The mission will also seek more details on how, where and when at least 1,700 health workers infected so far contracted the new virus, WHO officials said.

A worker installs plastic film to separate the front seats from the back, inside a vehicle for a car-hailing service as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China on February 14, 2020.
A worker installs plastic film to separate the front seats from the back, inside a vehicle for a car-hailing service as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China on February 14, 2020. (Reuters)

A World Health Organization-led joint mission with China will start its outbreak investigation work this weekend and will focus on how the new coronavirus is spreading and the severity of the disease, the WHO's director said on Friday.

The mission will also seek more details on how, where and when the more than 1,700 health workers infected so far contracted the new virus, WHO officials said.

"We expect the full team to touch down over the weekend," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a briefing.

"Particular attention will be paid to understanding transmission of the virus, the severity of disease and the impact of ongoing response measures."

Death toll nears 1,400 

Chinese authorities reported 5,090 new cases in mainland China on Friday, including more than 120 deaths, taking the total number of infected to 63,851, and the number of deaths from the disease, now called COVID-19, to 1,380.

Officials revealed that 1,716 health workers had been infected as of Tuesday, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken due to shortages of protective gear.

Japan reported its first death of an infected person — the third fatality outside mainland China after the Philippines and Hong Kong.

More than 500 people have now been contaminated in around 30 countries outside China, which includes the autonomous territories of Hong Kong and Macao.

Egypt confirms first case

Egypt confirmed its first coronavirus case and said the affected person was a foreigner who had been put into isolation at hospital.

The health ministry said in a statement that it had immediately informed the World Health Organization and had taken all necessary preventative measures. It did not give the nationality of the affected person or any other details.

US changes tone 

After initially praising Beijing for its response to the virus, Washington says it feels let down by a lack of transparency from China.

Larry Kudlow, a senior White House economic official, contradicts President Donald Trump's upbeat message towards Beijing, expressing disappointment that it has declined Washington's offer to send experts to China.

China has defended its record on transparency towards the international community in its response to the spread of the new virus.

Passengers leave Japanese ship 

The Japanese authorities start evacuating a quarantined cruise ship off Japan's coast, letting 11 passengers aged 80 and over or in poor health off the Diamond Princess who have tested negative for the virus.

More than 200 people on board the ship, the biggest centre of the virus outside China, have been diagnosed with the virus since it arrived off Japan on February 3 and was placed in quarantine.

End of French quarantine 

The first French nationals repatriated from China and placed in quarantine left the centre near the southern city of Marseille where they have been confined since January 31 after returning from Wuhan, the Chinese epicentre of the virus.

The 181 people concerned have been given certificates saying they are not contagious.

Air transport feels the pinch 

The outbreak could mean a reduction of $4-5 billion in worldwide airline revenue, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said.

The UN agency reported that 70 airlines have cancelled all international flights in and out of China and 50 others have reduced their operations.

Shell confirms Singapore virus case

Shell said on Friday a contractor working at its Singapore refinery had contracted coronavirus, as the city state reported its biggest jump in new cases so far.

The oil giant said earlier it had sent some staff home from its main office in Singapore after discovering another employee had been in contact with a carrier.

The company said its operations at both locations had been unaffected by the incidents.

Singapore on Friday reported 9 new cases of the virus, its biggest increase to date and bringing the total to 67.

The city-state has one of the highest tallies of the disease outside China.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies