January 22 coronavirus news

A picture of CNN's David Culver in Wuhan, China.
CNN goes to ground zero of Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China
02:45 - Source: CNN

What we know so far

  • The latest: At least 17 people are dead in China and more than 500 infected as the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread throughout Asia and across the world.
  • First US case confirmed: The US announced its first case of the new coronavirus Tuesday, and is planning to begin health screenings at airports.
  • Human-to-human transmission confirmed: The Chinese government says the new strain of the coronavirus can spread between people, raising the possibility of increased transmissions as China enters into the busy Lunar New Year travel period.
47 Posts

Our live coverage of Wednesday’s coronavirus outbreak has ended, but you can read more about the ongoing crisis here.

US officials in Washington state are monitoring the health of a US patient's "close contacts"

Washington state health officials said Wednesday that investigators have identified 16 “close contacts” of a 30-year-old man who is the first confirmed case of coronavirus diagnosed in the United States.

The Snohomish County resident, who has not been named, identified people that he has interacted with since returning from Wuhan. Those named will be actively monitored for signs of any illness by local health officials.

Health officials said that they consider a “close contact” to be anyone who is within 6 feet of an infected person, like having a meal or meetings together, but that they are not asking those contacts to isolate themselves unless they have symptoms.

Health staff will reach out to the contacts daily to see if they have a fever or cough and to check if they develop any symptoms. Dr. Chris Spitters, the health officer for the Snohomish Health District, said there is also a call center set up to take resident’s questions about the virus. 

People seen queuing for train tickets in Wuhan ahead of a transport lockdown

Above, a photograph shows queues at Wuchang train station in Wuhan, China. Starting on Thursday morning local time, all city transportation will halt, including local buses, ferries, long-distance buses and subways. Wuhan’s airport and railway stations will be “temporarily closed” for departing passengers.

US concerned about Chinese transparency over coronavirus, says senior official

The United States is concerned about transparency inside the Chinese government on the Wuhan coronavirus, said a senior State Department official Wednesday. 

“I do believe that the concern you see both inside China and internationally is a reflection of what we’ve seen in the past. 2003 was SARS, and a number of issues, where the government has been slow to respond out of fear of embarrassment or making things look worse than they are. And that reluctance to respond in a rapid manner doesn’t give the global community a secure feeling for this being managed inside China,” the official said.

However, there have been encouraging signs that China understands the gravity of the problem, the official added, which is particularly important in the lead up to the Spring Festival period, when millions of Chinese travel both at home and abroad. 

The US is in contact with “the folks in Wuhan and the Ambassador in Beijing,” said the official. There have been discussions about raising the travel advisory in response to coronavirus but nothing has been formally announced yet, they added.

UK Foreign Office warns against all but essential travel to Wuhan

The UK Foreign Office is warning people against traveling to Wuhan in China in all but essential cases.

In its latest advice to the outbreak of coronavirus, the Foreign Office says “enhanced monitoring” is in place for all flights arriving in the UK from Wuhan.

“In light of the latest medical information, including reports of some person-to-person transmission, and the Chinese authorities’ own advice, we are now advising against all but essential travel to Wuhan,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said.

There are currently three direct flights from Wuhan to the UK. The Foreign Office says a health team will be on hand to meet each plane as it arrives and to assess anyone feeling unwell.

China is sharing information on coronavirus, says Chinese Embassy in US

China’s National Health Commission is sharing information on the Wuhan coronavirus with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries, tweeted the Chinese Embassy in the United States.

“The genetic sequence of the new coronavirus has also been offered to WHO,” said the embassy.

“The National Health Commission has organized four meetings with WHO experts and invited them to Wuhan for first-hand info.”

Information is also being shared with Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States and other countries as well as their embassies in China, according to the embassy.

WHO needs more evidence to determine outbreak status

Top officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet again Thursday to decide whether to declare the Wuhan virus a “public health emergency of international concern.”

The WHO’s Emergency Committee met Wednesday in Geneva but decided more information was needed to declare the status of the outbreak and what recommendations should be made regarding it, including potential cross-border screening, greater surveillance and rolling out treatment programs.

“There was an excellent discussion during the committee today, but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

“The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence.”

Wuhan announces transportation lockdown 

Public transportation will be suspended in Wuhan starting tomorrow, according to an announcement from the city’s coronavirus command center.

All city transportation will halt, including local buses, ferries, long-distance buses and subways. Wuhan’s airport and railway stations will be “temporarily closed” for departing passengers.

When these services will re-open remains to be determined.

The command center also advised residents not to leave Wuhan unless they have a “special reason.”

The measures aim to keep the virus from spreading, and to ensure public safety and health, according to the announcement. They take effect at 10 a.m. local time Thursday (9 p.m. ET Wednesday).

CDC testing several people in US for possible Wuhan virus

Amid an international outbreak of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received specimens from several people in the United States who’ve traveled to Wuhan, China, or who’ve had close contact with “someone under investigation,” according to CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. 

Nordlund did not say whether these tests have been completed and the results are still unknown. 

The Wuhan coronavirus has killed 17 people and sickened more than 500, mostly in China but also in other countries such as Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The CDC has the only laboratory in the United States that can test for this new virus.

On Tuesday, the CDC announced that the United States had its first case of the Wuhan coronavirus, a man in his 30s who lives in Washington, where he is hospitalized. The man recently returned from Wuhan.

Five more Chinese provinces report new cases

Five Chinese provinces reported additional cases of the Wuhan coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of people infected in mainland China to 547.

The worldwide number of cases has reached 555 on Wednesday. 

Hebei, Jiangsu, and Heilongjiang provinces each confirmed their first case, while Hubei province reported an additional 69 (this includes the city of Wuhan). Beijing reported an additional four cases.

The total number of provinces that have reported cases across mainland China has increased to 24, according to combined reports from China’s national and provincial health authorities.

Wuhan's Olympic qualifying events canceled

The Olympic boxing qualifying tournament for Tokyo 2020 has been canceled due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the International Olympic Committee confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

The Asian Football Confederation also announced that the Olympic qualifying event for women’s football has been moved from from Wuhan to Nanjing.

Tokyo 2020 takes place from July 24 to August 9.

Read the full story here.

Decision from WHO emergency meeting expected soon

Top officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) convened for an emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.

They are deciding whether the quickly developing coronavirus outbreak constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern,” and what recommendations should be made regarding it, including potential cross-border screening, greater surveillance and rolling out treatment programs.

A decision is expected shortly. The WHO will hold a news conference at 7:00 p.m. Geneva time (1:00 p.m. ET).

Face masks are made mandatory in Wuhan

It is now mandatory to wear face masks in public places in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus emerged last month.  

Wuhan’s municipal government published a notice on Wednesday, stating that all public places are to require customers to wear masks and owners are to prevent people from entering if they are not. 

It reads:

People who don’t obey the requirements shall be dealt with by authorities in accordance with their respective duties and laws.

The public places include: 

  • Hotels, restaurants, guest houses, cafes, bars, tea houses
  • Public baths, barbers, beauty shops
  • Theaters, video halls, entertainment halls, dance halls, concert halls
  • Stadiums, swimming pools, parks
  • Exhibition halls, museums, art galleries, libraries
  • Shopping malls, bookstores
  • Waiting rooms, public transportation
  • Other public places where crowds gather

Authorities think the outbreak started here

The first patient infected with the coronavirus developed symptoms in Wuhan on December 8, according to Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

Wuhan is the largest city in central China and a major transportation hub. Officials in China have linked the viral infections to a Wuhan seafood and wildlife market, which has been closed since January 1 to prevent further spread of the illness.

One person under observation in Mexico

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that one person in the country is “under observation” for possibly having the Wuhan coronavirus. He added that the case has not been confirmed.

Speaking at a daily press conference on Wednesday, Lopez Obrador said the person is in Tamaulipas.

An earlier suspected case in Mexico was determined not to be the Wuhan virus.

Death toll in China rises to 17

Eight new deaths from the coronavirus were confirmed in the province of Hubei on Wednesday, according to the health authority in Wuhan, the provincial capital.

The new deaths bring the total number of people who died to 17.

Additionally the number of confirmed cases has risen to 444 in Hubei, bringing the total across mainland China to 509 according to the national health authority and the Wuhan Health Commission. 

Scientists estimate more than 4,000 coronavirus cases in Wuhan city alone

Scientists at Imperial College London estimate that around 4,000 people are likely to have been infected by the new coronavirus in Wuhan city alone as of January 18.

Official numbers show nine people have died and at least 479 have been infected by the outbreak, but a team at Imperial believes these numbers are a gross underestimate. Mild symptoms and delayed onset mean many cases are likely to have been undetected. 

The new estimates are more than double previous estimates the scientists released last week, which suggested 1,723 people were likely to have been infected by January 12. The revision takes into account new information available this week, such as reports of exported cases in Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.

Hong Kong has first "highly suspicious" coronavirus case

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that Hong Kong has identified a first “highly suspicious” coronavirus case.

In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on stage in Davos, Lam said:

Lam said she has asked the health authorities to be on the guard. She added that the “rapid flow of people across the border” makes Hong Kong vulnerable.

“The most important point is to keep people informed so openness and transparency are important features in any public health system,” she said.

Coronavirus explained: What you need to know

A new Chinese coronavirus has infected hundreds since the outbreak began in Wuhan in December. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans.

Here is what you need to know:

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they can be transmitted from animals to humans.

Coronavirus symptoms

The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

For those with a weakened immune system, there’s a chance the virus could cause much more serious respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis

How it spreads

Viruses can spread from human contact with animals. When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with the infected person’s secretions.

Coronavirus treatment

There is no specific treatment. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own. Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication.

How can you can prevent it

There is no vaccine to protect against this family of viruses, at least not yet. Trials for a MERS vaccine are underway.

You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds. If you are sick, stay home and avoid crowds and contact with others.

Read the full story here.

Inside ground zero of Wuhan's coronavirus outbreak

The Lunar New Year – the most important festival in the Chinese calendar – is just three days away, but in the Chinese city of Wuhan, there are few reasons to celebrate.

A deadly outbreak of a new coronavirus emerged in this city of 11 million people last month. Within weeks, the virus has killed nine people, sickened hundreds and spread as far as the United States.

Watch this video to see the atmosphere in the city.

WHO emergency meeting under way

Experts and representatives from the World Health Organization have gathered for an emergency meeting to discuss the coronavirus outbreak.

UK puts "precautionary measures" in place

UK authorities have announced new “precautionary measures” in relation to the virus outbreak.

The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England said that enhanced monitoring will be in place from all direct flights from Wuhan to the UK.

In a statement, they said:

The enhanced monitoring package includes a number of measures that will help to provide advice to travellers if they feel unwell. For those travelling back directly from Wuhan, this includes a Port Health team who will meet each direct flight aircraft to provide advice and support to those that feel unwell.

The authorities said the risk to the UK population is “low,” raised from “very low”.

Trump: "We have it totally under control"

President Donald Trump assured the public that the United States has a potential outbreak of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus “totally under control.”

Trump was asked if he was worried about an outbreak during an interview with CNBC from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“No. Not at all,” Trump said. “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s—going to be just fine,” he added. The first US case was identified this week in Washington state.

Trump was also asked about the virus during a bilateral meeting with the head of Kurdistan, where he praised the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“I think it’s going to be handled very well,” Trump told reporters. “We’ve already handled it very well. The CDC has been terrific, very great professionals, and we’re on very good shape” 

Taiwan advises against "all non-essential travel" to Wuhan

The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) raised the travel warning for Wuhan to level 3 on Wednesday. 

The level 3 warning means citizens should “avoid all non-essential travel” to the destination. Quarantines have also been implemented by several airports in Taiwan. 

The self-governing island’s Central Epidemic Command Center said in a press statement that “there is a sufficient number of surgical masks and the public is advised to remain calm.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen told reporters that authorities have stopped travelers from entering and leaving the island due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

London Heathrow Airport introduces separate area for arrivals from Wuhan

London’s Heathrow Airport has joined airports around the world that are increasing health screenings and implementing new quarantine procedures as officials race to contain the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

The British airport created a separate arrival area for passengers travelling directly from regions that have been affected by the virus, UK transport minister Grant Shapps said Wednesday.

Speaking to Sky News, Shapps said: “This is to ensure that when flights come directly into Heathrow there is a separate area of people arriving. That change has been made.”

On the threat to the UK from the virus, Shapps said: “Public Health England moved this from very low to low but obviously we want to stay ahead of the issue so we’ll keep a very close eye.”

Here’s how other international airports are meeting the challenge.

The Wuhan virus is driving up downloads of a pandemic-focused video game

The developers of video game Plague Inc are seeing a spike in downloads from users in China. Writing on Twitter, Bloomberg reporter Zheping Huang points out that the game has jumped to the top of the iOS download chart. Market research firm AppAnnie confirmed that the game is currently #1 in China.

According to developers Ndemic, in Plague Inc players work to “bring about the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global plague whilst adapting against everything humanity can do to defend itself.”

Chinese travelers crossing the country for the Lunar New Year may be in for transport hell if restrictions and checks are rolled out nationwide to contain the Wuhan coronavirus, but at least they’ll have something to play to pass the time.