Coronavirus live news: China locks down Langfang city; Malaysia declares state of emergency – The Guardian

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Hello everyone. I am taking over the global live feed from London, bringing you all the latest on the coronavirus pandemic. Please contact me while I work today to share any comments or news tips.

Twitter: @sloumarsh
Instagram: sarah_marsh_journalist
Email: sarah.marsh@theguardian.com

Malaysia’s king has declared a months-long national state of emergency one day before a strict lockdown is imposed on millions of people, a decision that critics say will allow its unstable government to evade scrutiny and cling to power.

A statement by the national palace said Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had agreed to declare an emergency until 1 August following a request from the prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin. If infections are brought under control, the measures could be lifted more quickly.

The decision is expected to hand huge powers to Muhyiddin and his cabinet. A state of emergency would allow for parliament to be suspended, meaning the government would have the power to introduce laws without approval. Elections would also be put on hold:

About 1,200 players and staff from all corners of the globe will be subjected to what the Victorian government has described as the “strictest rules for tennis” in the world when they fly into Melbourne for the Australian Open from Thursday.

The tournament, which will begin on 8 February after warm-up events that start on 31 January, is the largest international sporting event to be held in Australia since the beginning of the pandemic and in effect will broadcast the country’s Covid-19 response to the world:

When the scientists on the World Health Organization’s mission to research the origins of Covid-19 touch down in China as expected on Thursday at the beginning of their investigation they are clear what they will – and what they will not – be doing.

They intend to visit Wuhan, the site of the first major outbreak of Covid-19, and talk to Chinese scientists who have been studying the same issue. They will want to see if there are unexamined samples from unexplained respiratory illnesses, and they will want to examine ways in which the virus might have jumped the species barrier to humans.

What the mission will not be, several of the scientists insist, is an exercise in “finger pointing at China” – something long demanded by the Trump administration and some of its allies.

While some of the scientists will travel to China, others will be part of a wider effort that has drawn in global experts in diseases.

The importance of being on the ground in China, of seeing sites associated with the Wuhan outbreak, was underlined by Fabian Leendertz, professor in the epidemiology of highly pathogenic microorganisms at Germany’s public health body, the Robert Koch Institute, and part of the team.

Leendertz has few illusions how difficult tracing the origin of Covid-19 will be.

Involved in tracking down the source of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in west Africa to a bat colony in a tree, he has also worked on identifying when measles may have first jumped to humans:

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Coronavirus live news: China locks down Langfang city; Malaysia declares state of emergency – The Guardian

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