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Americans from coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan arrive in U.S.

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Americans exposed to coronavirus back in the U.S. 02:44

Follow Tuesday's latest coronavirus updates here.

Two planes carrying hundreds of Americans taken off a quarantined cruise ship in Japan arrived at U.S. military bases overnight. The first touched down at Travis Air Force Base in California and the other landed several hours later in Texas. "A select number of high-risk passengers" were then flown to Omaha, Nebraska, according to the State Department. The planes brought evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which remains quarantined after an outbreak on board of the deadly new coronavirus.

Japan's Defense Minister tweeted early Monday that Japanese troops had helped move about 340 U.S. nationals from the ship at Yokahama port to Tokyo's Haneda airport to board the flights.  

The U.S. government confirmed at least 14 Americans on the U.S.-government chartered planes had tested positive for the new COVID-19 disease just before departing Japan, nearly doubling the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. They were kept in isolation during the long flight home and were taken for treatment upon arrival. All the other passengers — who have already spent almost two weeks quarantined on the ship — were facing another two-week quarantine in the United States.

Flight Evacuating American Cruise Ship Passengers Exposed To Coronavirus In Japan Arrives In US
American evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship board buses at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland on February 17, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas. Edward A. Ornelas/Getty

Japanese officials said Monday that 99 more infections were confirmed on the Diamond Princess, which is owned by Florida-based Carnival Corp. Hundreds of others on board had already been diagnosed with the virus.

There's also concern about the more than 2,000 passengers and crew members who were aboard the cruise ship Westerdam, which was allowed to dock in Cambodia after it was refused by a number of other countries. At the time, no one on the ship was believed to have coronavirus — but an American woman who had been a passenger has since tested positive. 

Additionally, health officials in Hawaii are tracing the contacts of a Japanese couple who vacationed in Maui and Honolulu in late January and early February. Both have been diagnosed with coronavirus since returning home.

As of Monday, the global death toll hit at least 1,873, and the number of confirmed cases rose to more than 73,000. Those totals include cases that were confirmed in a lab and cases that were confirmed clinically. The WHO decided Monday to include the clinically confirmed cases, which are slightly less certain, in the totals.


Death of second key doctor in fight against virus rekindles anger in China

A hospital director at the epicenter of China's virus epidemic died Tuesday, state media said, the latest medical worker to fall victim to the new coronavirus spreading across the country.

Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died Tuesday morning after "all-out rescue efforts failed," state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Liu's death was initially reported by Chinese media and bloggers shortly after midnight on Tuesday -- but the stories were later deleted and replaced with reports that doctors were still trying to save him.

After initial reports of his death were denied, the hospital told AFP on Tuesday morning that doctors were giving him life-saving treatment.

Liu's death has echoes of that of Wuhan ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who'd been punished by authorities for sounding the alarm about the virus in late December.

Li's death prompted a national outpouring of grief as well as anger against the authorities, who were accused of mishandling the crisis.

People took to social media to mourn Liu on Tuesday, with many users on the Twitter-like Weibo platform drawing critical comparisons between Liu's death and Li's. 

-- Agence France Presse


China reports 1,886 new cases, 98 new deaths

Chinese officials reported 1,886 new cases and 98 new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Monday. That brings the global number of cases to at least 73,315 and the total number of deaths to at least 1,873. 

By Victoria Albert

Cruise ship evacuees record journey back to America: "I'm not able to leave this room at all"

Some of the hundreds of passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and flown back to America chronicled their journey on social media. That includes Jerri Serrati-Goldman and her husband Carl, who were among those who traveled to Eppley Airfield outside Omaha. 

Goldman's husband developed respiratory symptoms in transit and is currently being tested. She is currently being housed on a medical center campus. 

"I'm not able to leave this room at all," she said.

Americans exposed to coronavirus back in the U.S. 02:44
By Carter Evans

Hubei province reports 1,807 new cases, 93 new deaths

Officials from Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, announced 1,807 new cases and 93 new deaths from the virus on Monday. That brings the global number of cases to at least 73,236, and the total number of deaths to at least 1,868. 

By Victoria Albert

13 evacuees from cruise ship arrive at University of Nebraska Medical Center

The University of Nebraska Medical Center announced Monday that it is caring for 13 people evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Twelve of those people are in the quarantine unit, and one is in the biocontainment unit, officials said at a Monday press conference. 

None of the people have tested positive for the virus, officials added. Only one of the patients complained of symptoms.

The State Department told reporters Monday that "a select number of high-risk patients" evacuated from the ship had been transported to Omaha, Nebraska, for further treatment. 

By Victoria Albert

Japan cancels Emperor's public birthday celebrations amid virus fears

Japan said Monday it would cancel a public gathering to celebrate the birthday of new Emperor Naruhito, as fears grow over the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

"In light of various situations, we have decided to cancel the visit by the general public to the palace for His Majesty's birthday," the imperial household agency said in a statement a day after the government warned people to avoid crowds and "non-essential gatherings."

"His Majesty's appearance in the morning as well as the public signing of the greeting book will be cancelled," the statement added. 



Chanel halts Beijing fashion show over virus fears

French fashion house Chanel said Monday it was postponing a show set for May in Beijing following an outbreak of a new coronavirus that has infected some 70,000 people across China.

"Chanel is monitoring the situation closely. At the foremost are the health and well-being of its teams and clients," it said.

The "31 Rue Cambon" show was first held in Paris in December, inspired by the studio and workshop of founder Coco Chanel. The decor was created by the film director Sofia Coppola.

Hundreds of trade shows and other major events in China have been cancelled in recent weeks over fears of the virus, which has killed nearly 1,800 people in mainland China since it was first reported in December.



WHO gives update on just how deadly the new virus seems to be

About 2% of the people who contract the novel coronavirus will likely die of it, according to the latest data compiled by the World Health Organization.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva on Monday that more than 80% of COVID-19 patients only develop mild symptoms and recover, and the risks associated with the disease rise with age. Most of the approximately 1,700 people who have died of the illness have been older.

Tedros said about 5% of infections result in critical illness, and 14% in cases with severe symptoms.

By Tucker Reals

WHO chief cites encouraging numbers, but won't rule out faster spread of virus

The head of the World Health Organization said Monday that data provided to the organization by China's government showed a decline in the number of new coronavirus cases reported daily in the country, but cautioned that the encouraging trajectory could still change.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily press briefing in Geneva that "every scenario is still on the table" as scientist tried to predict the further spread of the COVID-19 disease caused by the new virus.

Tedros said the data provided by the Chinese gave the WHO a better understanding of the age range of people who appear to be affected by the disease, and how deadly it is, but he made it clear that much more data was still required to fully grasp the threat posted to global health.

The WHO chief noted that, according to the data available, the disease appears to pose more of a threat the older a patient is, and that there appear to have been "relatively few" cases in children.

By Tucker Reals

1st violent virus-related hate crime reported to U.K. police

London police are investigating the first report of a violent hate crime committed against someone in the U.K. over stigma associated with the deadly coronavirus disease spreading in China. A Thai man says he was attacked by teenagers who stole his headphones while laughing and shouting "coronavirus" at him, recording the encounter on a cell phone, and then punching him in the face.

Pawat Silawattakun told The Guardian he was walking back to his house in West London after work last week when he was attacked in front of dozens of people on the busy road. He was left shocked and with a broken nose.

"These guys just shouted 'Coronavirus! Coronavirus! Ha, ha!' in my face while filming me," he said. Even after they took his headphones, he said "it didn't feel like a robbery at that point, it felt like bullying, a bit of messing around." So he gave chase.

"After about 50 metres, they ran across the road and I ran after shouting: 'Why are you doing this?' When I reached the traffic island he turned round and punched me to the ground. There was blood everywhere," Silawattukun said, adding that none of the other people on the crowded road "seemed to care or pay attention initially."

London's Metropolitan Police said they were investigating the attack as an "aggravated robbery," and they noted in a comment to The Guardian that the victim had "reported being racially abused."

Silawattakun, who earned a degree at Cambridge, was clearly disheartened by the incident.

"Statistically, you're more likely to find an Asian doctor that will cure you than to find an Asian guy who will infect you with coronavirus, but this xenophobia is being taken out on all East Asians," he told the newspaper.

Last week a 16-year-old Asian American boy in California was attacked at his high school by students accusing him of having the coronavirus. 

By Tucker Reals

China postpones huge auto show over virus fears

Organizers of China's biggest car show announced Monday the event was the latest to be postponed due to the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. 

The Beijing Auto Show, which is held every two years, attracted 820,000 people in 2018 from 14 different countries and regions. This year's event was due to take place between April 21 and 30.

Organizers said the event would be cancelled to "do a good job of epidemic prevention and control" and to protect the "physical health" of exhibitors and visitors. 

It is the latest in a series of events that have fallen victim to the spread of the virus, both in China and overseas.



Virus may force China to postpone huge annual Communist Party gathering

China said Monday it may postpone its annual congress in March, its biggest political meeting of the year, as the military dispatched hundreds more medical workers and extra supplies to the city hit hardest by a 2-month-old virus outbreak.

The standing committee for the National People's Congress said it believes it is necessary to postpone the gathering to give top priority to people's lives, safety and health, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

It noted that one-third of the 3,000 delegates are provincial and municipal-level cadres with important leadership roles working on the front line of the battle against the epidemic.

The standing committee said it would meet on Feb. 24 to further deliberate on a postponement. The meeting is due to start on March 5.

— The Associated Press


Virus sparks panic buying in China, and even toilet paper theft

With fears of the coronavirus spreading further, Chinese and residents of nearby countries and territories have begun hoarding supplies of everything from masks and other personal protective gear to instant noodles, cooking oil and toilet paper.

In Hong Kong, local media reported that police had arrested two men and were seeking three others who allegedly stole a load of 60 packs of toilet paper at knifepoint early early Monday morning. Supplies of the commodity have become extremely scarce, with only low-quality imports still available in many cases.

People buy toilet paper stacked outside a store in the Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong on February 8, 2020, as a wave of panic-buying saw some supermarket shelves emptied of crucial goods as the deadly new coronavirus spread across the region. Getty

BBC News said the robbery took place in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, which has a history of organized crime involving gangs known as "triads."



Some Americans "devastated" to be stuck in Japan after cruise ordeal

For more than 40 Americans left behind in Japanese hospitals, knowing two planes full of fellow U.S. passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship had made it back to U.S. soil was tough to bear.

Many still in Japan were frustrated that they were unable to get onto either of the planes that landed early Monday in California and Texas.

CBS News correspondent Debora Patta says the situation on board the Diamond Princess has been deteriorating with the growing number of infections confirmed in passengers. As of Monday, 454 people from the ship had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

While the U.S. has now evacuated most of its citizens from the ship, some chose to stay put — in some cases because they have family members being treated for the virus in Tokyo hospitals.

Rebecca Frasure from Oregon has been in hospital for nearly two weeks with the virus but hasn't suffered any symptoms. She said it was "kind of devastating" not to be on an evacuation flight. Her husband, who has tested negative, is still waiting for her on the Diamond Princess.   

By Tucker Reals

Rush to trace passengers from cruise ship who disembarked in Cambodia

A scramble intensified Monday to trace passengers from a U.S. cruise liner allowed to disembark in Cambodia despite at least one traveller later being diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus.

There were fears scores of cruise passengers have been scattered across the world without full health checks — as Cambodia on Monday afternoon treated a few dozen of the passengers to bus tours around the capital Phnom Penh.

Passenger Christina Kerby, whose tweets as the Westerdam was bounced across ports drew widespread attention, admitted she "was surprised" to be allowed on a tour of the Cambodian capital before being given the complete all-clear from the virus.

"I have young kids back home (in the U.S.) and wouldn't want to risk infecting them or anyone around me if I am carrying the virus," she told AFP.

A general view of the security checkpoint in front of cruise ship MS Westerdam at dock in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia
A general view of the security checkpoint in front of cruise ship MS Westerdam at dock in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on February 17, 2020. Reuters

The Westerdam was at sea for two weeks during which it was barred from Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand over fears it could be carrying the virus, which originated in China and has killed nearly 1,800 people.

On Thursday Cambodia, a staunch ally of Beijing, allowed the ship to dock at Sihanoukville. Three days later one Westerdam passenger, an 83-year-old American, was stopped on arrival in Malaysia and later diagnosed with the coronavirus.



Tokyo Marathon all but cancelled over virus fears

Organizers of the annual Tokyo Marathon have cancelled the race for all but the elite runners this year amid fears of the deadly new coronavirus disease spreading in Japan. The announcement meant about 38,000 registered to take part in the event would have to forego their plans.

The marathon organizers posted a statement online apologizing for the cancellation and explaining that, per the terms of registration, sign-up fees would not be reimbursed.

"We have been preparing for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 (Sunday, March 1) while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that a case of COVID-19 has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated," the statement said. "The Tokyo Marathon 2020 will be held only for the marathon elites and the wheelchair elites."

While the new coronavirus disease, centered in China but with a smaller outbreak on a cruise ship docked in Japan, has scuttled several large sporting events across Asia, organizers for the Tokyo Summer Olympics have said the games will go on as planned.

By Tucker Reals

Russian woman who fled quarantine ordered back to hospital

A court in St. Petersburg ordered a Russian woman who escaped from her 14-day quarantine a week ago to be re-hospitalized on Monday.

The judge ruled in favor of the healthcare officials seeking to force Alla Ilina back into quarantine. Ilina returned from China on January 30, and was quarantined after complaining of a sore throat. She tested negative for the new coronavirus, but was placed under protective quarantine. After less than a week, however, she disabled an electronic door lock and fled her isolation unit at a hospital. 

Three more patients followed suit, a local news website reported.

The initial two-week quarantine period for Ilina has already passed, but the government healthcare watchdog said she should be forced to return to the hospital for additional tests.

Ilina said in court on Monday that she would comply with the court order, news website Meduza reported.

— Alexandra Odynova


2nd flight carrying Americans from cruise ship arrives in Texas

The second plane carrying Americans from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan back to the United States arrived early Monday morning at the Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.

It was not immediately clear how many people were on the plane, which was the second State Department-chartered flight to bring Americans from the Diamond Princess ship back to the U.S.  The first plane arrived several hours earlier at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Chartered flights bring 14 coronavirus patients back to U.S. 03:35

Japanese officials said the flights were carrying a total of about 340 Americans from the cruise ship, from which 454 passengers had tested positive for the COVID-19 disease as of Monday, including dozens of Americans. 

There were 14 confirmed cases among those on the planes that arrived early Monday in California and Texas. About 40 other Americans with the new virus have been taken off the ship and hospitalized in Japan for treatment.

By Tucker Reals

99 more from stricken-cruise ship test positive for coronavirus

Japan's Health Ministry said Monday that a total of 454 people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship had tested positive for the new coronavirus disease COVID-19 as of Monday. The ship remains quarantined at a port in Yokahama, north of Tokyo. More than 300 Americans have been taken off the ship and flown back to the U.S., including 14 who tested positive for the new virus just before flying out of Tokyo on Sunday.

Of the 99 passengers newly diagnosed with the disease on Monday, the Health Ministry said 70 were showing no symptoms of the illness.

Another 44 Covid-19 Cases Reported Aboard Cruise Ship In Japan
Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship stand on their cabins' balconies at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, 13 February 2020. NurPhoto

Including the 14 Americans whose positive test results were confirmed just before they left Japan for the U.S., there were more than 50 U.S. nationals who contracted the disease on the Diamond Princess. Most were taken off the vessel and moved to Japanese hospitals before Monday.

The cruise ship is the largest outbreak of the new coronavirus outside mainland China. 

By Tucker Reals

Americans from cruise ship to be housed apart from previous evacuees

The first evacuation flight carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship landed at Travis Air Force Base just before 11:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. Eastern). All of those on the flight were to be quarantined for two weeks, but some of them would be taken to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

A Travis Air Force Base spokesperson told CBS Sacramento that this latest group of evacuees would not be housed in the same hotel on the base as those evacuated on another flight days ago from the COVID-19 outbreak epicenter of Wuhan, China.

China Outbreak Quarantined Americans
Ambulances from the Solano EMS Cooperative are seen at the visitor center at Travis Air Force Base, adjacent to Fairfield, California, on February 16, 2020, ahead of the arrival of Americans from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. AP

"The logistical support and management of the quarantine will continue to be led by HHS and the CDC. No Travis Airmen will have contact with the passengers," a spokesperson at Travis said in a Facebook post.


At least 14 evacuees from cruise ship have coronavirus

At least 14 American evacuees from the cruise ship quarantined in Japan were arriving back in the U.S. early Monday already infected with the new coronavirus.

"During the evacuation process, after passengers had disembarked the ship and initiated transport to the airport, U.S. officials received notice that 14 passengers, who had been tested 2-3 days earlier, had tested positive for COVID-19," the Departments of State and Heal and Human Services said in a joint statement released late Sunday night.

The statement said the infected passengers were moved "to a specialized containment area on the evacuation aircraft to isolate them in accordance with standard protocols."

"After consultation with HHS officials, including experts from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the State Department made the decision to allow the 14 individuals, who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process," the statement said.

Americans quarantined on cruise ship in Japan begin returning home 01:50

It said the infected passengers, along with any others who developed symptoms during the flight, would be moved to "an appropriate location for continued isolation and care."

By Tucker Reals

First plane with Americans from quarantined ship arrives in U.S.

The first of two planes carrying more than 300 Americans who were on a cruise ship under quarantine in the Japanese port of Yokohama arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California late Sunday. The second plane, also due Monday, was heading for Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Japan said 340 people were on the flights all together.

All will be under quarantine for two more weeks.

By Brian Dakss

Flights carrying cruise ship passengers back to U.S. depart from Japan

Two charter flights carrying American passengers who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have departed from Japan and are headed to the U.S., a spokesperson for the State Department said Sunday.

"All travelers on these flights were screened for symptoms prior to departure and will be subject to Centers for Diseases Control screening, health observation and monitoring requirements. Only those who were asymptomatic were allowed to board the flights," the State Department added. 

One of the planes will land at Kelly Field/Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and the other will land at Travis Air Force Base in California. All passengers will be placed in quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

By Jordan Freiman
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