BEIJING — A young, healthy man from Wuhan and a person living 1,500 miles from the epicenter of the coronavirus are among the latest victims of the outbreak, which has incited fear and anger across China as its important Spring Festival gets underway.
Authorities around the country, including in the capital, Beijing, have canceled the temple fairs and festivals that accompany the holiday to avoid having large public gatherings where the airborne virus could spread.
“The public should not gather during the Spring Festival and try stay at home as much as possible to protect themselves,” Gao Fu, a member of the expert group of the National Health Commission and director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday.
He encouraged everyone to wear masks, and photos from train stations and airports across the country showed people with their mouths and noses covered.
● There are more than 830 confirmed cases of infection, and at least 26 people have died. A total of 8,420 people are reported to be under observation. The vast majority of the victims had been older than 60, and almost all of them had existing health conditions.
● Authorities are enforcing a lockdown across large parts of the province of Hubei, population 59 million.
● Officials in South Korea and Japan have confirmed two cases of the virus in each country.
● Infections have also been reported in Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. In addition to a case confirmed in Washington state, Texas has reported a potential case in Brazos County, 100 miles northwest of Houston.
● The Chinese medical system has clearly struggled to cope with the outbreak, with reports of crowded hospitals, stressed doctors and dwindling supplies.
January 24, 2020 at 9:00 AM EST
China expands lockdown, banning travel in 14 cities
BEIJING — Chinese authorities broadened a lockdown of Wuhan and two surrounding cities on Friday in their efforts to contain the coronavirus.
The lockdowns now extend to a total of 14 cities in Hubei province with a population of more than 48 million — approximately the population of Spain — as part of extraordinary measures amid growing fears of greater contagion.
By Lyric Li
January 24, 2020 at 8:50 AM EST
Nepal confirms first coronavirus case in South Asia
NEW DELHI — Nepal became the first country in South Asia to report a confirmed case of coronavirus in a sign of the widening reach of the illness.
Anup Bastola, an infectious disease specialist at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Kathmandu, told The Washington Post that a 32-year-old student had arrived in Nepal from Wuhan on Jan. 9. He came to the hospital four days later complaining of a fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Because of his travel history, the hospital isolated him, Bastola said. It also sent a sample of his blood to Hong Kong for testing by the World Health Organization, which confirmed the presence of the coronavirus. Bastola said the patient was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 17. As of now, none of the patient’s close contacts or any hospital workers are showing symptoms of the virus, Bastola said. “We are monitoring closely,” he added.
India, Nepal’s much larger neighbor, has yet to report any confirmed cases. But according to local news reports, authorities have quarantined two people in a Mumbai hospital who traveled from China and developed potential symptoms of the virus. Tests have yet to confirm whether they are infected with the coronavirus.
By Joanna Slater and Ankit Adhikari
January 24, 2020 at 7:15 AM EST
After first U.S. case, number of contacts being monitored for virus nearly triples
SEATTLE — There is only one confirmed case of a coronavirus patient in the United States, in Snohomish County, Washington. But the patient’s contacts who are being monitored for signs of the illness jumped from 16 to 43.
Authorities provided no information about the types of individuals being monitored, but the fact that the list expanded is not unexpected.
“This is an evolving investigation, similar to peeling back an onion,” said Heather Thomas, Snohomish Health District spokeswoman. “Our disease investigators, in coordination with other public health partners, are doing daily symptom monitoring and contact investigations.”
Washington state Secretary of Health John Wiesman described the patient’s contacts as being under “active monitoring.” Public health officials call them daily to see if they have a fever, cough or other respiratory issues. If they are experiencing symptoms, they are instructed to call public health officials, who will facilitate medical evaluations.
The contacts are people in both Snohomish and King counties and represent individuals who have had “prolonged contact” with the patient — eating meals or holding meetings together, for example.
The patient, in his 30s, remains in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Wash. At a Wednesday news conference, Jay Cook, Providence’s chief medical officer, said the man is not confined to his hospital bed and is walking around his room.
The staff in the isolation unit are nurses who volunteer to work with patients who are barred from contact with other patients or staff.
Cook said he expects the man to be able to be discharged soon, assuming he continues to improve. “We hope he will continue on his excellent clinical course and hopefully will be able to return to his home in the very near future,” he said.
By Bonnie Rochman
January 24, 2020 at 6:30 AM EST
Chinese President Xi Jinping appears without mask on state TV at festival banquet
BEIJING — Amid calls for people to avoid public gatherings during the Spring Festival, the state broadcaster, CCTV, led its midday news program with a report about a huge banquet in Beijing attended by President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders. None of them were wearing masks, and the report made no mention of the virus outbreak.
By Anna Fifield
January 24, 2020 at 5:30 AM EST
Healthy young man dies of coronavirus in China
Another death occurred in Suihua in Heilongjiang province, near the border with Russia and some 1,500 miles from Wuhan.
By Anna Fifield
January 24, 2020 at 5:00 AM EST
New travel restrictions imposed as efforts grow to curb transmission of virus
BEIJING — Wuhan shut down tunnels under the Yangtze River to stop the flow of traffic. That comes in addition to travel bans imposed on Wuhan and seven other areas in Hubei province Thursday, with trains and buses canceled and highways closed.
All ride-hailing services in Wuhan were cut off from midday Friday in attempt to stop transmission of the virus, and only half of taxis are allowed on the road every day, alternating between tags ending in odd and even numbers.
China Southern, the country’s biggest airline, had already canceled all flights in and out of Wuhan airport on Thursday. The other two main carriers, Air China and China Eastern, said they would cancel all Wuhan flights from Friday to at least Feb. 8.
New year festivals and temple fairs around the country have been canceled, and the Forbidden City in Beijing, which can admit 80,000 people a day and was already entirely sold out for the holiday, has been closed until further notice.
Production companies have postponed the release of seven blockbuster films that were to be released over the holiday, prompting Chinese cinema companies to close the country’s 70,000 movie theaters.
Schools in Hubei province, due to begin the spring semester after the holiday, will not open their doors as planned but will wait for further guidance from health authorities. And the Education Ministry instructed universities around China to delay their opening dates if necessary.
By Anna Fifield