The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world is facing “severe disruption” in the market for personal protective equipment due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal and prices are up to 20 times higher,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a Friday press conference.
General Ghebreyesus says there are depleted stockpiles of equipment like masks and respirators and a 4-6 month backlog of orders for necessary supplies.
“We need to make sure we get it [supplies] to the people who need it most in the places that need it most,” General Ghebreyesus said.
The State Department announced that they are offering $100 million to help China and other countries dealing with the virus.
Meanwhile, a Chinese doctor who tried to warn others about the coronavirus outbreak and was subsequently punished by police died of the virus Thursday in Wuhan.
The Wuhan Central Hospital reported Dr. Li Wenliang’s death on social media, saying that he was “unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection,” the Associated Press reported.
After initial reports of Li’s death, WHO offered its condolences. “We’re very sorry to hear of the loss of any frontline worker who has attempted to care for patients,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.
The coronavirus—known as 2019-nCoV—has infected 31,530 patients globally, according to Johns Hopkins University’s virus tracker.
The virus has also killed one person in the Philippines, and another in Hong Kong.
In Japan, officials said Friday that 41 new cases of the virus had been found on a cruise ship that’s been quarantined in Yokohama harbor, bringing the total number of infections onboard to 61. The ship was quarantined after the company learned that a passenger from Hong Kong who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus sailed on the ship, the Diamond Princess, last month.
Japan and Singapore have reported the most patients outside of China, with 45 and 28 respectively.
The number of cases in Japan rose significantly after 10 more people tested positive on a quarantined cruise ship that docked in Yokohama Wednesday,local media reported. The ship was quarantined after the cruise company learned that a passenger from Hong Kong who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus was on board last month.
So far, 99% of confirmed cases are in China and 80% of the cases in China are in Hubei Province, the WHO stated on Wednesday. Excluding China, there are more than 190 cases across 24 countries. At least 31 of those cases involve people with no travel history to China, but all of those cases involve people considered in close contact of a confirmed case or of someone from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
On Friday morning, 27 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship were screened for possible coronavirus sickness when the ship was docked in Bayonne, New Jersey. No cases were confirmed from the screening
On Wednesday, authorities in Hong Kong announced that all arrivals from mainland China would be quarantined for 14 days starting Saturday, acknowledging that there is risk of an outbreak in the city. However, Chief Executive Carrie Lam once again stopped short of closing the border, despite demands from many Hong Kong residents, including thousands of medical workers who went on strike in an attempt to force the action.
Chinese state media said Thursday that the second hospital in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, officially opened on Thursday. A rush-built hospital with 1,000 beds was completed earlier in the week. Both hospitals were constructed in a matter of days to treat coronavirus patients, an attempt by authorities to contain the deadly outbreak.
Medical experts are suggesting that the illness could be passed from mother-to-fetus as two newborn babies tested positive for the illness, according to Chinese state media.
World Health Organization coordinates global response
The WHO has announced plans to raise at least $675 million for a strategic plan to respond to the outbreak and a forum to convene global researchers to fast-track solutions.
Part of that money — $60 million — is to fund WHO’s operations, while the remainder is for “countries that are especially at risk,” said WHO Director-General Tedros at a press conference on Wednesday.
Tedros had reiterated that the agency’s “greatest concern” is the potential for the respiratory illness to spread to countries with weak health systems.
“Our message to the international community is: invest today or pay more later,” Tedros said. “$675 million U.S. dollars is a lot of money, but it’s much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now during the window of opportunity that we have.”
Tedros thanked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for already pledging up to $100 million and Japan for contributing $10 million.
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The WHO is monitoring all public health measures taken by all member states, and will “try and bring some cohesion and order to that process in the coming days,” Ryan said.
Tedros also downplayed criticism from John Mackenzie, a member of WHO’s coronavirus emergency committee, who said that China’s initial response to the outbreak was “reprehensible” and that they did not report cases quickly enough. Tedros said he would expect more cases to spread from China to the rest of the world if China was hiding cases, but noted that the WHO would still have a retrospective review in the future.
The State Department announced on Friday that they are sending medical supplies, including masks, gowns and respirators to China to assist with the virus.
The United States is also prepared to spend up to $100 million in funds to help China and other countries impacted by the spread.
A second wave of American evacuations from Wuhan took place Wednesday as a plane with 178 passengers landed at Travis Air Force Base in California, the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control confirmed. Those on board are now subject to a 14-day federal quarantine and will stay at the air force base temporarily.
Those entering the U.S. within 12 days of having been in Hubei or the rest of mainland China will be directed to one of 11 U.S. airports for an additional health assessment, according to the CDC. They include Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Honolulu International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan 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.
International cases and response
At least 191 patients have tested positive for the illness across 24 countries, according to the WHO.
A 44-year-old man died in the Philippines on Saturday, the country’s Department of Health confirmed, marking the first person to succumb to the virus outside of China. The man, a resident of Wuhan, China, had arrived in the Philippines on Jan. 21 with a 38-year-old woman, who was also infected.
A 39-year-old man in Hong Kong died on Tuesday, making him the second death outside of mainland China. The patient reportedly had an underlying illness.
There are 24 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hong Kong, which was hard-hit by the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). More than one-third of the nearly 800 deaths from SARS worldwide were in Hong Kong, and the semi-autonomous Chinese territory had more than 1,700 of the 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
Hong Kong’s neighbor, the gambling hub of Macau, confirmed its 10th case of the virus Tuesday. Macau announced the same day that it would be shutting its casinos for two weeks. (The city’s casinos are overwhelmingly reliant on mainland Chinese tourists.)
Russia, Sweden, Spain, the Philippines, Italy, India and the U.K. confirmed their first cases of coronavirus last week.
There are also at least 25 confirmed cases in Japan, 30 in Singapore, 25 in Thailand, 25 in Hong Kong and 24 in South Korea, according to Johns Hopkins University’s virus tracker. Governments and health officials in Nepal, Canada,Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia,Sri Lanka, UAE, France, the U.K., 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.
In Hong Kong, the government has closed all but two entry points, leaving a cross-border bridge and a port in a northwestern part of the territory open. (Visitors can still fly to Hong Kong, though flights between mainland China and Hong Kong have been cut by half.) All travelers coming from China will be quarantined for 14 days starting Feb 8.
Singapore has said it is banning visitors with recent travel history to mainland China and has also banned the entry and transfer of travelers holding passports issued by China’s Hubei Province.
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.
Multiple countries are also warning against unnecessary travel to China, and many have already started evacuating their citizens from Wuhan.
Evacuees from Spain, Japan, the U.S. and Europe are among those who have been flown out of Wuhan on government planes.
China 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. Wuhan has suspended immigration administration services, local authorities said Monday, according to Chinese state media.
People in China have started going back to work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday ended, according to the South China Morning Post.
China’s Hubei Province has also suspended services to apply for passports and exit-entry permits.
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.
Royal Caribbean also announced restrictions, including the cancellation of eight cruises out of China due to the outbreak, according to the AP. The cruise line announced Monday that it would also prohibit any guest or crew member, regardless of nationality, to board a ship if they traveled through mainland China or Hong Kong less than 15 days prior.
Japanese officials 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 said it would 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 travelers 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.
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.
China organized at least three flights to bring home more than 300 Hubei residents from abroad and plans to dispatch nine flights to bring home about 2,000 Chinese tourists in the Philippines., according to Chinese state media.
CDC confirms second human-to-human transmission in the U.S.
On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the second case of the disease transmitting from person-to-person within the U.S. The first American patient diagnosed with the new coronavirus was also discharged from hospital.
A patient in California, who had not recently traveled to China, tested positive for the virus. The patient is married to a person who had previously traveled to China and tested positive for the respiratory illness, according to the California Department of Public Health.
On Monday, hospital officials at the Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, said the 35-year-old man who was the first to test positive for the new coronavirus in the U.S. has left the facility, the Associated Press reported. The unidentified man is recovering and looking forward to life returning to normal, he told the AP.
The CDC has now confirmed at least 12 cases of the coronavirus infection in the U.S. across Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts, California, Washington state and Illinois. On Wednesday, Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services reported an additional confirmed case of the virus in an adult “with a history of travel to Beijing.”
“The individual is isolated at home, and is doing well,” the agency said.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, maintained that the risk to the American public continued to be low, but that the CDC expects to find additional cases in the U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the first 2019 new coronavirus diagnostic Tuesday, before which the test had been limited to being used at CDC’s laboratories. The authorization now allows the test to be used at any CDC-qualified lab in the U.S.
The CDC said as of Wednesday morning that 293 individuals across 36 states were considered to be “persons under investigation.” Of those, more than 200 had so far tested negative for the disease. The status of another 76 cases is currently pending.
By Hillary Leung , Sanya Mansoor , Amy Gunia , Jasmine Aguilera , Tara Law and Josiah Bates
Source: WHO Warns of Global Shortage of Protective Equipment Due to Coronavirus as Death Toll Hits 638