COVID-19: Asia's early reactions

Nearly 3000 cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been confirmed around the world, following the first diagnosed cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. As cases continue to appear across continents, the Asia Media Centre rounds up media coverage from around Asia.


Two chartered planes are on their way to Wuhan from Japan today (Tuesday) to bring back Japanese citizens wanting to return home, Kyodo News reports. Roughly 710 Japanese people are registered as living in the region surrounding Wuhan.

The chartered planes are also carrying relief supplies and the government is considering sending a third plane to help with the evacuations.

Late last week, Japan’s foreign ministry issued a travel advisory, rising the alert level to a four and urging citizens not to travel to the region.

Within Japan, the country’s health ministry has confirmed four cases of coronavirus and concerns are rising that the tourism industry will suffer as a result of China’s ban on outbound group travel. The ban comes during celebrations of the Lunar New Year, traditionally a time when other Asian countries expect an influx of Chinese tourists.   

Read Japanese media reports:

Kyodo News: Japan to repatriate all citizens from virus-hit Wuhan

The Japan Times: Japan to designate coronavirus special infectious disease

The Japan Times: Japan firms brace for impact from China’s virus-related ban on outbound group travel


Four military airplanes are waiting to evacuate Thai citizens from Wuhan, the Bangkok Post reports.

On Tuesday, prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said while the planes were on standby China had not given permission for them to land, saying it “could control the situation”. Between 200 and 300 Thai citizens were in Wuhan.

On home ground, Thai economists are raising concerns over the expected impact on the economy. The Bangkok Post reports that in 2019, Chinese tourists spent almost $18 billion but with the travel ban in effect, experts are keeping a close eye on the industry.

Eight cases have been confirmed in Thailand.

Read Thai media reports:

Coconuts Bangkok: ‘I really want to go home’ says Thai student trapped in Wuhan

Nation Thailand: Meeting to discuss evacuation to Thais stranded in Wuhan


Five cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, with nearly 100 other suspected cases,  as new protective measures are put into place.

National Development Minster Lawrence Wong told reporters on Monday that given Singapore’s status as an international transport hub, stricter measures need to be put in place, such as an extended travel advisory on the entire Hubei Province.

Channel News Asia reports temperature screening will be used for all incoming flights and students and teachers must not go to schools if they’ve been to China in the last 14 days.

Read Singapore media reports:

Straits Times: 20 per cent of patients will become severely ill – infectious disease expert

Channel News Asia: Singapore must be psychologically prepared that Wuhan virus could be worse than SARS

Today Online: No new cases of Wuhan virus in Singapore; 92 suspect cases in total

South Korea

South Korean president Moon Jae-in has ordered officials to begin tracing all people that have flown into the country from Wuhan, Yonhap News Agency reports.

Officials are working on a number of pre-emptive measures against the spread of the virus, including a possible evacuation of citizens from Wuhan, mobilising military doctors and nurses and reviewing the effect of the virus on the economy.

Four cases have been confirmed in South Korea so far, with fear more will be on the way. Various outlets have reported the third and fourth cases were missed at the border as those infected were still asymptomatic, prompting concerns of more cases to come.

Read South Korea media reports:

Yonhap News Agency: South Korea sending chartered flight to evacuate citizens from Wuhan

Korea JoongAng Daily: Tourism braces for fallout from new virus


Thermal scanners at the border and isolation rooms are part of preparations in Indonesia for coronavirus and while there are no confirmed cases, officials are urging people to be vigilant for signs of the virus.

“Eat well, live healthily. If you have a cough, use a face mask,” health minister Terawan Agus Putranto told The Jakarta Post.

Read Indonesia media reports:

The Jakarta Post: Indonesians in locked-down Wuhan want to come home

Tempo: Lion Air sets up procedures to prevent coronavirus infection


The first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Cambodia.

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng confirmed a Chinese tourist travelling in a group was diagnosed with the virus on Monday. The three other people travelling with the tourist have so far tested negative for signs of coronavirus, the Phnom Penh Post reported.


Philippines aviation authorities have started denying visas to tourists arriving from Wuhan. On Monday, the Bureau of Immigration stopped issuing visa-upon-arrivals for tour groups coming from the Chinese city, according to the Philippine Star.

The newspaper reported there is currently only one suspected case of coronavirus in the country.