February 1 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 1:46 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020
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3:32 p.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Cruise line announces restrictions on passengers who were in China

From CNN's Natasha Chen

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Princess Cruises has announced restrictions to guests or crew members who have traveled recently within mainland China. 

The company will not allow guests to board the ship if they have traveled from or through mainland China in the 14 days prior to the departure date of the cruise, according to Princess Cruises' website.

Crew members from mainland China will be delayed from joining any ship until further notice. Crew members from other regions of the world who may have been scheduled to connect on flights through China have been rerouted, the website stated.

Princess Cruises has cancelled two cruises in June and have changed three voyages to depart or arrive in Tokyo instead of Shanghai, according to the website.

For more information, visit the Princess Cruises website here.

3:32 p.m. ET, February 1, 2020

American Airlines expands flight cancellations to Hong Kong

From CNN's Shannon Liao

File photo of an American Airlines plane at the Hong Kong International Airport.
File photo of an American Airlines plane at the Hong Kong International Airport. Shutterstock

American Airlines, which canceled all flights to mainland China starting Friday, confirmed today that it had also scrubbed flights to Hong Kong through Monday.

The company "will make decisions about Hong Kong flights each day based on our operational situation," said American, the largest US carrier, in a statement.

Its pilots' union had taken issue with Hong Kong's proximity to China and potentially to the virus.

"While Hong Kong is a special administrative region, this virus does not recognize such a geopolitical wording," said Captain Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American Airlines pilots. "Just look at the map. Hong Kong geographically is a landmass that's part of China. The geopolitical issues, which we obviously respect, the virus doesn't."

Earlier this week: The union sued the company to immediately halt its US-China service, citing "serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus."

As of Saturday, the lawsuit is still pending a judge's decision, according to Tajer.

3:32 p.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Eighth confirmed coronavirus case in US is travel-related

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

The eighth confirmed US case of the coronavirus is in a man in his 20s who lives in Boston, according to a press release from Boston and Massachusetts health officials. The man recently returned from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Public Health Commission were notified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the positive test results late Friday evening. 

The man sought medical care soon after his return to Massachusetts, Massachusetts and Boston health officials said. He has been isolated since that time. His few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for symptoms, according to the press release. 

“Our priority is not only to protect and inform the residents of Boston but also to help this man continue to recover. We are pleased that he is doing well,” Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Rita Nieves said in the release. “Right now, we are not asking Boston residents to do anything differently. The risk to the general public remains low. And we continue to be confident we are in a good position to respond to this developing situation.”

This new case, announced Saturday, is the first case in Massachusetts. There are three confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in California, one in Washington state, one in Arizona and two in Illinois. The second Illinois case is the first instance of person-to-person transmission in the US.

6:33 p.m. ET, February 1, 2020

European Union allocates $11 million for research

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite in London

Carl Court/Getty Images
Carl Court/Getty Images

The European Commission announced Friday that it will grant $11 million from its research and innovation program Horizon 2020 for coronavirus research.

The European Commission has launched an emergency request for expressions of interest for research projects to advance its understanding of the new coronavirus epidemic, contribute to more efficient clinical management of patients infected with the virus, and aid with public health preparedness and response, a statement said.

“We are working to mitigate the consequences of a potential larger spread of the Coronavirus outbreak in the EU. Thanks to emergency research funding from Horizon 2020, we will know more about the disease,” says Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

The aim of the Horizon 2020 emergency research funding is “to know more about the virus to better target our prevention measures and to ensure better care for our citizens,” says Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Kyriakides added: “[W]e need to see a multifaceted, whole-of-government response to the Coronavirus and research is an essential part of this.”

11:34 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Russian and Chinese foreign ministers vow to cooperate on fighting virus

From Zahid Mahmood in London and Mary Ilyushina in Moscow

In this file photo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, meets with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Sochi on May 13, 2019.
In this file photo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, meets with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Sochi on May 13, 2019. Pavel Golovkin/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi discussed measures taken to combat the spread of Wuhan coronavirus in a phone conversation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday. 

“The Russian side appreciated the measures taken by China to combat the spread of the disease caused by coronavirus,��� the Russian ministry said in a statement. “The issues of Russian-Chinese cooperation in this area were discussed.”

Russian Aerospace Forces planes will evacuate citizens from China on Feb. 3 and 4 after two people were confirmed to have coronavirus on Friday, Russian News Agency TASS quoted Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying Saturday.

“Due to the fact that it has taken certain time to finalize the coordination of flight information by the Chinese side, the evacuation of Russian nationals from China by planes of the Aerospace Force will be carried out on February 3 – 4,” Peskov said, according to TASS.

TASS added that official figures indicate 341 Russian citizens are in the evacuation region, including 300 people in Wuhan.

In a tweet by the Russian Government on Saturday, flights between Russia and China will be suspended, aside from Aeroflot flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Four Chinese airlines which fly to Moscow will remain in operation.

6:34 p.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Delta Air Lines to temporarily suspend all US flights to China due to coronavirus

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images
Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Delta has decided to temporarily suspend all US to China flying beginning Feb. 2 due to ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus, the airline said in a news release today.

The last China-bound flight departing the US will leave today with the last return flight back to the US departing China on Feb. 2, the company said in the release.

The airline had previously announced a plan to suspend operations effective Feb. 6 but advanced that timeline based on new US requirements that will deny entry to foreign nationals who have traveled to China within the past two weeks, or subject to possible quarantine those US citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province, the company said.

Customers whose travel plans are affected can go to the My Trips section of delta.com to help them understand their options, including:

  • Reaccommodations to flights after April 30
  • Requesting a refund
  • Contacting Delta to discuss additional options

Delta expects flights between the US and China to remain suspended through April 30, though the airline will continue to monitor the situation closely and may make additional adjustments as the situation continues to evolve.

11:09 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

China's Hubei province extends Lunar New Year holiday break amid coronavirus outbreak

From CNN’s Kay Guerrero in Atlanta and CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

Local authorities in the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, have extended the Lunar New Year holiday break until Feb. 13 as it seeks to curb the spread of the disease.

This means schools as well as some government entities will remain closed.

China’s central government in Beijing had already made the rare move to extend the holiday nationwide by three days until Feb. 2. The holiday week was originally from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30.

9:30 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Flying drones instruct people around China to wear masks outdoors

From CNN’s Yong Xiong in Beijing and Pauline Lockwood in Hong Kong

Xinhua News Agency
Xinhua News Agency

Villages and cities in China have resorted to flying drones with speakers to patrol streets and scold people not wearing masks in public amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to Chinese state media. 

Both Xinhua and the Global Times have published videos of drones warning various people in rural areas that masks need to be worn in “these times." The drones were seen scolding an elderly lady and chasing a child down the road. 

The videos have gone viral on Chinese social media and have been praised as a novel way to raise awareness of the disease. 

Global Times reported that local officials had been putting up slogans in an effort to get communities to stay at home during the epidemic and to avoid people gathering together to slow and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

9:14 a.m. ET, February 1, 2020

Thousands of Hong Kong medical staff vote to strike for border closure with mainland China

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Hospital staff wear face protection at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, Saturday, February 1.
Hospital staff wear face protection at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong, Saturday, February 1. Achmad Ibrahim/AP

Thousands of Hong Kong public medical staff have voted to strike on Monday if the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government does not agree to demands to close the border with mainland China. 

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance has 13,000 members. Of those members who voted on Saturday night, 3,123 voted yes for the strike action, 10 against and 23 abstained. 8,825 members signed an online petition saying they will go on strike next week if demands to close border are not met. 

Thousands of medical staff are calling on the HKSAR government to ban all visitors from mainland China to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus to Hong Kong.