February 12 coronavirus news

By Ivana Kottasová, Jessie Yeung and Adam Renton, CNN

Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT) February 13, 2020
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7:47 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix postponed

The Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai has been postponed over the novel coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, F1 governing body FIA said the Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, officially requested the postponement after ongoing discussions with the country's sports authorities.

The FIA and F1 said it would continue monitoring the situation and explore the "viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year should the situation improve."

"The Chinese Grand Prix has always been a very important part of the F1 calendar and the fans are always incredible," F1 said in a statement. "We all look forward to racing in China as soon as possible and wish everyone in the country the best during this difficult time."

7:32 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Where novel coronavirus cases have been reported

Here's a look at where the novel coronavirus cases are throughout the world, according to the latest information from the World Health Organization (WHO).

These numbers may differ from those reported by national health authorities, who report updated totals at different times to the WHO.

The vast majority of the cases have been identified in mainland China, according to WHO data.

 The WHO collects and publishes the global data on a daily basis, with the next update coming later this afternoon in Geneva, Switzerland. The latest data release by China's National Health Commission said there have been 44,653 cases and 1,113 deaths in mainland China.

7:05 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Nokia and BT pull out of the world's top mobile conference over virus fears

From CNN's Chris Liakos in London

Nokia and BT are the latest companies to ditch the world's largest mobile conference because of the risk that its employees could catch the novel coronavirus.

The two firms joined Amazon, Ericsson, Facebook, Sony, Intel, Cisco, LG and other tech companies in withdrawing from this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Nokia said it took the decision was made "after a full assessment of the risks related to a fast-moving situation."

"Primary focus has been to safeguard the health and well-being of employees and others while also recognizing responsibility to the industry and customers," it said in the statement.

BT said pulling out was the "most responsible decision.”

"Unfortunately, the most responsible decision is to withdraw our participation from the event to safeguard our employees and customers.”

The conference, scheduled for February 24-27, normally attracts 100,000 attendees and over 2,400 companies. It is considered the mobile industry's biggest event, one where many companies launch new products.

6:44 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

After being turned away from multiple ports, the Westerdam cruise ship is now sailing for Cambodia

From CNN’s Mick Krever in Tokyo

The Westerdam cruise ship is seen at the port of Vladivostok, Russia, in April 2019.
The Westerdam cruise ship is seen at the port of Vladivostok, Russia, in April 2019. Yuri Smityuk/TASS/Getty Images

The Westerdam cruise ship, denied entry by at least four different authorities despite not having any confirmed coronavirus cases onboard, is now heading for Cambodia and will disembark its passengers Thursday, Holland America Line said in a Wednesday statement.

“Westerdam is now sailing for Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where the current cruise will end,” the statement reads. “We will arrive at 7:00 a.m. local time on Thursday, Feb. 13 and will remain in port for several days for disembarkation.”

“Guests will be able to go ashore. All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support.”

The company said that passengers will move from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh on charter flights. Holland America said it would pay for all flights home, as well as the previously announced full cruise refund and “100% future cruise credit.”

5:56 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com is hiring 20,000 workers who lost jobs because of coronavirus

From CNN's Michelle Toh

Workers sort packages at a delivery station for JD.com in Beijing in November 2019.
Workers sort packages at a delivery station for JD.com in Beijing in November 2019.

JD.com, one of China's largest e-commerce firms, has promised to open up more than 20,000 new positions as the country's economy struggles under the coronavirus outbreak.

The company is hiring warehouse workers, couriers and drivers. Some of the positions will be temporary.

The jobs are meant to "minimize the impact of the epidemic on employment in the short term," JD.com said in a statement, adding that it wants to "support stable employment."

Dada Group, a local on-demand delivery provider that is backed by JD, will create an additional 15,000 positions.

JD.com's supermarket chain, 7FRESH, will also reach out to employees from restaurants, hotels, cinemas and retail outlets "that are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus," the company said in a statement.

These workers will be eligible for new short-term positions, including shop clerks, packaging assistants and delivery couriers, according to the company.

Business giants step in: E-commerce giant Alibaba announced a similar plan this week. On Monday, it introduced an "employee-sharing" scheme that would allow those who work in hospitality, dining, movie theaters, department stores and various other businesses to find temporary jobs at the company.

It declined to share an estimate on how many workers would be eligible.

Some workers have already found jobs through these initiatives. JD.com said Wednesday that its logistics unit has taken in at least 700 employees from more than 10 companies, adding that the firm is continuing to work with partners, staffing agencies and restaurants to recruit more people in thousands of cities.

Read the full story here.

5:07 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Hong Kong confirms one more case, bringing city's total to 50

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Medical staff outside the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on February 4, 2020.
Medical staff outside the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong on February 4, 2020. ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

Health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed an additional case of the novel coronavirus, bringing the citywide total to 50.

Officials at a news conference today said the new case involves a 51-year-old man who developed a fever on February 3 and was hospitalized on February 10. The patient is a coworker of the 37th confirmed case in the city.

A total of 59 suspected cases have been reported in the past 24 hours, said Sarah Ho of the city's Hospital Authority. Four confirmed patients are in critical condition and two remain in a serious condition.

The 18th confirmed case -- a 25-year-old man -- was also discharged from hospital today, Ho said.

5:24 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Diamond Princess cruise quarantine will end on February 19

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

The Diamond Princess cruise ship on Wednesday in Yokohama, Japan.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship on Wednesday in Yokohama, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

The Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently docked in Yokohama, Japan, will be released from quarantine on February 19, according to operator Princess Cruises.

More than 3,700 passengers and crew have been held on board the ship since February 4.

In a video statement released today, the company's executive vice president Rai Caluori said the "highest priority is providing guests and crew with their prescription medications, and more than 2,000 prescriptions have been brought on board."

He added that a team of seven pharmacists are assisting with the delivery of medication to guests. 

According to Caluori, the 1,405 crew currently working on board the ship will receive "normal pay and gratuities and paid time off following the quarantine."

Japanese health officials have confirmed 175 cases of the novel coronavirus on the Diamond Princess -- the largest concentration of cases outside mainland China.

4:51 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Staff are evacuated from a Singapore bank after coronavirus case confirmed

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A view of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, where the DBS offices are located, in Singapore on March 8, 2019.
A view of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, where the DBS offices are located, in Singapore on March 8, 2019. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Staff at a Singapore branch of DBS Bank were evacuated from their office today after one employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus.  

In a statement, DBS "confirms that one employee has been infected with the novel coronavirus" and that as a precautionary measure "we ensured that all employees on the affected floor of the Marina Bay Financial Center vacated the premises."

The bank added that it is currently conducting contact tracing with "all employees and parties the infected employee may have come into contact with." 

Meanwhile, office spaces and common areas like elevators and bathrooms are being deep cleaned and disinfected.

Singapore currently has 47 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

4:33 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Experts are investigating if the coronavirus can spread through piping systems

From CNN's Helen Regan

Yesterday, health officials in Hong Kong partially evacuated residents from an apartment block over fears the coronavirus may have been transmitted via the building's pipes.

Two residents living on different floors of the building had been infected, health officials said. Three more cases have since been linked to the same building.

This has happened before: During the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, pipes became a major source of transmission. At one housing estate, there were more than 300 infections and 42 deaths after defective plumbing allowed the virus to spread through the building.

Investigation underway: Scientists believe the coronavirus is mainly transmitted by direct contact -- such as touching someone's hand -- and through droplets, like when an infected person coughs on someone else.

But because the two patients lived directly above one another, and the initial inspection found that a pipe had been disconnected from the bathroom's waste pipe, authorities decided to investigate whether the virus could have spread through the building's sewage system.

Microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said at a news conference today that an improperly sealed pipe could have resulted in a virus transmission, by carrying infected feces into the building's ventilation system and blowing the virus into people's bathrooms.

How to protect yourself: While the investigation into the building continues, Hong Kong's Center for Health Protection has advised the public to maintain drainage pipes by regularly pouring water into drain outlets and to put the toilet lid down before flushing "to avoid spreading germs."

Read more here