February 13 coronavirus news

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12:25 p.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Asian students in UK face discrimination following coronavirus cases

By CNN's Lauren Kent in London

A 'Stand Up To Racism' rally on February 11 in Newcastle, England.
A 'Stand Up To Racism' rally on February 11 in Newcastle, England. Newcastle University Students' Union

University students across the UK have criticized xenophobia against Asian students following multiple incidents involving discrimination related to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Chinese students at Newcastle University spoke out about being targeted with verbal abuse or being ostracized in the community during a rally against coronavirus discrimination Tuesday.

“Some students spoke about friends and family members who have experienced racism," said Sara Elkhawad, the Newcastle student union’s equality officer.

"Other students talked personally about having gotten verbal abuse walking down Northumberland Street in Newcastle or people moving away from them on the metro.”

Elkhawad said every report has been taken very seriously and the university has a zero tolerance policy on discrimination.  

“It’s our duty to come forward and support people of different communities even when it doesn’t affect us directly,” Elkhawad told CNN.

“One student actually from Wuhan spoke and expressed how moved she was that people from all backgrounds came out to give support.” 

The first UK cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in Newcastle.

Students at the 'Stand Up To Racism' rally at Newcastle University on Tuesday.
Students at the 'Stand Up To Racism' rally at Newcastle University on Tuesday. Credit: Newcastle University Students' Union

Students at the University of Leicester condemned similar discrimination at the institution.

“There is absolutely no place for racism on our campus and we are deeply sorry to our students who have had to endure this,” said Leicester Students’ Union in a statement.

“The incidents unfortunately involved comments regarding coronavirus, which highlights how sensationalized the discourse surrounding the virus generally has been, where people have used ‘health concerns’ as a very thin veil for their racism.”

Two high school students from southeast Asia were accused of bringing the virus into the UK and had eggs thrown at them in a separate incident near Leicester on February 3.

Leicestershire Police are investigating that incident as a “racially aggravated assault.”

At Bath University, where one person is being tested for coronavirus as a precaution, the student union also released a statement urging students to treat each other with tolerance and reject rumors surrounding the coronavirus. 

Next week, students in Newcastle are partnering with Chinese student societies to hand out pamphlets dealing with myths about coronavirus and information on cultural norms surrounding surgical masks.

“Can I please ask you to take a minute to consider the impact that the current situation is likely to be having on those who have traveled back to Newcastle from China in recent weeks and find themselves in the middle of this situation that is completely outside their control?" Newcastle University President Chris Day wrote in a letter to staff and students.

"This is a particularly difficult time for them and no doubt many of them will also be worrying about family and friends who are still in China."

More than 120,000 Chinese students, and about 225,000 students from Asia in total, attend British universities, according to the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency.

This story has been updated to correct the name of Sara Elkhawad.

6:48 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Taxi driver in Japan tests positive for coronavirus

From journalist Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A taxi driver in the Japanese capital Tokyo has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Japanese state broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.

According to NHK, the taxi driver said he had driven one customer that appeared to be Chinese. Japan's health ministry is currently investigating how the taxi driver was infected.

Japan now has a total of 248 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 219 cases from the Princess Diamond cruise ship.

6:40 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

The coronavirus will cause global oil demand to shrink for the first time in a decade

By Charles Riley, CNN Business

A man drags a handcart across an empty road in Wuhan on February 5.
A man drags a handcart across an empty road in Wuhan on February 5. Credit: Getty Images

The amount of oil needed to run the global economy will decline sharply in the first quarter of this year as the coronavirus forces factories to close in China, snarls transportation and hits supply chains.

Global oil demand in the first three months of 2020 is expected to drop by 435,000 barrels per day compared to a year earlier, according to the International Energy Agency, the first quarterly decline in more than a decade.

The agency also marked down its forecast for oil demand growth for the whole of 2020. It is now expected to increase by just 825,000 barrels per day, the weakest annual pace since 2011.

The IEA said in its monthly oil report that the impact from the coronavirus was difficult to measure at this stage.

"The onset of [the coronavirus] will likely have a large impact on both the world's economy and oil demand," said the agency. "Consequences will vary over time, with the initial economic hit on transportation and services, likely followed by Chinese industry, then eventually exports and the broader economy."

However the IEA did say there is "little doubt" that coronavirus will have a bigger impact on oil demand and the global economy than the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.

"While steps taken in China to reduce its spread were adopted earlier than in the SARS crisis and have been far more extensive, the profound transformation of the world economy since 2003 means China's slowdown today is bound to have a stronger global impact," it said.

Read the full report here.

6:27 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Nissan's profits have plunged 83%, and the coronavirus is threatening its turnaround plans

From Sherisse Pham, CNN Business

A Nissan auto assembly line is pictured at a plant in Dalian, China in July 2019.
A Nissan auto assembly line is pictured at a plant in Dalian, China in July 2019. Credit: Kyodo News via Getty Images

Nissan's profits are plummeting, and the company is now bracing for more pain as the novel coronavirus outbreak threatens to wreak havoc on the global auto industry.

The Japanese carmaker reported on Thursday that operating profit fell to 54.3 billion yen ($495 million) for the three months ended in December, plunging 83% compared to the same period a year earlier.

And Nissan said the deadly coronavirus will impact business in China and around the world.

"The market remains tough in part because of the novel coronavirus outbreak," CEO Makoto Uchida said during the earnings presentation Thursday.

The company said last week that supply shortages of parts from China will temporarily impact production at its Kyushu plant in Japan. It is working to restart two of its plants in China from February 17.

The global auto industry is particularly exposed to the outbreak because the virus originated in one of China's "motor cities."

Nissan, General Motors (GM), Renault (RNLSY), Honda (HMC) and Peugeot owner PSA Group (PUGOY) all have large factories in Wuhan, which has been on lockdown since late January.

China's auto industry association on Thursday said the impact from the coronavirus on the country's auto production and sales will be worse than from the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Read the full story here.

6:00 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

"As each day passes, the chances of evacuation slip by:" Nigerian students "abandoned" in Wuhan

From CNN's Sheena McKenzie

Nigerian student Victor Vincent pictured wearing a mask in Wuhan, China.
Nigerian student Victor Vincent pictured wearing a mask in Wuhan, China. Victor Vincent

Victor Vincent is one of around 50 Nigerian students living in Wuhan -- the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak -- who say they've been abandoned by their country, their repeated pleas for evacuation and medical supplies largely ignored by government officials.

The students say they, along with over a dozen other Nigerian teachers and businesspeople living in Hubei province, have repeatedly written and called Nigerian government officials requesting assistance. But they say very little has been forthcoming in return.

Many countries, including the US, the UK and Japan, are working to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan. Nigeria is yet to take such a step.

Requests for evacuation, medical supplies: As well as evacuation, Vincent, who is an executive of the Nigerian Students in Wuhan Association, said they've asked the government for medical supplies, such as masks, goggles, gloves and disinfectant. 

Money for food: The association received a grant of 20,000 yuan ($2,870) from the Nigerian ambassador to China last Thursday. The money was provided to "assist us in procuring foodstuffs and medical supplies," Vincent said.

Chances of evacuation slip by: "Other than that, the situation remains the same. We still have no clear indication on when we are getting evacuation, where we will be quarantined or even if that will happen at all," Vincent said.

As each day passes, the chances of evacuation slip by. It's the total lack of support and sense of abandonment by your country," Vincent said.

CNN reached out to the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Nigerian embassy in Beijing, but has not received a response.

Read the full story here.

5:38 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Almost 60,000 coronavirus cases confirmed in China

From Shanshan Wang in Beijing 

Beds are made in the Wuhan Sports Center, which has been converted into a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China.
Beds are made in the Wuhan Sports Center, which has been converted into a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China. Credit: Chine Nouvelle/SIPA/Shutterstock

As of end of day Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in mainland China rose to 59,804, the country's National Health Commission announced on Thursday. 

That's an increase of 15,152 cases from the previous day.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the country now stands at 1,367 deaths, a jump of 254 from the previous day, the NHC said.

A total of 5,911 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

Changing the definition of confirmed cases: Hubei's health commission changed its tally of cases to include "clinically diagnosed cases," in addition to those confirmed by a test. It means that any suspected cases of coronavirus in Hubei province will now be counted as confirmed. 

According to NHC spokesman Mi Feng, the introduction is intended to help patients receive treatment as soon as possible to increase the recovery rate.

On Thursday, Hubei announced 242 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, twice as many as on the previous day. New infections there jumped by more than 14,000.

5:29 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Indian ambassador responds to Diamond Princess crew plea

From CNN’s Matt Rivers and Mick Krever in Tokyo, and Begoña Blanco Muñoz in Hong Kong

Crew members carry out maintenance on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan on February 11.
Crew members carry out maintenance on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan on February 11. Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images

The Indian Ambassador to Japan has responded to concerns from Indian crew members onboard the Diamond Princess that they are being exposed to undue risk by continuing to work and eat in a communal mess hall.

Sanjay Kumar told CNN on Thursday that while he acknowledges the risk from eating together, he said he "had no reason to believe" the crew were in danger.

“While they are eating, yes it is one risk in which they eat all together,” Kumar said. “So I cannot rule out the transmission of the virus in that mess where they are eating.”

“But for me to say anything beyond that would not be good because I am not there, and the Japanese authorities have a quarantine requirement, which they are following," he continued.

Fears of greater risk for crew: On Wednesday, Diamond Princess security guard Sonali Thakkar expressed concern that the coronavirus could spread between crew members, especially when they remove their masks to eat together.

As the quarantine of the vessel continues in Japan's Yokohama, more than 1,000 crew members remain at work, providing for and interacting with potentially infected passengers and taking care of the ship. 

“I have no reason to believe” they are in danger, the ambassador said, “because Japanese health protocols are being followed.”
“There is of course an infection going on but as soon as they test positive, my understanding is that they are being taken to local hospitals for treatment and quarantine.”

Kumar said there are 132 Indian crew and six guests on board, of which two of those crew members have tested positive and been taken to local hospitals.

The embassy says they are in touch with those on board.

Cases increasing every day: A total of 44 more cases were confirmed on the Diamond Princess on Thursday, bringing the total from the ship to 219 -- the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside of mainland China.

5:30 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

The fallout from the death of a Chinese doctor is turning into a major challenge for Xi Jinping

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits a coronavirus prevention site in Beijing on February 10 -- his first public appearance during the outbreak.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visits a coronavirus prevention site in Beijing on February 10 -- his first public appearance during the outbreak. Credit: Pang Xinglei/Xinhua/AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping is facing a major challenge to his vast system of censorship and information control, but history does not bode well for those aligned against him.

Following revelations that authorities in Wuhan downplayed news of the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak while it was in its early stages, and police cracked down on people spreading "rumors" about the deadly virus, there have been numerous calls for freedom of speech and a relaxation of censorship.

They only increased after the death of Li Wenliang, a Wuhan doctor who had tried to raise the alarm about the virus, officially called Covid-19, only to be reprimanded by police. Li died in hospital last week from the virus, after belatedly being praised by Chinese authorities.

Following his death, hundreds of thousands of people posted demands for free speech online -- that were themselves quickly scrubbed by the censors.

As the outrage threatened to boil over, Beijing quickly dispatched an anti-corruption task force to Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province -- the epicenter of the outbreak -- with the clear implication that they would come back with some scalps to assuage public anger.

At the same time, state media ramped up positive stories about efforts to rein in the outbreak, and Xi himself made his first public appearance related to the virus.

Read the full story here.

5:31 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Hong Kong and Singapore Rugby Sevens rescheduled over coronavirus concerns

A match between Australia and Kenya is played during the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong in April 2019.
A match between Australia and Kenya is played during the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong in April 2019. Credit: Ivan Shum/Clicks Images/Getty Images

World Rugby announced on Thursday that both the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 have been rescheduled due to, “continued health concerns relating to the novel coronavirus outbreak.”

“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority," World Rugby’s statement said.

"This prudent decision has been taken in order to protect the global rugby community and the wider public and was taken based on the World Health Organisation and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines,” it continued.

The Hong Kong Sevens had been due to take place from April 4-5 with the Singapore Sevens originally set for April 11-12.

Both events have been rescheduled to take place later in the year.

The Singapore Sevens is now set for October 10-11 and the Hong Kong Sevens October 16-18.

In Hong Kong, the Sevens is one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar. World famous for the atmosphere it generates, the tournament is just as much about dressing up in costumes and partying in the South Stand as it is about the world class rugby.