February 4 coronavirus news

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11:09 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Chicago mayor slams Trump administration for "lack of clarity" on new coronavirus rules

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot​ at the ​US Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting in Washington on January 23, 2020.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot​ at the ​US Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting in Washington on January 23, 2020. Cliff Owen/AP

Chicago's mayor is the latest of several state leaders to criticize the federal government’s new travel and quarantine rules as opaque and confusing.

“I have been communicating to seek clarity on the new federal guidance that was announced on Friday and we will continue pressing the federal government from the White House to the CDC for clear operational guidance and financial commitments,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Sunday.

She also questioned guidelines about quarantine procedures -- for instance, what does self-quarantining mean? How often should self-quarantined people check in with public health officials? These are questions the federal government need to answer clearly and specifically, she said.

"Despite this lack of clarity from federal leadership, Chicago remains prepared to implement the latest guidelines to protect our residents from coronavirus," she said.

New measures in Chicago: Local authorities have added additional screenings at Chicago's O’Hare Airport, are partnering with airlines and the CDC, and mobilizing first responders, among other new measures to respond to the outbreak, Lightfoot said.

Total cases nationwide: As of February 3, the US had confirmed 11 cases of the coronavirus.

10:54 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Japan screens cruise ship for coronavirus 

An elderly man who traveled on a cruise aboard the Diamond Princess was found to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus.
An elderly man who traveled on a cruise aboard the Diamond Princess was found to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. Kyodo News/ Images

Japan has quarantined a cruise ship that arrived at a port in Yokohama on Monday evening after a former passenger was found infected with Wuhan coronavirus on Saturday. 

The passenger: The 80-year-old man had visited mainland China for a few hours on January 10, but was not exposed to any wild animals or wet markets. He then flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo on January 17.

He reportedly started coughing on January 19. On January 20, he boarded the Diamond Princess cruise in Yokohama, and disembarked in Hong Kong on January 25.

He sought medical care on January 30 after he started experiencing fever symptoms. He is currently in a stable condition. 

Quarantine on cruise: The ship is currently quarantined for 24 hours. 

Japanese authorities are working to identify the identities of passengers and crew who came into contact with the infected passenger. Quarantine officers are checking the health of all 2,666 passengers of different nationalities and 1,045 crew members onboard.

Several people on the ship said they felt ill, were tested for the virus, and are in separate rooms to avoid contact with each other.

The cruise ship also made stops at Kagoshima in Japan,  Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, and Okinawa before docking in Yokohama.

10:47 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

Macao and South Korea announce more confirmed cases

South Korea confirmed its 16th case of the Wuhan coronavirus today, according to Kim Gang-lip, the country's Health and Welfare vice minister.

Macao also confirmed its 9th case of Wuhan coronavirus. The patient is a 29-year-old female resident of Macao, according to a statement from Macao's Health Bureau.

The woman had not traveled outside of Macao recently, but is said to have visited the home of the 8th reported case on January 24.

10:42 p.m. ET, February 3, 2020

A “large number” of Hong Kong hospital staff absent as strike continues

Medical workers hold a strike near Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, on February 3.
Medical workers hold a strike near Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, on February 3. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

A “large number” of hospital staff in Hong Kong are absent today due to a labor union strike, said the city's Hospital Authority.

Why they're striking: The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, a medical workers' union with over 13,000 members, began striking on Monday to demand the government completely close all borders with China.

As the group and the authorities failed to reach a compromise, the group kicked off the second stage of strike on Tuesday to further limit services.

The move comes as Hong Kong announced the death of a 39-year-old man from the Wuhan coronavirus on Tuesday. The man had previously visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. To date, Hong Kong has recorded a total of 15 confirmed coronavirus cases.

What this means: Emergency services in public hospitals have been “affected to a certain extent” by the strike, said the Hospital Authority.

Public hospitals now only have “limited number of staff on duty” to provide emergency services, while specialist outpatient clinics can only provide “limited services.” The authorities advised patients to reschedule appointments.

Government response: Chief Executive Carrie Lam criticized the strike, saying critical patients like cancer patients still needed their services. Now, medical staff who are still working will have heavier workloads because of the strike, she said.

The government has already imposed several travel restrictions and closed many borders with the mainland; only three crossing points, including the city's international airport, remain open.

Closing all borders would also mean shutting out Hong Kong residents traveling in the mainland, who would be stranded and unable to return home, Lam said.

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

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

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

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.