February 13 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Jack Guy, CNN

Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT) February 14, 2020
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10:53 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

44 more people just tested positive for coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki and Junko Ogura in Tokyo

Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces attach a military vehicle to a gate of the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces attach a military vehicle to a gate of the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Another 44 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato said on Thursday.

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.

Kato did not give a breakdown by nationality of the new cases, nor of passengers versus crew.

Floating quarantine: More than 3,700 passengers and crew are stuck on the cruise ship in Yokohama that became a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.

The number of infections is increasing by the day. On Wednesday, Kato announced 40 new cases among those on board.

CNN’s latest tally indicates that at least 24 Americans have tested positive.

Some respite: The health minister also said that people who have tested negative for the virus and are over 80 years old, or have a non-virus medical condition requiring attention, will be allowed to leave the ship and move to a government medical facility, if they wish. He did not give a timeline for that process.

An unknown number of passengers with non-virus medical conditions were allowed to disembark earlier on Tuesday.

10:44 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

All South Korean citizens just repatriated from Wuhan have tested negative for coronavirus

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

All 147 South Koreans and their Chinese family members from Wuhan, who arrived at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul yesterday, have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, the South Korean Health Ministry announced Thursday. 

Those repatriated were quarantined at the Korea Defense Language Institute, a military school facility located in a rural area in Icheon, Gyeonggi province.

There were about 2,000 South Korean citizens residing in Wuhan, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry. So far 848 have been repatriated via three chartered flights.

10:29 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Hong Kong extends school suspension until at least March 16

From journalists Chermaine Lee and Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has extended the suspension of school classes until at least March 16 due to the novel coronavirus, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said at a news conference on Thursday.

Schools were previously suspended until March 2, but that start date has been delayed for an additional two weeks due to the virus outbreak.

Yeung said there’s “no urgency” for students staying in mainland China or other places to return to the city, and the government is “considering different options for students from mainland China.”

Students will still be able to complete their work through e-learning platforms, despite the suspension.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city has reported at least 50 cases of the coronavirus, and one death.

10:11 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

A man wears a protective mask as he rides a segway in a grocery store while shopping on February 11 in Beijing.
A man wears a protective mask as he rides a segway in a grocery store while shopping on February 11 in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Hubei province has reported 242 deaths and 14,840 new infections of the novel coronavirus, the largest single-day rise since the epidemic began. Authorities continue strict emergency measures -- some of which have led to unforeseen consequences, like thousands of people stranded at sea with nowhere to dock.

If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know:

  • The numbers: The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1,300 people and infected over 60,000 people worldwide. The vast majority of cases are still 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 that it's "normal during the course of an outbreak to adapt the case definition."
  • Cruise crisis: Thousands are still stranded on two cruise ships -- one docked in quarantine in Japan, and another that was denied entry at several ports but has been given permission by Cambodia to dock in the Southeast Asian country.
  • Too soon to predict end: A WHO official has said that it's too early to predict the end of the current novel coronavirus outbreak, saying they have to be "very cautious."
  • Flights cut: United Airlines is extending the suspension of flights to China and Hong Kong until April 24. The destinations affected are Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong. United is just one of many major international airlines that have suspended, reduced, or entirely withdrawn routes to China and its territories

9:51 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

WHO official: It's "normal" for the definition of coronavirus to evolve

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus faces the media at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on February 12, 2020.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus faces the media at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on February 12, 2020. Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP

Yesterday Chinese officials broadened their definition of what constitutes a confirmed coronavirus case, to include "clinically diagnosed cases" -- i.e. people diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms rather than testing positive.

This has led to a huge spike in the number of cases reported -- 14,840 in just one day. But this kind of tweaked definition is "normal," said the World Health Organization.

“It’s normal during the course of an outbreak to adapt the case definition,” said Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO's Infectious Hazards Management Department, on Wednesday.
“When the situation is evolving, you change your definition just to make sure you can monitor the disease accurately, and this is what they have done recently -- change the case definition to incorporate more cases that were not in the initial case definition, but also integrate cases that are both asymptomatic or with little symptom."

The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases now exceeds 60,015 -- the vast majority in mainland China.

9:41 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

The CDC is remaking some coronavirus test kits that had inconclusive results

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Laboratory technicians test samples from people for the coronavirus in Shenyang, China, on February 12, 2020.
Laboratory technicians test samples from people for the coronavirus in Shenyang, China, on February 12, 2020. STR/AFP/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that it’s remaking parts of coronavirus test kits because some produced inconclusive test results.

The CDC had sent kits to states to speed up testing. For quality control, the states then had to verify that the kits worked before testing patients -- but some kits returned inconclusive results during this verification process.

Some states said the results they were getting weren’t false negatives or false positives, but were inconclusive, said the CDC. So it's remaking the one reagent in the test that is not performing consistently.

Which labs are affected: State labs that have been successful in verifying the test kit works can go forward with the testing. Those that haven’t been successful will have to wait for the CDC to ship out the replacement components. The CDC did not confirm how many states were affected or when they might receive the replacement components.

“During a response like this we know things may not go as smoothly as we would like,” said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“We have multiple levels of quality control to detect issues just like this one. We’re looking into all of these issues to understand what went wrong, and to prevent these same things from happening in the future.”

9:21 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

United Airlines extends suspension of flights to China until late April

From CNN's Phil Gast

A United Airlines plane at Los Angeles International Airport on September 27, 2019.
A United Airlines plane at Los Angeles International Airport on September 27, 2019. Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images

United Airlines said on Wednesday that it will extend the suspension of flights to China and Hong Kong until April 24.

The destinations affected are Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate our schedule as we remain in close contact with the CDC and other public health experts around the globe," United said in a statement.

Global airlines cut flights: United is just one of many major international airlines that have suspended, reduced, or entirely withdrawn routes to China and its territories due to the coronavirus outbreak and a fall in demand.

Delta and American Airlines, two of the largest US airlines, also canceled flights. American announced its decision last month after a union representing 15,000 pilots sued the company to immediately halt its US-China service, citing "serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus."

9:05 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

North Korea extends coronavirus quarantine period to four weeks

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

Quarantine staff in protective gear are pictured at Pyongyang International Airport.
Quarantine staff in protective gear are pictured at Pyongyang International Airport.

North Korea has extended its coronavirus quarantine period from 15 days to 30 days, according to reports in state-run news service KCNA.

“Anxiety and concern of the international community about the novel coronavirus infection rapidly spreading worldwide are growing stronger with each passing day,” KCNA said.

From the beginning, North Korea “has taken positive measures against the inroads of the epidemic that seriously affects people,” the KCNA report added.

No cases in North Korea yet: Every country and territory within a 1,500-mile radius of North Korea, except for sparsely populated Mongolia, has confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

There have been no cases reported in North Korea, and it's unclear how the country has been able to avoid the virus. Pyongyang has either been very lucky, isn't saying something, or is reaping one of the few benefits of being a so-called "hermit nation."

Read more here.

9:30 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Death toll jumps by 242 in Hubei, where 14,840 new infections were recorded on Wednesday

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

A couple wear protective masks as they embrace each other on February 11 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.
A couple wear protective masks as they embrace each other on February 11 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Wang He/Getty Images

Another 242 people died from the novel coronavirus in Hubei province on Wednesday, and 14,840 new cases were recorded -- a huge spike in confirmed infections.

At least 1,355 people have now died in mainland China from novel coronavirus, with 1,310 deaths in Hubei alone. One person has also died in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines. 

A new way of counting cases: The huge rise in confirmed cases comes from a tweak in how the authorities are tallying infections. The government is now including "clinically diagnosed cases" -- i.e. people diagnosed on the basis of their symptoms rather than testing positive -- to make it easier for those patients to access treatment. 

The numbers in Hubei: The epicenter of the outbreak has now recorded 48,206 cases. Of those, 33,693 patients have been hospitalized and 1,437 are in critical condition, according to the health authority. Meanwhile, 3,441 patients have recovered and been discharged.

The global tally: The global number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases has now exceeded 60,015, with the vast majority of cases in mainland China.

China’s National Health Commission is expected to release numbers for all of China’s provinces later.