The Latest: South Asia intensifies efforts to halt virus

For Your Health

Chinese tourists wear masks at Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of a new virus. Most have been in the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak began in December. More than 45 cases have been confirmed in other places with nearly all of them involving Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan recently. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on the outbreak of a new virus from China (all times local):

5 p.m.

In South Asia, where two cases of a deadly new virus from China have been reported, countries have intensified efforts to prevent a possible outbreak.

In Sri Lanka, authorities said Tuesday that a Chinese citizen with the virus wasn’t in critical condition. Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said the government is arranging to airlift Sri Lankan students from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were reported, who will be quarantined for two weeks at a military base about 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the capital, Colombo.

Nepal confirmed its first case on Friday, a student who had been studying in Wuhan and returned to Nepal during the Lunar New Year holiday. Earlier this week, the National Public Health Laboratory was equipped to conduct tests for the virus and an isolation ward was created for patients. The government also set up a health desk at the country’s only international airport in Kathmandu to check passengers arriving from China.

In Bangladesh, which has not reported any cases, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked that arrangements be made for the “return of Bangladeshi nationals, if willing, from China.” Authorities said 3,000 passengers from China have been screened at Bangladesh airports and none had been found to have the virus.

With airport screenings underway, Indian authorities have reported no cases. Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted that the government has “begun the process for evacuation of Indian nationals” from affected areas in China.

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3:45 p.m.

The Chinese Embassy in Copenhagen is demanding that one of Denmark’s largest newspaper apologize for a cartoon on the outbreak of a new deadly virus which it considers “an insult to China.”

The chief editor at Jyllands-Posten, Jacob Nybroe, said the cartoon, which shows the Chinese flag with what resembles viruses instead of stars, “didn’t intend to mock or ridicule China.”

“We can’t apologize for something we don’t think is wrong,” Nybroe said on the newspaper’s website. “As far as I can see, there are two different types of cultural understanding here.”

The embassy expressed its “strong indignation” and said the cartoon, which was printed Monday, “is an insult to China” and “crossed the bottom line of civilized society and the ethical boundary of free speech and offends human conscience.”

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of a new virus, with more than 100 deaths. Most have been in the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak began in December.

In September 2005, the Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that caused outrage among Muslims around the world. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet.

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3:40 p.m.

South Korea says it plans to send chartered planes to China on Thursday and Friday to bring home some 700 South Koreans who wish to return home from Wuhan, the city at the center of a new coronavirus outbreak.

Lee Tae-ho, South Korea’s second vice minister of foreign affairs, said Tuesday that the dates of the flights could change depending on consultations with the Chinese government.

He says South Korea will also use the flights to take 2 million masks and other equipment to China to help with quarantine efforts.

The South Korean consulate in Wuhan has informed applicants for the flights that they would be isolated for two weeks at designated medical facilities after returning to South Korea, which experts say is the maximum incubation period of the illness.

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3:30 p.m.

Thailand’s Public Health ministry says six more people have tested positive for a new virus, raising to 14 the number of cases in the country.

Sukhum Kanjanapimai, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said Tuesday all six cases are Chinese tourists from Hubei province who entered Thailand several days ago. They are from Wuhan, which is the epicenter of the viral outbreak.

The new cases are two women and four men age 6 to 60. Five of the six new cases are family members.

All six were admitted to a hospital in Nonthaburi province.

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3:10 p.m.

Japan says China has agreed to accept one plane flying from Tokyo to Wuhan to bring home some of the 650 Japanese who say they want to leave the Chinese city at the center of a viral outbreak.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the plane departing Tokyo later Tuesday is set to return with about 200 people Wednesday morning.

He said Japan has been talking with the Chinese government about such arrangements as it explores “all possible options” to bring the Japanese people in Wuhan home.

Several countries are trying to make similar arrangements for their citizens after China locked down Wuhan and several other cities due to the outbreak of a new virus that has infected thousands.

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2:45 p.m.

Germany has confirmed its first case of the new virus that has infected thousands of people in China.

The health ministry in the southern state of Bavaria said late Monday that the man from Starnberg, south of Munich, is “in a clinically good condition.”

Officials said the man is being medically isolated and people who were in close contact with him are being informed about possible symptoms and hygiene measures.

The ministry said it considers the risk to the general population in Bavaria to be “low.”

Authorities planned to hold a news conference in Munich on Tuesday where they would release further details.

Nearly all of the dozens of cases outside China are among people who recently traveled from the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak began last month.

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2 p.m.

North Korea said it’s taking “emergency steps” to prevent the spread of a new virus from neighboring China.

The North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Tuesday the country is strengthening quarantine measures at airports, ports and border areas and conducting a medical surveillance of those who return from overseas trips.

The paper also says North Korea’s health authorities have “urgently” produced related hygiene documents and distributed them to medial facilities.

North Korea hasn’t officially reported any cases of the new coronavirus. China has confirmed thousands of cases, and other countries have confirmed the virus in dozens of people who traveled from the central Chinese city where the outbreak began last month.

Tour operators in Beijing said last week North Korea had banned foreign tourists as a precaution against the virus.

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9:30 a.m.

China on Tuesday reported 25 more deaths from a new viral disease as the U.S. government prepared to evacuate Americans from the city at the center of the outbreak.

Authorities reported 24 deaths in Hubei province, where the virus first was detected in December, and one in Beijing, the Chinese capital.

No national total was immediately announced but with 81 deaths reported through Monday, that would make the toll at least 106.

The Chinese government has locked down whole cities in Hubei, isolating some 50 million people in a sweeping anti-disease effort.

The U.S. Consulate in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, was preparing to fly its diplomats and some other Americans out of the country.

Japan, Mongolia, France and other governments also were preparing evacuations.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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