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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6:50 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

14-day quarantine in Hong Kong kicks in for travelers from mainland China

At midnight Saturday, authorities in Hong Kong began imposing 14 days' quarantine for all travelers arriving from mainland China.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters that 161 people had been placed under quarantine Saturday, 148 of whom are isolated at home. Eleven others are in hotels or two other facilities.

"We will call them [those quarantined at home] to ensure they are home and remind them not to leave, otherwise it's illegal and they will be subject to a six-month imprisonment. We also do random check-ups -- in fact, police have already done 10 and everyone has been at home," she said.

She said authorities considered the travelers a low risk, but explained they would be required to check in with the government to confirm their live locations via WhatsApp or WeChat.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, a total of 8,953 people came to Hong Kong, the vast majority through the airport.

Lam announced the new measure to quarantine travelers from the mainland on Wednesday, saying it was only the second time the measure had been enacted. She said she hoped the quarantine would act as a deterrent for people crossing the border.

12:09 p.m. ET, February 8, 2020

Global spread: More than 31,000 cases in mainland China, 28 territories affected

World Health Organization figures show that the virus has affected at least 28 countries, many of them in Asia, and has reached as far as the United States and Australia.

The vast majority of the cases and deaths are in mainland China.

The graphic here is based on WHO data from Friday. The WHO updates its figures daily.

5:18 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

France confirms five new cases of the virus

Five more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in France, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in France to 11.

All of the five new cases are British nationals, one of whom is a child. None are in a serious condition.

Air France said on Thursday it was extending its suspension of flights to Shanghai and Beijing and is likely to keep it in place for much of March.

4:51 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

Diamond Princess cruise ship a floating "contaminated prison," passenger says

The Diamond Princess cruise ship has been docked off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, now since February 4, and quarantined passengers aboard the ship say they feel like they're in prison.

At least three more passengers have tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus, according to a statement released by the Japanese Ministry of Health on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases on the ship to 64.

The Diamond Princess has been docked off Yokohama, Japan, since February 4.
The Diamond Princess has been docked off Yokohama, Japan, since February 4. Carl Court/Getty Images

More than 2,600 passengers on the ship are in enclosed rooms with no balconies. Passengers can only go outside in small groups under close supervision for less than an hour a day.

CNN's Will Ripley spoke to some American passengers aboard the ship, one of whom is calling on the US government to intervene and get them out of what she called a "contaminated prison."

"This is not a safe environment and we don’t think anybody, let alone the Japanese government, wants to be responsible for making a bad decision of quarantining us in an unsafe place," said Florida resident Gay Courter.

"We want off this ship and we want to go in health and not in dire medical circumstances."

Rebecca Frasure, an Oregon resident whose throat swab tested positive for the coronavirus, said she had no symptoms and was scared of the unknown.

"I don’t know what's going to happen an hour from now, tomorrow. For all we know we could stay on this ship for months," she said.

4:18 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

WHO China representative pays tribute to coronavirus whistleblower doctor who died

The World Health Organization's China Representative paid tribute to the whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who died earlier this week from the coronavirus.

"Indeed, I think we need to pay tribute to Li Wenliang," Dr. Gauden Galea told Reuters.

"I never knew him. I only knew him through his social media posts. But I can tell you that his passing affected our team emotionally. A young man not only a loss to himself and his family, but also a symbol to health workers who are on the front line."

Read more:

3:05 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

Wuhan just built another hospital in days. Medics are there waiting for patients

From CNN's Lily Lee in Beijing

Doctors and nurses have arrived at Leishenshan Hospital, the second medical facility built in Wuhan in a matter of days, according to China's state-run CCTV.

The first batch of patients is also expected to be admitted today.

Construction on Leishenshan Hospital took 12 days, according to CCTV. The 32-ward and 1,500-bed structure will exclusively treat patients infected with the new coronavirus.

Read more about how hospitals are built so fast here

2:42 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

Hong Kongers scramble to buy toilet paper amid rumors it's running out

A man wearing a facemask moves packages of toilet paper that are sold at a store in Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong on Saturday.
A man wearing a facemask moves packages of toilet paper that are sold at a store in Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong on Saturday. Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kongers have continued stockpiling toilet paper amid fears the city may run out of it, despite the fact that the government has denied the rumor that spurred the panic buying.

Unconfirmed reports had circulated that mainland China would stop exporting certain goods -- specifically toilet paper -- to Hong Kong, as more borders between the two places closed.

Shoppers wearing protective facemasks walk past bare supermarket shelves, usually stocked with toilet paper and kitchen rolls, in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Shoppers wearing protective facemasks walk past bare supermarket shelves, usually stocked with toilet paper and kitchen rolls, in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

The Hong Kong government has quashed the rumors and appealed for calm. Emergency measures, including closing several borders, "will not affect the freight services between the mainland and Hong Kong," the government said in a statement.

"Besides, the government has confirmed with the major suppliers that the supply of food products remains normal and there is no shortage of food. There are sufficient stocks of staple food including rice and pastas. There is no need for the public to worry."

But the reassurances don't seem to have had much effect -- one supermarket's website is so swamped that users have to join an online queue, with a wait stretching for more than an hour.

And many stores' toilet paper and paper towel shelves were empty on Saturday.

Some grocery stores were still out of stock of paper towels and toilet paper on Saturday.
Some grocery stores were still out of stock of paper towels and toilet paper on Saturday. Roger Clark/CNN

2:19 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

Friday was the deadliest day for coronavirus as mainland China records 86 fatalities. Saturday saw the US announce the first American death

Wuhan's empty streets are seen in this photograph from Friday.
Wuhan's empty streets are seen in this photograph from Friday. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Mainland China had its deadliest day in the coronavirus outbreak Friday, with authorities reporting 86 fatalities from the pneumonia-like illness that is paralyzing much of the country.

A total of 722 people had died from the virus and 34,546 were infected in mainland China by the end of Friday, China's National Health Commission said. The majority of new cases were recorded in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Authorities finished construction on a new hospital in Wuhan last week, and another is due to open in the coming days to treat the growing number of patients.

Meanwhile, it emerged that a 60-year-old United States citizen had died from the virus at Jinyintian Hospital, in Wuhan, on February 6, according to the US Embassy in Beijing, marking the first confirmed death of a foreigner from the virus. Japan also reported its first death of suspected coronavirus in Wuhan on Saturday, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Japanese man in his 60s died of pneumonia. The hospital that treated him was inconclusive on the cause of the pneumonia.

Globally, the virus has now infected more than 320 people in another 27 countries and territories, and killed a Chinese man in the Philippines and a 39-year-old male in Hong Kong. New cases were confirmed in Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan on Saturday.

Read more here

1:52 a.m. ET, February 8, 2020

Citizen journalist covering coronavirus forcibly quarantined by government in Wuhan, say friends

From CNN's Natalie Thomas and David Culver in Beijing

A lawyer turned citizen journalist reporting from in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, has been forcibly quarantined, friends and relatives said on Friday.

Chen Qiushi had been posting videos from Wuhan since January 24, the day after the city was put under lockdown. His dispatches offered a critical take on conditions in the city, including the state of hospitals as well as newly constructed isolation wards.

Chen’s videos and comments have featured in CNN’s reporting. His forced removal and quarantine comes less than 24 hours after the death of doctor Li Wenliang, who was also reprimanded by the state for revealing what he knew of the coronavirus outbreak.

"I’m scared, I have the virus in front of me and behind me China’s law enforcement,” Chen told viewers in an emotional video recorded on January 30 before his disappearance.

“But I will keep my spirits up, as long as I’m alive and in this city I will continue my reports,” he said.

Chen’s videos and personal accounts have been censored from Chinese social media sites, but he continued to post on Twitter and YouTube, where his most watched videos were regularly seen by more than a million people.

His friends told CNN they had been checking in with him multiple times a day, fearing he could be taken by the authorities at any time for his reporting. When he stopped answering calls at around 7 or 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 6 they grew increasingly concerned.

At 2:18 a.m. on Friday, February 7, Chen’s mother posted a video message on his Twitter page saying her son had disappeared.

“I’m here to beg everyone online, especially friends in Wuhan to help find Qiushi, find out what’s going on with him.”

Later that evening in a live broadcast, Xu Xiaodong, a famous MMA wrestler and friend of Chen, played a message from Chen’s mother saying he had been forcibly quarantined.

“In the last few hours the Qingdao public security officers and state security officers … notified Qiushi’s parents that Qiushi has already been detained in the name of quarantine. Qiushi’s mother immediately asked them where and when he was taken away, they declined to say,” said Xu.

Xu stressed that based on his interactions with Chen and the testimony of those on the ground, Chen had been in good health prior to his disappearance.

Both Wuhan city police and Qingdao city police said they had no information about Chen when contacted by CNN.

“We’re worried for his physical safety but also worried that while he’s missing he might get infected by the virus,” a friend who had been authorized by Chen to take over his Twitter account should he disappear told CNN. The individual requested anonymity for fear of reprisals by the government.

“(When) I saw there was still no information from him at all I started to feel a bit panicked and also slightly angry,” the friend told CNN.