February 18 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 9:39 p.m. ET, February 18, 2020
21 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:05 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

China is monitoring everyone who bought fever medicine in Hubei

From CNN’s Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Chinese citizens who bought medicine to treat fever and coughs in Hubei province will be subjected to extra screening by authorities, the provincial government announced Tuesday.

Health workers will collect the personal information of those who purchased the medication in Hubei from January 20, regardless of whether they bought it online or offline, the notice read.

Those individuals will be subjected to extra testing for the coronavirus and may be quarantined if necessary.

Wuhan, a city in Hubei province, is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

People who exhibited fever symptoms while seeking medical care in Hubei since January 20 will also be checked, the notice added.

The policies, which will be implemented with immediate effect, also require pharmacies to submit the identity of those who purchase fever medicine on a daily basis.

1:51 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Hundreds of millions are living under coronavirus lockdown in China

From CNN's James Griffiths

A man cycles on an empty street at Optical Valley in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. 
A man cycles on an empty street at Optical Valley in Wuhan, Hubei province, China.  Getty Images

Stringent and often draconian measures are being ramped up in much of mainland China as the country continues to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

It comes as authorities make an effort to return to something like normality in many major cities and commercial hubs, with the long break forced by the outbreak taking its toll on the country's economy.

780 million on lockdown: According to analysis by CNN of Chinese government orders, some 780 million people are still living under some form of restrictive movement, including all of Hubei, the northeastern province of Liaoning, and China's two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai. Restrictions include everything from self-quarantines to limits on who can come and go from neighborhoods.

Tight restrictions: Some of the strictest measures can be found in four cities in Hubei province. The cities of Wuhan, Huanggang, Shiyan and Xiaogan have completely sealed off all residential complexes and communities. The use of non-essential vehicles on local roads is also banned. Residents in each city receive daily necessities from neighborhood and community committees as they are not permitted to leave their homes.

China's top political event under threat: In an almost unprecedented move, the central government announced late Monday that it was considering postponing its annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), a gathering of the the country's nearly 3,000 national legislators. The full session was due to open on March 5. Instead, the NPC Standing Committee, a smaller group of fewer than 200 people, will meet in the capital on February 24 to review a proposal to postpone the plenary session, according to Chinese state media.

Read the full story here.

1:34 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Japanese health minister confirms Diamond Princess disembarkation to begin Wednesday

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

The disembarkation of some passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama will being on Wednesday, the Japanese Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare said.

“Everyone wants to go home,” Katsunobu Kato said. “I would like to create the situation where they can go home smoothly.”

Kato said that disembarkation would being on Wednesday and last several days.

Massive outbreak: Another 99 people from onboard the ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the ministry announced on Monday. That brings the total number of cases linked to the stricken vessel to 456 -- around half of all virus cases confirmed outside mainland China. It's the largest single-day increase to date, and comes as several countries prepare to follow the United States in evacuating their citizens from the ship.

Who can get off the ship? Japanese authorities have said in recent days that passengers who test negative for the virus and have not been in close contact with those who have tested positive would be eligible for disembarkation. The ministry began testing passengers 80 years or older, then 70 years or older, and then others.

CNN is working to confirm exactly how the disembarkation will take place.

1:20 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Nebraska's specialized medical care has handled Ebola, Monkeypox and SARS. Now it's taking on coronavirus

From CNN's Jen Christensen

Jumbo jets arrive to evacuate US citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Jumbo jets arrive to evacuate US citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Nebraska's largest medical facility has treated Ebola, SARS, monkeypox, and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. On Monday it was the novel coronavirus that kept the personnel at the Nebraska Medicine/University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha up overnight.

That's when the US Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response asked UNMC to take in a total of 13 patients who had either tested positive, or had a high likelihood of testing positive, for the novel coronavirus. The patients had been on a cruise ship docked off the cost of Japan for two weeks. The center said it was prepared.

The facility: 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.

The quarantine center: UNMC has a federal quarantine center on its campus. That's where 12 other patients from the cruise ship were sent Monday. The facility has 20 purpose-built rooms, that are separate from, but are in close proximity to the biocontainment unit, that can be used if the patients need additional care. 

It was set up to care for patients who may not have symptoms, but who are at a high risk of exposure, or for patients who currently have mild symptoms or a positive test for a disease, but are not sick enough to require hospital admission.

The 12 patients in the quarantine center will be tested on site for the novel coronavirus.

Read more here.

1:09 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

UK organizing a flight to evacuate British nationals on Diamond Princess ship

From CNN’s Hira Humayun in Atlanta

Britain is working to organize a flight to return its citizens onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama “as soon as possible,” according to a Foreign Office spokesperson.

Foreign Office staff are contacting British citizens on the ship to make arrangements and urge those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.

12:55 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Facing criticism it didn't do enough to protect medical workers, China is declaring some that died "martyrs"

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths

China will designate medical workers who died of the novel coronavirus while working to combat the disease as "martyrs," according to state media.

The move comes as the government has faced criticism for not providing frontline medics with sufficient equipment or support as they struggle to contain the outbreak, particularly at the epicenter in Hubei province.

As of February 11, more than 3,000 medical workers were believed to have been infected with the virus, according to a study published this week by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control.

First hospital head to die: On Tuesday morning, Wuhan’s Health Commission announced that Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, had died from the virus.

Liu was a neurosurgeon and is the first hospital director to die as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, which started in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

Whistleblower's death: One of the most prominent doctors to die of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, was Li Wenliang, who had previously been reprimanded by police in Hubei for "spreading rumors" about the virus, after he tried to warn university classmates of a SARS-like infection spreading in Wuhan.

Li's death sparked widespread outrage in China, fueling frustration with how the authorities have handled the outbreak. Revelations of doctors and nurses lacking equipment, being forced to shave their heads, and working almost until they drop, has fueled more frustration.

National heroes: Chinese state media has repeatedly praised frontline workers for their heroics, highlighting their sacrifices and travails ⁠-- though without some of the criticism medics have voiced in overseas and private Chinese media.

By declaring deceased doctors and nurses martyrs, the government is adding them to the pantheon of national and political heroes like Lei Feng, the quasi-mythical Red Army soldier lauded by Mao Zedong.

While no one doubts the very real heroism being practiced by Chinese doctors, it's unclear if the veneration of them after they die will be enough to undo the anger caused by the government's alleged failures to protect them in life.

12:41 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Wuhan hospital director dies from coronavirus

From CNN’s Shanshan Wang and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, died from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday morning, according to the city of Wuhan’s Health Commission. 

Liu was a neurosurgeon and is the first hospital director to die as a result of the coronavirus epidemic which started in the city of Wuhan in late 2019.

12:56 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

This is where coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide

From CNN's Eric Cheung

People on a deck of the Westerdam cruise ship watch a helicopter take off in Sihanoukville.
People on a deck of the Westerdam cruise ship watch a helicopter take off in Sihanoukville. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. Five people have died outside of mainland China from the virus -- in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and France.

There are now at least 895 confirmed cases in over 28 countries and territories outside mainland China -- around half of them linked to the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

  • Australia (at least 15 cases)
  • Belgium (at least 1 case)
  • Cambodia (at least 1 case)
  • Canada (at least 8 cases)
  • Egypt (at least 1 case)
  • Finland (at least 1 case)
  • France (at least 12 cases, 1 death)
  • Germany (at least 16 cases)
  • Hong Kong (at least 60 cases, 1 death)
  • India (at least 3 cases)
  • Italy (at least 3 cases)
  • Japan (at least 62 cases, 1 death; plus 456 cruise ship cases)
  • Macao (at least 10 cases)
  • Malaysia (at least 22 cases)
  • Nepal (at least 1 case)
  • Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)
  • Russia (at least 2 cases)
  • Singapore (at least 77 cases)
  • South Korea (at least 31 cases)
  • Spain (at least 2 cases)
  • Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
  • Sweden (at least 1 case)
  • Taiwan (at least 22 cases, 1 death)
  • Thailand (at least 35 cases)
  • United Arab Emirates (at least 9 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.

12:40 a.m. ET, February 18, 2020

Apple warns of "iPhone supply shortages" because of coronavirus

From CNN's Seth Fiegerman

A man uses his cell phone as he walks past advertising for Apple's iPhone.
A man uses his cell phone as he walks past advertising for Apple's iPhone. Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

Apple warned investors on Monday that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is hurting its business more than previously expected by limiting how many devices it can make and sell in China.

In an investor update, Apple said it no longer expects to meet the revenue guidance it provided last month for the upcoming March quarter. "Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated," the company said.

Much of Apple's manufacturing operations are based in China, which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly half the country's population are living under some form of travel restrictions.

Read more here.