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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll surpasses 2003 SARS epidemic

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First American citizen dies of coronavirus in China 02:24

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The U.S. embassy confirmed early Saturday that an American citizen diagnosed with coronavirus died at Jinyintian Hospital in Wuhan, China, on February 6. It appears this is the first death of an American citizen from the disease.  

Planes carrying about 300 Americans from the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak arrived at military bases in California and Texas on Friday. Some of the Americans were continued on from Texas to Nebraska.

Passengers will be under a 14-day quarantine to protect against the spread of the virus. "Our top priority is keeping the risk to the American public low, and we're working on all fronts to do that," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters.

On Saturday, the number of confirmed deaths surpassed the total number of people who died during the 2003 SARS epidemic, which killed 774 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

All but two of the 812 confirmed deaths have been in mainland China, with one person succumbing in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong. More than 37,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide, the vast majority of them in China. As of Friday morning, there were 12 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and 11 Americans among 64 people sickened with it who have been taken off a quarantined cruise ship in Japan.

Amid a growing backlash from the Chinese public, the country's ruling Communist Party has promised an investigation into the apparent silencing of at least one doctor who tried to warn colleagues that a virus was spreading in the city of Wuhan two months ago, before the new disease was even identified. That doctor has died after becoming infected with the virus himself.

But as Beijing vows to "fully investigate relevant issues raised by the public" and in spite of an admission earlier this week that there had been "shortcomings and deficiencies" in its initial response, China continues to bristle at the measures taken by other countries to stop the virus spreading.

A U.S. government-chartered plane carrying Americans from Wuhan, China, arrived at Kelly Field in San Antonio on February 7, 2020.
A U.S. government-chartered plane carrying Americans from Wuhan, China, arrived at Kelly Field in San Antonio on February 7, 2020. CBS

Americans remain under 2-week quarantine on military bases

Hundreds of Americans remain under a two-week quarantine on military bases in Omaha, San Antonio and Fairfield, California. More than 500 U.S. citizens have been transported from Wuhan, China, back to the U.S. where they were greeted by virus response teams in hazmat suits.

Dr. Henry Walke, the lead for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at Travis Air Base in California, said only a handful of the evacuees displayed symptoms and are being monitored to make sure they don't have the virus.

— Mola Lenghi


Chinese ambassador to U.S. dismisses coronavirus theories as "crazy"

Chinese ambassador to U.S. dismisses coronavirus theories as "absolutely crazy" 08:10

Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai provided an update on the crippling coronavirus and defended his government's response to the outbreak. He explained to "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan the challenges in containing the outbreak.

"People are still learning about the virus and how it affects people" he said. "We welcome the U.S. experts in our efforts ... to join the WHO group that it's assembling."

Cui also addressed the charges that the virus came from China's biological biological warfare program. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted late last month that Wuhan — the city where the deadly outbreak started — "has China's only biosafety level-four super laboratory that works with the world's most deadly pathogens to include, yes, coronavirus."

"I think it's true that a lot is still unknown," he explained. "It's very harmful, very dangerous to stir up suspicion, rumors and spread them among the people ... of course there are all kinds of speculation and rumors ... how can we believe all these crazy things."

Cotton has harshly criticized Beijing's handling of the outbreak for weeks. His allegation joined other theories — that have been largely debunked by experts — that the virus may be tied to the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory and could have come from China's biological warfare program.

Read more here.

By Peter Martinez

All 4 passengers from cruise ship docked in New Jersey test negative for coronavirus

The four passengers from a cruise ship docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, who were being tested for coronavirus all tested negative, Governor Phil Murphy announced Saturday night.

"After the evaluation at the hospital, the Center for Disease Control permitted the four individuals who arrived Friday via a cruise ship to be discharged," Murphy said in a statement. Three of the passengers had been staying in the same room and they all tested positive for the flu, Murphy added. The fourth passenger had no symptoms.

Murphy reiterated there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in New Jersey and "the risk to residents remains low."

By Jordan Freiman

More people have died from coronavirus than SARS during the 2003 epidemic

China's Hubei province reported 81 new deaths from the novel coronavirus Saturday, bringing the global death toll to at least 812, according to the World Health Organization. More people have now died from coronavirus than from SARS during the 2003 epidemic which, killed 774 people according to WHO.

By Jordan Freiman

5 Brits infected with coronavirus at French ski resort

A group of five British people staying at a French ski resort have contracted the coronavirus. The group, made up of four adults and one child, came in contact with a man who had recently traveled to Singapore.

The five British people all stayed at the same chalet at the Contamines-Montjoie ski resort in the French Alps, the BBC News reports. None of them are in serious condition, according to authorities.

The man was in Singapore from January 20 to 23, before he came to the ski resort for a four-day trip, according to the French Health minister. He then returned to the United Kingdom on January 28, where he was diagnosed with the virus.

The infected child is a nine-year-old boy who lives at the resort with his family. French authorities said they are closing two schools attended by the child next week.

By Stephen Smith

World Health Organization warns number of cases could still rise

The World Health Organization on Saturday said that the total number of coronavirus cases inside China is up to 34,598. WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the number of deaths has remained stable.

WHO said close to 25,000 of the over 34,000 cases are contained within China's Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan is located. Only two other Chinese provinces have more than 1,000 cases.

The WHO said they have observed a stabilization in the number of cases over the past four days, but warned that it could only be temporary as many suspected cases still need to be tested.

"The centerpiece is actually Hubei, and even in Hubei we see some stabilizing in the last four days, but even with that we have to understand it with some caution,"  Ghebreyesus said. "... They can show some stability ... and then can shoot up."

"It's very hard — or not really right — to speculate," he said.

Nevertheless, WHO officials said they are taking advantage of this window of opportunity to collect data on the number, and nature, of the cases.

Ghebreyesus also stressed that the WHO is working with social media companies, like Facebook and Google, to stymie the spread of misinformation about the new coronavirus.

"At WHO, we're not just battling the virus; we're also battling the trolls and conspiracy theorists that push misinformation and undermine the outbreak response,"  he said. "As a Guardian headline noted today, 'Misinformation on the coronavirus might be the most contagious thing about it.'"

By Stephen Smith

American citizen dies in China from coronavirus

The U.S. embassy confirmed early Saturday that an American citizen diagnosed with coronavirus died at Jinyintian Hospital in Wuhan, China on February 6.  The person was 60 years old.

It appears this is the first death of an American citizen from the disease. 

By Caroline Linton

Japan confirms 3 more people on cruise liner tested positive for coronavirus, bringing total to 64

Three more people on a cruise liner docked off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Japanese officials cited by Reuters. That brings the total number of confirmed cases on the ship to 64. The new patients, like the other 61, will be brought off the ship and hospitalized. 

The Diamond Princess now has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of China.

The ship was placed on a two-week quarantine when it arrived in Yokohama on February 3, Reuters reports. 


Two more evacuees sent to hospital after showing symptoms

Two more evacuees from Wuhan, China, who are quarantined in Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego have been sent to the hospital after developing either a fever or cough, the CDC said Friday. That brings the total number of hospitalized evacuees to seven. 

A new group of evacuees also arrived at Miramar on Friday morning. The CDC said all of them have been screened and are now living with the evacuees who arrived two days ago. The two new evacuees sent to the hospital were not in the group that arrived Friday morning. 

The CDC also said that an adult and child who were previously transferred to the hospital tested negative for the coronavirus, and have returned to the base for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine. 

By Victoria Albert

Royal Caribbean tightens travel restrictions

Royal Caribbean announced Friday that it plans to deny boarding to anyone holding a passport from China, Macau, or Hong Kong, regardless of where they live, during the month of February. 

The cruise company also said anyone who had been in contact with someone who had traveled in those areas in the past 15 days would undergo a health screening, as would anyone feeling sick or demonstrating flu-like symptoms. Those who had a fever or low blood oximetry would not be allowed to board, the company said. 

The announcement comes on the same day that a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in New Jersey so that 17 Chinese nationals could be checked for symptoms of the virus, according to CBS New York. None of the 17 had displayed symptoms of the the potentially deadly virus, and the screening was to be carried out strictly out of an abundance of caution, the sources told the outlet.

By Victoria Albert

Chinese officials announce 86 new deaths, 3,399 new cases

Chinese officials announced 86 deaths and 3,399 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday. That brings the death toll from the virus to at least 724, and the total number of cases to more than 34,000.

By Victoria Albert

Eleven Americans aboard cruise ship docked off Japan's coast test positive for coronavirus

Eleven Americans aboard the Diamond Princess, docked in Yokohama, Japan, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. In total, 61 people have been transferred to a mainland hospital for treatment. 

The ship now has the highest number of coronavirus cases outside of China.

"A lot of people ask if we're nervous or scared," said Jerry Jorgensen, who, like her fellow passengers, faces 11 more days confined to her cabin. "We're not. Maybe ignorance is bliss, but we are fine. We're safe."

— Ramy Inocencio contributed reporting. 

Coronavirus death toll tops 700 02:04

Dozens of evacuees quarantined at Texas military base

Dozens of Americans who were evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China will be quarantined at a military base in Texas, according to a health official. Captain Jennifer McQuiston of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Friday less than 100 passengers on a U.S.-chartered flight from Wuhan, China, will be quarantined at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland for the next two weeks.

The passengers were screened after the plane landed, and none showed any signs of illness, McQuiston said. Some of the passengers carried babies off the plane, she said.

While on the base, the evacuees will have their temperature checked twice a day. If anyone shows signs of illness, they will be evaluated, and if they have symptoms for the virus, which resembles the flu, they will be taken to a hospital.

By Alex Sundby

Pangolins are possible coronavirus hosts, Chinese scientists say

Pangolins are possible hosts of coronavirus, a study led by South China Agricultural University has found.

Experts believe the outbreak originated at wild animal markets in Wuhan, China. After analyzing more than 1,000 samples, scientists found that the genome sequence of the virus in pangolins was 99% identical to that from infected people. That means pangolins are the most likely intermediate host of coronavirus, Liu Yahong, president of the university, said, according to state media

Pangolins, which look like scaly anteaters, are considered a delicacy in China and other countries, and pangolin scales are used in traditional medicine. 

By Caitlin O'Kane

China's Hubei province reports 81 new deaths, 2,841 new cases

Officials from China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, reported 81 new deaths and 2,841 new cases on Friday. That brings the total death toll from the virus to at least 719, and the number of cases to at least 33,000.

By Victoria Albert

Illinois coronavirus patients moved from hospital to home isolation

Two coronavirus patients, a married couple in their 60s, were discharged from a hospital outside Chicago on Thursday night to be under isolation at their home, according to a hospital spokesperson. The couple's case was the first in the U.S. where the virus spread from one person to another.

The wife returned from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, in mid-January. She was later diagnosed with the virus and hospitalized, and her husband, who didn't travel with her, didn't feel ill until last week.

"We're definitely looking forward to getting home and getting life back to normal," the couple said in a statement released by the hospital.

By Alex Sundby

More than 300 U.S. evacuees headed for quarantine in Nebraska and Texas

Hundreds of Americans evacuated from China were to be quarantined Friday in Texas and Nebraska, officials said, stressing that it was unlikely anyone would arrive with signs of illness.

Officials said about 70 Americans would be flown into Omaha and quarantined at a nearby Nebraska National Guard training base. In Texas, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was preparing to quarantine as many as 250 people, said Dr. Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control's division of high consequence pathogens and pathology.

All the passengers left Wuhan, China, on Thursday.

China Outbreak Evacuees
A pedestrian passes the main gate at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, February 5, 2020. A couple planes carrying U.S. citizens fleeing the virus zone in Wuhan, China were arriving at Air Force bases including Lackland, where they will be quarantined for up to 14 days. Eric Gay/AP

The U.S. military said in a statement early Friday that the plane destined for Nebraska would refuel at Travis Air Force Base and continue on to Omaha via the Lackland base.  

All the passengers were subject to 14 days in quarantine.



4 passengers from cruise docked in New Jersey taken to hospital

New Jersey's governor confirmed Friday that four passengers from a cruise ship docked in Bayonne were being taken to a local hospital for further evaluation after initial screening on board the vessel suggested possible infection with the new coronavirus. 

Governor Phil Murphy said CDC personnel had boarded the ship to screen 27 passengers who were recently in China, and the other 23 "were cleared."

Murphy stressed that there were still no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in New Jersey, and said "the risk to residents remains low."

By Tucker Reals

Singapore raises alert, confirms 3 new cases "involving community spread"

Singapore has raised its public heath alert status to orange and says three new cases of a virus have no clear source of infection. The health ministry said Friday the three new cases were Singaporeans who have no travel history to China nor links to previous cases but two of them visited Malaysia last month.

It said the city state, which now has 33 cases, has "planned for such a scenario involving community spread" and will introduce additional precautions.

The ministry is advising large events be canceled or attendees strictly screened. Employers are required to conduct daily health checks such as checking workers' temperatures, and it urged companies to plan for further steps such as allowing staff to telecommute or segregating workers.

The entrance to the Grand Hyatt Singapore hotel, where a business meeting attended by over a hundred participants that has been linked to several novel coronavirus cases in Malaysia and South Korea was held. Getty

The ministry previously said it was investigating a business conference last month where attendees appear to have contracted the virus. 

— The Associated Press


Chinese vent anger over death of doctor who tried to raise the alarm

Anger over the death of a doctor chastized by Chinese officials and warned against spreading the word about the virus outbreak in his city in December continues to mount. After initial reports by state media Thursday that Li Wenliang had died of the virus, officials said he was in fact still being treated, in critical condition. 

Hours later, the hospital announced that he had died at about 3 a.m. local time Friday, after efforts to save him failed.

Some on the widely used, Twitter-like platform Weibo suggested Friday that the claim of resuscitation efforts might merely have been aimed at diffusing rapidly mounting anger after Li's death was first reported.

"It will cause too much anger if announcing his death directly, need to divert the anger to disappointment for a 'miracle,'" posted one user. "Now they can say he passed away after 'all the efforts we've taken to resuscitate him.'"

"No freedom while living, no freedom while dying," wrote another Weibo account holder.

The topics "the Wuhan government owes doctor Li Wenliang an apology" and "we want free speech" briefly trended on Weibo late Thursday, but yielded no search results at all on Friday.

There were poems, drawings and photos posted online with messages lauding him as a martyr or everyday hero.

A screenshot shows a post on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, lauding Li Wenliang, a doctor who died of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, after trying to warn fellow medical professionals of viral outbreak. 

The World Health Organization said on Twitter that it was "deeply saddened" by the news of Li's death, while China's National Health Commission and the Wuhan government also issued statements of condolence.

Wuhan residents urged people to mourn Li, and the 636 other people killed in the country thus far by the virus, on Friday night by turning off their lights just before 9 p.m. local time, and then pointing flashlights or lights to the sky and whistling together.

— Grace Qi


Videos suggest fear mounting in embattled city at center of outbreak

In and around the beleaguered city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, more than 50 million people remain under strict control measures. Those still healthy have been told to remain indoors and report violators to the police. Those suspected of being infected cram into hospitals that are running short on basic supplies.

Videos posted to Chinese social media purportedly show a large convention center or similar building being used as a quarantine center where the infected lay helpless in close proximity, and confused relatives look on. Some witnesses claim there are no bathrooms, no running water, and even no doctors on hand at the makeshift facility.

When asked who was in charge, a woman in one video replies, "no one is in charge." Outside the building, the sick are seen being turned away or told that once inside, they won't be allowed to leave.

CBS News' Ramy Inocencio says just outside Wuhan, China's frantic efforts to contain the virus have already yielded a brand-new, purpose-built hospital to isolate and treat the infected — an emergency building project praised by government officials on state media.

But the videos from inside the other facility in Wuhan paint a picture of disappointment, and fear.


WHO chief says "good news" to see infection rate slowing

The director-general of the World Health Organization says a drop in the number of new virus cases for two days is "good news" but cautions against reading too much into that.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke Friday at a technical briefing to the U.N. health agency's executive board. "The numbers could go up again ... but the last two days were showing a declining trend."

China reported 31,161 cases in mainland China in its update Friday. The rise of 3,143 was the lowest daily increase since at least Tuesday. 

- Associated Press


Frustrated passengers stuck on quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Jerri Jorgensen watched from her balcony high on the side of the Diamond Princess cruise ship as other passengers, feared sick with the new coronavirus, were removed.

"They came in, tested everybody's temperature to see if they were symptomatic with fevers," she recalls. "We were on 24-hour quarantine, and then we found out we were going to be on 14-day quarantine."

CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio says other passengers have reported rising tension aboard the vessel, from which 61 passengers have now been hospitalized with the new virus. Some of the thousands of other people, stuck in their cabins for days, feel health officials aren't giving them enough information, and they don't know when they might be able to get back home.

Japan Screens Cruise Ship Diamond Princess For The Wuhan Coronavirus
Passengers wait on the balconies of their cabins on the Diamond Princess cruise ship as it sits docked at Daikoku Pier, where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment, as it remains in quarantine after a number of the 3,700 people on board were confirmed to have coronavirus, on February 7, 2020 in Yokohama, Japan. Getty

Karey and Roger Maniscalco are worried that the current two-week quarantine could be extended.

"That's my biggest concern, is spending one more day here," Karey said. "I was devastated when we got the news, I was crying pretty hysterically because we have kids... we have jobs... this really affects my business dramatically."


WHO warns world is running short on anti-virus masks

The world is running out of masks and other protective equipment against the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization chief warned on Friday.

"The world is facing a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the WHO's executive board in Geneva.

He said he would be speaking to members of the supply chain network for protective gear to try and resolve "bottlenecks" in the production.

WHO earlier this week said it had started sending masks, gloves, respirators, protective isolation gowns and test kits to countries requiring assistance. 



Chinese passengers on cruise ship docked in N.J. to be screened

Sources told CBS New York that about 17 Chinese nationals aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was docking Friday morning at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, were to be checked for symptoms of the new coronavirus. None of them had displayed symptoms of the the potentially deadly virus, and the screening was to be carried out strictly out of an abundance of caution, the sources said.

The Chinese passengers had been instructed to remain in their rooms on the Anthem of the Seas — again, out of an abundance of caution.

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas sits docked at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey, in a February 10, 2016 file photo. CBS New York

Royal Caribbean told CBS News in a statement early Friday that it was, "participating in elevated levels of guest screening to check the spread of coronavirus" and that "rigorous medical protocols" were in place on its ships.

"We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew."

By Tucker Reals

Chinese leader talks to Trump, urges "reasonable" response

China's state media said Friday that President Xi Jinping urged the U.S. to "respond reasonably" to the coronavirus outbreak in a phone call with President Trump.

"A people's war against the virus has been launched," Xi was quoted as saying by broadcaster CCTV, using timeworn communist terminology. "We hope the U.S. side can assess the epidemic in a calm manner and adopt and adjust its response measures in a reasonable way."

Beijing has complained that the U.S. was flying its citizens out of Wuhan but wasn't providing any assistance to China. Chinese officials have also balked at the U.K. government urging its citizens to leave all parts of China, pointing to World Health Organization 

In a tweet, Mr. Trump expressed confidence in Xi's handling of the crisis. 

"Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!" Mr. Trump said.


By Tucker Reals

China vows probe after whistleblower doctor dies of coronavirus

China announced Friday that it would conduct an investigation after the death of a whistleblower doctor sparked grief and anger online over the government's handling of the coronavirus emergency.

Authorities said a team would go to Wuhan, where he died, to "conduct a comprehensive investigation into issues involving Dr. Li Wenliang reported by the masses." Li, 34, died early Friday, Wuhan Central Hospital said in a post on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform.

Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan, China, died Thursday of coronavirus.

Li was among eight physicians punished by Wuhan police for discussing the emergence of a SARS-like virus on social media in December.

China's supreme court criticized Wuhan police last month for punishing early "rumor mongers," saying the outbreak might not have become so serious "if the public had believed these 'rumors' at the time." 



2 more U.S. evacuation flights leave Wuhan

Two additional evacuation flights have departed from Wuhan, China, the U.S. Northern Command tweeted late Thursday. The flights, carrying approximately 300 people in all, are expected to arrive in the U.S. on Friday.  

One was to refuel at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, in Northern California, before heading to Omaha, Nebraska; the other was to stop in Vancouver, Canada before flying to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. Another group of evacuees is already in quarantine at Miramar. As with all other passengers who arrived on evacuation flights, this group will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

By Victoria Albert

41 more from cruise ship in Japan confirmed to have coronavirus

An additional 41 people on a cruise ship off Japan's coast have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, Japan's health minister said Thursday. The new cases raise the number of confirmed infections from the ship to at least 61, said Katsunobu Kato.

Japanese authorities have tested 273 people on board the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined after a former passenger, who disembarked in Hong Kong last month, tested positive for the virus.

Kato told reporters the newly confirmed patients would be sent to hospitals and isolated, as the previous 20 had been. There were three Americans among the first 20 diagnosed with the virus. The nationalities of the 41 new cases were not immediately confirmed.

There were more than 3,700 passengers and crew on the ship, which has been docked off Japan's coast since Monday evening. It has taken on supplies for a quarantine that could last until February 19.


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