THE VIRUS SHIP
COVID-19 A woman dies in Japan and post-mortem reveals she had the virus despite no travel record to Wuhan in China
Passengers seen on Thursday on the deck of cruise ship Diamond Princess, which has been quarantined due to coronavirus near Tokyo since February 3. Japan said 44 more people on the ship tested positive, taking the total infected people on the ship to 218. Officials have allowed passengers older than 80 to get off the ship, which is still carrying about 3,500 people, after testing negative.
BEIJING:China’s Communist Party has replaced the party heads in the coronavirus-stricken province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan, state media said on Thursday.
The removal of Jiang Chaoliang, the leading Communist Party official of Hubei province, and Ma Guoqiang, his counterpart in Wuhan, follows the dismissal of two provincial health officials on Tuesday, and is part of a wider effort by Beijing to remove bureaucrats it accuses of shirking responsibility. The central government has set up a special cabinet task force under Premier Li Keqiang to handle the crisis, and the new appointments in Hubei suggest senior leaders are taking greater control.
Shanghai mayor Ying Yong has been appointed the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang, the official Xinhua news agency said without explaining why Jiang was removed.
Ying worked closely with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the latter’s time as party boss and governor of Zhejiang province, which neighbours Shanghai.
Wuhan party chief Ma has been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, party boss of Jinan, the capital city of eastern Shandong province, Xinhua reported separately.
Officials in Hubei have been heavily criticised for their handling of the epidemic in a province of almost 60 million people. The outbreak began in Wuhan late last year, and has spread throughout China, killing more than 1,000
WOMAN WHO HAD VIRUS DIES IN JAPAN
Japan reported its first death from the novel coronavirus after a woman in her 80s died on Thursday, health minister Katsunobu Kato said. The woman was being treated for a separate condition and doctors discovered post-mortem that she tested positive, Kato said. She had no travel record to Wuhan and authorities are looking into how she contracted the virus, Kyodo news agency said.
EU MINISTERS HOLD EMERGENCY TALKS
European Union health ministers were holding an emergency meeting on Thursday on how to prevent the COVID-19 virus from furtherspreadingacrossEurope.
Ministers from the bloc’s 27 member states gather in Brussels amid the outbreak. Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s emergencies programme, will join the debate via video link.
FICTIONAL VIRUSES MIRROR THE REAL ONE
Twitter users are scratching their heads to make sense of a fictional coincidence bordering on the bizarre. American novelist Dean Koontz wrote the thriller The Eyes of the Darkness in 1981 about a virus called ‘Wuhan-400’ developed by Chinese scientists at a laboratory in, well, Wuhan.
“The scientist leading the Wuhan-400 research is called Li Chen, who defects to the US with information about China’s most dangerous chemical weapons. Wuhan-400 affects people rather than animals and cannot survive outside the human body or in environments colder than 30 degrees Celsius,” Taiwan News said in a report on Thursday.
“Wuhan-400 is a perfect weapon. It afflicts only human beings. No other living creature,” the book says. The similarities between the fictional virus and Covid-19 got Twitter users struggling to comprehend the improbable coincidence, the report said.