Roughly two dozen countries around the world have taken precautionary measures to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, as the death toll continues to rise.
This page has updates from Feb. 12. For updates from Feb. 13, click here.
US Total Rises to 14 as Wuhan Evacuee Tests Positive
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that another person has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The individual was one of the Americans evacuated from Wuhan and quarantined in Southern California’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego County on Feb. 7.
One other evacuee at Air Station Miramar tested positive for the virus on Feb. 10.
The CDC has said that the two patients arrived on different flights and were housed in different facilities on the base.
“At this time, there is no indication of person-to-person spread of this virus at the quarantine facility, but CDC will carry out a thorough contact investigation as part of its current response strategy to detect and contain any cases of infection with this virus,” CDC on-site team lead Dr. Chris Braden said in a statement.
The new case is the 14th to be detected in the United States and is the eight known case in California.
There are currently more than 600 Wuhan evacuees are under federal quarantine.
More Cases Reported in Singapore
Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced on Feb. 12 that three more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the national total to 50.
None of the three new patients have reported a recent travel history to China.
However, one patient, a 34-year-old Singaporean man, was in Malaysia on Jan. 26. He began having symptoms of the virus on Feb. 1 and tested positive on Feb. 11.
Malaysia currently has 18 known cases of coronavirus.
Among the country’s 50 cases, 15 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital, while eight are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, according to the announcement.
Also on Feb. 12, Lawrence Wong, Singapore’s Minister for National Development, said during a press conference that it was “too early to tell” how far the virus has spread in the population.
“Many people have asked how this situation would unfold in the coming days and weeks. And the honest answer is–it is still too early to tell,” he said.
“We really cannot say whether it will get better; whether it will get worse; what sort of situation is going to unfold. We have several scenarios.
“We can very well expect to see more cases coming up in future.”
UK Confirms 9th Case of Virus
The UK’s Department of Health has confirmed another case of COVID-19 after a woman who recently arrived from China tested positive at St Thomas’ Hospital on Feb. 12.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England said that the new patient takes the national total in the UK to nine.
“This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London,” he said.
Mobile World Congress Canceled
Organizers of the world’s biggest mobile technology fair are pulling the plug over worries about the viral outbreak from China.
The annual Mobile World Congress show will no longer be held as planned in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 24-27.
“Global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,” John Hoffman, head of the organizing body, said in a statement Wednesday.
The decision comes after dozens of tech companies and wireless carriers dropped out, with the latest cancelations by Nokia, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Britain’s BT on Wednesday. Other big names that have already dropped out include Ericsson, Nokia, Sony, Amazon, Intel, and LG. The companies cited concerns for the safety of staff and visitors.
Organizers had sought to hold out against growing pressure to cancel the annual tech extravaganza, which had been expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors from about 200 countries, including 5,000 to 6,000 from China.
Cruise Ship Finally Set to Dock
Holland America said its Westerdam cruise ship, which has been rejected by about a half-dozen countries over fears of the mysterious new virus that has ravaged parts of China, will be able to dock at a port in Cambodia.
The operator said it will disembark Thursday while passengers are able to go on shore, the Carnival Corp.-owned company said in a statement.
The cruise ship has been rejected by Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and the U.S. territory of Guam.
There are no confirmed coronavirus cases on board, Holland America has said.
F1 Chinese Grand Prix Postponed
Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix in April has been postponed due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus in the country, organizers said on Wednesday.
The race, in an important market for Formula One, was originally set to be held in Shanghai on the 19th, but the governing FIA and Formula One said they had jointly agreed to postpone it.
“As a result of continued health concerns and with the World Health Organisation declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency, the FIA and Formula One have taken these measures,” the two bodies said in a statement.
“All parties will take the appropriate amount of time to study the viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve.”
A host of international sporting events have been canceled due to coronavirus, including the all-electric Formula E motor racing series that abandoned plans for a race in the Chinese city of Sanya next month.
WHO: ‘Greatest Fear’ Remains Outbreak in Ill-Equipped Countries
The “greatest fear” of World Health Organization officials is a fresh coronavirus outbreak springing up in an ill-equipped country, director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“Our greatest fear remains the damage this coronavirus could do in a country like DRC,” or the Democratic Republica of Congo, he said at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva after speaking of the Ebola outbreak.
Dr. Michael Ryan, head of the organization’s emergency committee, told reporters earlier this week that the health system in China, where most of the patients are, is delivering a high level of care.
“Imagine this disease establishing itself in a weaker health system,” he said.
“This disease may appear relatively mild in the context of a sophisticated health system. That may not be the case if this disease reaches a health system that is not as capable as that of China.”
Labs Find Problem With US-Issued Coronavirus Test Kits
Multiple state labs found problems with coronavirus test kits issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) centered on inconclusive lab results, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of one of the CDC’s centers, said on Feb. 12.
Kits were sent to all 50 states, some of which already tested them as part of a normal procedure, as well as multiple countries. Some state labs reported some “inconclusive lab results,” Messonnier told reporters on a phone call.
“We hoped everything would go smoothly as we rushed this,” Messonnier said.
All clinical specimens are still being sent to the agency for validation and the CDC will keep providing verification of the results even after state labs get the test kits up and running, Messonnier said.
Virus Spreading Much More Rapidly Than SARS: US Official
Though there are still many unknowns about the new coronavirus, officials know that it is spreading much faster than SARS, according to Dr. Tony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease.
“It is certainly more deadly than a typical influenza but it is not nearly as deadly as SARS, which had a mortality of about 9 to 10 percent. But SARS did not spread as easily as this virus,” Fauci said during an appearance on Bloomberg TV on Feb. 12.
“For example, in an entire year there were only 8,000 cases of SARS, which then just dissipated and went away. Right now, in the first 2 months or seven weeks, as it were, we have 45,000 cases. So we have more than five times as many cases in a month and a half with this infection then we had with SARS in an entire year.”
The 45,000 case number is from Chinese authorities but the true number of cases is “much greater,” Fauci said, because people who show few or no symptoms generally aren’t counted.
Japanese Airline Suspends Flights to China and Hong Kong
Japanese budget carrier Peach Aviation announced on Wednesday the suspension of several flights between Japan and Hong Kong and Japan and China due to the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.
From Feb. 10 to March 27, Peach 079 from between Osaka and Shanghai is suspended.
From Feb. 11 to March 28, Peach 080 between Shanghai and Osaka, Peach 899 between Tokyo and Shanghai, and Peach 898 between Shanghai and Tokyo are suspended.
From Feb. 17 to March 28, Peach 963 from Okinawa and Hong Kong, Peach 964 between Hong Kong and Okinawa, Peach 063 and 065 between Osaka and Hong Kong, and Peach 064 and 060 between Hong Kong and Osaka are suspended.
One Additional Case Reported in Hong Kong
One new case of coronavirus has emerged in Hong Kong, according to Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Center for Health Protection, bringing the city’s total to 50.
The new patient, a 51-year-old man, is a coworker of a patient who has already tested positive for the virus.
The Hong Kong government also confirmed that 10 Hongkongers who have the virus and are currently in China’s Hubei province had not been infected in Hong Kong.
Sara Ho, senior manager at Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority, stated that one infected patient, a 25-year-old man who tested positive on Feb. 4, has recovered and been discharged from hospital. It is the first recovery from the virus in the city.
Ho added that four infected patients are in critical condition, while two others are in serious condition.
No American Experts on WHO Team: Top Official
There are no American experts on the World Health Organization (WHO) team sent to China to study the coronavirus, national security advisor Robert O’Brien said.
“That team does not include American doctors,” he said during a talk in Washington. “We have offered the Chinese the opportunity to have American doctors from CDC and NIH and other experts. That offer has not been accepted at this point.”
The WHO advance team landed on Monday with the arrival of the rest of the team not yet set.
O’Brien’s comments came as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Chinese officials had signaled receptivity to American experts traveling to the country.
“My understanding is, the latest discussions there’s been receptivity,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told reporters in Washington. She said names of American experts were sent to China through WHO.
Both officials were speaking on Tuesday.
Airbnb Extends Service Suspension in Beijing
Major lodging provider Airbnb announced Wednesday that all bookings in Beijing have been further suspended until April 30, according to Reuters.
On Monday, Airbnb had announced the suspension in Beijing until Feb. 29.
An Airbnb spokesman said Chinese authorities have requested that bookings in Wuxi, a city in coastal China’s Jiangsu province, and Yongchuan District in China’s megacity of Chongqing, be suspended as well.
Germany Reports 2 New Cases
Two new cases have been reported in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria, local newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Feb. 11, citing the Bavarian health ministry.
The latest cases bring Bavaria’s total known cases to 14—all of them related to local automotive supplier Webasto. Among the 14, at least eight are employees of Webasto. With the two new cases, Germany has a total of 16 confirmed cases of the virus.
The spread of infection at Webasto has been traced back to a Chinese female employee. She became ill while staying in Germany from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23, during which she gave training at Webasto’s headquarters in Stockdorf, which is near Munich. She tested positive for the virus after returning to China.
10 Hongkongers Infected in Hubei
Ten people from Hong Kong—seven in Wuhan and three in another city Enshi—have been infected with the Novel Coronavirus, local broadcaster RTHK reported, citing the city’s Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.
All 10 are in stable condition according to the bureau.
Officials in Georgia Monitoring 200 People
Health officials in the U.S. state of Georgia are monitoring nearly 200 locals who recently returned from China, local broadcaster WSB-TV reported, citing the state’s Department of Public Health.
None of those who are being monitored had visited China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. They are now under self-quarantine for 14 days.
There are 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, none of them in Georgia.
Health officials in Monroe County in the state of New York, meanwhile, stated on Feb. 11 that six locals have been placed under voluntary quarantine as they are suspected to have contracted the Novel Coronavirus, according to local outlet WROC-TV.
The six people will be under quarantine for two weeks.
They currently don’t exhibit any symptoms of the virus.
General Motors Suspends Production in South Korea
General Motors Korea—the South Korean units of U.S. automaker GM—announced that it will suspend operation at one of its three assembly plants in South Korea on Feb. 17 and 18, according to Yonhap News Agency.
The suspension is caused by a shortage of Chinese parts due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The production suspension will disrupt production of Chevrolet’s Trailblazer SUVs.
Mongolia Halts Coal Exports to China
Mongolia is suspending its coal exports to China until March 2, state-owned news agency Montsame reported on Feb. 11, citing the country’s State Emergency Commission.
The suspensions will apply to four border checkpoints with China. The halt was made in response to two confirmed cases of coronavirus at a border crossing in Khaliut, a city in China’s Inner Mongolia, according to the announcement.
The commission added that the export halt to China only applies to coal, and other minerals such as copper and iron ore can still be shipped to its neighbor.
Singapore, Malaysia Establish Joint Working Group
Singapore’s Ministry of Health announced on Feb. 11 that Singapore and Malaysia will establish a joint working group to “further enhance cooperation to prevent and control the spread” of the Novel Coronavirus.
The announcement added it is important that the two neighbors work closely because of “high travel volume” between the two.
Currently, Malaysia has 18 confirmed cases of coronavirus while Singapore has 47, after the latter reported two additional cases on Feb. 11.
Two new patients—a 35-year-old Singaporean permanent resident and a 39-year-old Bangladesh national who holds a Singapore work pass—have no recent travel history to China.
Outbreak Could Affect Sino-US Trade Deal
U.S. National security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak is “not going to change the phase one deal” with China. However, he cautioned the outbreak could affect Beijing’s ability to fulfill terms of the “phase one deal,” particularly on its commitment to the purchase of U.S. agricultural goods.
O’Brien made the remarks while speaking at the Atlantic Council.
Under the deal signed in January, Beijing is committed to buying $200 billion worth of additional U.S. goods and services over the next two years, including $40 billion to $50 billion of agricultural products each year.
“The coronavirus is not slowing down the Chinese Communist Party from doing exactly what it wants to do,” said O’Brien, pointing to China’s activities such as pressuring its regional neighbors, and attempting to steal intellectual property and force technology transfer.
On Feb. 9, Beijing deployed a military aircraft to circle over half of Taiwan, according to Taiwanese media, a move that has escalated cross-strait tension. Another Chinese jet flew close to Taiwan the following day.
On Feb. 10, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted four members of the Chinese military for stealing about 145 million Americans’ data and trade secrets by hacking credit-reporting agency Equifax.
Japan Bans Travelers from Zhejiang
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a ban against travelers holding Chinese passports issued in eastern China’s Zhejiang province on Feb. 12, according to newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.
According to local outlet NHK, Japan already has a similar ban against holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, travelers who have been to Hubei in the past 14 weeks are also banned from entry into Japan.
Chinese Falun Gong Practitioner Forcibly Held in Coronavirus Quarantine After Torture
A Chinese prisoner of conscience who was severely tortured to the point of losing consciousness was taken to a quarantine facility for coronavirus patients, according to a website that documents the persecution of the meditation group Falun Gong in China.
Gong Fengqiang was arrested on Dec. 27 last year because of his faith in Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, according to Minghui.org, a U.S.-based website. The meditation practice has been persecuted by the Chinese regime since 1999.
While in custody, he was “abused in a detention center” by Chinese Communist Party officials and lost consciousness. He was then taken to a coronavirus quarantine center because officials had sought to cover up the incident, according to the Chinese edition of the website.
Chinese Officials Allowed to Seize Personal Property Amid Viral Outbreak
Officials from two virus-stricken cities in southern China may now confiscate private property in an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak that has pushed the country’s health system to the limit.
According to a notice posted on Feb. 11, the city and district level authorities in Guangzhou city can, “when necessary,” “temporarily expropriate” houses, venues, transportation vehicles, and other facilities from companies or individuals.
The government could also ask for relevant organizations to produce or provide disease control equipment or daily supplies, according to the notice.
It noted that the officials carrying out such measures should compensate parties accordingly and return the materials if possible.
Japan Cruise Ship Virus Cases Jump to 175 Including Quarantine Officer
Another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan as well as one quarantine officer, bringing the total to 175, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus. About 3,700 people are aboard the ship, which usually has a crew of 1,100 and a passenger capacity of 2,670. The ministry said tests are being conducted for others who are deemed to need them and it will announce the results later.
For updates from Feb. 11, click here.
Frank Fang, Jack Phillips, Eva Fu, Zachary Stieber, the Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.