February 13 coronavirus news
Australia's ban on foreign nationals traveling from mainland China to Australia has been extended for another week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a news conference on Thursday.
The initial 14-day ban, introduced on February 1, was set to end on Saturday. Morrison said that the ban will be reviewed “on a weekly basis.”
According to a statement on the Australian Border Force's website, "all foreign nationals who were in mainland China on or after 1 February will not be allowed to enter Australia, until 14 days after they have left, or transited through, mainland China."
Exceptions include Australian citizens, permanent residents, and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents.
The Chinese province at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak reported a record spike in deaths Thursday, bringing the total number to more than 1,300 infections globally.
Hubei announced an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 cases of the virus as of Thursday morning, the largest single-day rise since the epidemic began and almost 10 times the number of cases confirmed the previous day.
Here's what to know:
- The numbers: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,350 people and infected over 60,000 people worldwide. The vast majority of cases are in mainland China.
- Widening definition: Chinese officials have broadened their definition of what constitutes a confirmed case of the coronavirus. The tweak has led to a jump in cases in China but the World Health Organization (WHO) says it's "normal during the course of an outbreak to adapt the case definition."
- Cruise ship crisis: The Westerdam cruise ship that was turned away from four different ports has been allowed to dock in Cambodia's Sihanoukville. Passengers will be able to disembark and transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forward travel home. Meanwhile, 44 people tested positive for the coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan's Yokohama. This bring the total number of cases on the ship to 219, including one Japanese quarantine officer -- the largest outbreak of the virus outside of mainland China.
- More lockdowns: Vietnam has put an entire commune on lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus after reporting the country's 16th confirmed case.
- Faulty test kits: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some of the coronavirus test kits shipped to labs across the US are not working as they should, and the agency is remanufacturing a reagent used in the kits.
- Heads roll in China: The Communist Party has embarked on a major shakeup of provincial leadership in China. The Communist Party chiefs of both Wuhan and Hubei province are being replaced as the country grapples with the outbreak.
- Shanghai Fashion Week postponed: More events are being cancelled or postponed due to the virus. Set to take place from March 26 to April 2, Shanghai Fashion Week, will now be postponed.
- 2020 Tokyo Olympics: Still on the agenda, however, is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Officials are adamant the Games will go ahead this summer.
As countries continue to take strict emergency measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, thousands of people are stranded at sea on cruise ships with nowhere to dock.
Two ships are affected in Asia, but they are in very different situations.
- The Diamond Princess has been quarantined in Japan's Yokohama since February 4, with the number of coronavirus cases onboard increasing daily.
- The Westerdam was refused port by authorities in four countries -- despite having no coronavirus cases -- before Cambodia finally allowed the ship to dock and agreed to let its passengers disembark.
Here's the latest on the two ships:
- Operated by Holland America Line, the Westerdam has 1,455 guests, including 650 Americans, and 802 crew members onboard.
- It had originally departed Singapore on January 16.
- The Westerdam was on a 14-day cruise that departed Hong Kong on February 1.
- The cruise was scheduled to end its itinerary in Yokohama, Japan, on February 15, but was refused entry at any Japanese port despite having no confirmed cases of the coronavirus onboard.
- It was also denied entry to the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand as countries closed their ports to cruise ships over coronavirus fears.
- Passenger Christina Kerby told CNN that life continued as normal onboard, with cruise directors providing entertainment for passengers while at sea.
- On Thursday, the Westerdam docked in Cambodia's Sihanoukville after a deal was reached with Cambodia authorities.
- Guests will disembark and transfer via charter flights to Phnom Penh for forward travel home.
The Diamond Princess:
- Operated by Princess Cruises, the Diamond Princess has 2,666 guests and 1,045 crew.
- It has been docked in Japan's Yokohama port since February 4 after dozens of people became infected with the virus.
- So far at least 219 people (including five crew members) have tested positive for the coronavirus onboard after 44 more people were confirmed on Thursday.
- It's the largest outbreak outside of mainland China.
- Those who have tested positive are taken off the ship to hospitals, but passengers onboard must stay in a 14-day quarantine.
- The quarantine is expected to end on February 19.
- Passengers are confined to their rooms and allowed on deck for a limited time.
- Crew members continue to work and one worker told CNN she fears the crew are at greater risk of being exposed to the outbreak because they are not being quarantined in the same way as the passengers.
- Captain Stefano Ravera said everyone over the age of 80 has now been tested for the novel coronavirus.
- Some passengers will be allowed to disembark the ship early, including those aged 80 years or over with a chronic medical condition, those 80 years or over staying in an inside cabin (with no balcony), and those under 80 who have been given a test for any other reason.
- Passengers who do disembark early will have to remain in government housing facilities until February 19.
Vietnam has placed an entire community on lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus after reporting the country's 16th confirmed case, according to a government news report.
The 50-year-old male patient is the father of a previously confirmed case at the Son Loi commune in Vinh Phuc province, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the capital Hanoi.
This is the first lockdown of a town outside of mainland China since the start of the outbreak, and some 10,000 people are affected, according to Agence France-Presse.
Local authorities locked down the area around the commune in Binh Xuyen district, and residents will be quarantined for the next 20 days starting from today, the report said.
CNN photojournalist Justin Robertson documented his flight from Frankfurt to Beijing on Tuesday, as airlines ramp up safety measures over the coronavirus.
In the video, he says everyone is wearing a mask on the Air China flight, and there are pre-recorded announcements warning people of the dangers of the virus.
“It's astonishing, I’ve never seen anything like it," he says.
Come mealtime, all food is served in disposable, one-time use packaging for hygiene reasons, he says.
Some of the coronavirus test kits shipped to labs across the US are not working as they should, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
As a result, the CDC is remaking parts of the test kits after some produced inconclusive test results.
The kits were sent to the states to speed up the testing process, the CDC's Nancy Messonnier told reporters Wednesday. The states found out the flaw during the verification process. For quality control, when states get any test kit, they first verify that it works.
Some states notified the CDC that they were unable to validate the test, and the agency is remanufacturing a reagent used in the test that's not performing consistently.
Not all states have been affected.
Read more here.
The World Health Organization’s representative to North Korea said that there has been no cases of the novel coronavirus reported by the North Korean health ministry, in a written statement to CNN on Wednesday.
Edwin Ceniza Salvador said the WHO is working with all member states – including North Korea – to respond to the virus. North Korea, “like other countries, is taking measures to protect health of its people,” Salvador said.
The WHO is providing laboratory reagents and personal protective equipment such as goggles, gloves, masks, and gowns to the country at the request of the North Korean Ministry of Public Health, the statement added.
Outbreak prevention: Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, North Korea has been reporting almost daily on the regime's efforts to prevent the infection.
North Korean state-run news service, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reported on Wednesday that North Korea was extending its coronavirus quarantine period from 15 days to 30 days.
Nearly every country and territory in East Asia has confirmed cases of novel coronavirus. So why hasn't North Korea?
Read more here
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is definitely going ahead this summer, officials said, amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said on Thursday that the Tokyo organizing committee is not considering cancelling the Games due to the coronavirus, according to Reuters.
"Regarding the coronavirus which started in Hubei province in China, there were irresponsible rumours," Mori told reporters in Tokyo. "I would like to clearly reiterate that cancellation or postponement of Tokyo Games are not being considered."
Mori added that the organizing committee has set up a task force that has begun "sharing information for the prevention of the infection."
A senior organizer had previously warned that the outbreak could impact Japan's preparations for the Games.
"I am extremely worried that the spread of the infectious disease could throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games," said Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. "I hope that it will be stamped out as soon as possible."
Fanfare beginning: Nevertheless, the fanfare around Tokyo 2020, which is due to officially begin on Friday, July 24, is well underway.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also dispelled concerns that the Summer Olympics would be canceled after false rumors circulated online.
"We will take appropriate measures so that the preparation for the Olympic games will proceed without affecting them," Abe told a parliamentary committee.
In an announcement to passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship this afternoon, Captain Stefano Ravera gave more details on which passengers will be allowed to disembark early.
Ravera said that everybody over the age of 80 has now been tested for the novel coronavirus.
The captain said that those who will be given the option of disembarking early are:
- Passengers 80 years or over with a chronic medical condition, and who test negative for the virus.
- Passengers 80 years or over staying in an inside cabin, and who test negative for the virus.
- Other passengers under 80 who have been given a test for any other reason, and tested negative.
Those passengers will still have to remain in a “housing facility managed by the Japanese government” until the end of the quarantine. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive will not be allowed to disembark.
Passengers who test positive will continue to be moved to on-shore hospitals.
2 weeks on lockdown: More than 3,700 passengers and crew are stuck on the cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan that is essentially a floating quarantine zone. The ship was placed under quarantine on February 4 and it isn't scheduled to be lifted until February 19.