February 17 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Amy Woodyatt, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:08 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020
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7:14 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

Top infectious disease doctor reiterates risk of coronavirus in US is "very minimal"

From CNN’s Ben Tinker

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci CNN

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the risk of coronavirus in the US is "really very minimal because there really are only 15 cases now, in addition to those who were shipped here."

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday, he went on to say the cases "were identified, they were isolated and the contacts were traced.”

“Obviously, things could change. If this spreads more diffusely throughout the world, there’s the possibility we may actually have a global pandemic. So although I’m saying the risk right now is minimal in the United States and we should just go about our daily business, we need to keep an eye on it because it can change, and that’s the reason why we’re taking it very seriously,” Fauci said.

He said the soonest a vaccine for the novel coronavirus could make it through the development process and clinical trials is “at least a year to a year and a half.”

 

6:39 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

Coronavirus death toll climbs to 1,868 globally

From CNN’s Steven Jiang, Shanshan Wang and Larry Register

Nurses talk inside the finished but still unused building A2 of the Shanghai Public Clinical Center, where coronavirus patients will be quarantined, in Shanghai on February 17.
Nurses talk inside the finished but still unused building A2 of the Shanghai Public Clinical Center, where coronavirus patients will be quarantined, in Shanghai on February 17. Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

The Hubei health authority reported that 93 more people died of the coronavirus in Hubei province on Monday, raising the death toll in the epicenter since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak to 1,789.

This brings the total number of deaths in mainland China to at least 1,863. The global death toll is at least 1,868, with one death each in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and France.

Hubei authorities confirmed an additional 1,807 cases of the virus in Hubei on Monday, which brings the total number of cases in the epicenter of the outbreak to 59,989. 

According to the health authority, 41,957 patients have been hospitalized in Hubei, including 1,853 who are in critical condition. The health authority said 7,862 patients have been discharged. 

The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases now exceeds 73,243 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.

6:13 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

Here's how long coronaviruses may linger on contaminated surfaces

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

This transmission electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19. isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab.
This transmission electron microscope image shows the virus that causes COVID-19. isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. NIAID-RML

Concerns are mounting about how long the novel coronavirus may survive on surfaces — so much so that China's central bank has taken measures to deep clean and destroy its cash, which changes hands multiple times a day, in an effort to contain the virus.

It is unknown exactly how long the novel coronavirus can linger on contaminated surfaces and objects with the potential of infecting people, but some researchers are finding clues by studying the elusive behaviors of other coronaviruses.

About the virus: Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials do not know what animal may have caused the current outbreak of novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. But previously, studies have suggested that people were infected with the coronavirus MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, after coming in contact with camels, and scientists have suspected that civet cats were to blame for SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

These human coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, have been found to persist on inanimate surfaces — including metal, glass or plastic surfaces — for as long as nine days if that surface had not been disinfected, according to research published earlier this month in The Journal of Hospital Infection.

Cleaning with common household products can make a difference, according to the research, which also found that human coronaviruses "can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures with 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite" or bleach within one minute.

Keep reading here.

4:59 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

Man who refused to evacuate quarantined ship says it was the "best decision ever"

Buses carry American citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier to be repatriated to the United States, on Monday, February 17, in Yokohama, Japan.
Buses carry American citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship at Daikoku Pier to be repatriated to the United States, on Monday, February 17, in Yokohama, Japan. Carl Court/Getty Images

CNN's Randi Kaye, who is filling in for Anderson Cooper today on "Full Circle," talks to an American who stayed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship instead of taking a charter flight to the US.

Authorities later confirmed that 14 passengers who evacuated the ship and took charter flights to the US tested positive for coronavirus.

Now after the 14 coronavirus cases, Sacramento resident Matthew Smith said, “The decision not to be evacuated was the best decision ever.”

Refresh this page to watch Anderson Cooper Full Circle live at 5 p.m. ET in the video player above.

5:57 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

At least 140 travelers denied entry to US due to coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Geneva Sands 

An airport officer walks past international travelers arriving to Los Angeles International Airport on the first day of health screenings for coronavirus of people coming from Wuhan, China on Tuesday, January 18 in Los Angeles, California.
An airport officer walks past international travelers arriving to Los Angeles International Airport on the first day of health screenings for coronavirus of people coming from Wuhan, China on Tuesday, January 18 in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images

The Trump administration has prevented at least 140 travelers from entering the United States as it attempts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Fourteen foreign nationals were turned away at US airports and 126 people were refused entry at land ports from February 2 to 12, according to data provided to CNN by the Department of Homeland Security.

Airlines are responsible for removing passengers who are denied entry to the US out of the country. Additionally, 34 travelers were stopped at pre-clearance locations — airports where US officials conduct screening before passengers board US-bound flights.   

More on this: On February 2, the US began implementing stringent travel restrictions that include temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the US. US citizens returning from China are also subject to health screenings and potential quarantine. Those US citizens and others traveling to the US from China are being funneled through 11 airports where authorities can conduct additional screening and transfer people for quarantine if needed.

Last summer, as the Ebola virus threat was emerging from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DHS' Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office implemented plans to provide enhanced airport screening at multiple airports throughout the United States. The department's chief medical officer is housed within the CWMD office. 

The department retrofitted its Ebola response plan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, according to DHS. 

Customs officers referred 43,263 air travelers for potential secondary screening since the efforts began on February 2. Of those referred at airports, 23,836 required secondary screening, according to the data.  

Personnel has been added to deal with the virus as well. Around 95 CWMD contractors are employed per day across the 11 airports to conduct medical screenings. As of February 12, 19 DHS personnel were assigned to the US Department of Health and Human Services operations center. 

There are also 150-200 Customs and Border Protection officers assisting with screening daily at the 11 airports.

4:09 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

Delta is reaching out to Hawaii-Japan passengers after coronavirus scare

From CNN's Pierre Meilhan

Delta airplanes sit on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) on Thursday, January 31, 2020 in New York City.
Delta airplanes sit on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) on Thursday, January 31, 2020 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Delta Air Lines said today it is “proactively reaching out” to its passengers who recently traveled on one of its flights between Honolulu and Nagoya, Japan, after it became aware that two passengers on that flight are being reportedly treated for the novel coronavirus.

Here's the statement from Delta:

“We are communicating with the appropriate public health officials, including U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local Japanese authorities. The health and safety of our customers and crews is our top priority, and in cooperation with Japanese health officials, we are proactively reaching out to customers who were onboard that flight as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our customers and crew."

6:44 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

13 people evacuated from cruise ship moved to Nebraska

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Dr. William Walters, the Executive and Managing Director of Operational Medicine at Bureau of Medical Services at State Department, said that 328 people were evacuated on the two chartered flights out of Japan.

The flight to California: The aircraft that went to Travis Air Force Base carried 177 people, he said on a briefing call today. Seven of those people “had isolated coronavirus positive,” and an additional three were isolated during the flight because of fever. These three people were not virus positive by test.

Six people were moved to Omaha to be treated at the University of Nebraska, Walters said, adding there were “three spouse pairs, which means four folks that were coronavirus positive but asymptomatic were taken to health care facilities in the vicinity of Travis Air Force Base.”

Dr. Robert Kadlec, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at United States Department of Health and Human Services, said this was prearranged with local health authorities.

The flight to Texas: There were 151 individuals on the flight to Lackland Air Force Base, Walters said, and seven were isolated with a positive lab test and no symptoms.

“Two additional personnel were placed in isolation during the flight for fever in accordance with the protocol we’ve discussed,” Walters said.

In total, 144 people stayed at Lackland and seven went on to Omaha, he told reporters.

This post has been updated with the total number of passengers on the two flights.

2:45 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

14 passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Daniel Allman and Hollie Silverman

American citizens evacuated from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been kept in quarantine in Yokohama board a U.S. government-chartered plane at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Monday, February 17.
American citizens evacuated from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been kept in quarantine in Yokohama board a U.S. government-chartered plane at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Monday, February 17. Getty Images/Kyodo News

Fourteen people who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and flown back to the United States on charter flights tested positive for novel coronavirus, according to a joint statement from the US Departments of State and Health and Human Services.

The passengers are among the more than 300 people removed Sunday from the ship, which docked off the Japanese port city of Yokohama, and flown to military bases in the United States.

While the US is evacuating its citizens from the ship, other countries have not yet said if they will do the same.

There are 74 British nationals on board, but the UK government has not announced if they will do the same service for their citizens.

1:38 p.m. ET, February 17, 2020

UNICEF says it needs over $42 million to respond to the coronavirus

From CNN's Richard Roth

UNICEF says it urgently needs over $42 million to scale up its response to the coronavirus, with the executive director calling it a “race against time.”

“The immediate focus is to reduce human to human transmission but also to help children in areas where their access to essential services has been disrupted," UNICEF's Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.

More context: UNICEF’s current response focuses on supporting China and the broader East Asia and Pacific region countries. UNICEF has flown in 13 tons of supplies to the countries, including protective suits, masks, goggles and gloves for use by health workers since January 29.