February 8 coronavirus news

By Angela Dewan, Joshua Berlinger and Jenni Marsh, CNN

Updated 8:20 p.m. ET, February 8, 2020
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11:09 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

US health experts not invited to help fight coronavirus

From CNN’s Jen Christensen

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert R. Redfield (left) and Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun (right) listen during a news conference on Friday in Washington.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert R. Redfield (left) and Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun (right) listen during a news conference on Friday in Washington. Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

China has still not invited US health experts to help with the fight against the Wuhan virus even though the US made the offer more than a month ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday.

Azar said the US has experts “ready, willing and able” to go to China and his department would like to get the effort underway quickly. But the Chinese government has its own decision-making process and “we have to respect that,” the secretary told a news conference.

11:01 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Taiwan just confirmed its 17th case

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Taiwan confirmed its 17th Wuhan coronavirus case Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The patient is a man in his 20s and the son of an infected couple. He is now in isolation.

The family travelled to Italy with transit in Hong Kong from January 22 to 31, and returned to Taiwan through Hong Kong on February 1.

The son developed a cough on January 27 during their trip.

10:48 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

The daily death toll from the virus in mainland China keeps rising. On Friday, it topped 80 for the first time

A total of 86 people in mainland China died from the Wuhan coronavirus on Friday, according to the country's National Health Commission (NHC). That was the highest single-day death toll since the Chinese authorities began issuing daily updates.

The number of deaths per day in mainland China has steadily risen over the past few weeks.

Here's the breakdown from the NHC:

  • February 7: 86 deaths reported
  • February 6: 73 deaths reported
  • February 5: 73 deaths reported
  • February 4: 65 deaths reported
  • February 3: 64 deaths reported
  • February 2: 57 deaths reported
  • February 1: 45 deaths reported
  • January 31: 46 deaths reported
  • January 30: 43 deaths reported
  • January 29: 38 deaths reported
  • January 28: 26 deaths reported
  • January 27: 26 deaths reported
  • January 26: 24 deaths reported
  • January 25 15 deaths reported
  • January 24: 16 deaths reported
  • January 23: 8 deaths reported

Chinese authorities said 17 people had died from the virus before January 23.

10:30 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Nearly every country in East Asia has coronavirus. So why doesn't North Korea?

Medical workers screen the temperatures of foreign nationals using thermal imaging devices in the diplomatic area of Pyongyang on Monday.
Medical workers screen the temperatures of foreign nationals using thermal imaging devices in the diplomatic area of Pyongyang on Monday.

It's been about two months since a deadly novel coronavirus was found in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since then, nearly every country and territory in East Asia has confirmed a case.

But not North Korea.

One of the world's poorest countries has, according to its public statements, managed to avoid the virus despite the fact that in neighboring mainland China, it has killed more than 700 people and infected more than 34,000.

More than 300 people have tested positive for the virus in over 27 places around the world -- including two other countries that share a land border with China: Russia and South Korea. In fact, every country and territory within a 1,500-mile radius of North Korea, except for sparsely populated Mongolia, has confirmed a case.

So what's happening? Pyongyang has either been very lucky, isn't saying something or is reaping one of the few benefits of being a so-called "hermit nation."

Read more here

10:15 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Two ships are quarantined in Asia. Another is stranded at sea. Here's what we know

The Diamond Princess: The Princess Cruises-operated ship was quarantined with thousands of people on board after it was revealed that an infected passenger flew into Tokyo and spent a few days aboard.

On Saturday morning, 64 passengers had tested positive for the virus and been taken off the ship for treatment. About 2,600 guests and more than 1,000  crew are on board.

The initial infected passenger is an 80-year-old from Hong Kong who flew into Tokyo -- the world's most populous city -- on January 17 with his two daughters. Two days later, he began coughing, Hong Kong authorities said. He boarded the cruise in Yokohama on January 20. When it stopped in Hong Kong on January 25, he got off and never returned. He sought medical attention on January 30 and was diagnosed with the virus shortly after. Hong Kong authorities said he was in stable condition Wednesday.

The quarantine is expected to end February 19.

Ambulances parked near the cruise ship Diamond Princess docked at the port of Yokohama near Tokyo on Friday.
Ambulances parked near the cruise ship Diamond Princess docked at the port of Yokohama near Tokyo on Friday. Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images

The World Dream: The World Dream is docked at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, with 3,600 passengers and crew on board in quarantine.

The ship docked there on Wednesday after it emerged that three former passengers, who took a World Dream cruise to Vietnam from January 19 to 24, had the coronavirus, the ship's operator, Dream Cruises, said in a statement.

The crew from that voyage stayed on as the World Dream picked up a new set of passengers before sailing to Hong Kong Wednesday morning, Hong Kong authorities said.

Hong Kong's Health Department said Wednesday some 30 members of the crew reported feeling sick, but all were in stable condition. Three who reported fevers are in isolation in a Hong Kong hospital for further testing.

The World Dream is seen docked at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong on Thursday.
The World Dream is seen docked at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

The Westerdam: The Westerdam cruise liner left Singapore on January 16 for what should have been a 30-day tour of Asia. But after it stopped in Hong Kong on February 1, the ship has been turned away from the Philippines and Taiwan due to fears over the coronavirus. There is no suggestion that any passengers, current or former, have been infected.

The ship, which is operated by Holland America, had been set to stop at five ports in Japan, but on Thursday the Japanese government said it would not allow the Westerdam to call anywhere in its territory.

10:10 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

China just built a hospital in 10 days. Here's how

From CNN's Oscar Holland and Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

As China races to contain the Wuhan coronavirus, a feat of design and engineering has unfolded at the outbreak's epicenter: A hospital built in just 10 days.

The two-story, 366,000-square-foot Huoshenshan Hospital began accepting its first patients Monday, a little over a week after land-levelling work commenced. A second, Leishenshan Hospital, is expected to open soon, with the two facilities expected to accommodate 1,000 and 1,500 beds respectively.

Perhaps most important among them is the "cohorting," or zoning, of patients -- grouping people based on the level of risk they pose, Kuah told CNN in a phone interview. He had been watching the construction of Huoshenshan Hospital via an official livestream.

"You might have one wing where people need to confirm whether they have (the virus), and another where they've all tested positive," he said. "So within the facility people are 'cohorted' based on how suspect they are. Then, you can sub-cohort by, say, pregnant women, or people waiting for test results, or those waiting for (a quarantine period) to end."

Read more here

9:59 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Malaysia confirms 15th coronavirus case

A 15th person has been infected by the Wuhan coronavirus in Malaysia, according to the country's state-run news agency Bernama.

Health Minister Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad said the patient is a 59-year-old woman from Wuhan, Bernama reported.

9:48 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Tributes and anger flood Chinese social media after the death of Li Wenliang, the Wuhan whistleblower who tried to warn people about coronavirus

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

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 -- sentiments rarely seen in China's tightly-controlled online sphere.

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 site.

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

Images from outside the hospital where Li worked show a small memorial has been set up to honor the doctor.

A portrait of Dr. Li Wenliang is left at Li's hospital in Wuhan on Friday.
A portrait of Dr. Li Wenliang is left at Li's hospital in Wuhan on Friday. Getty Images

 Flowers are left to pay tribute to Dr. Li Wenliang.
 Flowers are left to pay tribute to Dr. Li Wenliang. Getty Images

 A woman grieves while paying tribute outside the hospital where Li worked on Friday.
 A woman grieves while paying tribute outside the hospital where Li worked on Friday. Getty Images

Censors crack down: The public has been angry for weeks that Wuhan officials downplayed the virus and silenced whistleblowers like Li.

But the central authorities were largely able to keep this anger focused on local officials by allowing a rare amount of transparency and giving Chinese media a relatively free hand.

In the past week or so, however, the central authorities have tightened their grip on the flow of information, with state media emphasizing positive stories of resilience and heroism.

A relatable figure: Li resonated with the public because he wasn't a Party cadre or police officer -- he was an ordinary person who loved ice cream and TV. He's infinitely more sympathetic than the steely-eyed men and women trying to control the narrative around his death.

Read the full analysis here.

9:29 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

The world is facing a "chronic shortage" of anti-virus supplies, including face masks: WHO chief

From CNN's Milena Veselinovic 

The world is facing a "chronic shortage" of equipment that could protect people from coronavirus, World Health Organization (WHO) 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. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that many people currently wearing masks actually may not need them.

"A lot of people feel that they need to be wearing masks, even though, unless you're right in the middle of a situation where's a lot of people coughing and sneezing -- that really we don't recommend routinely, that people wear masks," he told CNN.

Watch more about the shortage below: