February 13 coronavirus news

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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.

4:25 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Hong Kong confirms 51st case of coronavirus

From journalist Alex Lin in Hong Kong

Passengers line up to board a bus from Tuen Mun in Hong Kong to Shenzhen on February 6.
Passengers line up to board a bus from Tuen Mun in Hong Kong to Shenzhen on February 6. Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong now has 51 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, according to the city's health department.

The latest patient is a 43-year-old man who lives in the northern Tuen Mun district, in the New Territories, Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection, said at a news conference on Thursday.

Chuang said the man had eaten at a group dinner together with 12 other people, one of whom was the city's 47th confirmed case.

He had developed a cough on January 29 and then diarrhea two days later. According to Chuang, the man had visited a doctor three times -- on January 31, February 5 and February 8 -- before being admitted to Tuen Mun hospital on February 10.

Health authorities are examining 10 of the man's colleagues and three clients.

4:40 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Australia extends ban on foreign travelers who've been to China within past 14 days

From Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Passengers of a China Southern Airlines flight arrive at Perth International Airport in Australia on February 2
Passengers of a China Southern Airlines flight arrive at Perth International Airport in Australia on February 2 Paul Kane/Getty Images

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.

3:41 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

A boy is covered in a plastic bag amid the coronavirus outbreak as he arrives from a train at Beijing Station on February 12, 2020.
A boy is covered in a plastic bag amid the coronavirus outbreak as he arrives from a train at Beijing Station on February 12, 2020. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

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.

3:21 a.m. ET, February 13, 2020

Here's the latest on the two cruise ships

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:

The Westerdam cruise ship approaches port in Sihanoukville, on Cambodia's southern coast where the liner had received permission to dock.
The Westerdam cruise ship approaches port in Sihanoukville, on Cambodia's southern coast where the liner had received permission to dock. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

The Westerdam:

  • 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 cruise ship at Daikoku Pier, Yokohama where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier, Yokohama where it is being resupplied and newly diagnosed coronavirus cases taken for treatment as it remains in quarantine. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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.