Coronavirus updates: Americans quarantined on cruise ship return to U.S

2020-02-17 18:31:28

• Americans evacuated from quarantined cruise ship land in the U.S.

• 99 new infections confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship

• Death toll from novel coronavirus reaches more than 1,800

• Scramble to track Cambodia cruise passengers after coronavirus case reported

• Japanese health ministry staffer tests positive for coronavirus

• Japan on brink of recession as economy contracts, virus heightens risk

• China’s Hubei province bans vehicle traffic to curb spread of coronavirus

• Hong Kong police bust toilet paper gang amid coronavirus shortages

Coronavirus deaths rise in China’s Hubei province, bringing total to more than 1,800

The health commission in China’s Hubei Province reported 93 more deaths from the coronavirus illness known as COVID-19, bringing the number of fatalities in mainland China to more than 1,800.

The Hubei health commission also reported 1,807 new cases as of Tuesday morning local time. Previously the number of confirmed cases in the mainland had been put at more than 70,000. The number of deaths in all of the mainland had previously been reported at 1,770.

Four deaths have occurred outside mainland China — one each in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan and France.

Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan is, is at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. It has also been detected in 25 other countries, including the United States, according to the World Health Organization.

There had been 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourteen Americans evacuated to the U.S. from a cruise ship quarantined in Japan have also tested positive based on testing done in Japan, officials said. — Phil Helsel

Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship land in the U.S.

Fourteen Americans who were among the hundreds evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship off Yokohama, Japan Sunday have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that has claimed nearly 1,800 lives in a growing outbreak in China.

More than 300 U.S. citizens and their immediate family members who had been passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship were taken off the vessel and repatriated back to the U.S. on two charter flights that landed at Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas early Monday.

They will now be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine in the U.S., the State Department said.

Meanwhile, Japan’s health ministry confirmed 99 new cases of coronavirus on the cruise ship Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases on the ship to 454.

Seventy of the latest 99 new cases were asymptomatic, the ministry added.

So far, a total of 1,723 people on board have been tested.

The Diamond Princess has been on quarantine since Feb. 3 after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus. — Olivier Fabre

Death toll from novel coronavirus reaches 1,772

The outbreak continued to grow Monday as the death toll rose to 1,772 and the number of confirmed cases reached 70,635 in China.

The World Health Organization said at a news conference Monday that in the past 24 hours, China had reported 2,051 new cases that were both clinically and lab confirmed. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said 94 percent of new cases continued to come from Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated.

Outside of China, WHO has received reports of 694 cases in 25 countries, including three deaths, he said. — Daniella Silva

Scramble to track Cambodia cruise passengers after coronavirus case reported

Health authorities scrambled on Monday to track hundreds of passengers who disembarked from a cruise ship in Cambodia last week after a woman tested positive for coronavirus, heightening fears about the spread of the disease around the world.

The new case raises questions about how companies and countries should handle monitoring and quarantine for people who may have been exposed to the new virus, since the American woman from the Westerdam cruise ship had passed the usually presumed incubation period of 14 days.

Holland America Line, which is owned by cruise giant Carnival Corp, said it is working with governments and health experts to track passengers. — Reuters

Japanese health ministry worker tests positive for coronavirus

An employee with Japan’s health ministry has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after conducting work aboard a quarantined cruise ship docked off Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

It’s still not clear exactly how he contracted the virus, but Japan’s health ministry said Monday the 50-year-old worker did not have extensive contact with any of the passengers, even though he was on board the Diamond Princess performing administrative duties.

On Feb. 11, he also helped direct people off the ship, but said that he kept a two-meter distance from the passengers and crew at all times.

He reported being feverish last week and was confirmed to have the virus Sunday. — Olivier Fabre

Japan on brink of recession as economy contracts, virus heightens risk

Japan’s economy shrank at the fastest pace in almost six years in the December quarter as a sales tax hike hit consumer and business spending, raising the risk of a recession as China’s coronavirus outbreak chills global activity.

Analysts say the widening fallout from the epidemic, which is damaging output and tourism, could have a significant impact on Japan if it’s not contained in coming months. — Reuters

China parliament may delay key annual March session: state media

China’s top political advisory body will discuss whether to delay the annual meeting of the full parliament, the official Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

The proposal was made in the belief that it is important to focus on curbing the coronavirus epidemic, the report said.

The meeting was originally scheduled to be held on March 3. — Alex Shi and Reuters

China’s Hubei province bans vehicle traffic to curb spread of coronavirus

The government of Hubei province said Sunday that a ban will be imposed on vehicle traffic across the province to curb the spread of the virus.

Police cars, ambulances, vehicles carrying essential goods, or other vehicles related to public service, would be exempted, it said on its official website.

It added that epidemic prevention staff will carry out regular “blanket screenings” of all residents so as to “not leave out any household, anyone or any day.”

Those who refuse to cooperate will be dealt with by law enforcement, the statement on the website said.

Companies will also not be able to resume work without first receiving permission from the government, it added. — Alex Shi and Reuters

Hong Kong police bust toilet paper gang amid coronavirus shortages

Knife-wielding robbers in Hong Kong stole 50 packs of toilet paper rolls from a supermarket delivery man, police said on Monday, in a sign of the times for a city worried sick by the coronavirus outbreak across the causeway in mainland China.

Police caught two of the gang of three and recovered all of the toilet paper, worth about HK$1,700 (nearly $220). They were still hunting for a third thief. No other details were given.

Panic in Hong Kong over the coronavirus has emptied supermarket shelves, with people stockpiling toilet paper, cleaning products and basic food. — Reuters

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