live updates Coronavirus death toll mounts in China as U.S. braces for long fight, more cases Download the free app

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U.S. confirms 15th case of coronavirus

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the new coronavirus, which has killed almost 1,400 people and is still spreading in China, could be around for at least another year. With the Chinese government reporting 121 more deaths and more than 5,000 new cases Thursday alone, the illness dubbed COVID-19 didn't even appear to have peaked.

Chinese health officials in the epicenter province of Hubei changed the way they officially diagnosed the disease this week, leading early Thursday to a sudden, alarming jump of about 14,000 new cases recorded in the region. But the person in charge of managing emergencies for the World Health Organization said that jump in the Chinese statistics did not indicate "a significant change in the trajectory of the outbreak."

It wasn't necessarily the "tip of an iceberg," said the WHO's Mike Ryan.

While the disease takes a fast-mounting toll, and sparks increasing scenes of draconian control measures being enforced in mainland China, there have been only three deaths blamed on it elsewhere; one each in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. The U.S. has 15 confirmed cases, but none are said to be suffering serious symptoms.

A couple wears masks as the embrace, following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on Valentine's Day in Hong Kong
A couple wear masks as they embrace amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on Valentine's Day in Hong Kong, China, February 14, 2020. TYRONE SIU/REUTERS

Meanwhile, in the U.S. and around the world, evacuees flown back to their countries from Hubei province and put under immediate two-week quarantines continue to be released back into public life after being cleared of the disease.

Passengers from a cruise ship that was denied entry by five countries over fears of the virus finally disembarked Friday in Cambodia, expressing deep gratitude to the country's leader as he welcomed them with roses.

New Updates 8m ago

U.K. officials warn people who went to London conference of virus case

About 250 people who went to a conference in London last week have been notified that one of the attendees has been diagnosed with the coronavirus sweeping through China.

BBC News said England's public health authority had contacted those who were at the February 6 conference on buses and public transport and told them if they experience any cold or flu-like symptoms before February 20, to remain indoors, avoid contact with others and call the health service.

The person from the conference diagnosed with the new COVID-19 disease has not been identified, but British media said it was not the most recent case diagnosed in the country.

On Thursday Britain confirmed its 9th case, a woman who recently returned from China and got an Uber to a hospital in south London after feeling unwell.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 38m ago

China's leader says virus a "big test," vows to avert future "shortcomings"

Battling the coronavirus epidemic is a "big test for the country's governance system and governance ability," Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday, chairing a political meeting on government reforms, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Under criticism over the handling of the crisis, the Communist Party has sacked two top-ranking officials in the epicenter province of Hubei, and replaced them with senior cadres with security backgrounds.

The outbreak has exposed "shortcomings," Xi acknowledged, adding that China needed to reform its public health and epidemic prevention and control systems.

China Outbreak
A photo released by Xinhua News Agency shows Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a protective face mask and waving as he inspects coronavirus prevention and control workers in Beijing, February 10, 2020. Pang Xinglei/AP


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Updated 7:07 AM

Japan lets some elderly passengers off quarantined cruise ship

Japan on Friday began allowing elderly passengers who test negative for the new coronavirus to leave a quarantined cruise ship and finish their isolation in government-designated lodging.

Japan's government has given passengers aged 80 or older in poor health or confined to windowless inner cabins on the Diamond Princess the chance to move from the ship to accommodation on land. But only those who test negative for the virus that has so far infected 218 people on board the ship have the option to move.

A bus with a driver wearing protective gear departs from the dockside next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has around 3,600 people quarantined on board due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port, February 14, 2020. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty

The first of them departed the massive cruise ship Friday afternoon, traveling in buses with blacked out windows. Drivers could be seen dressed in head-to-toe white protective suits, complete with goggles and masks.

A government official said 11 people had left, but declined to say whether more would depart Friday or offer further details.


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Updated 6:41 AM

Russian hospital sues to force woman who fled quarantine to return

A Russian hospital on Friday filed a lawsuit against a woman for escaping her coronavirus quarantine, complaining of being forcibly held and given inedible meals. The head doctor of the Botkin hospital in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg took the highly unusual action against Alla Ilyina to force her to return and undergo medical observation, the city's court service said in a statement.

A hearing has been scheduled for next Monday. According to Russian laws, leaving quarantine is punishable by a fine.

The woman arrived from Hainan, a Chinese resort island popular with Russians, on February 1. She was examined several times and eventually diagnosed with "acute virus illness" which did not rule out that this could be the new coronavirus, according to the local branch of the state health watchdog.

But Ilyina, who fled the hospital after two days by short-circuiting an electric lock, said in videos posted online that she had been told she did not have the disease, but was being held against her will.

Associated Press

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6:08 AM

China reports 121 new deaths and more than 5,000 new cases

China's National Health Commission said it had recorded 121 more deaths and 5,090 new coronavirus cases on the mainland Thursday, bringing the total number deaths in the country to 1,380.

Three people have died outside of mainland China from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus, in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

The World Health Organization and the Chinese authorities use different diagnostic standards to record the number of infections in the country, but under the broader definition used in China's Hubei province, which includes cases confirmed only via lung scan images, the country has about 60,000 patients with the disease.

By Tucker Reals

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Updated 6:01 AM

Virus has killed 6 health workers in China, infected more than 1,700

Six health workers have died from the new coronavirus in China and more than 1,700 have been infected, health officials said Friday, underscoring the risks doctors and nurses have taken amid shortages of protective gear.

The figure comes a week after public anger erupted over the death of a whistleblowing doctor who had been reprimanded and silenced by police after raising the alarm about the virus in December.

Chinese authorities have scrambled to deploy protective equipment to Wuhan's hospitals, where doctors and nurses have been overwhelmed by an ever-growing number of patients.

Journalists documenting Wuhan coronavirus outbreak disappear

Many doctors in Wuhan have had to see patients without proper masks or protective body suits, resorting to reusing the same equipment when they should be changed regularly.


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Updated 6:01 AM

California university student stuck in China amid coronavirus outbreak

A Cal State University Northridge student is still in China on Thursday night, near the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — his semester studying abroad turning into a health care nightmare, CBS Los Angeles reported.

"I never cry," Nancy Krank, the student's mother, said while talking about her son, Samson Adame.

University student from California stuck in China during coronavirus outbreak

Adame, 24, has been stuck in China's Shandong province since the coronavirus epidemic began, and thought he would have gotten help from his school by now.

Read the full story here.

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Updated 6:01 AM

Cruise stranded by virus fears ends with roses in Cambodia

Hundreds of cruise ship passengers long stranded at sea by virus fears cheered as they finally disembarked Friday and were welcomed to Cambodia by the nation's authoritarian leader, who handed them flowers.

Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed to let the Westerdam dock at the port of Sihanoukville on Thursday after Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam had barred the ship earlier.

"How wonderful it is to be here. Thank you very much to the prime minister. He has a wonderful heart," said Anna Marie Melon, from Queensland, Australia. "I'm very excited (to be here)," she said as she waved a rose Hun Sen handed to her.

Westerdam cruise ship — coronavirus
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomes passenger of MS Westerdam — a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over fears that someone aboard might have the coronavirus — as it docks in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on February 14, 2020. Reuters

The passengers cheered as they walked toward waiting buses and waved goodbye to other passengers watching from the ship's deck.

"Your country did a great job. Did a wonderful job. Thank you very much. We appreciate it very much," Joe Spaziani, 74, from Florida, told local reporters at the port. "Cambodia alone, even the United States, Guam, did not let us land, but Cambodia did, so that's wonderful. Absolutely wonderful."

— Associated Press

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Updated 6:00 AM

CDC says virus could be around for a year, gain "foothold" in U.S.

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that the deadly outbreak of coronavirus could continue into next year.

"We don't know a lot about this virus," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN on Thursday. "This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission."

"There may be additional cases that we identify. I do want to prepare you for that," CDC Captain Jennifer McQuiston said Thursday. She is overseeing the quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas for people who arrived last week on a government charter flight from China. A person there became the 15th confirmed case in the U.S. on Thursday.

In all, about 600 people are quarantined at military bases in the U.S.

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First published on February 14, 2020 / 8:24 AM