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As U.S. plans evacuations for American passengers on cruise ship in Japan, a passenger from another ship turns up with coronavirus As U.S. plans evacuations for American travelers on cruise ship in Japan, a passenger from another ship turns up with coronavirus
(about 4 hours later)
The U.S. government on Saturday told American passengers on the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise liner, moored at the Japanese port of Yokohama, that they would be evacuated. But they will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine once back in the United States. YOKOHAMA, Japan U.S. officials on Saturday set in motion plans to evacuate Americans under lockdown aboard the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama. But some passengers greeted the news with outrage after learning that they will face a 14-day quarantine upon their return to the United States.
Meanwhile, an 83-year-old American who had been on the MS Westerdam another cruise ship, which docked in Cambodia on Friday after being refused by five other ports has tested positive for coronavirus. Cambodia had cleared her to travel, but she was then tested again in Malaysia after flying there Friday and showing symptoms, according to health authorities there. Meanwhile, an 83-year-old American woman aboard another cruise ship, which docked in Cambodia on Friday after being refused by five other ports, tested positive for coronavirus. Cambodia had cleared her and others on the ship to travel, but she was tested again in Malaysia after flying there and showing symptoms, according to Malaysian health officials.
Here are some other major developments: Details about the woman’s case remained unclear. But it could force health officials in the United States and other countries to reevaluate whether to put additional checks on passengers from the MS Westerdam, who are heading home.
●France announced a patient with coronavirus had died, marking the first death outside of Asia. In China, the epicenter of the outbreak, a team of experts from the World Health Organization is expected to arrive Sunday, following prolonged negotiations with the country’s government. They will travel to Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in December, and other affected cities to see the efforts underway to contain the virus and treat patients, China’s National Health Commission said Saturday.
●After protracted negotiations, a team of experts from the World Health Organization, including Americans, is due to arrive in Beijing this weekend. The team from the Geneva-based WHO will encounter a nation under even more draconian quarantine rules to halt the virus’s spread as the number of cases nationwide surpasses 66,500 and the death total reaches approximately 1,500. Meanwhile, France announced that a patient had died of the illness, marking the first death outside Asia.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Saturday that “it’s impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take” and expressed concern with “the lack of urgency in funding the response from the international community.” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Saturday that “it’s impossible to predict which direction this epidemic will take” and expressed concern about “the lack of urgency in funding the response from the international community.”
●All residents returning to Beijing are now required to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days upon arrival. Chinese authorities also implemented new draconian quarantine rules in cities across the country, in a sign that existing measures to contain the coronavirus sweeping the country have been deemed insufficient. Chinese President Xi Jingping, under pressure to show that he has been proactive in addressing the virus, on Saturday released a Feb. 3 speech that he gave to the Communist Party’s most powerful body acknowledging that he had asked top party officials to respond to the outbreak almost two weeks before the nation’s officials spoke publicly about the virus, according to local news reports.
●China’s National Health Commission reported 2,641 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday and 143 deaths. The total number of confirmed cases is now 66,492 and the death toll on the Chinese mainland stands at 1,523. Not far from Tokyo, Americans on the Diamond Princess reacted with both relief and anger to the news Saturday that they may soon disembark. The two-week quarantine that they will face on U.S. soil is consistent with the isolation of Americans evacuated from Wuhan, as the virus has a maximum incubation period of 14 days.
●The vast majority of cases are in Hubei province, where the virus outbreak began in the capital, Wuhan. A total of 54,406 people in Hubei have been diagnosed with the pneumonia-like illness, and 1,457 have died. The Diamond Princess passengers will be housed at Travis Air Force Base in California or Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas and kept separate from the previous evacuees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All passengers will be screened before leaving the ship and constantly monitored and evaluated along the way, the CDC said.
BEIJING The U.S. government on Saturday told Americans onboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner, moored at Yokohama harbor, that they will be evacuated from the ship and then undergo another quarantine. Meanwhile, an 83-year-old American who had been on the MS Westerdam, another cruise ship docked in Cambodia, tested positive for coronavirus after flying to Malaysia. The Diamond Princess was declared a quarantine zone on Feb. 5, so passengers had expected to be able to leave the ship beginning Wednesday. But as more tests were carried out on passengers and crew members, it became clear that a high percentage had contracted the virus, and experts warned that there was a risk it could still be spreading on the ship.
Those developments came as countries around the world continued to grapple with the virus that has flu-like symptoms: France announced a patient had died of the illness, marking the first death outside Asia, while Chinese authorities implemented new draconian quarantine rules in cities across the country. So far, 218 passengers and crew members have tested positive for the virus, out of 713 people who have been assessed. There were 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members on the ship when it was placed under quarantine, but those found to have the virus have been taken to Japanese hospitals.
Americans on the Diamond Princess reacted with both relief and anger to the news Saturday that they may soon disembark. They will have to go into a 14-day quarantine once back in the United States, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo wrote in an email to them. This is consistent with the isolation of Americans evacuated from Wuhan, as the virus has a maximum incubation period of 14 days. The situation on the Diamond Princess raised alarm about other cruise ships sailing around Asia, including the Westerdam, which had been stranded at sea for two weeks. Five ports denied the ship docking privileges, fearing that passengers could transmit the coronavirus, before the ship docked in Cambodia and passengers began to disembark on Friday.
The Diamond Princess passengers will be housed at either Travis Air Force Base in California or Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas and kept seperatly from the previous evacuees, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All passengers will be screened before leaving the cruise liner and constantly monitored and evaluated along the way, the CDC said. On Saturday, Malaysian health authorities said an American passenger from the Westerdam tested positive for coronavirus after flying into Malaysia from Cambodia, Reuters reported. It’s the first case of an infected person who had been on that ship. The woman was not identified by name.
The Diamond Princess was declared a quarantine zone on Feb. 5, so passengers had expected to be able to leave the ship beginning Feb. 19. But as more tests were carried out on passengers and crew, it became obvious that a high percentage had contracted the virus, and experts warned there was a risk it could still be spreading onboard the ship. The cruise ship said the passengers had been tested regularly onboard, and 20 were checked once more after the boat docked, with no positive cases. Cambodian health officials had cleared the woman on Friday to travel on to Malaysia, Reuters reported.
So far 218 passengers and crew have tested positive for the virus, out of 713 people who have been assessed. There were 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew on the ship when it was placed in quarantine, but those found to have the virus have been evacuated to hospitals around Japan. The woman and her husband, like 143 other passengers from the ship, flew to Malaysia on their way home. None of the other passengers showed coronavirus symptoms.
The situation on the Diamond Princess had raised alarm about other cruise ships sailing around Asia, including the MS Westersam. The woman was sent to isolation in a hospital and was in stable condition, the Malaysian health ministry said, according to Bloomberg News. Her husband, 85, tested negative for the virus but is under observation, the ministry said.
The Westerdam began disembarking passengers on Friday after docking in Cambodia. The passengers had been stranded at sea for two weeks after the ship was denied docking privileges by five other ports. Holland America said in a statement Saturday that it was “awaiting secondary testing for confirmation” of the American’s case, and working with Malaysia, Cambodia and CDC authorities.
On Saturday, Malaysian health authorities said an American passenger from the Westerdam tested positive for coronavirus after flying into the country from Cambodia, Reuters reports. It’s the first case of an infected person who had been onboard that cruiseliner. The passenger was only identified as an 83-year-old American woman. As the virus continues to spread rapidly in China, the country’s leaders after initially trying to suppress or play down the severity of the virus but discovering that belated efforts to contain it were not working are trying to show that they are on top of the outbreak. Beijing is also increasingly worried about the impact on China’s economy, which was already slowing.
The cruise ship said the passengers had been tested regularly onboard, and 20 were checked out once more after the boat docked, with no positive cases. Cambodian health officials had cleared the woman on Friday to travel on to Malaysia, Reuters reported. All residents returning to Beijing are required to stay at home “or submit to group observation” for 14 days, and those who refuse “will be held accountable under law,” according to a notice issued Friday by the capital’s virus prevention working group.
The woman and her husband, like 143 other passengers from the ship, flew to Malaysia on their way home. The woman’s husband had also shown symptoms but tested negative, the Malaysian health ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. None of the other passengers showed coronavirus symptoms. The woman was in stable condition, the ministry said. Analysts saw this as a sign that the virus is still spreading, but also that the Communist leaders are growing increasingly nervous about party meetings scheduled for the first week of March. The “Two Sessions” attract thousands of party members from around the country to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
As demand spikes for masks, this Texas manufacturer is caught in coronavirus’s supply chain panic In Wuhan, authorities moved to seal all residential compounds. The city’s 11 million residents had been placed under a kind of emergency law, which stipulates that only one member of each household could go out once every three days to buy groceries and other supplies. But now, only people who are seeking medical treatment or working on epidemic prevention and control will be allowed to leave residential complexes.
Holland America, which runs the MS Westerdam, said in a statement Saturday that “there was no indication of Covid-19 on the ship” while at sea. The company said it was “awaiting secondary testing for confirmation” of the American’s case, and working with Malaysia, Cambodia, and U.S. CDC authorities. Other cities in Hubei province including Huanggang, Xiaogan and Honghu, with a combined population of 11 million have instituted similar “wartime measures” for the next 14 days.
While the United States and other nations try to deal with citizens possibly being exposed to the coronavirus, in China a team of experts from the World Health Organization is due to arrive this weekend, following prolonged negotiations with the Chinese government. They will travel to Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and other badly affected cities to see the efforts underway to contain the virus and treat the patients, China’s National Health Commission said Saturday. A spokesperson for WHO said Saturday that a list of the mission’s participants was not yet available. In Shanghai, people returning from areas “hit hard by the epidemic” are required to quarantine themselves. But the megacity is trying to dissuade those who don’t come from or work in the city from entering. Everyone arriving in Shanghai’s airports and train stations must have their temperature checked and be registered against their name.
The WHO mission had become another source of U.S.-China friction. On Friday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow criticized China for not allowing U.S. experts from the CDC to enter China, a charge that WHO expert Mike Ryan that same day denied as “opinions and speculation.”
China’s leaders — after initially trying to suppress or play down the severity of the virus but discovering that belated efforts to contain it were not working — are trying to show they are on top of the epidemic, even as the number of infections continues to climb.
Beijing is also increasingly worried about the impact on China’s economy, which was already undergoing a structural slowdown.
Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged that the “black swan” of the coronavirus epidemic would make it difficult for the government to achieve its economic and social development goals for the year.
But he ordered Communist Party cadres to “resolutely win the blockade war” against the coronavirus and “keep the economy running smoothly and the society harmonious and stable,” according to a front-page article Saturday morning in the People’s Daily, the party newspaper.
As part of the new efforts, all residents returning to Beijing, a city of some 22 million people, are now required to stay at home “or submit to group observation” for 14 days, and those who refuse “will be held accountable under law,” according to a notice issued late Friday night by the capital’s virus prevention working group.
Analysts saw this as a sign that the virus, which 274 people in Beijing have contracted, is still spreading, but also that the Communist rulers are growing increasingly nervous about party meetings due to be held in the first week of March. The “Two Sessions” attract thousands of party members from around the country to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese were on the move in January in the week leading up to the Lunar New Year holiday, as the virus raged undetected, and the Transport Ministry said some 283 million trips had been made since Jan. 25, after the first lockdowns began, as people returned from holidays in their hometowns.
As part of the new regulations, residential compounds in the capital gave residents papers to sign, pledging to register when they arrive back in Beijing and voluntarily quarantine themselves.
“I promise that I will not obstruct the normal diagnosis and treatment work of medical institutions and medical staff, not participate in various kinds of illegal criminal activities such as attacking medical staff, making trouble in hospitals,” one compound’s paperwork read.
Most residents in Chinese cities live in compounds with managers that oversee their operations, often with police like vigor.
In Wuhan, authorities moved to seal all residential compounds. The city’s 11 million residents had been placed under a kind of emergency law that stipulates only one member of each household could go out, only once every three days, to buy groceries and other supplies. But now only people who are seeking medical treatment or working on epidemic prevention and control will be allowed to leave residential complexes.
Other cities in Hubei province — including Huanggang, Xiaogan and Honghu, with a combined population of 11 million — have instituted similar “wartime measures” for the next 14 days, banning residents from leaving their homes unless they are directly involved in fighting the epidemic. Elsewhere in the province, Jingmen city banned people and vehicles from other places from entering the city from Saturday morning.
In Shanghai, population 24 million, current regulations stipulate only that people returning from areas “hit hard by the epidemic” are required to quarantine themselves. But the megacity is trying to dissuade those who don’t come from or work in the city from entering. Everyone arriving in Shanghai’s airports and train stations must have their temperature checked and registered against their name.
Virus takes big toll on China’s health workersVirus takes big toll on China’s health workers
Meanwhile in Paris, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Saturday that an 80-year-old man from Hubei province had succumbed to the illness, becoming the first coronavirus patient to die outside Asia. He had been hospitalized, along with his daughter, since Jan. 25 at the Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in Paris. His daughter is expected to be discharged soon. In Paris, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said Saturday that an 80-year-old man from Hubei province had succumbed to the illness after being hospitalized in Paris, along with his daughter, since Jan. 25. The daughter is expected to be discharged soon.
France has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases in Europe to date, with 11. Of the nine other confirmed cases, four patients have fully recovered and five remain hospitalized without life-threatening symptoms. On the Diamond Princess, the news of an additional quarantine period was a blow to some of the Americans, who say they had been repeatedly told otherwise by U.S. officials.
On the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the news of an additional quarantine period came as a blow to some of the Americans, who say they had been repeatedly told otherwise by U.S. officials. “Why didn’t they test everybody [earlier], and it would have been over?” asked Melanie Haering, 58, of Tooele, Utah, echoing a question many people have asked from the beginning.
“It’s completely devastating,” said Karey Sells, 44, of St. George, Utah. “If they wanted to keep us under quarantine for an additional period, they should have picked us up 10 days ago. They should have done their job.” Fifield reported from Beijing, and Berger and Iati reported from Washington. Liu Yang in Beijing and James McAuley in Paris contributed to this report.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said it was grateful to the cruise line and the Japanese government “for working diligently to contain and control the spread of the illness.”
“However, to fulfill our government’s responsibilities to U.S. citizens under our rules and practices, as well as to reduce the burden on the Japanese health care system, the U.S. government recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring,” it said in the email.
It was a decision some passengers said should have been taken much earlier.
“Why didn’t they test everybody (earlier), and it would have been over?” asked Melanie Haering, 58, from Tooele, Utah, echoing a question many people have asked right from the beginning.
Denyer reported from Yokohama, Japan. Liu Yang in Beijing and James McAuley in Paris contributed to this report.
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