport in Novosibirsk, Russia, check the temperatures of passengers who arrived from Beijing on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Workers at an airport in Novosibirsk, Russia, check the temperatures of passengers who arrived from Beijing on January 28.
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    5 of 33
    Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, attends a news conference in Hong Kong on January 28. Lam said China will stop individual travelers to Hong Kong while closing some border checkpoints and restricting flights and train services from the mainland.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, attends a news conference in Hong Kong on January 28. Lam said China will stop individual travelers to Hong Kong while closing some border checkpoints and restricting flights and train services from the mainland.
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    6 of 33
    Students disinfect their hands with an alcohol solution before entering class in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Students disinfect their hands with an alcohol solution before entering class in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on January 28.
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    Two residents walk in an empty park in Wuhan, China, on Monday, January 27. The city remained on lockdown for a fourth day.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Two residents walk in an empty park in Wuhan, China, on Monday, January 27. The city remained on lockdown for a fourth day.
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    People wearing masks walk pass a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn near the Grand Palace in Bangkok on January 27.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wearing masks walk pass a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn near the Grand Palace in Bangkok on January 27.
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    Flight crews wearing masks arrive at the Toronto Pearson Airport on Sunday, January 26.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Flight crews wearing masks arrive at the Toronto Pearson Airport on Sunday, January 26.
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    10 of 33
    Police officers stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on January 26.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Police officers stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on January 26.
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    11 of 33
    A person wears a protective mask, goggles and coat as he stands in a nearly empty street in Beijing on January 26.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A person wears a protective mask, goggles and coat as he stands in a nearly empty street in Beijing on January 26.
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    Medical staff members bring a patient to the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday, January 25.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Medical staff members bring a patient to the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday, January 25.
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    13 of 33
    People wear protective masks as they walk under Lunar New Year decorations in Beijing on January 25.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wear protective masks as they walk under Lunar New Year decorations in Beijing on January 25.
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    Construction workers begin to work on a special hospital in Wuhan, China, to deal with the coronavirus outbreak on Friday, January 24.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Construction workers begin to work on a special hospital in Wuhan, China, to deal with the coronavirus outbreak on Friday, January 24.
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    Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaks to reporters on January 24 about <a href="/https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/24/health/wuhan-coronavirus-chicago-cdc/index.html" target="_blank">a patient in Chicago</a> who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The patient is the second in the United States to be diagnosed with the illness.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaks to reporters on January 24 about a patient in Chicago who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The patient is the second in the United States to be diagnosed with the illness.
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    A couple, wearing protective masks, kisses goodbye as they travel for the Lunar New Year holidays, at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing. Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing a deadly contagion on January 24 to 13 cities and a staggering 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A couple, wearing protective masks, kisses goodbye as they travel for the Lunar New Year holidays, at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing. Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing a deadly contagion on January 24 to 13 cities and a staggering 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed.
    Hide Caption
    17 of 33
    Workers manufacture protective face masks in a factory in China's Hebei Province on Thursday, January 23. Face masks stocks are running low following the outbreak of coronavirus.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Workers manufacture protective face masks in a factory in China's Hebei Province on Thursday, January 23. Face masks stocks are running low following the outbreak of coronavirus.
    Hide Caption
    18 of 33
    An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, January 24.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    An employee sprays disinfectant on a train as a precaution against a new coronavirus at Suseo Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, January 24.
    Hide Caption
    19 of 33
    Passengers wear protective masks at a Beijing railway station on Thursday, January 23. Authorities in the Chinese capital have canceled all large-scale New Year celebrations to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers wear protective masks at a Beijing railway station on Thursday, January 23. Authorities in the Chinese capital have canceled all large-scale New Year celebrations to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
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    20 of 33
    A woman rides an electric bicycle on January 22 in Wuhan, China. The city where the outbreak began is under partial lockdown.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A woman rides an electric bicycle on January 22 in Wuhan, China. The city where the outbreak began is under partial lockdown.
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    21 of 33
    Medical staff transfers a patient at Hospital of Wuhan Red Cross Society, January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Medical staff transfers a patient at Hospital of Wuhan Red Cross Society, January 23.
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    22 of 33
    People in Guangzhou, China, wear protective masks on January 22.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People in Guangzhou, China, wear protective masks on January 22.
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    23 of 33
    People go through a checkpoint in Guangzhou on January 22.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People go through a checkpoint in Guangzhou on January 22.
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    24 of 33
    Shoppers wear masks in a Wuhan market on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Shoppers wear masks in a Wuhan market on January 23.
    Hide Caption
    25 of 33
    Medical staff of Union Hospital, affiliated with the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, attend a gathering to form an "assault team" in the fight against pneumonia caused by the Wuhan coronavirus on January 22.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Medical staff of Union Hospital, affiliated with the Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, attend a gathering to form an "assault team" in the fight against pneumonia caused by the Wuhan coronavirus on January 22.
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    26 of 33
    Passengers from overseas are checked by a thermography device on January 23 at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers from overseas are checked by a thermography device on January 23 at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.
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    27 of 33
    Health officials hold a press conference in Beijing on January 22 following the spread of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Health officials hold a press conference in Beijing on January 22 following the spread of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.
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    28 of 33
    People wear marks while shopping for vegetables in a market in Wuhan on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wear marks while shopping for vegetables in a market in Wuhan on January 23.
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    29 of 33
    A militia member checks the body temperature of a driver in Wuhan on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A militia member checks the body temperature of a driver in Wuhan on January 23.
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    30 of 33
    Passengers wear masks as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers wear masks as they arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines, on January 23.
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    31 of 33
    A customer holds boxes of particulate respirators at a pharmacy in Hong Kong on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A customer holds boxes of particulate respirators at a pharmacy in Hong Kong on January 23.
    Hide Caption
    32 of 33
    Passengers wear masks at the high-speed train station in Hong Kong on January 23.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Passengers wear masks at the high-speed train station in Hong Kong on January 23.
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    33 of 33
    People wear protective masks as they pray at a Chinese temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday, January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wear protective masks as they pray at a Chinese temple in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday, January 28.
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    1 of 33
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in wears a mask to inspect the National Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in wears a mask to inspect the National Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea, on January 28.
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    2 of 33
    Security officers wear masks at a high-speed train station connecting Hong Kong to mainland China on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Security officers wear masks at a high-speed train station connecting Hong Kong to mainland China on January 28.
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    3 of 33
    Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, speaks during a news conference about the American public health response.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Alex Azar, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, speaks during a news conference about the American public health response.
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    4 of 33
    Workers at an airport in Novosibirsk, Russia, check the temperatures of passengers who arrived from Beijing on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Workers at an airport in Novosibirsk, Russia, check the temperatures of passengers who arrived from Beijing on January 28.
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    5 of 33
    Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, attends a news conference in Hong Kong on January 28. Lam said China will stop individual travelers to Hong Kong while closing some border checkpoints and restricting flights and train services from the mainland.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, center, attends a news conference in Hong Kong on January 28. Lam said China will stop individual travelers to Hong Kong while closing some border checkpoints and restricting flights and train services from the mainland.
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    6 of 33
    Students disinfect their hands with an alcohol solution before entering class in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on January 28.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Students disinfect their hands with an alcohol solution before entering class in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on January 28.
    Hide Caption
    7 of 33
    Two residents walk in an empty park in Wuhan, China, on Monday, January 27. The city remained on lockdown for a fourth day.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Two residents walk in an empty park in Wuhan, China, on Monday, January 27. The city remained on lockdown for a fourth day.
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    8 of 33
    People wearing masks walk pass a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn near the Grand Palace in Bangkok on January 27.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wearing masks walk pass a portrait of Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn near the Grand Palace in Bangkok on January 27.
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    9 of 33
    Flight crews wearing masks arrive at the Toronto Pearson Airport on Sunday, January 26.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Flight crews wearing masks arrive at the Toronto Pearson Airport on Sunday, January 26.
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    10 of 33
    Police officers stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on January 26.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Police officers stand in front of the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on January 26.
    Hide Caption
    11 of 33
    A person wears a protective mask, goggles and coat as he stands in a nearly empty street in Beijing on January 26.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A person wears a protective mask, goggles and coat as he stands in a nearly empty street in Beijing on January 26.
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    12 of 33
    Medical staff members bring a patient to the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday, January 25.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Medical staff members bring a patient to the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on Saturday, January 25.
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    13 of 33
    People wear protective masks as they walk under Lunar New Year decorations in Beijing on January 25.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    People wear protective masks as they walk under Lunar New Year decorations in Beijing on January 25.
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    14 of 33
    Construction workers begin to work on a special hospital in Wuhan, China, to deal with the coronavirus outbreak on Friday, January 24.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Construction workers begin to work on a special hospital in Wuhan, China, to deal with the coronavirus outbreak on Friday, January 24.
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    15 of 33
    Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaks to reporters on January 24 about <a href="/https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/24/health/wuhan-coronavirus-chicago-cdc/index.html" target="_blank">a patient in Chicago</a> who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The patient is the second in the United States to be diagnosed with the illness.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, speaks to reporters on January 24 about a patient in Chicago who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The patient is the second in the United States to be diagnosed with the illness.
    Hide Caption
    16 of 33
    A couple, wearing protective masks, kisses goodbye as they travel for the Lunar New Year holidays, at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing. Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing a deadly contagion on January 24 to 13 cities and a staggering 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed.
    Photos: The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
    A couple, wearing protective masks, kisses goodbye as they travel for the Lunar New Year holidays, at Beijing West Railway Station in Beijing. Chinese authorities rapidly expanded a mammoth quarantine effort aimed at containing a deadly contagion on January 24 to 13 cities and a staggering 41 million people, as nervous residents were checked for fevers and the death toll climbed.
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    Cases will continue to spread
    With much of China seeing the type of cold weather ideal for the coronavirus, and uncertainty remaining on just how contagious it is, experts expect the number of cases to continue to rise for several weeks.
    Speaking to state media Tuesday, Zhong Nanshan, one of China's leading respiratory experts and a hero of the 2003 fight against SARS, said he expected the peak to come in up to 10 days.
    "It is very difficult to definitely estimate when the outbreak reaches its peak. But I think in one week or about 10 days, it will reach the climax and then there will be no large-scale increases," Zhong said.
    However, other experts have warned that while the outbreak in Hubei may peak in the coming weeks, other Chinese megacities may see self-sustaining epidemics that continue to spread the pathogen around the country and worldwide.
    "We modeled epidemic curves out to August 2020 for all the major city clusters: Chongqing, Shanghai-Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing. Chongqing is predicted to have the largest epidemic due to large population and most intense traffic volume coupled to Wuhan," Gabriel Leung, a leading Hong Kong researcher and public health expert, said earlier this week.
    He said outbreaks in China's largest cities could peak in April or May and gradually slow in June and July.
    A laboratory in Australia became the first outside of China to grow the Wuhan coronavirus from a patient sample, it announced Wednesday. Doing so will "provide expert international laboratories with crucial information to help combat the virus," the scientists said.
    During a news conference on Wednesday, Mike Catton, director of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory said "we are proud to have grown the virus in such a short space of time" and added they will "share this with international colleagues" to help with the developments of vaccines and medicines.
    Catton added that this successful growth will "help us understand the epidemiology of the outbreak."

     
     

    Hundreds of foreign nationals are being evacuated from Wuhan, the centre of China's coronavirus outbreak, as more deaths and cases were confirmed.
    Australia plans to quarantine its evacuees on Christmas island 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the mainland.

    Japan, the US and the EU are also repatriating their citizens.

    British Airways has suspended all flights to and from mainland China, as the UK's Foreign Office warned against "all but essential travel" there.
    Several other airlines have taken similar measures. United Airlines and Cathay Pacific are restricting flights, while Lion Air - one of the region's biggest airlines - is stopping flights to China from Saturday.

    Cathay Pacific has also suspended inflight trolley services, changed some aspects of its meal offer, and stopped giving out hot towels, pillows, blankets and magazines in an effort to prevent the virus spreading.

    China's national women's football team is being quarantined in Australia after arriving there to play in an Olympic qualifying tournament, Australian media report.

    Australia 'to re-open' controversial detention centre
    13 February 2019
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    The Christmas Island detention centre operated from 2003-2018
    Australian PM Scott Morrison says he will re-open a controversial detention centre on Christmas Island, after a historic defeat in parliament.

    On Tuesday, non-government MPs secured enough votes to pass a bill making it easier for sick refugees held offshore to be treated in the country.

    Mr Morrison said the law would weaken the nation's tough border policies and embolden human traffickers.

    Opponents accused him of spreading fear before an impending election.

    Since 2013, Australia has sent asylum seekers arriving by boat to detention centres on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) and Nauru.

    It previously also sent detainees to Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean which is about 2,600km (1,600 miles) from the mainland and 300km south of Indonesia.

    The UN has criticised Australia's detention policies as "inhumane", but the nation insists they prevent human trafficking and save lives at sea.

    What led to Mr Morrison's announcement?
    Last year, Australians were horrified by reports of a mental health crisis among children on Nauru - including cases of attempted suicide.

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    It prompted the Labor opposition, the Greens and crossbench MPs to support a bill that gives doctors the power to recommend that refugees be transferred to Australia for treatment.

    However, the immigration minister would still have some authority to overrule transfers.

     

    Media captionA local politician says re-opening the detention centre is political scaremongering.
    Mr Morrison fiercely opposed the bill but it was narrowly approved in the House of Representatives, where the government does not have a majority. It later cleared the Senate.

    On Wednesday, Mr Morrison said the government would re-open the Christmas Island centre "to deal with the prospect of arrivals... and transfers" - arguing both were now more likely.

    He added that Australia's border protection operations would receive other additional resources, but declined to elaborate.

    "This parliament has already tipped its hand enough to the people smugglers," he said.

    Why is he being accused of fear-mongering?
    Opponents pointed out that the bill applies only to people already on Nauru and Manus Island, meaning new arrivals would not be eligible for transfer to Australia.

    Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong said Mr Morrison was playing politics ahead of the election, likely to be held in May.

    "[This is] a pattern of deceit and desperation from a man who is desperate to cling to office - a man who has nothing left, nothing left but deceit, fear and smear," she told the chamber on Wednesday.

    What happened at Christmas Island previously?
    The centre, which operated from 2003 until last year, saw numerous scenes of unrest - including riots, protests and brawls.

    In 2010, about 50 asylum seekers from Iraq and Iran died when their boat smashed onto rocks off the island.

     

    Media captionIn 2010, dozens of asylum seekers drowned off Christmas Island
    At its height, the centre held thousands of people. It closed in October when the final 35 detainees were removed.

    Thirty-two players and staff will stay in isolation in a hotel in Brisbane as a precaution until 5 February, officials said. The team, which passed through Wuhan last week, had been due to play Thailand on 3 February.

    How many cases are there?
    An expert from the Chinese National Health Commission (NHC) said it could take 10 more days for the outbreak to peak.

    The number of deaths from the virus has risen to 132 in China.

    Like the similar Sars and influenza viruses, the new coronavirus is a particular risk for elderly people and those with pre-existing illnesses.

    The sharp rise in cases is in part attributed to increased awareness, monitoring and testing in recent days.

    The number of cases of the new coronavirus has reached nearly 6,000 in China, surpassing the number of Sars cases in the country in the 2003 outbreak.

    The virus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.

    It causes severe acute respiratory infection and there is no specific cure or vaccine. A number of people, however, have recovered after treatment.

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    Who is being evacuated?
    Australia's 600 evacuees will be held on Christmas Island for two weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

    The announcement sparked controversy as the island is best known for a recently reopened immigration detention centre, which was criticised for its conditions.

    Currently only housing one Sri Lankan family of four, the facility was built to accommodate more than 1,000 people.

    New Zealand will co-operate with Canberra to bring its 53 citizens home alongside the Australian evacuees.

    The Christmas Island controversy
    By Frances Mao, BBC News, Sydney

    For over a week now, the Australians trapped in Wuhan - many of them children - have been calling on their government to help get them out.

    But the announcement of a two-week quarantine on Christmas Island have given many pause for thought.

    The external territory - closer to Indonesia than the Australian mainland - has long had a bad reputation.

    Since 2003, it's been one of the main places offshore where Australia detains asylum seekers, in conditions criticised by the UN.

    But what will happen to the Sri Lankan family of four when others arrive? And are the medical facilities on the island adequate for the evacuees?

    Chinese-Australians are also asking why their children are being sent miles away, as opposed to hospitals on the mainland.

    Would this happen, they ask, to Australians who were holidaying in the UK?

    Some 200 Japanese nationals have been flown from Wuhan and have landed at Tokyo's Haneda airport.

    Around 650 others said they wanted to be repatriated, and the Japanese government said new flights were being planned.

    According to Japanese media, several of the returnees were suffering from fever or coughs. All will be taken to hospital, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

    They will then be tested in a quarantine ward before they can go home, and will be told not to leave their houses until the results are known.

     

    Media captionLike others who've been in Hubei province, the BBC's Stephen McDonell is staying away from the office for two weeks
    Also on Wednesday, 240 Americans - including workers the local US consulate - left the city.

    According to CNN, the evacuees might have to stay in isolation in an airport hangar for up to two weeks.

    The UK Foreign Office is arranging to evacuate some 200 British people who wanted to leave the area. But some UK citizens have criticised the government, claiming lack of support in returning home.

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    Separately, two aircraft to fly EU citizens home were scheduled, with 250 French nationals leaving on the first flight.

    South Korea said some 700 of its citizens would leave on four flights this week. Both Malaysia and the Philippines also said they would evacuate their citizens in and around Wuhan.

    Meanwhile, Hong Kong announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China.

    Wuhan - as well as the wider Hubei province - is already effectively in a lockdown with strict transport restrictions.

    Kazakhstan is closing all passenger travel with its neighbour and Papua New Guinea has announced that travellers from Asia will be barred from entering.

    What's the latest on the virus itself?
    Confirmations of person-to-person transmission in Germany, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan - as opposed to travellers bringing the virus from China - have heightened concern about the spread of the virus.

    The United Arab Emirates has confirmed the first cases in the Middle East - a family who had recently arrived in the country from Wuhan.

    Leading Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan told Xinhua news agency: "I think in one week or about 10 days, it will reach the climax and then there will be no large-scale increases."

    China has agreed that the World Health Organization (WHO) will send international experts to the country.

    President Xi met WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Beijing and said: "The virus is a devil and we cannot let the devil hide."

    Tales of solidarity from China's virus-hit Wuhan
    28 January 2020
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    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image caption
    Keeping spirits up in virus-hit Wuhan
    As the number of coronavirus infections continues to grow, millions of people have gone into lockdown in Wuhan - the centre of the outbreak - to try to stop the virus spreading. But in this time of isolation some people are determined to raise each others' spirits.

    The neighbours who spread cheer
    The deadly outbreak comes as China celebrates one of the most important dates in its calendar - Lunar New Year.

    Imagine Christmas and Thanksgiving all rolled into one - typically a time filled with lots of cheer. For many, it's the only chance in a year they have to meet up with their family and exchange gifts of food and money.

    In Wuhan people have been encouraged to stay home to minimise the spread of the virus. But residents in a block of flats found a small way to cheer each other up.

    Videos circulating on social media show people shouting "Wuhan jiayou" out of their windows- roughly translated to "Stay strong Wuhan" or "Keep on going Wuhan".

     

    Media caption"Wuhan, add oil!": Watch residents shouting to boost morale in quarantined city
    The phrase is echoed across the block and residents can be heard cheering in the background.

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    It's also a cheer that's being repeated online.

    On social media site Weibo, the phrase "Wuhan jiayou" has been trending.

    Many across different parts of the country are posting the phrase in solidarity with Wuhan - where the majority of deaths as a result of the virus have occurred.

    "We will get through this. Wuhan jiayou, the whole country is supporting you," said one comment on Weibo.

    More than one hundred people - mostly in Wuhan - have now died as a result of the outbreak which has spread across China and internationally.

    Though there is plenty of fear and anger at the authorities on social media in China, state media has been highlighting kind acts and stories of residents banding together in Wuhan.

    The restaurant owner who packed 200 lunch boxes
    One new restaurant owner in Wuhan spent the Lunar New Year festival packing food for medical workers in the city, according to state news outlet Changjiang Daily.

    Li Bo had opened a restaurant in the city just a month ago. He sold his car and borrowed money in order to raise the funds for it.

    But before the 36-year-old could properly get his business started, the outbreak kicked in - leaving the streets of the city empty and his restaurant deserted.

    "I panicked. I lay at home worrying about how I was going to repay the loan," he told Changjiang Daily.

    "But then I saw [news] about how the medical staff in hospitals were struggling and I felt like it was time for me act. I wanted to do my part, no matter how insignificant."

    According to a report by news site Beijing News, some hospitals in Wuhan have experienced food shortages. Two residents living in Wuhan had previously told the BBC that people in the city have been trying to stockpile food.

    Image copyrightCHANGJIANG DAILY
    Image caption
    Li Bo is packing 200 lunch boxes for medical workers at a local hospital
    Li Bo along with his chef spent days buying ingredients and cooking enough food to fit into 200 boxes. He told the news outlet on 26 January that he was in the process of finding enough boxes to pack the food into, adding that the meals would eventually be delivered to medical staff in Wuhan's Xiehe Hospital.

    "I wanted to do my best to [make sure] the medical staff eat hot meals. I hope they get the nutrition they need and that will boost their immunity," he told the paper, adding that he plans to continue the food deliveries for as long as he can.

    "I hope the city we love gets better soon."

    The villager who donated 15,000 masks
    Fears of the coronavirus have seen thousands across the country flocking to buy face masks - triggering a mask shortage in some places.

    Masks have become such a valuable commodity that many on Weibo have joked that they would rather receive face masks instead of the typical monetary gifts given out during Lunar New Year.

    One villager in Changde, a neighbouring province of Hubei where Wuhan is located, decided he would donate almost 15,000 face masks, according to news outlet the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald.

    Hao Jin had last year worked in a mask production factory. He eventually resigned from the job but the company could not afford to pay him his salary. He was instead given 15,000 masks - worth 20,000 yuan (£2,207; $2,883) as a form of compensation.

    He brought the masks home and forgot about them until he heard news of the mask shortage.

    "I thought I would donate the masks I have to those in need, I hope they can be of more use and value to others," he said.

    He kept a handful of the masks for his family, and distributed some to those in his village before donating the rest to people in his county.

     

    Can wearing masks stop the spread of viruses?
    23 January 2020
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    Related TopicsCoronavirus outbreak
    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    One of the abiding images of any virus outbreak is people in surgical masks.

    Using them to prevent infection is popular in many countries around the world, most notably China during the current coronavirus outbreak where they are also worn to protect against high pollution levels.

    Virologists are sceptical about their effectiveness against airborne viruses.

    But there is some evidence to suggest the masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions.

    Surgical masks were first introduced into hospitals in the late 18th Century but they did not make the transition into public use until the Spanish flu outbreak in 1919 that went on to kill over 50 million people.

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    Dr David Carrington, of St George's, University of London, told BBC News "routine surgical masks for the public are not an effective protection against viruses or bacteria carried in the air", which was how "most viruses" were transmitted, because they were too loose, had no air filter and left the eyes exposed.

    But they could help lower the risk of contracting a virus through the "splash" from a sneeze or a cough and provide some protection against hand-to-mouth transmissions.

    A 2016 study from New South Wales suggested people touched their faces about 23 times an hour.

    Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said: "In one well controlled study in a hospital setting, the face mask was as good at preventing influenza infection as a purpose-made respirator."

    Respirators, which tend to feature a specialised air filter, are specifically designed to protect against potentially hazardous airborne particles.

    "However, when you move to studies looking at their effectiveness in the general population, the data is less compelling - it's quite a challenge to keep a mask on for prolonged periods of time," Prof Ball added.

    Dr Connor Bamford, of the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, at Queen's University Belfast, said "implementing simple hygiene measures" was vastly more effective.

    "Covering your mouth while sneezing, washing your hands, and not putting your hands to your mouth before washing them, could help limit the risk of catching any respiratory virus," he said.

    The NHS says the best way to avoid catching viruses such as flu is to:

    regularly wash your hands with warm water and soap
    avoid touching your eyes and nose wherever possible
    maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle
    Dr Jake Dunning, head of emerging infections and zoonoses at Public Health England, said: "Although there is a perception that the wearing of facemasks may be beneficial, there is in fact very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical setting."

    He said masks had to be worn correctly, changed frequently and got rid of safely if they were to work properly.

    "Research also shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing facemasks for prolonged periods," he added.

    People would be better to focus on good personal and hand hygiene if they are concerned, Dr Dunning said.

     

     

    Mainly fair weather

    January 29, 2020
     

    Mainly fair weather will prevail over most parts of the island.Misty conditions can be expected at some places in Central, Sabaragamuwa, Uva and Western provinces during the morning.

    WEATHER FORECAST FOR SEA AREAS AROUND THE ISLAND DURING NEXT 24 HOURS

    Issued at 12.00 noon on 29 January 2020

    Condition of Rain:Mainly fair weather will prevail over the sea areas around the island.
    Winds:Winds will be North-easterly and speed will be (20-30) kmph in the sea areas around the island. Wind speed can increase up to (40-45) kmph at times in the sea areas extending from Matara to Pottuvil via Hambanthota.

    GENERAL WEATHER FORECAST FOR NEXT 36 HOURS

    Issued at 04.00 p.m. on 29 January 2020

    Mainly fair weather will prevail over most parts of the island.

    Misty conditions can be expected at some places in Central, Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces during the morning.

    Weather Forecast for Main Cities Date : 30-Jan-2020
    City Temperature (0C) Relative Humidity (%) Weather
    Max Min Max Min
    Anuradhapura 31 21 90 50 Mainly fair
    Batticaloa 29 22 90 65 Mainly fair
    Colombo 30 22 90 55 Mainly fair
    Galle 29 22 85 70 Mainly fair
    Jaffna 30 20 95 60 Mainly fair
    Kandy 31 17 95 45 Mainly fair
    Nuwara-Eliya 22 9 80 30 Mainly fair
    Ratnapura 34 20 95 45 Mainly fair
    Trincomalee 30 24 85 60 Mainly fair
    Mannar 30 21 85 55 Mainly fair

     

     
     

    Acting Education Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardana today requested the general public not to mislead by false rumors spread in several areas on coronavirus situation in the country. Contradicting some rumors minister said neither education ministry nor health ministry requested school children wear facemasks since it is not needed at present situation.
    Addressing special press Briefing at the Auditorium of the Government Information Department today answering a question raised by a journalist, minister further said all activities of the schools including sports meets will continue since ground situation is normal.
    The Minister said the public need not panic since the government is taking all necessary measures to prevent the spreading of the virus. The Secretary of Education Ministry N.H.M.Chithrananda and representative of GMOA Dr Samantha Ananda also participating this briefing.

     

     
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