January 26 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Brett McKeehan and Tara John, CNN

Updated 9:17 p.m. ET, January 26, 2020
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10:17 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

Wuhan Mayor expects confirmed cases in the city will rise by another 1,000

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing.

Wuhan’s Mayor Zhou Xianwang estimates 45% of the 2,800 people who are either suspected to be infected or placed under medical observation will turn into confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Wuhan currently has 618 confirmed cases, of whom 533 are still hospitalized, with 53 in critical condition. In Wuhan, there have been 45 deaths.

Zhou added that 2,209 suspected carriers of the virus are in hospital with 643 under medical observation.

Due to the Lunar New Year holiday and the outbreak, 5 million people have left Wuhan with 9 million still remaining in the city, according to Zhou.

9:50 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

Protests in Hong Kong against government's quarantine center

From CNN’s Anna Kam and Sophie Jeong in Hong Kong.

First aid volunteers try to extinguish a fire set by local residents in Fanling on Sunday.
First aid volunteers try to extinguish a fire set by local residents in Fanling on Sunday. AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Protests occurred in the New Territories of Hong Kong after the government announced they will be turning an unoccupied apartment building, called Fai Ming Estate, into a quarantine center. 

The scenes in the town of Fanling were described as a "rampage" by police, who said rioters set fire to the lobby of buildings by throwing petrol bombs .

A local resident struggles with riot police in Hong Kong on Sunday.
A local resident struggles with riot police in Hong Kong on Sunday. AP Photo/Vincent Yu

On Sunday evening, the government said preparation work for the quarantine center in Fanling had "ceased."

It added that meetings would take place on Wednesday with district councillors over the issue.

9:15 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

Taiwan confirms its 4th case of coronavirus

From CNN’s Anna Kam in Hong Kong.

There is a fourth case of the virus in Taiwan, its Centers for Disease Control confirmed on Sunday.

It said the patient is a 50-year-old woman who had traveled to Wuhan between January 13 and 15, and who then traveled to Europe for nine days.

"Later she declared to Taiwanese authorities that she had been to Wuhan and had symptoms of coughing," the agency wrote.

As of Sunday afternoon (local time), the agency said Taiwan had a total of 350 suspected cases, and four confirmed cases.

"147 cases have been ruled out, 41 cases are negative and the remaining are yet to be tested," it wrote.  

8:56 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

Each confirmed patient infects 2 to 3 people, say British scientists

A medical staff member (L) takes the temperature of a man (R) at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan on January 25.
A medical staff member (L) takes the temperature of a man (R) at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan on January 25. Hector Retaamal/AFP via Getty Images

Scientists at Imperial College London have estimated the human-to-human transmission rate of the Wuhan coronavirus, saying that each person has infected two to three people, they said in a report on Saturday.

"We estimate that, on average, each case infected 2.6 (uncertainty range: 1.5-3.5) other people up to 18th January 2020, based on an analysis combining our past estimates of the size of the outbreak in Wuhan with computational modelling of potential epidemic trajectories,” the report wrote.

They estimate that transmission needs to be stopped by 60%. “This implies that control measures need to block well over 60% of transmission to be effective in controlling the outbreak,” it added.

When it comes to outbreaks, scientists and public health experts are concerned with how quickly a disease can spread and its mortality rate.

But there is still a lot more to learn about the virus, and scientists have warned against alarmism.

“It is quite easy to get fixed on a particular number but such predicted numbers will vary considerably at this early stage in an epidemic,”  Mike Turner, Director of Science, The Wellcome Trust, said in a statement.

“What is becoming clear from several sources though is that there is substantive human to human transmission and that there may well be a lot of people who become infected but have no symptoms or very mild symptoms so don’t need to seek medical attention,” he added.

“This makes it more difficult to put in place effective control measures. A lot of people are working furiously to try and control this epidemic.”

On Sunday, Chinese officials said people can spread the virus before they have symptoms.

8:20 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

UK government warns against all travel to Hubei province

From CNN’s Rob Iddiols in London

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised “against all travel to Hubei province” China in an update on their website Sunday, due to the ongoing outbreak.

Published on the Foreign Travel Advice section of their website, the update continued: “If you are in this area and able to leave, you should do so."

“On 23 January the Wuhan authorities closed all transport hubs including airports, railway and bus stations. Travel restrictions are in place in other cities in Hubei Province. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities.”
8:19 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

India seeking "possible travel options" to remove citizens from Hubei province

The Indian government is in touch with its citizens currently in Wuhan and are seeking "possible travel options out of Hubei province," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Twitter Sunday.

This comes after it came to light that 56 Indian students, studying at the Wuhan University School Of Medicine, had been trapped in the Chinese city for three days. Many of the students were afraid to leave their dorm room and fearful of dwindling food supples.

Normally a transport hub for central China, Wuhan has been closed off from the rest of the country since Thursday -- when the city was placed on lockdown.

One of the students told CNN they had not received any assistance from Indian authorities.

Kumar said on Sunday that the Indian Embassy in Beijing was "in close touch with Indian citizens including students to extend assistance," adding "that no Indian citizens have been affected by the outbreak & that food & water supplies are available to them."

10:22 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

China says virus can spread before symptoms show -- calling into question US strategy to contain virus

From CNN Health's Elizabeth Cohen 

Ma Xiaowei, the director of China's National Health Commission, speaks at a press conference about a virus outbreak at the State Council Information Office in Beijing, Sunday.
Ma Xiaowei, the director of China's National Health Commission, speaks at a press conference about a virus outbreak at the State Council Information Office in Beijing, Sunday. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei had some very bad news Sunday about the Wuhan coronavirus: He said people can spread it before they have symptoms.

A veteran adviser for a US health agency called the news a "game changer."

“When I heard this, I thought, ‘oh dear, this is worse than we anticipated.’ It means the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schaffner added that this new piece of information called into question the current US practices for containing the virus so it doesn’t spread beyond the three cases that have already appeared in Washington state, California, and Illinois. 

Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said that if Ma is correct, “we’re going to have to re-evaluate our strategy, that’s for sure."

And if so – and information about this virus is constantly evolving -- for about two weeks, people who don’t even know they’re sick can spread the virus, which has killed more than 50 people in China and infected thousands. 

The disease has spread as far as France, Canada, and the US, which now has three cases in California, Washington state, and Illinois.  

In a press briefing Friday, Dr. Jennifer Layden, an epidemiologist with the Illinois Department of Health, said the woman with the Wuhan coronavirus in her state had not been sick while traveling from Wuhan to the US on January 13, and “based on what we know now about this virus our concern for transmission before symptoms develop is low so that is reassuring.” 

She explained that officials were following “close contacts” of the patient. She did not mention following other kinds of contacts, such as the other passengers on the woman’s January 13 flight.

This post has been updated to clarify Ma Xiaowei's honorific.

7:30 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

Japan confirms fourth case of Wuhan coronavirus

Japan confirmed a fourth case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Sunday, the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said in a statement.

The latest case is a man in his 40s who traveled from Wuhan and arrived in Japan on January 22.

He showed no symptoms at the time of his arrival but started suffering from a fever and joint pain on the 23rd. He went to a hospital in Aichi prefecture in central Japan on the January 24 and was hospitalized after symptoms of pneumonia were found. 

The man still has fever, but his condition is stable. He told authorities he hasn’t visited the seafood market in Wuhan -- the epicenter of the outbreak.

It is unclear whether he had contact with any pneumonia patients. 

7:42 a.m. ET, January 26, 2020

First person in Africa tested for the virus in Cote d'Ivoire

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Authorities in Cote d'Ivoire have tested the first person on the African continent for the Wuhan coronavirus, Cote d'Ivoire’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene said in a statement Sunday.  

An Ivorian student who traveled from Beijing to Abidjan experienced symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and difficulty breathing, the ministry said.

The student was moved to a safe location on arrival at the airport and is currently under medical observation, the ministry said.

Authorities believe it is a case of pneumonia and not coronavirus, but the final diagnosis will be made after the analysis of the tests results, the ministry said. 

The ministry urged residents not to panic, to maintain proper hygiene and to visit the closest health center in case of fever, cough or breathing difficulties.