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Coronavirus death toll mounts in China as U.S. braces for long fight

CDC ramps up response to coronavirus 01:54

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The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new coronavirus, which has killed nearly 1,400 people and is still spreading in China, could be around for at least another year. The outbreak has affected almost 50,000 people worldwide. There are 15 confirmed cases in the U.S. but none are said to be suffering serious symptoms.

The agency is setting up five labs around the U.S. where people with flu-like symptoms can be tested for coronavirus if their flu results are negative. The virus, dubbed COVID-19, has spread to more than two dozen countries. 


Scientists ramp up search for coronavirus vaccine

The CDC is ramping up its own response to the epidemic by setting up five labs around the U.S. where people with flu-like symptoms can now be tested for coronavirus if their flu results are negative. This comes as scientists around the world race to develop a vaccine.

Inovio pharmaceuticals has already successfully developed vaccines for Ebola and Zika. CBS News spoke with Kate Broderick, the company's senior vice president of research and development. 

"So you're using DNA and genetics to teach the body how to attack the virus?" CBS News asked.

"Exactly, and to recognize the virus and then attack it immediately," Broderick said, adding that the vaccine they are working on is showing promise.

"It's currently being tested in the lab literally as we speak, and we're manufacturing large scale quantities of it to get into human testing by the early summer," she added. 

By Carter Evans

Apple reopening stores in Beijing and Shanghai

People wearing protective masks are seen in an Apple Store in Shanghai, China, January 29, 2020.
People wearing protective masks are seen in an Apple Store in Shanghai, China, January 29, 2020. Reuters/Aly Song

Apple is reopening some of its stores in China after they were closed for about two weeks. The company confirmed to CBS News that one of its seven stores in Shanghai will reopen on Saturday.

On Friday, all five Apple Stores in Beijing reopened with reduced hours, the Reuters news agency reported. Customers are being asked to wear a face mask and allow for their temperature to be taken.

Apple announced the temporary closure of all of its stores in China at the beginning of the month.

By Alex Sundby

Bullies attack Asian-American teen, accusing him of having coronavirus

A 16-year-old boy in Southern California was physically attacked this week by bullies in his high school who accused him of having coronavirus — simply because he is Asian-American.

"He went to the hospital originally and went to the emergency room," Robin Toma, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, said in a joint news conference with officials on Thursday. "They were taking MRIs to ensure he didn't have a concussion or other harm."

According to CBS Los Angeles, officials released neither the name of the student's school nor any further details of the attack, noting only that Los Angeles police are now investigating.

"Our goal is to send out accurate information to all of our 80 districts, reaching over two million children," said Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County superintendent of schools. "To tell them that there is no need for excessive fear, that there is very minimal risk of contracting the coronavirus and that we will not tolerate any type of bullying."

By Christina Capatides

U.S. to test people with flu symptoms for coronavirus

The U.S. will begin testing people identified by local health authorities as having flu-like symptoms for coronavirus, a senior official said Friday. "CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has begun working with five public health labs across the U.S. to tap into their ability to conduct community-based influenza surveillance so that we can begin testing people with flu-like symptoms for novel coronavirus," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The testing will initially be carried out by labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York, but more sites are planned. Messonnier added that those suspected of being exposed to the virus required repeated testing over a 14-day period in case an early test returned a false negative.



Coronavirus spreads to Africa with Egypt reporting first confirmed case

A view shows a crowd and shops at Al Ataba, a market in central Cairo
A crowd of people shops at Al Ataba, a market in central Cairo, Egypt, February 10, 2020. Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Authorities in Egypt reported the country's first coronavirus case Friday, CBS News' Ahmed Shawkat reports from Cairo. The case marks the first confirmed case of the disease in Africa.

Egypt's health ministry said in a statement the patient was in stable condition and didn't have any symptoms. The patient wasn't an Egyptian citizen, and the ministry didn't provide the patient's nationality.

The ministry said it found the patient by following up with people who have arrived from countries with recorded infections of the disease. The diagnosis was confirmed with laboratory tests.

The patient was in isolation at a hospital, the ministry said. It didn't provide any other details about the patient, including where the patient was being treated.

People who have been in contact with the patient have tested negative for the disease and will be under quarantine in their homes for 14 days, the ministry said.

By Alex Sundby

WHO chief wants more info on infected Chinese health care workers

The head of the World Health Organization said Friday that the U.N. agency wanted more information from China about how and when more than 1,700 health care workers in the country became infected with the new coronavirus illness and how the country is tabulating the number of cases of the disease in the country.

After officials in the epicenter province of Hubei started counting cases of the COVID-19 disease diagnosed only by chest scans, in addition to the more certain lab tests this week, spiking the number of cases on Thursday, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO was "seeking further clarity on how clinical diagnosis is being made, to ensure other respiratory illnesses including influenza are not getting mixed into the COVID-19 data."

China's government confirmed Friday that six health care workers had died of the disease and 1,716 have been infected.

Tedros called it "critical information... because health workers are the glue that holds the health system and outbreak response together. We need to know more about this figure, including the time period and circumstances in which the health workers became sick."    

By Tucker Reals

Taiwan and China argue over return of 1,000 stuck in epicenter city

In Taiwan, about 100 family members of people stuck in China's Hubei province protested outside Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council headquarters in the capital, Taipei.

About 1,000 Taiwanese hoping to fly home on charter flights have sparked a dispute between their government and China. 

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council wants China to step up quarantine work and reach agreements with Taiwan on the names of people on priority lists for flights.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office accused Taiwan on Wednesday of "using all kinds of excuses to obstruct and delay" flights. China sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory rather than an independent state.

"We don't want to politicize it, we want charter flights," said protester Chung Chin-ming, chairman of the Chinese Cross-Strait Marriage Coordination Association in Taipei. 

By Tucker Reals

Hong Kong to give virus-hit businesses cash handouts

Hong Kong announced a slew of cash subsidies on Friday to help businesses that have been battered by the coronavirus outbreak in a city already reeling from a recession.

The U.S.-China trade war and months of seething pro-democracy protests last year had already pushed the business hub's economy into negative territory. The virus has compounded those woes, leading to a drop in tourist arrivals and empty streets, pushing many smaller businesses toward bankruptcy. 

The city's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam said the government would dip into its financial reserves to give cash subsidies to sectors hit hardest by the crisis. 

A newspaper stall owner wears a face mask as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, as another man waits at a bus stop in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, China, February 12, 2020. PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty

"We hope to do our best to avoid large scale closures and layoffs," she told reporters.

Lam announced one-off subsidies for people including construction workers, security guards and janitors to help them buy protective equipment.

The government will also issue HK$80,000 ($10,300) to licensed travel agencies, smaller restaurants and retailers as well as HK$5,000 to street hawkers, HK$200,000 to licensed restaurants and factory canteens and a further HK$5,000 to around 200,000 low income families.



U.K. officials warn people who went to London conference of virus case

About 250 people who went to a conference in London last week have been notified that one of the attendees has been diagnosed with the coronavirus sweeping through China.

BBC News said England's public health authority had contacted those who were at the February 6 conference on buses and public transport and told them if they experience any cold or flu-like symptoms before February 20, to remain indoors, avoid contact with others and call the health service.

The person from the conference diagnosed with the new COVID-19 disease has not been identified, but British media said it was not the most recent case diagnosed in the country.

On Thursday Britain confirmed its 9th case, a woman who recently returned from China and got an Uber to a hospital in south London after feeling unwell.

By Tucker Reals

China's leader says virus a "big test," vows to avert future "shortcomings"

Battling the coronavirus epidemic is a "big test for the country's governance system and governance ability," Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday, chairing a political meeting on government reforms, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Under criticism over the handling of the crisis, the Communist Party has sacked two top-ranking officials in the epicenter province of Hubei, and replaced them with senior cadres with security backgrounds.

The outbreak has exposed "shortcomings," Xi acknowledged, adding that China needed to reform its public health and epidemic prevention and control systems.

China Outbreak
A photo released by Xinhua News Agency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a protective face mask and waving as he inspects coronavirus prevention and control workers in Beijing, February 10, 2020. Pang Xinglei/AP



Japan lets some elderly passengers off quarantined cruise ship

Japan on Friday began allowing elderly passengers who test negative for the new coronavirus to leave a quarantined cruise ship and finish their isolation in government-designated lodging.

Japan's government has given passengers aged 80 or older in poor health or confined to windowless inner cabins on the Diamond Princess the chance to move from the ship to accommodation on land. But only those who test negative for the virus that has so far infected 218 people on board the ship have the option to move. 

A bus with a driver wearing protective gear departs from the dockside next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has around 3,600 people quarantined on board due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port, February 14, 2020. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty

The first of them departed the massive cruise ship Friday afternoon, traveling in buses with blacked out windows. Drivers could be seen dressed in head-to-toe white protective suits, complete with goggles and masks.

A government official said 11 people had left, but declined to say whether more would depart Friday or offer further details.



Russian hospital sues to force woman who fled quarantine to return

A Russian hospital on Friday filed a lawsuit against a woman for escaping her coronavirus quarantine, complaining of being forcibly held and given inedible meals. The head doctor of the Botkin hospital in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg took the highly unusual action against Alla Ilyina to force her to return and undergo medical observation, the city's court service said in a statement.

A hearing has been scheduled for next Monday. According to Russian laws, leaving quarantine is punishable by a fine.

The woman arrived from Hainan, a Chinese resort island popular with Russians, on February 1. She was examined several times and eventually diagnosed with "acute virus illness" which did not rule out that this could be the new coronavirus, according to the local branch of the state health watchdog.

But Ilyina, who fled the hospital after two days by short-circuiting an electric lock, said in videos posted online that she had been told she did not have the disease, but was being held against her will. 

- Associated Press


China reports 121 new deaths and more than 5,000 new cases

China's National Health Commission said it had recorded 121 more deaths and 5,090 new confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases on the mainland Thursday, bringing the total number deaths in the country to 1,380.

Three people have died outside of mainland China from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

The World Health Organization and the Chinese authorities use different diagnostic standards to record the number of infections in the country, but under the broader definition used in China's Hubei province, which includes cases confirmed only via lung scan images, the country has about 60,000 patients with the disease.

By Tucker Reals

Virus has killed 6 health workers in China, infected more than 1,700

Six health workers have died from the new coronavirus in China and more than 1,700 have been infected, health officials said Friday, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken amid shortages of protective gear.

The figure comes a week after public anger erupted over the death of a whistleblowing doctor who had been reprimanded and silenced by police after raising the alarm about the virus in December.

Chinese authorities have scrambled to deploy protective equipment to Wuhan's hospitals, where doctors and nurses have been overwhelmed by an ever-growing number of patients.

Journalists documenting Wuhan coronavirus outbreak disappear 02:48

Many doctors in Wuhan have had to see patients without proper masks or protective body suits, resorting to reusing the same equipment when they should be changed regularly. 



California university student stuck in China amid coronavirus outbreak

A Cal State University Northridge student is still in China on Thursday night, near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — his semester studying abroad turning into a health care nightmare, CBS Los Angeles reported.

"I never cry," Nancy Krank, the student's mother, said while talking about her son, Samson Adame.

University student from California stuck in China during coronavirus outbreak 02:38

Adame, 24, has been stuck in China's Shandong province since the coronavirus epidemic began, and thought he would have gotten help from his school by now.

Read the full story here.


Cruise stranded by virus fears ends with roses in Cambodia

Hundreds of cruise ship passengers long stranded at sea by virus fears cheered as they finally disembarked Friday and were welcomed to Cambodia by the nation's authoritarian leader, who handed them flowers.

Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to let the Westerdam dock at the port of Sihanoukville on Thursday after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam had barred the ship earlier.

"How wonderful it is to be here. Thank you very much to the prime minister. He has a wonderful heart," said Anna Marie Melon, from Queensland, Australia. "I'm very excited (to be here)," she said as she waved a rose Hun Sen handed to her.

Westerdam cruise ship — coronavirus
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomes passenger of MS Westerdam — a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over fears that someone aboard might have the coronavirus — as it docks in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on February 14, 2020. Reuters

The passengers cheered as they walked toward waiting buses and waved goodbye to other passengers watching from the ship's deck.

"Your country did a great job. Did a wonderful job. Thank you very much. We appreciate it very much," Joe Spaziani, 74, from Florida, told local reporters at the port. "Cambodia alone, even the United States, Guam, did not let us land, but Cambodia did, so that's wonderful. Absolutely wonderful."

— Associated Press


CDC says virus could be around for a year, gain "foothold" in U.S.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the deadly outbreak of coronavirus could continue into next year.

"We don't know a lot about this virus," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN on Thursday. "This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission."

"There may be additional cases that we identify. I do want to prepare you for that," CDC Captain Jennifer McQuiston said Thursday. She is overseeing the quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas for people who arrived last week on a government charter flight from China. A person there became the 15th confirmed case in the U.S. on Thursday.

U.S. confirms 15th case of coronavirus 01:59

In all, about 600 people are quarantined at military bases in the U.S.

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