live updates China coronavirus outbreak: Death toll hits 26 as authorities race to lock down cities in bid to contain virus

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/ CBS NEWS

CDC issues coronavirus travel warning

Authorities in China raced Friday to lock down more cities in an extraordinary bid to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which has left at least 26 people dead in the country and sickened hundreds more. The move is unprecedented and affects more than 30 million people.

The U.S. has confirmed one case, and several others have popped up in Asian countries — all among people who visited Wuhan, China, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Authorities believe the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, moved into the human population from an infected animal at a market in Wuhan.

Chinese health officials and the World Health Organization confirmed this week that the virus has been transmitted person-to-person, but it remains unclear how easy it is to contract it from another infected individual. The WHO on Thursday declined to declare the virus a global public health emergency, saying it was still too soon to take that measure.

  • What is the novel coronavirus? Here's everything you need to know

New Updates 4:04 AM

10 cities locked down as death toll hits 26

China was in emergency mode on Friday as the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus rose to 830 and the death toll hit 26. On the eve of the country's biggest holiday, the Lunar New Year, transportation was shut down in at least 10 cities, affecting about 33 million people in total.

Wuhan, the metropolis at the center of the outbreak and where the majority of the cases have been reported, was the first to lock down all public transport and prevent people leaving. Nine neighboring cities in the central province of Hubei had followed suit by Friday morning, restricting at least most public transport.

Chinese authorities had also canceled all major public events in the capital Beijing indefinitely, including the massive "temple fairs" that normally stand out among New Year celebrations. Beijing's famed Forbidden City and Disneyland in the business hub of Shanghai also said they would be closed from Saturday.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 60m ago

China building hospital for coronavirus patients

China is racing to build a hospital in only 10 days to treat coronavirus patients in Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak, state media reported Friday. The thousand-bed hospital is expected to be ready by February 3.

Construction got underway amid reports of bed shortages in hospitals dealing with the outbreak.

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Employees work at a construction site of a hospital to treat patients during a virus outbreak in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 24, 2020. STR/AFP/Getty

By Brain Dakss

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Updated 1:55 AM

Shanghai Disneyland closing temporarily

Shanghai Disneyland is closing Saturday until further notice to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Shanghai Disney Resort said on its website Friday.

The announcement came on the day China began its nearly week-long Lunar New Year holiday, when the amusement park would ordinarily be jammed with tourists.

By Brain Dakss

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Updated 10:30 PM

10 cities in China's Hubei province cut some public transportation

As the cases of coronavirus exposure increases, officials in 10 cities in China's central Hubei province have suspended public transportation. Bus service has stopped in the cities of Chibi, Xiantao, Zhijiang, Qianjiang, Xianning, Huangshi and Enshi, according to the Reuters news agency.

Officials have also closed public venues in Zhijiang city, excluding hospitals, supermarkets, farmers' markets, gas stations and drug stores.

By Peter Martinez

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8:08 PM

177 severe cases of coronavirus reported in China as death toll rises

Chinese health officials said 177 of the 830 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection are deemed severe. China's National Health Commission released new figures early Friday, noting the death toll also has risen to 25.

— Grace Qi contributed to this report.

By Peter Martinez

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Updated 10:31 PM

25 dead and 830 cases confirmed by Chinese health officials

China's National Health Commission has confirmed early Friday that there are 830 people infected with the coronavirus, while the death toll has risen to 25.

Health officials said the virus has affected 29 provinces in China (autonomous regions and municipalities).

A total of five cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

— Grace Qi contributed to this report.

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6:17 PM / January 23, 2020

Senate to hold briefing on novel coronavirus

The Senate Health Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a briefing for all senators on the novel coronavirus Friday.

"The novel coronavirus is an emerging public health threat," Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray said in a statement. "Senators will have the opportunity to hear directly from senior government health officials regarding what we know about the virus so far, and how our country is prepared to respond as the situation develops."

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 7:11 PM

Japan confirms 2nd case of novel coronavirus

Officials from Japan's health ministry have confirmed the country's second case of the novel coronavirus. The patient was identified as a man in his 40s who traveled to Japan on Sunday from Wuhan, China, where he lives. The patient has been hospitalized.

Reuters

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Updated 10:30 PM

Hebei province confirms first death outside of outbreak's epicenter

Chinese officials in the Hebei province said a patient infected with the novel coronavirus died on Wednesday, marking the first death outside of the Hubei province, which includes the city of Wuhan.

The Health Commission of Hebei province said the patient, who was 80 years old, was not confirmed to have been infected with the virus until Thursday.

Reuters

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Updated 12:18 AM

Texas A&M student being tested for the novel coronavirus

A student at Texas A&M University is being tested for the novel coronavirus, officials said Monday. The student traveled to what officials called an "area of concern," and later developed mild upper respiratory symptoms. The student attended classes before going to the hospital, officials said.

The student has since been isolated, and a sample has been sent to the CDC in Atlanta for testing. The sample will arrive at the CDC either Thursday night or Friday, and testing will take 24 hours. The university said classes will continue as scheduled.

By Victoria Albert

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Updated 8:32 PM

WHO says virus is not a global health emergency

The World Health Organization said Thursday the viral illness in China is not yet a global health emergency. The decision came after Chinese authorities moved to lock down three cities on Thursday and canceled major events in Beijing during the Lunar New Year holiday period.

The decision was announced after independent experts spent two days assessing information about the spread of the coronavirus.

WHO defines a global emergency as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. Previous global emergencies have been declared for the Zika virus in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic, and polio.

A global emergency declaration typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt foreign governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. Deciding whether an outbreak amounts to an international crisis therefore can also be politically fraught.

— The Associated Press

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Updated 7:24 PM

CDC raises travel alert for Wuhan to level 3

CDC issues travel warning over coronavirus

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a level 3 travel warning for Wuhan, China – its highest level.

The federal agency is urging people to avoid all non-essential travel to the city due to the coronavirus outbreak, and advises anyone who must go there to avoid contact with sick people, animals, animal markets and animal products.

"Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to Wuhan with their healthcare provider," it said.

The CDC is urging people to seek medical care right away if they traveled to Wuhan in the past two weeks and have a fever, cough or trouble breathing.

"Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease from this virus," it said.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin

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Updated 11:43 AM / January 23, 2020

Forbidden City in Beijing to close

The Forbidden City in Beijing – a palace complex that attracts millions of visitors every year – announced it will close on Saturday indefinitely as part of push to halt the spread of the virus, The Associated Press reports.

The complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about 600 years old. It was long the center of power, and served as the home of Chinese emperors.

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Updated 7:24 PM

Vietnam sees 1st coronavirus cases from Wuhan

A Chinese father and son who were hospitalized on Wednesday with fevers have tested positive with the new coronavirus, Vietnam's Health Ministry said.

The ministry on Thursday said Li Ding, 66, from Wuhan, China, arrived in Hanoi on January 13 then traveled south to meet up with his 28-year-old son Li Zichao, who works in Vietnam. The two then went to Ho Chi Minh city.

The father got a fever on January 17 and the son got the same symptoms three days later, according to Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sang, head of tropical diseases at Cho Ray hospital in Ho Chi Minh city. "The son has contracted the virus from his father," the doctor was quoted as saying.

— The Associated Press

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Updated 7:27 PM

Frustration at packed Wuhan hospitals

Residents inside Wuhan have reported long lines at the city's hospitals, with some patients seeking advice or treatment waiting hours to be seen. Videos posted to social media showed tense scenes as staff tried to maintain order in jam-packed hospital corridors.

【武汉民众恐慌】
【涌到各大医院求诊】

1月22日,武汉多家医院面临超高负荷:发热病人排队看肺炎检测结果。
医院通道挤满候诊市民。 pic.twitter.com/fDOi7bCguN

— 自由亚洲电台 (@RFA_Chinese) January 22, 2020

At least one hospital in the city at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak was transferring confirmed cases if the disease to other facilities, and not admitting any more patients as of Thursday, one resident whose partner works at the facility told CBS News.

Chinese health officials are grappling to control the fast-spreading virus, which is believed to have first manifested in the human population in late December, after apparently making the jump from an infected animal at a seafood market in Wuhan.

Frustration among the Chinese appeared to be mounting, along with fear, especially in the city of 11 million people that was put under a virtual quarantine on Wednesday, with all public transport links cut. Two nearby cities have announced similar lock-downs to take effect from Thursday evening. The combined population of the three cities is about 18 million people.

By Tucker Reals

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8:29 AM / January 23, 2020

Singapore confirms 1st case "imported" from China

Singapore's government confirmed Thursday that a case of the new coronavirus had been "imported" from China. The Ministry of Health said the 66-year-old male Chinese national had arrived on a flight from Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, on January 20.

The Ministry said a 53-year-old female Chinese national had also tested "preliminarily positive" for the new virus. Both patients were being treated at a Singapore hospital and were in stable condition, with the male in isolation.

Cases of the new virus have now been confirmed in China, the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 8:32 PM

Virus less aggressive, which is "more worrying"?

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, officially named "2019-nCoV," are very similar to the flu, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat or runny nose. Most patients experience symptoms that appear to be less aggressive than those of the related SARS virus that spread in 2002 and 2003.

Coronavirus: Threats, symptoms, and what precautions you can take

However, Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, told AFP the fact that the virus seems milder in the majority of people is "paradoxically more worrying," as it allows many to travel further before their symptoms are detected.

The 17 patients who died were between 48 and 89 years old. Most had underlying health issues including cirrhosis, diabetes, high blood pressure or coronary heart disease, China's National Health Commission said.

— CBS/AFP

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Updated 6:45 AM / January 23, 2020

Is it a global "public health emergency"?

The World Health Organization (WHO) was holding emergency talks Thursday in Geneva to decide whether the deadly virus outbreak constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern." The designation is rare and only used for the gravest outbreaks which are considered "serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected".

The classification would imply that the disease, which has killed 17 people so far and infected more than 500, risks spreading further internationally and requires an international response.

The terms are set out in the International Health Regulations that were adopted following heavy criticism of the way in which the 2003 SARS outbreak was handled.

SWITZERLAND-CHINA-WHO-HEALTH-EPIDEMIC-VIRUS
From left, World Health Organization (WHO) technical consultant Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Professor Didier Houssin, Chair of the Emergency Committee, and Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program Michael Ryan at a press conference following an emergency committee meeting over the new coronavirus spreading in China and other nations, in Geneva, January 22, 2020. PIERRE ALBOUY/GETTY

The responsibility of making the determination rests on WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and it gives him the power to issue recommendations that countries must act on, such as travel bans.

Once declared, the designation is reviewed every three months by the WHO's Emergency Committee, a group of international experts.

The WHO panel was expected to hold a news conference at or sometime after 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday to announce its decision, depending on how long its meeting goes.

CBS/AFP

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Updated 5:58 AM / January 23, 2020

Hong Kong turns holiday camps into quarantine zones

Hong Kong has turned two holiday camps, including a former military barracks, into quarantine zones for people who may have come into contact with carriers of the Wuhan virus, officials announced Thursday. The international financial hub has been on high alert for the virus, which has killed 17 people since the outbreak started in central China.

The same sites were used as quarantine facilities during the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak 17 years ago.

HONG KONG-CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Workers wearing facemasks watch a van enter the Lady MacLehose Holiday Village in Hong Kong, which is being used as one of two quarantine centers for people who have been in close proximity with suspected cases of the new SARS-type cornavirus, January 23, 2020. ANTHONY WALLACE/Getty

Nearly 300 people in Hong Kong were killed by SARS, a tragedy that left a profound psychological impact on one of the most densely populated places on earth.

So far, two people in the city have tested positive for the new coronavirus — which is similar to the SARS pathogen. Both had visited Wuhan in recent days and are being treated on isolation wards in hospital.

AFP

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Updated 7:19 AM / January 23, 2020

3 Chinese cities face transport restrictions

Chinese authorities have ordered a halt to some public transportation links in a total of three cities, all very near to the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan.

In addition to Wuhan, trains out of both Huanggang and the neighboring city of Ezhou were ordered to halt operations on Thursday. Bus services were also to be cut in Huanggang.

The unprecedented clamp-down on transport comes at the worst possible time for China. Saturday is the first day of the Lunar New Year, celebrated by Chinese people around the world — a festive period that typically sees the largest mass-movement of people on the planet as Chinese flock back to their hometowns to be with relatives.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 7:31 PM

Transport reportedly cut in 2nd city

The Chinese city of Huanggang, only about 20 miles east of Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak, has reportedly followed the example of Wuhan and ordered a halt to all public transport links in and out.

The Reuters news agency said state-run television in Huanggang had announced the halt to public transport and the shuttering of all public indoor venues like movie theaters and sports complexes, to take effect Thursday evening.

CBS News correspondent Ramy Inocencio and his team made it out of Wuhan hours before the transportation lock-down was implemented on Wednesday – a quarantine of the city's 11 million residents.

WATCH: (1/2) Wuhan in an *unprecedented* lockdown to slow the spread of the deadly #coronavirus. @CBSNews flew out just in time! Filmed this at the airport Wednesday night. Everyone had a mask on. Felt I was living through SARS 2003 all over again. @CBSThisMorning @CBSEveningNews pic.twitter.com/mVbtQqcnnZ

— Ramy Inocencio 英若明 (@RamyInocencio) January 22, 2020

The Associated Press quoted an official with the World Health Organization as saying the effort to "contain a city of 11 million people is new to science."

By Tucker Reals

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First published on January 24, 2020 / 4:43 AM