South Korea confirms first human-to-human transmission
China reported largest one-day jump in fatalities on Wednesday with
Hong Kong warns of surgical mask shortage
Russia closes border
6,000 quarantined aboard Italian cruise ship
Thailand leads with most cases outside China (14)
Chinese national hospitalized and quarantined in York
Virus arrives in India, Philippines
Air France suspends flights to/from mainland
IMF now monitoring crisis as economic fears grow
State Department authorizes personnel to evacuate China
WHO declares global pandemic
American Airlines pilots union files lawsuit to end travel to China
First 2 cases confirmed in Italy
Germany confirms 5th case
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Update (1620ET): The first two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Italy. No word yet if there's any connection to the cruise ship that was quarantined earlier on Thursday (health officials gave it the all-clear a few hours ago). But PM Conte has just blocked air traffic with China.
ITALY'S PM CONTE SAYS FIRST TWO CORONAVIRUS CASES CONFIRMED IN ITALY
And we thought the WHO just said not to worry, because China has it all under control?
The Italian Prime Minister just announced that 2 cases of #coronavirus in Italy are confirmed, Chinese tourists, and that the Health Minister ordered to close air traffic from Italy to China. It can be the the first EU country to do thathttps://youtu.be/tKiwp1u780g
In spite of the WHO's insistence that cutting travel links with China really isn't necessary, the American Airlines pilots union has filed a lawsuit in Dallas seeking to force the airline to cease all travel to and from China. And the Health Ministry of Trinidad has temporarily barred Chinese tourists.
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Update (12:40ET): Rumors that surfaced in recent days have been confirmed: the CDC said Thursday afternoon they have confirmed human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in Chicago - meaning the US has now joined Germany, Japan, South Korea and Thailand in having confirmed human-to-human transmission outside China.
One of the five prior cases confirmed by the CDC apparently managed to pass the virus to her husband. The new patient is the spouse of the woman being treated in Chicago. It appears there are now six cases confirmed in the US.
The risk of infection is low, CDC said, and it's not making recommendations to cancel plans or activities, and doesn't recommend the need to wear facemasks at this time. The CDC still hasn't confirmed whether carriers of the virus are contagious before showing symptoms.
Though the US is already planning to evacuate even more American citizens from Wuhan, The notion that we won't import at least one case of the virus through this program seems unrealistic. Meanwhile, the total number of cases worldwide has eclipsed the total from the SARS outbreak, which lasted for nearly a year.
Stocks legged lower on the headline as investors grappled with the notion that the WHO now has no choice but to declare a global pandemic.
During the SARS outbreak in 2003, there were zero cases of human-to-human transmission in the US.
Over in France, a doctor has been hospitalized after treating the country's fifth coronavirus patient.
Beijing expected to announce 2020 growth target of “around 6%” at March meeting. But Mizuho sees 5.6% as possibility. Fitch says maybe 5.4%. @TheEIU_China sees slowdown as weak as 4.4%. #China relies more on consumption compared to SARS era. Exports less likely to save the day.
Confirmed #WuhanCoronavirus cases far exceeds that of SARS in 2003. Hubei Province added another 300 cases. Global total now at 8,233 with 171 dead. Death rate not as high as SARS but prompting economists to warn of lower #China growth.
Update (1015ET):Bloomberg reported that the number of total cases in China has climbed past 8,000, the number of cases from the SARS outbreak (which lasted for months). However, that figure hasn't been confirmed anywhere else.
Instead, SCMP says the number of confirmed cases hasn't budged since early Thursday morning. Meanwhile, Australia reported its eighth coronavirus case on Thursday, a 42-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan tested positive for the virus and was isolated in Gold Coast University Hospital. The Australian government is also in talks with Beijing to evacuate its citizens.
As we mentioned earlier, Tang Zhihong, the head of the health commission of the central Chinese city of Huanggang, was sacked on Thursday night, according to the city’s Communist Party committee. This has morphed into a local scandal, as the scapegoating of local officials continues.
Tang was embarrassed when CCTV aired footage of him failing to answer key questions at a press conference. Huanggang, near the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, has 324 confirmed cases of the illness, as of Thursday, the second-largest toll after Wuhan.
As worries about the economic fallout intensify, the IMF said it has started working with the WHO to monitor the crisis. The IMF Direct impact of the coronavirus outbreak is mostly on demand as people stay home during a busy time for retail and tourism, while on supply side there have been transport stoppages and workers idled, International Monetary Fund spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters in Washington. Direct impact of the coronavirus outbreak is mostly on demand, as the outbreak overshadows the holiday season of leisure consumption, while on the supply side, whole factories have been idled.
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Update (1000ET): Italians are breathing a sigh of relief. Initial tests suggest there is no coronavirus aboard the quarantined cruise ship. A 54-year-old woman from Macau had a fever and respiratory symptoms that were suspiciously close to the virus's symptoms. She has since been kept in isolation on board in the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome. Initial tests have cleared her, but the final results aren't expected until later in the day.
In the US, American Airlines has extended cancellations of passenger flights between the US and China through March 28.
After closing its border with China, Russia is reportedly weighing the cancellation of the Sochi Economic Forum, which is slated to begin Feb. 12.
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Update (0920ET): Air France has acquiesced to its employees demands and confirmed that it's suspending all flights to and from the Chinese mainland, joining a host of other airlines who have done the same thing.
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Update (0855ET): The UK is reporting shortages of facemasks amid several virus scares, the Guardian reports. Shortages have also been reported in Hong Kong, and across China.
On the Boots website, a six-pack of “safe & sound” surgical face masks is sold out, with a note saying they will not be receiving any further stock.
Another product on the Boots website, a box of 50 masks, is also sold out and carries the same message about not being restocked.
Boots said surgical face masks are available to order in stores as a special line from the pharmacy counter, adding that they are “working to make additional stock available for customers to purchase in store and on boots.com which we hope will land over the next week”.
A branch of B&Q in London appeared to be low on stocks of face masks, with racks empty on Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, on amazon.co.uk, a pack of 12 “anti virus” flu surgical face masks is sold out, with the online retailer saying they do not know when, or if, the item will be back in stock, although there are other masks available on the site.
Meanwhile, Vietnam said it will stop issuing visas for Chinese tourists, as have the Philippines and Russia. In China, Beijing has removed the city health commissioner in Huanggang. We suspect he may never be heard from again.
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Update (0816ET): Hubei has reported 317 new cases as of noon Thursday local time, according to local Party Secretary Jiang Chaoliang. Hubei is the province at the epicenter of the outbreak: the virus orginated in the province's capital, Wuhan. The most recent count put the number of confirmed cases at 7,921 and the death toll steady at 170.
Hong Kong is reportedly struggling with a shortage of face masks. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the government had bought 13 million masks, but public hospitals have been using 5x to 6x as many as normal. Hong Kong is stepping up local production at correctional facilities to keep up with demand, and another 24 million should be available at retail outlets soon
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Update (0800ET): Has the virus come to Yorkshire?
A Chinese national has been rushed to a hospital after taking ill at a hospital in York....
No cases of the virus have been confirmed in the UK so far, though there have been a handful of scares.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Thursday that the first British evacuation flight could take off from Wuhan as soon as Thursday evening UK time. The flight was supposed to leave Thursday morning, but there was a delay as Chinese officials were slow to grant permission for takeoff.
As viral outbreak turns neighbors against each other and inspired a wave of suspicion in towns and cities across China, some have chosen to seek comfort by playing children's games.
Update (0745ET): South Korea just joined Japan, Thailand and Germany (and possibly the US) in confirming a case of human-to-human viral transmission that occurred within its borders, involving one individual who hasn't recently traveled to China.
South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed two more cases Thursday, bringing the total to six. However, the sixth patient to be confirmed, a 56-year-old South Korean man, was diagnosed after "coming in contact with a third patient" inside South Korea, according to CNA.
He has been quarantined at a hospital in Seoul. The other five were diagnosed after returning from Wuhan, the city where the virus first emerged, which is now under a draconian government-imposed lockdown.
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Update (0725ET): Following several unconfirmed scares, India has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus. That means all three of the world's most populous countries have now confirmed at least one case of the virus.
And that list could soon expand. Brazil, the world's fifth most-populous country, reported three suspected cases yesterday. Malaysia has confirmed at least 8 cases. Reports that a Thai woman died of the virus on Kolkata were never confirmed.
First case of #coronavirus in India. One positive case of Novel Coronavirus patient, of a student studying in Wuhan University, has been reported in Kerala. The patient has tested positive for Novel Coronavirus and is in isolation in the hospital: @MoHFW_INDIA@IndianExpress
Meanwhile, here's the most up-to-date map we could find:
Earlier, the White House said it had launched a task force that will meet daily to oversee the response to the coronavirus outreak that has resulted in at least five confirmed cases in the US, NBC reports. However, an expert who appeared on CNBC Thursday morning pointed out that the administration is a little behind the 8-ball.
If the administration wasn't so bogged down with impeachment, maybe Trump would have more time to focus on the virus response?
"Let's remember we have fewer than four cases in the United States, and they're concentrated in four states," he said. The maximum country is Thailand, with 14 cases, he said - and the US is nowhere near that.
Reports out of Atlanta claimed that more than 20 passengers had been quarantined at Hartsfield-Jackson airport as they undergo advanced screening for the virus.
In other news: The Philippines has also reported its first case: A 38-year-old female Chinese patient who arrived from Wuhan via Hong Kong on Jan. 21.
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Update (0710ET): Airline employees are putting their feet down and demanding that their bosses halt flights to China, as more than a dozen airlines around the world have already done.
Air France cabin crew unions have demanded Air France stop flying to China, Reuters reports.
"Air France is monitoring the rapidly evolving situation in real time. The health and safety of its crew remain the absolute priority," said Air France-KLM.
We've heard whispers of employee discontent before. But expect to see more to forcefully object.
If the recent past is any guide, this would suggest another dump of new cases and deaths is in the offing.
Three new cases were confirmed in Vietnam overnight. But in terms of news flow, most of the drama during the early hours of Thursday centered around Italy and Russia.
A map of cases hasn't yet reflected the suspected cases in Italy.
With the WHO set to reconvene its emergency committee in Geneva on Thursday for the third time in a week, experts are calling on the supra-national organization to label the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern," or PHEIC - the official designation of a global pandemic.
The 16 independent experts on the WHO’s emergency committee will advise Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the decision and give recommendations for managing the outbreak. Earlier this week, Tedros met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing earlier in the week to discuss the situation. Twice last week, the WHO decided to hold off on declaring a public health emergency, saying it was "too soon," according to the SCMP.
Hitoshi Oshitani, a former regional adviser on communicable disease surveillance and response at the WHO’s Western Pacific office, told the SCMP that there is an "imminent risk" of a dangerous global outbreak.
"I think the WHO should have declared a public health emergency of international concern earlier. They are supposed to declare PHEIC based on a risk of international spread. There was already significant risk of international spread one week ago," Oshitani said.
"For Sars, patients were infectious only when they developed very severe illness. But for this virus, patients are likely to be infectious even during the incubation period. If so, rapid isolation is not enough to contain the virus," he said.
SARS infected 8,000 people and killed 813 worldwide. The coronavirus outbreak has already surpassed SARS in terms of the number of cases in China. Globally, the virus has already effectively tied SARS for the number of confirmed cases, though if skeptical epidemiologists are correct, the true number of cases has already far surpassed the total for SARs.
A number of evacuation missions have been completed, as the US and Japan have flown citizens trapped in Wuhan to safety. However, Japanese officials discovered that several citizens on the flight were infected with the virus, leading to a mass quarantine. UK officials said that citizens evacuated from Wuhan must agree to spend two weeks in quarantine after returning to the UK.
About 6,000 passengers and crew aboard the cruise ship "Costa Smeralda," owned by the Carnival Corporation, have been confined to the vessel on Thursday amid new fears that two Chinese passengers are suspected of having coronavirus, reported Reuters.
Two Chinese tourists, traveling from Hong Hong and, originally, from Macau, have been placed in "isolation in separate rooms of the ship's sanitary space," said local media outlet, ANSA.
The tourist arrived in Italy on Jan. 25 and boarded the vessel in the port of Savona in Italy. The two have come down with high fevers and breathing problems.
"The cabin of the Hong Kong couple on the ship has been isolated and they are closed there with the doctors. They told us that it is the woman who has a very high fever, while her husband is visiting him as a precaution. We arrived in the morning, returning from Palma de Mallorca. Of course, we are a bit worried. From the ship, apart from the doctors, no one goes down and no one goes up. Someone, who has only the flu, remained in the cabin. It is a vacation that risks ending like a nightmare, we hope to go down soon," a passenger of the ship told ANSA.
The cruise ship has already moored in Marseilles in France and several Spanish ports this week before docking on Thursday at Civitavecchia, north of Rome.
Reuters notes that all passengers have been confined to the ship as tests are underway to determine if the two Chinese tourists have coronavirus.
Carnival shares plunged as much as 6% in pre-market Thursday after the ANSA report.
Now the cruise company has a difficult decision to make: those infected with coronavirus may not exhibit symptoms of the virus during the 7-10 day incubation period but can infect others at high rates. This means if the Chinese tourist test positive, they might have infected the entire ship. That many cases will likely overwhelm Italy's ability to rapidly respond.
Here's a live view of the cruise ship docked at Civitavecchia.
#Coronavirus Update : - First case reported in Finland - First case reported in India in Kerala State. - First case reported in The Philippines - 7,801 cases in China with 170 dead. - Russia closes border with China
Russia's newly appointed Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Thursday signed an order to close the country's 2,600m mile border with the Far East to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Russia joins North Korea, becoming the second country to completely shutter its border with the world's second-largest economy. Although Russia hasn't provided details about the plan, Russia also border China, Japan and North Korea along the Far East.
Mishustin has also asked Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova to inform the population on a daily basis about the current situation and preventive measures, according to the Russian press.
Both Russia and the Czech Republic have decided to suspend the granting of visas to Chinese.
Meanwhile, villages and apartment complexes across China are "taking the fight against a deadly viral epidemic into their own hands," according to AFP.
Some areas are starting to look like something out of a sectarian conflict, complete with check points and makeshift barricades. Groups of locals have constructed makeshift barricades across access roads to keep potentially-infected strangers out.
More holiday extensions have been reported across China as economists expect that most of the country's economy will be shuttered well into February. Bloomberg reported that at least one Chinese city and several provinces have extended the Lunar New Year holiday beyond Feb. 2 in an effort to control the spread of the virus. Shanghai, the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia and provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu have suspended business until least Feb. 10. Hubei province said its holiday will continue until Valentine's Day.
In one residential compound in Beijing, "a motley stack of shared bicycles have been haphazardly woven together and wired to a wooden ladder, blocking a side gate and forcing visitors to register with guards at the main entrance."
With more than 50 million people still on lockdown, resentment against the ruling party has intensified, and more Chinese are speaking out on social media, according to the NYT: "We gave up our rights in exchange for protection," the user wrote. "But what kind of protection is it? Where will our long-lasting political apathy lead us?" That post was shared more than 7,000 times.