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The Latest: Singapore to bar all visitors from China

BEIJING – The Latest on the outbreak of a new virus from China (all times local):

7 p.m.

Singapore will bar all visitors from China, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to tighten border controls to stop the spread of a new virus.

The health ministry says from Saturday, all Chinese travelers as well as foreigners who have visited China in the past two weeks will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore. It says short-term and multiple-visit visas previously issued to those with Chinese passports will also be suspended.

Singaporeans who have been to China are allowed back but will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.

Singapore had previously barred Chinese travelers only from Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. The ministry said the expanded move was prudent as the virus has spread.

More than 3 million Chinese tourists flock annually to Singapore, a popular holiday and shopping destination.

The Singapore government earlier said it is trying to track down at least 2,000 visitors from Hubei who arrived this month after the city reported 13 cases, all visitors from Wuhan.

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6 p.m.

Thai health authorities have confirmed five more cases of a new type of virus and say one of them is a taxi driver who is the country's first to become ill through human-to-human contact.

The new cases reported Friday bring Thailand's total to 19 cases. All of the others are Chinese visitors or people who traveled to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Thailand is a major destination for tourists from China, more than 10 million of whom visited the country last year.

Local spread of the illness is a growing concern because it suggests the virus can spread more easily, making it harder to contain. The World Health Organization cited such cases when it declared the outbreak a global emergency Thursday.

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5 p.m.

Germany's foreign ministry is urging citizens to postpone non-essential travel to China and explicitly discouraging any travel to Hubei province, the epicenter of an outbreak of a novel coronavirus.

Officials say Berlin plans to send a military jet to pick up dozens of Germans from the city of Wuhan on Saturday. They will be flown to Frankfurt and kept in quarantine for 14 days.

So far, Germany has confirmed five cases of 2019-nCoV, as the new virus that originated in central China is officially called. All five cases involve employees of German auto parts supplier Webasto who came into contact with a visiting employee who had traveled from Shanghai.

China has reported 9,692 confirmed cases with a death toll of 213 as of Friday, and the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global emergency.

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Corrects that visiting employee had traveled from Shanghai, not Wuhan.

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4:25 p.m.

Alarm is growing among the estimated thousands of African students stranded in the locked-down Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of an outbreak of a new coronavirus.

An association of Ethiopian students says in a statement released Friday that students are demanding “to be repatriated back to Ethiopia as quickly as possible.”

The estimated 300 Ethiopian students in Wuhan have submitted the request to embassy representatives, who are communicating with Chinese officials about a growing concern over food shortages.

The statement says that the stranded students are “shocked” by the outbreak but “luckily no Ethiopian has so far been affected.”

Students from Kenya, Cameroon and elsewhere have expressed similar worries as richer nations begin evacuating some of their citizens.

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4:05 p.m.

Pakistani authorities say that they are halting all flights to and from China with immediate effect in light of the outbreak of a new virus.

The government Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Abdul Sattar Khokhar says that “under this decision all flight to and from China will remain suspended until February 2.”

He says this affects 22 weekly flights, including two Pakistan International Airlines flights.

The move panicked relatives of Pakistanis stranded in China a day after top Pakistani health official Zafar Mirza said that Islamabad had no immediate plan to evacuate any of some 30,000 nationals living in China.

Mirza says four Pakistani students in China have been diagnosed with the new virus and their conditions are listed as stable. About 500 Pakistani students were in Wuhan — the site of the outbreak — at the time it surfaced. Mirza said although the virus has killed 170 people in China, authorities in Beijing have done a good job of containing it by taking swift measures.

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3 p.m.

South Korea has reported four more cases of a new virus, including human-to-human transmissions, bringing its number of infections to 11.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that the new cases included three people who had contacted the country’s fifth and sixth patients. Another case involves a 62-year-old woman who returned from a visit to the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Qingdao on Jan. 23. Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak.

The agency earlier Friday reported a 28-year-old man as the seventh case. He returned home on the same flight with the 62-year-old woman.

China has reported 9,692 confirmed cases with a death toll of 213 as of Friday, and the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global emergency.

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2:15 p.m.

Kimchi probably isn’t a wonder drug against a new virus that has sickened thousands in Asia.

South Korea’s Health Ministry said Friday the Korean staple dish made from fermented cabbage, chili peppers and garlic would provide no protection against the new type of coronavirus originating from China.

In a press release aimed at correcting misunderstandings about the illness and calming public fears, the ministry also says eating kimchi imported from China wouldn’t necessarily put a person at greater risk of infection.

The ministry says the best protection against the virus, which is spread through close personal contact and droplet infection, is to wash hands frequently.

During the SARS epidemic of 2003, some South Korean researchers claimed that kimchi possibly explained the country’s relatively low number of cases, saying that a type of bacteria created during the fermentation process would have been helpful in fighting off infections.

While such claims reportedly led to a boost in kimchi sales across Asia, most experts saw the argument as dubious.

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1:55 p.m.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry is urging its citizens not to travel to China because of the possibility of the further spread of a new virus.

Japan had previously warned people not to travel to the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan in China.

Officials in China and around the world are trying to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus. The U.S. has also advised against travel to China.

China has reported 9,692 confirmed cases with a death toll of 213 as of Friday, and the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global emergency.

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10:20 a.m.

Japan and South Korea have sent planes to fly back home more of their nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a new virus that has sickened nearly 10,000 people.

A chartered flight carrying more than 360 South Koreans arrived at an airport in Seoul on Friday. The evacuees underwent screenings for fever before boarding buses to quarantine facilities established in the central towns of Asan and Jincheon.

Residents there have protested government plans to place the evacuees in their neighborhoods, throwing eggs and other objects at visiting government officials.

A third charter plane from Japan meanwhile brought back 149 evacuees.

South Korea on Friday confirmed its seventh case, a 28-year-old man who visited Wuhan and developed a fever. Japan has 11 cases, and both countries have reported human-to-human transmissions.