February 4 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 9:21 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020
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10:39 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Second death outside of mainland China from Wuhan coronavirus

The second patient with the Wuhan coronavirus outside of mainland China has died, Hong Kong��s Hospital Authority told CNN today.

The 39-year-old man died today at Princess Margaret Hospital and had an underlying illness. He took the high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan on Jan 21 and returned to the city from Changshanan on Jan 23.

He was said to have never visited any health care facilities, wet market or seafood market or had any exposure to wild animals during the incubation period.

The Philippines is the only other location outside mainland China to report a death from the virus. That victim had also travelled to Wuhan before arriving in the Philippines.

10:01 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

US officials scramble to figure out the new travel restrictions

From CNN's Dave Alsup

A day after sweeping travel restrictions took effect at US airports in response to the coronavirus outbreak, many questions remain.

One state official told CNN they had been working all weekend to understand the new rules, and had been on the phone with the White House several times.

“It’s a high level order without a lot details filled in. We are working really hard to understand the conditions,” said the official in a phone call. "There are a lot of unknowns." 

Another official at a major West Coast airport told CNN, “Everyone has been trying to nail down clarifications on the travel ban."

There were questions along the line like ‘How is this going to work?’, ‘What are going to be the procedures?’, and ‘What are the details on a quarantine?’" 

The West Coast official’s airport is one of the 11 that will handle enhanced screenings for coronavirus.

Some context: Under the new rules, Americans who traveled to China in the last 14 days are to be routed through one of 11 designated airports for screening and possible self-quarantine. Americans who traveled to China's Hubei province in the past 14 days may be subject to mandatory quarantine.

Foreign nationals who traveled to China in that period are banned from entry.

9:53 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Thailand evacuates its citizens from Wuhan

From CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok, Thailand

A traveler disembarking in Wuhan after arriving from Bangkok on January 31, 2020.
A traveler disembarking in Wuhan after arriving from Bangkok on January 31, 2020. STR/AFP via Getty Images

The Thai government is repatriating 142 of its citizens from Wuhan today, said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

The evacuation flight is expected to land at U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport, a joint civil-military airport south of Bangkok, later this evening.

The evacuated passengers will be put into quarantine at a naval facility for at least 14 days, said the Royal Thai Navy Spokesman on Facebook.

All crew on board the flight are wearing hazmat suits and there are eight medical personnel to assist the passengers.

Cases in Thailand: There have been 19 confirmed cases in Thailand so far, one of the highest numbers for a country outside mainland China. The only other country with a higher number is Japan, with 20 confirmed cases.

9:46 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Canadian citizen turned away from the US due to coronavirus travel restrictions

From CNN's Geneva Sands 

Chinese tourists in New York's Wall Street on February 3, 2020.
Chinese tourists in New York's Wall Street on February 3, 2020. JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

A Canadian citizen was turned back at the northern US border as a part of President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers who had recently been to China, said US officials on Monday.

The US ban: The US is temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival to the US. The restrictions began on Sunday evening.

It’s not clear whether anyone else has been turned back apart from the Canadian citizen.

"We're just beginning, today, to see results of implementation," said acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli on Monday.

Anger from China: The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs lashed out at the US yesterday, accusing Washington of responding inappropriately and feeding hysteria.

"Most countries appreciate and support China’s efforts to fight against the novel coronavirus, and we understand and respect them when they adopt or enhance quarantine measures at border entry. But in the meantime, some countries, the US in particular, have inappropriately overreacted, which certainly runs counter to WHO advice," a MOFA spokesperson said. 
9:40 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Xi Jinping: The coronavirus is a “major test” for China

Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 23, 2019.
Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 23, 2019. Noel Celis - Pool/ Getty Images

In a Monday meeting with top Chinese officials, President Xi Jinping called the coronavirus outbreak a “major test” for China’s government, according to an article in state media outlet Xinhua.

The outbreak is a major test of China's system and capacity for governance, and we must sum up the experience and draw a lesson from it," Xi said, according to Xinhua.

The meeting resulted in a call to improve China's public health and emergency management system, an “overhaul of environmental sanitation,” and a “crackdown on illegal wildlife markets and trade.”

Some context: Activists and international experts have long called for greater regulation on China's wildlife trade, which has led to previous outbreaks as well.

This coronavirus is believed to have originated from wild bats, while the 2003 SARS epidemic began from civet cats, which are considered a delicacy in some parts of South China.

China has also faced criticism for its initial handling of the outbreak, with accusations of a coverup inside of Wuhan resulting in a slow response.

Read more here.

9:32 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

241 Australians have been evacuated from Wuhan to Christmas Island

A total of 241 Australians have reached the Australian territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean after being evacuated by plane from Wuhan, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday.

Most will be placed under quarantine on Christmas Island, site of a former off-shore immigration detention center, for two weeks; one pregnant woman and her partner have been sent to Perth for isolation.

Morrison added that the government is also working with Chinese authorities on a second repatriation flight from Wuhan, and the New Zealand government about possibly repatriating its nationals on the same flight.

The announcement that Wuhan returnees would be housed on the island sparked controversy in Australia. Christmas island is best known for its off-shore immigration detention center -- with the site previously facing criticism due to its allegedly poor conditions.

12:32 a.m. ET, February 4, 2020

Here's the latest on the coronavirus

Travellers arriving at the Beijing Railway Station on February 3, 2020.
Travellers arriving at the Beijing Railway Station on February 3, 2020. NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has topped 400, and authorities in China and across the world are working to contain the disease.

If you're just joining us, here's the latest:

  • The numbers: 426 people have died, with the first death outside of mainland China confirmed in the Philippines. There are well 20,620 confirmed cases globally, the vast majority of which are in mainland China.
  • Accelerating spread: The number of Wuhan coronavirus deaths in mainland China has overtaken the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in the country, which infected 5,327 and killed 349 in the mainland.
  • Travel restrictions: Countries and airlines internationally have placed travel restrictions on traveling to and from the mainland. Yesterday, China criticized the US response to the coronavirus outbreak, accusing Washington of feeding mass hysteria.
  • Evacuations continue: Countries like the US, UK, Japan, and South Korea have already flown out citizens from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Other countries are continuing evacuation plans and preparations.
  • Vaccine: There is no vaccine available yet, but researchers say there are promising signs. Thai doctors say they have successfully treated one coronavirus patient with a combination of antiviral drugs, and efforts to treat a second are ongoing.