February 14 coronavirus news

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3:25 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

China says over 1,700 medical workers have been infected by the virus, and six have died

Workers convert the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center into a field hospital amid the novel coronavirus outbreak on February 4.
Workers convert the Wuhan International Conference and Exhibition Center into a field hospital amid the novel coronavirus outbreak on February 4. Getty Images

Health officials in China say 1,716 medical workers have contracted the novel coronavirus so far, including six who have died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Zeng Yixin, vice minister of China's National Health Commission, said that "As of February 11, 1,716 medical workers have been infected," adding that "unfortunately we have lost six medical workers."

Of those cases, around 1,500 cases -- or 87.5% -- are in Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak.

Zeng added that several new measures have been put in place to better protect medical workers including providing better conditions for medical workers to rest and ensuring they have enough equipment to treat patients.

Frontline workers will also receive $28 to $42 in daily allowances, China's finance ministry said.

2:42 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

China's coronavirus numbers highlight the challenges of an evolving epidemic

People wearing protective face masks shop for meat at a market in Shanghai on February 14, 2020.
People wearing protective face masks shop for meat at a market in Shanghai on February 14, 2020. Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

When China reported a drop in the number of new cases of the deadly coronavirus earlier this week, hopes were raised that the outbreak might be slowing down.

But on Thursday, health authorities in Hubei, the province at the center of the epidemic, announced there had been nearly 15,000 new cases overnight -- almost 10 times the number of cases announced the previous day.

The government was quick to point out the outbreak didn't suddenly get much worse; the authorities had simply changed the way they reported cases in order to allow more people to access treatment faster.

"Our forecast was 1,500 new cases, and I opened my computer and it's 15,000 new cases. I think my hair stood up on my head," said David Fisman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, who has spent a lot of time modeling the current coronavirus epidemic.

The shift in how new cases are diagnosed has compounded questions about whether the world can rely on the numbers coming out of China, amid criticism over the government's handling of the outbreak.

Read more here

2:19 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

Some cruise passengers moved from Diamond Princess to Japanese quarantine facilities

A bus with a driver wearing full protective gear departs from the dockside next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama on February 14.
A bus with a driver wearing full protective gear departs from the dockside next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama on February 14. Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Eleven passengers from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship will be moved to shoreside quarantine facilities, the vessel's captain told passengers this afternoon.

Diamond Princess Captain Stefano Ravera announced that those passengers who have met the criteria of the Japanese Ministry of Health for being at high risk if infected with novel coronavirus will disembark from the ship on Friday afternoon.

The audio recording of the announcement was sent to CNN by a passenger from Oregon called Kent Frasure.

So far, dozens of people onboard the ship have tested positive for the virus, the largest outbreak outside of mainland China. Japanese health officials have been testing hundreds of crew and passengers for a week now, as the ship remains under tight quarantine.

1:58 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

Beijing purges local officials after coronavirus outbreak

Ying Yong on October 19, 2017 in Beijing, China.
Ying Yong on October 19, 2017 in Beijing, China. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

In a show of displeasure from the very top of the Chinese Communist Party, two high-profile local officials at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak were purged from office on Thursday.

State media announced Thursday that the Communist Party chiefs of Hubei and Wuhan would be replaced with Ying Yong, former Shanghai mayor, and Wang Zhonglin, former party secretary in Jinan.

Wang Zhonglin in Jinan, China, on May 11, 2017.
Wang Zhonglin in Jinan, China, on May 11, 2017. Sven Hoppe/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

It isn't the first removal of officials since the devastating outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Wuhan.

The Hubei Provincial Health Commission's party secretary and its director were both fired on Tuesday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Far from Hubei, the former head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, Zhang Xiaoming, was demoted to deputy and replaced with a former protege of President Xi Jinping.

All the appointments show Beijing's disappointment with how major crises, such as the Hong Kong protests and the coronavirus outbreak, have been handled at a local level.

Read more here

1:43 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

Quarantined Chinese turn to computer games to stave off boredom

A man wearing a protective mask walks across a street in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel in a residential district on February 5 in Macau.
A man wearing a protective mask walks across a street in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel in a residential district on February 5 in Macau. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

For many Chinese people stuck in their homes either by quarantine or lockdown, one of the biggest questions they face is: how to pass the time?

As the coronavirus epidemic shows little signs of passing, some are turning to computer games to keep themselves entertained during the long wait.

During the Lunar New Year holiday that falls in January or February annually, gamers in China usually have more time to play games anyway.

But this year, following the coronavirus outbreak, authorities decided to extend the holiday by almost three weeks in many places, leaving millions of people with a lot of time to fill.

"The evenings are empty, and I have free time. So at night, I'll play 'Peacekeeper Elite' with friends," said 24-year-old construction worker Yang Zhanchao. "We'll set a time to log on and play together."

Tencent's mobile game, "Honor of Kings," hit a new all-time high in daily average users during the week of January 30, according to Niko Partners, a research firm that focuses on the gaming industry in Asia.

"We attribute most of the increase to the impact of the novel coronavirus which led to more gamers staying at home instead of traveling or socializing outside of the home, allowing more time to play games," Niko wrote in a report.

Read the full article here.

1:25 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

This is where coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide

A man wearing a protective face mask as a preventative measure against the coronavirus buys flowers to mark Valentine's Day in Hong Kong on February 14.
A man wearing a protective face mask as a preventative measure against the coronavirus buys flowers to mark Valentine's Day in Hong Kong on February 14. Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December.

There are now at least 585 confirmed cases of the virus in 27 countries and territories outside mainland China:

  • Australia (at least 15 cases)
  • Belgium (at least 1 case)
  • Cambodia (at least 1 case)
  • Canada (at least 7 cases)
  • Finland (at least 1 case)
  • France (at least 11 cases)
  • Germany (at least 16 cases)
  • Hong Kong (at least 53 cases, 1 death)
  • India (at least 3 cases)
  • Italy (at least 3 cases)
  • Japan (at least 31 cases, 1 death + 219 in cruise ship quarantine)
  • Macao (at least 10 cases)
  • Malaysia (at least 19 cases)
  • Nepal (at least 1 case)
  • Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)
  • Russia (at least 2 cases)
  • Singapore (at least 58 cases)
  • South Korea (at least 28 cases)
  • Spain (at least 2 case)
  • Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
  • Sweden (at least 1 case)
  • Taiwan (at least 18 cases)
  • Thailand (at least 33 cases)
  • United Arab Emirates (at least 8 cases)
  • United Kingdom (at least 9 cases)
  • United States (at least 15 cases)
  • Vietnam (at least 16 cases)

Read more about the patients in each place.

5:45 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

Mums in Hong Kong give birth alone, as dads banned from delivery rooms to limit virus spread

Dee Cheung and her newborn baby.
Dee Cheung and her newborn baby.

Mothers across Hong Kong are giving birth alone as public hospitals in the territory are banning partners from labor wards in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Dee Cheung, 34, a Canadian-born Hong Kong resident, gave birth to a baby girl at 6pm on Monday, January 27. She found out her husband wouldn't be allowed into the delivery room -- or the labor ward to meet the baby afterward -- when she arrived at hospital.

"He was pretty bummed ... but I thought there’s not much he can do anyway," Cheung said, adding that she understood why the decision had been taken. "It would have been nice if he could have been with me to rub my back. But honestly it was fine."

Sandra Marco Colino, 42, a Spaniard who has lived in Hong Kong for 10 years, gave birth via a planned C section at 37 weeks, as she had placenta previa, which can cause severe bleeding during delivery.

Because her baby girl was just 2.2 kilograms at birth, she had to go to the Special Care Unit at the Prince of Wales Hospital. While Hong Kong battles the coronavirus outbreak, all parents have been banned from the unit to protect the most vulnerable babies from infection, meaning Colino and her husband didn't meet their daughter until she was six days old.

"I felt nervous having to go through the procedure on my own, and my partner was devastated to have to miss his daughter’s birth. We did understand though that public safety comes first," she said. "There was an eerie quietness everywhere in the building which I had never witnessed in a local public hospital before."

Colina added that nurses took photographs of their baby in the Special Care Unit and would give them to her husband every day as an update.

No visitors allowed: the Special Care Unit is empty after Hong Kong hospitals implement strict no-visitor rules to limit the risk of coronavirus infections.
No visitors allowed: the Special Care Unit is empty after Hong Kong hospitals implement strict no-visitor rules to limit the risk of coronavirus infections.

Signs in hospitals advertize the new rules, but many mothers are finding out their partner won't be allowed to be there for the birth when they arrive at hospital already in labor.
Signs in hospitals advertize the new rules, but many mothers are finding out their partner won't be allowed to be there for the birth when they arrive at hospital already in labor.

Veronika, went through 30 hours of labor on her own at the Queen Mary Hospital, on Hong Kong Island.

"I felt lonely during long and painful labor hours ... I just wanted someone to hold my hand and just be close. But they don't provide those services ... I understand the concern for virus spread prevention, and no visits of family, but it's just unfortunate to have no support not only during delivery but anytime before or after. Plus, I can say that even if the staff is professional, you don't get warm words or advice on how to breathe during contractions, how to relax, how to cope with stress.

Kloub's husband met their baby girl, Aurora, on the street outside the hospital while he gave her some bags to take up to the ward.

CNN reached out to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority for comment but did not receive a response.

1:02 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

US CDC director: Novel coronavirus is "probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year"

A CDC employee works at the Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta.
A CDC employee works at the Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta. Will Lanzoni/CNN

Although comparatively few cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed in the US so far, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren't taking any chances.

Speaking to CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, CDC director Robert Redfield said that they were in "aggressive containment mode."

"We don't know a lot about this virus," he said. "This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission."

Currently there is no known cure for the virus and, by slowing the disease's progression, Redfield said that the CDC has been given more time to work on one.

"The containment phase is really to give us more time. This virus will become a community virus at some point in time, this year or next year," Redfield said. 

Redfield said that while there had been criticism on selected US travel bans in response to the virus, it was their first priority to "protect the American public."

"I would rather be criticized for over-protecting America than under-protecting America at this stage," he said.

Read more here.

12:38 a.m. ET, February 14, 2020

Macao to hand out $275 million in vouchers to boost economy during virus

A man wearing a face mask walks across a street in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel in Macau on February 5, 2020.
A man wearing a face mask walks across a street in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel in Macau on February 5, 2020. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Economies across China are suffering from the outbreak of novel coronavirus, which has shut down cities and left workers stuck at home for days or weeks.

In the Chinese special administrative region of Macao -- the world's biggest gambling center -- the government has announced it would hand out $275 million in vouchers to help try to boost the economy during the outbreak.

In a statement Thursday, the Macao government called on its citizens to spend up by sending every resident a $374 electronic voucher which can only be used in a three-month period.

It will also provide a $75 healthcare voucher for every Macao permanent resident, as well as discussing further tax cuts and housing subsidies.

Casinos hit: The virus has had a devastating impact on tourism in the gambling enclave, which relies heavily on mainland Chinese visitors. Gambling is illegal on the mainland and Lunar New Year is usually a particularly busy time for Macao's casinos. But not this year -- tourism to Macao had dropped 73.6% year-on-year, the local government announced on January 29.

A total of 41 entertainment operations in the semiautonomous Chinese city were suspended for 15 days on February 4, according to the government. They include casinos, betting branches, theaters, cinemas, game centers, internet cafes, discos, bars, nightclubs and dance halls.