Jan 29, 2020

Australia recreates coronavirus

Scientists in Australia have become the first to recreate the new coronavirus outside of China in what they have called a "significant breakthrough".

The discovery will be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the hope it may help efforts to diagnose and treat the virus.

Scientists in China have also recreated the virus and shared its genome sequence, but not the virus itself.

The outbreak has killed 132 people in China and infected close to 6,000.

There are at least 47 cases confirmed in 16 other countries, including in Thailand, France, the US and Australia. No deaths have been reported outside China.

Researchers at a specialist lab in Melbourne, Australia, said they were able to grow a copy of the virus from an infected patient. The sample was sent to them last Friday.

"We've planned for an incident like this for many, many years and that's really why we were able to get an answer so quickly," said Dr Mike Catton of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

HK slashes border travel

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China as the new coronavirus continues to spread.

Wearing a face mask, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced that High-speed trains and ferries that cross the border will be suspended from Thursday, while flights to mainland China will be halved. People will also no longer be able to receive permits to visit Hong Kong from the mainland.

Analysts say restricting travel from the mainland to Hong Kong - a major international hub - could help limit the spread of the new coronavirus to other countries.

Australia plans island quarantine

Australia plans to quarantine its 600 returning citizens for two weeks on Christmas Island - some 2,000km (1,200 miles) from the mainland.

Japan, the US and the EU are also repatriating their citizens.

President Xi Jinping called the virus a "devil" but said China would defeat it.

An expert from the Chinese National Health Commission (NHC) said it could take 10 more days for the outbreak to peak.

(Excerpts : BBC News)

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