January 30 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Steve George, Angela Dewan and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 1:53 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020
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10:46 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

White House announces coronavirus task force

From CNN Health’s Nadia Kounang

A coronavirus task force under the authority of US President Donald Trump has been meeting daily since Monday, the White House announced Thursday.

In coordination with the National Security Council, the task force is led by US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and includes members from the National Institutes of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the departments of State, Transportation and Homeland Security, among others.

The force will lead the US government's response to the current coronavirus outbreak and, according to a statement, “will lead the Administration’s efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Five cases of the coronavirus has been confirmed in the United States. The White House notes the risk of infection to Americans remains low.

10:17 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

With bitter memories of SARS, Hong Kong becomes a ghost town

CNN's Will Ripley in Hong Kong

Around 300 people were killed in Hong Kong during the SARS outbreak in 2003. Now the city’s residents are taking no chances.

Malls and streets are empty in what should be the busiest weeks of the year. But Chinese New Year celebrations have been muted -- in many cases here, they're simply canceled.

A line of people wraps around a deserted shop, as residents wait more than three hours to collect surgical face masks to help protect them from the Wuhan coronavirus, even though only 10 cases here have been confirmed.

People were also seen lining up for face masks in long lines in Shanghai. More than 100 people in the Shanghai municipality have been infected with the coronavirus, and one death has been confirmed.

9:43 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

UK gets China's green light for flight to evacuate nationals from Wuhan

After long delays, Chinese authorities have given permission for the UK to fly its nationals out of Wuhan early Friday morning local time, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement sent to CNN.

“We are pleased to have confirmation from the Chinese authorities that the evacuation flight from Wuhan airport to the UK can depart at 0500 local time on Friday 31 January,” Raab said. 

“The safety and security of British nationals is our top priority. Our Embassy in Beijing and consular teams remain in close contact with British nationals in the region to ensure they have the latest information they need.”

Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images
Aaron Chown/PA Images via Getty Images

Raab had earlier said UK authorities had been "working tirelessly" to get the flight off the ground.

9:42 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

7,000 people held on Costa cruise ship in Italy

The Costa Smeralda cruise ship is seen docked at the Civitavecchia port near Rome, Italy, on Thursday.
The Costa Smeralda cruise ship is seen docked at the Civitavecchia port near Rome, Italy, on Thursday. Andrew Medichini/AP

Roughly 7,000 people are being kept on a cruise ship in Italy as a female passenger and her husband are being tested for the Wuhan coronavirus.

A spokesperson for Costa Cruises told CNN that a 54-year-old woman and her husband, from Hong Kong, were being evaluated as the woman was suffering a fever.

"All the other passengers are, at the moment remaining on board," the spokesperson said.

Of the 7,000 people on board, around 1,000 are crew members.

Italian news agency ANSA and public broadcaster RAI reported that the woman and her husband were from Hong Kong and were being kept separately in solitary confinement in the hospital section of the Costa Smeralda cruiseliner. The couple will be held until the couple both test negative to the virus.

Images show the ship docked at Civitavecchia port, a coastal town northwest of Rome, after arriving Palma de Majorca, Spain.

The couple are expected to receive their results this afternoon, ANSA reports. They are said to have arrived in Italy on January 25 at Milan's Malpensa airport from Macao.

7:30 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

Russia closes far-east border with China

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed an order to close his country's far-east border with China, state media reports, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

"An order has been signed today, it is in the works. Today we will inform everyone accordingly about the relevant measures to close the border in the Far Eastern region and other measures that have been taken by the government," Mishustin said, RIA reports.

Quarantine and sanitary station workers check the temperatures of passengers on board a plane at Tolmachevo airport, in Novosibirsk, Russia. The flight originated in Beijing. Russian airports have stepped up screening of travelers arriving from China to try to identify people infected with the coronavirus.
Quarantine and sanitary station workers check the temperatures of passengers on board a plane at Tolmachevo airport, in Novosibirsk, Russia. The flight originated in Beijing. Russian airports have stepped up screening of travelers arriving from China to try to identify people infected with the coronavirus. Alexandr Kryazhev/Sputnik/AP

Russia’s Far Eastern Federal District shares a land border with China, Mongolia and North Korea.  

It comes after several Russian tour operators and charter flight companies suspended flights to China.

Russia will also limit its railway service with China from Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said Wednesday, TASS reported.

“Trains will only follow the route Moscow-Beijing and Beijing-Moscow," she said.

6:41 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

More airlines are suspending flights to and from mainland China

Israel’s El Al Airlines said it was suspending flights along its Beijing route from today until March 25. It will continue its flights to and from Hong Kong.

The Israeli carrier joins several others halting flights to mainland China as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rises significantly each day.

British Airways, American Airlines, Air Canada, KLM, Lufthansa and United have all suspended flights. The moves follow travel guidance from multiple governments advising against nonessential travel to the country.

Beyond China, there are now more than 100 cases of the virus in 20 countries or territories.

6:04 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

The memory of SARS looms over the Wuhan virus. Here's how the outbreaks compare

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

A man wears a mask while out on the street in Wuhan.
A man wears a mask while out on the street in Wuhan. Getty Images

The Wuhan coronavirus has sparked alarm around the world, but in Asia, it's also brought up memories of a deadly virus. 

To many, the latest outbreak feels eerily similar to 2003, when severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept through the region, infecting more than 8,000 people and killing 774.

But while the Wuhan coronavirus and SARS are caused by a similar virus, they're not exactly the same. Here's how the two stack up.

Origin: Both the SARS and Wuhan outbreaks started in China -- and both are believed to have originated from wild animal markets.

Number of infections: More than 7,700 people worldwide have been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus since December. By comparison, there were 8,098 confirmed cases of SARS between November 2002 to July 2003.

Cases in China overtake SARS: It has taken less than two months to infect around 75% of the number infected by SARS over a nine month period. In China, the number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus has already exceeded the number infected by SARS in 2002 and 2003.

Number of deaths: 774 people died during the SARS outbreak, with the vast majority in mainland China and Hong Kong. This time, 170 people have died of the virus -- and so far, they have all been in mainland China.

Identifying the virus: One of the biggest differences between SARS and this current outbreak is how fast it was reported and how soon scientists were able to identify it. China informed the World Health Organization about the new virus on December 31, 2019, about three weeks after the first case was detected. The virus behind the outbreak was identified on January 7. Beijing was also able to identify the genome and informed other countries about it. Still, there are concerns that the scale of the problem may be far worse than the official figures let on.

Read the full story here.

5:39 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

Everything travelers need to know about Wuhan coronavirus

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

Passengers wear protective masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus as they arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Passengers wear protective masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus as they arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport. Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Much is still unknown about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, and health officials are urging vigilance. 

That means travelers crisscrossing the globe should be aware of the virus, steer clear of heavily impacted areas and exercise some of the same kinds of preventive measures they'd use to avoid influenza and other illnesses.

Here's what travelers should know about the virus outbreak:

Check travel advisories: Several countries, including the US, UK and Canada are warning against all nonessential travel to Hubei province, or even to the rest of mainland China.

Airlines are suspending flights to China: Airlines based in Asia, Europe and North America are canceling flights to China. British Airways suspended direct flights between Britain and China on Wednesday. US carrier United Airlines announced that it has suspended flights from February 1 through February 8 between US hubs and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Other airlines, including Lufthansa, Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, Air India and Finnair have similarly slashed or suspended service.

What you should do: Many US airlines have offered waivers on change fees or the option to cancel for credit on a future flight. Travelers with upcoming plans should check with their airlines and look for advisories posted on carriers' websites.

Most travel insurance is unlikely to cover this situation: Airlines are relaxing their policies and some major hotel chains are waiving cancellation fees, but recouping all the costs associated with trips canceled due to Wuhan coronavirus fears is far from guaranteed. An outbreak of a virus is not covered under most standard trip cancellation insurance policies, according to TravelInsurance.com.

If you cannot avoid travel to China: Those who can't delay travel should "practice enhanced precautions" by avoiding contact with sick people, animals and animal markets and frequently and thoroughly washing hands, the CDC recommends.The CDC advises washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used when soap and water are not available.

If you feel sick: Discuss travel to China with your healthcare providers, the CDC advises, noting that older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at higher risk.

Travelers who've visited China within the past two weeks and are feeling sick with fever, have a cough or difficulty breathing should seek treatment right away and call ahead to tell medical providers about recent travel to China and symptoms.

The CDC also advises potentially infected travelers to avoid contact with others, to not travel while sick and to be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

Read more on this here.

5:20 a.m. ET, January 30, 2020

China is postponing all football matches

From CNN's Nectar Gan

Fans of Guangzhou Evergrande cheer for the team during the Chinese Super League (CSL) match between Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua in Guangzhou.
Fans of Guangzhou Evergrande cheer for the team during the Chinese Super League (CSL) match between Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua in Guangzhou. AFP/Getty Images

All football matches in mainland China starting from Thursday will be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the country's governing football body.

"The Chinese Football Association will continue to maintain close communication with national authorities, to determine the timing of each event in this season based on the actual development of the epidemic situation at various locales. It will make reasonable adjustments to the system, schedule, and scale of some events when necessary," said a statement on the association’s website on Thursday.

The Chinese Super League is the top tier of professional football in China, and was originally scheduled to kick off on February 22.