China Quarantines City Of 11 Million As Hong Kong Confirms Second Case Of Coronavirus

Update 7 (1630ET): Mexico is the latest country to announce a 'coordinated response' to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

  • MEXICO TO COORDINATE NATION-WIDE EFFORTS TO MONITOR CORONAVIRUS
  • MEXICO ISSUED PREVENTIVE TRAVEL RECOMMENDATION FOR CORONAVIRUS

Until the epidemic is over, it's private jets only.

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Update 6 (1530ET): Hong Kong has reportedly confirmed a second case of coronavirus.

More details to come...

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Update 5 (1500ET): After praising all of China's efforts to contain the outbreak, the WHO Director General announced that the emergency committee would delay its decision on whether to declare the coronavirus a major health emergency of international concern because the committee wants "more information."

It's unclear exactly what they're hoping to learn between today and tomorrow, but with the pace at which the virus is spreading, it's possible that nearly 1,000 cases will have been identified by then.

Only five other outbreaks have warranted this designation from the WHO.

Fortunately, we should know more tomorrow.

As of 3 pm ET, their press conference was still ongoing, and any interested readers can watch below:

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Update 4 (1350ET): Almost exactly an hour after we tweeted a flight tracking map showing dozens of departures from Wuhan's International Airport...

....Chinese authorities have reportedly suspended all outbound air and train travel from the city, expanding on their edict that nobody leave, and nobody enter, the city in central China, which has a population of 11 million people, making it larger than New York City.

No flights have taken off from that airport for the last 40 minutes

Screenings for the virus have been expanding to airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and elsewhere. Russia has tightened its border for Chinese travelers, and other countries have also stepped up screening efforts.

As the outbreak worsens, the people of Wuhan are feeling increasingly isolated as the number of cases surpasses 550, and the number of deaths has nearly doubled.

Communist Party leaders, via their allies in the press, touted the transit shutdown as unprecedented, something that wasn't done even during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

But as Beijing once again tries to convince the world that it has the situation under control, one reporter has offered some food for thought:

They might as well change Wuhan's name to Raccoon City.

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Update 3 (1230ET): As Beijing scrambles to contain the coronavirus as the number of cases discovered in China and around the world soars, Japan Times reports that government officials have cancelled some Olympic qualifying events in China.

Women’s soccer qualifiers for this summer's Tokyo Games will be moved from Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, to another location within China, per the Asian Football Confederation said Wednesday.

Wuhan was supposed to host China, Taiwan, Thailand and Australia for the Group B qualifiers between Feb. 3 and Feb. 9. Instead, the games will be held on the same dates in the city of Nanjing.

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Update 2 (1030amET): Just as we suspected, Chinese authorities have revised the death toll for the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak to 17 on Wednesday, meaning that in under 24 hours, the death toll has practically doubled.

Meanwhile, Russia media reports claim that a passenger from Shanghai has been hospitalized, a sign that the virus may now have spread to Russia.

  • PASSENGER FROM SHANGHAI HOSPITALIZED IN ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

  • NOVEL CRONAVIRUS DEATHS RISE TO 17 IN HUBEI PROVINCE:CHINA NEWS

US stocks are rebounding from yesterday's virus-driven dip as authorities around the world, including President Trump, insist that the outbreak is under control.

But does this really sound "contained"?

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Update (1000amET): So much for being 'contained'.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - better known as AMLO - said Wednesday morning that two cases of coronavirus are suspected in Mexico, and that health officials are scrambling to confirm. He added that one of the patients is under observation in Tamaulipas.

AMLO assured the public that the Mexican government is closely monitoring the situation.

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China's National Health Commission has revised the total of coronavirus cases higher for at least the second time on Wednesday: there are now 473 confirmed patients infected in China alone, though the death toll remained at 9, Reuters reports.

Internationally, the total number of cases has climbed to 481, according to a running count by the SCMP:

As the virus spreads throughout the mainland, health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed that the first case of coronavirus has been detected in the Special Administrative Region. According to the SCMP, the male patient arrived in Hong Kong on a high-speed train on Tuesday from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. He was discovered to have a fever when he arrived at a rail station in West Kowloon, and has now tested positive or the virus three times, the first two at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Jordan.

Local television footage showed the still-unnamed patient being taken from Queen Elizabeth to Princess Margaret Hospital, where the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Center is located. Several health care workers wearing full protective gear could be seen pushing the patient on a stretcher.

Hong Kong's public rail company, MTR Corp, confirmed that it had been notified by the Department of Health that the patient took a high-speed rail train G5607 from the Shenzhen North station to West Kowloon Station. Officials are now taking steps to disinfect the train.

The virus has also reportedly made it to Macau, which also confirmed its first case on Wednesday, according to the SCMP. Alarmingly, considering that Macau is one of the most popular destinations for the hundreds of millions of vacationers from the mainland looking to travel for the Chinese New Year Holiday this week, Macau's patient zero made it through health screenings for the virus, even though she had been showing symptoms including a cough and soar throat for about a week.

Ominously, four family members of the patient, all of whom didn’t have symptoms, stayed overnight at a hotel in a popular tourist area of Hong Kong before departing for Manila.

The virus has already spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as to the US, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and beyond.

Earlier, we reported that China had launched a nation-wide screening effort to detect any remaining cases of the virus, suggesting that there could be many more cases yet to be uncovered. Screeners are looking for symptoms including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, all pneumonia-like symptoms. In addition to the administrative regions, the virus has been confirmed in at least 13 Chinese provinces.

Beijing has also launched extensive operations to coat whole cities in disinfectant, as the video below shows:

President Trump said earlier during an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen that the situation in the US is "totally under control" after the first case was identified in Washington state, the CDC announced yesterday.

Asked about criticisms that China wasn't completely transparent about the virus, and initially tried to conceal the fact that it could spread from human to human, Trump said he had a good relationship with President Xi and expected that he could trust the Chinese government.

Chinese officials have warned that the virus has been evolving and mutating as it has traveled. The map below is the NYT's most up-to-date accounting of confirmed cases, though at this point it's already woefully out-of-date.

 

The WHO is meeting on Wednesday to decide whether the outbreak warrants the most serious categorization for global pandemics.

Meanwhile, some experts are warning that on Wednesday the virus has taken a "step closer to full-blown epidemic."

Media reports have been warning people in China and around the world about steps they can take to avoid being infected. Basic steps include frequently washing hands, avoid touching ones eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands, clean and disinfect objects, and covering one's mouth and nose during a sneeze, per CNN.