January 24 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Tara John and Steve George, CNN

Updated 0138 GMT (0938 HKT) January 25, 2020
36 Posts
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7:50 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Wuhan orders that no patients are turned away from hospitals

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images
Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Wuhan officials have acknowledged that local hospitals are struggling to accommodate people seeking medical attention, adding that measures are being put into place to alleviate the situation.

According to a statement issued by the city’s health authority Thursday, these measures include designating seven hospitals for detecting and treating the virus, it added.

State media also reported that the city aims to build a 25,000 square meter new facility within a week, increasing hospital capacity by 1,000 beds.

The government issued a decree Friday that no patients with fever be turned away and that transportation to hospitals would be provided following screenings at community healthcare centers, according to Wuhan’s command center for fighting the coronavirus.

This comes as posts on social media appear to show an atmosphere of fear and anxiety among those inside Wuhan.

People spoke of sick family members turned away from hospitals due to a lack of beds, or wards packed with feverish patients and limited screening or quarantine.

7:10 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

UK calls "Cobra" emergency meeting to discuss virus

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite in London 

The UK government will hold a “Cobra” emergency meeting Friday to discuss the Wuhan coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's press office said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will chair the meeting, Downing Street told CNN. Johnson is not expected to attend.

“Cobra” meetings are interdepartmental government meetings called in times of crisis. The name refers to the location where they take place: Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. 

7:07 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Beijing and Shanghai on highest level for a public health emergency

From CNN’s Steven Jiang Beijing and journalist Alex Lin in Hong Kong

Chinese passengers, most wearing masks, prepare to board trains in Beijing on Thursday, January 23.
Chinese passengers, most wearing masks, prepare to board trains in Beijing on Thursday, January 23. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Beijing and Shanghai are now on the highest level for a public health emergency, according to government officials in both cities. 

This will allow authorities to regulate daily essentials like water, electricity and food. Officials can also take preventative measures against the hoarding of medical and protective supplies and price gouging. 

Other measures could include restricting public meetings and events, declaring outbreak zones and quarantining suspected cases.

6:29 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Two new cases confirmed in Hong Kong

From journalist Erin Chan in Hong Kong

Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong has confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total in the city to four, according to Dr. Wong Ka-hing of Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection.

Authorities believe the two patients had been to Wuhan in the past 14 days.

6:23 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

McDonalds closes outlets in five Chinese cities

From journalist Isaac Yee in Hong Kong


McDonalds will suspend operations in five cities in China, according to a statement posted on its website Friday.

Outlets in Wuhan, Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjing and Xiantao -- all in Hubei province -- will be shut starting Friday.

No date has been set to reopen.

6:18 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

UK will get Wuhan coronavirus case 'sooner or later,' says professor

CNN’s Scott McLean and Mick Krever in Edinburgh.

Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh
Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh Shutterstock

It is all but certain that there will be a confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus in the UK, a health expert told CNN.

Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease at the University of Edinburgh, warned that previous experience shows that airport screening will not stop the spread of a virus.

“Sooner or later we’ll get a case in the UK,” said Woolhouse.

He would not comment on any current suspected cases. There have been no confirmed cases in the UK so far.

Woolhouse said that under World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms and has been to Wuhan, or has even been in contact with someone who has been there, is being tested.

As that is a “very broad category,” he said he’s not surprised at the number of potential cases being tested in the UK.

He cautioned about airport screenings, saying that research on previous outbreaks, such as SARS and swine flu, showed that this was not a very effective tool.

“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing it, but we absolutely can’t rely on it,” he said.

So far, he said that the Wuhan coronavirus fatality rate appears to be “considerably lower” than for SARS. (Yesterday the World Health Organization estimated it to be 4%.)

The virus does appear to be spreading more quickly than SARS, Woolhouse said, which had fewer than 10,000 cases worldwide after several months.

6:05 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Part of Great Wall of China and other major tourist attractions will shut

From journalist Erin Chan in Hong Kong.

Famous Beijing landmarks, including a section of the Great Wall of China, will close to tourists from Saturday for an undetermined amount of time, according to local officials.

The Juyonggang Great Wall Scenic Area -- the part of the wall closest to China's capital -- as well as the Ming Tombs and Yinshan Pagoda Forest will be shut from tomorrow.

The Bird's Nest stadium, a venue for the 2008 Olympic Games, was closed on Friday, according to Reuters.

These measures are part of efforts to control the outbreak -- which has also seen authorities impose indefinite travel restrictions on tens of millions of people across ten cities in China.

5:39 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Two more cases confirmed in Singapore

Health officers screen passengers arriving at Changi International airport in Singapore.
Health officers screen passengers arriving at Changi International airport in Singapore. Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

There are now three confirmed cases of the virus in Singapore, according to its Ministry of Health (MOH).

The second confirmed patient, who has been placed in an isolation ward, is a 53-year-old female Chinese national from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with her family on January 21, the ministry wrote in a statement.

Her condition remains stable.

The third confirmed patient is a 37-year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan, the statement said. He is the son of the first confirmed case, a 66-year-old Chinese national who is also from Wuhan, the MOH wrote.

The ministry added that out of 44 suspected cases in Singapore, 13 have tested negative, three tested positive. The results of 28 cases are pending, it wrote.

4:37 a.m. ET, January 24, 2020

Canceling Lunar New Year celebrations is a massive deal in China

From CNN's Julia Hollingsworth

STR/AFP via Getty Images
STR/AFP via Getty Images

It's the most celebratory time of the year in China -- but in many cities, festivities have been called off.

Saturday marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, also known in China as Spring Festival. It's a time when families gather, often traveling huge distances to go home.

Revelers gorge on banquets, give each other packets of money known as "hong bao" wear the lucky color red, and set off firecrackers to scare off the legendary half-dragon, half-lion monster "Nian" who comes out of hiding during Lunar New Year.

But this year, the festive season has become a season of fear.

Read more here