February 16 coronavirus news

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5:02 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

Princess Cruises cancels Diamond Princess voyages through April due to prolonged quarantine

From CNN's Alta Spells

Princess Cruises has cancelled voyages aboard the Diamond Princess through April 20 because of the prolonged quarantine period, the company announced in a tweet. 

Customers with questions about their itineraries are being asked to consult the Itinerary Modifications and Cancellations page on the company's website. 

Whats happening on the ship? The Diamond Princess cruise ship is currently quarantined at Yokohama, a port south of Tokyo with thousands of passengers who have been under strict controls on board since February 5.

US evacuations: On Sunday, a US government chartered flight is expected to evacuate nearly 400 Americans from the ship back to the United States where they will be placed in another 14-day quarantine. 

Americans who have already tested positive for coronavirus, as well as those showing symptoms of the virus, will not be allowed to board the evacuation charters, and will remain in Japan for treatment. 

On Saturday, Canada also announced plans to charter a plane to evacuate its citizens from the Diamond Princess. 

8:28 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

Three Israelis on Diamond Princess test positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Michael Schwartz

Two buses arrive next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikaku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 16, 2020
Two buses arrive next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new coronavirus, at the Daikaku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port on February 16, 2020 Photo by Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Three Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess, Israel’s Ministry of Health said Sunday morning. The three are not in serious condition, officials said in a statement.

The Israelis who have tested positive are being moved to a hospital in Japan, the Ministry said. Israel will send a specialist doctor to Japan as part of their treatment. The Ministry of Health is also working with other Israeli citizens on board the Diamond Princess to bring them home on a direct flight if they do not test positive for coronavirus. 

In Jerusalem, a mass prayer will be held at the Western Wall in the Old City on Sunday afternoon “in hope to stop the coronavirus epidemic,” the Community Rabbinical Association announced over the weekend.

2:00 p.m. ET, February 16, 2020

Coronavirus cases by the numbers outside mainland China 

There are now at least 69,260 global confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and 1,666 deaths. Here's where:        

1. Australia (15 cases)         

2. Belgium (1 case)         

3. Cambodia (1 case)        

4. Canada (7 cases)         

5. Finland (1 case)         

6. France (11 cases, 1 death)         

7. Germany (16 cases)         

8. Hong Kong (56 cases, 1 death)         

9. India (3 cases)         

10. Italy (3 cases)         

11. Japan (407 total: 51 cases on land including 1 death + 356 from cruise ship)  

12. Macao (10 cases)         

13. Malaysia (19 cases)        

14. Nepal (1 case)         

15. Philippines (3 cases, 1 death)         

16. Russia (2 cases)         

17. Singapore (72 cases)                 

18. South Korea (29 cases)  

19. Spain (2 cases)         

20. Sri Lanka (1 case)         

21. Sweden (1 case)         

22. Taiwan (18 cases)         

23. Thailand (33 cases)        

24. United Arab Emirates (8 cases)        

25. United Kingdom (8 cases)         

26. United States (15 cases)        

27. Vietnam (16 cases)

28:  Egypt (1 case) 

3:40 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

46 Americans among those who have tested positive for coronavirus on Diamond Princess

From CNN’s Mick Krever in Tokyo

There are 46 Americans among those from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship, now in Yokohama, Japan, who have tested positive for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, Princess Cruises told CNN on Sunday.

These are not new cases, but rather a clarification on the nationalities of the 286 that have already been announced.

Any Americans who have the coronavirus, or anyone who shows symptoms, will not be able to take the US government charter planes on Sunday. Those people will have to remain in Japanese hospitals.

3:14 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

Cambodia asks Malaysia to re-examine positive coronavirus test of American Westerdam passenger

From CNN’s Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Health officials in Cambodia have asked Malaysia to re-examines the positive coronavirus test results of an American traveler who was on board the Westerdam cruise ship.

The request was made by the Cambodian Ministry of Health shortly after Malaysian health authorities confirmed the case, according to Cambodian state media.

The Westerdam docked in Cambodia late last week after it was turned away from several other ports in Asia due to fears of the coronavirus, because the ship had docked in Hong Kong.

State media initially reported that all passengers and crew on board the Westerdam underwent temperature checks and "not one person had an elevated temperature." Health examinations conducted on the Westerdam passengers followed the international health regulations of the World Health Organization, according to state media.

As of February 15, Cambodia had one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.

3:05 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's what happened overnight

Global infections and deaths: More than 69,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded worldwide, with the vast majority in China. There have been 1,669 deaths from Covid-19, the disease the virus causes, all but four of which occurred in mainland China.

China on lockdown: Much of China remains on lockdown or quarantine, which is having a major toll on the country's economy. Millions across China are working from home.

Cruise ship evacuations: Outside of China, the largest outbreak is on board the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined at Yokohama, a port south of Tokyo. Thousands of passengers have been under strict controls on board for almost two weeks now.

Some will leave Sunday evening Japan time, when a US government chartered flight is due to fly Americans to California. They will then be put in another 14-day quarantine -- a decision that has angered some.

Other passengers are due to begin disembarking next week.

3:11 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

Beijing police could be making 7.6 million phone calls

From CNN's Lily Lee in Beijing

Police in Beijing are calling residents and asking about their travel history, as the Chinese capital introduces strict lockdown measures to contain the novel coronavirus.

On Sunday afternoon, I was called by an officer from my local police station, who asked for my travel history prior to the recent Lunar New Year holiday. He also asked about my health and whether I'd had contact with people from Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak.

The police officer said the authorities are calling every person in my neighborhood with a Beijing address but not a Beijing hukou, or household registration -- that's an easy way of identifying people who come from elsewhere in the country and, therefore, may have traveled back home during the Lunar New Year.

There are over 7.6 million non-Beijing hukou holders in Beijing, meaning if this procedure is being carried out in every district, police could be making millions of phone calls.

2:40 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

The US is finally evacuating Americans from the Diamond Princess. Here's why that's made them mad

From CNN's Mick Krever

On Saturday afternoon, the US Embassy in Tokyo sent a notice to Americans on board the Diamond Princess laying out plans to evacuate nearly 400 Americans back home.

Once there, another 14 days of mandatory quarantine would begin. Anyone who chose not to get on the flight would have to wait another 14 days in Japan to ensure they were symptom-free before returning to the US.

That decision has prompted anger among the American passengers, with many demanding answers to two simple questions about the US response: Why did the American government wait so long to make the about-face decision? What prompted such a dramatic shift in US policy?

Read more here

2:15 a.m. ET, February 16, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is raising questions over China's relationship with the WHO

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths

Sitting alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was effusive in his praise of the country's response to the coronavirus crisis.

"We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated," Tedros said, in comments that would be repeatedly quoted in China's state media for weeks.

This was in late January, after Xi had taken control of the situation due to local officials' apparent failure to contain the outbreak to Hubei province.

As the two men met in the Chinese capital, the number of cases was rising, and revelations were emerging that officials in Hubei province and Wuhan -- the city where the virus was first detected -- had sought to downplay and control news about the virus, even threatening medical whistleblowers with arrest.

Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, on January 28, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization, attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, on January 28, 2020 in Beijing, China. Getty Images

Days later, the WHO declared a global public health emergency, and once again Tedros praised Beijing's response.

While China did act quickly following Xi's intervention, placing several major cities on lockdown and pouring resources into the battle against the virus, it has maintained tight control over information about the virus and efforts to control its spread have veered on the side of draconian.

The WHO's praise of China's response has led critics to question the relationship between the two entities. The UN agency relies on funding and the cooperation of members to function, giving wealthy member states like China considerable influence. Perhaps one of the most overt examples of China's sway over the WHO is its success in blocking Taiwan's access to the body, a position that could have very real consequences for the Taiwanese people if the virus takes hold there.

The WHO's position on China has renewed a longstanding debate about whether the WHO, founded 72 years ago, is sufficiently independent to allow it to fulfill its purpose.

Read more here