February 7 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 0136 GMT (0936 HKT) February 8, 2020
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11:18 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Hong Kong healthcare workers end five-day strike over coronavirus handling

From CNN’s Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A light installation is displayed by striking members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) and other activists at the Hospital Authority building in Hong Kong on Friday.
A light installation is displayed by striking members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) and other activists at the Hospital Authority building in Hong Kong on Friday. Credit: Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

Medical workers in Hong Kong have ended their strike after members voted not to extend it.

Thousands of workers have been on strike for five days, demanding that the Hong Kong government close all borders with mainland China and take further emergency measures against the virus.

In a press statement released on Friday, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said that more than 7,000 members voted in a poll to decide whether to continue the strike and 4,000 members voted against it. 

Over the past five days, the union has organized a medical sector strike that has heavily impacted services across the city. On Wednesday alone, over 7,000 employees took part accounting for nearly 10% of all public sector medical workers in the city. 

For most of the week, public hospitals have had limited services due to the strike. Remaining staff members have had to focus efforts on emergency services, so patients with mild conditions were advised to find private hospitals or clinics instead.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has implemented emergency measures such as mandatory quarantines for travelers coming from China, and closed all but three of Hong Kong's mainland China border crossings.

11:08 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

What we know about the three cruise ships that had their travels disrupted by coronavirus

People stand on balconies aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Daikoku Pier in Yokohama, Japan on Friday.
People stand on balconies aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Daikoku Pier in Yokohama, Japan on Friday. Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images

At least three cruise ships in Asia have had their travels disrupted during the coronavirus outbreak.

Two of the vessels are docked and under quarantine as officials try to slow the spreading of the virus, and a third has been unable to dock because of outbreak fears.

The ships had spent time at multiple ports across Asia before fears of the virus prompted the quarantines and backlash.

Some details about the situation are still unclear, but here's what we know about the three ships right now:

  • The one docked in Japan: The Diamond Princess is anchored off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo, with 1,045 crew and 2,666 passengers — including 428 Americans — on board. At least 61 people on board have been infected. The vessel has been quarantined since Tuesday, and passengers are expected to remain under quarantine for at least 14 days — so roughly 11 more days.
  • The one docked in Hong Kong: The World Dream, is docked at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Cruise Terminal with more than 3,600 passengers and crew members on board. A Hong Kong Department of Health official said 33 crew members had shown symptoms of illness at varying degrees, although most had tested negative for the coronavirus. All passengers will have to remain on board until "we complete the quarantine work," the official said — but it's unclear how long that could take.
  • The one without a port: In the middle of the East China Sea, the Westerdam is struggling to find a port to dock at after being turned away from both Taiwan and Japan over fears of passenger contamination. The company that operates the line said it has no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board. The cruise is in the middle of a 30-day voyage (it initially left Singapore on January 16), and it's not clear when or where it could dock.

10:27 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Health organization says drop in new coronavirus cases is good news – but remains cautious

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

The World Health Organization (WHO) said a decrease in new cases of coronavirus is “encouraging news” — but stressed the need for people to be “vigilant.” 

The world is facing a “severe disruption” of the supply of personal protective equipment, included masks needed to protect from coronavirus WHO chief Tedros Adhanom said today. 

Adhanom said prices have shot up by a “significant increase,” about 20 times inflated. Demand is also up by about 100 times, compounding he issue, he said.

11:46 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

23 passengers cleared, 4 being evaluated after CDC screens ship in New Jersey

From CNN Health’s John Bonifield, Taylor Romine and Joe Sutton

Twenty-three cruise ship passengers were cleared, and four are being evaluated at an area hospital after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the ship today in Bayonne, New Jersey.

The officials were there to screen the 27 passengers who recently traveled from mainland China, according to the New Jersey governor Phil Murphy.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship, “The Anthem of the Seas," docked this morning in the Port of Bayonne.

“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,” a CDC official said.

"New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and the risk to residents remains low,” Murphy said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the CDC previously said the agency is aware of two family members on board the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship who became ill on board. The family has a travel history to mainland China, but not a history of travel to Hubei Province — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

CDC staff consulted with the New Jersey Department of Health and have decided to test all four family members for the novel coronavirus out of an abundance of caution. The New Jersey Department of Health will facilitate the specimen collection, and the samples will be sent to CDC for testing.

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

From CNN’s Jake Kwon, Will Ripley, Sandi Sidhu, Matt Rivers and Ben Westcott

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

From CNN’s Jay Croft, John Bonifield and Joe Sutton

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

From CNN's Joe Sutton

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

From CNN’s Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

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.