February 18 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 9:39 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020
59 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
4:07 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

China withdraws from tennis tournament in Romania because of coronavirus travel restrictions

From CNN's Wayne Sterling

China has withdrawn from next month's Davis Cup playoffs in Romania because the men’s tennis team cannot travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Twitter today.

“The increased restrictions in response to the current Coronavirus outbreak have resulted in the China, P.R. team being unable to travel to this tie. Romania will advance to play in World Group I in September,” ITF said.    

China was scheduled to play in Piatra Neamt, Romania, on March 6-7 in World Group I playoff. 

3:14 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Passengers still on the Diamond Princess will begin leaving the ship tomorrow

Passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Japan’s Yokohama port will finally begin to leave the ship starting tomorrow, the Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare said.

Some are expected to transition to shoreside facilities and others could board chartered flights for which they are eligible, according to the ship’s Captain Gennaro Arma. 

These are the first passengers to leave the ship, not including those infected with coronavirus who are undergoing treatment on shore or the more than 300 Americans who were evacuated over the weekend and now in quarantine at two US bases.

2:44 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Quarantine orders lifted for hundreds of people being housed at 2 California bases

Two groups of people who recently returned from Wuhan, China, have completed their 14-day quarantine at California bases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said in a statement that 180 people quarantined at Travis Air Force Base and 166 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar have been "medically cleared," and their quarantine orders were lifted. One person from the Miramar group who was confirmed to have coronavirus remains hospitalized.

"It is important to know that people released from quarantine pose no health risk to the surrounding community, or to the communities they will be returning to," the CDC said in the statement.

Meanwhile, passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who recently returned to the US are "being kept separate from those individuals who are already at Travis and nearing the end of their quarantine," the CDC said.

1:27 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

This chef's team is providing meals to people still aboard the quarantined cruise ship

Renowned chef José Andrés says his nonprofit organization World Central Kitchen is in Japan to provide hot meals to those still on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Andrés and his organization have provided meals to millions throughout the years in natural disasters, such as Hurricane Maria, the California wildfires. His team even fed US government employees put out of work during the federal government shut down last year.

3:31 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Coronavirus death rate in Wuhan may reflect "severe" pressure on health care system, official says

From CNN’s Michael Nedelman

Officials with the World Health Organization talk to reporters on Tuesday.
Officials with the World Health Organization talk to reporters on Tuesday. Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Numbers suggesting death rates from coronavirus may be higher inside Wuhan and lower elsewhere may reflect "severe" pressure on the health care system there, Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, told reporters Tuesday.

Ryan was responding to a report published Monday by scientists with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, showing that patient outcomes in Hubei province are a key driver of the 2.3% case fatality rate they calculated. In Hubei, that number is 2.9%; in other Chinese provinces, that number is 0.4%.

The upside, Ryan added, is that "the lessons that have been learned in Hubei and Wuhan are being applied elsewhere."

Those lessons include predicting who's most at risk, getting people into critical care early, and ensuring medical teams are well trained in advanced critical care techniques such as ventilation.

"I think the system in China, for example, has got much better at prioritizing those more likely be severely ill," said Ryan, who maintained that the case fatality rate can be misleading without proper context.

"You have a huge bias at the beginning of an outbreak because what you find are the really sick people coming forward," Ryan said, adding that death rates are likely to drop "probably because of better and better interventions over time, but also because we're finding more mild cases."
3:15 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Canada will evacuate its citizens from cruise ship in Japan this week

From CNN's Paula Newton and Joe Sutton

The quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship is anchored in Yokohama, Japan, on Tuesday.
The quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship is anchored in Yokohama, Japan, on Tuesday. Koji Sasahara/AP

A chartered airplane that will evacuate Canadian citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship is on its way to Japan, according to Global Affairs Canada.

The flight is expected to depart the Tokyo Haneda Airport on Thursday.

“The aircraft will bring passengers from Japan to Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, after which passengers will be assessed and transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ontario, to undergo a further 14-day period of quarantine,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

According to Global Affairs Canada, 43 of the 256 Canadians on the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

3:12 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Singapore confirms 4 new cases of coronavirus

From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey

People wearing protective face masks walk along Singapore's Jubilee Bridge on Monday.
People wearing protective face masks walk along Singapore's Jubilee Bridge on Monday. Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

The Singapore Ministry of Health has reported four new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the citywide total to 81 confirmed cases.

Here are the four new cases:

  • A 57 year-old woman with no recent travel to China and links to the cluster of cases with the Grace Assembly of God church
  • A 35 year-old woman Malaysian national with no recent travel to China and is a relative to a previously diagnosed patient
  • A 38 year-old woman with no recent travel to China (She works in an administrative role at Singapore’s National University Hospital but has not interacted with patients since onset of symptoms, the ministry said)
  • A 50 year-old man with no recent travel to China and links to the Grace Assembly of God cluster.

Five patients diagnosed with the coronavirus have also been discharged from the hospital, bringing Singapore’s total of discharged patients to 29 people.

3:08 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Coronavirus vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to develop and test, WHO officials say

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, speaks at Tuesday's news conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, speaks at Tuesday's news conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A vaccine for the novel coronavirus could take 12 to 18 months to develop, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general for the World Health Organization.

But a vaccine is preparing for “the worst situation,” he said, and for now, long-term preparation needs to be balanced with immediate public health solutions that contain the virus and keep the fatality rate low.

“This is a window of opportunity that should not be missed,” Tedros said Tuesday during a press briefing.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of WHO's Infectious Hazards Management Department, said there could be a candidate for a coronavirus vaccine in about 16 weeks, but it would still require months of development and trials to prove its effectiveness in humans. Briand said there’s been no new data on vaccine development since WHO’s coronavirus research meeting earlier this month.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO executive director of Health Emergencies Programme, said many lives can be saved in the coming months even without a vaccine, so immediate investment is needed to support health systems and provide treatment.

“There are people sick now and health systems that are vulnerable now,” Ryan said. “We can save a lot of lives through supportive therapy.”

12:17 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Here's why American coronavirus patients are being sent to Nebraska

 From CNN's Jen Christensen

The National Quarantine Unit in Nebraska is seen during a training in 2019.
The National Quarantine Unit in Nebraska is seen during a training in 2019.

After a two-week quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, some American passengers were sent back to the states. However, for some of the 13 who either tested positive or had a high likelihood of testing positive, they must make one more stop in Nebraska.

They're heading to the Omaha-based Nebraska Medicine/University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). The unit is no stranger to treating patients with difficult diseases.

The special 10-bed biocontainment unit is a state-of-the-art facility that has been doing this kind of complicated work for nearly 15 years. 

It is a secured area with its own ventilation system that is isolated from the rest of the hospital and is staffed by people with specialized training in communicable diseases. It had been commissioned by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005.

In 2014, the unit successfully treated three patients with Ebola, including Dr. Rick Sacra, an American physician from Massachusetts who got sick while working with Ebola patients in Africa.