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Cruise Ship Stranded At Sea Over Coronavirus Fears To Dock In Cambodia

Topline: A cruise ship that was turned away from several ports in Asia over coronavirus fears—despite no cases onboard—will now dock in Cambodia after days of uncertainty and mounting anxiety among passengers.

  • The Holland America Line’s MS Westerdam was banned from docking by Thailand earlier this week, over concerns about coronavirus on the ship. Holland America Line, which is owned by Carnival Cruise, says nobody onboard has reported symptoms.
  • It will now dock in Sihanoukville in Cambodia on Thursday, where passengers will disembark over a few day and will be transported to the capital, Phnom Penh, and flown home. Holland America Line says it will pay for the flight sand refund passengers their entire trip.
  • The MS Westerdam had planned to disembark its passengers in Thailand after Japan, The Philippines and Guam turned away the cruise ship. The Thai government on Tuesday offered fuel, food, and medicine to the cruise ship.
  • Stephen Hansen and his wife are two of the 1,500 passengers stuck on the vessel, which sailed from Hong Kong on February 1st and had been scheduled to end its cruise in Japan on February 15.
  • Hansen told Forbes: “While I can understand that countries want to protect their own citizens first before helping us their decisions to turn us away are based more on misinformation and fear than facts.”
  • Holland America said in a statement on Wednesday: “All approvals have been received and we are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support…All guests on board are healthy and despite erroneous reports there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have their ever been.”
  • Passengers had been calling for political intervention, with Hansen saying that the countries’ decision to reject the vessel was down to “misinformation and fear,” rather than facts.

Key background: Cruise ships have become an unlikely flashpoint in the battle to stop the international spread of the coronavirus. The British-owned Diamond Princess cruise was quarantined in Tokyo last Monday, with 174 out of the 3,700 passengers on board now ill with the pneumonia-like illness. Around 3,600 passengers and crew were held aboard the World Dream cruise ship for four days in Hong Kong over concerns the ship staff had contracted the virus from infected passengers on an earlier cruise. Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade organization, announced last week its members would bar passengers who had visited China, Hong Kong, or Macau, 14 days before their cruise, from boarding.

News peg: Coronavirus, this week renamed Covid-19, has now killed more than 1,000 people and infected at least 42,000 more. The outbreak is concentrated in mainland China, after the virus was first detected in patients who are thought to have visited a Wuhan market in December. Airlines have also been badly disrupted, with some international carriers suspended their flights to and from China, and a number of international companies and manufacturers have been impacted by the Chinese government’s move to extend the Lunar new year holiday in a bid to restrict the spread of the virus. Tens of millions were placed under lockdown by Chinese health authorities in cities like Wuhan that have seen the highest number of reported cases.

Further reading: Thailand Turns Away Cruise Ship Rejected By Three Nations Over Coronavirus Fears

Crew Members Plead For Rescue As Coronavirus Outbreak On Cruise Ship Grows To 135 Cases (Rachel Sandler)

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I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism. Got a story? Get in touch at isabel.togoh@forbes.com, or follow me on Twitter @bissieness. I look forward to hearing from you.

Source: Cruise Ship Stranded At Sea Over Coronavirus Fears To Dock In Cambodia

A luxury liner has been stranded for days after been denied entry in the Philippines and Japan. The Westerdam, owned by Holland America Line, has not reported any cases of coronavirus among the 2,200 passengers and crew. Subscribe to our channel here: https://cna.asia/youtubesub Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: https://cna.asia/telegram Follow us: CNA: https://cna.asia CNA Lifestyle: http://www.cnalifestyle.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/channelnewsasia Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/channelnews… Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/channelnewsasia

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How Our Modern World Creates Outbreaks Like Coronavirus

February 4, 2020 – Wuhan, China: The interior of “Wuhan Livingroom”, which is converted into a hospital to receive patients infected with the novel coronavirus, in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. (Cai Yang/Xinhua / Polaris)

Everyone knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world,” observes Albert Camus in his novel The Plague. “Yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet plagues and wars always take people by surprise.”

Camus was imagining a fictional outbreak of plague in 1948 in Oran, a port city in northwest Algeria. But at a time when the world is reeling from a very real microbial emergency sparked by the emergence of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, central China, his observations are as pertinent as ever.

Like the global emergency over Zika in 2015, or the emergency over the devastating West African Ebola outbreak the year before – or the global panic sparked by SARS (another coronavirus) in 2002-2003, the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic has once again wrong-footed medical experts and taken the world by surprise.

Whether the Wuhan outbreak turns out to be a mild pandemic like the 2009 swine flu, or a more severe one like the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people worldwide, at present no one can say.

But if a century of pandemic responses has taught us anything, it is that while we may have gotten better at monitoring pandemic threats in what used to be called the “blank spaces” on the map, we also have a tendency to forget the lessons of medical history.

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The first of these is that epidemics of emerging infectious diseases appear to be accelerating. In the 19th century it took several years for cholera and plague to spread from their endemic centers in India and China to Europe and North America following the trade routes plied by caravans, horses and sail ships.

That all changed with the advent of steam travel and the expansion of the European railway network. For instance, it was a steam ship, sailing from Japan via Honolulu, that most likely brought rats infected with plague to San Francisco in 1900. And ten years earlier, it was steam trains that spread the so-called “Russian” influenza throughout Europe. The result was that within four months of the first report of an outbreak in St Petersburg in December 1889, the Russian flu had been introduced to Berlin and Hamburg, from where it was carried by ocean-going liners to Liverpool, Boston and Buenos Aires.

But the big game-changer has been international jet travel and the greater global connectivity that has come with it. Located at the centre of China’s airline network, Wuhan is both a domestic and international hub, with more than 100 non-stop flights to 22 countries worldwide. The result is that whereas during the 2002 SARS outbreak it took five months for the coronavirus to spread worldwide, this time it has taken just four weeks for the world to catch China’s cold.

Another important lesson from the recent run of epidemics is that by focusing too narrowly on microbial causation, we risk missing the wider ecological and environmental picture.

Seventy percent of emerging infectious diseases originate in the animal kingdom. Beginning with the AIDs pandemic of the 1980s, and continuing through SARS, and the recent Ebola and bird flu scares in the early 2000s, most outbreaks can be traced to so-called spillover events from animals to humans. Some of these can be prevented by better hygiene and regular inspections of wild animal markets. But others can be traced to the disturbance of ecological equilibriums or alterations to the environments in which pathogens habitually reside. This is especially true of viruses such as HIV and Ebola that are believed to circulate in discreet animal reservoirs.

For instance, the West African Ebola epidemic very likely began when children in Guinea dined on a local species of bat, known as lolibelo, that had taken up a roost in a rotten tree stump in the middle of their village. The bats usually reside in dry savannah on the edge of woodlands but appear to have been driven from their normal habitat by climate change and deforestation due to the activities of logging companies.

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Bats are also thought to be the ultimate reservoir of coronaviruses, but the virus has also been isolated from snakes and palm civets, a game animal resembling a cat prized by the Chinese for its heat-giving energy. The SARS epidemic was almost certainly sparked by civets traded at a wild animal market in Shenzhen in southeast China. Likewise, the Wuhan outbreak appears to have begun at a wholesale seafood market which, despite its name, also sold wild animals, including wolf cubs, crocodiles, snakes and bats.

A third lesson is that China’s mega-cities – like vast urban conurbations in Asia, Africa, and South America – provide the ideal breeding grounds for the amplification and spread of novel pathogens by concentrating large numbers of people in cramped and often unsanitary spaces. Sometimes technology and alterations to our built environment can mitigate the risks that such overcrowding presents for the transfer of pathogens to people. Thus the plague abatement measures that followed the outbreaks of plague in San Francisco in 1901 and in Los Angeles in 1924, were effective at removing the rats and squirrels that harbored plague fleas from domestic homes and businesses.

Likewise, tower blocks and air conditioning systems are very effective ways of insulating people from the mosquitoes that transmit Zika and other diseases. But as became clear during the SARS outbreak when Hong Kong saw scores of infections at the Amoy Gardens apartment complex in Kowloon, our built environment can also present new disease risks.

Indeed, time and again, we assist microbes to occupy new ecological niches and spread to new places in ways that usually only become apparent after the event. In such circumstances, it is worth keeping in mind the view expressed by George Bernard Shaw in The Doctor’s Dilemma, namely that “The characteristic microbe of a disease might be a symptom instead of a cause.”

But perhaps the biggest lesson from the recent run of epidemics is that while scientific knowledge is always advancing, it can also be a trap, blinding us to the epidemic just around the corner ­­– the so-called Disease X’s.

Thus, in the case of SARS, our delay in realizing we were dealing with a dangerous new respiratory pathogen, was due in no small part to the WHO’s conviction that the world was on the brink of a pandemic of H5N1 avian influenza—a view that seemed to be confirmed when ducks, geese, and swans suddenly began dying in two Hong Kong parks.

Similarly, the 2014 Ebola outbreak was initially missed by the WHO, not least because few experts suspected that the virus, which had previously been associated with outbreaks in remote forested regions of central Africa, might pose a threat to West Africa, much less to cities such as Monrovia, Freetown, New York and Dallas.

In each case, what was “known” before the event that Ebola can’t reach a major urban area, much less a city in North America; that coronaviruses do not cause atypical pneumonias – was shown to be wrong and the experts were left looking foolish.

The good news this time round is that the new coronavirus was quickly identified by Chinese scientists, and despite the Chinese government’s initial suppression of warnings posted on social media by medics at the frontline of the outbreak, they rapidly shared the genetic sequence. This gives us hope we will be able to develop a vaccine, something that didn’t happen during SARS.

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However, those efforts will certainly not be aided by misinformation about the efficacy, for instance, of face masks over sensible measures such as frequent hand-washing. Nor is it helpful to refer to the “exotic” Chinese taste for wild animals or, as one French newspaper did last week, post scare headlines about a “yellow alert.”

A final lesson of medical history is that during epidemics we need to choose our words carefully, lest language becomes a motor for xenophobia, stigma and prejudice, as occurred in the early 1980s when AIDs was wrongly labeled “the gay plague.” This is especially the case in our era of instantaneous digital communications, where misinformation and fake news travels faster and more widely than any virus.

By Mark Honigsbaum February 7, 2020 Honigsbaum is a medical historian and the author of The Pandemic Century: One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris.

Source: How Our Modern World Creates Outbreaks Like Coronavirus

The Guardian’s health editor, Sarah Boseley, answers some of the most common and pressing questions surrounding the recent coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China Subscribe to Guardian News on YouTube ► http://bit.ly/guardianwiressub The Wuhan Coronavirus: what we know and don’t know – Science Weekly podcast ► https://www.theguardian.com/science/a… Coronavirus: three Chinese cities locked down and Beijing festivities scrapped ► https://www.theguardian.com/world/202… Coronavirus: panic and anger in Wuhan as China orders city into lockdown ► https://www.theguardian.com/world/202… Support the Guardian ► https://support.theguardian.com/contr… Today in Focus podcast ► https://www.theguardian.com/news/seri… The Guardian YouTube network: The Guardian ► http://www.youtube.com/theguardian Owen Jones talks ► http://bit.ly/subsowenjones Guardian Football ► http://is.gd/guardianfootball Guardian Sport ► http://bit.ly/GDNsport Guardian Culture ► http://is.gd/guardianculture

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Why This Week Could Be Pivotal for Understanding the Coronavirus Outbreak

It has been less than two months since authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan announced they were investigating a mysterious pneumonia-like viral infection. In that time, the pathogen—later identified as novel coronavirus 2019-nCov—has spread around China with abandon—from a few dozen suspected cases to more than 20,000 confirmed infections, and causing more than 420 deaths.

But this week could prove crucial for understanding how much farther the outbreak is likely to spread and whether the dramatic efforts of Chinese authorities to contain the coronavirus have been effective.

Officials in China began placing entire cities on lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly virus on Jan. 23, when outbound trains and flights from Wuhan— the biggest city in Hubei province, population 11 million— were suspended. The next day authorities broadened the lockdown to include 13 cities, and by Jan. 25 the blockade had expanded to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million, creating what is believed to be the largest quarantine in human history.

“This week we should start to see the effects of the containment strategy,” Ben Cowling, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong, tells TIME. “This week is a critical week.”

The virus appears to have an average incubation period of about five days, according to a study published by researchers in China on Jan. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study focused on the first 425 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Wuhan, where it is believed to have originated in a seafood market. Cowling says it can take at least another five days for a sick person to be tested and receive confirmation of a coronavirus infection.

“If the number of reported cases begin to slow, this might be an early indication that control measures are working, or are least having an effect on the trajectory of the virus,” Charles Chiu, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says.

Chiu adds that if the number cases continue to rise significantly this week, it’s reason for additional concern. “It would suggest that the stringent control measures that have been put into place by China to prevent spread… are not adequate to prevent spread of this virus,” Chiu says.

Researchers caution that there are a lot of details they don’t know for sure that could change this calculus. For instance, it’s still not certain how long the incubation period lasts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it can take anywhere from 2 to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Additionally, it’s still not clear whether the virus can be transmitted in the incubation period—while patients are asymptomatic.

Katherine Gibney, an infectious diseases physician at Royal Melbourne Hospital and an epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, tells TIME that if the control measures delay the epidemic from taking off in countries outside of mainland China—so far there are less than 200 confirmed cases elsewhere—it might buy medical experts time to develop a vaccine or antiviral medication.

Some researchers believe that, despite the efforts of Chinese authorities, that the number of infections is likely to rise for several months. Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at the University of Hong Kong said in a Jan. 27 press conference that by his projections, the outbreak might only peak in April or May in major cities in China.

That around 5 million people fled Wuhan before the lockdown went into effect might also have hampered containment efforts. The virus is transmissible enough that the average sick patient, according to the NEJM paper, will infect about two others.

Another factor that could push up infection numbers is the mild symptoms some patients experience. Shira Doron, an infectious disease doctor and epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, says that the first patients diagnosed are often those who are very sick, and it might be possible that in the coming weeks it will become apparent that the number of people with mild illness, or even asymptomatic infection, is much larger than currently recorded. Doron says that the death rate reported early in an outbreak often “grossly overestimates the true fatality rate.”

Infections shot up from 639 cases in mainland China on Jan. 23, when officials started putting control measures in place, to around 9,700 cases a week later on Jan. 30. As of Tuesday, the number of cases on the mainland stands at around 20,500. In mainland China, the number of both infections and deaths from the virus has already surpassed that of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed 348 people on the mainland and infected more than 5,000 during an outbreak in 2002 and 2003.

The first cases outside of mainland China were confirmed in Thailand and Japan on Jan. 13 and 16. Cases in South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. were confirmed on Jan. 21, and there are now more than 194 cases in over 23 countries.

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As of Tuesday, 425 people have died in mainland China. There has also been one death in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

As infection counts have grown in China, other countries have imposed their own strict measures to curb the advance of the virus—most of them targeting travelers from the world’s most populous nation. Italy and Israel have cancelled all flights from China. Mongolia and Russia have shut their borders with the country, and Singapore has banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued in Hubei province. In the U.S., the Trump Administration on Jan. 31 declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency and announced that it will temporarily deny entry to any foreign national who “poses a risk” of transmitting the virus. But on Monday, U.S. authorities confirmed the country’s second case of human-to-human transmission in a person who had no recent history of travel to China.

Experts will be watching closely this week for signs that the virus is continuing to grow and spread—especially outside the province where Wuhan is located.

“What we’re worried about is that we don’t see any reduction in the steady increase,” Cowling says.

By Amy Gunia February 4, 2020

Source: Why This Week Could Be Pivotal for Understanding the Coronavirus Outbreak

148K subscribers
An outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness that started in the city of Wuhan has put health authorities on high alert in China and around the world. The new coronavirus—named 2019-nCoV—is thought to have originated in the food market of the central China metropolis and has since infected hundreds of people. China first reported the outbreak on Dec. 30. Most of the deaths have been in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital. Ahead of the Lunar New Year on Jan. 25—often dubbed the largest annual human migration in the world—Chinese authorities have restricted some travel to try and stop the illness’s spread. In Wuhan, public transportation and ride-hailing services have been suspended, trains and flights from the city have been stopped and people have been told to leave only for essential reasons. Similar travel restrictions were announced in at least 11 other Chinese cities, impacting more than 40 million people. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm QUICKTAKE ON SOCIAL: Follow QuickTake on Twitter: twitter.com/quicktake Like QuickTake on Facebook: facebook.com/quicktake Follow QuickTake on Instagram: instagram.com/quicktake Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/2FJ0oQZ Email us at quicktakenews@gmail.com QuickTake by Bloomberg is a global news network delivering up-to-the-minute analysis on the biggest news, trends and ideas for a new generation of leaders.

Hundreds of Americans Are in Quarantine. Here’s Why That’s Rare

RIVERSIDE, CA – JANUARY 29: A team in white biohazard suits watch as some of the approximately 200 passengers walk to waiting buses upon arriving on a charter flight from Wuhan, China, after landing at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. Wednesday morning Jan. 29, 2020. The flight originated from the area where the coronavirus outbreak started. All the passengers will be held in quarantine for an unknown duration. (Photo by Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images)

 A typical room has a ceiling fan, striped wallpaper and floral curtains. Above a neatly made bed is a chintzy print showcasing a cobblestone alley. In communal areas, residents have space to watch big-screen TVs or throw around a football or read a book under a tree, and the U.S. Marshals Service is providing security.

Such are the conditions at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif., where 195 people are subject to the first mandatory quarantine orders issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in more than 50 years. Like more than 600 other people assigned to five other military bases around the country, these Americans were recently evacuated from China’s Hubei province, the site of the novel coronavirus outbreak that has now claimed more than 600 lives.

All but two of those deaths have occurred in mainland China, where more than 31,000 cases have been confirmed. The crisis is now creeping around the world, with cases reported in more than 24 other countries, including 12 in the U.S.

There is widespread anxiety about sickness, and much is still unknown about the virus, including whether people without symptoms are capable of spreading it. Facing such uncertainty, the CDC took the extraordinary measure on January 31 of drawing on legal authority that the department hasn’t used since the 1960s — when officials were combatting smallpox — to impose a mandatory, 14-day quarantine on recently repatriated Americans who had been in Hubei. Two weeks is the likely incubation period for the virus.

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“We are taking measures to minimize any contact. We expect confirmed infections among these and other returning travelers from Hubei province,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a briefing on Feb. 5. “Now is the time to act so that we can slow the introduction and impact of this virus in the U.S.”

A few days earlier, when the federal government announced the quarantine, Messonnier called the action “unprecedented.”

There are several good reasons that ordering a quarantine is something that U.S. public health officials rarely do.

Finding quarters can be a challenge

For starters, the government does not have dedicated quarantine facilities just waiting to be used, explains Arthur Reingold, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health.

Quarantine refers to the containment of apparently healthy people who may be incubating a virus they’ve come in contact with. (Isolation is the term for confining someone who is already sick.) In previous eras, this was often done on sea-going vessels. Passengers who might have a sickness like the plague would wait out the likely incubation period on a ship before being allowed to land. “But quarantine vessels went out of business a long time ago,” Reingold says.

Faced with a need to suddenly house hundreds of people, the Department of Health and Human Services turned to the Department of Defense, and six military bases were made available. The main criteria in choosing them, a DoD spokesman says, was their ability to comfortably house approximately 250 people in one or two buildings, like an on-base motel where everyone has their own bathroom, and close proximity to a hospital. Locations in the West, given the shorter flight distance from China, were also preferable, which is why half of the bases are in California, with one more in each of Colorado, Texas and Nebraska.

Quarantines are expensive

Even with locations secured, executing humane quarantines involves a lot of logistics, and that doesn’t come cheap. There are transportation and ongoing housing costs. Individuals need to be fed and regularly checked for symptoms. It requires medical care on-demand. And there’s security and maintenance to consider.

The CDC and HHS have not responded to requests from TIME asking about cost estimates for the current quarantines or whether the department will cover all costs. The HHS, which oversees the CDC, announced on Feb. 3 that it was making $250 million in emergency funds available to generally cover response, including screening and monitoring of U.S. citizens returning from various parts of China.

Tabulating the bills may also be a messy business. The DoD, for example, tells TIME that it expects full reimbursement for all costs from HHS. So does the state of California. A spokesman for Riverside County, meanwhile, says that while they hope to get reimbursed, it’s not been made clear if it will be.

With five county departments supporting the quarantine at March Air Reserve Base, including the provision of staff that includes doctors, nurses, behavioral health specialists and epidemiologists, as well a mobile health clinic that is at the base in case individuals get a migraine or scrape a knee, the estimated costs for the county alone are an estimated $115,000 per day.

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“Clearly the cost element of it is not a factor when we’re asked to provide services on an urgent basis. Our first priority is to figure out how to do it and then do it,” Riverside County spokesman Jose Arballo, Jr., says. That said, he adds, “The county isn’t in a situation where it’s flush.”

Putting aside the incalculable value of preventing an outbreak of the coronavirus, quarantines can potentially be cost-saving in the long run. “While expensive it’s more than worth it,” Larry Gostin, an expert in public health law and professor at Georgetown University, writes in an email. “It prevents spread of disease and serious illnesses. And it’s far less costly than having to hospitalize many patients who could contract the coronavirus infection.”

People’s freedom must be limited carefully

Another reason mandatory quarantines are uncommon in America is that they are, of course, coercive. Though federal and state governments have the legal ability to impose quarantines in the name of public safety, the ACLU has raised concerns about the government controlling people’s freedom of movement and noted that individuals’ livelihoods can be put at risk if they’re unable to work for weeks at a time. (The CDC has not responded to a request from TIME about whether the department will cover lost wages for individuals under quarantine orders.) It can also cause disruptions in childcare.

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Soon after the 195 people arrived at March Air Reserve Base, one individual did attempt to leave and was ordered back. Otherwise, Arballo says, the individuals in quarantine have been cooperative and “appreciative of the work being done.” Attitudes may have been tempered by gratitude that the U.S. government helped them escape the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, as well as knowledge that spread of the disease would be harmful. The U.S. Marshals Service says that agents have not had to stop anyone from leaving — that no one is revolting — but in the unlikely event that someone did, they would intervene.

Georgetown’s Gostin has noted that there is a world of difference between today’s relatively small quarantines at American military bases, where people are housed in the equivalent of a modest hotel room, and what is happening in China, where the government has essentially put 56 million people on lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Such extreme actions can cause panic, drive the epidemic underground and potentially make it worse, leading to cross-infection and social isolation, he explains. People may have difficulty accessing basic necessities, much less sufficient medical care.

The Americans quarantined at the March Air Reserve Base, in contrast, requested and were brought beer to enjoy while watching the Super Bowl.

The efficacy is unclear

Even when quarantines are imposed on narrow populations and rolled out compassionately, it’s not clear how effective it is to limit the movement of people who aren’t showing symptoms, Berkeley’s Reingold says. “For many infectious diseases, transmission basically is limited entirely or almost entirely to people who are symptomatic,” he explains. “Quarantining asymptomatic individuals has generally been viewed as a low priority.”

Yet, in the case of the new coronavirus, there has been conflicting evidence about whether asymptomatic people are contagious. “Until we know more, given the concerns, given the anxiety, this is a reasonable measure to take,” Reingold adds.

W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, recently traveled to Beijing and Guangzhou. Upon returning to the U.S., he was mandated by the government to self-quarantine for 14 days because the CDC views those areas of China as medium risk, he says. He is currently in his cabin in upstate New York, writing in to the government with temperature and status reports.

When asked for his thoughts on the quarantines, he responded with concerns about being objective given that he has been personally affected. “The new coronavirus is highly transmissible,” he wrote in an email. “Thus, I appreciate the concern underlying the decision to impose quarantines. I’m not sure that we need 14 days.”

While mandating quarantines could be an expensive and cumbersome overreaction, CDC’s Messonier suggested the department would rather be remembered for doing too much rather than doing too little as scientists race to learn more about the virus. And experts say Americans should feel reassured that they live in a wealthy country where expensive overreactions are an option. Populations who live in poor countries in Asia or Africa, where officials have more limited capabilities of response, are at higher risk if the coronavirus starts to spread.

At the March Air Reserve Base, two individuals — both children — have been found to have fevers. One was transported to a nearby hospital on Feb. 3, with a parent, and was transported back to the base when tests for the virus came back negative. A second was transported on Feb. 5. As of Friday morning, they remained in isolation at the hospital awaiting test results.

By Katy Steinmetz February 7, 2020

Source: Hundreds of Americans Are in Quarantine. Here’s Why That’s Rare

7.59M subscribers
195 Americans are under quarantine as blood samples and throat cultures get tested by the CDC after the group was evacuated to California from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. 6,000 passengers stuck on cruise ship over coronavirus fears READ MORE: https://abcn.ws/392BsP1 #ABCNews #Coronavirus #China

Doctors in China Are Starting Human Trials for a Coronavirus Treatment

This photo taken on January 30, 2020 shows medical staff members wearing facemasks talking at a hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province, during the virus outbreak in the city. - The World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the new coronavirus, as China reported January 31 the death toll had climbed to 213 with nearly 10,000 infections.

China has kick-started a clinical trial to speedily test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest.

Remdesivir, a new antiviral drug by Gilead Sciences Inc. aimed at infectious diseases such Ebola and SARS, will be tested by a medical team from Beijing-based China-Japan Friendship Hospital for efficacy in treating the deadly new strain of coronavirus, a hospital spokeswoman told Bloomberg News Monday.

Trial for the drug will be conducted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan — ground zero of the viral outbreak that has so far killed more than 360 people, sickened over 17,000 in China and spread to more than a dozen nations. As many as 270 patients with mild and moderate pneumonia caused by the virus will be recruited in a randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled study, Chinese news outlet The Paper reported on Sunday.

Drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc. as well as Chinese authorities are racing to crash develop vaccines and therapies to combat the new virus that’s more contagious than SARS and could cost the global economy four times more than the $40 billion sapped by the 2003 SARS outbreak. The decision to hold human trials for remdesivir shows it’s among the most promising therapies against the virus that so far has no specific treatments or vaccines.

Experimental Drug

The experimental drug has not yet been approved for use by any drug regulator in the world but is being used on patients battling the new virus in the absence of approved treatment options, Gilead said in a statement last week.

China’s health regulator has also recommended AbbVie Inc’s HIV medicine Kaletra as an ad-hoc antiviral drug for coronovirus. Kaletra is also set to undergo human trials, according to The Paper.

Meanwhile, a global search continues for therapies to contain the infection that can spread undetected.

Drugmakers Hunt for Ways to Halt Virus That Eludes Travel Curbs

The Coalition, set up in 2017 to spur the development of shots for known diseases and to respond to new viruses, has also signed contracts with drugmakers including Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. as early as Jan. 22 to expedite work on vaccines. Novavax Inc. was among the first ones to announce it was working on a candidate too.

Racing To Make A Coronavirus Vaccine

Scientists at Moderna Theraputics and the NIH are racing to create the world’s first coronavirus vaccine in record time.

Frontline Treatment

Health officials, however, say a vaccine version may take three months to be available for the first stages of human testing while developing an effective vaccine generally takes years.

That puts remdesivir on the front lines of combating the infection.

The first patient in the U.S. infected with the virus, a 35-year-old man, has seen his pneumonia improve after he was given remdesivir, doctors treating him said in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week.

By Bloomberg 3:25 AM EST

Source: Doctors in China Are Starting Human Trials for a Coronavirus Treatment

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U.S. and Others Enact Strict Travel Restrictions as Over 12,000 Coronavirus Outbreak Cases Confirmed

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The U.S., Australia, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore have announced strict travel restrictions against visitors flying in from China, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended against “limiting trade and movement” as a response to containing the new coronavirus. The respiratory illness has killed more than 250 people in China and infected thousands within the country and dozens beyond its borders, prompting the WHO to declare a global public health emergency.

The total number of global confirmed cases of infection has risen to 12,024 as of Saturday and the death toll is at 259, according to a virus tracker maintained by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. In Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, more than 7,100 cases have been confirmed.

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Hong Kong infectious disease expert Yuen Kwok-yung discussed the situation of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak with TIME in an exclusive interview. He warns that the disease is very infectious and control measures must be followed.

The Trump Administration declared a public health emergency in the U.S. on Friday, announcing that any foreign national who “poses a risk” of transmitting the virus would be temporarily denied entry. The administration maintained that risk to the American public remained low but said it would ban entry to any foreign national who has been in China, barring immediate family of American citizens and permanent U.S. residents.

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This week, Japanese officials reported the country’s 20th case of the virus and said that Japan would ban foreign nationals who have been to Hubei province within two weeks before their arrival. Those carrying Chinese passports issued in Hubei are also banned from entering the country, although special exceptions may be made, government officials said, according to Japan Times.

Australia will ban travelers who have visited or transited through mainland China from Saturday onwards for the next two weeks. The restrictions will not apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family, although these groups will be asked to isolate themselves for two weeks from when they departed China, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Additionally, Singapore has banned all travellers arriving from mainland China who had been there in the past 14 days from entry and transit by Sunday morning. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says that Vietnam has suspended almost all flights from and to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau until May 1, according to the New York Times.

The new infection figure surpasses the tally of worldwide cases of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) during the 2002 and 2003 outbreak. SARS had nearly 8,100 confirmed infections and killed nearly 800 people.

As the deadly virus spreads, a growing number of airlines including British Airways, Air France, Delta and Lufthansa are suspending all flights to China. Many have cut down the number of flights, and some have stopped flying to major cities.

American Airlines announced Friday morning it would also suspend all flights to China, just a day after a union representing 15,000 American Airlines pilots sued the company to pressure the carrier to halt flights. The Allied Pilots Association cited “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus,” adding that the risk posed to staff and passengers is “unacceptable.”

As several countries are evacuating their citizens from Wuhan, China organized three flights to bring home more than 300 Hubei residents from abroad, according to Chinese state media.

Although the vast majority of cases have occurred in Hubei province, the disease has also spread to over a dozen countries, including the U.S., where eight cases have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On Thursday, the CDC announced the first case of the disease transferring from person-to-person within the U.S.

Sweden confirmed its first case of new coronavirus on Friday — a woman who recently visited Wuhan, according to Reuters. Spain also confirmed its first case of the virus on Friday, a German who had contact with patients who tested positive for the disease in Germany, Reuters reported.

Experts are skeptical that official numbers capture the full extent of the outbreak. Researchers in Hong Kong have warned that the actual number of people infected in Wuhan could be more than 30 times higher than the official tally. It’s unclear how long the outbreak will last and how bad it may get.

Experts say symptoms can be very difficult to detect and that many of those who died from the disease had underlying health conditions that involved weakened immune systems, like hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. They note that there is still a lot to be learned about the virus’ origins, clinical features and severity. Chinese health officials have said that the virus can be transmitted by touch, that young children can be infected and that the disease’s incubation period is usually between three to seven days.

A taskforce in China is coordinating the efforts to contain the disease and as of Tuesday morning, 4,130 medical staff from around China had arrived in Hubei province; it is expected that a total of 6,000 will arrive. At least two makeshift hospitals created to respond to the virus are being constructed in Wuhan and national health officials have said more than 10,000 beds will be ready in Wuhan soon.

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The construction of one hospital is more than halfway complete and is expected to be attending to patients on Feb. 6. A second hospital is expected to be functional from Feb. 5, according to state media.

On Wednesday, state media reported that nine tons of emergency medical supplies provided by Japan arrived in Wuhan. A government committee to respond to the virus held a meeting on Wednesday and said the situation is still severe. The Chinese New Year public holiday has been extended in an effort to keep people at home. By Thursday morning, more than 900 tons of medical and living supplies, including masks, protective suits and disinfectants, had been transported by road and air to Hubei Province, according to state media. As residents struggle to obtain masks, the Chinese city of Xiamen has decided to sell masks through a lottery, Chinese state media reports. (Health experts say that wearing face masks is probably effective in Wuhan — the epicenter of the crisis — but not in countries with a low risk of community spread, like the U.S.)

American response

From Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, flights from China to the U.S. will be funneled through seven airports with enhanced health screenings, the White House announced on Friday. They include Los Angeles International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AIrport, Honolulu International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Americans traveling back to the U.S. from Hubei province 14 days before returning to the country will be subject to up to 14 days of a mandatory quarantine, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters at a White House press briefing. Any American citizens who were in mainland China 14 days before returning to the U.S. will have to undergo a “self-imposed” quarantine for 14 days.

Following travel alerts from the U.S. Department of State and news of human-to-human coronavirus spread in the U.S., the CDC had announced that it will quarantine 195 passengers who were repatriated back into the U.S. from the disease’s epicenter in Wuhan, China.

The passengers were evacuated from Wuhan and taken by plane to March Air Reserve Base in California. But around 1,000 Americans still remained in the city, and many said they felt abandoned by the U.S. government.

The CDC announced Friday that all of those individuals who were brought to March Air reserve Base must stay there for 14 days, in an effort to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus within the U.S. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, called the rare step a necessary response to “an unprecedented public-health threat.”

The State Department has encouraged Americans in China to consider leaving; it is not clear how the CDC will handle future flights returning from China. “The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus,” the Level 4 Travel Advisory said.

The State Department alert on Thursday, which puts China in the same travel category as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and North Korea, acknowledged the WHO’s declaration earlier in the day that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak was a global public health emergency.

Azar indicated that China had been much more transparent in its handling of the novel coronavirus compared with the SARS response; the Chinese government had been accused of covering up SARS. “The posture of the Chinese government and levels of cooperation and interaction with us is completely different from what we experienced in 2003 and I want to commend them for that,” Azar said.

The stock market has also taken a hit, as major US indexes fell more than 1% on Monday; the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped as many as 500 points, the Associated Press reported. On Wednesday, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell referred to the coronavirus outbreak as a “very serious issue” but said it was too early to know the extent of economic damage in China and globally, according to the AP.

WHO declares global health emergency

The WHO reconvened an emergency committee and declared a global health emergency Thursday about a week after saying it was “too early to do so.”

The WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference that the decision was “not a vote of no confidence in China,” which he praised for a swift, transparent and effective response to the “unprecedented outbreak.”

“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” Tedros said. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, which are ill prepared to deal with it.”

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Tedros said the WHO opposes “any restrictions on travel and trade and other measures against China.”

The organization highlighted concerns about eight cases of human-to-human transmission in four countries — Germany, Vietnam Japan and the U.S., as well as the “rapid acceleration” of confirmed cases of the disease.

The WHO said it has asked member states to share standardized data with the organization on a daily basis so the organization can work towards building a “comprehensive global database” to track the disease’s evolution.

International cases and response

At least 132 patients have tested positive for the illness across 23 countries, according to the WHO. The majority of cases outside China are associated with travel to the mainland, and of those, the most involve visiting Wuhan, the agency says.

Russia and the UK confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday. In the UK, two people who are members of the same family have been infected, according to the National Health Service.

“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately,” said Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty in a public statement. “We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

Russia also has confirmed two cases, according to Russia Today, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikivoa.

The Philippines, Italy and India confirmed their first cases of the deadly virus on Thursday. In India, a student from the southern state of Kerala who attends a university in Wuhan tested positive for the virus, while in the Philippines, a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan was diagnosed despite being reportedly asymptomatic.

There are also at least 19 confirmed cases in Thailand, 18 in Singapore, 12 in Hong Kong, nine in Taiwan, seven in Macau and nine in Australia. Governments and health officials in Japan, Nepal, Canada, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, UAE, France, the UK, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Germany have also reported patients testing positive for the virus.

Several countries have tightened their borders to restrict the flow of mainland Chinese visitors. Hong Kong announced Tuesday that it would deny entry to individual travelers and close a high-speed rail that connects the city to Southern China. Singapore said Friday it is banning visitors with recent travel history to mainland China.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Thursday that Russia would be closing its land border with China from Friday at least until March 1, the Associated Press reported.

Mongolia’s official news agency has said the country closed border crossings with China on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

7,000 people were stuck on a cruise ship in Italy in a port near Rome as a couple was being tested for the virus, according to CNN.

In a bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus, Hong Kong announced Tuesday that it will deny entry to individual travelers from the mainland, dramatically expanding a ban that had previously applied only to visitors from Hubei province. The semi-autonomous city will also sharply reduce cross-border transit, shutting down rail and ferry service to China, halving flights and decreasing tour buses. Several border checkpoints will also close in what Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lame termed a “partial shutdown” during a livestreamed press conference. The measures went into effect on Jan. 30.

Singapore has banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued by China’s Hubei Province from Wednesday onwards.

Chinese authorities have said they will suspend tour groups and travel packages.

Multiple countries are also warning against unnecessary travel to China, and some have already started evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.

A group of 21 Spanish citizens were evacuated and flown from Wuhan and landed in Madrid on Friday, according to Spanish media.

Two government-chartered planes carrying more than 300 Japanese citizens from Wuhan arrived on Wednesday and Thursday. At least three Japanese citizens on the flight tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to local media.

The British government confirmed that an evacuation flight from Wuhan’s airport to the UK can depart on Friday at 5 a.m. local time.

Pakistan has chosen not to evacuate Pakistanis in China after learning that four Pakistani students in China tested positive for the virus. State health officials have said they are “monitoring the situation around the clock.”

Two planes would be mobilized to repatriate E.U. citizens from the Wuhan area to Europe, according to the European Commission. The E.U. said it would co-finance the transport costs; the first aircraft was scheduled to leave from France on Wednesday and a second plane will leave later in the week. Authorities estimated that about 250 French citizens would be transported in the first flight and more than 100 E.U. citizens from other countries will be on board the second aircraft.

Wuhan travel restricted

Chinese officials have shut down travel in and out of Wuhan — home to 11 million people — and enacted similar, strict transportation restrictions in a number of other cities. Immigration authorities said on Monday that no passengers have left the Chinese mainland over the past four days through the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport or the Hankou Port. China’s Hubei Province has also suspended services to apply for passports and exit-entry permits.

The head of the health commission of the Chinese city of Huanggang was sacked Thursday night, the South China Morning Post reported.

Videos appearing to originate from Wuhan show residents chanting from their homes, “Wuhan, stay strong” as cases across the country continued to increase.

Apple said Saturday it would close stores, corporate offices and contact centers in China “out of an abundance of caution,” the New York Times reported.

High school students have turned to online classes to prepare for exams.

Wuhan’s mayor acknowledged that information was not disclosed quickly enough at the virus’ outset, and said he is willing to resign if it would help contain the outbreak.

Authorities have also banned all forms of wildlife trade and implemented strict regulations on activities related to wild animals. The virus was first detected as a form of viral pneumonia centered on a seafood market in Wuhan on Dec. 12. Many of the first reported cases were people who worked at the market, which also sold wild animal meat. Officials closed down the market.

So far, no deaths from the virus have been confirmed outside the Chinese mainland. The city of Beijing reported its first death on Monday and last week confirmed that a 9-month-old tested positive for the disease.

CDC confirms first human-to-human transmission in the U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an eighth case of the new coronavirus in the U.S. on Saturday. On Friday, the CDC announced that they had detected the disease in California in a patient who recently returned from Wuhan.

The CDC has now confirmed eight cases of the coronavirus infection in the U.S. — one in Arizona, one in Massachusetts, three in California, one in Washington state and two in Illinois.

On Thursday, the CDC announced the first case of the novel coronavirus transferring from person-to-person within the U.S. — a Chicago resident in his 60s who had not traveled to China recently. The patient is married to an Illinois woman whom the CDC previously confirmed as testing positive for the virus.

The man has an underlying medical condition but public health officials would not elaborate on what he suffered from.

The agency said as of Friday that 241 individuals across 36 states were considered to be “persons under investigation” of which more than 100 had so far tested negative for the disease.

“Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield “We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”

The CDC’s travel precaution is currently at a level three, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China because of the disease.

Companies tell employees to work from home, avoid travel

Companies across China are taking precautions, as well. Chinese gaming giant Tencent and the tech company ByteDance, which owns the app TikTok, have told staff to work from home, according to the BBC.

The co-working company WeWork is temporarily shutting more than 50 offices across China, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Facebook has stopped non-essential travel to China, and Starbucks is temporarily closing some of its China stores, according to Bloomberg. Several major cruise lines have also suspended some voyages leaving from China.

Flight attendants working for Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship airline, will be allowed to wear facemasks while working.

In Hong Kong, the government notified its workers on Monday that all workers except essential public servants and emergency services personnel can work from home until Feb. 2.

By Sanya Mansoor , Amy Gunia and Jasmine Aguilera

Source: U.S. and Others Enact Strict Travel Restrictions as Over 12,000 Coronavirus Outbreak Cases Confirmed

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