February 8 coronavirus news

By Angela Dewan, Joshua Berlinger and Jenni Marsh, CNN

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

9:15 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

3 more passengers on a cruise ship in Japan are diagnosed with the coronavirus

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo

A passenger is seen at a balcony while clothes are hung on the Diamond Princess cruise ship on Friday.
A passenger is seen at a balcony while clothes are hung on the Diamond Princess cruise ship on Friday. Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

The Japanese Health Ministry said three more passengers on the Diamond Princes have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus. They have all been taken to the hospital.

A total of 64 people onboard the ship have now been infected with the coronavirus.

The ship has been quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo, since Tuesday, after it emerged that a former passenger had tested positive for the virus. That man is an 80-year-old from Hong Kong, who disembarked from the ship when it stopped in Hong Kong along its voyage.

Of the 2,600 passengers, of whom 428 are American, initially on the boat, 61 had already tested positive for the virus.

The quarantine is expected to last until at least February 19.

Read more about what it's like on the ship here

8:48 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

China's health authority says 724 people worldwide have been killed by the coronavirus

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Medical staff preparing beds for patients at a converted hospital in Wuhan on Wednesday.
Medical staff preparing beds for patients at a converted hospital in Wuhan on Wednesday. STR/AFP via Getty Images

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) has released its daily update of coronavirus cases.

On Friday, 86 people died of the Wuhan coronavirus in mainland China, bringing the death toll there to 722. Another two have died in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in mainland China as of the end of the day Friday stood at 34,546, an increase of 3,399 from Thursday, according to the NHC.

Out of the more 34,000 confirmed cases, 6,101 are in critical condition, and 2,050 have been discharged from the hospital after recovery.

8:43 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Hubei provincial death toll rises to 699

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing

The coronavirus death toll in the Chinese province of Hubei has risen to 699, according to the local health authority. That's an increase of 81 people from the day before. The total number of confirmed cases there now stands at 24,953. 

Of the 19,835 hospitalized patients in Hubei province, 1,007 are in critical condition.

The new reported deaths brings the death toll worldwide to 724. All but two of those who died were in mainland China.

8:03 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

President Trump tweeted the coronavirus could weaken as the weather warms. Scientists say it's too early to know

From CNN's Nadia Kounang

On Friday morning, President Trump tweeted about his phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump praised Xi as "strong, sharp and powerfully focused" on containing the virus, and added that he thinks Xi will be successful, "especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone."

But will warmer weather really kill the coronavirus?

"His hope is our hope," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, referring to Trump's tweets. "But we don't have knowledge that it will do that."

Infectious disease experts tell CNN that it's too early to say, and nobody knows enough about the novel coronavirus to make assessments about its behavior.

"It would be reckless to assume that things will quiet down in spring and summer," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

Read more here

7:28 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

What we know about the coronavirus

A scientist at the VirPath laboratory in Lyon, France, on February 5, 2020.
A scientist at the VirPath laboratory in Lyon, France, on February 5, 2020. JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images

There's still a lot we don't know about the Wuhan coronavirus, and scientists around the world are racing to gather data to develop a treatment.

Here's what we can tell you so far:

  • Is there a cure? No -- but there are signs of progress. Doctors in Thailand said earlier this week they successfully treated a patient with a combination of antiviral drugs.
  • What are the symptoms? Coronavirus symptoms can look like the flu -- people get a fever, a cough, trouble breathing. If you have these symptoms and recently went to China, or have been in contact with someone who did, experts advise going to the doctor.
  • How does the virus spread? The virus is thought to spread from person to person through respiratory droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing. There's also a possibility the virus can exist in and spread through contaminated fecal matter. There's currently no evidence that the virus is airborne -- meaning it doesn't travel across a large room.
  • Who is at risk of infection? People of all ages can be infected with the virus, but older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions are especially vulnerable to severe complications.
  • How can I protect myself? Take the same precautionary measures you would during flu season. Wash your hands often with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, avoid close contact with people and large gatherings, and wear a face mask.
  • Is it safe to travel? Many countries including the US have advised against travel to China. Many airlines have suspended travel to and from China, and countries have implemented bans on travelers from China.