Number of New Virus Infections Triples in China

The number of people infected with a new strain of coronavirus in China tripled over the weekend and is spreading from Wuhan to other major cities. The new cases of pneumonia-like illness caused by the virus has been detected in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Scientists have also confirmed that the virus can be spread from human to human, which is bad news for China as it prepares for the Spring Holiday which is the busiest travel season. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke has more.

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Unhealthy Levels of Smog Choke Thai Capital for Over Week

Unhealthy levels of smog have choked Bangkok for more than a week, as the Thai capital’s residents fume over the ineffectiveness of government measures to combat the problem.As thick haze blanketed the city Monday, pollution levels soared to 95 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5 particle at noon in some areas, according to the government’s Pollution Control Department, which described that level as very unhealthy. The maximum level considered safe by the government is 50.PM 2.5 particles are small enough to penetrate deeply into the lungs, which can cause both short-term bronchial problems as well as serious long-term health issues.Bangkok’s smog crisis results from still air and an excessive amount of ultrafine dust from vehicle emissions and other activities, Pollution Control Department Director-General Pralong Damrongthai explained in a Monday press release. He said smog is being trapped close to the ground by a blanket of warm air in what meteorologists call an inversion.A thick layer of smog covers central Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 20, 2020.Bangkok residents have grown frustrated with the lack of progress in improving the situation. A survey by the National Institute for Development Administration released on Sunday showed 81% of the 1,256 local residents questioned agreed the government is ineffective in solving the problem. Only 2.7% of respondents approved of the government’s efforts.The Pollution Control Department issued a 52-page national action plan in October for combating dust pollution problems, but it is unclear how many, if any, of the measures it suggested were implemented. The plan mostly included guidelines for government agencies, but also discussed possible precautions and ways to measure pollutants.Burning of fields is cited as the main reason for smog outside of Bangkok, with provinces in the central and northern regions of Thailand also blanketed in haze.Tara Buakamsri of the environmental group Greenpeace said the current situation shows the government’s strategy is failing.”They probably think that the situation happens just only few days or few weeks and then it’s gone, therefore, no concrete or long-term measures have been launched by the government,” he said.Tara also said the official maximum “safe level” of PM 2.5 of 50 micrograms per cubic meter over 24 hours was set too high.”That level cannot protect people’s health,” he said. He urged the maximum safe level be reduced to 35, as it is in other places such as the United States.
 

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НБУ послабив гривню ще на 8 копійок щодо долара

Національний банк України за підсумками торгів на міжбанківському валютному ринку встановив на 21 січня офіційний курс 24 гривні 33 копійки за долар США. Це на вісім копійок більше за курс на 20 січня.

Як інформує Finance.ua, торги на міжбанку завершилися на рівні 24 гривні 30–34 копійки за долар, це вище за рівень відкриття сесії (24,27–24,30), але нижче від максимальних значень упродовж дня (24,345–24,385).

Фахівці сайту «Мінфін» відзначають, що на перебіг торгів впливало відзначення у США дня Мартіна Лютера Кінга, тому угоди укладалися на умовах TOM (тобто реальні зарахування за такими угодами відбуваються на наступний день). Через це обсяги угод були незначними, а Нацбанк не виходив на ринок у публічному форматі аукціону.

Національний банк України з 13 грудня 2019 року встановив облікову ставку на рівні 13,5%, знизивши її одразу на 2%. Також регулятор збільшив обсяг щоденного викупу валюти на міжбанку до 50 мільйонів доларів з попереднього рівня 30 мільйонів доларів.

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МВФ оприлюднив прогноз для світової економіки: «помірне зростання у 2020 році»

Міжнародний валютний фонд прогнозує помірне зростання зростання світової економіки у 2020 році, ідеться в оприлюдненому 20 січня World Economic Outlook. Фахівці МВФ очікують, що цього року світова економіка зросте на 3,3%, а 2021-го – на 3,4% (зростання у 2019 році склало 2,9%, вважають експерти).

Новий прогноз дещо песимістичніший, ніж оприлюднений три місяці тому, в жовтні 2019 року. Причиною незначного перегляду оцінок у бік зниження стала стурбованість щодо меншого зростання економіки Індії та кількох інших економік, що розвиваються. Серед позитивних моментів фахівці відзначають укладення першої частини торговельної угоди між США і Китаєм та зменшення ризиків виходу Великої Британії з Євросоюзу без угоди.

Що ж до країн Східної та Центральної Європи, то в МВФ очікують зростання їхніх економік у середньому на 2,5 відсотка у 2020 і 2021 роках – порівняно з 1,8 відсотка в 2019-му. Фахівці відзначають, що «умови фінансування стають менш обмежувальними».

За попередніми оцінками, у 2019 році економіка України відновлювалася дещо швидше, ніж у країнах-сусідах по регіону, зростання склало 3,5%, що є найвищим показником від початку економічної кризи 2008 року.

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China’s Xi Says Coronavirus Outbreak Must Be Taken Seriously

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that it’s “extremely crucial” to take every possible measure to combat a new coronavirus that has infected more than 200 people in the country.His remarks, cited by state broadcaster CCTV, came the same day that the country reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected by the novel form of viral pneumonia, including the first cases in the capital.The outbreak comes as the country enters its busiest travel period, when millions board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays.”The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and other places must be taken seriously,” Xi said, according to CCTV. “Party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.”Health authorities in the central city of Wuhan, where the viral pneumonia appears to have originated, said an additional 136 cases have been confirmed in the city, which now has a total of 198 infected patients. As of the weekend, a third patient had died, bringing the death toll to three.Five individuals in Beijing and 14 in southern China’s Guangdong have also been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, state broadcaster CCTV reported Monday evening. A total of seven suspected cases have been found in other parts of the country, including in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in the southwest and in Shanghai.The outbreak has put other countries on alert as millions of Chinese travel for Lunar New Year. Authorities in Thailand and in Japan have already identified at least three cases, all involving recent travel from China.South Korea reported its first case Monday, when a 35-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan tested positive for the new coronavirus one day after arriving at Seoul’s Incheon airport. The woman has been isolated at a state-run hospital in Incheon city, just west of Seoul, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.At least a half-dozen countries in Asia and three U.S. airports have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China.Videos posted online show people in protective suits checking one-by-one the temperatures of plane passengers arriving in Macao from Wuhan. A man surnamed Yang who works for the Macao Health Bureau confirmed over the phone that such checks are taking place in the southern Chinese region.Many of the initial cases of the coronavirus were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed as authorities investigated.Since hundreds of people who came into close contact with diagnosed patients have not gotten sick, the municipal health commission maintains that the virus is not easily transmitted between humans, though it has not ruled out limited human-to-human transmission.China’s National Health Commission said experts have judged the current outbreak to be “preventable and controllable.””However, the source of the new type of coronavirus has not been found, we do not fully understand how the virus is transmitted, and changes in the virus still need to be closely monitored,” the commission said in a statement Sunday.Coronaviruses cause diseases ranging from the common cold to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS first infected people in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800. The Chinese government initially tried to conceal the severity of the SARS epidemic, but its cover-up was exposed by a high-ranking physician.”In the early days of SARS, reports were delayed and covered up,” said an editorial in the nationalistic Global Times. “That kind of thing must not happen again in China.””We have made great strides in medicine, social affairs management and public opinion since 2003,” the editorial said.China is putting forth its “utmost efforts to tackle the situation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday.The government has notified and maintained close communication with the World Health Organization and other relevant countries and regions, Geng said, adding that Wuhan has adopted measures to control the flow of people leaving the city.The virus causing the current outbreak is different from those previously identified, Chinese scientists said earlier this month. Initial symptoms of the novel coronavirus include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath.On the Weibo social media platform, which is widely used in China, people posted prevention advice such as wearing masks and washing hands. State broadcaster CCTV recommended staying warm, increasing physical activity, eating lightly and avoiding crowded places. Some people said they had canceled their travel plans and were staying home for Lunar New Year. 

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China Confirms Coronavirus Transmitted by Humans

The head of a Chinese government expert team says human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in an outbreak of a new coronavirus.
State media said Monday that the leader of the National Health Commission team said two people in southern China caught the diseases from family members.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that it’s “extremely crucial” to take every possible measure to combat a new coronavirus that has infected 217 people in the country.
His remarks, cited by state broadcaster CCTV, came the same day that the country reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected by the novel form of viral pneumonia, including the first cases in the capital.
The outbreak comes as the country enters its busiest travel period, when millions board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays.
“The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and other places must be taken seriously,” Xi said, according to CCTV. “Party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.”
They should “ensure that the masses have a quiet, peaceful and joyous Spring Festival,” he added.
Health authorities in the central city of Wuhan, where the viral pneumonia appears to have originated, said an additional 136 cases have been confirmed in the city, which now has a total of 198 infected patients. As of the weekend, a third patient had died.
Five individuals in Beijing and 14 in southern China’s Guangdong province have also been diagnosed with the new coronavirus, state broadcaster CCTV reported Monday evening. A total of seven suspected cases have been found in other parts of the country, including in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in the southwest and in Shanghai.
The outbreak has put other countries on alert as millions of Chinese travel for Lunar New Year. Authorities in Thailand and in Japan have already identified at least three cases, all involving recent travel from China.Travelers wear face masks as they walk outside of the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, Jan. 20, 2020.South Korea reported its first case Monday, when a 35-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan tested positive for the new coronavirus one day after arriving at Seoul’s Incheon airport. The woman has been isolated at a state-run hospital in Incheon city, just west of Seoul, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.
At least a half-dozen countries in Asia and three U.S. airports have started screening incoming airline passengers from central China.
Videos posted online show people in protective suits checking one-by-one the temperatures of plane passengers arriving in Macao from Wuhan. A man surnamed Yang who works for the Macao Health Bureau confirmed over the phone that such checks are taking place in the southern Chinese region.
Many of the initial cases of the coronavirus were linked to a seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed as authorities investigated.
Since hundreds of people who came into close contact with diagnosed patients have not gotten sick, the municipal health commission maintains that the virus is not easily transmitted between humans, though it has not ruled out limited human-to-human transmission.
China’s National Health Commission said experts have judged the current outbreak to be “preventable and controllable.”
“However, the source of the new type of coronavirus has not been found, we do not fully understand how the virus is transmitted, and changes in the virus still need to be closely monitored,” the commission said in a statement Sunday.
Coronaviruses cause diseases ranging from the common cold to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS first infected people in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800. The Chinese government initially tried to conceal the severity of the SARS epidemic, but its cover-up was exposed by a high-ranking physician.
“In the early days of SARS, reports were delayed and covered up,” said an editorial in the nationalistic Global Times. “That kind of thing must not happen again in China.”
“We have made great strides in medicine, social affairs management and public opinion since 2003,” the editorial said.
Xi instructed government departments Monday to promptly release information on the virus and deepen international cooperation.
China has notified and maintained close communication with the World Health Organization and other relevant countries and regions, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news briefing.
Wuhan has also adopted measures to control the flow of people leaving the city, Geng said.
The virus causing the current outbreak is different from those previously identified, Chinese scientists said earlier this month. Initial symptoms of the novel coronavirus include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath.
On the Weibo social media platform, which is widely used in China, people posted prevention advice such as wearing masks and washing hands. State broadcaster CCTV recommended staying warm, increasing physical activity, eating lightly and avoiding crowded places. Some people said they had canceled their travel plans and were staying home for Lunar New Year.   

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Chinese Health Officials Report Huge Spike in Cases of New Virus

Chinese health officials in the central city of Wuhan confirmed 136 new cases of a new coronavirus — a huge spike — over the past three days.The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission says the total number of cases of the virus now exceeds 200, including two new cases in Beijing and one in Shenzhen in southern China. Most of the confirmed cases are described as mild, but three deaths have been reported.Doctors in Wuhan, China’s seventh most populous city, have stepped up screening for suspected cases of pneumonia. They are urging people to be more conscious of their personal hygiene and to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.On Friday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started screening passengers arriving from Wuhan at three airports — San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Airports in Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Singapore are also screening passengers.Passengers on a flight that arrived Saturday morning in San Francisco said they went through the screening and it was an easy procedure. Their temperature was taken and they filled out a form.Chinese and U.S. health officials are particularly concerned because many of the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens are expected to travel for the Lunar New Year holiday that starts Jan. 25, both inside China and beyond.FILE – A man leaves the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center, where a man who died from a respiratory illness was being treated, in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Jan. 12, 2020.A coronavirus is one of a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS, which also started in China, killed nearly 800 people globally during an outbreak 17 years ago.Chinese health experts know little about the new strain, dubbed 2019-nCoV, in Wuhan, especially how it is transmitted. They suspect the outbreak started in a Wuhan seafood market, which also sold other animals such as poultry, bats, marmots and wild game meat, but some patients say they were never there.Health officials are urging caution but say there is no reason to panic. The World Health Organization is not recommending against travel to China, and China’s National Health Commission says the current outbreak is “preventable and controllable.”According to the latest information received and WHO analysis, there is evidence of limited human-to-human transmission of the virus, the WHO tweeted Sunday. This is in line with experience with other respiratory illnesses and in particular with other coronavirus outbreaks.While there is currently no clear evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, we do not have enough evidence to evaluate the full extent of human-to-human transmission. This is one of the issues that @WHO is monitoring closely.While there is currently no clear evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, we do not have enough evidence to evaluate the full extent of human-to-human transmission.This is one of the issues that @WHO is monitoring closely.— World Health Organization Western Pacific (@WHOWPRO) January 19, 2020Of the new cases announced this weekend, all involve adults ages 25 to 89. About half are male (78) and half are female (75), according Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, which translated the Wuhan commission’s statement.Of the 198 patients confirmed so far, 28 have recovered or been discharged. Of the 170 people still in the hospital, 126 have mild illness, 35 are listed as severe, and 9 are in critical condition. Three deaths have been now reported. Hospitalized patients in Wuhan are isolated at a designated facility.The number of close contacts under monitoring has risen from 763 to 817, and monitoring is still under way for 90. So far no related cases have been found in contacts. 

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