February 3 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 1:57 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020
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6:36 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Russia may deport foreigners with coronavirus

From Darya Tarasova in Moscow

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin chairs a meeting in Moscow on Monday.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin chairs a meeting in Moscow on Monday. Credit: Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

Russia may deport foreign nationals if they have coronavirus, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced Monday, according to Russian state news agency TASS. 

TASS cites a federal law stating that a foreigner can be deported if their presence poses a real threat to public health.

Mishustin said that a national plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection in Russia has been signed, and the virus has been added to the list of highly dangerous diseases.

It will allow us to deport foreigners if they are diagnosed with this disease and introduce special restrictions, including isolation and quarantine," the Russian prime minister said.

There are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Russia, and the country has already closed its entire Far East land border to prevent the spread of the disease.

TASS reported that the movement of Chinese nationals through Russian territory has been restricted, and that those diagnosed with the disease have been isolated and are receiving the necessary treatment. Mishustin added that Russia has stopped issuing work and group tourist visas to Chinese nationals for the time being.

6:35 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

China declines to comment on delay of US evacuation flight

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying is pictured at a weekly press briefing in Beijing, in March 2018.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying is pictured at a weekly press briefing in Beijing, in March 2018. Credit: Artyom Ivanov/TASS/Getty Images

The Chinese government on Monday declined to comment on the delay of the second US evacuation flight to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, after slamming Washington’s response to the epidemic as an overreaction that fanned global hysteria.

When asked by CNN if the delay of the charter’s arrival in Wuhan is related to Beijing’s displeasure over the US response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “The US was the first to evacuate its consulate staff in Wuhan via charter flight. Relevant arrangements must be coordinated based on a variety of factors including Wuhan airport capacity to receive supplies.”

Hua confirmed that China has said it welcomes the US to join the World Health Organization (WHO) expert team on the outbreak and the US has submitted a list of names to the WHO.

In a globalized world, the destinies of all countries are closely linked. In the face of a public health crisis, countries should work together to overcome the difficulties, rather than resort to beggar-thy-neighbor practice, let alone take advantage of others' difficulties,” she said at a press briefing Monday.

Last Wednesday a chartered plane carrying some 200 US citizens -- including about three dozen diplomats and their families -- arrived at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California.

5:08 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

56 Italians repatriated on flight from Wuhan

From CNN’s Hada Messia in Rome

A flight carrying 56 Italian nationals from Wuhan, China, landed at Pratica di Mare military airport, outside of Rome, on Monday morning.

The passengers will undergo medical examinations at the airport before being transported to a military compound on the outskirts of Italy's capital. The people are scheduled to remain in isolation at the facility for 14 days.

As of now, no one in the group has shown any symptoms of coronavirus, Health Ministry spokesman Nicola del Duce told CNN.


6:35 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Hong Kong announces further border closures over Wuhan virus

From CNN's Isaac Yee and James Griffiths

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong on February 3.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong on February 3. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Monday announced new border closures over the Wuhan virus, amid intense public pressure to stop anyone crossing into the city from mainland China.

Lam said further measures were being taken "to ensure the control of the boundary control points to reduce people movement across the border," but fell short of a complete sealing off of the city.

Lam said the main land borders at Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau would shut as of midnight tonight, as would the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal.

That will leave all but three border crossings between Hong Kong and mainland China closed. Those which remain open are the city's international airport, the Shenzhen Bay border and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

Lam's announcement comes after health workers in Hong Kong began a five-day strike on Monday, demanding a full border closure and greater support from the government.

"This has nothing to do with the five-day strike by healthcare workers," Lam said, however. "If anyone thinks that by resorting to such extreme measures the government will be made to do something that is not rational or something that will only harm the public they will not get anywhere."

The number of Chinese citizens entering Hong Kong has fallen since the initial closures, the government said earlier, with the vast majority of those continuing to cross the mainland border being Hong Kong residents. It is unclear how the new closures will affect those who work in the city but live across the border, and vice versa.

4:28 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

G7 to hold phone conference on tackling coronavirus

From CNN’s Claudia Otto in Berlin and Sharon Braithwaite in London

The G7 nations will hold a joint telephone conference to discuss how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced after talking with his American counterpart Alex Azar on Sunday.

A call will take place at 9 a.m ET on Monday, according to a spokesperson for the Italian Health Ministry.

The G7, a group of seven leading industrialized democracies, includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.


4:19 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Six months of protests wrecked Hong Kong's economy. A virus scare is the last thing this city needs

Analysis by CNN's Joshua Berlinger

People wearing face masks cross an intersection at a shopping district on Saturday in Hong Kong.
People wearing face masks cross an intersection at a shopping district on Saturday in Hong Kong. Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Months of increasingly violent protests and a bruising US-China trade war pushed Hong Kong into a recession last year for the first time in a decade. Now the coronavirus outbreak threatens to derail things once again.

Officials on Monday said Hong Kong's economy shrank 1.2% last year as massive pro-democracy protests paralyzed the city's streets and scared away tourists. GDP shrank 2.9% in the fourth quarter alone. The trade spat between Washington and Beijing compounded the problem, as did concerns about China's economic growth.

Until recently, the Asian financial hub had reason to hope that 2020 would be better. The demonstrations were becoming less frequent, while an initial trade deal provided some hope that the relationship between the United States and China could improve.

"The US-China phase one trade deal and growth stabilization in China should have been positive for Hong Kong's near-term economic outlook," said Tommy Wu, a senior economist at Oxford Economics. "But it has been overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak."

Read more here

3:59 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Maldives to deny entry to passengers arriving from mainland China

From journalist Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

The Maldivian government has announced a series of new precautionary measures against the Wuhan coronavirus that include denying entry for passengers arriving from mainland China.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Maldives Civil Aviation Authority said that airlines and aircraft operating flights to the Maldives shall suspend the carriage of passengers originating or transiting through mainland China. The new measure took effect today and will be enforced until further notice.

In 2019, Chinese tourists accounted for 16.7% of all tourist arrivals to the Maldives, according to the country's Ministry of Tourism.


6:36 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Chinese stocks plunged 8%. It's the worst day in years

From CNN Business' Laura He in Hong Kong

Medical workers spray antiseptic outside the Shanghai Stock Exchange Building on Monday.
Medical workers spray antiseptic outside the Shanghai Stock Exchange Building on Monday. Credit: Yifan Ding/Getty Images

Chinese stocks recorded their worst day in years on Monday as investors finally got a chance to react to the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) plummeted 7.7% and the Shenzhen Component Index fell nearly 8.5% on their first day of trading after an extended Lunar New Year holiday. They had been closed since January 24.

The losses on each index have wiped out a combined $445 billion in market value.

The plunge delivered Shanghai its worst day since August 2015's "Black Monday," when global markets were rattled by China slowdown fears. Shenzhen, meanwhile, hasn't recorded a single-day percentage drop this bad since 2007.

Read more here

5:50 a.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Hong Kong medical workers are striking to demand the government close the border with China

From journalist Anna Kam in Hong Kong

Hg Kong's main public hospital medical workers union, the Hospital Authority Employee Alliance, began a strike Monday with at least 2,400 people participating in the first day, the group said on its Facebook page.

The union says it is asking the government to meet five demands:

  1. Stop all travelers from entering Hong Kong from mainland China.
  2. Implement measures to ensure sufficient supply of face masks.
  3. Provide isolation wards and stop all non-emergency services.
  4. Provide sufficient support for health care staff caring for those in isolation.
  5. Investigate reports of patients escaping hospital in order to ensure a safe environment for all medical staff. 

The Hospital Authority Employee Alliance says it has 9,000 members in total who have pledged to join the strike, which is currently scheduled for five days

The union said if its demands are not met by Monday, they will ask all members regardless of rank or specialties to participate in a second stage strike that will limit health services to emergency care. The union threatened to further escalate its strike actions if its demands are still not met by the end of February 7.