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Coronavirus deaths top 2,000 as number of confirmed cases hits 75,000

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Hundreds of Americans released from two-week coronavirus quarantine 02:08

Follow Wednesday's latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak here.

The coronavirus epidemic topped two benchmarks on Tuesday, according to new numbers released by Chinese officials. With the 136 new deaths and 1,749 new cases reported, the global death toll of the virus climbed above 2,000, and the total number of confirmed cases rose to more than 75,000.

All but five of the deaths, and the vast majority of cases, occurred in mainland China. One of the most recent fatalities in the central Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, was the director of a hospital in the city of Wuhan, who succumbed to the disease at the age of 51.

Meanwhile, the arrival on Monday of 14 infected American evacuees from a cruise ship in Japan brought the total number of cases in the U.S. to at least 29. Hundreds of passengers began disembarking from the ship on Wednesday morning, according to The Associated Press — but many will have to undergo another 14 days of quarantine before returning to their country of origin. Over the next few days, Japanese officials plan to disembark the 2,500 people who remain on board. 

A member of the medical staff treats a patient who has displayed mild symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province, February 17, 2020.  STR/AFP/Getty

The virus only proves fatal, according to current data, in about 2% of people infected, with the risks increasing significantly for patients of older age. But infectious disease experts have spoken up to say that figure might actually be lower — the disease could be less deadly — because there could be thousands of undetected infections around the world, many of them mild or even asymptomatic.


Hundreds of passengers disembark Diamond Princess cruise ship

Hundreds of passengers began leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship Wednesday after the end of a much-criticized, two-week quarantine that failed to stop the spread of a new virus among passengers and crew.
Officials still were continuing tests for the coronavirus that has infected tens of thousands of people in China and more than 540 on the ship.
Some passengers said on Twitter they received health check forms asking if they had symptoms such as a headache, fever or coughing. Passengers who tested negative and had no symptoms of the disease still had to get their body temperature checked before leaving.
Japanese officials will spend several days staging the high-stakes evacuation of about 2,500 people who've been kept aboard the ship at the Yokohama port near Tokyo after one passenger who departed the ship earlier in Hong Kong was found to have the virus.
The ship, which some experts have called a perfect virus incubator, has since become the site of the most infections outside of China, where the virus was first identified. As of Tuesday, 542 cases have been identified among the original 3,711 people on the ship.
Even though Japanese officials insist the number of infected patients is leveling off, dozens of new cases on the ship continue to mount daily. 

—The Associated Press


California reports another confirmed coronavirus case

Officials in Napa County, California, confirmed a case of coronavirus Tuesday night. The patient is one of the recent evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that arrived in the U.S. this week. 

The patient is under isolation at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, officials said in a statement. That patient tested positive for the virus in Japan, but has not experienced any symptoms. Another patient who has reported symptoms is under investigation at the hospital — but that patient tested negative for the virus in Japan. 

Neither of the patients are residents of Napa County. Officials did not provide their state of origin.

Of the cruise ship passengers flown to Travis Air Force Base, seven were identified as requiring testing or hospitalization. Five were sent to local hospitals. The two patients at Queen of the Valley were sent there due to a limited number of isolation beds in the county, officials said. 

"There is minimal risk for Napa County residents from the arrival of these two patients at the Queen of the Valley," said Napa County Public Health Officer Karen Relucio. "They are in isolation, and are receiving medical care and undergoing testing."

By Victoria Albert

Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong will evacuate their citizens from Diamond Princess, cruise ship says

The embassies of Canada, Australia, and Hong Kong are sending chartered flights to evacuate their citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had hundreds of passengers with confirmed coronavirus cases, the ship said in a statement. Planes will arrive for the citizens of Australia and Hong Kong in the next 24 hours; Canadian citizens will depart Friday morning.

The evacuees will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine in their country of origin, the ship said.

By Victoria Albert

China announces 136 new deaths, 1,749 new cases

Chinese officials announced 136 new deaths and 1,749 new cases of the novel coronavirus Tuesday. That brings the global death toll to at least 2,009, and the total number of cases to at least 75,081. 

By Victoria Albert

Wall Street's growing fear: Coronavirus "to get worse before it gets better"

Concerns are growing on Wall Street that the coronavirus could cause serious economic damage beyond China, with analysts warning that the deadly outbreak is unlikely to recede anytime soon.

"Consensus is that this coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) is going to get worse before it gets better," Raymond James analysts said Tuesday in a note to investors. "It seems as though the market is under-appreciating the potential dangers and what the key government leaders on the virus are saying."  

Amplifying those concerns: This week's guidance from Apple — a bellwether both for the high-tech industry and the broader U.S. economy — that the iPhone maker would miss its quarterly sales target because of the virus's impact on the company's sales and production in China. Apple shares fell nearly 2% on Tuesday.

The Raymond James analysts, citing interviews with public health experts and other sources, said they believe the number of cases in China to be 400,000 or more, dramatically higher than the official count of at least 73,000 confirmed infections and at least 1,874 deaths. 

By Kate Gibson

Hubei province announces 132 new deaths, 1,693 new cases

Officials from China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, announced 132 deaths and 1,693 new cases on Tuesday. That brings the global death toll to at least 2,005, and the total number of cases to 75,079. 

By Victoria Albert

Diamond Princess will begin disembarking on February 19, U.S. Embassy in Tokyo says

The Diamond Princess, the cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan that has more than 450 coronavirus cases, will begin disembarking on February 19, according to a letter sent to passengers by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, obtained by CBS News. 

"Despite efforts of quarantine there is a high risk that passengers currently onboard the Diamond Princess have been exposed to COVID-19," said the letter, which was provided by a State Department spokesperson. "To limit the risk of spreading the disease, CDC has recommended travel restrictions on individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19."  

Passengers still aboard the ship won't be able to travel to, from, or within the United States for 14 days, the letter added. 

By Victoria Albert

Russia to ban entry of all Chinese nationals

Russia will temporarily ban Chinese nationals from entering the country due to the virus outbreak centered in China that has infected more than 73,000 people worldwide, Russian authorities said Tuesday.

The entry ban goes into effect Thursday at midnight Moscow time for an indefinite period, according to a decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The government said it took the move due to the "worsening epidemiological situation" in China.

Russia already had cut off most Chinese visitors by closing the long land border with China and Mongolia and imposing other travel restrictions. The new entry ban won't affect travelers who need to transfer flights at Russian airports, authorities said.

So far, Russia has had only three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus — two Chinese citizens who were treated and released, and a Russian national infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship now quarantined in Japan.

—The Associated Press


Hundreds released from quarantine at U.S. military bases in California

Personnel at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego waved goodbye to a busload of evacuees Tuesday as the bus left the base. The Americans had been quarantined there since earlier this month after arriving from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Happy to be home," a woman said. "It's a bit restless being inside for so long," a man said.

Another group of evacuees reunited with loved ones at Sacramento International Airport after finishing up their quarantine at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. Over 340 people quarantined at the bases were free to go Tuesday.

- Nancy Chen


Shanghai will keep schools closed for the time being, and begin online classes

The head of the Shanghai Education Committee announced Tuesday that its upcoming semester will begin with online learning, in an attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Reuters reported. The online courses will begin on March 2. 

Previously, Shanghai's government said schools wouldn't reopen before the end of February. 

By Victoria Albert

WHO explains coronavirus mortality rate

The WHO's head of health emergency response said Tuesday that there were two key factors leading to a steady drop in the estimated mortality rate of the new coronavirus; better diagnosis and accounting of mild cases, and better treatment and containment efforts around the world, but particularly in China.

As of Tuesday, the WHO believed approximately 2% of those who contract the illness die, but that number has come down since the early days of the outbreak, and it could drop further.

Mike Ryan said there was "always a huge bias at the beginning of an outbreak" of a new disease that makes it appear more deadly, "because only the really sick people were coming forward."

"Now we are going out looking for cases," he said, explaining that as more mild cases are detected, the number of people killed by the virus drops in comparison.

He also praised China's response, saying lessons learned in the epicenter province of Hubei were "being applied elsewhere" in the country and helping to put the focus more on the severely ill — not "blocking up the system" with patients who only suffer mild cases, and helping prevent deaths.

By Tucker Reals

WHO says it's still possible to prevent a "broader global crisis"

The head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday that there have been 92 cases of human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus disease in 12 countries outside of China.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization still didn't have enough data on those cases to "make a meaningful comparison on the severity or case mortality rate" with the numbers reported from China, and they were seeking more details from the nations involved.

Tedros stressed that the WHO had "not yet seen the sustained local transmission" of the virus outside of China that would lead to the declaration of a global pandemic. He stressed that with the exception of "specific cases" like the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, most cases were still in China or traceable directly to that country.

Tedros said WHO was working to equip nations in Africa and Latin America with both protective and diagnostic equipment, and know-how, to deal with any potential cases or suspected cases.

"We still have a chance of preventing a broader global crisis," Tedros said.

By Tucker Reals

Apple shares tumble as virus predicted to hit iPhone supply

Apple shares slumped on Wall Street Tuesday after the U.S. tech giant warned of a bigger-than-anticipated financial hit from the coronavirus epidemic, roiling financial markets. Shares in Apple tumbled some 2.5 percent in early New York trade, as global financial markets reacted to news of the economic impact of the health crisis.

Apple said Monday its revenue for the current quarter would be below its forecasts, and that worldwide iPhone supply "will be temporarily constrained" because of the global virus outbreak, notably in China, where Apple manufactures most of its devices.


Coronavirus could lead to drop in China's economic growth 03:23

Germany sending almost 9 more tons of medical supplies to China

Germany is sending a second shipment of medical aid supplies to China to help the Asian giant fight the coronavirus epidemic that has infected over 73,000 people. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday the government is sending 8.7 tons of aid supplies worth $162,000, including protection gear and disinfectants.

"Germany stands firmly on the side of China in the battle against coronavirus and works closely and trustfully with the Chinese officials," Maas said. "We have the utmost respect for the efforts China has already undertaken." 

- Associated Press


Did Japan's cruise ship quarantine backfire?

A two-week quarantine of the Diamond Princess cruise ship ends Wednesday, with thousands of passengers and crew set to disembark over the next several days in the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo. 

 A growing number of scientists say the ship served as an incubator for the new virus from China instead of a quarantine facility meant to prevent the worsening of the outbreak.  As of Tuesday, 542 cases of the virus have been identified among the 3,711 quarantined passengers and crew, making the ship the site of the most infections outside of China. 

"I suspect people were not as isolated from other people as we would have thought," said Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in England. 

Some Americans who tested positive for coronavirus are under isolation in Japan 05:33

"The quarantine hasn't worked, and this ship has now become a source of infection," said Dr. Nathalie MacDermott, an outbreak expert at King's College London. "There's no reason this should not have worked if it had been done properly." 

Hunter said it could be down to compliance problems; "some passengers who think they're not going to let anyone tell them what they can and cannot do."

"We have to presume everyone leaving the ship is potentially infected, and therefore they have to go through another two-week quarantine period," he said. "Not to do so would be reckless."



As some Americans leave quarantine, others enter isolation

More Americans evacuated from the coronavirus outbreak epicenter in China were to be released Tuesday from quarantine centers in the U.S.

Sam Wroth headed to Travis Air Force Base, north of San Francisco, to reunite with his wife and two young daughters after about a month apart.

"We just hope the community that we're going back to accepts us and is not afraid of us," he told CBS News' Carter Evans.

His wife and girls were among the first Americans evacuated from the hard-hit city of Wuhan. Wroth said they stayed healthy and comfortable throughout their isolation.

Others, including Jeri Serrati-Goldman and her husband Carl weren't so lucky. They were among the 338 Americans to arrive in the U.S. on chartered planes Monday.

Mid-flight, Carl developed respiratory symptoms and was isolated on the plane, and upon arrival he was taken to the hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus. He's one of 13 people being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. 


United Nations chief says risks "enormous," but virus "not out of control" yet

The head of the United Nations said Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak that began in China poses "a very dangerous situation" for the world, but "is not out of control." Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said "the risks are enormous and we need to be prepared worldwide for that."
Guterres said a spread of the virus to countries with "less capacity in their health service" would require a great deal of international solidarity.
Egypt reported its first case of the virus last Friday, raising fears of its spread to the African continent.



U.K. health officials turn hotel at Heathrow Airport into quarantine center

Health authorities in the U.K. have taken over a hotel right next to London's Heathrow Airport to use as a quarantine center for anyone returning to the country deemed at risk of the new coronavirus disease.

The Holiday Inn London - Heathrow Ariel, seen here in a handout photo, was block-booked by British authorities on February 17 to use as a quarantine site for people considered at risk of the new coronavirus illness. Holiday Inn

The Holiday Inn has been block-booked by the Department of Health and all guests transferred to other hotels owned by the chain in the area. There was no indication as of Tuesday that anyone had been moved into the facility for monitoring or testing, but Britain's government was mulling evacuation flights for dozens of nationals stuck on the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan, and possibly another evacuation flight for passengers who disembarked this week in Cambodia from another cruise. 

As of Monday, of the 4,501 people tested in the U.K., only nine had been confirmed as cases of the COVID-19 disease. 

The booking website for the Holiday Inn London - Heathrow Ariel showed no rooms available for public booking until mid-March.

By Tucker Reals

"We will not stop the spread": Experts say many infections going undetected

Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the new coronavirus is probably already circulating in the population of his country, and warned that if proven, it may require a new strategy by health authorities currently trying to stop it spreading. His is one of several Asian nations where the COVID-19 disease has already spread between people with no direct links to the outbreak in China

"If the virus is widespread it is futile to try to trace every contact, Lee said in a video posted to his Facebook channel. "If we still hospitalize and isolate every suspect case our hospitals will be overwhelmed."

While the World Health Organization continued Monday to say there was no evidence of "efficient community transmission outside of China," the Singaporean leader's concerns that many cases could simply be undetected have been reinforced by warnings from a growing number of infectious disease experts.

The Telegraph of Britain on Monday quoted professor of molecular virology Jonathan Ball as saying Chinese officials have not been "picking up many mild cases at all. The levels of infection are probably likely to be much larger than we're seeing already."  

The newspaper said scientists at London's Imperial College, who work with the WHO, have generated mathematical models showing only one in 10 cases of the disease is likely being recorded in China. On one hand, that would mean the current estimated mortality rate of 2% is an overstatement.

But as Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary epidemiologist in Hong Kong told the Telegraph, it would also mean efforts to contain the disease may prove futile, and attention should shift to trying to slow it down.

"I think it's escaped China already," he said, adding that while he believed it would likely become a global pandemic, the majority of cases would continue to be mild.

"We will not stop the spread," Pfeiffer told The Telegraph. "We need to learn from this. This is not a killer, the next one or the one after could be the killer."

By Tucker Reals

More than 540 virus cases now confirmed from cruise quarantined in Japan

Japan's health ministry confirmed Tuesday that the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus disease on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined for almost two weeks at a port in Yokahama, had risen to 542.

The ministry said in a statement posted online that an additional 88 people from the ship had tested positive as of Tuesday, yielding the new total. Health workers have now tested more than 2,400 passengers and crew members from the ship.  

Some Americans who tested positive for coronavirus are under isolation in Japan 05:33

On Monday, 14 Americans with the virus were among 338 flown back to the U.S. after being taken off the cruise ship, which remains the single largest outbreak of the new virus outside of mainland China.

By Tucker Reals

Death of hospital boss 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. 

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. 



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 return to strict quarantine in U.S.

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.

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 moved to Nebraska

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
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