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  1. #1

    covid-19 Virus Updates and Discussion

    Live updates: Rate of new coronavirus infections slows, but China remains largely shut down


    A man wearing a face mask rides his bicycle along an empty street in Beijing on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

    By
    Anna Fifield,
    Rick Noack,
    Siobhán O'Grady and
    Miriam Berger
    Feb. 12, 2020 at 2:38 p.m. EST

    The end of the extended Lunar New Year holiday means China is theoretically returning to work. But with tens of millions still under lockdown and many more confined to work-from-home arrangements amid the coronavirus outbreak, life is a long way from returning to normal.

    The number of deaths from the illness, now known as covid-19, has surpassed 1,100, Chinese officials said Wednesday. But a reduction in the number of new cases reported for a second consecutive day is offering some hope, not least for China’s ruling Communist Party, which is trying to manage an outpouring of public anger over its handling of the emergency and is proposing measures to boost the sagging economy.

    Here are the latest developments:

    ● The number of new infections in China outside the epidemic hotspot of Hubei province has fallen for the eighth day in a row, even as the total number of deaths reaches new highs.

    ●World Health Organization expert Mike Ryan said in a news briefing that — in a good sign — the novel coronvirus’ behavior doesn’t seem to be as aggressive or accelterating outside of Hubei provence.

    ● In a meeting with the leadership of the Community Party, Chinese President Xi Jinping said efforts would be made to minimize the impact of the outbreak on the economy.

    ● World stocks and oil prices rallied Wednesday amid the reduction in new cases.

    ● After several countries barred the MS Westerdam cruise ship, its 1,455 guests and the crew are headed toward Cambodia to disembark there.

    ● The death toll from the coronavirus rose to 1,113, nearly all of the fatalities in China, and total confirmed cases reached 44,653.

    8:45 a.m.
    Indonesia’s virus-free status may be threatened by case confirmed in recent Chinese visitor

    A Chinese man who recently visited the Indonesian resort island of Bali has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Chinese authorities, raising the possibility that there might be undetected cases of the virus in the huge archipelago.

    Alone among the major countries of Southeast Asia, Indonesia has not reported a single case of the coronavirus, even though it receives millions of Chinese tourists each year and all of its neighbors have cases.

    The Jakarta Post reported that authorities in China’s Anhui Province confirmed that a man who had visited Bali in late January has the virus. He flew directly from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, to Bali on Jan. 22 and stayed on the island a week before flying on to Shanghai.

    In a statement on social media site Weibo, authorities in Anhui warned people on both those flights that they may have been exposed.

    The director general of the Indonesian Health Ministry’s disease control department, Anung Sugihantono, told the Jakarta Post that it was still trying to confirm the report, even as he dismissed it as a “rumor.”

    Indonesia’s lack of cases has surprised observers. According to a Harvard University study, mathematically at least, it should have cases due to the large number of travelers regularly visiting from Wuhan, suggesting the possibility that cases are going undetected. That study has also been dismissed by the Indonesian government.

    Dozens of Indonesians, however, have been quarantined, including 68 who had just returned from China as well as 30 Chinese workers.

    By Paul Schemm

    9:30 a.m.
    Chinese Grand Prix postponed due to coronavirus outbreak

    Formula One announced Wednesday that April’s 2020 Chinese Grand Prix would be postponed due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Organizers confirmed they are seeking “alternative dates” for the Shanghai event to take place in the future.

    “F1 and the FIA [International Automobile Federation] have accepted a request from the promoter to postpone the event,” Formula One announced in a tweet, adding that officials would be monitoring the situation closely.

    In a statement, Formula One offered its well wishes to the people of China amid the crisis and said: “The Chinese Grand Prix has always been a very important part of the F1 calendar and the fans are always incredible. We all look forward to racing in China as soon as possible.”

    Other sporting events have also been canceled due to the outbreak, including two women’s golf tournaments. The Ladies Professional Golf Association and its partners announced earlier this month that the 2020 Honda LPGA Thailand and the 2020 HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore have been canceled, citing “continued health concerns and recent advisories” surrounding the disease.

    This year’s World Athletics Indoor Championships, expected to take place from March 13 to 15, were also postponed, with the organization saying it would not seek to reschedule the event until 2021.

    “The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organization, is that the spread of the Coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed,” World Athletics said in a statement last month.

    By Jennifer Hassan

    9:55 a.m.
    Suspected British ‘superspreader’ is released from hospital

    LONDON — The British business executive suspected of playing an outsize role in transmitting the coronavirus was released from a hospital and is no longer contagious, health authorities said Wednesday.

    Steve Walsh, a project management lead for Servomex, a gas analytics company, is believed to have passed the virus to at least 11 people in three countries. He was attending a work conference from Jan. 18 to 22 in Singapore, which is where he is thought to have caught the virus. Unaware that he was infected, he visited a ski resort in the French Alps before returning to England on Jan. 28.

    It was at the ski resort where he is thought to have unknowingly passed along the virus. Five of those infected at the resort are still in France, one is in Mallorca, and five others — including two British doctors — are back in Britain.

    Keith Willett, strategic incident director for the National Health Service (NHS), said in a statement: “I’m pleased to say that — following two negative tests for coronavirus, twenty-four hours apart — Mr Walsh has been discharged from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, having made a full recovery following his treatment.”

    “Mr Walsh’s symptoms were mild and he is no longer contagious, and poses no risk to the public,” he said. Walsh is “keen to return to his normal life and spend time with his family out of the media spotlight,” Willett added.

    “I’m happy to be home and feeling well,” Walsh said in a statement. “I want to give a big thank you to the NHS who have been great throughout and my thoughts are with everyone around the world who continues to be affected by the virus.”


    By Karla Adam
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  2. #2

    Re: World News Random, Random

    P2 Virus Updates

    10:15 a.m.
    International flights to China have fallen by 67 percent

    International flight routes to China have fallen by 67 percent since Jan. 30, when the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to an analysis by Nikkei, a leading financial newspaper based in Japan.

    Nikkei found that flights with links to the United States have declined by 76 percent and connections through Japan have fallen by 55 percent. The United States imposed stringent travel restrictions on Jan. 31 barring non-U.S. citizens who had recently traveled in China.

    The disease new coronavirus, named Wednesday by the World Health Organization as covid-19, could be on track to have an even bigger impact on the aviation industry than the SARS epidemic in 2003, Nikkei estimated. Cuts in flights have also affected the hospitality industry. Hilton Hotels and Resorts has shut 150 hotels in China due to fallout from the virus, chief executive Christopher Nassetta said during the latest earnings call, Nikkei reported.

    By Miriam Berger

    10:45 a.m.
    Israel asks Japan to release Israelis from cruise-ship quarantine

    TEL AVIV — Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked Japan on Wednesday to release Israeli citizens aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been on lockdown off the coast of Japan, and said it will find another location for the passengers to complete their quarantine period.

    Some 15 Israelis are confined to the ship and have been widely interviewed by Israeli media, describing their conditions confined to their cabins. They have said they are allowed out only once a day for fresh air and have their meals delivered to their rooms.

    The Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that one Israeli tourist aboard the Diamond Princess was found to have a high temperature and was being checked to see if she had contracted the coronavirus.

    In a statement Wednesday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Israeli authorities have been in daily contact with their Japanese counterparts regarding the situation. Katz also said the Israeli Embassy in Japan has been working to ensure that the needs of Israelis onboard are met, such as requests to receive kosher food in keeping with Jewish dietary laws.

    In contrast to Israel’s appeal, the United States has rejected calls from U.S. citizens onboard to be evacuated and quarantined elsewhere, saying that the safest place for them is on the ship.

    More than 170 of the 492 people tested for the virus onboard the cruise liner have tested positive for the virus. Roughly 3,700 passengers and crew members of various nationalities are on the ship.

    On Sunday, Israel’s Health Ministry expanded the list of travel destinations it recommended avoiding to include Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. A warning about travel to China was issued earlier in the month, and Israelis returning from China are required to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

    By Ruth Eglash and with Miriam Berger in Washington

    11:15 a.m.
    World’s leading wireless industry event canceled after key companies pull out amid coronavirus fears

    Mobile World Congress, the wireless industry’s top yearly event, was losing participants left and right because of fears about the coronavirus spreading. On Wednesday, its organizers canceled the event, which was to be held in Barcelone, altogether, Bloomberg News reported.

    This year’s MWC, which brings together leading mobile technologies and innovators, was scheduled for four days starting Feb. 24. Organizers originally expected around 100,000 participants, but in recent days, big names such as Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB, BT Group and Sony Corp. pulled out, Bloomberg reported. Companies were reportedly worried about exposing employees to coronavirus during travel to and from the event.

    MWC’s cancellation is the first time in the event’s 33-year history. MWC also joins a growing list of global business gatherings canceled or curbed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

    By Miriam Berger

    11:40 a.m.
    A U.S. evacuee is posting Instagrams of his life under quarantine in California

    Jeffrey Ho, 33, is on a strange “vacation,” as he’s dubbed it for his followers on Instagram: quarantine at Travis Air Force Base in California.

    Ho is one of hundreds of evacuees the United States has flown out of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and placed in mandatory quarantine in the United States for 14 days. His wife and infant child, however, remained in China.

    They were worried about her transporting their young daughter on such an arduous trip, he told Storyful.

    Quarantine is by nature an isolating experience, but Ho has been sharing tidbits of the experience on Instagram. He’s posted about his exercise routine, the quality of the food served and his search for more soap — a particular concern because people at risk of exposure to the virus have been recommended to wash their hands constantly.

    Despite some complaints, Ho has also expressed a sense of gratitude for his circumstances.

    “Overall pretty boring but at least I’m in America and if I do get sick there is at least space in the hospital to treat me, not like Wuhan where their hospital[s] are all maxed out and have to turn away patients that need help,” he wrote on Instagram on Feb. 6.

    On Monday, Ho shared a video of his room, offering a little tour of his humble abode.

    “So my friends have asked me what my quarantine looks like,” he said. “Well, a normal room. Thank god I brought a computer because there’s Wi-Fi. And then there’s this normal TV, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, normal restroom. And of course we are free to step outside.”

    By Miriam Berger

    12:25 p.m.
    In Russia, 2 women claim to have fled quarantine due to poor hospital conditions

    Two Russian women who recently returned from China’s Hainan province claim to have escaped from quarantine in two separate Russian hospitals in recent days.

    In an Instagram post Friday, a woman identified by the Moscow Times as Guzul Neder described seeking medical attention for her son’s cough after returning to Russia from Hainan. She wrote that she called Russian emergency services, which told her to visit a hospital, which then held her without providing her with coronavirus test results. When she started to feel ill after five days in quarantine, she wrote, her husband brought her a pregnancy test, and she tested positive. When doctors still refused to release her, she and her son fled through a window, she wrote.

    “My son was hysterical,” she wrote on Instagram, according to an Associated Press translation. “There was no exit for us other than to leave the hospital without authorization, through the window.”

    Neder told the Moscow Times that inside the hospital, “conditions were awful.”

    “Doctors were very unprofessional and not wearing any protective gear,” she said.

    Another woman, Alla Ilyina, told the Moscow Times that she was hospitalized after returning from China despite testing negative for coronavirus three times. She claimed she “short-circuited the magnetic lock” in her room to escape.

    “I studied physics, which helped,” she told the newspaper.

    Irina Sidorova, another woman who recently visited China, told the AP that isolation rooms were locked.

    Only two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Russia. But hundreds of people have been held in isolation there as authorities test for the virus. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported Monday that a Chinese diplomat was among those held in precautionary quarantine.

    By Siobhán O’Grady
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  3. #3

    Re: World News Random, Random

    P3 virus Updates

    1:30 p.m.
    Though coronavirus is centered in China, it’s fueling racism toward Asians around the world

    As the coronavirus epidemic continues and the number of people infected beyond China expands, communities around the world are reporting growing racism, xenophobia and discriminatory incidents targeting people of Asian heritage.

    In Perth, Australia, a Malaysian woman of Chinese descent who had traveled to Malaysia for the Lunar New Year returned to find that her landlord had kicked her out, over unsubstantiated concerns that she had the virus, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

    The woman, whom the broadcaster identified only as Helen to protect her privacy, shared text messages the landlord sent tying the eviction to the virus.

    “The world health organisation has declared a global emergency and I now have made a decision to change locks on the house and put your belongings outside as I am concerned for my welfare and family and friends it was a hard decision to make between family and friends but as you have travelled we are very concerned and you are no longer welcome to come back to the house,” it said.

    Helen told ABC she was angry and confused.

    “I haven’t been to China [so] why do they think I have the virus?” she told Australian broadcaster.

    Though the vast majority of coronavirus cases exist inside China, it has led to increased discrimination outside of China.

    In the Netherlands, 50,000 people have signed an online petition, titled “We are not viruses,” to condemn discrimination in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

    The impetus for the petition was a song played by a Dutch radio station, “Prevention is better than Chinese,” Dutch News reported. The station has since apologized for airing the song, which included the line: “Don’t eat Chinese, then you have nothing to fear, because prevention is better than the Chinese.”

    Fifty-seven Chinese Dutch organizations issued a statement denouncing the song and the climate that gave rise to it.

    “We have lived in peace and harmony with everyone in the Netherlands for more than 100 years and we have tolerated many jokes about the Chinese,” the statement said, according to Dutch News. “But this song has crossed the line.”

    In Toronto, politicians have been touring the city’s Chinatown to combat misinformation linking Chinese food or people to the virus — which spreads through droplets and can only be contracted through close contact with an infected person.

    “There’s still a lot of discrimination out there,” Christine Elliott, Canada’s health minister, told the National Post. “We want to make sure that people know it’s safe to go out. It’s safe to come to your favorite restaurants … it’s safe to go shopping.”

    Chinatowns across North America have reported declines in customers in recent weeks

    “What we must not do is allow ourselves in any way to stigmatize or to stop patronizing the businesses of or otherwise treat differently any group of people,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said this week. “I think, in particular, of our Chinese Canadian population … which is so positive a contributor to the well-being of Toronto and to Canada.”

    By Miriam Berger
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  4. #4

    Re: World News Random, Random

    I don't believe anything the government of China says.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  5. #5

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    In contrast to Israel’s appeal, the United States has rejected calls from U.S. citizens onboard to be evacuated and quarantined elsewhere, saying that the safest place for them is on the ship.
    Compare to Israel if you want, but you can't leave out so many details if this is meant to be objective reporting. 15 Israelis onboard? They might be able to be tested and cleared easily. There are over 400 Americans onboard and over 20 have already tested positive so far. The article should've mentioned the vast differences in the numbers.

  6. #6

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    World’s leading wireless industry event canceled after key companies pull out amid coronavirus fears

    Mobile World Congress, the wireless industry’s top yearly event, was losing participants left and right because of fears about the coronavirus spreading. On Wednesday, its organizers canceled the event, which was to be held in Barcelona, altogether, Bloomberg News reported.

    This year’s MWC, which brings together leading mobile technologies and innovators, was scheduled for four days starting Feb. 24. Organizers originally expected around 100,000 participants, but in recent days, big names such as Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB, BT Group and Sony Corp. pulled out, Bloomberg reported. Companies were reportedly worried about exposing employees to coronavirus during travel to and from the event.
    I read three articles on this in the last 2 days. This is a massive hit to the Barcelona economy. It generates around $500 million in revenue and employs at least 12,000 temporary workers. It is a huge conference, really the biggest of the year in tech. This is missing a lot of big names that pulled out. In addition to the ones listed were Amazon, Facebook, LG, Cisco, Intel, Sprint, AT&T, Vodafone, McAfee, ZTE, Nvidia and like 2 dozen others I don't remember. They were not exaggerating when they said it was losing participants left and righ, everyday there were more. MWC said just two days ago they would still hold the event and wouldn't make any announcements til Friday when the board met. Gotta believe that some other big names pulled out that didn't get the chance to be reported.

    The other thing is, if you follow any tech bloggers or vloggers like I do you know it's like an industry joke that people get sick every time when they go to these big conferences. Thousands of reviewers and buyers handling the same 10 units that a company has on display in their exhibit to be sampled. Just passing on the germs in earnest. They post their strategies not to get sick. It's something to laugh about most years, how they tried really hard, but still got got. But the coronavirus is obviously not nearly the same laughing matter.

  7. #7

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    I don't believe anything the government of China says.
    There's no reason we should. How are you going to push the narrative on Tuesday that the coronavirus is starting to be contained and the numbers are starting to show signs of ebbing and then come back out late on Wednesday to announce that Hubei province is reporting almost 250 deaths in a single day, more than twice the number previously reported for any day, and that they are reporting almost 15,000 additional cases. WTH?!?

    I don't know what to make of this level of inconsistency. Maybe the virus is preventing travel of even high level government officials. We know they are skilled at lying to the public and here they are looking like amateur hour. They need to call a meeting in Beijing, get their lies all on the same page.

  8. #8

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNU View Post
    There's no reason we should. How are you going to push the narrative on Tuesday that the coronavirus is starting to be contained and the numbers are starting to show signs of ebbing and then come back out late on Wednesday to announce that Hubei province is reporting almost 250 deaths in a single day, more than twice the number previously reported for any day, and that they are reporting almost 15,000 additional cases. WTH?!?

    I don't know what to make of this level of inconsistency. Maybe the virus is preventing travel of even high level government officials. We know they are skilled at lying to the public and here they are looking like amateur hour. They need to call a meeting in Beijing, get their lies all on the same page.
    I think this is moving too fast for them to get their lies straight. They all lied for weeks (months?) and now they're literally playing catch up. There are no lies left to tell because everyone knows they're lies.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  9. #9

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Sky News @SkyNews

    The first person confirmed to have #coronavirus in London took an Uber to hospital and walked into an A&E department
    Coronavirus: London COVID-19 patient took Uber to A&E
    When the patient "self-presented" they were immediately given a face mask and taken to a special area to be tested for the virus.
    By Sunita Patel-Carstairs and Tom Acres, news reporters

    Thursday 13 February 2020 18:59, UK

    The first person confirmed to have coronavirus in London took an Uber to hospital and walked into an A&E department.

    When the patient - a woman - "self-presented" at Lewisham Hospital on Sunday, they were immediately given a face mask and taken to a special area to be tested for the virus.

    Ben Travi, chief executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said the test result came back positive on Wednesday and the patient was transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital.

    All staff who came into contact with the patient have been traced, Mr Travi added, while Uber has suspended the account of the driver after liaising with Public Health England (PHE).

    Two staff from Lewisham Hospital are now in isolation at home after coming into contact with the woman, believed to be a Chinese national, who flew into London from China.

    A total of nine people in the UK are now being treated for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

    "We received a request from Public Health England for information about a passenger who has now been confirmed as having coronavirus," said an Uber spokeswoman.

    "Out of an abundance of caution, we temporarily suspended the account of the driver who transported the individual to hospital and we remain in close contact with Public Health England.

    "We have a dedicated online portal for public health authorities to contact Uber for information about riders and drivers, and we will take action on any user accounts on the recommendation of those authorities."

    PHE consultant Rachel Thorn said: "We are in contact with Uber to ensure the driver receives advice and information on what to do should they feel unwell in the coming days.

    "As the journey was less than 15 minutes, the driver did not have close sustained contact with the individual and are not considered high risk."

    https://news.sky.com/story/coronavir...tists-11933071
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  10. #10

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    consultant Rachel Thorn said: "We are in contact with Uber to ensure the driver receives advice and information on what to do should they feel unwell in the coming days.
    You need to give them MONEY. You suspended at least one source of income for them when they had no idea what ride they were taking because she was apparently too thoughtless to care about their wellbeing. And that car needs a full detailing too.

  11. #11

    Re: Virus Updates and Discussion

    Live updates: China’s leaders shake up political ranks as coronavirus cases near 60,000; Japan announces second virus fatality outside China

    By
    Gerry Shih,
    Miriam Berger and
    Adam Taylor
    Feb. 13, 2020 at 2:33 p.m. EST
    Refresh for updates
    China’s Communist Party removed senior officials in the virus-stricken province of Hubei, as the country’s leadership looks to tighten control over its epidemic response and assuage public outrage over authorities’ handling of the coronavirus crisis.

    The ruling party said Thursday that it fired Jiang Chaoliang, a former banker who had been party secretary of Hubei province since 2016. He will be replaced by Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong. Ma Guoqiang, the party boss overseeing Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, has been replaced by Wang Zhonglin, an official from eastern Shandong province.

    News of the reshuffle came hours after China announced a significant jump in infection numbers in Hubei. The surge followed a change in official methodology for diagnosing and counting cases, a shift that revived questions about the reliability of China’s data and testing methods.

    Here’s what we know:

    ● Japan reported its first fatality from coronavirus, only the second worldwide outside China. It also announced that 44 more people have tested positive for the new coronavirus on board the quarantined cruise liner Diamond Princess, bringing to 218 the number of infected.

    ● The political shake-up in Communist Party ranks underscored Chinese leaders’ jitters about the potential for the outbreak to fuel domestic instability.

    ● China revised the total case numbers in Hubei province by an additional 15,000 — and raised the death tally by 242 — after it took into account cases in which doctors are allowed to diagnose patients based on clinical methods. The National Health Commission said Thursday the new case total for the country is 59,804, with 1,367 deaths.

    ● Experts said that until China reveals more about its new testing process, it will be difficult to assess what exactly the latest data means. On Thursday, the World Health Organization said that the spike in cases “does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak.”

    ● The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the 15th case of coronavirus in the United States. The person had been under quarantine in Texas after arriving on a State Department-chartered plane from Wuhan on Feb. 7.

    6:11 a.m.
    WHO seeking ‘further clarity’ from China after surge in coronavirus cases in Hubei province

    A representative for the World Health Organization (WHO) called for “further clarity” from China on Thursday, after the country significantly raised its tallies of coronavirus infections and deaths.

    In Hubei province, the number of new cases of the virus, now called covid-19, jumped nearly tenfold from the rates reported in recent days. Chinese officials said the surge was due to changes in how cases are now being diagnosed and counted.

    The new figures also reflect diagnoses made by doctors’ overall assessments rather than the results of nucleic acid testing.

    Some researchers welcomed the announcement.

    “One of the problems with using lab-confirmed cases to monitor the spread of [an] epidemic is if there’s a ceiling in the number of tests that can be processed,” said Benjamin Cowling of the School of Public Health at Hong Kong University. “We’ve always known there were more coronavirus infections than the confirmed number of cases. It’s a very sensible move.”

    Speaking to the Reuters news agency, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the organization would seek more information from the Chinese side on reporting protocols and the definition of cases.

    “It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure,” Jasarevic told Reuters.

    By Rick Noack and Gerry Shih

    3:05 a.m.
    Questions emerge over drastic change in Hubei case numbers

    BEIJING — Confusion set in Thursday after Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, abruptly changed its diagnosis criteria and reported a drastically higher infection and death count.

    Meanwhile, other regions quickly said they would not follow Hubei’s lead and revise their figures. Officials from Shanghai and Fujian — a bustling province in China’s southeast — told reporters they would stick to the old diagnosis requirement of only reporting coronavirus cases that have been confirmed using nucleic acid tests.

    Chinese health experts have acknowledged shortcomings in nucleic acid tests, including the prevalence of inaccurate results. Some top officials concur that Hubei’s new guidelines of allowing doctors to make judgment calls about coronavirus diagnoses may be more accurate.

    Asked about the change in reporting methodology in Hubei, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters on Thursday to ask relevant departments, rather than his ministry.

    The abrupt revision in Hubei came just hours before the Chinese Communist Party announced a shake-up that would replace two top Hubei officials, leading political observers to wonder if the newly announced statistics carried political undertones, as statistics often do in China.

    On WeChat, one widely circulating post suggested that Hubei’s new party bosses released the higher figures because they wanted a fresh start. Other analysts wondered why there was a discrepancy between the various provinces in reporting methodology.

    Carl Minzner, professor of Chinese law and politics at Fordham Law School, said Thursday’s developments suggested a “certain lack of coordination” within the party.

    “In a one party political system that is now obsessively focused on controlling the narrative regarding the epidemic, you’d expect a data release of this magnitude to be accompanied by a much clearer propaganda narrative for public consumption,” Minzner told The Washington Post.

    Minzner speculated that central leaders may be hesitant about letting every jurisdiction revise its numbers upward under the looser guidelines.

    “Perhaps party authorities themselves remain somewhat uncertain to what extent they want to authorize more sweeping case counting methods outside Hubei, which might produce both larger and possibly inaccurate totals as well as fuel resistance to their ongoing efforts to restart China’s economy,” he said.


    By Gerry Shih

    3:30 a.m.
    China’s confirmed virus cases top 59,000 as number of dead hits 1,367

    BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission said the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases as of the end of Wednesday jumped to 59,804 and the death toll rose by 254, to 1,367.

    Commission spokesman Mi Feng announced the nationwide figures Thursday afternoon amid intense speculation over whether China would significantly adjust its infection and death tally. Earlier Thursday, Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, revised its case numbers far higher to reflect coronavirus diagnoses made by doctors’ holistic assessments rather than the results of nucleic acid testing kits.

    Chinese experts have argued that the testing kits, which sample mucus swabbed from the upper respiratory tract, are both inaccurate and lacking in supply, and therefore do not reflect the true number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus.

    Mi told reporters Thursday that Hubei province changed its diagnosis criteria from every other region so that its patients could receive the appropriate care sooner and more efficiently.

    So far, jurisdictions beyond Hubei have not switched to the looser diagnosis guidelines. The steep rise in nationwide figures announced by Mi were almost completely attributed to the sharp rise in cases reported by the virus-stricken province.

    By Gerry Shih

    6:11 a.m.
    WHO seeking ‘further clarity’ from China after surge in coronavirus cases in Hubei province

    A representative for the World Health Organization (WHO) called for “further clarity” from China on Thursday, after the country significantly raised its tallies of coronavirus infections and deaths.

    In Hubei province, the number of new cases of the virus, now called covid-19, jumped nearly tenfold from the rates reported in recent days. Chinese officials said the surge was due to changes in how cases are now being diagnosed and counted.

    The new figures also reflect diagnoses made by doctors’ overall assessments rather than the results of nucleic acid testing.

    Some researchers welcomed the announcement.

    “One of the problems with using lab-confirmed cases to monitor the spread of [an] epidemic is if there’s a ceiling in the number of tests that can be processed,” said Benjamin Cowling of the School of Public Health at Hong Kong University. “We’ve always known there were more coronavirus infections than the confirmed number of cases. It’s a very sensible move.”

    Speaking to the Reuters news agency, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the organization would seek more information from the Chinese side on reporting protocols and the definition of cases.

    “It is our current understanding that the new case definition widens the net, and includes not only lab-confirmed cases but also clinically diagnosed cases based on symptoms and exposure,” Jasarevic told Reuters.

    By Rick Noack and Gerry Shih

    6:35 a.m.
    South Korean President Moon urges resumption of ‘economic flow’

    SEOUL — South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for the resumption of economic activities as the coronavirus outbreak “nears an end,” even as reported cases surged in China on Thursday after changes to the reporting protocols in Hubei province.

    Moon was probably referring to the situation in South Korea, where a quarter of the 28 coronavirus patients have already been discharged from quarantine. There has not been any new confirmed coronavirus case since Wednesday.

    Moon told a meeting with South Korean business leaders Thursday that now is the time to “minimize the impact of the coronavirus” and “revive the economic flow.”

    South Korea’s economy is heavily dependent on China, which accounts for the biggest share of South Korea’s exports and imports.

    Auto giant Hyundai initially had to suspend production at its home base in South Korea after the coronavirus outbreak in China disrupted its car manufacturing supply lines there.

    This week, Hyundai Motor Co. Vice Chairman Yoon Yeo-Chul told Moon that most of the automaker’s factories in China and some in South Korea have since resumed operations, according to a readout from the presidential office.

    Moon also vowed support for other South Korean companies with production bases in China, as well as the tourism industry, which has taken “a direct hit” from the virus.

    Last year, South Korea had more than 6 million tourists from China, accounting for one-third of all foreigners traveling to the country.

    By Min Joo Kim

    7:09 a.m.
    Singapore confirms eight new coronavirus cases

    Singapore’s Health Ministry confirmed eight new coronavirus cases, bringing the city-state’s total up to 58.

    Authorities also confirmed links between the new cases and already known clusters of infections, including one at a construction site and another one at a church.

    7:17 a.m.
    Japan announces first coronavirus fatality, 2nd outside China

    YOKOHAMA, Japan — Japan’s Health Ministry announced the death of a woman in her 80s from coronavirus on Thursday, the country’s first death from the disease and only the second fatality attributed to the virus outside China.

    Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the woman lived in Kanagawa prefecture, just outside Tokyo.

    Deaths from the disease have surged past 1,300 in China, but the Philippines was the only other country until now to record a fatality.

    Separately, the ministry reported two more cases of coronavirus among Japanese citizens, with no indication that either had been in China recently. One was a male doctor in his 50s in Wakayama Prefecture in western Japan; the other was a taxi driver in his 70s in Tokyo who said he had driven Chinese passengers.

    Japan has confirmed 31 cases of the virus, but the Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored in Yokohama harbor has recorded an additional 218 cases.

    Atsuo Hamada, a professor at Tokyo Medical University Hospital, called the latest cases in different parts of the country worrying. He said an apparent slowdown in new cases recently may have been caused by a shortage of test kits.

    “Probably we are seeing more cases being confirmed now as the result of an expanded testing capacity,” he said on NHK. “Going forward, there is a possibility that we may see cases in different parts of Japan.”


    By Simon Denyer


    8:00 a.m.
    Philippine President Duterte defends travel ban on Taiwanese visitors

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday rejected calls to reverse a temporary entry ban on Taiwanese travelers. He cited the risk of coronavirus infections to justify the decision and denied any political motives.

    “My primary concern is the health and safety of our countrymen,” Duterte said, according to his spokesman Salvador Panelo.

    But Taiwanese officials argue that the Philippines is unfairly treating their island — which has only confirmed 18 cases of the virus, compared to almost 60,000 in mainland China — as part of Beijing’s territory.

    Critics of Duterte have similarly argued that the inclusion of Taiwan in the travel ban is a politically motivated move to curry favor with China, one of the Philippines’ biggest trading partners.

    Taiwan considers itself to be a self-governing country, whereas Beijing views the island as part of “one China,” under the Communist Party’s authority.

    Initially, the Philippines’ travel ban was only reported to include mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. But officials later clarified that the measure also included Taiwan, which triggered threats of retaliation from officials there.

    By Rick Noack
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  12. #12

    Re: Virus Updates and Discussion

    Updates P2

    9:10 a.m.
    London’s first coronavirus victim took an Uber to a hospital, despite government advice

    LONDON — A woman infected with the coronavirus who arrived in Britain from China took an Uber to a hospital in the Lewisham area of London, after falling ill on Sunday.

    The hospital’s chief executive, Ben Travis, confirmed Thursday that the woman had “self-presented” in the emergency room over the weekend despite the latest government advice asking those who think they might have been infected to stay home and avoid contact with others.

    Public Health England also advises those experiencing symptoms to call the National Health Service’s 111 helpline for information. It says those returning from China or other specified areas should not use taxis or other methods of public transport until at least two weeks after their return.

    “In this case, the patient self-presented,” Travis said in a statement. “As soon as the patient did this, the patient was given a mask and then escorted to be tested in the dedicated area we have assigned for coronavirus testing outside the A&E building — while awaiting the installation of a purpose-built ‘pod.’ ”

    All staff who came into contact with the patient “were undergoing active surveillance as a precautionary measure,” he added.

    According to the hospital, the woman did not come into contact with any other patients and was later moved to a specialist unit at another hospital in central London.

    The patient is the first coronavirus patient confirmed in the British capital, bringing the total number to nine.

    By Jennifer Hassan

    10:05 a.m.
    CDC confirms 15th case of coronavirus in the United States

    WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the 15th case of coronavirus in the United States on Thursday morning.

    The person is being held under federal quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Tex., after arriving on a State Department chartered flight from China on Feb. 7.

    The CDC said the person is the first of those quarantined in Texas who had symptoms and tested positive for the virus.

    “There will likely be additional cases in the coming days and weeks, including among other people recently returned from Wuhan,” the CDC said in a statement.

    Speaking to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday morning, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar noted that both the 15th U.S. case of coronavirus and the 14th, which was announced Wednesday evening, came from Wuhan.

    But Azar also said the United States has begun working with health departments in five cities to use its flu surveillance network to begin testing individuals with flulike symptoms.

    “Many questions about the virus remain, and this effort will help see whether there is broader spread than we have been able to detect so far,” Azar said.

    By Adam Taylor

    10:35 a.m.
    Shunned cruise liner arrives in Cambodia after two weeks at sea

    After weeks spent meandering around the Pacific, rebuffed by five governments over coronavirus fears despite the lack of known cases aboard, the MS Westerdam, a cruise ship carrying more than 2,000 crew and passengers, finally found a place to dock: Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

    Cambodian officials tested 20 passengers for the coronavirus as a precautionary measure. No positive results have been noted.

    Cambodian Transportation Minister Sun Chanthol said Thursday that Cambodia had isolated and collected blood samples of around 20 passengers who reported being ill, though he stressed there was no indication that they had the disease now known as covid-19.

    “It is incredibly unusual and challenging circumstances,” Orlando Ashford president of Holland America Line, which owns the cruise liner, told passengers in a video message. “This has all been such a unique situation for any of us to be in and you’ve been the most amazing guests throughout all of it.”

    The World Health Organization on Wednesday praised Cambodia for providing “an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for.”

    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook page Friday that he would meet with passengers.

    Hun Sen has offered political support for Chinese President Xi Jinping throughout the outbreak. The Cambodian president has offered to visit Cambodians stuck in Wuhan, China, its epicenter.

    By Miriam Berger

    10:50 a.m.
    Global markets slump after China announces major increase in coronavirus cases

    Global markets dropped Thursday after China announced a major increase in cases of coronavirus, after a restructuring in diagnostic criteria used by officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic. The slip follows a promising rally the day before, when the outbreak appeared to have slowed.

    Asian and European markets fell overnight, and at Wall Street’s opening bell, the Dow Jones industrial average fell by 115.39 points. The Standard & Poor 500 index fell by 13.55 points and Nasdaq’s index fell by 68.92 points. Oil prices initially slipped but rose again when U.S. markets opened, even as demand has dropped dramatically in China, the largest oil importer in the world.

    Thursday’s slump indicates that uncertainty over how long the outbreak could last has frightened investors. China is facing major economic consequences amid a widespread lockdown and fears of the virus that have shuttered offices and factories. Several major airlines have also canceled flights to China.


    By Siobhán O’Grady
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  13. #13

    Re: Virus Updates and Discussion

    Updates P3

    11:07 a.m.
    Japan relaxes cruise ship quarantine for elderly

    YOKOHAMA — Japan announced a new plan Thursday to gradually test passengers on board the stricken Diamond Princess for the coronavirus and allow some to disembark before the end of the quarantine period, as fears rise that the virus may still be circulating on board the cruise ship.

    Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Thursday that 44 more people on board have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing to 218 the total found to have the virus, including 21 crew members.

    On shore, Japan announced its first death from the coronavirus, a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa Prefecture, the same region outside Tokyo where the ship is docked, and three more cases of the virus that included a taxi driver in Tokyo, a man in his 20s in Chiba near Tokyo, and a doctor in the eastern part of the country.

    That news will put further strain on Japan’s limited ability to test people for the virus, and pose some tough questions on where to concentrate limited resources.

    For now, though, there is a new focus on getting people off the Diamond Princess, after a sharp rise in the number of people found to have the virus that has fueled fears it could still somehow be spreading on board, possibly through the crew who prepare and deliver meals.

    Amid mounting criticism, Japan’s government changed course Thursday, announcing that it would begin a phased program of testing, where passengers who have no trace of the virus will gradually be allowed to disembark before the quarantine ends on Feb. 19, on a voluntary basis.

    Kato said the program would begin with the most medically vulnerable people, the more than 200 people in their 80s on board, and those with health problems that put them at particular risk. Priority will also be given to people with indoor, windowless cabins, while gradually extending the age range of evacuees.

    Read more: “Japan relaxes cruise ship quarantine for elderly amid fears of virus spread”

    By Simon Denyer, with Miriam Berger in Washington and Akiko Kashiwagi in Tokyo

    11:34 a.m.
    Spike in China coronavirus numbers doesn’t change outbreak’s trajectory, WHO says

    A day after China reported an additional 15,000 coronavirus cases following a change in testing criteria in Hubei province, the World Health Organization (WHO) assured the public that the rise does not signal a major change in the disease’s course.

    The spike in cases “does not represent a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak,” said Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, at a daily news briefing in Geneva.

    China revised its testing guidelines for Hubei, the center of the outbreak, to allow doctors to diagnose patients using clinical methods, rather than only more stringent laboratory results. The new numbers included cases dating from the start of the outbreak nearly two months ago.

    “In other words, in Hubei province only, a trained medical professional can now classify a suspected case of covid-19 as a clinically confirmed case on the basis of chest imaging, rather than a laboratory confirmation,” Ryan said, referring to the coronavirus by its new name. “In the rest of China and the rest of the world, laboratory confirmation is still required.”

    While calling for caution, Ryan also noted that the WHO still wants to know “how big is the iceberg.”

    He added, “We have work to do just to see how big that iceberg is.”

    By Miriam Berger

    (...)

    1:15 p.m.
    E-commerce company Alibaba warns of decline to come

    Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group warned Thursday that it expected the coronavirus outbreak to exert a negative impact on its revenue growth as the country’s consumers, sellers and producers continue to grapple with the economic fallout.

    “The epidemic has negatively impacted the overall China economy, especially the retail and service sectors,” Maggie Wu, the company’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call Thursday, Bloomberg reported. “While demand for goods and services is there, the means of production in the economy has been hampered by the delayed opening of offices, factories and schools after the Lunar New Year’s holiday.”

    “Overall revenue will be negatively impacted,” she said.

    The company reported a rise in revenue for the quarter that ended in December, when net income rose by 58 percent, Bloomberg reported.

    Nonetheless, Alibaba, which is involved in technology, retail, and e-commerce, has felt the effects of the decline in production and consumption in China. Workers are unable or unwilling to return to jobs and many factories remain shuttered or have been operating with skeleton teams.

    The outbreak “will present near term challenges to Alibaba’s businesses across the board,” chief executive Daniel Zhang said in the call, Bloomberg reported.

    Zhang also said that the outbreak could offer Alibaba some new opportunities, such as the company’s plan to provide subsidies and lower service fees for some merchants and businesses hit by the virus.

    If the company’s overall revenue falls in the March quarter, it would be the first such decline on record.

    By Miriam Berger

    1:40 p.m.
    Dramatic uptick in Chinese cases probably the result of earlier underestimation, expert says

    When China reported a notable decrease in new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the global economy seemed to respond with relief. Markets rallied and observers suggested that the development could signal that the outbreak was slowing down.

    But on Thursday, Chinese officials announced a sudden revision in the total case number for Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. They credited the uptick, an additional 15,000 cases, to a new diagnostic methodology that would no longer rely solely on laboratory tests for confirmation.

    The dramatic rise shook global markets Thursday amid fears that the spread of the virus could be more severe than had been suspected.

    But Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, cautioned that the uptick is probably a reflection of what many public health experts knew all along — that China’s initial data vastly underestimated the breadth of the outbreak from the beginning.

    “People who have been following this closely knew that this was much bigger than the reported numbers,” Bogoch said. “We knew we were dealing with a health-care system that was exceeding its capacity, and I don’t think this comes to anyone’s surprise.”

    Bogoch said that very few details have emerged on Hubei province’s new methodology. But he cast doubt on claims that medical professionals in Hubei are now relying on CT scans to make diagnoses. Such scans are a “very labor-intensive pursuit,” he said. “It’s not like … you just snap a picture and walk away.”

    China’s health system is overburdened. Patients are seeking treatment wherever they can find a bed — which sometimes means in makeshift clinics in converted gymnasiums and conference centers. Realistically, he said, it seems more likely that medical professionals are relying for the most part on clinical diagnoses based on symptoms and patient history.

    Until China reveals more about its process, it will be difficult to assess what exactly the latest data means. But for now, Bogoch said, it’s promising that China was at least willing to reevaluate its methodology to respond to the reality on the ground.

    “It would certainly be a welcome sign if there is malleability in their response and they’re able to perhaps adapt to an emerging need, and in this case that emerging need was to redefine how cases were being defined,” he said. “We just need to know what exactly the definition is.”

    By Siobhán O’Grady

    2:30 p.m.
    Economic hangover from outbreak could linger for months

    The economic casualties from China’s coronavirus epidemic are mounting as Asian and European auto plants run short of parts, free-spending Chinese tourists stay home and American companies brace for unpredictable turbulence.

    That’s just the start of a financial hangover that is expected to linger for months even if the flulike illness is soon brought under control, according to economists and supply chain experts. The Chinese epidemic’s aftereffects will likely cause the global economy to shrink this quarter for the first time since the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, according to Capital Economics in London.

    Chinese factories had been scheduled to reopen on Feb. 10 after a Lunar New Year holiday that already had been extended for several days because of the medical scare. But with many workers unable or unwilling to return to employers located in a sprawling quarantine region, the resumption of routine operations in many workplaces has been delayed.

    Read more here.

    By David Lynch

    2:55 p.m.
    Trump praises China’s coronavirus response as his top economic adviser criticizes lack of transparency

    President Trump praised China in an interview that aired Thursday, saying it handled the coronavirus outbreak “professionally,” apparently contradicting statements his top economic adviser made earlier in the day calling for more transparency.

    “We thought there was better transparency coming out of China, but it doesn’t appear to be,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Thursday.

    Kudlow questioned the timing of Beijing’s disclosure Wednesday of some 15,000 additional coronavirus cases in Hubei province after implementing new diagnostic criteria there.

    “We don’t know if it’s contained in China,” Kudlow said. “We thought they were tailing off in their head count. It turns out that might not be the case. On this particular matter, we are quite disappointed in China’s response.”


    Later the same day, in a podcast that aired on iHeartRadio, Trump said China had “handled it professionally, and I think they’re extremely capable,” Reuters reported. When asked if China was being truthful about case numbers, he replied, “Well, you never know. I think they want to put the best face on it.”

    By Miriam Berger
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




  14. #14
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    Re: Virus Updates and Discussion

    Olympic plans are said to be on track with no real plan regarding this.

    I can't help but think of playing Plague Inc scenarios somehow very like this. The random bonus to the spread of your disease from a big international event in a country where you have a foothold.
    I disapprove of this message

  15. #15

    Re: Virus Updates and Discussion

    44 Americans on cruise ship docked in Japan tested positive for coronavirus, U.S. health official says
    By
    Gerry Shih and
    Katie Mettler
    Feb. 16, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EST

    The status of passengers on two cruise ships — the Diamond Princess in Japan and the Westerdam in Cambodia — are posing logistical and public health challenges for governments as they try to contain the spread ofcovid-19 and to repatriate citizens.

    In China, meanwhile, the rate of growth for new cases appears to be slowing.

    ● Forty-four Americans who were traveling on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have been infected. They will stay at hospitals in Japan to recover.

    ● Hundreds of Americans who’ve been quarantined on the Diamond Princess since Feb. 5 have been evacuated from the ship and will be flown to the U.S. on chartered planes — then quarantined again for 14 more days.

    ● Several governments are scrambling after an 83-year-old American woman on board the Westerdam cruise liner docked in Cambodia tested positive twice for the coronavirus infection after traveling to Malaysia.

    ● Taiwan has reported its first fatality linked to the coronavirus, a man in his 60s. There are 20 confirmed cases on the self-ruled island.

    ● China reported 2,009 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a drop from the previous two days, as the worldwide death toll rose to 1,669, with roughly 69,000 cases worldwide.

    BEIJING — Hundreds of U.S. citizens who have spent nearly two weeks exposed to the coronavirus and quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked near Tokyo were evacuated Sunday evening and taken by bus to a nearby airport, where two chartered planes are scheduled to return them to the United States.

    Forty-four Americans who were traveling on the Diamond Princess have been infected, Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post on Sunday. Those patients will stay at hospitals in Japan as they recover.

    About 400 Americans were on the cruise ship when it docked in Japan, and the Japanese Defense Ministry said 300 of them disembarked Sunday night, the Associated Press reported. Once they land on U.S. soil, the passengers will be quarantined and monitored for an additional 14 days at military bases in Texas and California.

    The number of coronavirus diagnoses has continued to rise sharply among the 3,700 passengers and crew members originally on board. Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said early Sunday that the quarantined ship floating near Tokyo has 355 confirmed cases, or about 30 percent of the 1,219 people who have been tested so far. That represents one of the highest infection rates in the world.

    "The degree of transmissibility on that cruise ship is essentially akin to being in a hot spot," Fauci, who is also a member of the White House task force for the coronavirus, told CBS.

    The Diamond Princess has been quarantined since Feb. 5. Those who elected to forgo the chartered flight back to the United States are expected to leave the ship on Feb. 19, but officials have said they will not be able to find a different flight home until at least March 4.

    Their motivations to stay behind varied. Some passengers have sick family members being treated for the disease known as covid-19 in Japanese hospitals. Others feared they could be exposed to the coronavirus on the confined plane or were opposed to escaping one quarantine only to enter another, according to a Reuters report.

    Cheryl and Paul Molesky of Syracuse, N.Y., told the Associated Press that they were willing to risk it.

    “We are glad to be going home,” Cheryl Molesky told NHK TV in Japan, the Associated Press reported. “It’s just a little bit disappointing that we’ll have to go through quarantine again, and we will probably not be as comfortable as the Diamond Princess, possibly.”

    “The biggest challenge has been the uncertainty,” she added.

    Video footage showed several buses lined up alongside the cruise ship Sunday night as American passengers disembarked.

    Canada, South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong announced Sunday they would also arrange charter flights.

    Three Israelis on board have been found positive for the virus, according to the Israeli Health Ministry, but their condition is mild and they are now in a hospital in Japan. The ministry added that an expert physician has been sent to liaise with Japanese health officials.

    The Diamond Princess and another cruise ship, the Westerdam in Cambodia, are posing logistical and public health challenges for governments as they try to contain the spread of covid-19 and to repatriate citizens.

    Concerns mounted on Sunday that authorities in Cambodia, including U.S. Embassy officials, had allowed passengers infected by the coronavirus to disembark from the Westerdam cruise ship and depart for other cities and countries around the world after Malaysian officials confirmed that a second exam for an ill passenger returned positive.

    Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told reporters Sunday that an 83-year-old American passenger on the cruise liner tested positive for the coronavirus — once on Friday and once on Saturday — after she landed in Kuala Lumpur, despite being screened earlier by Cambodian health officials.

    “The results were the same. That is positive for the wife and negative for her husband,” Wan Azizah told reporters at a news conference, adding that Malaysia will now bar entry for all passengers from the cruise ship, according to Reuters.

    The unexpected finding upends a basic assumption by several governments, including the United States, that the ship was virus-free and that passengers could be greeted at proximity without protective gear and allowed to travel.

    The American woman, whose identity has not been disclosed, was among hundreds of relieved passengers who were let off the Westerdam on Friday and welcomed and embraced by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has downplayed the epidemic’s threat and described the decision to bring them onshore as an act of humanitarian goodwill. The ship had been stranded at sea for nearly two weeks and was running low on provisions after it was denied entry to Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and the U.S. territory of Guam.

    The U.S. ambassador, W. Patrick Murphy, also brought his family on the cruise ship and posed for pictures on Saturday with American passengers. Murphy and other passengers did not appear to be wearing masks in photos shared on the embassy’s Twitter account.

    Disembarkation, which was set to continue over the weekend, was halted Sunday, according to Cambodian journalists at the scene.

    Holland America, the cruise operator, said in a statement Sunday that no other passengers or crew who were on the ship have reported any symptoms of the coronavirus. About 1,000 people remain on the ship, with the rest on their way home.

    Grant Tarling, Holland America’s chief medical officer, said in the statement that the company was working with health experts to contact national health authorities around the world to investigate and follow up with individuals who may have come into contact with the American woman found to carry the virus.

    On Saturday, Cambodia’s health minister issued a public statement urging the public to “not be overly afraid” but to take protective measures. That night, charter flights that were originally scheduled to take Westerdam passengers to Kuala Lumpur were canceled by Malaysian authorities.

    As of Sunday, authorities worldwide have tallied roughly 69,000 cases of the illness and 1,669 deaths. The overwhelming majority of infections remain in mainland China, which reported 2,009 new cases on Saturday.

    In Taiwan, authorities reported the first death on Sunday, a man in his 60s with diabetes and hepatitis but no recent history of overseas travel, according to the state-run Central News Agency. Officials said they were still investigating how the man contracted the virus while living in the central part of Taiwan, which has so far recorded 20 confirmed cases across the island.

    Chinese officials said Sunday that they believed measures taken across the country to control the epidemic were paying off. Several cities in the central region have declared strict “wartime measures” that allow residents to leave their homes only several times a week and upon approval from neighborhood authorities.

    Guards in Hubei are required to check identification 24 hours a day at the entrance to residential compounds, and driving is banned for all nonessential purposes under new regulations released Sunday.

    The number of new cases across China, including in Hubei, have been falling, said Chinese National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng, who noted that doctors in the worst-hit province had broadened their diagnosis criteria for patients suspected of suffering from the disease and were able to treat them more quickly.

    “The effects of our counter-coronavirus measures in every part of the country are already becoming apparent,” Mi said.

    The Westerdam was believed to have no infections on board among the 2,200 crew and passengers who were stranded at sea for weeks as countries rejected their entry following a stop in Hong Kong, where they took on hundreds of new passengers.

    Health experts have warned that the coronavirus is difficult to contain precisely because symptoms are often mild and the coronavirus could replicate inside the human body and infect others for more than two weeks before showing symptoms at all.

    The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh said Cambodian officials individually screened all disembarking passengers for fever with the help of embassy staff this week, and any passenger who reported feeling ill had received lab tests, all of which returned negative. The tests were processed by a lab trusted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Embassy said.

    Ruth Eglash in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...18a_story.html
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.




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