Health and Science

Coronavirus live updates: Chinese health officials say death toll has risen to 132

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below in Beijing time, beginning on Wednesday.

7:36 pm: International Ski Federation (FIS) cancels first official Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 test event due to new coronavirus

FIS, the Chinese Ski Association and its Yanqing Local Organizing Committee, have cancelled the men's Audi FIS World Cup races scheduled for Feb. 15 to 16 in the northwestern part of Beijing.

It would have been the federation's first Alpine Ski World Cup in China and the first official test event for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022, according to FIS President Gian Franco Kasper. "Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of the athletes and all participants must take priority," Kasper said in an online statement.

6:00 pm: CCTV reports that confirmed cases rise to more than 6,000

Chinese state-run television network CCTV says on social media platform Weibo that the number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 6,078 as of 6 p.m. Beijing time.

5:42 pm: Swiss pharmaceutical giant warns finding a coronavirus vaccine will take 'over a year'

The chief executive of Novartis believes it will take at least 12 months to find a new vaccine to treat the coronavirus, with the fast-spreading nature of the outbreak a threat that must be taken "really seriously."

4:54 pm: Beijing city to limit construction activity through mid-February

Construction on housing structures and municipal infrastructure projects in Beijing will resume no earlier than midnight on Feb. 9, according to state media, citing a representative for the Chinese capital city's Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

That means the construction sites will lie dormant until at least the second week of February, while the city has yet to follow others in extending the Lunar New Year holiday past the nationwide Feb. 2 date.

3:23 pm: Analyst says coronavirus outbreak poses the 'greatest political challenge' yet to Chinese President Xi Jinping

A rapid escalation in the outbreak has pressured Chinese leadership, said Allison Sherlock, China researcher at the Eurasia Group. She also said the situation is "probably the greatest political challenge that (Xi Jinping has) faced since taking office in 2012."

Coronavirus outbreak is President Xi's 'greatest political challenge' so far: Eurasia Group
Coronavirus outbreak is President Xi's 'greatest political challenge' so far: Eurasia Group

3:19 pm: British Airways suspends all flights to and from mainland China

"We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel," British Airways said in a statement.

The airline apologized for the inconvenience, but said "the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority."

3:10 pm: Japan says four evacuees had a fever or cough

The Japan Times reported, citing the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, that four people evacuated from Wuhan, China had either a cough or fever. The conditions were discovered by medical personnel and remaining passengers will also be tested for coronavirus, the report said. Earlier, the Times reported that Japan's foreign ministry said none of the evacuated passengers had been infected.

2:53 pm: Prolonged outbreak could disrupt US-China 'phase one' trade deal

A recent report by Panjiva Research said Beijing may face challenges in meeting its U.S. purchase targets outlined in the "phase one" trade deal, if the coronavirus outbreak in China causes a "prolonged demand interruption."

2:27 pm: Beijing park visitors required to wear face masks, get temperature checks

Visitors to the 10 open Beijing municipal parks will need to wear face masks and get temperature checks, Beijing Youth Daily reported, citing the parks authority. The parks have already cancelled Spring Festival activities, and the number of visitors has fallen sharply versus last year — Tuesday saw an 83% drop, the report said.

People wearing face masks ride escalators inside Hankou Railway Station on January 22, 2020 in Wuhan, China. A new infectious coronavirus known as "2019-nCoV" was discovered in Wuhan last week.
Getty Images

1:37 pm: United Arab Emirates confirms coronavirus case

State-owned Emirates News Agency reported that the UAE has identified "the first case of new coronavirus in the UAE for members of a family arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan."

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention said "the health condition of those infected is stable and under medical observation," according to the report. It did not immediately specify how many people were diagnosed with the virus.

12:57 pm: Macao reports massive drop in visitor arrivals during Lunar New Year holiday

Macao's total visitor arrivals during the Lunar New Year holiday fell 73.6% from last year, according to provisional government data. Mainland Chinese tourist arrivals fell 79.2% from last year, the government said.

Macao is a special administrative region of China and a major gambling hub in Asia. Shares of casino operators like Wynn Macau, Sands China and Galaxy Entertainment have been hit by concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong-listed shares of those companies were all more than 4% lower in Wednesday trading.

12:30 pm: Australia plans to evacuate its citizens from Hubei to a quarantine station on Christmas Island

"We have taken a decision this morning to prepare a plan for an operation to provide some assisted departures for isolated and vulnerable Australians in Wuhan and the Hubei province," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a news conference.

Morrison also said that evacuated Australian nationals will be flown to Christmas Island, where the government will set up a quarantine area. The government expects evacuees to remain on the island for up to 14 days.

12:00 pm: Chinese province says medical teams from across the country have arrived to help fight coronavirus

9:30 am: Hong Kong stocks plunge after returning from Lunar New Year holiday

The Hang Seng index dropped nearly 3% in early trade as Hong Kong-listed shares of travel-related companies plunged. Markets in mainland China remain closed after Beijing extended the Lunar New Year holiday. The Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges have both said they will resume on Monday.

9:15 am: Charter jet evacuating Japanese nationals from Wuhan lands in Tokyo

The Japan Times reported that a charter jet ferrying about 200 Japanese nationals from Wuhan, China landed in Tokyo on Wednesday morning. Japan's Foreign Ministry said none of the passengers were infected, according to the Times.

8:42 am: Coronavirus cases in China surpass those of SARS

The number of coronavirus cases in China have now topped that of SARS. Between Nov. 1, 2002, and July 31, 2003, China had 5,327 SARS cases, according to the World Health Organization. The population of China has increase by about 100 million people to 1.4 billion in the years since.

8:13 am: China's National Health Commission reports latest figures as of end of Tuesday

Chinese health officials said confirmed 1,459 new cases and 26 additional deaths (25 in Hubei and 1 in Henan). Those figures bring the total cases to 5,974 confirmed cases, with 132 deaths and 103 cured, according to the National Health Commission.

7:27 am: Scientists in Australia have reportedly recreated a lab-grown version of coronavirus

Reuters reports that a team of scientists have successfully grown a version of coronavirus in the lab. The news service reported that the breakthrough would help researchers around the world as they race to develop a vaccine and detection tests.

7:14 am: Chinese province at epicenter of outbreak reports 25 more deaths, 840 new cases

Hubei province reported an additional 840 cases and 25 deaths. As of the end of Jan. 28, the province said that brings cases in the region to 3,554 and its death toll to 125, with the majority of those located in Hubei's capital city, Wuhan. Hubei also said 80 people had been cured.

7:08 am: White House tells airlines it may suspend all China-US flights

The White House has told airline executives it's considering suspending flights from China to the U.S. amid an escalating outbreak of a new coronavirus that has infected thousands of people across the world, people familiar with the matter told CNBC. The restrictions could affect flights into and out of China, as well as airports across the United States, the officials said.

— CNBC's Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.