January 29 coronavirus news

Wuhan Virus
Coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of slowing down
02:15 - Source: CNN

What we know now

  • The latest numbers: At least 170 people are dead and more than 7,000 cases have been confirmed in mainland China, as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads across Asia and the rest of the world. 
  • China on lockdown: Nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in Chinese cities.
  • Global spread: There are 91 confirmed cases outside of China, including at least five in the US.
72 Posts

Our live coverage has ended. Go here to read more about the Wuhan coronavirus.

3 Japanese citizens evacuated from Wuhan have coronavirus

At least three of the Japanese citizens evacuated from Wuhan on Wednesday have been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to Japan’s health ministry.

Only one of the patients have a fever, while the other two are not showing any symptoms. They are currently quarantined in Tokyo.

Two flights have repatriated over 400 Japanese citizens from Wuhan on Wednesday and Thursday mornings local time.

China reports over 7,000 cases of Wuhan coronavirus cases

At least 7,711 cases of Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed in China, including 170 deaths as of the end of Wednesday, according to China’s National Health Commission. 

This number reflects an increase of 1,737 cases and 38 deaths from Tuesday.

Tibet has now confirmed its first case of the coronavirus. All 31 provinces in mainland China have now reported cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Student starts petition to cancel classes at Arizona State University over coronavirus fears

A student at Arizona State University has started a petition to cancel classes after someone from the university was confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.

ASU freshman Taskina Bhuiyan, who is majoring in microbiology, started the petition on Change.org, and it had more than 21,000 signatures as of Wednesday evening.

It is unclear whether the infected person is a student or staff member. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) identified the person only as a “member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing.”

The person recently returned from Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have originated.

“As part of our case investigation, individuals who may have been exposed to the patient will be notified by public health and provided with proper follow-up,” ADHS communications director Chris Minnick told CNN.

The ADHS said the patient is not severely ill. The patient is being kept in isolation to prevent the illness from spreading, according to the health department.

Keep reading.

Malaysia arrests four on suspicion of spreading fake news

Malaysia arrested four people on Wednesday on suspicion of spreading fake news about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak on social media, according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

The four include a 49-year-old part-time tutor, two 25-year-old and 30-year-old pharmacy assistants and a 24-year-old student. 

They have been accused of sharing false information about the novel coronavirus on Facebook and Twitter from Jan. 25 to 27. 

If prosecuted, they are subject to a maximum fine of $12,232 each and imprisonment for up to a year.

Three more cases of Wuhan coronavirus confirmed in Singapore

Singapore’s Ministry of Health has confirmed three more cases of Wuhan coronavirus Thursday morning, bringing the country’s total to 10. 

All three cases are Chinese nationals who traveled from Wuhan, according to a statement from Singapore’s Health Ministry. 

Among the new cases are a married couple — a 56-year-old man and 56-year-old woman— and another 56-year-old man, who are in isolation rooms at the National Center of Infectious Diseases. 

All three new patients were asymptomatic during the flight to Singapore.

South Korean flights to repatriate citizens from Wuhan have been delayed

The South Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry announced early Thursday morning (local time) that two planned charter flights to evacuate citizens from Wuhan had been delayed.

The flights had been scheduled to depart from Wuhan at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time. Now, the South Korean government is working with the Chinese government to organize flights as early as tonight, according to a Korean official.

A planned flight to bring British citizens back from Wuhan today has also been delayed.

President Trump has been briefed on the coronavirus

President Trump announced Wednesday that he received a briefing on the coronavirus. 

“Just received a briefing on the Coronavirus in China from all of our GREAT agencies, who are also working closely with China,” the President tweeted. “We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments. We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!” 

He included pictures that appear to show a meeting in the White House Situation Room.  

Trump suggested Wednesday that he’d recently spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping amid concerns over containing the Wuhan coronavirus, but a White House official tells CNN that the last time the two world leaders spoke was in December.  

Read his tweet:

CDC: 195 people evacuated from Wuhan to the US are under voluntary quarantine

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday said that 195 passengers who were evacuated from Wuhan to an airbase in California have been screened, monitored and evaluated every step of the way. 

None of the passengers show signs of sickness, CDC officials said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon, but they will remain under a voluntary quarantine at the air base.

The evacuees are not required to stay at the base. The health agency said the travelers agreed to a request to remain there for three days of testing, monitoring and rest.

“The good news here is that despite an aggressive public health investigation to find new cases, we have not,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 

“The situation in China is concerning,” Messonnier said. “However we are looking hard here in the United States. We will continue to be proactive. I expect that we will find additional cases.”

So far the agency has confirmed five cases of coronavirus in the US in four states and 165 suspected cases.

How federal agencies are responding to coronavirus in the US

Multiple federal agencies, in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are contributing resources to respond the coronavirus outbreak. 

For instance, the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office is facilitating airport screenings, according to a DHS official.  

Additionally, Customs and Border Protection has measures in place to identify travelers with overt signs of illness, who may be potentially infected with a communicable disease. And the CDC provided signage to the Transportation Security Administration for placement at airports warning travelers of risks associated with travel to certain areas in China, according to a TSA official. 

The US Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency and US Citizenship and Immigration Services are also involved, according to DHS. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Wednesday the department will continue to adapt as the virus changes and adapts.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration official, who referred CNN to the CDC and State Department, said the agency’s responsibility is to ensure that planes get safely from one point to another. The agency is not involved with passengers coming in and out of the US. 

But airline personnel are keeping a close watch. 

The Allied Pilots Association — the union that represents Delta and United pilots — said it is updating pilots regularly with current information and has provided them with specific precautions they can use to mitigate any risk, according to Communications Director Gregg Overman. 

“This is obviously a rapidly developing situation, so we may have more to report in the coming days,” he added. 

Planned flight to bring British citizens back from Wuhan delayed

A planned flight to bring British citizens back from Wuhan will no longer leave on Thursday as originally anticipated, a UK Foreign Office spokesperson said Wednesday.  

“We are doing everything we can to get British people in Wuhan safely back to the UK. A number of countries’ flights have been unable to take off as planned. We continue working urgently to organise a flight to the UK as soon as possible” the spokesperson said.

“We remain in close contact with the Chinese authorities and conversations are ongoing at all levels” the spokesperson added.

It is understood the flight has been delayed due to Chinese permissions that have not yet come through.

Death toll reaches 162 in the epicenter of the coronavirus

There are now at least 162 dead from Wuhan coronavirus in China’s Hubei province – the epicenter of the outbreak – and a total of 4,586 confirmed cases in the province by the end of Wednesday, according to Hubei’s provincial health authority.

The case count for the province has gone up by 1,032, and death toll has gone up by 37 from the previous day.

This brings the number of cases for mainland China to over 7,000 and the death toll for mainland China to 170.

US official says enhanced coronavirus screening has expanded to 20 airports

Chad Wolf, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said on Wednesday that enhanced coronavirus screening has expanded to 20 airports, including Miami, which is hosting Super Bowl LIV.

Wolf, during a news conference in Miami, addressed security concerns and measures ahead of the NFL’s annual championship and biggest draw. Sunday’s game, which pits the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers, will attract thousands of fans to the area. 

The effort, Wolf said, would pull resources from multiple agencies. Homeland Security will be taking its lead from medical professionals at Centers for Disease Control. He said their medical strategy continues to evolve as the virus evolves. Not all of the work they do will be obvious, he said.

“From my perspective, I am equally concerned for the safety of our CBP and TSA professionals doing their job day in and day out, making sure they have the right protective measures, whether that’s gloves, masks and everything in between,” he said.

Ikea to temporarily close half their stores in mainland China over coronavirus

Ikea will temporarily close around half their stories in mainland China until further notice, effective from Jan. 29, an Ingka group spokesperson confirmed in a statement to CNN today. 

“The decision has been made after careful assessment and consideration of the epidemic situation, and IKEA Retail China is proactively working with local authorities in the cities and regions where we operate. The impacted IKEA co-workers are asked to stay at home until further notice with paid leave” the spokesperson said.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation and stay updated on information from local and global authorities, and act in accordance with their recommendations as this situation is evolving” the statement concluded.

Delta temporarily reduces number of flights to China

Delta Air Lines is temporarily reducing its number of weekly flights between the US and China “due to significantly reduced customer demand prompted by global health concerns related to coronavirus,” the airlines said in a statement today.

Here’s the airlines full statement:

“Delta is temporarily reducing the number of weekly flights it operates between the U.S. and China due to significantly reduced customer demand prompted by global health concerns related to coronavirus.
To maintain options for customers, the airline will continue to operate from all current U.S.-China gateways. Today, Delta operates 42 weekly flights between the U.S. and China, including daily service connecting Beijing and Detroit and Seattle, and Shanghai and Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and Seattle. The airline will reduce this schedule to approximately 21 weekly flights, offering three to four weekly flights on the same routes.
The reduced schedule will be reflected on delta.com beginning Feb. 1 and will be effective Feb. 6 through April 30. Delta will continue to monitor the situation and may make additional adjustments as the situation continues to evolve.
Beginning Feb. 1, the Delta team will proactively reach out to take care of customers whose itineraries are affected and will accommodate them on alternate flights.
Additionally, Delta continues to offer a change fee waiver for customers who wish to adjust their travel plans for US-China flights. Delta remains in contact with the CDC and is following their guidance.”

Google confirms it is temporarily shutting down Chinese offices due to coronavirus outbreak

Google is temporarily closing down its offices in China due to the coronavirus outbreak, the company confirmed to CNN. 

Google said it has four offices in China that focus on sales and engineering for its ad business, and is keeping employees updated on the situation.

The tech company’s offices had been closed for the Lunar New Year festival, and the company is extending the closures in light of the outbreak. 

The Verge first reported the news.

Dutch airline KLM suspends some flights to China

Dutch airline KLM announced it is reducing some of its flights to China because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the company said on Twitter today. 

Starting Jan. 30, direct flights to Chengdu and Hangzhou will be suspended, and from Jan. 30 the number of weekly flights to Shanghai will be reduced from 11 to 7 per week, the airline said.

From Jan. 31, direct flights to Xiamen will be suspended, it added.

US retailers prepared to respond to coronavirus, but are in the "wait and see period"

US retailers with production in China are still trying to assess the effect of the coronavirus on their supply chains. 

Many plants and factories were already closed for the Lunar New Year, so companies are considering keeping some closed while the outbreak continues, according to Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation. 

The National Retail Federation has been in touch with the Department of Homeland Security and US Customs & Border Protection who report they have not experienced any disruption in shipping and supply routes thus far.

US retailers are prepared for these types of scenarios, according to Gold. Retailers spend time and money on contingency plans for pandemics such as SARS and the coronavirus, and can move quickly to put alternative plans in place. However, they “are waiting to see what their response should be,” he said.

What may happen in the future: One factor that will effect those contingency plans include a major shutdown in air travel, which would halt the transportation of cargo, Gold said. US retailers are in constant contact with vendors, but are in the “wait and see period.”

Gold points out that retail is not just impacted on the supply chain side, but that a slowdown in tourism from China could affect US retailers.

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Finland

Finland’s National Health and Welfare Institute confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country, according to CNN’s affiliate MTV3 Finland.

The 32-year-old woman from Wuhan arrived in Finland on Thursday, traveling on the same day to Ivalo, a village in the northern Lapland region.

She developed respiratory symptoms and fever on Sunday, and went to the emergency room yesterday, MTV3 Finland reports. 

Evacuees on flight from Wuhan to US asked to stay in base housing for "more thorough screening"

Passengers on a flight from Wuhan to California who don’t have symptoms of coronavirus are requested to stay in housing at March Air Reserve Base “to allow CDC medical officers to perform more thorough screening and to better understand each individual’s exposure,” according to the statement today from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The statement did not indicate how long evacuees would be asked to remain in housing.

For those who do show symptoms, CDC said it will work with the California Department of Public Health and Riverside County Public Health to transport them to a hospital to be evaluated.  

Earlier today: A team of CDC medical officers met the flight after landed this morning in southern California, carrying more than 200 Americans evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

The plane departed Wuhan on Tuesday and stopped in Anchorage, Alaska, to refuel. According to the CDC, passengers were screened before takeoff, during the flight, during the refueling and after arriving.

The agency maintains it believes the risk of coronavirus to the US public is low.

What it was like on the flight evacuating Americans from Wuhan

Earlier today, a flight carrying Americans evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak landed at March Air Reserve Base in southern California.

Darby Siebels was on it. She said she was told by a US Embassy in Beijing representative last night that she had a seat, but she had to find a way to get to the airport when travel inside Wuhan is severely limited by travel restrictions put in place by the Chinese government to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

En route to the airport, she was stopped at two checkpoints: the first checkpoint they were taking the temperature of some drivers—her driver was not stopped or checked; the second checkpoint stopped them to check if the people in the vehicle were on a manifest of “accepted passengers.”  

At the airport, there was a manifest check, more temperature checks and paperwork. 

“I was probably in the airport for about 9-10 hours before we actually took off,” she said.