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Coronavirus: Six people die in Wuhan amid warning outbreak might spread | World News

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Six people have died from a coronavirus outbreak in China as officials warned it is likely to spread in the coming days.

All the victims were in Wuhan, the capital of China’s central Hubei province where the virus originated at its seafood market. The virus has been dubbed “Wuhan Virus” after the city.

Officials confirmed the new mystery virus, which has no cure, can spread between humans, and 15 medical staff in Wuhan have now been infected, prompting fears of a pandemic.

People wearing protective masks arrive at Beijing railway station to head home for the Lunar New Year on January 21, 2020
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People wearing protective masks arrive at Beijing railway station to head home for the Lunar New Year on January 21, 2020

Concerns are growing as hundreds of millions of people in China are set to travel home, often from cities to the countryside, or travel abroad for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday which starts on Saturday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called an emergency meeting for Wednesday to consider declaring an international health emergency, a move only used for the worst epidemics.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic warned: “More cases should be expected in other parts of China and possibly other countries in the coming days.”

China’s National Health Commission said 291 people have been infected in the country – mainly in Wuhan – since the virus emerged in mid-December, but reports are coming in all the time from different Chinese regions indicating the virus is spreading fast.

A study by Hong Kong University in collaboration with WHO estimated by Tuesday 1,343 people had been infected, along with 116 people in 20 other Chinese cities.

Thailand has also reported two cases, while South Korea, Japan and Taiwai have all reported one case, all people who had been to Wuhan.

Long queues have formed outside pharmacies across China to buy facemasks
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Long queues have formed outside pharmacies across China to buy facemasks
Signs at Tokyo's Haneda airport told passengers who had been to Wuhan to make themselves known
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Signs at Tokyo’s Haneda airport told passengers who had been to Wuhan to make themselves known

The Philippines reported its first suspected case on Tuesday.

Airports across China have introduced temperature screening, while an increasing number of airports around the world are doing the same.

Russia, Australia, Singapore, the US, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Japan are among the countries increasing airport screenings.

One of the cases in Thailand was discovered after a woman was screened in Bangkok airport.

Airports around the world have stepped up temperature screening
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Airports around the world have stepped up temperature screening
A worker in a protective suit stands outside the closed Wuhan seafood market
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A worker in a protective suit stands outside the closed Wuhan seafood market

The virus has brought back bad memories from 2002-03, when Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which belongs to the same family of coronaviruses as the new outbreak, killed nearly 800 people around the world after starting in China.

Doctors began seeing symptoms including fever, coughing and breathing difficulties in people who worked at or visited Wuhan’s seafood market last month.

As the number of deaths and cases of the new virus increased, financial markets reacted, with China’s onshore yuan falling 0.6%, its biggest daily drop since 26 August, 2019.

Airline and travel stocks across the region also fell.

A single facemask is left on a shelf at a shop in Beijing as there was a rush on them
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A single facemask is left on a shelf at a shop in Beijing as there was a rush on them
Medical staff carry a patient with the new coronavirus into Wuhan's Jinyintan hospital
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Medical staff carry a patient with the new coronavirus into Wuhan’s Jinyintan hospital
People queue up outside a Beijing rail station as they head home for the Lunar New Year
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People queue up outside a Beijing rail station as they head home for the Lunar New Year

European shares also dropped, with luxury goods firms particularly hard-hit over worries of weaker demand from Chinese consumers ahead of the Lunar New Year which retailers often rely on.

Mask sales have surged, with long queues outside pharmacies and some online vendors limiting sales of masks and hand sanitisers as demand increased.

Shanghai’s market regulator warned it will punish speculators who hoard masks and other products used for preventing diseases, according to the Communist Party-backed Shanghai Observer.

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Ghost ship brought ashore in Ireland by Storm Dennis | World News

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After more than a year adrift at sea, a ghost ship has washed ashore in Ireland thanks to the power of Storm Dennis.

The Alta cargo vessel, originally from Tanzania, had floated for thousands of miles since its small ten-man crew was rescued by the US Coast Guard back in October 2018.

On Sunday – as the UK, Ireland and parts of mainland Europe felt the force of Storm Dennis – the boat finally hit dry land when it ran aground near Ballycotton in County Cork.

“Rescue 117 was tasked earlier today to a vessel aground near Ballycotton, Cork,” said the Irish Coast Guard.

“Thankfully there was nobody on board.

“Previously the US Coast Guard had rescued the 10 crew members from the vessel back on September 30 2018.

“The vessel has been drifting since and today came ashore on the Cork coastline.”

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Engineers will inspect the 80-metre long vessel while it remains aground in Ireland, Cork City Council has said.

Members of the public have been warned to stay away as the ship is stranded on a dangerous and stretch of coastline, with the waters still raging following the weekend’s extreme weather.

RTE reports that a pollution risk assessment will be carried out, but it is not believed to pose any immediate concern given the length of time the vessel – which dates back to 1976 – has been adrift.

Sunday’s surprise arrival was the first time the Alta had been seen since last September, when a Royal Navy ship tweeted that its crew had spotted it in the middle of the Atlantic.

“We closed the vessel to make contact and offer our assistance, but no one replied,” the HMS Protector said.

“Whilst investigations continue we’re unable to give you more detail on this strange event.”

The Alta crew abandoned ship after calling for help during a trip from Greece to Haiti, when it ran into trouble and was left drifting for nearly three weeks.

They were about 1,300 miles southeast of Bermuda when they were rescued by the US Coast Guard.



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Tesla ordered to stop clearing trees at German factory site | Business News

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Tesla has been ordered to stop cutting down trees at the site in Germany where it is planning to build its first car and battery factory in Europe – after environmentalists objected.

The electric car maker had announced in November that it planned to build the “gigafactory” at a site near Berlin.

It has not yet won planning permission to build the plant but was cleared by state authorities to cut down 92 hectares (227 acres) of forest.

Hundreds of demonstrators have protested over the threat they say the factory poses to local wildlife and water supplies.

On Sunday, a court issued an order to stop the tree-felling pending a ruling on a complaint brought by local environmentalist group Gruene Liga Brandenburg (Green League of Brandenburg).

Without the court’s injunction, the work would have been completed in only three more days, the court said.

“It should not be assumed that the motion seeking legal protection brought by the Green League lacks any chance of
succeeding,” the court added.

Pro-business German legislators have warned that the legal battle against the gigafactory would damage the country’s image as a place to do business.

Tesla currently has two gigafactories in the US and one in China. It had hoped to complete the factory in Germany by the middle of next year.

The company’s shares have rocketed by 340% since last June as more investors bet on boss Elon Musk’s growth ambitions.

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High school ring lost in US found 47 years later in Finnish forest | World News

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In 1973, a teenage Debra McKenna accidentally left her future husband’s ring in a department store in the US town of Brunswick Maine.

Fast forward 47 years and it has been found by a sheet metal worker – buried in a Finnish forest.

Ms McKenna, 63, lost the ring in Portland when she was a student at Morse High School, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Debra McKenna. Pic: WGME
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Ms McKenna cried when she received the ring in the mail. Pic: WGME

The ring, which had engravings identifying the school, belonged to Ms McKenna’s late husband Shawn, who she dated all throughout high school and college.

The couple was married for 40 years until Shawn died in 2017 after a six-year battle with cancer.

Shawn gave Ms McKenna the ring before he left for college, but she accidentally left it in a department store.

She said the ring was largely forgotten until the worker found it buried under eight inches of soil in Kaarina, a small town in southwest Finland.

Finnish media reports that Marko Saarinen was using a metal detector when he found the blue-stoned, silver ring.

“Usually my findings are bottle caps or other junk,” he said.

Mr Saarinen contacted the alumni association, who had no trouble identifying the ring’s owner as it bore the 1973 graduation date and the initials S.M.

Ms McKenna said she cried when the ring arrived in the mail at her Brunswick home last week.

“It’s very touching in this world of negativity, to have decent people step forward and make an effort,” she said.

“There are good people in the world, and we need more of them.”

Ms McKenna has no idea how the long-lost ring ended up in a Finnish forest.

She said Shawn spent some time working in Finland in the early 1990s – but nowhere near the city where the ring was found and he had not seen the ring in 20 years at that point.

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