February 18 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 9:39 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020
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5:19 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

CDC criticizes quarantine procedures on Diamond Princess cruise ship

From CNN's Ben Tinker

Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, Japan on Monday, February 17.
Buses carrying American passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leave a port in Yokohama, Japan on Monday, February 17. Jae C. Hong/AP

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement criticizing the quarantine efforts taken on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

“We commend the extraordinary efforts by the Government of Japan to institute quarantine measures onboard the Diamond Princess. While the quarantine potentially conferred a significant public health benefit in slowing transmission, CDC’s assessment is that it may not have been sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship. CDC believes the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk. Therefore, to protect the health of the American public, all passengers and crew of the ship have been placed under travel restrictions, preventing them from returning to the United States for at least 14 days after they had left the Diamond Princess," the CDC said in the statement.

The CDC noted that there are still more than 100 US citizens on board the ship or in hospitals in Japan. Due to their high-risk exposure, there is the potential for additional novel coronavirus cases to occur and the remaining passengers who disembark from the ship will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.

5:49 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Coronavirus patients under quarantine in Nebraska are receiving supportive care

From CNN’s Nick Watt and Paul Vercammen

 Paul Vercammen/CNN
 Paul Vercammen/CNN

The 13 patients who arrived at the University of Nebraska Medical Center from the Diamond Princess cruise ship are receiving supportive care, Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of the hospital's Division of Infectious Diseases, told CNN.

“They're in the chicken soup stage right now, so they're really just getting supportive care,” Rupp said.

He also noted that while the mortality rate for the virus is being calculated at around 2%, he expects that number to eventually fall.

“I won't be surprised when this is all said and done to see mortality rate somewhere in the neighborhood of maybe point five or 1% rather than over 2%,” Rupp said.

4:22 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Russia will suspend entry for Chinese citizens

From CNN’s Nathan Hodge in Moscow

The Amurzet-Luobei County crossing, on the Russian-Chinese border.
The Amurzet-Luobei County crossing, on the Russian-Chinese border. Alexander Muzyka/TASS/Getty Images

The Russian government announced that it would temporarily suspend entry by Chinese citizens, according to an order posted on an official state website today.

The statement said Russia would bar entry through its state border to Chinese citizens entering for work, for private, educational and tourist purposes. The order says the processing of documents, registration and invitations to Chinese citizens to enter Russian territory for those reasons would cease temporarily from midnight Tuesday; the full ban takes effect Thursday.

Some background: This announcement comes amid concerns over the novel coronavirus. Russia is a major destination and transit point for Chinese tourists, and shares a lengthy land border with China. The new restrictions will not apply to transit passengers, Russian state news agency TASS said.

The Russian government has reported two cases of the coronavirus involving Chinese citizens in Russia and confirmed that a Russian woman was diagnosed with the virus on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess.

4:28 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020

"Chilling implications" for US medical supplies made in China during coronavirus, health official says

From CNN's Michael Nedelman

A worker makes face masks at a factory in Qingdao, China, on February 6.
A worker makes face masks at a factory in Qingdao, China, on February 6. STR/AFP/Getty Images

With a majority of some US medical supplies coming from or originating in China, coronavirus could hold "chilling implications" by hindering that pipeline, according to Robert P. Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

About timing: The US might not see the impacts just yet because American buyers typically stock up before Chinese factories slow down during the Lunar New Year, Kadlec added.

"The distributors and suppliers feel like right now they're okay," he said at a briefing today held by the Council on Foreign Relations. "How this plays out longer term is still a matter of concern."

These concerns extend not just to pharmaceuticals but also to other materials like face masks, which are frequently manufactured in China. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend the use of face masks for the general American public. By buying them up in large quantities, Kadlec warned that Americans might leave fewer for some people who really need them — namely, health care workers.

Kadlec said, "We probably need to change the way we do business in these areas because of the significant risks and vulnerabilities that are being highlighted by this event." He added that the solution requires a whole-government approach in cooperation with the private — "It's everybody."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed, saying, "We can't see them crash. If they crash, we have a problem."

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."