China's new virus cases, deaths rise but increase is lower

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BEIJING (AP) — China's government says new virus cases rose by just 394 from the previous day, with a rise in the death toll of 114.

Port security persons stay in a small hut near the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. Hundreds of passengers began leaving the cruise ship Wednesday after the end of a much-criticized, two-week quarantine that failed to stop the spread of a new virus among passengers and crew. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Mainland China has now reported 2,118 deaths and 74,576 total cases.

While the overall spread of the virus has been slowing, the situation remains severe in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first detected in December.

More than 80% of the country's cases are in Hubei and 95% of the deaths.

The new daily figure is a notable drop from the 1,749 cases recorded the previous day.

Inspectors are going door-to-door in the city to find every infected person.

After quarantine ends, Japan says 2 former cruise ship passengers have died

Japan’s health ministry confirms that two elderly passengers taken off the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died from the new virus, becoming the first fatalities from the virus-stricken vessel.

Japan’s NHK public television said both were Japanese in their 80s. A Health Ministry official only confirmed that they had been previously hospitalized in serious condition and had existing chronic diseases.

Japan now has three deaths linked to the COVID-19 illness.

On Wednesday, hundreds of passengers left the cruise ship Diamond Princess after their two-week quarantine in Japan ended.

The Diamond Princess started letting passengers who tested negative for the virus leave the ship Wednesday. Japanese soldiers helped escort some passengers as they left the ship, including an elderly man in a wheelchair who wore a mask and held a cane.

Japanese officials will spend the next three days conducting the disembarkation of about 2,000 others.

Also, on Wednesday, authorities announced 79 new cases, bringing the total on the ship to 621, by far the largest number outside mainland China.

Critics say the quarantine failed to stop the spread of the new virus among passengers and crew.

China's virus center vows no patient unchecked as cases fall

New virus cases in China are continuing to fall as protective suit-clad inspectors go door-to-door in the epicenter to find every infected person.

Wuhan, where the new form of coronavirus emerged, is on the final day of a campaign to root out anyone with symptoms whom authorities may have missed so far. Mainland China is reporting 1,749 new cases and 136 additional deaths.

Beijing is showing signs of coming back to life with road traffic up from virtually nothing a week ago.

While most restaurants, stores and office buildings remain closed, others have reopened.

Qantas cuts flights to Asia amid virus outbreak

Australia's Qantas has announced it will slash flights to Asia as the coronavirus crisis cuts into the airline and travel industries.

The decision to reduce the carrier's overall capacity to Asia by 16% until at least the end of May is expected to cut between $67 million and $100 million from Qantas' earnings this year.

The move will affect Qantas services to China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Qantas' secondary carrier Jetstar will cut back services by 14%.

The airline says the impact of the cuts would be offset by a reduction in fuel prices worldwide, also caused by the virus outbreak as other airlines reduce Asian services.

Qantas flights between Sydney and Shanghai will remain suspended while the Hong Kong-Sydney service will be cut.

Iran announces 3 new cases of coronavirus after 2 deaths

Iran says three more people have been infected by the new coronavirus that originated in central China following an announcement a day earlier that two people had died of the virus in one of Iran's largest cities, Qom.

The two deaths reported on Wednesday were both Iranian citizens. Iran says it has shut down religious Shiite seminaries as a precautionary measure in the holy city of Qom.

That's according to the official IRNA news agency. Iran recently evacuated 60 Iranian students from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the new virus.

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