February 8 coronavirus news

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12:18 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

China threatens harsh punishments for people who disrupt virus control ... including the death penalty

From CNN's Lily Lee in Beijing

The Chinese government has issued new regulations to severely punish people who disrupt the epidemic control work. Those who violate the rules will be subject to speedy arrests and sentences, and even the death penalty. 

In a joint statement released Saturday, China’s National Health Commission, Supreme Court, Supreme Procuratorate and Ministry of Public Security listed seven types of medical-related crimes.

Approval for arrest, prosecutions and trials will be fast-tracked as the epidemic prevention and control is at a "critical stage."

The statement ends by saying the death penalty will not be ruled out in severe cases.

The seven medical-related crimes affected by these new measures are:

  1. Beatings, intentional injuries, and intentional killing of medical personnel.
  2. Illegally restricting medical personnel's personal freedom using violence, threats, or blatantly insulting, intimidating, or slandering medical personnel.
  3. Tearing protective gears off of and spitting on medical personnel, which may cause medical personnel to be infected with the new coronavirus.
  4. Refusing to accept checks, quarantine, and treatment measures of medical and health institutions using violence, threats, or other methods, or obstructing medical and health institutions’ lawful disposal of corpses of infectious disease patients according to law.
  5. Forcibly or intentionally destroying or occupying properties of medical and health institutions, or causing disturbances in the medical and health institutions, illegally placing dead bodies, setting up the mourning hall without permission, causing disorder and disrupting the normal conduct of epidemic prevention and control.
  6. Illegally carrying guns, ammunition, tightly regulated instruments or explosive, radioactive, poisonous and corrosive materials while entering medical and health institutions.
  7. Other situations that violate the safety of medical personnel and disrupt medical order.

11:39 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

"Hi, I am your deliveryman and my body temperature is normal today." Getting groceries delivered in China just isn't the same anymore

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing

The side gate at the compound where deliveries are pushed through.
The side gate at the compound where deliveries are pushed through. Steven Jiang

Getting groceries delivered through Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has become a different experience in China since the coronavirus outbreak. 

After a Saturday order on Alibaba's grocery site, a message popped up on my phone:

"Hi, I am your deliveryman and my body temperature is normal today. Wearing a mask, I am on my way to deliver your order. Please be ready to receive it at the designated time."

Many residential compounds in major cities across China, including the capital, are now strictly limiting access to residents only. Delivery people are no longer allowed in.

Recipients usually have to go outside to pick up their orders.

In my compound, delivery people have taken to pushing grocery bags through the gap between a now-locked side gate and the floor.

11:24 p.m. ET, February 7, 2020

In virus-stricken Wuhan, normal people are risking infection to drive medics to feverish patients

From CNN's Nectar Gan in Hong Kong

A woman crosses an empty street in Wuhan. The city has been under lockdown since January 23.
A woman crosses an empty street in Wuhan. The city has been under lockdown since January 23.

Hours after a state-imposed lockdown brought public transport in the Chinese city of Wuhan to a halt in late January, Wan Jiuxiong and his colleagues sprang into action.

The 27-year-old ride hailing driver joined a group of volunteers ferrying medical staff to and from overcrowded hospitals, where rows of feverish patients were fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Wan's first assignment was to pick up a nurse from home and drive her to the Jinyintan Hospital, a key facility designated by the government to treat patients infected with the pneumonia-like illness.

Wan's passenger left in a hurry, without saying "goodbye" or "thank you", but Wan isn't looking for thanks.

"In this time of need, we Wuhan people have to save ourselves. Everyone has got to do their own part," he said.

Wan is among hundreds of volunteers who have formed a lifeline for the residents of Wuhan, a sprawling metropolis of 11 million people.

After the suspension of all buses and subways when the city went under lockdown on January 23, the government deployed 6,000 taxis to help deliver supplies and transport patients without a fever to hospital. Those with a fever can only be transported by special quarantine vehicles dispatched by disease control authorities. But each residential community is only allocated three or four taxis, hardly enough for dense sites housing thousands of people.

That gap is filled by ordinary car owners like Wan. They have organized themselves into groups on WeChat, China's popular messaging app, where they swiftly respond to the requests of medics.

Read more here

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