February 1 coronavirus news

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9:30 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Flying drones instruct people around China to wear masks outdoors

From CNN’s Yong Xiong in Beijing and Pauline Lockwood in Hong Kong

Xinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency

Villages and cities in China have resorted to flying drones with speakers to patrol streets and scold people not wearing masks in public amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to Chinese state media. 

Both Xinhua and the Global Times have published videos of drones warning various people in rural areas that masks need to be worn in “these times." The drones were seen scolding an elderly lady and chasing a child down the road. 

The videos have gone viral on Chinese social media and have been praised as a novel way to raise awareness of the disease. 

Global Times reported that local officials had been putting up slogans in an effort to get communities to stay at home during the epidemic and to avoid people gathering together to slow and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

9:14 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Thousands of Hong Kong medical staff vote to strike for border closure with mainland China

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Hospital staff wear face protection at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, Saturday, February 1.
Hospital staff wear face protection at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, Saturday, February 1. Achmad Ibrahim/AP

Thousands of Hong Kong public medical staff have voted to strike on Monday if the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government does not agree to demands to close the border with mainland China. 

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance has 13,000 members. Of those members who voted on Saturday night, 3,123 voted yes for the strike action, 10 against and 23 abstained. 8,825 members signed an online petition saying they will go on strike next week if demands to close border are not met. 

Thousands of medical staff are calling on the HKSAR government to ban all visitors from mainland China to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus to Hong Kong.

8:25 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Qatar Airways will suspend flights to China

Qatar Airways is the latest airline to suspend flights to China over the coronavirus outbreak.

The carrier said it will "unfortunately" stop flying to China on Monday, due to "significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by several countries."

"These restrictions prevent the airline from scheduling crew on certain routes, limiting our ability to maintain scheduled operations elsewhere," the airline said in a statement.

7:40 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

A UK university student has coronavirus

From Sharon Braithwaite in London

One of the two people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom is a student at the University of York in northern England.

“Public Health England have informed us that one of the two individuals to have tested positive for coronavirus is a student at the University of York,” the university's press office told CNN.

Health officials said the risk to the campus is “low.”

The university said in a statement:

Public Health England has advised us that the risk of infection being passed to others on campus is low. Current information from PHE suggests that the student did not come into contact with anybody on campus whilst they had symptoms, but investigations are ongoing to fully establish this.

 The two patients, members of the same family, are being treated at a hospital in Newcastle.

7:44 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Macao tracing two casino employees diagnosed with the virus

From CNN's Ivan Watson and Sandi Sidhu

Macao Health Bureau is investigating the movements of two casino employees after it was notified by Chinese officials that they have contracted the novel coronavirus. 

Vitor Moutinho, the bureau's spokesman, told CNN on Saturday that one of the two is a woman who lives in Zhuhai in mainland China and travels to Macao daily for work. 

Moutinho said the woman worked at Starworld Casino in a private area, and that the bureau is now tracing people whom she could have come into contact with. 

No further details are available about the other employee, a man.

Employees from the mainland who come to work in Macao have not been prevented from doing so since the outbreak of the virus, and all casinos remain open for business. 

Casinos in Macao are open as usual.
Casinos in Macao are open as usual. Photo: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

7:32 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Sri Lankan students evacuated from Wuhan

A group of students from Sri Lanka have been evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China.

7:12 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

WHO urges people to know the facts

The World Health Organization has been stressing the importance of facts in the fight against the current coronavirus outbreak.

It warned that people of all ages can be infected by the virus and said older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

The WHO is also trying to bust some of the myths circulating online. It said, for example, that there was no evidence that pets such as dogs and cats can be infected with the virus.

It also told people it was safe to receive packages from China. "From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages," the WHO tweeted.

6:02 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

China asks EU for help with supplies

From CNN’s Yong Xiong in Beijing

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has asked the European Union to help China procure medical supplies, according to a Chinese government statement.

China is struggling to control the novel coronavirus outbreak. Its health system is on its knees, running out of beds and supplies.

Li spoke to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on the phone, the statement said, and is hoping to buy the supplies from EU member countries “through commercial channels.”

“And we are willing to strengthen information, policy and technical exchanges and to cooperate with international communities including EU,” Li said, according to the statement.

It added:

Li Keqiang said the Chinese government has always put people’s safety and health as first priority and is working to prevent and control the epidemic in a transparent and orderly manner. The current job is to curb the spreading of epidemic and to treat the patients, as well as guarantee the normal life order of Chinese people and foreigners in China.

The statement added that von der Leyen said the EU will try its best and coordinate all necessary resources to provide assistance to China.

China needs more medical supplies.
China needs more medical supplies. Photo: JONATHAN KLEIN/AFP via Getty Images

7:02 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Carry a tissue, wash your hands -- how to prevent the virus from spreading

The UK Department of Health and Social Care has issued a simple guidance on how ordinary people can help stop the new virus from spreading: carry a tissue, catch your sneeze, trash the tissue, wash your hands.