Coronavirus Death Toll Hits 25 As Beijing Confirms 830 Patients Infected
8 Chinese cities, more than 23 million people, effectively under quarantine
Multiple cases across the world – from Scotland to Singapore and USA
830 Infected in mainland China according to Chinese officials (Mainland China: 830 Taiwan: 1 Macau: 2 Hong Kong: 2 Vietnam: 2 Thailand: 3 Singapore: 1 Japan: 1 South Korea: 1 US: 1).
25 Dead (following 1st death outside Wuhan)
WHO says “not the time to declare a global health emergency”
Patient in Texas recently traveled to Wuhan
WHO estimates coronavirus is about as contagious as the Spanish flu, more than twice as infectious as the common flu.
Update (1920ET): As Friday begins in Beijing, Chinese state media has announced that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in mainland China has climbed to 830, while the number of deaths has climbed to 25. As Beijing expands its efforts to crack down on the virus ahead of the LNY holiday, media reports claim that Beijing has requested the closing of all indoor activities involving more than 100 people.
Meanwhile, more disturbing videos out of Wuhan are circulating online as reports about a growing number of sick health-care workers circulate in the Hong Kong press.
In other news, US lawmakers are set to be briefed on the virus Friday morning.
* * *
Update (1750ET): Japan’s health ministry confirmed a second case of coronavirus on Friday, reported Reuters.
The infected man who lives in Wuhan, China, traveled to Japan on Sunday — has been hospitalized in Tokyo, the health ministry said in a statement.
Details are limited at the moment. There was no mention of how many people the infected man came in contact with before being quarantined. New reports out of the UK are claiming that 14 people are now being tested for the virus after earlier reports said 3 people in Scotland were under quarantine as suspected carriers of the virus.
Meanwhile, the number of cities in Hubei province facing a travel ban/lockdown/quarantine has been expanded to eight: Wuhan, Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi, Xiantao, Qianjiang, Zhijiang and Lichuan.
SCMP has also released some more details about the first death outside of Hubei: An 80-year-old man died in the town of Hebei after spending two months in Wuhan visiting relatives.
Back in Wuhan, ride-share company Didi has suspended its service, as China’s finance ministry announced that 1 billion yuan ($144 million) would be used by Hubei authorities to halt the spread of the illness.
Also, in the latest sign that the regime in Beijing hasn’t kept its promise of complete transparency, the SCMP reports that health-care workers in Wuhan are getting sick at a rate that is faster than previously revealed. Initially, Chinese authorities insisted that health care workers weren’t being sickened, indicating that the virus didn’t spread via human to human contact. But we’ve since learned that this was a lie.
Fifteen cases of the coronavirus have been officially reported among health care workers in the city, though doctors say the real number is much higher.
Just as we expected, the situation in Wuhan has gotten so out of hand that videos of health-care workers collapsing from exhaustion are circulating online.
If it seems like every person who managed to escape Wuhan is carrying the virus, here’s one possible explanation: the WHO estimated that the coronavirus has a Ro (a measure of how contagious a virus is) of 2, equivalent to the Spanish flu that sickened 500 million during the first half of the 20th century. The common flu, by comparison, has a Ro of 0.9.
* * *
Update (1600ET): Markets recovered on Thursday after the WHO declined to label the coronavirus as a global pandemic threat (though we suspect they might change their view once the market has closed).
But now that Beijing’s shock-and-awe approach to containing the viral panic appears to have convinced health officials that the virus won’t make it to the next generation of transmission, it’s worth remembering that Beijing’s attempt to quarantine more than 20 million people was hardly comprehensive.
For examples, look at this Vice story, which claims one woman evaded airport checks by taking medication that lowered a fever. According to Vice, the Chinese embassy in Paris is hoping to speak with her after she visited a Michelin-starred restaurant and shared the whole experience on WeChat.
The warning came after one woman from Wuhan took medicine to bring down her temperature to avoid detection as she boarded a flight to France, where she dined at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
The woman was heavily criticized for her actions after she posted photos and details of her trip on WeChat. On Wednesday night the Chinese embassy in France responded with a warning and asked the woman to contact their emergency phone number.
Some people won’t let the risk of contagion spoil their holiday plans.
* * *
Update (1530ET): 7News reports that an individual suspected of coronavirus infection has been quarantined in Sydney.
* * *
Update (1510ET): Investigators are reportedly examining another potential case of coronavirus in Texas’s Brazos County.
The patient recently traveled from Wuhan and is reportedly suffering from symptoms similar to those who have been infected by the virus .
Meanwhile, a passenger at LAX has been quarantined after showing symptoms of the virus. That patient arrived at LAX from Mexico City and exhibited “disturbing” symptoms, according to health officials, per Fox 5.
This development comes a day after Los Angeles County public health officials said it was “very possible” the area will see at least one patient, given the number of people traveling between the Southland and China.
* * *
Update (1325ET): The World Health Organization, after a second day of meetings, have decided AGAINST declaring an international virus alarm. The panel was reportedly split on the decision and may revise the decision but for now states that “now is not the time” to declare an emergency.
“Make no mistake: This is an emergency in China,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one.”
* * *
Update (1300ET): CNBC’s Eunice Yoon just provided a shocking update to the status of the deadly virus in China:
“7 cities and 23 million people are effectively under quarantine.”
The cities under effective martial law – with all travel in, around, and out halted – are Wuhan, Huanggang, Zhijiang, Ezhou, Qianjiang, Chibi, and Xiantao.
That is more people quarantined than the population of Florida (21.6m).
Outside of China, cases keep appearing (map does not include recent cases in Scotland and Ireland):
* * *
Update (1150ET): If you haven’t cancelled those tickets to Wuhan yet, you might want to hold off: The State Department has just reverted its safety warning on travel to China to “exercise caution” from “reconsider your travel plans”.
Clearly, somebody in the Chinese government complained, and with US stocks deep in the red, it seems the Trump Administration was perceptive.
After all, the point is to convince the public not to panic.
* * *
Update (1130ET): As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases nears 650 (the latest count put the number at 647), the US State Department has decided to reassure Americans that they are ‘safe’ from the virus.
China has nearly competed its quarantine of four cities in Hubei, even as experts warn it won’t be enough. As millions prepared to travel, George Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, warned the Chinese public to stay home during the holiday season, warning that this was a “crucial time” to stop the virus.
With 444 confirmed cases, Wuhan remains the epicenter of the epidemic. Reports about another virus-related death are circulating on social media, along with a terrifying video of first-responders in full-body gear treating an individual who had seemingly collapsed in the middle of the road.
That’s not exactly reassuring.
Meanwhile, in Wuhan, shortages of medical supplies and facemasks are already prompting hospitals, universities and charities to reach out to the surrounding area for donations.
But sure – everything is under control.
* * *
Update (1045ET): Just in case you had plans to celebrate LNY at a fish market in Wuhan, the US government has published a travel warning advising Americans to ‘reconsider traveling to China’ amid the latest viral outbreak.
- U.S. URGES TRAVELERS TO RECONSIDER CHINA VISITS DUE TO VIRUS
Even if you made it to Wuhan at this point, one might encounter difficulties trying to enter the city, especially as a foreigner.
* * *
Update (0950ET): The BBC is reporting that a suspected case of coronavirus has been detected in Scotland.
Note: These are only suspected cases – not yet confirmed.
If confirmed, this would be the first case of the virus in the UK, and would indicate another intrusion into the developed world, this time in Europe.
The UK Health Secretary said Friday morning that the coronavirus is “increasingly likely” to hit Britain, the Times of London reports.
According to CNN, the number of coronavirus cases confirmed around the world has climbed to 622 (once again, the graphic below is ever-so-slightly out of date):
And the scramble for facemasks continues, with Hong Kong stores swiftly running out of stock, and black-market sellers engaging in widespread gouging of terrified customers.
* * *
Update (0935ET): India’s foreign office said Thursday that an Indian nurse in Saudi Arabia has been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus.
“About 100 Indian nurses mostly from Kerala working at Al-Hayat hospital have been tested and none except one nurse was found infected by Corona virus,” tweeted Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, on Thursday.
Cases have also been reported in Russia, Hong Kong and Macau, in addition to all of the countries listed below:
Saudi Arabia’s economy depends on millions of migrant workers, a group that includes many Indians.
* * *
Update (0841ET): Beijing says the number of confirmed Wuhan cases in China has climbed to 634, bringing the global total to 641.
Here’s a breakdown of cases by region (though it might be slightly out of date, it gets the point across):
In keeping with China’s insistence that the Wuhan virus is far less deadly than the 2003 SARS outbreak, the SCMP reports that almost half of the 17 people who have succumbed to the virus so far were aged 80 or older, and most of them had pre-existing health conditions. All of those who died, 13 men and four women so far, were from the central province of Hubei, and were treated in hospitals in its capital, Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak. Chinese authorities have quarantined most of the biggest sources in the province.
Here’s some more information on the victims, including the types of illnesses they faced:
At least nine of those who died had pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, coronary artery disease and Parkinson’s disease. Eight were in their eighties, two in their seventies, five in their sixties and one man was in his fifties. The youngest woman was 48 and had a pre-existing condition.
One 89-year-old man, surnamed Chen, had a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease and other conditions. He began experiencing symptoms on January 13, including difficulty breathing but not fever. Five days later, he was admitted to the Wuhan Union Hospital with severe breathing difficulties, and tested positive for pneumonia. He died the following evening.
The 48-year-old woman, surnamed Yin, had suffered from diabetes and had also had a stroke. She first had a fever, aches and pains on December 10 and her condition slowly deteriorated. She was treated at two hospitals in Wuhan before she died on Monday.
Officials in Beijing have been cautious about making definitive statements about the origins and characteristics of the disease, including its incubation period, saying more investigation was needed.
“There’s still a need for further study of the virus over time,” said Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, at a press briefing on Wednesday.
“As for the impact on younger people, according to current epidemiology and what we know right now, they really aren’t susceptible,” he said.
Patients as young as 15 have been infected with the pneumonia-like virus, according to Wuhan health officials. There are now more than 570 confirmed cases, including some reported in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
* * *
Update (0800ET): CNA, an English-language news website based across Asia, has just reported that Singapore has confirmed the first case of the Wuhan coronavirus.
In a media briefing on Thursday evening, the Ministry of Health said the carrier is a 66-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan. The man arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan. 20 after flying in from Guangzhou via China Southern. The man reported having a soar throat on the flight, but no fever.
Earlier, St. Petersburg reportedly confirmed its third case of the Wuhan virus.
The man traveled to Singapore General on Wednesday, and was immediately placed in isolation. He tested positive for the virus at 6 pm local time on Thursday. Singaporean authorities have already begun a contact tree, and are isolating all those with whom the suspect had contact.
The diagnosis is just the latest indication that, even as more Chinese cities cancel LNY celebrations, too many Chinese, including Chinese from Wuhan, have already traveled abroad. And the week-long holiday doesn’t even start until Saturday.
This live NYT map of confirmed Wuhan cases appears to be out-of-date, despite having just been updated.
The number of confirmed cases is closer to 600. Still, it gets the point across.