Coronavirus Updates Jan. 31: Spain Announces First Case, US Sees 7th Case

January 30, 2020 Updated: February 1, 2020
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The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or the Wuhan coronavirus, has spread from China to over 20 countries, including the United States, France, and Japan.

The following updates are from Jan. 31. Click here for updates from Feb. 1.

Australia’s Qantas Airlines Suspends Flights to China as Country Confirms 10th Case

Australia’s flag carrier Qantas announced Saturday local time that it will suspend its two direct services to mainland China (Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai) Feb. 9 to March 29.

“This follows entry restrictions imposed by countries including Singapore and the United States, which impact the movement of crew who work across the Qantas International network.

“These entry restrictions pose significant logistical challenges for rostering crew to operate mainland China services, leading to the need to temporarily suspend these flights.

“There is no change to Qantas services to Hong Kong as it’s exempt from current travel restrictions.”

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Workers are seen near Qantas Airways, Australia’s national carrier, Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the tarmac at Adelaide Airport, Australia, on Aug. 22, 2018. (Reuters/David Gray)

Earlier on Saturday, the total cases of new coronavirus in Australia rose to 10 after a woman in her 20s was confirmed to be infected, according to local reports.

The woman, who lives in Melbourne, Victoria, is now the fourth case of coronavirus in the state. She had traveled to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and returned to Australia on Jan. 25. She became ill two days later.

She was seen by doctors in a hospital in Melbourne on Jan. 30 and was deemed well enough to stay at home, where she currently remains since being tested.

Health authorities claimed that she was not considered infectious on the flight back to Victoria.

US Sees 7th Confirmed Case, Man Traveled From Wuhan

The seventh case of the new coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States.

The patient is a man who lives in Santa Clara County, California, the Count of Santa Clara Public Health Department announced Friday afternoon, after receiving notice about the case from the Centers for Disease Control.

This marks the third case of coronavirus in California, but it is the first in Santa Clara County and the Bay area.

Dr. Sara Cody, the health officer for Santa Clara County, told reporters at a news conference that the man affected “had traveled to Wuhan, China, and became ill upon returning home.”

She added, “Since he has been home to the county, he has been self-isolating at home and did not leave home at all except to seek medical care. He was seen in a local clinic and hospital but was never sick enough to be hospitalized.”

“Our preliminary investigation indicates that he came into contact with very few individuals after returning home. We are making sure that anyone that he did come into contact with is being monitored for symptoms and staying at home away from others,” she also said.

Other cases in the United States to-date are: one in Washington state, one in Arizona, and two in Illinois.

‘No Doubt’ Coronavirus Can Spread Without Symptoms: Top US Infectious Disease Doctor

The United States’ top infectious disease doctor said a new study published Thursday shows people can spread the Wuhan coronavirus before symptoms are exhibited, after people who showed no signs of sickness were diagnosed with the virus in five instances.

“There’s no doubt after reading this paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reported CNN. “This study lays the question to rest.”

study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday night showed that four German business associates became infected through asymptomatic infection.

Read more here.

US Declares Public Health Emergency Over Coronavirus

The United States will bar entry to foreign nationals who have been in mainland China in the past 14 days, in a ramp-up of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The temporary ban will not apply to the immediate family of U.S. citizens or permanent residents and will take effect at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Health Alex Azar announced at a press conference on Jan. 31.

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US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar takes questions during a briefing with members of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force in Washington, on Jan. 31, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Azar added that U.S. authorities have officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency in the United States.

Read more here.

Spain Confirms First Case of Coronavirus

Spain’s Health Ministry confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus late Friday, Reuters reported.

According to the ministry, a man was diagnosed with the new virus on La Gomera, a remote island in the Canaries.

The man is part of a group of five people who were taken into observation on the island, and isolated on Thursday, after it was found that some in the group had come into contact with a German man diagnosed with the virus, the ministry said.

Health Minister Salvador Illa is set to chair a ministerial meeting on Saturday to discuss the country’s response to the virus.

Evacuees Under Mandatory Quarantine at US Air Base

All 195 American passengers evacuated from Wuhan, China, on a charter flight will be quarantined in California, to evaluate whether they have contracted the deadly new strain of coronavirus, federal health authorities said on Jan. 31.

The mandatory order, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was the first of its kind since the 1960s.

“While we recognize this is an unprecedented action, we are facing an unprecedented public health threat,” the CDC’s Nancy Messonnier said in a conference call on Friday.

“We are preparing as if this is the next pandemic,” she said.

Read more here.

Epoch Times Photo
Quarantine workers in protective suits check identity documents as tourists from the Wuhan area walk off of a chartered plane taking them home from Bangkok at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province on Jan. 31, 2020. (Chinatopix via AP)

NY Health Commissioner Disputes Report of Confirmed Case

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot challenged a report that said the first case in the city had been confirmed.

“THIS IS NOT ACCURATE. There are still ZERO confirmed cases of novel #coronavirus in NYC,” she said in a statement on Twitter.

The report from the New York Daily News cited an email from a New York Police Department (NYPD) to eight precincts in Queen sent early Friday.

The message, sent at 1:56 a.m., said the neighborhood of Elmhurst had “1 confirmed case” of the illness.

The New York City Fire Department and NYPD joined the Health Department in challenging the report.

There are no confirmed cases on the U.S. eastern seaboard as of yet. There are two cases in Illinois, with the rest in the western part of the country.

Epoch Times Photo
People wear medical face masks on the streets of Chinatown in New York City on Jan. 29, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Delta, American to Suspend All China Flights

Delta Airlines will suspend all flights from the United States to China for at least two months, the Atlanta-based carrier said in a statement on Jan. 31.

All flights will be suspended beginning Feb. 6 through April 30 “due to ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus,” the airline said.

“Between now and Feb. 5, Delta will continue to operate flights to ensure customers looking to exit China have options to do so,” it added.

The last China-bound flight departing the United States will leave on Feb. 3. The last return flight to the United States from China will leave on Feb. 5.

Customers who have trips that will be affected can visit the Delta website and go to the “My Trips” section. When there, they can request a refund or switch to flights that leave after April 30. They can also contact Delta to explore additional options.

American Airlines also said on Friday that it was suspending flights to and from the Chinese mainland beginning today through March 27.

“Our teams are contacting affected customers directly to accommodate their needs. We will continue to evaluate the schedule for March 28 and beyond and make any adjustments as necessary,” the Fort Worth-based airline said in a statement.

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A Delta Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles on Oct. 29, 2019. (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

UK, Italy, Russia, Sweden Confirm First Cases

Authorities in four European countries confirmed cases of the new coronavirus late Thursday or Friday.

Two patients in the United Kingdom were isolated at a specialist infection unit in Newcastle. Two Chinese tourists in Rome, who tested positive for the virus, were isolated at the Spallanzani infectious diseases institute.

In Russia, two Chinese citizens were confirmed to have the virus. They were isolated and placed under surveillance.

Sweden’s first case, authorities said, was a woman in her 20s who landed on Jan. 24 after visiting Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. She was isolated and placed under observation.

Epoch Times Photo
Two women wearing face masks walk through the city center near to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where two patients who have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus are being treated by specialist medical workers in Newcastle, England, on Jan. 31, 2020. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Evacuated American Says Chinese City Like a Ghost Town

Wuhan felt joyful as residents prepared for the Lunar New Year but “turned into chaos” as news broke of the rapidly expanding coronavirus outbreak, American Jarred Evans said. People suddenly swarmed pharmacies and stores to get masks and disinfectant spray, Evans said.

“I stocked up on rice, noodles, water, anything that could help me survive for a week or two,” Evans said.

The Chinese government shut down the city. Buses, trains, taxis, and personal cars were banned. The military patrolled some streets.

“That’s when people, honestly, stayed locked in their homes,” Evans said.

He compared the deserted city to an Old West ghost town.

Read more here.

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Jarred Evans speaks with The Associated Press via video from March Air Reserve Base in Southern California, Calif., on Jan. 30, 2020. (Patricio Espinoza/AP Photo)

Human-to-Human Transmission Occurred in Early Stages of Outbreak

Human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus was occurring from mid-December 2019 in Wuhan, China, according to the largest study to-date analyzing patients infected with the deadly virus.

A new paper, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 29, examined data from the first 425 confirmed cases in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, and found that “there is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019.”

Chinese authorities did not confirm human-to-human transmission until Jan. 20, almost three weeks after the disease was first officially reported on Dec. 31, 2019. The first patient exhibited symptoms on Dec. 1.

Official figures report thousands being infected in China and more than a hundred killed—though experts say the actual number infected is much higher.

Read more here.

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An elderly man wearing a facemask lies on the pavement after he collapsed and died along a street near a hospital in Wuhan on Jan. 30, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Photos Show Man Lying Dead on Wuhan Street

Pictures from the international news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) showed an elderly Chinese man lying dead in a Wuhan street just hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency over China’s coronavirus outbreak.

Hector Retamal’s series of photos showed the grim reality facing Wuhan’s 11 million residents at the epicenter of the disease.

According to AFP, the man, carrying a plastic shopping bag in one hand, had collapsed on the street outside a closed furniture store not far from a hospital.

Read more here.

Singapore Bars Visitors From Mainland China

Singapore on Jan. 31 announced it will bar entry to all new visitors from mainland China, including foreigners who have been in the country within the past 14 days, in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

Those visitors will not be allowed to transit in Singapore either, Singapore’s Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at a press conference on Jan. 31.

The travel restriction will take effect on midnight Saturday, while visa suspensions will come into effect immediately.

The move is an escalation of a previous ban on new travelers who had been to Hubei Province, the central Chinese region housing the disease epicenter of Wuhan.

Singapore currently has a total of 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, all of whom are travelers from Wuhan.

Beijing Reports First Death

Beijing reported its first death from Wuhan coronavirus on Jan. 28.

Yang Jun, 50, attended a conference in Wuhan on Jan. 8. After returning to Beijing, he developed a fever on Jan. 15.

Yang did not seek treatment until Jan. 21, and was confirmed to have been infected with Wuhan pneumonia at Haidian District Center for Disease Control the next day. His situation deteriorated and he died on Jan. 27 due to respiratory failure.

Chinese state media expressed concerns that Yang had been exposed to or in contact with a large number of people before he was diagnosed.

Read more here.

Epoch Times Photo
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam wears a mask, following the outbreak of a new coronavirus, during a news conference in Hong Kong, China on Jan. 31, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Hong Kong Leader Postpones Opening Schools, Won’t Close Border

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed the opening date for all local kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and special schools until March 2.

Most civil servants can continue to work from home until Feb. 9, she said at a press conference.

Lam added that after Hong Kong authorities identified 48 travelers from Hubei after searching 355 of the city’s hotels and guesthouses, 15 have since voluntarily left. She said that the remaining 33 will be put under quarantine and will be free to leave Hong Kong after they show no symptoms of the virus.

As of 9 a.m. local time on Jan. 31, the city had 12 known cases of the virus, with five being Hong Kong citizens and seven from mainland China.

Lam also rejected calls from a medical union to close the border with mainland China to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Costa Smeralda cruise ship
The Costa Smeralda cruise ship is docked in the Civitavecchia port 43 miles north of Rome, Italy, on Jan. 30, 2020. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

Cruise Ship Passengers Allowed to Disembark

The 6,000 passengers who were held on a cruise ship off the Italian coast can now disembark after health authorities worked to diagnose an apparently sick Chinese woman before health ministry officials declared her coronavirus-free.

Cruise officials “have confirmed that Italian health officials diagnosed a passenger on board a ship docked in Civitavecchia, north of Rome, Italy with the common flu,” according to a Thursday night statement from Carnival Cruises and its Italy-based subsidiary Costa Cruises.

It said that passengers can now “either disembark or remain on board overnight, at their discretion,” adding that the guests scheduled to disembark “will be accommodated in hotels near the port and embark on Friday.”

The Costa Smeralda landed in the port town of Civitavecchia when two Chinese nationals were placed in medical isolation, confirmed Giuseppe Ippolito, the scientific director of the Spallanzani Hospital.

Read more here.

Philippines Issues Travel Ban

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a travel ban for Chinese nationals from virus-affected areas, following recommendations by the country’s health secretary Francisco Duque III and Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, according to local English-language newspaper Manila Bulletin.

“The president has issued a travel ban to Chinese nationals coming from the Hubei Province of China where the nCoV originated, as well in other places in China where there is a spread of the disease,” said Salvador Panelo, the president’s spokesperson.

Currently, the coronavirus has spread to every region and province in China.

Panelo added: “It will last until the threat is over given that that the safety of our countrymen is foremost in the president’s mind.”

The Philippines reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus on Jan. 30. According to another article by Manila Bulletin, 31 people are under observation for the virus.

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Chinese children wear plastic bottles as makeshift homemade protection and protective masks while waiting to check in to a flight at Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing, China, on Jan. 30, 2020. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

US Senator Urges Americans to Leave China

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called on all Americans in China to flee the country after a mysterious virus continues to spread across the country, triggering lockdowns and quarantines in hard-hit areas.

“MESSAGE TO ALL AMERICANS IN CHINA: Get out—now. Contact our embassy or consulates if you need help,” Cotton wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

His statement comes as the U.S. State Department confirmed that another chartered flight back to the United States would be commissioned to evacuate American citizens living around Wuhan. The World Health Organization on Thursday, meanwhile, declared the virus outbreak a global health emergency.

Later, Cotton said that all commercial flights between the United States and China should be “shut down” as “a defensive measure.”

Read more here.

Malaysia Will Donate Medical Gloves to China

Teresa Kok, Malaysia’s Minister for Primary Industries, has announced that the country is sending a shipment of medical gloves to China, according to local newspaper The Star.

“The medical gloves, both natural rubber and nitrile, will be sent to China in batches with the first shipment already on its way to Wuhan,” Kok said.

Malaysia is the world’s biggest manufacturer of medical gloves.

Kok added: “Two companies, Top Glove and Supermax, have already donated 2.3 million pieces of gloves through their local offices and distributors to Wuhan.”

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Registered nurse Keene Roadman, dressed in personal protective equipment, demonstrates bleach wiping the inner layer of gloves, after the outer gloves are removed during a training class at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago on Oct. 16, 2014. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

South Korea Reports Four New Cases of Coronavirus

The South Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has reported another four new cases, bringing the country’s total number of known cases to 11, according to local media Yonhap News Agency.

The latest announcement came just hours after the KCDC confirmed a seventh known case.

One of the four cases involved a 62-year-old South Korean woman who returned to the country on Jan. 23 after visiting Wuhan.

South Korea reported its first known case on Jan. 20.

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A worker wearing protective gear sprays antiseptic solution in a train amid concerns over the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, also known as the Wuhan coronavirus, in Seoul, South Korea on Jan. 24, 2020. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

China Sends Planes to Thailand, Malaysia to Fly Back Hubei Citizens

China’s Civil Aviation Administration said in an announcement on Jan. 31 that two planes with Xiamen Air had departed at 1:17 p.m. and 1:34 p.m. local time from Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport in southern China’s Fujian Province, headed to Bangkok in Thailand and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

There, the planes will pick up 117 and 110 Hubei citizens respectively.

The two planes will fly back to Wuhan in the evening today.

The announcement said that the two flights were part of an effort by Beijing to assist Chinese from Hubei, who China’s Foreign Ministry said earlier today are facing “practical challenges” while on their overseas travels, without elaborating.

Kenya Airways Suspends Flights to Guangzhou

Kenya’s flag carrier airline, Kenya Airways, announced that it is suspending flights to the Chinese city of Guangzhou in a tweet on Jan. 31.

Guangzhou is 600 miles to the south of Wuhan, which is considered the epicenter of the virus.

“We have temporarily suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou starting Friday, 31st January 2020, until further notice,” the announcement read.

It added: “Our consultation with the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs will continue and we will provide updates as the situation develops.

Kenya issued a travel warning advising its citizens against unnecessary travels to China on Monday.

Pakistan Suspends Flights to China

Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Pakistan’s additional secretary of aviation, told Reuters, “We are suspending flights to China until Feb.2.”

Local broadcaster 9 News carried a copy of a notification issued by Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority in an article on Jan. 31.

“Please be informed that as per decision by the Competent Authority at the appropriate level, all direct flight operations between Pakistan and China are to be stalled on immediate basis, initially till 2nd February, 2020, subject to subsequent review,” read the notification dated Jan. 29.

Japan Upgrades Travel Warning to China

Japan has raised its travel advisory for China to level 2 on its four-level system, warning citizens to “avoid non-essential travel,” according to local newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.

The advisory for Hubei province at the epicenter of the outbreak has remained at level 3, meaning that advice for Japanese nationals is to “avoid all travel” to the region.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has upgraded its travel advisory for China to the highest level, “Level 4: Do not travel.”

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People wearing face masks walk on a street in Nara, western Japan, on Jan. 29, 2020. (Nobuki Ito/Kyodo News via AP)

China’s Foreign Ministry Announces Plan to Repatriate Citizens From Hubei

Hua Chunying, the spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, announced that Beijing will soon charter civilian airplanes to “bring back” overseas Chinese nationals who are from Hubei province—particularly those from Wuhan city.

According to the announcement on the ministry’s website, Hua said that Chinese overseas have been facing “practical challenges,” without elaborating on what those challenges are.

He added that the planes will fly these overseas Chinese to Wuhan.

Read more here.

Japan Reports Three More Cases of Coronavirus

Japan’s Health Ministry reported three additional cases of coronavirus on Jan. 30, local outlet NHK reported. The total number in the country is now 14.

One patient was a Chinese student in her 20s living in the western prefecture of Kyoto. The student arrived in Japan from Wuhan on Jan. 22.

The second patient was a male foreigner in his 50s living in Mie Prefecture. The foreigner was in Wuhan in December and returned to Japan on Jan. 13.

A tour conductor in her 30s living in southern China’s Hunan Province also tested positive. She was in Wuhan on Jan. 19 and arrived in Japan the following day.

Singapore Reports 3 More Cases of Coronavirus, Bringing Total to 13

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A woman wearing a mask helps her son put on his mask at Changi Airport in Singapore on Jan. 25, 2020. (Ore Huiying/Getty Images)

Singapore’s Ministry of Health reported three additional cases of coronavirus on Jan. 30, bringing the country’s total to 13.

One of the new patients was a 31-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore on Jan. 22. She had traveled to Singapore with another person who had recently tested positive for the virus after arrival.

A 37-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan also tested positive for the virus. She arrived in Singapore with her family on Jan. 22 and only showed respiratory symptoms on Jan. 26. She tested positive for the virus on Jan. 29.

The third new case is a 73-year-old Chinese woman, also from Wuhan, who arrived in Singapore with her family on Jan. 21. She tested positive for the virus on Jan. 30.

South Korea Reports 7th Case of Coronavirus

On Jan. 31, the South Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported on its website that another patient has been confirmed to have the virus, bringing the total in the country to seven.

The patient, a 28-year-old South Korean, arrived at South Korea’s Incheon Airport from Qingdao, a port city in eastern China’s Shandong Province, on Jan. 23. He then went to a local health center for cough and other respiratory symptoms.

367 South Koreans Evacuated from China

A chartered plane with South Korean carrier Korean Air flew home with 367 South Korean nationals onboard from Wuhan on the morning of Jan. 31, according to local media Yonhap News Agency.

The plane took off from Wuhan’s Tianhe International Airport at about 6 a.m. and arrived at Gimpo Airport, located in the South Korean capital of Seoul, at around 8 a.m. local time.

According to Yonhap, those aboard the plane will be put in isolation at two state-run facilities for 14 days.

Korean Air
An airplane (C) carrying South Korean citizens repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan lands at Gimpo airport in Seoul on Jan. 31, 2020. (Jung Yeong-je/AFP via Getty Images)

French Military Aircraft Evacuates Citizens from China

A military aircraft with about 200 French citizens aboard flew out from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 31 according to AFP.

The plane is bound for southern France, where those onboard will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine.

Japan, Singapore, and the United States have successfully evacuated some of their citizens from Wuhan.

Click here for updates from Jan. 30.

Melanie Sun, Zachary Stieber, Eva Fu, Olivia Li, Cathy He, Jack Phillips, Mimi Nguyen Ly, Reuters, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.