New York City Suspects Patient Has Coronavirus: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- A man in New York City is suspected of having the coronavirus after returning from China, and a college student in Boston is in isolation after becoming the eighth confirmed U.S. case of the deadly disease.

More countries including Russia barred trips to China and the Hong Kong government said it may tighten border controls after medical workers called a strike to demand more curbs on travel from the mainland.

China unveiled measures to protect its $45 trillion financial system when markets re-open Monday. Millions of workers are to leave their hometowns and return to work after the extended Lunar New Year holiday.

New York City Suspects Patient Has Coronavirus: Virus Update

Bloomberg is tracking the outbreak here.

Key Developments:

  • China recorded 2,102 new cases for Jan. 31, with 268 new severe cases. There have been 259 deaths so far
  • Australia limits arrivals from China; Spain reports first case
  • NYC officials suspect patient has virus
  • Russia suspends visas for travel to China
  • Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, U.A.E., U.S. confirm more infections
  • Qatar Air becomes first Middle Eastern carrier to halt flights
  • China could struggle to honor its trade deal with the U.S.
New York City Suspects Patient Has Coronavirus: Virus Update

Boston Student Isolated at Home (4:50 p.m. NY)

The eighth person in the U.S. diagnosed with the novel coronavirus is a student in his 20s at the University of Massachusetts in Boston who recently visited Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak.

The student, who is feeling well, doesn’t need hospitalization and has been asked to stay at home in isolation, said Jennifer Lo, medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission. He arrived from Wuhan on Tuesday, a day before Boston Logan International Airport was to begin screening of passengers.

“There is a risk in exposing others, those who are hospitalized, to this virus if he had been transported,” Lo said. “So it’s actually safer for him and the general public if he is to remain in his location rather than transferring him to a hospital setting.”

Since his return to Boson, the man hans’t taken part in major public activities and officials are identifying his close contacts, said Larry Madoff, medical director of infectious disease and laboratory sciences at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. They include household contacts and health-care workers, a number so few “we could count them on our fingers,” he said.

NYC Awaits Results on Patient (4:25 p.m. NY)

A man in New York City is hospitalized in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital after showing signs of the coronavirus, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said. If confirmed, it would be the first instance of the virus in the city.

The city agency has sent their tests to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm whether the patient has the coronavirus. The analysis will take a minimum of 36-48 hours and depends on testing capacity, the department said in a tweet.

“They had recently traveled from China & presented with fever and cough or shortness of breath without another common cause,” the agency said in a tweet.

U.S. Picks Four Quarantine Sites (3:15 pm. NY)

The U.S. designated military bases in California, Colorado and Texas as sites for travelers who will be subject to a 14-day quarantine after arriving from Hubei in China, the Pentagon said.

The Defense Department said as many as 1,000 people can be housed at the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute in Fort Carson, Colorado; the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California; Travis Air Force Base in California; and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

“DOD personnel will not be directly in contact with any potential evacuees and evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing,” Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said in tweets. The Department of Health and Human Services sought access to the facilities, he said.

March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, already has about 195 American who were flown out of Wuhan, China, earlier this week on a charter flight.

Russia Halts Visas for Chinese (2:40 p.m. NY)

Russia suspended visa-free tourist travel to China and temporarily blocked Chinese citizens from reaching Russia over the Mongolia border, the government said in a tweet on Saturday in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

The Interior Ministry also will stop processing documents for Chinese nationals to enter Russia for jobs, along with permits to hire workers from China, according to a directive, the state-run TASS news agency reported. Visa-free travel was part of an agreement the two nations worked out in 2018.

Hong Kong Mulls Tighter Border Controls (1:45 p.m. NY)

Hours after Hong Kong medical workers voted to strike after their demands to shut the border with China were rejected, the government appeared to open the door for more controls on travel from the mainland.

“The government is examining the infection continuously and will explore further tightening of the management of control points,” a spokesman said. The government appealed to workers “to reconsider their decision” and keep providing service, praising them for “standing fast at their posts.”

The medical professionals in a near-unanimous vote Saturday agreed to take action starting Monday, and 9,000 members pledged to join.

A complete closing of the border sought by the workers is “not the right answer” and is not in line with World Health Organization guidelines, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at briefing.

U.S. Confirms Eighth Case (12:55 p.m. NY)

A Boston man who recently returned to the U.S. from Wuhan has been confirmed as infected with the coronavirus, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Boston Public Health Commission said on Saturday.

The man had sought medical care soon after returning to Massachusetts, according to a statement. He has been isolated and will remain so until cleared by health officials. His few close contacts have been identified and are being monitored for signs of symptoms, according to the statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the postive test result late Friday, the state and city agencies said.

Delta Ends China Flights Early (12:10 p.m. NY)

Delta Air Lines Inc. will suspend U.S.-China service this weekend, earlier than planned, the carrier said Saturday in a statement. The last China-bound flight will leave Saturday and the last return flight departing China on Sunday.

The decision reflected new U.S. requirements that deny entry to foreign nationals who went to China in the past two weeks, the airline said. U.S. citizens who visited Hubei province are also subject to possible quarantine. The Atlanta-based airline had planned to halt flights from Feb. 6 through April 30.

Delta has 42 flights a week between the U.S. and China, and daily from Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles and Seattle.

U.A.E. Reports Fifth Virus Case, WAM Says (11:30 a.m. NY)

A patient who arrived in the United Arab Emirates on a flight from Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Hubei Province, has been confirmed as being infected, the state-run WAM news agency reported, citing the health ministry.

The U.A.E. now has five confirmed cases, according to the statement.

Kim Offers ‘Deep Consolation’ to China’s Xi, Families (11 a.m. NY)

North Korea’s Kim offered “deep consolation for the families who lost their blood relatives due to the infectious disease” in a letter to China’s President Xi Jinping, North Korean state news agency KCNA said Saturday. The country’s ruling Workers’ Party also sent an an undisclosed amount of aid to its Chinese counterpart to help fight the epidemic.

Kim conveyed his desire “to render help even a bit,” KCNA reported.

North Korea shut its borders to visitors from China on Jan. 22, in an apparent effort to seal itself off from the outbreak.

Hong Kong Medical Workers Vote to Strike (9:14 a.m. NY)

Thousands of Hong Kong medical professionals voted to begin a five-day strike Monday after the government refused their demand to shut all entry points from China amid the deadly virus outbreak on the mainland.

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said about 99% of votes cast were for “Yes.” More than 9,000 members have pledged to take part, first in suspending non-emergency services offered by the city’s Hospital Authority before extending it to providing only limited emergency needs, it said.

China Seeks to Ensure Coal Supply (8 a.m. NY)

China’s energy regulator asked coal miners and state-owned enterprises to resume production, subject to inspections and health measures, according to a statement from the National Energy Administration.

The regulator wants to prioritize coal supply in areas heavily hit by the epidemic, as well as in northeast China, Beijing, Tianjin and Tangshan. NEA asked local authorities to report daily production from Feb. 3 and warned that miners that resume operation slowly will be summoned.

Taiwan Bars Entry to Guangdong Residents (7:23 a.m. NY)

Taiwan extended an entry ban to residents of China’s southern Guangdong province, where more than 500 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported. Residents of Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, have already been barred from entering the island.

Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said in a briefing Saturday that the ministry won’t rule out extending the ban to more Chinese provinces if necessary.

Singapore, Japan Report New Cases (7 a.m. NY)

Singapore reported two new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 18. In Japan, three infections were confirmed for a total of 20.

Qatar Air Suspends Flights to China (6:53 a.m. NY)

Qatar Airways will suspend flights to China starting from Feb. 3, becoming the first Persian Gulf carrier to halt flights over coronavirus fears.

The decision to stop flights to mainland China will be effective until further notice, according to a statement from the company, “due to significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by several countries.” Operations will be reviewed weekly.

China Exempts Duties on Some Health Imports (6:32 a.m. NY)

China said it will exempt some duties on imports related to coronavirus including donated goods from foreign countries and direct purchase by its health regulators, according to a statement on the website of Finance Ministry on Saturday. Meanwhile, imports of goods falling into those two categories from the U.S. won’t be subject to the punitive tariffs China has imposed amid the trade war, another statement said on the website.

Separately, the ministry of commerce said it will increase the supply of necessities including food and masks.

Myanmar Suspends Visa Issuance for Visitors From China (6:52 p.m. HK)

Myanmar said it will suspend the issuance of visas-on-arrival for all visitors from China to prevent the spread of the virus. The country is also bringing back more than 60 students from Wuhan in a special flight, and they will be quarantined when they return.

Vietnam Suspends Flights (4:30 p.m. HK)

Vietnam’s Aviation Authority said it canceled all flight permits and suspended new flight licenses for airlines operating between the country and China.

China Seeks EU’s Help on Medical Supplies (3:20 p.m. HK)

China’s Premier Li had a call with European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen on Saturday afternoon, asking the EU to facilitate China’s urgent procurement of medical supplies from its member states through commercial channels, according to a statement on State Council’s website.

Von Der Leyen said the EU is ready to help China to the best of its ability and use all possible resources, and will coordinate relevant member states to facilitate China’s procurement of medical supplies, according to the statement.

Virus May be Lurking in Feces (2:55 p.m. HK)

While doctors have focused on respiratory samples from pneumonia cases to identify coronavirus patients, they might have ignored a less apparent and hidden source of the spread: diarrhea.

The novel coronavirus was detected in the loose stool of the first U.S. case -- a finding that hasn’t featured among case reports from Wuhan. Squat latrines, common in China, lacking covers and hands that aren’t washed thoroughly with soap and water after visiting the bathroom could be a source of virus transmission, said John Nicholls, a clinical professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong.

Apple Shutters Stores (2:30 p.m. HK)

Apple Inc. said it will temporarily close all stores as well as offices and contact centers in mainland China through Feb. 9 “out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts.” Its online store will remain open. The company had issued a revenue forecast that was wider than usual due to uncertainty surrounding the virus.

Australia Bars Entry to China Travelers (2:15 p.m. HK)

Australia will deny entry to anyone arriving from mainland China, except for Australian citizens, residents or their family members, and air crew, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Sydney on Saturday. It also warned against any travel to all of mainland China.

Australia’s largest airline Qantas Airways Ltd. will suspend services to mainland China from Feb. 9, while Cebu Air Inc., the Philippines’ largest budget carrier, said it will start halting all China flights from Feb. 2. The suspensions will last until March 29.

PBOC Vows to Maintain Ample Liquidity (1:45 p.m. HK)

Banks should not withdraw loans from companies affected by the virus, especially smaller firms, according to a joint statement from China’s financial regulators including the central bank and the banking and insurance regulatory commission. Lenders should consider rolling over loans for severely-affected companies, they said.

Indonesia Evacuates Citizens (1:45 p.m. HK)

Indonesia will evacuate 245 Indonesians living in Wuhan and other towns in Hubei province, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said. They have undergone tests and been declared free of coronavirus, she said.

Thailand on Saturday said it’s monitoring 274 possible coronavirus cases, up from 212 on Friday.

Vietnam Quarantines Chinese Workers (11:20 a.m. HK)

Vietnam reported the sixth confirmed infection in the country, a 25-year-old female hotel receptionist who had contact with two Chinese men who tested positive for the virus, according to the news website of the health ministry.

Authorities in the south-central province of Quang Ngai ordered industrial parks to place about 300 Chinese workers under a 14-day quarantine and test them for the virus, VnExpress news website reported.

U.S. Case Treated With Gilead Drug (9:50 a.m. HK)

The first reported use of an experimental Gilead Sciences Inc.drug to fight the novel coronavirus has encouraged doctors to support further testing of the medication.

Gilead’s remdesivir was given to the first U.S. case, a 35-year-old man who developed pneumonia after he tested positive for the 2019-nCoV virus. The patient’s pneumonia appeared to improve within a day, with no obvious side effects, after the intravenous drug was administered, his doctors reported.

South Korea Reports Another Case (8:45 a.m. HK)

South Korea confirmed another case of coronavirus, bringing the total there to 12.

The country evacuated 333 citizens from Wuhan in a second charter flight which landed in Seoul on Saturday, according to the health ministry. About seven of those on the flight showed symptoms associated with the virus and were sent to hospital, the report said.

China Releases New Data (8:00 a.m. HK)

China said the number of coronavirus cases rose to 11,791. Of those, 1,795 are severe. The country said 259 people have died from the illness.

There are 13 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, 10 in Taiwan and seven in Macau.

Spain’s First Case (6:20 a.m. HK)

Spain confirmed a case of the coronavirus involving a patient in one of the Canary Islands. He was part of a group of five people who was in contact in Germany with a person diagnosed with the virus.

Germany reported a sixth infection from an outbreak that began at an auto-parts supplier near Munich. The new case involves a child who caught the virus from his or her father, who worked at the company, Bavarian health authorities said. The German cluster is significant because it’s one of the biggest examples of human-to-human spread outside China.

How the Virus Is Infecting the Global Economy (6:01 a.m. HK)

The potential hit in lost global growth could total $160 billion, according to Warwick McKibbin, a professor of economics at Australian National University. The effect of this outbreak could be three to four times larger than the blow from SARS.

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