February 9 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Angela Dewan, Fernando Alfonso and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0249 GMT (1049 HKT) February 10, 2020
27 Posts
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6:40 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

Whistleblower doctor to be "remembered as hero" Chinese ambassador to UK says

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

The doctor who tried to raise the alarm about the coronavirus in Wuhan, Li Wenliang, will be "remembered as a hero," China's Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said Sunday, as Chinese authorities face fierce criticism on social media for their treatment of Li.

Li died in the early hours of Friday morning local time.

“But he’s one of millions of Chinese medical doctors and nurses," Liu said in an interview to the BBC.

Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang lied in an intensive care bed on oxygen support in hospital after contracting the coronavirus. 
Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang lied in an intensive care bed on oxygen support in hospital after contracting the coronavirus.  Li Wenliang

"We have so many of them ... put their lives in the forefront of this battle,” he added.

The ambassador on his Twitter account earlier paid tribute to Li, writing that he would be “remembered for high responsibility & devotion as a doctor."

Li tried to warn the public about a potential “SARS-like” disease in December 2019, but was questioned by local authorities and later summoned by Wuhan police to sign a reprimand letter in which he was accused of “spreading rumors online” and “severely disrupting social order."

Read more:

6:41 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

Economic impact on Hong Kong likely to be worse than SARS, financial chief says

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Paul Chan said tourism and retail sectors would likely take a big hit as visitor numbers from mainland China dramatically fall in the viral outbreak. The impact on the Hong Kong economy could be worse than SARS was in 2003.

"The actual impact of this epidemic on Hong Kong's economy depends on its development, but I believe that the outlook is not optimistic and is likely to be a stronger impact than the that of SARS in 2003," he wrote on his blog.

A woman wearing a protective face mask shops at a fresh food market in Hong Kong on Sunday.
A woman wearing a protective face mask shops at a fresh food market in Hong Kong on Sunday. AFP/Dale De La Rey

"In terms of internal factors, mainland visitors now account for 78% of all visitors to Hong Kong, a percentage much higher than 41% in 2002. In recent years, tourism accounts for 32% of Hong Kong's total service industry output, which is higher than 21% during the SARS period. Therefore, if the tourism and retail industry continue to weaken, there will be a more significant impact on our economy."

6:25 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

Spain confirms second case, Brazilians flown out

From CNNE’s Daniel Silva Fernandez and CNN's Vasco Cotovia

Spain’s National Center for Microbiology has confirmed the country’s second case of Wuhan coronavirus. The person is one of four who had been in contact with an infected French national. All four were put under observation by Spanish authorities.

“The National Center for Microbiology analysed samples from these four people. One of them tested positive for coronavirus while the other three tested negative,” the Spanish Health Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

While the vast majority of cases are in mainland China, the virus has spread as far as Europe, North America and Australia.

Two planes carrying Brazilian citizens from Wuhan arrived in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza after leaving Wuhan on Friday.

The planes carried 34 Brazilians, four Polish citizens, one Chinese and one Indian person. The Polish and the Chinese national were dropped off in Poland during a planned stopover, according to the Brazilian Air force. 

The repatriation comes after a group of Brazilians in Wuhan released a video on YouTube, asking the Brazilian government to evacuate them.

5:13 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

Prince Andrew delivers "message of sympathy" from Queen to China on coronavirus

From CNN's Martin Goillandeau and Vasco Cotovio in London

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, delivered a “message of sympathy from the Queen” to President Xi Jinping and the Chinese people over the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming tweeted on Saturday.

Liu also posted two photos of the duke and his family celebrating Chinese New Year at the Chinese ambassador’s residence in London.

 

“Her Majesty The Queen sent an encouraging message to President Xi and Chinese people: At the critical time of fighting coronavirus, I express my sincere sympathy for Chinese people, and pray for the speedy control and victory over the virus. It was conveyed by Duke of York,” the tweet read.

The ambassador added that he and his wife had “invited [the] Duke of York and his family to our residence and celebrated Chinese New Year.”

“Their enthusiasm for China and contribution to China-UK relation is highly appreciated,” the tweet also read.

Buckingham Palace said Prince Andrew would have attended the event in a private capacity. The Duke of York announced in November he was stepping back from royal duties because the Jeffrey Epstein scandal had become a "major disruption" to the royal family.

4:34 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

Westerdam cruise ship in negotiations to dock

From CNN's Mick Krever in Tokyo

Holland America is in negotiations with two different ports to have passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship disembark, the company told CNN in a statement on Sunday. It would not identify which ports it is in negotiation with.

 

There are 1,455 guests and 802 crew onboard the Westerdam.
There are 1,455 guests and 802 crew onboard the Westerdam.

The Westerdam was denied port by three different authorities -- Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan -- despite having no confirmed cases of coronavirus on board. The company made clear that the ship is not under quarantine. There are 1,455 guests and 802 crew onboard.

 “We are currently working through all the various required logistical support in both ports to determine the best course of action for our guests,” the company said, adding that their deadline for a decision -- in terms of navigation -- is 3 a.m. ET on Monday (4 p.m. local for the Westerdam).

The Westerdam is currently at sea about 300 km east of Taiwan.

3:33 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

China has had its deadliest day in weeks -- where things stand today

The death toll from the novel coronavirus continues to rise in China and -- for another consecutive day -- the number of those killed has reached a record high.

As of today, 813 people have died from the virus, more than were killed by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003

Epidemic grows: The number of infected globally is now more than 37,000, with over 2,000 new infections confirmed in mainland China overnight.

Additionally, new cases of the virus have been reported today in South Korea, Germany, Singapore and Taiwan, among other countries.

New cruise ship cases: In the single-biggest outbreak outside of mainland China, 70 cases have now been confirmed on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the coast of Yokohama.

In a message to the more than 400 US citizens who are on board the ship, the US embassy in Tokyo sent around a missive that they were carefully monitoring the situation.

Quarantine lifted: There was good news for passengers on board the World Dream cruise ship, which had been under quarantine in Hong Kong for days.

Hong Kong health officials announced today that there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus found on board and the passengers are free to leave.

4:22 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

One Chinese county is offering cash to sick people if they report themselves

Government officials across Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, are desperate to find ways to stop the spread of the infection.

In Hubei's Fangxian County, officials are trying a different approach -- paying sick people.

According to an official Fangxian County notice, anyone who is sick and reports themselves to a hospital can expect to be paid.

Patients who have a fever and turn themselves in will receive 1,000 yuan ($142).

But officials and other interested parties are also being offered cash incentives if they catch anyone with a fever. For each person with a fever who is reported by an official or citizen, there is a reward of 500 yuan ($71).

The notice said that the offer is only valid from today until February 18.

3:08 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

Is a second truth-teller being silenced in China?

From CNN's Nectar Gan, Natalie Thomas and David Culver

Chen Qiushi, a citizen journalist who had been reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, could no longer be reached by friends and family since Thursday.
Chen Qiushi, a citizen journalist who had been reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, could no longer be reached by friends and family since Thursday.

With many Chinese citizens still in mourning over the the death of a whistleblower doctor, a citizen journalist who has filed critical reporting from Wuhan has gone missing.

As hundreds of thousands of people in China began demanding freedom of speech online Thursday, friends and family discovered that they could no longer contact journalist Chen Qiushi.

Chen arrived in Wuhan on January 24, a day after the city was placed under a state-imposed lockdown. He visited overflowing hospitals, funeral parlors and makeshift isolation wards and uploaded videos of what he saw online, offering the world a glimpse into the often grim reality at the heart of the crisis.

His relatives later found out that he had been put into forced quarantine by the police. By Sunday, Chen's disappearance had started to gain traction on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, with many pleading for his release.

"Hope the government can treat Chen Qiushi in a fair and just way," one user wrote on Sunday morning. "We can no longer afford a second Li Wenliang!"

Read the full story here.

2:49 a.m. ET, February 9, 2020

China opens new coronavirus hospital in Wuhan and threatens "troublemakers" with jail

A second new hospital has opened in Wuhan, with capacity for 1,500 patients, space which is badly needed in the heart of China's coronavirus epidemic.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV announced Saturday that the first team of medical staff had arrived at the Leishenshan Hospital, ready to work.

The news came as the Chinese government made it clear it would tolerate no disruptions to the function of front line hospitals during the crisis.

In a joint statement Saturday, China's National Health Commission, Supreme Court and Ministry of Public Security announced seven "medical-related crimes" that would be severely punished during the epidemic.

The seven crimes include attacking medical personnel, refusing medical checks and damaging or destroying property at medical facilities.

According to the statement, anyone who violates new virus control regulations will be quickly prosecuted and could face arrest, jail or even the death penalty.