Coronavirus death toll tops 1,100 as China reports more than 90 new deathsget the free app
Follow Wednesday's latest updates on the virus outbreak here.
The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak topped 1,100 on Tuesday, after officials reported nearly 100 deaths in the past 24 hours. The announcement came as top scientists gathered in Geneva to try and answer questions about the new disease, with the head of the World Health Organization issuing a plea for global unity against "a common enemy that does not respect borders or ideologies."
In the U.S., a federal quarantine ended Tuesday for nearly 200 Americans who have been at a Southern California military base for the past two weeks, health officials announced. The group of 195 people was evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China on a U.S.-chartered flight in January, and no one in the group was found to have the virus, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the public health officer for Riverside County, told reporters.
Authorities said there were 45,118 confirmed cases of the disease in China alone, with 395 more in 24 different countries. That includes a new case confirmed Monday in San Diego, the 13th person diagnosed in the U.S. Like most cases, that patient was recently in the Chinese city of Wuhan. All but two of the fatalities from the virus have been in mainland China.
"With 99% of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, warned Tuesday, urging health officials and governments to "use the window of opportunity that we have now."
The WHO has grown increasingly concerned about the virus being transmitted from people with no recent history of travel to China to others in their home countries. Tedros said Monday that this "community spread," which has been seen now in the U.K. and Spain, at least, could be the "spark" that lights a bigger fire.
China reports 94 new deaths, 2,015 new cases
Chinese officials reported 94 new deaths and 2,015 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday. That brings the global death toll to at least 1,115 and the number of confirmed cases to more than 45,000.
39 more people on cruise ship docked in Japan diagnosed with coronavirus, health minister says
An additional 39 people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said Wednesday. That brings the total number of infected patients onboard to 174.
"Out of 53 new test results, 39 people were found positive," he told reporters, adding that a quarantine official had also been infected with the virus.
"At this point, we have confirmed that four people, among those who are hospitalized, are in a serious condition, either on a ventilator or in an intensive care unit," he added.
The Diamond Princess has been in quarantine since early last week, after the virus was detected in a former passenger who got off the ship last month in Hong Kong.
The ship is expected to stay in quarantine until February 19 — 14 days after the isolation period began. The ship confirmed the 39 new cases in a statement.
Hubei province reports 94 new deaths and 1,638 new cases
Officials in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported 94 new deaths and 1,638 new cases on Wednesday. That brings the global death toll to at least 1,112 and the total number of cases to more than 44,700.
Disease caused by outbreak gets a new name
The coronavirus that has sickened tens of thousands of people now has an official name: COVID-19. At a press briefing on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it had decided on the name after consulting with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health.
"We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The group also wanted a name that was "pronounceable and related to the disease," he said.
The new name comes from the type of virus that causes the disease. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause the common cold and some more serious diseases, including SARS, which killed 800 between 2002 and 2003.
Tedros said having a name for the new disease is important to prevent the use of other names that might be stigmatizing. "It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks," he said.
- Associated Press
Evacuees toss face masks in the air after completing quarantine
Some of the 195 evacuees who completed their 14-day quarantine east of Los Angeles on Tuesday threw their masks in the air like graduation caps before leaving March Air Reserve Base. Officials gave each a final health screening and deemed them coronavirus-free.
Many boarded buses to take them to airports and eventually home. About 80 miles south, at a military base in San Diego, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an evacuee there is the 13th confirmed case in the U.S.
That person has been isolated and hospitalized. The federal health agency said the risk to Americans remains low and recent research shows, in many cases, the virus is on par with the flu or cold in terms of severity.
"The 13 individuals in the United States have not yet had very severe illness," the agency's Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters in Washington. "In fact, most have had very mild courses."
- Danya Bacchus
CDC says Americans quarantined at March air base "being assessed" to leave
CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said the 195 Americans quarantined for two weeks at the March Air Reserve Base in California were "currently being assessed to make sure they remain symptom free, and then we hope that they'll be released to travel on to their homes today."
All those people were on the first government-chartered flight back to the U.S. from Wuhan, China. None of them have tested positive for the new coronavirus, but at least one person who was on a later evacuation flight was confirmed to have the disease in San Diego on Monday.
Schuchat stressed that of the 13 confirmed cases in the U.S., 11 had been in China's central Hubei province, where the outbreak is centered, and the other two had "very close, household contact" with someone who had been there.
"We do not have widespread transmission here in the United States," she said, adding that the 13 U.S. patients "have not yet had very severe illness."
She said the government was focused on "trying to delay the arrival of suspected cases" through careful screening at the borders, and then meticulous tracing of patients' contacts to prevent any spread.
Schuchat said the CDC had at least 200 staff deployed across the country, helping with surveillance, lab testing, supporting quarantine operations for the roughly 800 Americans being monitored at five military bases, and at 11 airports where flights were arriving with passengers from China.
CDC official downplays "rumors" of virus coming from a lab
The principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to tamp down "rumors" suggesting the new coronavirus outbreak could be the result of a man-made illness being leaked or deliberately spread from a Chinese lab.
A reporter asked Dr. Anne Schuchat about the reports during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
"Based on everything I know... The pattern that we're seeing is quite consistent with animal-to-human acquisition," she said, backing the widely held belief that the virus jumped from a wild animal into the human population in central China. Other epidemiologists have said the virus likely made that jump in the context of markets still popular in southern China that put wild animals, domestic animals, food and humans all in very close proximity.
"In the midst of new infections, it is very common for rumors to emerge that can take on a life of their own," Schuchat said, again referencing the suggestions that the new virus could have come from a Chinese government lab in Hubei province.
CDC says U.S. efforts working, but urges preparedness for possible pandemic
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that the U.S. government's efforts to prevent an outbreak of the new coronavirus in the country thus far appeared to be working. But she warned it was a "dynamic" situation, and U.S. experts "don't have as much information as we would like about the severity of this virus."
Schuchat said officials were "learning more and more each day about" the new illness, which she said was spreading much faster than the SARS virus that came from China, but still appeared to be far less lethal.
She urged U.S. health care institutions to "open up your pandemic plans" and review them to prepare for any hypothetical outbreak in the U.S. Right now the coronavirus is classed by the World Health Organization as an epidemic in China. If there are significant outbreaks in other countries that classification could change to pandemic.
"The U.S. situation is very different from what we're seeing in China right now," she stressed.
U.S. permits non-emergency staff to leave Hong Kong consulate
As fears mounted that the new coronavirus was spreading from person-to-person in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong, the U.S. government gave non-emergency staff at America's consulate in the metropolis permission to leave.
A State Department spokesperson said the government had "authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, China."
It was not an evacuation, and the spokesperson said "departure is not required."
The Department of State authorized the voluntary departure "out of an abundance of caution related to uncertainties associated with the 2019-nCoV outbreak and to ensure the safety and security of U.S. Government personnel and family members," according to the spokesperson.
The consulate was to remain open and fully operational.
Earlier Tuesday a Hong Kong apartment building was evacuated after at a cluster of cases of the new virus was confirmed — an apparent example of the flu-like illness spreading between people who had no direct contact with individuals from central China, where the outbreak is focused.
Fed chief warns China virus impact could "spill over" to global economy
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the U.S. economy appeared durable with steady growth and unemployment near a half-century low, but it faces risks from the deadly virus in China.
Giving the Fed's semiannual monetary report to Congress, Powell said Tuesday that the Fed was content with where interest rates were, suggesting that no further rate cuts were being contemplated unless economic conditions were to change significantly.
Powell said the Fed was monitoring developments stemming from the coronavirus, which he said "could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy."
His comments came in prepared testimony to the House Financial Services Committee before he speaks to the committee later Tuesday. On Wednesday, Powell will testify to the Senate Banking Committee.
California air base personnel "accosted" by concerned community members
Health officials in Riverside County, California have warned community members to stop harassing military personnel from March Air Reserve Base — where a quarantine was set to expire Tuesday for nearly 200 American evacuees who were flown in from the Chinese province where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have started.
In an open letter, Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser wrote that "a few base workers have even been accosted in uniform" by community members who are concerned about the virus and the people quarantined in their neighborhood.
Kaiser called their concerns "unreasonable," adding that some community members "have taken them (their concerns) out on the families and households of people working at March Air Reserve Base."
- CBS Los Angeles contributed to this report
13th U.S. virus patient initially tested negative, was sent back to quarantine
The 13th confirmed case of the new coronavirus, an individual who flew back from Wuhan on a U.S. government-chartered flight last week, initially tested negative for the virus and was mistakenly released from isolation back into federal quarantine with others on a military base, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.
On Monday, confirmed to have the disease, the person was in a San Diego hospital and said to be doing well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that it was "conducting a thorough contact investigation of the person who has tested positive to determine contacts and to assess if those contacts had high risk exposures."
The CDC was still testing about 70 people for the virus across the U.S. on Monday, including another individual who had been on the same flight out of China last week. Evans said that person had started exhibiting symptoms indicative of possible infection with the new coronavirus.
1st American evacuees set to be released from quarantine
The first Americans evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, were set to be released from quarantine Tuesday from the March Air Reserve Base in California - pending one final health check.
"The confidence level from the CDC is that none of us have got it," Ian Thompson, who has been stuck on the base, told CBS News correspondent Carter Evans. Two weeks after he landed back in the U.S. and was immediately quarantined, he's ready to get back home to his family in Detroit.
"We get a document signed by the CDC as part of the process of going out," he said. "We can show it to anybody to show we don't have the virus, we're clear, we've done our time. We're welcome back into the community."
U.K. doctors' offices shut as local man suspected of spreading virus
Two doctors' offices in southern England were shuttered Tuesday amid fears that a man who caught the new coronavirus on a visit to Singapore may have spread the disease after returning home.
British media said the offices in Brighton were closed and a doctor from at least one of them had tested positive for the virus. The original case was a British businessman who said Tuesday that he had recovered, but was remaining under isolation with his family. He felt sick after returning from Singapore (via a French ski resort, where he is suspected of infecting 11 other people) and sought treatment, but it was not clear whether he had visited either, or both of the doctors' offices near his home in Brighton.
With two doctors within just two miles of each other having reportedly contracted the virus, concerns mounted about the many patients they came into contact with before their diagnoses were confirmed and their offices closed.
The U.K. had eight confirmed cases of the new virus as of Tuesday. The previous day, the government gave health authorities more power to keep patients under quarantine, even against their will, amid rising fear of community transmission.
U.K. scientists aiming for vaccine ready for human use this year
A team of British scientists believe they have become the first to start animal testing of a vaccine for the new coronavirus. Researchers at Imperial College London said their goal was to have an effective and safe way of halting the strain's spread by the end of the year.
"At the moment we have just put the vaccine that we've generated from these bacteria into mice," Imperial College London researcher Paul McKay told AFP in an interview on Monday.
Coming up with a vaccine is a laborious process that usually involves years of animal testing and clinical trials on humans, but Imperial College hopes research on the SARS coronavirus nearly two decades ago can speed things up.
"We're hoping to be the first to get this particular vaccine into human clinical trials," McKay said. "Once the phase one trial is complete - which can take a few months to complete - it can be immediately started into an efficacy trial in people, which will also take a few months to complete."
"So, perhaps by the end of this year there will be a viable tested vaccine that would be suitable for use in people."
WHO chief lays out goals for experts' 2-day coronavirus summit
The World Health Organization kicked off a two-day meeting in Geneva Tuesday involving top medical, scientific and public health experts, aimed at speeding up the global response to the coronavirus outbreak. They'll be trying to answer a number of questions on how the virus spreads and why some people are more vulnerable than others.
In an opening statement, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the new virus was testing global solidarity politically, and in terms of sharing the financial burden and scientific knowledge.
"We need your collective knowledge, insight and experience to answer the questions we don't have answers to," he told the room full of experts.
He said other questions would arise, but for starters he hoped to make progress in determining how and via what means the virus spreads; how long an infected person can be contagious, what biological samples should be used for diagnosis and monitoring, the best way to manage severe cases, and what ethical issues must be considered as the world confronts the disease.
Hong Kong housing block evacuated after virus cluster found
More than 100 people were evacuated from a Hong Kong housing block on Tuesday after four residents in two different apartments tested positive for the new coronavirus. Locals were forced to leave in the early hours as health officials in masks and white overalls scrambled to work out whether the virus had spread through the 35-storey complex that houses some 3,000 people.
Hong Kong is on high alert for any potential "super spreader" events, especially in the towering housing blocks that make the city one of the world's most densely populated places.
Officials said Tuesday's relocation of residents was a precautionary measure after three members of the same family contracted the virus. The family lived 10 floors directly below another man who had already been diagnosed as a carrier.
"We are not sure what was the exact route of transmission," Wong Ka-hing, from the Center for Health Protection, told reporters. "It could still be through the usual method of droplets or contact."
Nonetheless the occupants of 35 flats connected to the same drainage system were moved out.
Health secretary Sophia Chan said four residents who showed flu-like symptoms were taken to a hospital isolation ward but later tested negative for the virus. The others were taken to quarantine camps.
Three-month-old baby diagnosed with coronavirus in Vietnam
A three-month-old baby in Vietnam has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the country's 15th confirmed case, according to Reuters. The baby, who tested positive for the virus on February 9, was infected by her grandmother.
China's daily death toll tops 100 for the first time
China's daily death toll from the novel coronavirus topped 100 for the first time, pushing the global total to over 1,000 dead, authorities said Tuesday.
The National Health Commission said in its daily update 108 deaths had been reported over the previous 24 hours, increasing the total to 1,016 deaths in mainland China since the outbreak began in December. One additional death has been reported in Hong Kong, and one has been reported in the Philippines.
The number of newly confirmed cases fell slightly to 2,478 from 3,062 the day before, bringing the total to 42,638 on the mainland, some of whom have since been cured and released from hospital.
The crossing of more grim thresholds is dimming optimism that the near-quarantine of some 60 million people and other disease-control measures might be working.
- Associated Press
CDC confirms coronavirus case in San Diego
An evacuee from Wuhan, China, has the novel coronavirus, the CDC confirmed to CBS News on Monday. The patient traveled to the U.S. from Wuhan on a charter flight arranged by the State Department last week.
The CDC did not provide additional details about the patient's gender, age, or where they are being treated. They are the thirteenth confirmed case in the United States.
New virus cases in Europe could be "spark that becomes a bigger fire," WHO says
The director-general of the World Health Organization said Monday that the agency is still unable to predict where the coronavirus outbreak is heading but that he believes there is still an opportunity to contain it. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was concerning that the virus was spreading among people in Europe who haven't recently traveled to China.
At least six confirmed cases in France and Spain appeared to be linked to a British man who caught the virus at a business conference in Singapore in January. "The detection of the small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire, but for now, it's only a spark," Tedros said.
Five British citizens, including a 9-year-old boy, contracted the virus in the French Alpine ski town of Contamines-Montjoie after staying in the same chalet as the British man. Another man who stayed at the resort was discovered infected after returning to his home on the Spanish island of Mallorca.
- Associated Press
American with coronavirus speaks out: "It was a very surreal experience"
Oregon resident Rebecca Frasure found out she had the novel coronavirus onboard the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship docked in Japan that's now feared to be more of a floating incubator than luxury cruiseliner.
Confined to her hospital room in Yokohama, she's the first with the virus to speak out.
"It was a very surreal experience to be told that you have this virus that, you know, as far as I knew could be deadly," Frasure said.
Authorities in protective gear awaited more than 130 of her fellow infected passengers, who were escorted off the ship for treatment. At least 3,600 people remain on board, quarantined since last Monday.