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Hundreds more Americans evacuated from China as coronavirus death toll rises

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Another group of Americans evacuated from China amid coronavirus outbreak 01:42

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The deadly new coronavirus continued to spread Tuesday, with more than 24,000 cases and at least 492 deaths confirmed worldwide. The vast majority of the infections, and all but two of the deaths, were in mainland China.

The Pentagon said very early Wednesday that two more chartered flights evacuating about 350 Americans from the virus epicenter in Wuhan, China were scheduled to land in Southern California Wednesday. The first such flight brought 195 Americans to an Air Force Base there last week.

Chinese officials have agreed to let American experts into the country as part of a World Health Organization team in the coming days, and senior members of the Communist Party have admitted "shortcomings and deficiencies" in the country's response. President Xi Jinping declared "a people's war of prevention" against the epidemic Monday, threatening punishment for anyone deemed to be neglecting their duties as control efforts ramped up. 

There were 11 cases confirmed in the U.S. as of Tuesday, including six in California, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Massachusetts. More than 80 other Americans were being tested for the virus.

The U.S. government declared a public health emergency last week and barred foreign nationals from entering the country within two weeks of visiting China, unless they are immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The State Department has warned Americans against all travel to China.

APTOPIX Malaysia China Outbreak
A photo released by Malaysia's Ministry of Health shows Malaysian nationals being directed onto a bus by health officials in protective suits as they arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, February 4, 2020, after being evacuated from China's Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak. AP

Two more flights evacuating Americans from China head for U.S.

Two chartered flights carrying roughly 350 Americans from the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan, China are slated to land in California on Wednesday, the Pentagon announced. All on board will be quarantined for two weeks.

The first flight evacuating Americans brought 195 to Southern California last week.

By Brian Dakss

10 people aboard cruise ship docked in Japan test positive for coronavirus

Ten people aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Japan's health minister said, according to Reuters. That number could rise as screenings of some of the 3,700 quarantined passengers and crew continue. 

The testing comes after Japanese health officials boarded the Diamond Princess cruise ship, moored off Yokohama, on Tuesday after an 80-year-old Hong Kong resident infected with the new coronavirus was confirmed to be among those on board. The man boarded in late January. 

The new cases bring Japan's total to 33, according to Reuters. 


FDA approves use of coronavirus diagnostic test outside CDC headquarters

The FDA announced Tuesday that it has issued an emergency use authorization allowing the diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus to be used at any CDC-qualified lab in the country. Previously, the test had only been conducted at CDC headquarters in Atlanta. 

It was not immediately clear how many laboratories are qualified to perform the test. 

"Since this outbreak first emerged, we've been working closely with our partners across the U.S government and around the globe to expedite the development and availability of critical medical products to help end this outbreak as quickly as possible," FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement announcing the authorization. "This continues to be an evolving situation and the ability to distribute this diagnostic test to qualified labs is a critical step forward in protecting the public health."

By Victoria Albert

China announces 65 new deaths from novel coronavirus

Chinese officials on Tuesday announced 65 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the death toll in mainland China to 490 and the overall death toll to 492. Officials also announced 3,387 new confirmed cases, bringing the total in China to 24,324. 

By Victoria Albert

2nd group of Americans evacuated from China

After an agonizing wait to be evacuated from the coronavirus outbreak zone in China, another planeload of Americans is heading to the U.S. The Americans had been screened before the flight.

"I'm looking forward to giving my mom a hug, I haven't seen her in five years," Priscilla Dickey, one of the Americans, told CBS News.

The flight will land at March Air Reserve Base in California, where the passengers will join the 195 Americans under quarantine who left Wuhan last week.

More State Department flights with evacuees will land at March and four other military air bases. These include Camp Ashland in Nebraska, near a national quarantine center and biocontainment unit.

— Ramy Inocencio

Another group of Americans evacuated from China amid coronavirus outbreak 01:42

China officials report more coronavirus deaths in Hubei province

Health officials in China reported early Wednesday that there are 65 more deaths confirmed in the Hubei province, bringing the total death toll in China to at least 490.

Officials said there are 3,156 new cases bringing the total to at least 23,589.

By Peter Martinez

Traveler from China under quarantine in U.S.

A traveler who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from China on Monday was placed under federal quarantine and transferred to a Southern California air base, local authorities said Tuesday. The traveler was taken to March Air Reserve Base east of Los Angeles, where a group of U.S. citizens evacuated from China last week was already being quarantined.

"The individual has no symptoms of novel coronavirus, but was moved to March out of an abundance of caution and because of their travel history," Riverside County public health officials said in a statement. The person is isolated from the others under quarantine at the base.

- Associated Press


Quarantined American child hospitalized with fever

A child who was among the 195 people under quarantine at a Southern California air base developed a fever and was hospitalized for testing and observation, local authorities said Tuesday. The child and a parent of the child were taken by ambulance Monday evening from March Air Reserve Base to Riverside University Health System-Medical Center, Riverside County public health officials said in a statement.

They were among the first group of U.S. citizens evacuated on a chartered flight from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and placed under a 14-day federal quarantine. All had received testing for coronavirus before departing China, while en route at a refueling stop in Alaska and after arriving at the base east of Los Angeles.

The child was swab tested again Monday, and the sample was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for evaluation, said Riverside County health department spokesman Jose Arballo Jr.

— The Associated Press


WHO chief: Some wealthy countries "well behind" in sharing virus data

The head of the World Health Organization Ghebreyesus said some nations are lagging in the global fight against the deadly new coronavirus outbreak. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus accused some governments of wealthy countries of being "well behind" in sharing data on virus cases.

"While 99 percent of cases are in China, in the rest of the world we only have 176 cases," Tedros said in a technical briefing to the WHO's Executive Board in Geneva. "That doesn't mean that it won't get worse. But for sure we have a window of opportunity to act... Let's not miss this window of opportunity."

Tedros said the WHO had received complete case report forms for only 38 percent of the cases outside China.

"Some high-income countries are well behind in sharing this vital data with WHO. I don't think it's because they lack capacity," he said. "Without better data, it's very hard for us to assess how the outbreak is evolving, or what impact it could have, and to ensure we are providing the most appropriate recommendations."



Virus blocks 3 Chinese brands from Milan Fashion Week

Italian fashion officials have forecast a nearly 2% drop in first-half revenues due to the coronavirus. The fast-spreading illness also is grounding three Chinese fashion houses that won't be able to travel to Milan Fashion Week later this month.

Chinese consumers are the biggest luxury spenders in the world, including in Italy, where they represent 35% of big-ticket spenders, more than Russians, Arabs and Americans combined. Their absence during the Chinese New Year travel period is being sorely felt by Milan's luxury boutiques.

- Associated Press


France and U.K. warn against all travel to China

France and Great Britain joined the U.S. on Tuesday in warning citizens against all non-essential travel to China. The two countries also suggested that all of their citizens currently in China leave when possible.

The French Foreign Ministry issued the travel warning Tuesday based on measures taken by Chinese authorities, and on "the evolution of the epidemic."

It said France's embassy and consular services in China would continue to help French people who decide to stay in China.

France has six confirmed cases of the virus and evacuated hundreds of people on two flights.

Britain's Foreign Office also advised against "all but essential" travel to mainland China on Tuesday. The U.K. has two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.


By Tucker Reals

Gambling mecca Macau shutters casinos over coronavirus

Macau, the world's largest gambling center, on Tuesday ordered casinos in the region to halt their operations for two weeks amid concerns about the deadly coronavirus spreading in China and other countries.

Announced by the Macau government on Tuesday, the suspension will temporarily shutter 41 gambling and entertainment businesses, an official said at a news conference, according to the Wall Street Journal. Among the casinos impacted by the order are the Venetian Macao, which is partly owned by Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Macau, owned by Wynn Resorts. 

Theaters, bars, clubs and other entertainment venues where people gather are also hit by the order. Macau, a former Portuguese territory, is now an autonomous region of China.

By Aimee Picchi

Hong Kong hospital workers strike amid fear of "large-scale" outbreak

Hong Kong hospitals cut services as thousands of medical workers went on strike for a second day Tuesday to demand the border with mainland China be shut completely, as the new coronavirus caused its first death in the semi-autonomous territory and authorities feared it was spreading locally.

All but two of Hong Kong's land and sea crossings with the mainland were closed after more than 2,000 hospital workers went on strike Monday. Hong Kong health authorities reported two additional patients without any known travel to the virus epicenter, bringing the number of locally transmitted cases up to four.

The growing caseload "indicates significant risk of community transmission" and could portend a "large-scale" outbreak in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch at the Center for Health Protection.

A medical worker wearing protective gear waits to take the temperature of people entering Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on February 4, 2020. Getty

Hong Kong's Hospital Authority said it was cutting back services because "a large number of staff members are absent from duty" and "emergency services in public hospitals have been affected."



China coronavirus patients starts filling quickly-built hospital

China began moving patients suffering from the new coronavirus into rapidly built or adapted facilities on Tuesday, although the degree of medical isolation among them appeared to vary widely. 

China Outbreak
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, medical workers in protective suits help transfer the first group of patients into the newly-completed Huoshenshan temporary field hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Xiao Yijiu/Xinhua/AP

The first 50 patients were moved Tuesday into Huoshenshan Hospital, a prefabricated structure on the outskirts of the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Earlier footage appeared to show the 1,000-bed facility equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, including negative-pressure isolation wards to prevent the virus from breaking the air seal. A second hospital, Leishenshan, is due to be ready soon and will add another 1,600 beds. 

Workers set up beds at an exhibition center that has been converted into a hospital to deal with in influx of coronavirus patients in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province, February 4, 2020. Getty

Elsewhere in Wuhan, authorities are converting a gymnasium, exhibition hall and cultural center into hospitals with a total of 3,400 beds to treat patients with mild symptoms of the virus. Television footage of those facilities showed beds placed in tight rows in large rooms without dividers between them.

— The Associated Press


Chinese doctor was warned to keep silent after noting outbreak

A Chinese doctor who tried to raise the alarm about the new coronavirus before it was even identified was threatened by his government to stop "making false comments." He has since been diagnosed with the illness himself, and is being lauded on Chinese social media as a hero for speaking out. 

CBS News partner network BBC News reports that ophthalmologist Li Wenliang, who works at one of the main hospitals in the epicenter city of Wuhan, noticed a cluster of cases of a flu-like illness near the end of December that appeared to him to be similar to the SARS virus that swept across the world 2003. He sent a message to fellow clinicians on a chat group warning them to don protective clothing. 

The BBC said that, just four days later, officials visited him and accused him of having "severely disturbed the social order." They presented him with an official letter, stating: "We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice - is that understood?"  He signed it. 

Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, is seen in a photo posted to his Weibo account. He was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus after being warned against making "false comments" about an outbreak by his government.

A week later he contracted the new coronavirus from a glaucoma patient he was treating. He was only diagnosed himself a couple weeks later, and then on January 30 he posted to China's popular social media app Weibo to confirm he had the virus. That post got thousands of comments, and many Chinese voiced support.

"Dr Li Wenliang is a hero," one person wrote, expressing concern that the government's handling of his honesty could scare other Chinese health professionals. "In the future, doctors will be more afraid to issue early warnings when they find signs of infectious diseases."

By Tucker Reals

American Airlines halts flights to Hong Kong

American Airlines announced Tuesday a halt to its flights from two U.S. cities to Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese city that has confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. The decision was based on a lack of people wanting to fly to China, rather than concerns for staff safety or efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

"We have suspended flying to Hong Kong from both Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles through February 20 due to demand," the airline said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor the situation closely and make any updates as needed."

By Tucker Reals

2 Chinese patients in Italy deteriorate

The two Chinese patients from Wuhan being treated in Italy for the new coronavirus have taken a turn for the worse. Officials said Tuesday the pair were suffering "respiratory insufficiency" and had been put on respiratory support in an intensive care unit.

They were diagnosed with the disease in Italy after being in Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, and have been treated with common and experimental antiviral medicines. Their condition was described as serious but stable.

Another 11 people in Italy from the Wuhan area are showing symptoms and have have been tested for the virus. Another 20 people who came into contact with the infected couple have shown no symptoms, but were being kept under observation. As of Tuesday 26 patients had tested negative for the virus and been released from hospital.

— Anna Matranga


WHO says pandemic can be avoided as global coordination ramps up

Efforts to stage a coherent, coordinated international response to the spreading coronavirus were taking shape on Tuesday, with the World Health Organization taking the lead and planning to send a team of experts into China within days.

Speaking Tuesday at WHO headquarters in Geneva, the organization's chief of infectious disease control, Dr. Sylvie Briand, said she and her colleagues were confident a global pandemic could still be avoided.

"I'm not saying it's easy but we believe it can be done," Briand said. "Currently we are not in a pandemic; we are at the phase where it's an epidemic with multiple sites and we will try to establish the condition in each of these sites." A pandemic is defined as a disease with significant outbreaks in multiple regions or continents. The new coronavirus outbreak has been strongly concentrated in China's Hubei province, with less than 200 cases spread across about two dozen other countries.

Briand said the WHO was working with national authorities around the world to "see how we can harmonise practices" and share experiences on evacuations from China, "so other countries can implement what works better."

By Tucker Reals

China detains woman for "concealing" contact with at-risk people

A Chinese woman has been detained by police for "deliberately concealing" her contact with a person or people from an area affected by the deadly new coronavirus, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday. It was the the first reported incident of a member of the Chinese public being detained for breaking rules imposed in a bid to control the growing outbreak.

The agency said the 36-year-old woman was accused of damaging China's virus containment efforts through her actions and and was taken by local authorities for "administrative detention." It was not clear from the Xinhua report how long she was being held, or whether she might already have been released.

By Tucker Reals

China to let U.S. experts in as part of WHO team

China's senior leadership acknowledged on Tuesday that there had been "shortcomings and deficiencies" in the government's response to the spread of the deadly new coronavirus that originated in Hubei province.

The Communist Party leadership agreed to allow U.S. U.S. health experts into the country as part of a World Health Organization team being deployed to help China get to grips with the rapidly-spreading outbreak.

The "multidisciplinary mission of international experts" could arrive in China as early as this week, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Monday, noting China's cooperation.

First death outside of China from the coronavirus confirmed in the Philippines 01:55

"The mission is an international technical mission led by WHO. As such, CDC could be part of it," Jasarevic said, referring to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By Tucker Reals

All aboard cruise ship in Japanese port tested after 1 case confirmed

Japanese health officials boarded the Diamond Princess cruise ship, moored off Yokohama, with its 3,711 passengers and crew quarantined on Tuesday after an 80-year-old Hong Kong resident infected with the new coronavirus was confirmed to be among those on board. 

The ship had called at ports in several Japanese cities, as well as Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan, since the man boarded in late January. 

Officials said the results of tests on the other passengers and crew, to confirm any additional infections, were expected later Tuesday. There were reportedly a number of other passengers with fevers and other flu-like symptoms. 

A small boat is pictured next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship as it sits anchored in quarantine off the port of Yokohama on February 4, 2020, a day after it arrived with passengers feeling ill. Japan has quarantined the cruise ship carrying 3,711 people and was testing those on board for the new coronavirus. STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty
By Tucker Reals
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