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Starbucks shuts half of China stores amid coronavirus outbreak | Business News

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Starbucks has closed more than half of its stores in China as a result of the coronavirus and warned that the outbreak will “materially affect” its financial results for the year.

The US-based chain said that as well as the closures it was continuing to “monitor and modify” the opening hours of all stores in the country in response to the spread of the illness.

Starbucks said the moves were “expected to be temporary”.

It added: “Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances, the duration of business disruption, reduced customer traffic and related financial impact cannot reasonably be estimated at this time.”

Starbucks said it was expected to “materially affect” financial results for the year.

“The company will update its guidance for 2020 when we can reasonably estimate the impact of the coronavirus,” it added.

Shares slipped lower in after-hours trading.

The disclosure about the impact of the coronavirus on the chain came as Starbucks reported better than expected sales growth of 5% for the three months to the end of December.

But the results were overshadowed by the chain becoming the latest business to reveal the impact of the spread of the coronavirus in China, where it has more than 4,000 stores.

McDonald’s has suspended business in five cities in the affected Hubei province while the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut has closed outlets in Wuhan.

Meanwhile, Disney has closed its Shanghai and Hong Kong resorts.

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Syria: Turkey threatens Idlib military offensive as talks with Russia break down | World News

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Talks between Turkey and Russia over the conflict in Syria’s Idlib province have broken down as Ankara said it was only a “matter of time” before it launched a military offensive.

The two countries back opposing sides in the nine-year Syria conflict, but had promised to try to find a political solution to end it.

However, 13 Turkish troops were killed during a Syrian government offensive in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, which borders Turkey, toppling the fragile balance.



Syrian dad teaches daughter how to cope with bombs - with laughter







How one dad taught daughter to cope with blasts in Idlib

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said no agreement had been reached on Wednesday but the Syrian government, which Moscow supports, is upholding previous agreements and also reacting to provocations.

He said militant attacks on Syrian and Russian forces are continuing in Idlib where almost a million civilians have been driven from their homes since December in Syria’s largest single displacement in the conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his ruling AK Party the talks were unsatisfactory and “the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time”.

He said Turkey, which supports several Syrian opposition groups, was determined to make Idlib a secure zone “no matter the cost”.

“We are entering the last days for the (Syrian) regime to stop its hostility in Idlib. We are making our final warnings,” Mr Erdogan said.

“We did not reach the desired results in our talks. The talks will continue, but it is true that we are far from meeting our demands at the table.

“Turkey has made every preparation to carry out its own operational plans. I say that we can come at any point. In other words, the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an offensive on Idlib 'is only a matter of time'
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Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said an offensive on Idlib ‘is only a matter of time’

Ankara and Moscow signed an agreement in 2018 to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib which allowed both sides to set up military observation posts.

Since violence escalated in the region, both sides have engaged in a tit-for-tat over who is flouting the agreement.

Several rounds of talks have been held but failed to find a solution.

Mr Erdogan said Turkey has given the Russian-backed Syrian forces until the end of February to withdraw from Idlib.

Millions of people have been displaced in Syria, where  winters can be harsh
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Millions of people have been displaced in Syria, where winters can be harsh

“We will not leave Idlib to the (Syrian) regime, which does not understand our country’s determination, and to those encouraging it,” he said.

The UN has said a full-scale battle for Idlib could result in a “bloodbath”.

A Turkish soldier patrols the countryside in Syria's Aleppo province
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A Turkish soldier patrols the countryside in Syria’s Aleppo province

Over the past few years the province’s population has doubled to about three million, including one million children.

Several warring rebel factions control Idlib, with the dominant force the al Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance, Hayat Tahrir al Sham.

The group had between 12,000 and 15,000 fighters in Idlib and surrounding areas in January, the UN estimated.

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Japan: Passengers leaving coronavirus-hit cruise ship criticise quarantine ‘nonsense’ | World News

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After two weeks of coronavirus quarantine, today is the first day of freedom for more than 400 passengers who have been stuck on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The vessel was initially carrying about 3,700 passengers and crew from more than 50 countries and regions.

At least 621 people have contracted the illness.

In the port car park in Yokohama, hazmat-clad officials greet the slow trickle of passengers who have tested negative and are cleared to leave, loading them on to specially adapted buses.

Inside the driver sits behind a protective layer of bubble wrap, dividing him from the travellers who for weeks have been living in a virus hotspot.

Passengers can be seen disembarking the Diamond Princess
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Passengers can be seen disembarking the Diamond Princess
A bus carrying former passengers of the cruise ship is seen about to leave the port
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A bus carrying former passengers of the cruise ship is seen about to leave the port

Others are collected by relatives, overjoyed that their loved ones are hopefully out of danger.

Among the first off, a Japanese man who wheels his suitcase out of the dock gate.

He doesn’t want to give his name but says he is relieved to be going home and confirms his health is good.

An anonymous female passenger is also feeling confident.

A passenger leaves the Diamond Princess after spending two weeks in quarantine
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A passenger leaves the Diamond Princess after spending two weeks in quarantine

She said: “I felt totally safe, I’m that kind of person. I trusted everyone on the ship to look after me.”

But others are less positive, the ship they have been confined to has been described by some on board as a floating prison where the coronavirus infection rate keeps on rising.

Hundreds of passengers, including Britons still cannot escape. They’re waiting for evacuation but fearing infection.



Alan Sandford onboard quarantined ship.







Passenger’s guide to quarantine

At the train station, I ask a Japanese man, who has just disembarked and also doesn’t want to be named, if he feels enough was done to stop the spread of the virus on the Diamond Princess?

He said: “The ship’s quarantine didn’t work. It looked like a quarantine – but it was nonsense. It didn’t stop the spread of the virus. It was all over the ship.”

More than 600 passengers have now tested positive for coronavirus after another 79 cases were confirmed today, the highest concentration outside mainland China.

The Japanese government has again defended the way it has managed the quarantine saying “thorough action” to prevent the spread has been taken including using masks, disinfectant and keeping people apart.

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Yoshihide Suga, Japanese chief cabinet secretary, explains: “With the urgency of the current situation, Japan took full measures to ensure the prevention of the spread of the infection, taking into consideration human rights and humanitarian needs, cooperating with relevant nations and taking appropriate measures.”

But the professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, Kentaro Iwata, has been on board and is seriously concerned.

An expert who has worked with ebola and SARS, he wrote in an online blog: “Inside the Princess Diamond I was so scared. I was so scared of getting COVID-19 because there’s no way to tell where the virus is. No green zone, no red zone. Everywhere could have the virus and everybody was not careful about it. There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship.”

Some passengers were seen getting into taxis after being allowed to disembark the ship
Image:
Some passengers were seen getting into taxis after being allowed to disembark the ship

In isolation in a Japanese hospital, I speak to coronavirus patient Jerri Jorgensen via Skype.

Like 68 of the recently diagnosed passengers removed from the ship she has no symptoms.

A silent carrier, she was contagious without even knowing it.

She said: “If they didn’t tell me I had the virus I wouldn’t have known. I’m hardly ever sick, but I think I may have had a cold that was worse than this. I’m experiencing no physical ailments at all, none.”

It raises the question, how many more people could unwittingly be spreading the virus.

With passengers, including Britons, still unclear when they will leave, the current focus is on getting people home, but huge questions remain unanswered about how a quarantine ship became a coronavirus breeding ground.

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Family including three children under 10 killed in ‘horrific’ Brisbane car fire | World News

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A former rugby player and his three children have died in what police have described as a “horrific” car fire in Brisbane, Australia.

Rowan Baxter, 42, and the children – Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey Baxter – all aged under 10, were found dead in the vehicle.

The children’s mother, Hannah Baxter, 31, suffered extensive burns and was taken to hospital where she later died from her injuries.

Officers were called to the scene at around 8.30am on Wednesday and found the car engulfed in flames.

Detective Inspector Mark Thompson, of Queensland State Police, said: “It’s a horrific scene.”

He said officers were investigating the cause of the accident, which took place in Raven Street at Camp Hill.

“It is too early for me to say how the actual incident occurred, that would certainly be a critical part of the investigation,” he said.

“But I can say that the vehicle was fully involved in fire upon the emergency services arriving,” he said.

Four people, including three children, were killed in a "horrific" car fire in Brisbane, Australia, on Wednesday, police said.
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Police described the scene of the blaze as ‘horrific’

Mr Baxter, a member of the 2005 New Zealand Warriors rugby league football squad and the children, aged six, four and three, died at the scene.

Neighbour Murray Campbell told the Brisbane Times he heard several explosions from his backyard and ran to the front.

He said he alerted the emergency services, adding: “The rest is just horrible”.

Mr Campbell said the car was stationary, but then rolled across the street ablaze.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the news was “devastating”.

“My heart goes out to the families and community going through this tragic time and the emergency responders confronting what would be a shattering scene,” he tweeted.

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