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    Cruise Ship With 3700 Passengers Quarantined Over Coronavirus

    Japan Confirms 10 nCoV Cases Aboard Quarantined Cruise Ship. Image: AP
    Japan has quarantined a cruise ship carrying 3,711 passengers and crew members and was testing them for the new coronavirus Tuesday after a passenger tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong. Eight people on the vessel, which arrived at Yokohama Bay on Monday, have symptoms such as fever, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

    The 80-year-old man flew to Japan and boarded the ship, the Diamond Princess, run by Carnival Japan Inc., in Yokohama on Jan. 20 and disembarked in Hong Kong on Jan. 25, the company said. Photographs and video posted on Twitter by a passenger with the handle @daxa_tw showed health workers in full-length plastic gowns with white caps and face masks walking down a deserted corridor, as well as views of empty lounges and a deserted deck. The vessel’s departure from Yokohama would be delayed by at least 24 hours to Wednesday or later, Carnival Japan said.


    • Confirmed deaths: 490
    • Confirmed cases on mainland: 24,324; additional 172 in ROW
    • 185,555 cases under medical observation
    • Chinese authorities have enforced full community lockdown in Nanjing Province
    • American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Jetstar close routes to China
    • Taiwan tightens travel restrictions
    • WHO infectious hazard chief says outbreak 'not a pandemic'
    • Japan confirms at least 10 cases of coronavirus aboard "Diamond Princess"
    • Kudlow says impact on US economy from outbreak will be 'limited'

    The cruise ship has already been quarantined once, on Saturday at a port in Naha Okinawa Prefecture. But a second quarantine was organized after the man who disembarked in Hong Kong was found to be infected.

    Quarantine officials are now checking the condition of everyone on board and testing those with symptoms of illness for the new coronavirus, as well as other infectious diseases including malaria and Dengue fever, a health ministry official said. The decision on whether to allow the vessel to dock at Yokohama port and let passengers land “will be made at the quarantine station,” taking into consideration the World Health Organization’s estimate of a 10-day incubation period, Suga said.

    Once everyone’s health was checked, those with fevers or who felt unwell would be tested, after which authorities would decide whether to let people leave the ship, Suga said.
    Japan was also preparing to expand the scope of its screening for the virus and test criteria after initial tests failed to detect the virus in some people who were later found to be infected, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters Tuesday.

    Previously, the virus tests covered people who have visited Wuhan — the Chinese city at the epicenter of the outbreak — have had contact with people in Wuhan with fevers and respiratory symptoms, and have fevers of 37.5 degrees Celsius or more, as well as respiratory problems and pneumonia symptoms such as severe coughing.

    People now subject to the tests will be those who have visited Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, have had close contact with those who have been to Hubei, and have such symptoms as fevers of 37.5 degrees Celsius or more, respiratory problems and severe coughing.
    Opposition parties and some experts have criticized the government for responding too slowly to the risks posed by the virus spreading in China and elsewhere.

    Since Saturday, Japan has been barring foreign nationals who have been to Hubei in recent weeks, as well as holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei. Arrivals displaying symptoms of the new virus can also be denied entry.

    A total of eight foreigners have been barred from entering so far, Suga said Monday.
    Japan has 20 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 17 of them having been in Wuhan.
    Asked if the epidemic would affect a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping expected to take place in April, Suga said preparations for the visit were proceeding as planned.
    Japan has flown more than 500 citizens out of Wuhan.

    Update: At least 10 cases of coronavirus have been discovered aboard the Carnival Japan cruise ship "the Diamond Princess", which has been quarantined at Japan's Yokohama port since yesterday after officials learned that a passenger who recently disembarked tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong.

    As we reported earlier, 3,000+ passengers aboard the cruise ship are under quarantine. It's unclear when they'll be allowed to leave the ship. All individuals who were found to be infected with the virus were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

    Meanwhile, after unveiling the city's first virus-related death, Hong Kong health officials warned Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak could "spread widely through Hong Kong." Three newly diagnosed cases raised the total number diagnosed in the city to 18, with at least four of those cases being confirmed human-to-human transmissions, according to SCMP.

    "It is highly probable the four were infected locally, so there could be invisible chains of infection happening within communities," Chuang said. "We are not ruling out a large spread [of the virus] in the future." In other news, South Korea just confirmed 2 more cases, raising the country's total to 18 (the same as Hong Kong). And for the second time in as many hours, health officials on the mainland updated the tally of confirmed cases.
    Additionally, according to China's NHC, 185,555 cases under medical observation, up from 171,329 yesterday. Meanwhile, 892 cases have been cured. After Tuesday's rally in US stocks, will this number be all that bulls need to drive this massive short-squeeze even further? Here's the SCMP's latest roundup of coronavirus cases (it has yet to be updated to reflect the new cases):

    More than 5,000 health care workers walked off the job on Tuesday, worsening what's becoming a serious public health crisis, as they pressure the city government to close all borders with the mainland. Health officials warned that newborns and the elderly are still at risk. Back in Wuhan, the entire city remains on lockdown, with streets eerily empty aside from a handful of pedestrians.

    The New York Times just published a video of sweeping drone footage of the city, which is the epicenter of the virus and by far the hardest hit. As for the cruise ship, it's just the latest example of public officials underestimating the sheer infectious capacity of the coronavirus.

    Update: The latest data release from China's Hubei Province shows yet another huge surge in cases and deaths.
    • 3156 new pneumonia cases of new coronavirus infection were added in Hubei Province (making a total of 16,678 in Hubei).
    • There were 65 new deaths in the province, making a total of 479.
    • At present, 12627 cases are still being treated in the hospital , of which 1809 cases are critically ill.
    • 66,764 people are still undergoing medical observation.
    The full China data will be available shortly.

    Update : In a stunning announcement by officials in Nanjing Province, authorities have unveiled what amounts to full martial law and furthermore, taking enforcement of reporting the sick extremely seriously:
    Nanjing issued a notice to further strengthen community management during epidemic prevention and control: fully implemented community closed management, all people entering and leaving the community must wear masks. Strict inspection and registration of vehicle personnel in the community. Strengthen community environmental governance and management of rental housing. If an outbreak occurs in a rented house without a timely report, the leasing unit or individual of the house will be held accountable according to law.
    Nanjing is home to 8.35 million people - this has to be the largest enforcement of martial law in history.

    UpdateAfter saying the viral outbreak would have 'no impact' on the US economy last week, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow has now revised that view. The coronavirus outbreak will likely have some impact on the supply chains of American companies, but the impact probably won't be catastrophic, Kudlow told Maria Bartiromo during an interview with Fox Business Network.
    It’s not a catastrophe. It’s not a disaster," Kudlow said, adding later: We’ve been through this before and I just think the impact is minimal."

    However, Kudlow added that it might take longer for China to fulfill some of its promises from the 'Phase One' trade deal (specifically, their promise to buy an additional $200 billion in American-made goods).

    We'd be curious to know: What does Wilbur think about this?
    No new coronavirus-related deaths were announced overnight, leaving the global fatality toll at 427, with all but two of those deaths occurring in China, according to the South China Morning Post. The total number of confirmed cases is closing in on 21,000, as nearly 200,000 are 'under observation' in China.

    Yesterday, President Xi convened a second meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest governing body. The public meeting marked Xi's second appearance before the Chinese people since the coronavirus outbreak.

    According to reports in Chinee state media, Xi declared the outbreak "a major test of China's system and capacity for governance and we must sum up the experience and draw a lesson from it," while declaring the outbreak a threat to societal stability. As we reported yesterday, Xi also warned local officials that they would be punished if they failed to suppress the virus, or if they slowed down the government's efforts to fight the virus for the sake of "formalities" and "bureaucratism," according to the New York Times.

    Already, more than 400 local officials have already officially punished for dereliction of duty, despite complaints from some (including the Mayor of Wuhan) that Beijing tied their hands.
    China's financial 'support' of the WHO continued to pay off on Tuesday as the head of WHO's Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness division said that the nCoV outbreak doesn't yet constitute a global "pandemic" - directly contradicting the organization's declaration.

    As the world grows increasingly skeptical of the numbers and information coming out of China, Beijing's NHC said Tuesday that the coronavirus mortality rate would drop further as soon as "suitable treatments" are implemented in Wuhan. What kind of treatments are they talking about?

    Well, as we've repeatedly pointed out, nCoV responds to a cocktail of AIDS drugs (sometimes augmented with typical flu treatments). Some scientists have highlighted certain similarities between HIV and nCoV. NHC Deputy Director Jiao Yahui said the national fatality rate was just 2.1%, with the vast majority of deaths in Hubei province. Some scientists have projected that the real death rate might be closer to 11%.

    Especially after Hong Kong suffered its first confirmed fatality due to the coronavirus, marking only the second death from the outbreak outside China.  The dead man traveled by train to Wuhan on Jan. 21 before returning to Hong Kong two days later. Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, shut down its casinos for at least the first half of February.

    Though some other provinces are catching up, Hubei remains by far the hardest-hit of China's 31 provinces. The central Chinese province has lost 414 people, or 97% of the mainland death toll and the mortality rate in Wuhan, the provincial capital, has reached 4.9%, with 313 deaths so far. The mortality rate for Hubei as a whole is 3.1%, the highest of any province in the country.

    Outside China, 6 new cases were confirmed in Thailand overnight, along with 6 new cases in Singapore (4 human-to- human), a first case in Belgium and the revelation about 105 suspected cases in Philippines, up 25 since Monday. Anti-Chinese sentiment in the Philippines has crested since the outbreak reached its shores, with the president even threatening to deport Chinese travelers and residents en masse.

    Since our last check-in, airlines have suspended more routes to China. At least two more Asian airlines - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific and Japan's Jetstar - suspended routes to China on Tuesday, joining dozens of other airlines, including almost all of the major American carriers, in suspending passenger travel as demand plummets. Domestic airlines, meanwhile, have been asked by the Party not to cut international flights. American Airlines suspended flights to Hong Kong from Dallas and Los Angeles through Feb. 20.

    Taiwan will ban foreigners who have visited or have been living on the mainland over the past 14 days from entering the island, effective Friday. The ban won't apply to foreigners living in Hong Kong or Macau. On Tuesday, Taiwan’s coastguard stepped up patrols around the resort island of Penghun to stop Chinese fishing boats from "intruding" into Taiwanese territory (and possibly carrying Chinese desperate to avoid quarantine), the SCMP reports.

    The decision to tighten restrictions on travelers from the mainland comes after its government condemned Beijing for blocking Taipei from joining the WHO's anti-epidemic network, which would have allowed Taiwan to access first-hand information about the virus and any suppression efforts that are actually working. Australia is the latest country to evacuate citizens from Wuhan. Like Japan, the US and the UK, it has forced those rescued into a two-week quarantine.

    Japan has quarantined around 3,700 people aboard a cruise ship off the port city of Yokohama after a passenger who departed the cruise at an earlier date tested positive for coronavirus. So far, officials say they haven't detected any cases of the virus aboard the ship, but tests are ongoing. According to the Chinese press, a similar scenario is playing out at a mainland port (marking at least the third quarantine of a cruise ship since the beginning of the outbreak).

    Chinese press has also reported on cases where individuals resisted a mandatory quarantine. This is a warning to the population as much as anything.As we've repeatedly reported, signs are emerging that a combination therapy involving cocktails of drugs meant for different ailments may be effective in combating the coronavirus outbreak around the world, with different hospitals from Bangkok to Zhejiang reporting cases of patients recovering from the disease, according to SCMP.

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