January 30 coronavirus news

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6:03 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

The Philippines confirms its first case of coronavirus

The Philippines has confirmed its first case of the Wuhan coronavirus, the country's Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a statement Thursday.

The patient is a 38-year-old woman from China who arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan on January 21 via transit in Hong Kong, according to Duque.

The patient began experiencing coughing symptoms on January 25 and consulted doctors at a government hospital.

Officials at the Department of Health sent her samples to the Victoria Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia to be tested and it was confirmed on Thursday that the patient’s samples tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. 

The Health Secretary said the patient is currently asymptomatic, showing no signs of fever or any other symptoms.

The Department of Health stressed it is “on top of the evolving situation” but urged the public to wear surgical masks and avoid crowded places if they are experiencing symptoms, such as coughing and a fever.

4:11 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

US territory bans Chinese travelers for 30 days

The Northern Mariana Islands has issued an emergency declaration banning all Chinese travelers from entering the US commonwealth for 30 days due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The “State of Significant Emergency” takes effect immediately and will remain for 30 days. Airlines are ordered to suspend travel of passengers “directly and indirectly from mainland China” while the emergency order is in place. 

Approximately 700 mainland Chinese passengers per day arrive in the Northern Mariana Islands, according to the executive order. 

Gov. Ralph Torres’ order notes that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says risk of getting the virus in the US is low, the islands face a significantly greater chance of transmission.

The total population of the Northern Marianas, which include the islands of Saipan, Rota and Tinian, is under 60,000 people, according to US government statistics.

1:53 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

More than 1,300 cases of coronavirus in mainland China are severe

China's National Health Commission said Thursday that 1,370 people in mainland China who have been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus are in severe condition.

The total number of confirmed cases on the mainland is now at least 7,711, most of them in Hubei province where the virus originated.

At least 170 people have died from the virus, all in mainland China.

UPDATE: A previous version of this map mapped coronavirus cases using raw counts instead of normalized rates. The graphic has been removed.

8:37 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

American student in Shanghai: “It went south really quick”

Jenna Davidson arrived in Shanghai three weeks ago.

The Arizona State University student was supposed to spend the semester studying abroad at East China Normal University until the Wuhan coronavirus prompted the university to shut down.

“We got here before the outbreak, and it went south really quick,” she told CNN. "I think things unfolded a lot faster than we thought that they would.

"We went from just being, you know, encouraged not to go outside and not to go to, like, crowded places to 'do not go outside, do not ride the metro.' It went from being just a little scary to pretty scary.”

Davidson sent this photograph to her father.
Davidson sent this photograph to her father. Courtesy Jenna Davidson

Classes were canceled, Davidson said. She and her friends have been stuck inside for days -- “no one in, no one out,” she explained -- and they’ve been filling their time playing the card game Uno.

Davidson said her study abroad group had started trying to leave campus because they were running out of food and school cafeterias are closed. A teacher was bringing them food, even though staff were told not to go on campus.

A few students put on masks and went shopping at Costco, and since then they’ve been making the food last.

“It's a ghost town. There's 24 million people in Shanghai and there's no one on the street. It's kind of spooky,” she said.

Davidson said was able to book a flight to Africa -- she was planning on studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, after China -- after hours of searching and paying much more than she expected to.

However, she doesn’t think she's guaranteed to avoid catching the coronavirus.

“What’s most stressful is even though we’re leaving I still don’t feel like we’re in the clear yet because what if we catch it in the taxi, or at the airport on the way home, or on the plane? We still need to be very careful. It’s not over yet,” she said.

Despite the ordeal, Davidson said one day she’d like to visit China again.

“I've always wanted to see China and it's a little frustrating, even though this is out of anyone's control. I have so many things that I wanted to see and do and we haven't been able to go outside. So it's a little frustrating,” she said.

“Hopefully I can come back.”

CORRECTION: This post was updated to amend the destination of Davidson’s flight.

3:49 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

India confirms its first case of coronavirus

A medical nurse screening patients for coronavirus is seen inside an isolation ward in Hyderabad, India, on January 27.
A medical nurse screening patients for coronavirus is seen inside an isolation ward in Hyderabad, India, on January 27. Noah Seelam/AFP via Getty Images

India's Ministry of Health and Family has confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country.

The patient is a student in the southern state of Kerala and was studying at Wuhan University.

The ministry said in a statement that the patient tested positive for the virus and is in isolation in hospital.

No further details were given about the patient, such as age or gender, but the ministry said they were stable and being closely monitored.

India's first case will inevitably raise further fears over the global spread of the virus.

China and India currently account for about 37% of the entire global population of roughly 7.7 billion, with China currently home to about 1.4 billion people and India to 1.3 billion.

3:59 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

Chinese community in Canadian city facing discrimination

Travelers are seen wearing masks at the international arrivals area at the Toronto Pearson Airport on January 26.
Travelers are seen wearing masks at the international arrivals area at the Toronto Pearson Airport on January 26. Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images

Officials in Toronto are becoming concerned about misinformation that is spreading about the Coronavirus in their community. The inaccurate information is creating “unnecessary stigma against members of our community,”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health said in a news release.  

“I am deeply concerned and find it disappointing that this is happening. Discrimination is not acceptable. It is not helpful and spreading misinformation does not offer anyone protection. I understand that when there are uncertainties that people may worry. I want to remind people to check credible, evidence-based sources to get the facts when seeking information.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory, held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the discrimination the Chinese community is facing. In a post on Twitter the mayor said, “Standing with our Chinese community against stigmatization & discrimination, and reminding residents that, as our health care professionals have informed us, the risk of Coronavirus to our community remains low. We must not allow fear to triumph over our values as a city.”

Tory went on to say in the presser,

I’ve been very troubled to hear of reports one as recently at lunch time today, of people treating our Chinese Canadian community differently. That they in some way, are being or should be shun or quarantined or suggesting Chinese businesses should be avoided. This type of thinking is wrong." 

He added that such behavior was "entirely inconsistent" with the advice of our healthcare professionals. 

It is ill-founded and in fact could lead to a situation where we are less safe because it spreads misinformation at a time when people are in more need than ever of real information and real facts,” said Tory. 
3:55 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

The Wuhan virus is on track to overtake SARS, and shows no signs of slowing down

The number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus continues to rise around the world, with the Philippines and India only the latest countries to confirm the spread of the infection.

With the number of cases of the Wuhan virus at almost 8,000 worldwide, and over 170 deaths, the outbreak is on pace to overtake the 2003 SARS epidemic within hours. The number of confirmed cases in China is already greater than during SARS, which infected 5,327 people in the country and killed 349.

Worldwide, 8,098 cases of SARS were confirmed in 2003, with 774 deaths, a fatality rate of 9.6%. Thankfully, the Wuhan virus does not appear to be anywhere near as deadly, but the greater levels of infection, which experts don't expect to peak for weeks if not months, could see the death toll creep up to SARS levels as well.

Researchers at Imperial College London who have modeled the spread of the Wuhan virus based on available data from the first month of the outbreak have given a low estimate of 20,000 infections in China alone by the end of the month, with high estimates of over 100,000. With a fatality rate of around 2%, which experts agree appears to be the current level for the virus, that would translate to between 400 and 2,000 deaths.

SARS was a key test of the Chinese government at the time, and officials were widely blamed for failing to address the outbreak in time, censoring news of its spread and downplaying the severity. Several officials were sacked in the wake of the epidemic and China even publicly apologized to the World Health Organization.

While Beijing's reaction was infinitely faster this time, it was hampered by what appears to have been poor crisis handling at the local level, perhaps even a deliberate coverup. Failure to protect the country from another devastating disease outbreak -- combined with what is likely to be severe economic pain from the ongoing transport shutdowns and quarantines -- could blow back on Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has taken personal control of the response.

Wuhan is also a lesson to the world of what scientists have been warning about for decades. We are overdue a deadly pandemic and yet few governments are sufficiently prepared -- even Hong Kong, which learned the lessons of SARS the hard way, has run out of face masks and dithered for days over whether to shut its border. The Wuhan virus is not as deadly as SARS, and nowhere near as deadly as a true pandemic like the Spanish Flu, and yet may end up killing more people than the former.

In an increasingly connected, global world, a delay of days in tackling a disease can have major ramifications, as Wuhan shows.

3:28 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

This map tracks the coronavirus in real time

The coronavirus case map updates in real time as global health agencies confirm more cases.
The coronavirus case map updates in real time as global health agencies confirm more cases. Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering

The number of novel coronavirus cases is changing quickly. A real-time tracking map shows us just how quickly.

The map from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering follows coronavirus cases across the world.

The dashboard collects data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese website DXY, which aggregates data from China's National Health Commission and the CCDC. The results populate a worldwide view of coronavirus cases in real time. 

See the map here.

The clickable map pinpoints regions where patients have been diagnosed with coronavirus -- the more cases in a region, the larger its dot on the map. 

The map tracks deaths, too, in total and by city.

Read the full story here.

3:21 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

Australia's plan to evacuate citizens is so controversial that some would reportedly rather stay in Wuhan

With more than a dozen countries working to get citizens out of China amid the Wuhan virus outbreak, you'd be forgiven for being surprised that some want to stay put.

But that's what the ABC found when it asked some Australians living in Wuhan about the country's hugely controversial plan to fly evacuees to Christmas Island, site of a former immigration prison camp.

"We are not prisoners, how could they treat us in a detention centre rather than a proper medical facility?" one Chinese-Australian woman, who gave her surname as Liu, told the national broadcaster.

A Sydney woman, surnamed Wu, accused the government of racism.

"The Government wouldn't send its citizens to Christmas Island detention centre if those who are trapped in Wuhan were white Australians," she said. "As a mother, I feel so sorry to bring my daughters to a detention centre for the quarantine purpose."

Adding to the controversy, those Australians who are quarantined on Christmas Island may have to pay for the privilege. Both the ABC and the Sydney Morning Herald have reported that Australians in China have been asked to pay up to 1,000 AUD (around $700) a piece.

Speaking to CNN affiliate 9 News, Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended Christmas Island

"We want to make sure we are protecting Australians both offshore and here as well," he said. "There are medical facilities on Christmas Island. People will be isolated from the rest of the Christmas Island community."

"Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on immigration facilities around the country," Dutton said, adding that the facilities there may be nicer than people expect.