February 7 coronavirus news

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9:46 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Tributes and anger after the death of Li Wenliang

A photo of the late ophthalmologist Li Wenliang is seen beside flower tributes at the Wuhan Central Hospital on Friday.
A photo of the late ophthalmologist Li Wenliang is seen beside flower tributes at the Wuhan Central Hospital on Friday. Credit: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Li Wenliang, the Wuhan doctor who was targeted by police for trying to sound the alarm in December, died of the coronavirus late last night.

Grief and anger: Chinese social media has exploded into near-unprecedented levels of grief and fury against the government, with calls for accountability and freedom of speech -- rarely seen in China's tightly-controlled online sphere.

People attend a vigil for Doctor Li Wenliang in Hong Kong on Friday.
People attend a vigil for Doctor Li Wenliang in Hong Kong on Friday. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

China's social media channels were awash with anger following news of Li's death -- the topics "Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology," and "We want freedom of speech," soon began to trend on China's Twitter-like platform, Weibo, before disappearing from the heavily censored platform.

A man stops by a message drawn into the snow that reads, "Farewell to Li Wenliang" in Beijing on Friday.
A man stops by a message drawn into the snow that reads, "Farewell to Li Wenliang" in Beijing on Friday. Credit: Chinatopix/AP

9:42 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

A cruise ship has been denied entry by Japan and is in a "holding pattern" off the coast

A cruise ship has been denied entry by Japanese authorities and is now in a “holding pattern” off the southeast coast of Okinawa over fears of coronavirus.

The MS Westerdam left Singapore on January 16 for what should have been a 30-day cruise around Asia. But after leaving Hong Kong on February 1, the ship has been turned away from ports in the Philippines and Taiwan due to fears that there may be coronavirus cases on board.

In Hong Kong, the ship disembarked 1,254 guests and embarked 768 guests before departing on Saturday, the cruise company Holland America Line (HAL) said.

There is no suggestion that any passengers, current or former, have been infected, the cruise company said on Twitter.

On Thursday, the Japanese government said that it would not allow the Westerdam to call anywhere in their territory.

The ship planned to make stops in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and finally China but had revised the ship’s final destination from Shanghai to Yokohama following the warning by US CDC on January 28th, according to the company.

Australian passenger David Holst, 63, is traveling on the Westerdam with his wife Judy.

"No one wants us," Holst told CNN from the cruise ship. "Holland America said they're in discussions with the US State Department, the US Navy, and the Dutch government to try and find a solution. I have no idea what that will be or when that would be."

Holst said he and his wife had spent more than $20,000 on the trip, including flights. But he said the past six or seven days had been a "nightmare."

"It keeps getting worse and everyone on board is just living in fear that the bell is going to ring and the captain is going to say, 'Return to your cabins, we're in quarantine and we've got a virus case on board,'" he said.

9:37 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Passengers on cruise ship docked near New York City will be assessed for coronavirus, CDC official says

Passengers on a cruise ship that docked Friday morning near New York City will be assessed in port for the coronavirus, an official with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with knowledge of the situation tells CNN.

Concern over possible coronavirus infection has prompted officials to quarantine 12 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that arrived Friday morning in Bayonne, New Jersey.
Concern over possible coronavirus infection has prompted officials to quarantine 12 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that arrived Friday morning in Bayonne, New Jersey. WABC

"There are folks on the ship that have a history of travel to China and so CDC and local health officials are going to board the ship when it docks to do an assessment in port for coronavirus," the source said.

Ambulances and stretchers were positioned Friday near The Anthem of the Seas at the port at Bayonne -- a New Jersey city just south of Manhattan -- and personnel were boarding the ship, aerial video from CNN affiliates in New York shows.

"I have been briefed on the (Royal Caribbean) cruise ship arriving this morning," Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis tweeted. "I am certain that the NJ DoH, CDC, and PA NY/NJ are prepared and equipped to address any concerns this morning."

Read the full story here

 

9:04 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Evacuation flights from Wuhan land in US and Canada

Two American flights from Wuhan, China -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- have landed in the US and Canada, officials have confirmed.

The first flight landed at California’s Travis Air Force Base, the Air Force base official told CNN. The second flight landed at Vancouver International Airport, according to Airport Authority spokesman Brock Penner.

8:59 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Hong Kong announces potential jail time for Chinese travelers who refuse quarantine

Police wear protective masks near the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on February 5.
Police wear protective masks near the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on February 5. Credit: May James/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Hong Kong's Government has announced that travelers from the mainland who refuse to undergo the mandatory quarantine for coronavirus may face six months imprisonment.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said that the 14-day mandatory quarantine being implemented for visitors arriving from mainland China is expected to further reduce the number of people crossing the border.

The current criteria for reporting suspected cases had been expanded to include those who show signs of fevers, respiratory infections and pneumonia, Cheung added.

Public pressure: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has announced a series of new border closures over the Wuhan virus, amid intense public pressure to stop anyone crossing into the city from mainland China, which currently has more than 31,000 cases of coronavirus. Lam has so far fallen short of completely sealing off the city.

More cases: Hong Kong currently has 25 confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, with the latest case -- a 58-year-old male who lives in between Zhuhai and Hong Kong -- confirmed by officials on Friday.

7:56 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

"A contaminated prison": Scared, angry passengers are trapped on three cruise ships amid virus outbreak

American couple Kent and Rebecca Frasure found themselves quarantined on a cruise ship near Tokyo, Japan, after a former passenger tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Friday morning, Rebecca, 35, found out she had tested positive for Wuhan coronavirus and had to leave the The Diamond Princess ship immediately -- alone, as her husband Kent, 42, was still apparently uninfected.

Her only symptom when she tested positive was a cough.

"It is terrible, I could never imagine that this could be happening right now," she told CNN shortly before she left the boat. "(The hardest part) is the unknown. Like, I don't know what's going to happen an hour from now."

There are more than 3,700 people on board, including 2,600 passengers, of whom 428 are American. So far, 61 passengers have tested positive for the virus, and the quarantine is expected to last until at least February 19.

Read the full story here.

7:40 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

World facing a 'chronic shortage' of anti-virus protective equipment - WHO chief

A sign at a pharmacy in Bangkok, Thailand, notifies customers that face masks are out of stock, on January 31.
A sign at a pharmacy in Bangkok, Thailand, notifies customers that face masks are out of stock, on January 31. Credit: Candida Ng/AFP/Getty Images

The world is facing a "chronic shortage" of equipment that could shield individuals from coronavirus, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a briefing in Geneva on Friday. 

"We're sending testing kits, mask, gloves, respirators and gowns to countries in every region. However the world is facing a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment," he said. 

A disposable face mask moves on the production line at Yokoi Co. Ltd. factory in Nagoya, Japan on Thursday.
A disposable face mask moves on the production line at Yokoi Co. Ltd. factory in Nagoya, Japan on Thursday. Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

How officials are addressing the issue: Ghebreyesus added that he will be speaking to the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to identify the bottlenecks, find solutions and "push with fairness in distribution of equipment."

7:21 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Burberry forced to close more than a third of its China stores

Pedestrians walk past a Burberry store in Shanghai in July 2019.
Pedestrians walk past a Burberry store in Shanghai in July 2019. Credit: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Burberry is the latest luxury goods retailer to be hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

The company said in a statement Friday that it has shuttered 24 of its 64 stores in mainland China because of a “material negative effect on luxury demand” caused by the outbreak. Stores that remain open are operating with limited hours and seeing fewer customers.

“While we cannot currently predict how long this situation will last, we remain confident in our strategy. In the meantime, we are taking mitigating actions and every precaution to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees,” said Burberry CEO Marco Gobbetti.

Luxury goods retailers are expected to be particularly hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, given that Chinese consumers account for about a third of global spend, according to McKinsey.

These companies usually benefit from increased spending over the Lunar New Year, but fewer people have been leaving their homes or traveling abroad since the virus hit.

“The spending patterns of Chinese customers in Europe and other tourist destinations have been less impacted to date but given widening travel restrictions, we anticipate these to worsen over the coming weeks,” the company said.

Shutdowns have also knocked car manufacturers and planemakers, which have been forced to keep plants closed for longer than expected, as well as the shipping industry, which is crucial to global trade.

Wynn Resorts said Friday that it is losing as much as $2.6 million a day due to casino closures in Macao.

7:19 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Singapore confirms 3 new virus cases as health officials raise alert level

Three more cases of coronavirus in Singapore have been confirmed by the country's Ministry of Health, bringing its total to 33.

Only Japan has more cases than this outside mainland China -- with 25 infections on land, and 61 aboard a cruise ship anchored and quarantined near Tokyo.

All three cases in Singapore are national citizens with no links or travel history to China, said authorities. The three patients -- a 53-year-old male, a 42-year-old female and a 39-year-old female -- are currently being treated in isolation.

The ministry also said that of the 33 confirmed cases, two have been discharged and two still remain in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

High alert: Following the growing number of local transmission cases in Singapore, the ministry announced on Thursday that the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition alert level will be raised to orange -- the second highest -- which requires the cancellation of large-scale events and inter-school activities, and introduce daily health checks at workplaces.

The ministry has also urged the public to wear government-issued face masks in order to stop the spread of the virus.