(CNN) — What started as a mystery virus last month in Wuhan, China, has now killed nearly 1.300 people and infected thousands more around the world as of Wednesday.
There are now at least 15 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to CNN.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, although it is not yet considered a pandemic.
WREG will continue to post updates on this developing story right here to keep you informed with the latest information. Keep scrolling down for the latest information.
TUESDAY, FEB. 18
Coronavirus explained: What you need to know
A new Chinese coronavirus, a cousin of the SARS virus, has infected hundreds since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans.
“What we know is it causes pneumonia and then doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising, but then in terms of mortality, SARS kills 10% of the individuals,” Poon, a virologist at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong, said.
It’s not clear how deadly the Wuhan coronavirus will be, but fatality rates are currently lower than both MERS and SARS. Experts stress that it will change as the outbreak develops.
The World Health Organization offered guidance to countries on how they can prepare for it, including how to monitor for the sick and how to treat patients. Here’s what you should know about coronaviruses.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.
For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.
There are a handful of human coronaviruses that are known to be deadly.
Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as the MERS virus, was first reported in the Middle East in 2012 and also causes respiratory problems, but those symptoms are much more severe. Three to four out of every 10 patients infected with MERS died, according to the CDC.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, is the other coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms. First identified in the Guangdong province in southern China, according to the WHO, it causes respiratory problems but can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, respiratory distress and kidney failure. Depending on the patient’s age, the death rate with SARS ranged from 0-50% of the cases, with older people being the most vulnerable.
The Wuhan coronavirus is currently thought to be more mild than SARS and MERS and takes longer to develop symptoms. Patients to date have typically experienced a mild cough for a week followed by shortness of breath, causing them to visit the hospital, explains Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford. So far, around 15% to 20% of cases have become severe, requiring, for example, ventilation in the hospital.
How it spreads
Viruses can spread from human contact with animals. Scientists think MERS started in camels, according to the WHO. With SARS, scientists suspected civet cats were to blame. Officials do not yet know what animal may have caused the current outbreak in Wuhan.
When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person’s secretions, such as droplets in a cough.
Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. The virus can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Caregivers can sometimes be exposed by handling a patient’s waste, according to the CDC.
Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed for the Wuhan coronavirus, but experts are now trying to understand who is transmitting it most, who is at most risk and whether transmission is occurring mostly in hospitals or in the community. SARS and MERS were largely transmitted inside hospitals, Horby said. Some people are also considered to be “superspreaders.”
Who is affected?
MERS, SARS and the Wuhan coronavirus appear to cause more severe disease in older people, though uncertainty remains around the latest outbreak. Of the cases of Wuhan coronavirus reported so far, none are yet confirmed to be among children, Horby said. The average age is people 40 or over, he said.
There is no specific treatment, but research is underway. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early. If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your doctor.
Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication. The CDC says a room humidifier or a hot shower can help with a sore throat or cough.
Drink plenty of fluids, get rest and sleep as much as possible.
Should you worry about the Wuhan coronavirus?
The Wuhan coronavirus fatality rate is lower than for SARS and MERS, but still comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, explains Neil Ferguson, professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London.
“It is a significant concern, globally,” Ferguson says, noting that we don’t fully understand the severity.
Ferguson believes the fatality rate is likely to be lower due to an “iceberg” of milder cases we are yet to find, but he highlights that novel viruses spread much faster through a population.
How can you can prevent it?
There is no vaccine to protect against this family of viruses, at least not yet. Trials for a MERS vaccine are underway. The US National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine against the new virus, but it will be months until clinical trials get underway and more than a year until it might become available.
You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds.
Awareness is key. If you are sick and have reason to believe it may be the Wuhan coronavirus due to travel to the region or coming into contact with someone who has been there, you should let a health care provider know and seek treatment early.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.
If traveling to China, be aware of symptoms and avoid live animal markets, which is where the latest outbreak began in Wuhan.
Coronavirus and pregnancy
In pregnant women, the more severe versions of MERS and SARS coronaviruses can be serious. There are cases in which a woman infected with MERS had a stillbirth, a 2014 study showed.
SARS-associated illnesses were linked to cases of spontaneous abortion, maternal death and critical maternal illness, a 2004 study found.
Coronavirus and cats, dogs and other animals
Pets can catch coronaviruses and the infections can become severe. Sometimes the viruses can lead to deadly diseases. One can cause feline infectious peritonitis in cats and something called a pantropic canine coronavirus can infect cats and dogs, according to a 2011 study.
Cats can catch SARS, but none of the infected cats developed symptoms, according to the study. The feline coronavirus typically is asymptomatic, but can cause mild diarrhea. Feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, can cause flu-like symptoms for a cat, but can also be more serious for cats and can cause organ failure, but it is not contagious and will not spread from animal to animal or person to person.
These particular dog and cat viruses don’t seem to spread to humans.
MONDAY, FEB. 17
Apple warns of ‘iPhone supply shortages’ because of coronavirus
(CNN) — Apple warned investors on Monday that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is hurting its business more than previously expected by limiting how many devices it can make and sell in China.
In an investor update, Apple said it no longer expects to meet the revenue guidance it provided last month for the upcoming March quarter. “Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated,” the company said.
Much of Apple’s manufacturing operations are based in China, which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly half the country’s population are living under some form of travel restrictions.
“The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues,” Apple said. “These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide.”
Apple temporarily closed all of its stores in China. While the company said it is “gradually reopening” stores, those locations have reduced hours and that foot traffic is “very low.”
The company expects the business disruption to be temporary. In general, iPhone sales are surging, up nearly 8% to $56 billion in the last three months of 2019.
Major international companies have closed offices and factories in response to the deadly virus. Some are starting to reopen, but the situation is still far from business as usual.
Huawei, the country’s top smartphone maker, recently reopened its Shenzhen headquarters where it employs about 40,000 people, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person said its decision was in line with local guidelines that authorized businesses to reopen.
But employees returned to a dramatically different environment than the one they left in January. When they clock in each morning, Huawei workers must now provide details about their body temperature and whereabouts for the last two weeks, the person said. There are also temperature checks at office buildings and in parking lots, while face masks and hand sanitizers are dispensed throughout its campus.
Baidu, China’s top search engine provider, said recently that it was “gradually” reopening its offices. But employees who come in “must meet quarantine conditions, and they can only return to work in the campus after approval,” the company said in an internal memo seen by CNN Business.
— CNN Business’ Clare Duffy, Michelle Toh and Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.
™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.
Americans evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship get stuck on buses with no bathrooms and fly 10 hours in cargo planes
(CNN) — More than 300 Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship for almost two weeks finally headed home Sunday night. But their journey back to the US felt like trading one ordeal for another.
“They have sent over a dozen emails assuring us that there would not be an additional quarantine, and they just told us that we’d be re-quarantined for 14 more days,” said a sobbing Karey Maniscalco.
“I’ve just lost a whole month of my life.”
Others, like Gay Courter from Florida, were grateful to the US government.
“I want to go somewhere where I feel safe, and that is under American jurisdiction,” she said. “I just want to thank President Trump and the US government. … There has been a lot of silence, but now we realize silence has been putting together a very good plan.”
More than 3,600 passengers have been stuck on the cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, since February 4.
Since then, at least 456 people on the Diamond Princess tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,700 people and infected more than 71,000 others worldwide.
CNN got an exclusive look at the journey from the ship to a convoy of buses to US government chartered flights that took more than 300 Americans to military bases in California and Texas.
As they prepared to board the two planes, an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told them not to expect a normal flight.
“This is a converted cargo 747,” the official said, wearing full protective gear. “So there is less insulation than a regular passenger jet. So bring extra layers to stay warm.”
Before they boarded the planes, the passengers sat for hours on buses, with no access to bathrooms. A health worker at the front of a bus was covered head-to-toe in protective medical gear, just like everyone else who comes in contact with quarantined passengers.
“We’re just waiting. I don’t really know what we’re waiting for,” Maniscalco said from behind her face mask on the bus.
Finally, they were allowed off the buses and onto the tarmac at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Exhausted cheers erupted.
Once on board the aircraft, they sat in temporary seats with makeshift bathrooms and no passenger windows.
“First class, baby,” one woman joked.
The flights carried 14 passengers who tested positive for coronavirus, but who weren’t showing symptoms.
US health officials apparently learned of the positive test results after those passengers boarded the buses and made a last-minute decision allowing them to board the flights.
The infected passengers were put in a specialized containment area on the flights, isolating them from the rest of the passengers.
But Maniscalco said she still worried about her health.
“It’s not good conditions,” she said on the plane, still wearing her face mask.
“No one on here has had their temperature taken by the federal government, or any government for that matter. So we’re all sitting in really close, tight quarters. Everyone’s sitting next to each other. I have a girl sitting here in just a minute. It seems dangerous.”
After she landed, Maniscalco had a more optimistic view of the situation.
“Every single person we encountered was the most kind and thoughtful person,” she said.
“They knew we were ornery and scared, and they did everything in their power to make us feel at ease. They kept saying that they knew we’ve been through a great ordeal and how stressed out we were, and now we are safe.”
Japan confirms 99 more cases of new virus on cruise ship
JAPAN — Japanese officials have confirmed 99 more people infected by the new virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454.
The ministry has been carrying out tests on passengers and crew on the ship, docked in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo.
The 14-day quarantine for those on the ship was due to end Wednesday.
Outside China, the ship has had the largest number of cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus that emerged in China late last year.
Novel coronavirus death toll tops 1,770 as US passengers on quarantined cruise ship fly home
The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus has risen to 1,770, with an additional 100 deaths reported Sunday in Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak.
There have been more than 71,000 cases worldwide, with the vast majority of those in mainland China. The largest outbreaks outside of China have been in Singapore and Japan, where the Diamond Princess cruise ship has been docked for almost two weeks now, while health officials tested the thousands of passengers and crew on board.
So far, more than 350 cases have been confirmed aboard the ship, with an additional 70 on Sunday. More are expected before the official end of the quarantine period, after which Japanese officials said it would take two or three days for passengers to disembark, during which they will be tested once again.
Hundreds of Americans on board were able to leave Sunday, on a specially-chartered flight organized by the US government. They are swapping one quarantine for another, however, with US authorities saying Saturday that on their return stateside, the passengers will have to undergo another two-weeks of observation and testing at one of two military bases.
The move sparked anger from many passengers, who saw it as yet another delay to getting back to their normal lives. “It’s like a prison sentence for something I did not do,” passenger Karey Mansicalco told CNN from her cabin. “They are holding us hostage for absolutely no reason.”
Taiwanese authorities on Sunday reported the island’s first death from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The man in his mid-60s tested had a history of hepatitis B and diabetes and no history of traveling abroad. His death came as another case was confirmed in Taiwan, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 20.
While the vast majority of deaths have occurred in mainland China, there have been fatal cases of the virus in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan and France. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than two dozen countries worldwide, affecting nearly every continent.
“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), told CNN last week. “We don’t know a lot about this virus. This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”
While more research is needed to fully understand the virus, Redfield said that the CDC has focused on surveillance to track cases and containment strategies to slow possible progression of the virus in the US.
Slowing progression gives more time for researchers to work on developing and testing a vaccine and antiviral drugs for this novel coronavirus. Currently, there is no known cure for the virus.
When did Xi know?
As the outbreak has worsened, officials in Hubei have faced increasing scrutiny about whether they intentionally downplayed reports of the virus in the early weeks, or ignored evidence that it was being spread from person-to-person, delaying any efforts to contain it before it was too late.
Multiple officials have been removed from their positions, while others have offered to resign. It had been thought that any blame for the delay in response was contained to Hubei itself, and that central authorities were as in the dark as the international community until late January, when Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped in himself, ordering “all out efforts” to rein in the virus’ spread.
Over the weekend, however, a transcript of a speech Xi gave earlier this month was published. In it, Xi said he first “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus” on January 7.
While the speech underlines that Xi has been personally directing the response to the outbreak — something that has been repeatedly emphasized in state media — the revelation that he knew about the virus when Hubei officials were publicly downplaying its danger, exposes him to the risk of being blamed, along with them, for failing to properly handle the outbreak in its early weeks.
It also raises additional questions for the World Health Organization (WHO), which has previously praised China for its “transparency” and for sounding the alarm early and enabling a global response to the virus.
Back to work
China is not only sending mixed messages over when and what Xi knew. With the country facing increasing economic pressure — which could have global ramifications — many cities are attempting to return to something like normality.
Speaking last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged continued efforts “to advance science-based epidemic control, and resume production in an orderly way to better support outbreak response and preserve normal economic and social order.”
A specially customized train left Guizhou in western China for Hangzhou carrying around 300 migrant workers, state media reported. Carriages have “strict temperature monitoring, better ventilation and scattered seating,” and it is hoped it could be a model for returning workers to travel while not being exposed to potential infection.
At the same time, however, cities and provinces most affected by the outbreak are facing stringent new controls, on top of existing lockdowns which have left people trapped inside their homes and unable to work.
On Sunday, Hubei announced new measures, including province-wide traffic restrictions on all non-emergency vehicles and the closure of all non-essential public venues. Already there are reports of residential compounds being completely sealed off, with no one able to go in or out except in rare circumstances.
Health screening is to be stepped up, with officials going door-to-door to look for new cases. Anyone displaying potential symptoms “should be immediately reported to the local community or village,” the government said in a circular announcing the new restrictions.
Anyone suspected or confirmed to be infected with the virus, their close contacts, or anyone with a fever, should be “timely treated or placed in quarantine instead of self-isolation at home,” it said.
On the economic side, Hubei said that “companies should not resume production unless allowed by local epidemic prevention authorities.”
14 passengers on US charter flights evacuating the Diamond Princess have tested positive for coronavirus
(CNN) — Fourteen passengers aboard US chartered flights evacuating Americans and their families from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for novel coronavirus, according to a joint statement from the US Departments of State and Health and Human Services.
The passengers are among the more than 300 people removed from the ship, which is docked off the Japanese port city of Yokohama, Sunday night and flown to military bases in the United States.
US officials were notified that they had tested positive for coronavirus during the evacuation process, after passengers had disembarked the ship, the agencies said in the joint statement Monday. The passengers had been tested two to three days before the evacuation flights, the statement said.
“After consultation with HHS officials, including experts from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the State Department made the decision to allow the 14 individuals, who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process,” the agencies said.
One charter flight carrying evacuated Americans arrived at Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield, California, around 11:28 p.m. local time Sunday. A second arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas at 3:56 a.m. local time Monday.
The passengers who tested positive were isolated from the other passengers during the flights, the statement said. And all passengers are being “closely monitored” throughout the flight.
“Any who become symptomatic will be moved to the specialized containment area, where they will be treated,” the statement said.
After the flights land, any passengers that developed symptoms on the flights and those who had already tested positive will be transported to “an appropriate location for continued isolation and care.”
The remaining passengers will remain under quarantine for 14 days.
Passengers arriving to Travis Air Force Base will be housed in the same facility as evacuees who arrived from Wuhan earlier this month, a spokesperson for the base told CNN. New evacuees will be kept in a separate area of the Westwind Inn on the base, the spokesperson said.
Before the announcement about the infected flight passengers, some Americans aboard the Diamond Princess said they didn’t want to take a chance being evacuated for fear they would be subject to possible infection.
Sacramento resident Matthew Smith told CNN affiliate KOVR that he would rather deal with issues in Japan than be evacuated and quarantined in the United States.
“We decided we would just face whatever consequences here rather than exposing ourselves to that situation,” Smith told the affiliate.”It kind of didn’t make any sense if the us was fearful that these were infected people which is why they’re going to quarantine them for another 2 weeks to have thrown them all together”
Smith’s wife Katherine Codekas was met with some surprise when she told authorities that she and her husband weren’t going to go with the other American evacuees, KOVR reported.
“They came back around again and I said no we’re not going and they very sincerely wished us luck but there was a little look of surprise on their face,” Codekas explained to the affiliate.
“You know, it’s not like we’re the last helicopter off the roof top in Ho Chi Mihn City,” she told KOVR. “We’re on a boat and we’re watching people go away and people just make different choices about how they want to confront the virus.”
SUNDAY, FEB. 16
How to protect yourself from coronavirus
Even worse: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects this virus to keep spreading beyond this year.
Here’s what makes this strain so unusual and what you can do to protect yourself.
Why is this coronavirus different?
But this deadly strain is called a “novel” coronavirus because it has not previously been identified in humans.
It’s unusual for several reasons:
— Scientists believe this type of coronavirus jumped from a different animal to humans, which is rare.
— An infected person might not show symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure. That’s especially worrisome because this novel coronavirus can be transmitted while a person still isn’t showing any symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and trouble breathing are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
“It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties,” the World Health Organization says.
“More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”
How can you protect yourself?
In general, the public should do “what you do every cold and flu season,” said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state — where the first US case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed.
That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If you’re the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don’t use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.
WHO also recommends staying at least 3 feet or 1 meter away from anyone who may be infected.
Is there a cure for novel coronavirus?
No. Patients can be treated and may recover from their symptoms, but there is no known cure for the novel coronavirus yet.
What about a vaccine?
Scientists are working on a vaccine, but don’t expect it anytime soon.
The US National Institutes of Health is trying to develop one, but says it will take at least a few months before clinical trials start and more than a year until a vaccine might actually become available.
Separately, scientists in Texas, New York and China are also trying to create a vaccine, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
But the challenge is daunting, Hotez said.
“The lesson we’ve learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats.”
SATURDAY, FEB. 15
US to evacuate Americans on cruise ship quarantined in Japan from coronavirus outbreak
(CNN) — The US government is preparing to evacuate Americans who have been quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan for over a week, after dozens of people on board tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.
The US embassy in Tokyo on Saturday sent an email to Americans on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship detailing plans for a voluntary evacuation for US citizens and their immediate family from the ship to take place Sunday evening local time.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the US’ plans.
Over 3,600 people, including 428 Americans, have been stuck on the cruise ship docked in Yokohama since February 4 in what has become the largest outbreak of the virus outside of mainland China. At least 24 Americans are among the 219 people infected with coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise.
The email from the US embassy, obtained by CNN from a passenger onboard the ship, says that the US government “recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that US citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring.”
Those who choose to return to the United States on the charter aircraft will be required to undergo another 14 days of quarantine. “We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease,” the email reads.
Charter aircraft will arrive in Japan in the evening of February 16, according to the email. Buses will transport the Americans directly from the Yokohama port to an unspecified airport.
Passengers choosing to return on the charter flight will be screened for symptoms of the virus.
Americans who have already tested positive for coronavirus, as well as those showing symptoms of the virus, will not be able to board the aircraft, and will continue to receive treatment in Japan.
The aircraft will land in the US at Travis Air Force Base in California, with some passengers continuing onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
Roughly 380 Americans and their families on the ship will be offered seats on two charter planes to the US organized by the State Department, Henry Walke, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, told the Journal on Friday.
Those who choose not to take the charter flights “will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time,” which the CDC will have final say in the matter.
The Japanese government said Saturday that it “appreciates” the US’ decision to offer voluntary evacuation to American citizens onboard the Diamond Princess.
“The Government of Japan believes that the measures taken by the U.S. Government will help mitigate the Government of Japan’s burden regarding medical response in the ‘Diamond Princess’ and appreciates such measures,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.
Other passengers on the Diamond Princess will be disembarked over several days beginning February 21, and the crew will likely begin their own quarantine once all passengers have left the ship, Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, told passengers in a letter read by the ship’s captain.
Passengers who have met the Japanese Ministry of Health’s criteria for being at high-risk of getting infected with the virus have been allowed to disembark from the ship and spend the remainder of their quarantine ashore in Japanese government housing.
Since it was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, has killed more than 1,500 people and infected more than 67,000 people globally, the vast majority in mainland China.
FRIDAY, FEB. 14
China reports major drop in new virus cases; 143 new deaths
BEIJING (AP) — China reported Saturday a figure of 2,641 new virus cases, a major drop from the higher numbers in recent days since a broader diagnostic method was implemented.
The number of new deaths rose slightly to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523. The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to a notice from China’s National Health Commission.
COVID-19, a disease stemming from a new form of coronavirus, has spread to more than 24 countries since December, when the first infections appeared in central China.
Saturday marks the second day the number of new COVID-19 cases fell since a spike Thursday, when the hardest-hit province of Hubei began including clinical diagnoses in its official count. Using the wider scope of classification, the central Chinese province reported 15,152 cases, including 13,332 that were diagnosed using doctors’ analyses and lung imaging, as opposed to the prior standard of laboratory testing.
Hubei health authorities said in the notice that the new method was adopted to facilitate earlier treatment for those suspected of infection.
“The current fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic is a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Communist Party Central Committee meeting Friday, according to state media.
“In response to the shortcomings and deficiencies exposed by the epidemic, (the government) should work to strengthen areas of weakness and close up loopholes,” Xi said.
China has imposed unprecedented measures in a sweeping campaign to contain the virus. At the outbreak’s epicenter in the central province of Hubei, cities with a combined population of more than 60 million have been placed under lockdown, with outbound transportation halted and virtually all public activities suspended.
People returning to Beijing will now have to isolate themselves either at home or in a concentrated area for medical observation, said a notice from the Chinese capital’s prevention and control work group published by state media late Friday.
The notice warns there will be legal consequences for those who don’t comply with the 14-day quarantine. It did not elaborate on how the isolation will be enforced. While Beijing returnees were previously ordered to “self-quarantine” for two weeks, that measure allowed for occasional outings and implementation varied across neighborhoods.
Chinese officials have warned that COVID-19 may spread further as migrants return to their jobs in cities or other provinces after a prolonged Lunar New Year holiday.
Associated Press researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.
THURSDAY, FEB. 13
CDC director: Novel coronavirus ‘is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year’
(CNN) — As an outbreak of a novel coronavirus has swept through Hubei province, China, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been preparing for its worst case scenario — a widespread outbreak of illnesses in the United States.
“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview on Thursday.
“We don’t know a lot about this virus,” he said. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”
As of Thursday, there have been 15 cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed in seven states: eight in California; two in Illinois; and one in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Texas.
This ‘will become a community virus’
While more research is needed to fully understand the virus, Redfield told Gupta that the CDC has focused on surveillance to track cases and containment strategies to slow possible progression of the virus in the United States. Slowing progression gives more time for researchers to work on developing and testing a vaccine and antiviral drugs for this novel coronavirus. Currently, there is no known cure for the virus.
“The containment phase is really to give us more time. This virus will become a community virus at some point in time, this year or next year,” Redfield said. “We don’t have any evidence that this coronavirus is really embedded in the community at this time, but with that said, we want to intensify our surveillance so that we’re basing those conclusions based on data.”
The containment strategy refers to efforts to prevent widespread transmission of the coronavirus in the United States, including having people with confirmed cases stay in isolation and placing restrictions on travel between affected areas in the world. Such containment measures were used widely during the SARS global outbreak of 2003, during which 8,098 people worldwide became sick and of those, 774 died, according to the CDC.
Due to the current novel coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration has put in place travel restrictions that block foreign nationals from entering the United States if they visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival to the United States.
Restrictions also apply to US citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in the two weeks prior to their return to the United States. Upon their return, those citizens will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days.
World Health Organization officials and other experts have criticized travel restrictions on foreign nationals, even arguing that such restrictions could backfire.
“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus said last week during a media briefing in Geneva.
US officials have defended the government’s response, saying they’re taking important steps to prepare for the virus and slow its spread — and that the timing of their efforts is key.
“Frankly, some people criticized when we decided that we wanted to temporarily suspend travel into the United States from individuals who were not Americans or permanent residents who had been in the hot zone in the last 14 days. Some people didn’t think that that was what they would do,” Redfield told Gupta on Thursday.
“Well, we felt very strongly that our obligation was to do all we can to protect the American public,” Redfield said. “I would rather be criticized for over-protecting America than under-protecting America at this stage.”
Regarding the travel restrictions on foreign nationals, Gupta asked, “Obviously, Dr. Redfield, the virus doesn’t discriminate based on race. Why do we?”
In response, Redfield spoke more to the restrictions on US citizens, saying, “The issue here was first a strong commitment to take care of the Americans that are going to come back, whether they happen to potentially have this virus or not — and you saw that with the over 800 individuals that the State Department has repatriated and we’ve assisted in that.”
Concerns about the virus’ spread
When it comes to preventing spread of the virus and learning more about the pathogen, Redfield told Gupta that he thinks asymptomatic transmission of the novel coronavirus is possible and concerning.
In other words, Redfield said that an infected person not showing symptoms could still transmit the virus to someone else, based on what he has learned from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There’s been good communication with our colleagues to confirm asymptomatic infection, to confirm asymptomatic transmission, to be able to get a better handle on the clinical spectrum of illness in China. What we don’t know though is how much of the asymptomatic cases are driving transmission,” Redfield said.
“What I’ve learned in the last two weeks is that the spectrum of this illness is much broader than was originally presented. There’s much more asymptomatic illness,” Redfield said. “A number of the confirmed cases that we confirmed actually just presented with a little sore throat.”
Weeks into the outbreak, CDC still not invited to China
Meanwhile, Redfield said that the CDC has been eager to help China in its efforts to fight this outbreak. Nearly six weeks after the CDC first offered to help China with the coronavirus outbreak, the offer still has not been accepted.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus was first identified in early January.
“There’s a lot of information we don’t know — that’s why I offered to provide assistance, direct assistance, and send our CDC folks over there back on January 6 to really help them gather that information and also to help us see the information first hand that we need to help make the right public health recommendations for our nation,” Redfield said.
“That letter has not been responded to yet by the official Chinese government,” he said. “We do believe that we’re the best in the world in this space and we’re ready to help and assist them, but they’re an independent nation that has to make that decision that they’re going to invite us in.”
According to WHO, there are more than 47,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, with the vast majority in mainland China.
Canceling Tokyo Olympics ‘not being considered’ amid coronavirus outbreak, say organizers
(CNN) — There are no plans to cancel the Tokyo 2020 Games despite the novel coronavirus outbreak in Asia, Olympic organizers have confirmed.
The virus has so far claimed the lives of 1,350 people and infected over 60,000 worldwide, with the vast majority of cases reported in mainland China.
“I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered,” Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said in a press conference Thursday, PA Media reports.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) member John Coates added that organizers are working “to ensure that all of the athletes, and all of the people who come to Japan for the games are not going to be affected, and that all the necessary precautions are being taken.”
The Games will take place between July 24 and August 9 this year.
A number of sporting events have already been impacted by the virus.
World Rugby confirmed Thursday that the Hong Kong Sevens and the Singapore Sevens have been moved from April to October 10-11 and 16-18 respectively.
“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” said a statement.
“This prudent decision has been taken in order to help protect the global rugby community and the wider public and was taken based on the World Health Organization and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines.
“The decision is fully supported by stakeholders, including unions and commercial partners.”
Fans who bought tickets for either event will be able to attend the rescheduled tournaments or will be given a full refund, World Rugby added.
The Hong Kong Sevens is the highlight of the city’s sporting calendar that regularly sees 120,000 fans in attendance across the weekend.
On Wednesday, the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Shaghai on April 19, was postponed, while the LPGA canceled two golf events in Thailand and Singapore scheduled to tee off later this month.
The 15th US case of coronavirus is an evacuee at an Air Force base in Texas
TEXAS — The 15th case of the novel coronavirus in the United States is one of the evacuees at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
The patient has been under federal quarantine since arriving in the US from China on a chartered flight on February 7, the CDC said. The person has been isolated and is receiving medical care at a hospital.
This is the first case of the coronavirus confirmed in Texas. Eight cases have been confirmed in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. There are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California. Two California cases are among evacuees from China.
Earlier this week, 195 evacuees were released from federally mandated quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in California. No one in that group had tested positive for the novel coronavirus
According to the CDC, more than 600 people evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, remain quarantined in the US.
Deaths in China from coronavirus top 1,300 with big jump in cases as country expands diagnosis
The Chinese province at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak reported a record spike in deaths Thursday, bringing the total number to more than 1,300 people globally, as experts warned the epidemic could “create havoc” in less prepared countries.
Health authorities in Hubei announced an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 cases of the virus, known officially as Covid-19, as of Thursday morning, the largest single-day rise since the epidemic began and almost 10 times the number of cases confirmed the previous day.
The government explained the spike as due to a change in how cases are tabulated — the total will now include “clinically diagnosed cases” after rising numbers of residents complained about the difficulty in getting tested and treated for the virus.
“Clinically diagnosed cases” are those patients who demonstrate all the symptoms of Covid-19 but have been unable to be scientifically tested, or died before they were tested. The hope is that more people will be able to receive treatment by allowing doctors to diagnose them with the virus.
Almost 34,000 patients have been hospitalized across Hubei, the central Chinese province of which Wuhan is capital, including 1,400 or so in a critical condition. So far, 3,441 patients have recovered and been discharged.
Globally, the virus has infected more than 60,000 people, with the vast majority of cases in mainland China. On Thursday, China said it has confirmed 59,804 cases on the mainland, an increase of 15,152 cases from the previous day.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the country now stands at 1,367, according to China’s National Health Commission.
Only two deaths have occurred outside of mainland China.
World Health Organization (WHO) officials described China’s decision to broaden their definition of what constitutes a confirmed case as a necessary measure.
“When the situation is evolving, you change your definition just to make sure you can monitor the disease accurately, and this is what they have done recently — change the case definition to incorporate more cases that were not in the initial case definition, but also integrate cases that are both asymptomatic or with little symptom,” Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of WHO’s Infectious Hazards Management Department, said during a press conference Wednesday.
However, the major increase in the number of deaths and cases of the coronavirus appears to dash hopes that the outbreak was leveling off. It comes as additional cases were confirmed on the quarantined cruise ship docked in the Japanese city of Yokohama, and in the US, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the country “can and should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold.”
In the UK too, a new case was confirmed Wednesday in the capital London, with health officials warning that more were likely to follow.
WHO officials had previously expressed some optimism at the apparently stabilizing outbreak in China, but even then they cautioned that the virus could still spread elsewhere.
“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.
“We have to invest in preparedness,” Tedros said, adding that richer countries should help invest in countries with a weaker health system. He warned the virus could “create havoc” if it reaches a country whose health system is not capable of handling such an epidemic.
Case number confusion
The massive increase in the number of cases exposes confusion over just how to diagnose the virus globally, not least in central China, where residents with symptoms had expressed frustration that they were not able to get treatment due to a delay in diagnosis.
Those delays could be significant, with some reports of patients waiting up to a week for their results, as the testing kits were sent from Hubei to a lab in Beijing. While there have been efforts to speed up the process, scientific testing of samples is difficult and time consuming, and allowing doctors to diagnose patients will enable far more people to receive treatment, including in several purpose-built hospitals dedicated to treating the virus in Wuhan.
Delays in testing are not confined to China. In the US, the CDC currently requires that all potential samples are shipped to its central laboratories for full testing.
In its guidance for hospitals, the CDC also warns that “in the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.” However, it adds that if a person is showing symptoms but tests negative for Covid-19, it is likely that the virus is not the cause of their illness.
Speaking at a US Senate hearing on Wednesday, Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said that testing was not been done aggressively enough and should be expanded to cover more symptoms.
“I think that we should be leaning in very aggressively to broaden diagnostic screening right now, particularly in communities where there was a lot of immigration, where these outbreaks could emerge, to identify them early enough that they’ll be small enough that we can intervene to prevent more epidemic spread in this country,” he said.
Gottlieb pointed to Singapore, which has now identified around 50 cases, to make a point about the US, which receives similar numbers of travelers from China every year.
“On a statistical basis, there’s no reason to believe that if Singapore got implants of this virus, we didn’t. You would expect them to be identified earlier in Singapore” as a densely populated island, he said. “But it does suggest, at least to me, that we probably have some community spread right now that we just haven’t identified yet.”
He also questioned the quality of data coming out of China — something many outside observers have been doing, and the radical shift in how cases are diagnosed will likely not help.
“I don’t trust the reporting in China, and I also believe that the China numbers reflect the most severe cases, so we’re getting a skewed view of the case fatality rate and how severe this is,” Gottlieb said.
Counting milder or asymptomatic cases could make the case fatality rate drop significantly, he added, but “even a case fatality rate of .2 or .5 could be catastrophic if this is highly contagious and spreads around the world.”
Speaking at the same hearing, Asha George, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, said that China may be limited in its testing and reporting resources, versus simply “a lack of desire on the part of the Chinese government to report.”
In public health schools, George said students are taught to assume they don’t have complete data and account for cases they don’t yet know about.
“We’re often taught to multiply by seven or eight times what you’ve been told. For every one case you see, there are seven or eight out there that you don’t,” she explained. “So that means actually we’d be looking at hundreds of thousands of cases. I think that’s the scale at which we should be planning.”
Cruise ship misery
Outside of China, the largest single outbreak remains on a cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama, south of Tokyo.
Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said an additional 44 virus cases had been confirmed on board the
Diamond Princess as of Thursday, bringing the total number on board to 219.
Kato did not give a breakdown by nationality of the new cases, nor of passengers versus crew. CNN’s latest tally indicates that at least 24 Americans have tested positive for the virus aboard the ship.
The Health Minister also said that people who had tested negative for the virus and are over 80 years old, or have a non-virus medical condition requiring attention, will be allowed to leave the ship and move to a government medical facility, if they wish. He did not give a timeline for that process. Already on Tuesday, an unknown number of passengers with non-virus medical conditions were allowed to disembark.
Frustration is growing, however, among the thousands passengers and crew on board, who have been unable to leave the ship for a week now.
Speaking to CNN, one crew member said she fears the crew are at greater risk of being exposed to the outbreak because they are not being quarantined in the same way as the passengers and are having to continue working to take care of the guests.
Sonali Thakkar, 24, from Mumbai, said she and her colleague — who she shares a cabin with — became ill with a headache, cough and a fever two days ago. Her supervisor told her to stop working and she is currently staying in her cabin in isolation.
“I’m not eating very well and have been having fevers,” she told CNN in a Skype call Wednesday. “We all are really scared and tense.”
Thakkar fears that the virus may be spreading around the crew members. At least five have already tested positive for the virus.
There was more positive news for another cruise ship, which has been struggling to find a port to dock at for several days after countries turned it away due to fears over a potential coronavirus outbreak.
The MS Westerdam had been in a holding pattern at sea after it was denied entry by Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan despite the ship having no confirmed cases on board. It is due to arrive in Cambodia Thursday morning, after authorities there approved it to dock there.
Tedros, the WHO director, thanks Cambodia for welcoming the ship.
“This is an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for,” the WHO director-general said, adding that “outbreaks can bring out the best and worst in people” and that “stigmatizing individuals or entire nations does nothing but harm the response.”
A second case of the coronavirus has been confirmed among US evacuees at California base
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Ca. — A new case of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed among US evacuees at a San Diego County, California air base, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
The patient is among a group that was under a federal quarantine order after returning on a State Department-chartered flight that arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on February 7, the CDC said.
This is the second evacuee from Wuhan, China, under quarantine at the base to test positive for novel coronavirus. The first patient arrived at the base on February 5. She was the first US evacuee from China to be known to be infected with the novel coronavirus.
“The first and second patients arrived on different planes and were housed in separate facilities; there are no epidemiologic links between them,” the CDC said in a news release.
The two patients are being cared for at UC San Diego Health, hospital officials said.
“At this time there is no indication of person-to-person spread of this virus at the quarantine facility,” said Dr. Chris Braden, who leads the CDC on-site team.
Braden said the CDC will investigate and work to detect and contain any cases of infection.
Errors by a hospital in San Diego and the CDC led to the first patient being sent back to base instead of isolation at the hospital, according to a health official familiar with the situation.
The hospital sent their specimens to a CDC lab in Atlanta for testing. According to the source, three of the four specimens were incorrectly labeled upon arrival and so they were not tested. The CDC lab did not realize the specimens were from the Miramar patients.
When no results were reported back, CDC staffers mistakenly gave UC San Diego Health the results of other patients who tested negative. That mistake led to the Miramar patients being transferred back to the base Sunday afternoon.
After they arrived back at the base, the mistake was discovered and the tests were run on the three Miramar patients.
The results for the woman came back positive, and she was transported back to UC San Diego Health on Monday morning, where she was in isolation. The woman has had a very mild illness, according to the source, with no fever and a slight cough. The other three patients tested negative.
The newest case is the 14th confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the United States and the eighth case in California.
The health authority in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital, reported 242 more people died of the coronavirus in the province Wednesday, raising the death toll in the epicenter since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak to 1,310. The global death toll is at least 1,357, with one death in Hong Kong and one death in the Philippines.
The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases has now exceeded 60,015 with the vast majority of cases in mainland China.
More than 1,300 people have died from the virus and more than 60,015 people have been infected. The vast majority of infections have been in mainland China.
The World Health Organization and the United States have declared the outbreak a public health emergency, but US officials have urged residents not to panic.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 12
No coronavirus outbreak in Mid-South, but health officials monitoring 20 people
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department says it’s monitoring 20 people who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus while overseas.
However, local health officials say there is no outbreak in the Mid-South, and the flu virus is a much larger threat locally.
“Currently, there is no outbreak of the coronavirus in Shelby County, Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas,” said health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph. “We’re really encouraging people not to become hysterical.”
Randolph said the 20 people under monitoring have not shown any symptoms, but the department will check on them after 14 days. This is only a precautionary measure as recommended by the CDC, and Randolph said people locally have little to worry about.
“They’re not quarantined,” Randolph said. “What we’re asking is that they self-isolate.”
Randolph said, despite the threat of the coronavirus, residents have a higher chance of catching the flu.
To date, the coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people worldwide, infecting more than 40,000 people, the Shelby County Health Department says.
But since the start of flu season, Randolph said, influenza has killed more than 10,000 people in the U.S. and has infected nearly 20 million people worldwide.
He said the chance of someone in the Mid-South getting the coronavirus is very low.
“Your greatest fear needs to be the flu,” Randolph said.
Health officials said the two viruses have similar symptoms such as cough and fever, and they encourage everyone to seek medical attention immediately if they feel they have been exposed.
The Shelby County Health Department is still offering free flu vaccines at all health clinics.
— Quametra Wilborn, WREG
This is where Wuhan coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide
The Wuhan coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. At least 1,100 people have died and more than 45,000 people have been infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
China’s National Health Commission has confirmed the virus can be transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission” — where a virus is passed on due to an infected person sneezing or coughing — as well as by direct contact.
There at least 510 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in more than 25 countries and territories outside mainland China. Two people have died outside of mainland China from the virus — a 44-year-old Chinese man in the Philippines, and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.
A number of countries, such as the United States and Japan, have evacuated their nationals on flights from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.
This is a full list of places outside mainland China with confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.
- Australia (at least 15 cases)
- Belgium (at least 1 case)
- Cambodia (at least 1 case)
- Canada (at least 7 cases)
- Finland (at least 1 case)
- France (at least 11 cases)
- Germany (at least 16 cases)
- Hong Kong (at least 50 cases, 1 death)
- India (at least 3 cases)
- Italy (at least 3 cases)
- Japan (at least 28 cases, plus 175 cruise ship cases)
- Macao (at least 10 cases)
- Malaysia (at least 18 cases)
- Nepal (at least 1 case)
- Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)
- Russia (at least 2 cases)
- Singapore (at least 47 cases)
- South Korea (at least 28 cases)
- Spain (at least 2 cases)
- Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
- Sweden (at least 1 case)
- Taiwan (at least 18 cases)
- Thailand (at least 33 cases)
- United Arab Emirates (at least 8 cases)
- United Kingdom (at least 8 cases)
- United States (at least 13 cases)
- Vietnam (at least 15 cases)
Thirteen people living in the US have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
California has seven cases, Illinois has two, and there is one each in Arizona, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and in Washington state where that patient was discharged last week.
There are two instances of person-to-person transmission in the US — one in Illinois and one in California.
The State Department is telling US citizens not to travel to China amid the outbreak. In an advisory posted on the State Department website, the agency elevated its travel warning to “Do Not Travel” and warned of possible “travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.”
The advisory said US citizens currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means.
TUESDAY, FEB. 11
WHO team arrives in China as Wuhan coronavirus deaths top SARS
Originally Published: 10 FEB 20 23:07 ETUpdated: 11 FEB 20 11:56 ETBy James Griffiths, CNN
(CNN) — The number of deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus had risen to over 1,000 by Tuesday morning, as experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in China to assist with controlling the epidemic.
Chinese health authorities said 108 people died from the virus in mainland China on Monday, with the majority of those deaths occurring in Hubei province, the capital of which is Wuhan — the city where the virus was first found. The total number of deaths stands at 1,018, all but two of those in mainland China.
Globally, 43,114 have now been diagnosed with the virus, again with the majority in China. Around 4,000 patients have been treated and released from hospital in China since late December.
A team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts landed in China on Monday. The organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said they will “lay the groundwork for a larger international team,” which will join them “as soon as possible.”
The WHO group in China is led by Bruce Aylward, who helmed the body’s response to Ebola, as well as initiatives for immunization, communicable diseases control and polio eradication.
Their arrival comes as the WHO is facing increasing criticism for its initial decision not to declare a global health emergency, and for officials’ effusive praise of China’s handling of the crisis, even as Beijing faces outrage domestically for, among other things, the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, and the subsequent censorship of that news.
Cruise ships in crisis
Outside of China, the single largest outbreak is on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently docked in Yokohama, a port city south of Tokyo.
At least 135 people have tested positive for the virus so far, as Japanese health authorities continue to examine hundreds of passengers and crew, who have been under quarantine for almost a week. The recommended quarantine time is 14 days.
Passengers have been vocal about their displeasure with ship operator Princess Cruises and the Japanese government’s handling of the outbreak. On Monday, several crew members appealed for help from the Indian government, alleging they were at risk of infection by not being segregated.
“We are extremely scared at this point in time,” Binay Kumar Sarkar said in a video obtained by CNN. “Our request is to segregate the crew members from the infected.”
He said that none of his colleagues had been checked for the coronavirus.
“Only people who are recording temperatures higher than 37.5 degree Celsius are being checked,” he said. “Please help save those who have not been infected yet. There are 160 Indian crew members and 8 Indian passengers on board. Please rescue us. Help evacuate us before we contract the virus. 90% of us are healthy as of now. I appeal to India’s Prime Minister Modi, please bring us home safe and sound.”
Princess Cruises did not respond to a request for comment about the video.
Three other cruise ships have faced delays and quarantines in the past week over virus fears, in Hong Kong, Thailand and the US, though none have confirmed an outbreak.
Housing estate fears
While most countries and territories are reporting low numbers of cases, there were renewed fears of a separate outbreak in Hong Kong Monday.
Memories of the 2003 SARS crisis run deep in Hong Kong, which has been on high alert for weeks now, with many people working from home and runs on face masks and hand sanitizer amid concerns about shortages. The city’s leader Carrie Lam closed most of the border crossings with mainland China last week, following intense pressure from health care workers, many of whom walked out in protest at the decision not to seal the city earlier.
In the early hours of Tuesday, health officials began a partial evacuation of residents from an apartment block in Tsing Yi, in northwestern Hong Kong, over fears the virus may have been transmitted via the building’s pipes.
Two residents living on different floors of a high-rise tower called Hong Mei House had been infected with coronavirus, health officials said. Parts of the building have now been evacuated as health officials and engineers carried out emergency checks.
Microbiologist KY Yuen said that an improperly sealed pipe could have resulted in the virus, by carrying feces into the building’s ventilation system and blowing it into people’s apartments.
“As the pipeline that transfers feces is connected to the air pipe, it is very likely for the virus in the feces to be transmitted through the air fan into the toilet,” Yuen said. He added that the transmission route is not clear yet, so the evacuation was a precaution.
At least 12 cases have been confirmed at Hong Mei House. During the SARS outbreak, pipelines were a major source of transmission. At the Amoy Gardens housing estate, there were more than 300 infections and 42 deaths, after a flaw in the plumbing design allowed SARS to spread throughout the building.
Much of China was due to go back to work on Monday, after the Lunar New Year holiday became an extended voluntary quarantine for hundreds of millions of people across the country. With many remaining in isolation or working from home, fears of a larger economic shock are growing.
The epidemic has already driven up the price of food nationwide, with vegetables 17% more expensive. The worst price rise was in pork, a major staple of the Chinese diet that was already under pressure because of a devastating swine disease. Pork prices have risen 116% compared to a year ago.
Other items saw modest price rises by comparison: Health care was 2.3% more expensive, for example, while clothing prices rose 0.6%, according to the country’s statistics bureau.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that the country needs to stabilize the economy and prevent large-scale layoffs during the coronavirus outbreak.
During a meeting at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Xi said the economy had been doing well, and he predicted that the economic impact of the coronavirus would be short lived.
He added the country is ready to help companies resume production and would assist those that have been heavily affected.
At least 24 Americans suffering from coronavirus are aboard cruise ship quarantined in Japan
Originally Published: 10 FEB 20 11:00 ETUpdated: 11 FEB 20 11:19 ETBy Dakin Andone and Mick Krever, CNN
(CNN) — At least 24 Americans are among the 135 people infected with coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Princess Cruises said Monday, explaining it is using numbers from Japan’s Health Ministry.
Princess has not released the nationalities for six patients who the cruise line said were added to the overall tally Sunday.
A growing number of people face 14-day quarantines as health officials around the world try to stem the tide of the outbreak, which has killed more than 900 people and infected more than 40,000 worldwide.
More than 3,000 people — including 428 Americans — are stuck on the cruise ship that became a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus.
Among them is Spencer Fehrenbacher, an American citizen and masters degree student in Tianjin, China, who wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year with his friends on the ship.
Now, he’s confined to his cabin, spending his time reading and watching TV instead of enjoying all the amenities the ship has to offer.
Early in the week, Fehrenbacher said his mood was “pretty good.” By the third day of quarantine, the ship’s captain had laid out rules allowing passengers in interior cabins to get some fresh air, Fehrenbacher said. The passengers are allowed out for about an hour and a half, but have to wear masks at all times and stay one meter away from each other.
Rebecca Frasure and her husband, Kent, learned Friday that 41 additional people tested positive, she said in a video blog, “and come to find out that I was one of those 41 people.” She had a slight cough, she said, but no other symptoms.
Footage filmed by Kent Frasure showed Japanese health officials at the door to their cabin, notifying Rebecca she would need to go to the hospital within the hour. Kent, who tested negative, couldn’t come.
“I may be there for three days to I-don’t-know-how-long,” Frasure said. “I guess it depends on if I develop any further symptoms.”
Newlyweds Milena Basso and Gaetano Cerullo are also on the ship, but instead of enjoying the honeymoon they’d planned for more than two years, they’re worried about staying healthy and being trapped for longer than 14 days.
“We just don’t feel like we’re safe,” Basso told CNN. “We should be quarantined in a sanitary environment that’s safe, not on a cruise ship that’s already infected.”
Basso made a plea to US President Donald Trump: “Get us a government-based airplane. Get us off the ship.”
American author Gay Courter, who is stuck in a cabin on the ship with her husband, Phil, said she’s having nightmares about people she’s been in contact with on the ship who may have been infected.
The Japanese government has said they can leave the ship on February 19, Courter said, but she’s not optimistic.
“I’m not going to trust that statement, because so many more are getting sick,” she said.
Watching ambulances come and go from her cabin’s balcony and seeing people running around in hazmat suits, Courter told CNN’s Erin Burnett it’s “like I’ve landed in a B movie, and I can’t wake up.”
“I don’t know what they’re going to do with us,” a weary Courter said. “Our wish, our fervent hope, is the United States government is working on a plan to get the 400 Americans out of here.”
MONDAY, FEB. 10
This is where Wuhan coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide
Originally Published: 29 JAN 20 05:45 ETUpdated: 10 FEB 20 19:12 ETBy Eric Cheung, CNN
(CNN) — The Wuhan coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. At least 900 people have died and more than 40,000 people have been infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
China’s National Health Commission has confirmed the virus can be transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission” — where a virus is passed on due to an infected person sneezing or coughing — as well as by direct contact.
There at least 440 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in more than 25 countries and territories outside mainland China. Two people have died outside of mainland China from the virus — a 44-year-old Chinese man in the Philippines, and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.
A number of countries, such as the United States and Japan, have evacuated their nationals on flights from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.
This is a full list of places outside mainland China with confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Australia (at least 15 cases)
The Australian state of Queensland confirmed its fifth case of Wuhan coronavirus on Tuesday, pushing the national total to 15 confirmed cases.
The patient, a 37-year-old Chinese woman, is currently isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital. She is a member of the same tour group as Queensland’s four previously confirmed cases.
More than 240 Australians on the repatriation flight from Wuhan, via Qantas, reached the Australian territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday.
A total of 241 Australians were transferred to Christmas Island to be quarantined, while a pregnant woman and her partner were sent to Perth for isolation, according to Morrison’s tweets.
Morrison added that the government is also working with Chinese authorities on a second repatriation flight from Wuhan, and the New Zealand government about possibly repatriating its nationals on the same flight.
Belgium (at least 1 case)
Belgium has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, after one of nine repatriates from Wuhan tested positive for the virus, Belgium’s public health department said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The person who tested positive is healthy and shows no signs of illness for the time being,” the statement said.
“They were transferred last night to St. Peter’s University Hospital in Brussels, one of our country’s two reference centres. This hospital has all the necessary expertise and support to ensure the best possible care.”
Cambodia (at least 1 case)
Cambodia reported its first case of Wuhan coronavirus on Monday — a 60-year-old Chinese man who flew into the country from Wuhan with three family members. They tested negative for the virus, according to a Ministry of Information statement. The man’s condition was stable and he only showed mild symptoms, it said.
Canada (at least 7 cases)
Seven cases of 2019 novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Canada, according to government figures.
Three of the cases are in Ontario, with four cases in British Columbia.
The Canadian government has warned its citizens against all travel to Hubei province. It said the risk of the new coronavirus spreading within Canada remained low.
Finland (at least 1 case)
Finland has one case of coronavirus. The patient, a 32-year-old woman from Wuhan, arrived in the country on January 23, traveling the same day to a village in the northern Lapland region, according to CNN affiliate MTV3 Finland.
She developed respiratory symptoms and fever on Sunday and went to the emergency room on Tuesday, MTV3 Finland reports.
France (at least 11 cases)
Five new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in France, health minister Agnes Buzyn, said at a news conference on Saturday. This raises the number of cases in France to 11.
All of the five new cases are British nationals — four adults and one child.
“None of them are in serious condition,” Buzyn said.
France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised against all non-essential travel to the whole territory of mainland China over the coronavirus epidemic.
The status of Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus is “highly not recommended” by the ministry.
Germany (at least 14 cases)
There are now 14 people confirmed to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus in Germany, according to the government’s website.
Twelve cases are in the state of Bavaria, and the other two are in the state of Hesse.
Hong Kong (at least 38 cases, 1 death)
Hong Kong has confirmed two more cases of Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the total to 38, Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, told a news briefing on Monday.
The two new cases include a 69-year-old man who has no travel history and is currently in critical condition, and a 55-year-old woman from a family cluster of cases who attended a hot pot dinner party.
Hong Kong has reported one death from the coronavirus — a 39-year-old man who died on February 4 and had an underlying illness. The patient took the high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan on January 21 and returned to the city from Changshanan on January 23. He was said to have never visited any health care facilities, wet market or seafood market, or had any exposure to wild animals during the incubation period.
Hong Kong has temporarily closed some of its borders with China and stopped issuing travel permits to mainland tourists.
West Kowloon Station, where high-speed rail runs between the city and mainland China, is closed until further notice. Half of all incoming flights from China have been canceled. Residents of Hubei province, where the virus was first reported, are also being denied entry to the city.
Most government offices, except those involved in emergency and essential services, will be closed for the rest of the week. All schools will also be shut until at least March 2.
This comes as Hong Kong recalls painful memories from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, a pandemic that killed more than 280 people in the city.
India (at least 3 cases)
India confirmed its third case of coronavirus on Monday in Kerala.
The third case is a student who tested positive for the virus after returning from Wuhan, according to a Facebook post from Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja. The student has been admitted to a district hospital in Kerala and is in stable condition.
Italy (at least 3 cases)
Italy has confirmed its third case of coronavirus, after an Italian national tested positive for the infection, the country’s health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The patient is the first Italian to contract the virus, following two cases of Chinese tourists with the infection.
According to the statement, the patient was quarantined in the city of Cecchignola, on the outskirts of Rome, after being repatriated from Wuhan last week.
Japan (at least 26 cases, plus 135 in cruise ship quarantine)
The number of new coronavirus cases on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama on Monday has been reduced from 66 to 65, captain Stefano Ravera announced.
“We have now been advised that the number of cases is reduced from 66 to 65, of which five were crew members,” he said in a recording heard by CNN.
This brings the total number of cases on the Diamond Princess to 135.
Japanese authorities are still testing hundreds of passengers on board the ship, which has been stuck at the harbor south of the capital Tokyo for almost a week now.
Not including those in quarantine on the cruise ship, Japan has confirmed 26 other casesof coronavirus in total.
At least three people with the coronavirus in Japan have no travel history to Wuhan. One, a man in his 60s, is a bus driver who drove tour groups from Wuhan for nine days before getting ill. His was the first case of suspected human-to-human transmission in Japan.
A third plane carrying Japanese evacuees from Wuhan arrived in Tokyo on Friday.
Notably, the Japanese flights also carried medical supplies for the Chinese government. They included thousands of surgical masks, safety goggles and 50 sets of protective suits.
Macao (at least 10 cases)
Macao has confirmed at least 10 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.
A total of 41 entertainment operations in the semiautonomous Chinese city have been suspended for 15 days starting tonight, according to the government.
The operations include casinos, betting branches, theaters, cinemas, game centers, internet cafes, discos, bars, nightclubs and dance halls.
The outbreak has had a devastating impact on tourism in the gambling enclave, which relies heavily on mainland Chinese visitors. Gambling is illegal on the mainland and Lunar New Year is usually a particularly busy time for Macao’s casinos. But not this year — tourism to the city has dropped 73.6% year-on-year, the Macao government announced on January 29.
Malaysia (at least 17 cases)
Malaysian health officials have confirmed an additional case of the Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 17.
According to state news agency Bernama, the latest case involves a 31 year-old Malaysian with no travel history to mainland China.
Ministry of Health Director Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said the man began developing symptoms on February 3 after returning from Macao. The patient was then admitted to hospital on February 7, and tested positive for the novel coronavirus two days later.
Nepal (at least 1 case)
There was one confirmed case in Nepal — a 31-year-old Nepali PhD student who lives in Wuhan but flew to Nepal earlier this month. He was admitted to hospital in Kathmandu on January 13, but was subsequently released on January 17 after his condition improved.
The Health Ministry said people in close contact with the patient have been identified and are being monitored.
Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)
The Philippines announced its third confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Wednesday during a news conference by the Department of Health.
The patient is said to be a 60-year-old woman from China who arrived in Cebu from Wuhan, via Hong Kong in January.
The Philippines reported its first coronavirus fatality on Sunday — the first death from the virus outside of mainland China.
The patient was a 44-year-old Chinese man who flew in from Wuhan in January, and who died on Saturday. He is the partner of a 38-year-old Chinese woman who was traveling with him, and who was the first confirmed case reported in the Philippines.
Earlier, the Department of Health stressed it is “on top of the evolving situation” but urged the public to wear surgical masks and avoid crowded places if they are experiencing symptoms, such as coughing and a fever.
Russia (at least 2 cases)
Russia has identified its first two cases, both Chinese citizens, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.
One patient is being treated in the Zabaikalsky region, which borders China, with the second case detected in the Tyumen region in Western Siberia, which borders Kazakhstan, TASS reports.
According to Golikova, Russia will begin evacuating its citizens from the Chinese provinces of Wuhan and Hubei, where there are 300 and 341 Russians respectively.
Singapore (at least 43 cases)
There are now 43 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore.
Three new cases confirmed on Sunday have “no recent travel history to China,” according to a statement released by Singapore’s health ministry.
The ministry previously advised citizens to “defer all travel to Hubei province and all non-essential travel to mainland China.”
Minister of trade and industry Chan Chun Sing said at a news conference the government will distribute four masks each to 1.3 million households starting Saturday. He added that the country has “sufficient masks” if they manage the supply appropriately.
The health ministry earlier urged employers to implement flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or telecommuting, for employees who have been to China in the past 14 days.
South Korea (at least 27 cases)
South Korea now has 27 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus across the country, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The government announced Saturday that it would be reimbursing people who had been hospitalized or quarantined amid the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
The Welfare Ministry said in a news release that families who had been put out for more than 14 days could receive a government subsidy, of varying amounts.
A family of one will receive approximately $380 per month while a family of four will get approximately $1,030, according to the release.
Spain (at least 2 cases)
Spain’s National Center for Microbiology has confirmed the country’s second case of Wuhan coronavirus.
The diagnosed person is one of four that had been in contact with a French national who had been infected with the virus and were subsequently put under observation by Spanish authorities.
“The National Center for Microbiology analysed samples from these four people. One of them tested positive for coronavirus while the other three tested negative,” the Spanish health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
There is one case of the Wuhan coronavirus in Sri Lanka.
A statement from the health ministry assured residents that local hospitals were prepared to handle any further outbreak. The government is contacting people who may have come into contact with the single case to detect potential contagion.
Sweden (at least 1 case)
Sweden on Friday confirmed its first case, a woman in Jonkoping county who had visited Wuhan.
When the woman landed in Sweden on January 24, she was free of symptoms of the infection, but later developed a cough and contacted a local hospital, Sweden’s Public Health Authority said in a statement. She was isolated in the hospital’s infection clinic, but is not seriously ill.
Taiwan (at least 18 cases)
Taiwan confirmed its 18th coronavirus case on Sunday, according to a statement from the self-governing island’s Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The new case is a 20-year-old man, the son of a couple in their 50s who were confirmed to be coronavirus patients previously.
Taiwan has banned travelers who are from mainland China or had been to China, Hong Kong and Macao since Friday.
Thailand (at least 32 cases)
Thailand reported seven new confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total tally up to 32, according to the Ministry of Public Health.
Four of the cases are Chinese nationals, and the other three are Thai nationals.
Thai airports are now screening all Chinese visitors for symptoms. Thai citizens are also being asked to report anyone who seems to have fallen ill after recently traveling from China.
United Arab Emirates (at least 7 cases)
The United Arab Emirates has confirmed two new coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to seven, according to the official Emirates News Agency.
The nationalities of the two new cases are 1 Chinese and 1 Filipino, according to the agency.
United Kingdom (at least 4 cases)
British authorities have diagnosed a fourth case of Wuhan coronavirus in the country, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said in a statement on Sunday.
“A further patient has tested positive for novel coronavirus in England, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to four,” Whitty said in the statement. “The new case is a known contact of a previously confirmed UK case, and the virus was passed on in France.”
Whitty added that the patient had been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at The Royal Free Hospital in north London.
United States (at least 12 cases)
There are now 12 casesof the novel coronavirus in the United States.
The latest case is a US citizen who had traveled to Beijing and is now in isolation at home in Wisconsin, according to local government officials.
In addition to the new case in Wisconsin, six confirmed cases are in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, and two in Illinois.
The State Department is telling US citizens not to travel to China amid the outbreak. In an advisory posted on the State Department website Friday, the agency elevated its travel warning to “Do Not Travel” and warned of possible “travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.”
The advisory said US citizens currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means.
Vietnam (at least 13 cases)
Vietnam confirmed its 13th Wuhan coronavirus case on Friday, according to an online report from government media.
Over 1,000 Vietnamese nationals returning from China and about 500 others who had close contact with confirmed cases are currently being quarantined and monitored.