coronavirus update
February 17, 2020

Chinese authorities reported early Monday that there were about 100 new deaths from coronavirus, the lowest daily count since Feb. 11. The flu-like virus now has killed more than 1,700 people, Reuters reports. The number of confirmed infections in Hubei province, where the outbreak is centered, rose on Monday after falling for two straight days. Authorities in Hubei imposed tough new restrictions on movement as they continued to step up efforts to contain the spread of the outbreak. The number of new cases outside of Hubei province fell for the 13th consecutive day. "These are all extremely good signs that show our prevention work is very effective," National Health Commission official Guo Yanhong said.

Meanwhile, two planes left Japan early Monday carrying 328 Americans who spent two weeks quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship due to a coronavirus outbreak on board. Fourteen of the American passengers were confirmed to have been infected with the flu-like virus, BBC reports. There were about 400 Americans on the ship, and at least 40 are being treated in Japan after being diagnosed with coronavirus. CNN has video from evacuated Americans:

The U.S. government chartered the aircraft to bring home the U.S. citizens who weren't believed to have been infected. They will remain under a 14-day quarantine at U.S. military bases. Japanese authorities announced Sunday that the number of confirmed infections on the ship had risen by 70 to 355. The ship has the largest cluster of cases outside China, where the coronavirus outbreak is concentrated. Harold Maass

February 15, 2020

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist infected with the coronavirus died Friday at a hospital in Paris, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn announced Saturday.

The patient, who was not named, is believed to be the first person to die from the virus outside of Asia and the fourth outside mainland China. Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Japan have each reported one death, while the vast majority of fatalities have occurred in China.

The man's daughter is also infected, but is expected to be discharged from the hospital soon.

Meanwhile, the United States is planning to evacuate Americans from the cruise ship that has been quarantined for more than a week in Japan after at least 218 passengers tested positive for the virus, including at least 40 Americans who were taken off the ship for treatment.

Overall, more than 66,000 people have been infected with and more than 1,500 have died from the virus across the globe, although the latest 24-hour period saw a dip in new cases. Read more at The New York Times and The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

February 14, 2020

Coronavirus is continuing to spread throughout China and especially in the epicenter Hubei province, the World Health Organization said in a Friday update briefing on COVID-19.

There are 47,505 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout China with 1,381 deaths reported from the pneumonia-like illness it causes, including 121 deaths reported in the past day. Six of those who died were health care workers — "a critical piece of information" as WHO continues to investigate why even rigorous medical guidelines haven't stopped the spread, WHO reported Friday.

A total of 1,716 health care workers in China have contracted COVID-19 despite WHO's guidelines, so this weekend, a team of 12 international and WHO experts will arrive in China to meet with local medical professionals for a "joint mission." The experts will particularly look at disease transmission and response measures to see how processes for health care workers, who "are working with virtually no sleep in difficult conditions," can be improved, WHO said.

Meanwhile, Hubei, home to the epicenter city of Wuhan, is "enacting 'wartime' measures" as the number of confirmed cases in the province has climbed to 16,427. The measures include blocking people from going outside, "sealing off residential complexes and allowing only essential vehicles on the roads," The Washington Post reports. The virus has kicked off an "economic fallout" throughout China, with flower sales reportedly falling as much as 95 percent this Valentine's Day, the Post continues. Kathryn Krawczyk

February 11, 2020

China reported some grim milestones Tuesday as President Xi Jinping appeared on TV touring a hospital in Beijing and declaring that "we will most definitely win this people's war" against the coronavirus that has spread around the world from Wuhan, a city of 11 million in China's Hubei province. The death toll from the virus has risen above 1,000, to 1,016 in mainland China, the National Health Commission said Tuesday, and for the first time, the daily number of reported coronavirus deaths topped 100, with 108 people succumbing in the previous 24 hours.

On the brighter side, China reported fewer new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus: 2,478 cases reported Monday, from 3.062 on Sunday. That brings the total number of cases in mainland China to 42,638, including patients who recovered and were released. Outside mainland China, authorities have confirmed 440 cases, including 135 of the 3,711 passengers stuck on a cruse ship quarantined in Yokohama, Japan.

World Health Organization officials say they aren't sure how widely the novel corona virus will spread around the world, but many countries, including the U.S., have banned people who visited China within the past two weeks. China's central government fired or demoted several health officials Tuesday, including the party secretary for the Hubei Health Commission, the head of the commission, the deputy director of the local Red Cross, and the health commissioner for Huanggang, the second-worst afflicted city in Hubei. About 75 percent of coronavirus deaths have been in Wuhan, which remains under quarantine. Peter Weber

February 10, 2020

China's President Xi Jinping was out and about in Beijing on Monday as part of an effort to show he's taking active role in the country's response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Xi doesn't often mingle with the public, per The New York Times, but his absence during the virus' spread has been particularly noticeable. So on Monday, he was seen making stops at various spots in the capital, including a community center, hospital, and center for disease control. The president was wearing a surgical mask and had his temperature taken. He also spoke with medical workers in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, via video conferencing.

Wu Qiang, an independent political analyst in Beijing, said the virus has put "pressure" on Xi to show both the public and Chinese Communist Party insiders that he was at the heart of the government's response. "It has become a matter of political security," Wu said. "Political security does not mean in the sense of popular resistance but rather that the epidemic may spread to Beijing and Shanghai, endangering the political operations of the so-called capital areas." Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

February 2, 2020

The Philippines reported the first death resulting from the Wuhan coronavirus outside of China on Sunday.

A 44-year-old man who tested positive for the new coronavirus died Saturday in the Philippines after developing what officials called "severe pneumonia." He was reportedly in stable condition until the final 24 hours before his condition "deteriorated." The patient was a native of Wuhan, China, where the virus appears to have originated. He arrived in the Philippines in January with a 38-year-old woman who also tested positive for the coronavirus and remains isolated in a hospital in Manila.

In China, officials reported Sunday that the country's death toll rose to at least 304 people while the worldwide total of confirmed cases — the vast majority within China — has reached nearly 14,380, per Chinese and World Health Organization data. People in all of China's provinces and territories have been affected by the virus at this point. Read more at The Associated Press and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

January 26, 2020

China's central government announced Sunday that it's taking the reins in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus from local officials in Hubei province, home to the virus' city of origin, Wuhan.

Ma Xiaowei, the head of the country's National Health Commission, said "we are now in a critical period of prevention and control." It appears the coronavirus is becoming more contagious — Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, said experts will likely soon confirm another 1,000 infection cases. Meanwhile, the death toll resulting from the disease rose to 56, including the first fatality in Shanghai.

"The virus has become rampant," said Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

But despite the severity of the situation, Gao also doled out some optimism. He said the virus hasn't shown any signs of mutating into a more deadly form, and revealed that a vaccine may soon be available.

Most of the cases are confined to China, but a third case was confirmed in the United States, after a person in Orange County, California, tested positive. The patient is being treated and is reportedly in "good condition." Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

January 24, 2020

A second case of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China and has left more than 20 people dead has been confirmed in the United States.

Officials on Friday said a Chicago woman in her 60s has been diagnosed with the virus, and they're monitoring 63 other possible cases across 22 U.S. states, CNBC reports. The Chicago patient, who last week returned home from Wuhan, is reportedly isolated in the hospital, and officials say she's doing well. She reportedly "had very limited movement from outside her home and did not use public transportation or attend any large gatherings," CNBC writes.

The first U.S. case of the coronavirus was confirmed three days ago when a man in Washington state was diagnosed, The Washington Post reports. As of Friday, Chinese officials have confirmed 26 deaths and 830 cases of the virus, The New York Times reports.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say "they expected the virus ... would spread to more people in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world," The Wall Street Journal writes. At least 22 coronavirus cases have been confirmed outside of mainland China, CNN reports.

Travel restrictions have been imposed in China affecting around 30 million people ahead of the Lunar New Year. Chinese authorities have canceled all large-scale Lunar New Year events, CNN reports, while Shanghai Disneyland and almost 70,000 movie theaters have also closed. CNN writes that seeing as "Lunar New Year is to China what the Christmas-New Year holiday period is to the United States," it's "hard to overstate the significance of this." Brendan Morrow

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