A plane carrying 83 British nationals and 27 people from other countries left Wuhan, China, on Friday in an "evacuation flight," the U.K. government said.
The civilian aircraft chartered by the U.K. Foreign Office and carrying medics, left Wuhan Friday morning, the government said. Wuhan is ground zero for the novel coronavirus that has sickened thousands of people and led to over 200 deaths in China.
The plane is expected to land at RAF Brize Norton on Friday afternoon, and then go on to Spain, where the European Union countries of the 27 other people will take responsibility for their respective citizens.
The United States is among the countries that have evacuated its citizens from China amid the outbreak. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement that it was welcome news that the flight had left China. "We know how distressing the situation has been for those waiting to leave," Raab said. — Phil Helsel
A California health officer issued a quarantine order for one of the 195 Americans evacuated from China this week, after that person tried to leave the military base where they are being monitored for the novel coronavirus, officials said Thursday.
The person, who had expressed a desire to leave March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County and tried to do so, never made it off base, said Jose Arballo Jr., a spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Public Health. The person was returned to the housing area on base.
Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser issued the order requiring the person to stay for the entire incubation period or until otherwise cleared. None of the 195 being housed at the base for observation have shown any symptoms, Arballo said.
Blood and other tests have been taken, and officials are taking their temperature every few hours, he said. The base is in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles. — Phil Helsel
The number of deaths in China from the novel coronavirus outbreak rose to 213 by the end of Thursday, Chinese health officials said.
That’s an increase from the 170 deaths reported at the end of Wednesday. The number of confirmed cases in that country also rose to 9,692, Chinese health authorities said.
The World Health Organization on Thursday declared a global public health emergency over the outbreak. The vast majority of confirmed cases are in China, but cases have also been confirmed in 18 other countries.
There are now six confirmed cases in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that the sixth case involved person-to-person transmission of the virus, which is the first time that has been detected in the U.S.
The other five people had recently traveled to Wuhan, China. The sixth person had not traveled to Wuhan but shared a household with someone diagnosed with the virus Jan. 21, the CDC said. The CDC director said that while the development may be concerning, the risk to the American public remains low. — Phil Helsel
A Chinese woman whose fever sparked a coronavirus scare on an Italian cruise ship with 7,000 people on board has been diagnosed with the common flu, and not the deadly new virus that has sickened thousands of people in China, Costa Cruises said.
Costa Cruises said in a statement Thursday that Italian health officials diagnosed the passenger on board the Costa Smeralda ship. The 54-year-old woman had a fever, which was identified a few hours before the ship's arrival in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia, about 50 miles northwest of Rome.
The ship had 6,000 passengers and 1,000 crew aboard. They had been stuck on the ship because of the scare, but by late Thursday they were given the medical OK to come and go from the Costa Smeralda, officials said.
The World Health Organization on Thursday declared a global public health emergency over the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
The WHO's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the declaration is not a "vote of no confidence" in China, which has been widely praised for its transparency and work to control the outbreak. — Erika Edwards
The coronavirus appears to have inspired renewed interest in movies about global pandemics, judging by the iTunes rental charts. "Contagion" (2010), Steven Soderbergh's thriller about the spread of a lethal China-born virus, jumped to No. 10 on the list of most-rented movies earlier this week.
"Outbreak" (1995), a box-office hit about government scientists (Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo) fighting against a fictional Ebola-style virus, also spiked on the charts.
The real-life outbreak isn't just driving interest in films. "Plague, Inc.," a mobile game about viral outbreaks, has also seen a surge in popularity in recent days. The company behind the game issued a statement reminding players that their product was "not a scientific model, and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people." — Daniel Arkin
Some 6,000 people are being kept on board an Italian cruise ship on Thursday, according to Reuters, as tests are carried out on two passengers suspected of having caught coronavirus, a spokesman for the Costa Crociere cruise company said.
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The Chinese couple arrived in Italy on Jan. 25 and boarded the ship, the Costa Smeralda, in the port of Savona that same day. They subsequently came down with a fever and are reportedly suffering breathing difficulties.
On a what is supposed to be a week-long Mediterranean cruise, the liner has visited Marseilles in France, and the Spanish ports of Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca this week before docking at Civitavecchia, north of Rome. — Isobel van Hagen
Russian state media reported on Thursday that the country is closing its Far East border with China in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"A corresponding instruction was signed today. Work on it is already in progress. We will inform all those concerned properly about the measures to close the border in the Far Eastern region and other steps the government has taken," said Mikhail Mishustin, Russia’s prime minister, according to Russian news outlet TASS. — Jason Abbruzzese
China’s state CGTN network reported Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of the first official Beijing 2022 test event next month.
An International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Skiing World Cup was due to take place on the new Winter Olympic course in Yanqing between Feb. 15 and 16, but has now been called off.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Football Association announced it would postpone domestic games in 2020 and the World Athletics Indoor Championships scheduled in the Chinese city of Nanjing in March have been postponed until 2021. — Yuliya Talmazan
Australia is planning to quarantine hundreds of its citizens.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that around 600 Australian citizens will be flown out of Wuhan and neighboring cities in China’s Hubei province and will be isolated for up to 14 days on Christmas Island, about 1,600 miles northwest of Australia.
Christmas Island houses a controversial immigration facility that Australia used to detain asylum-seekers from 2003 until 2018. — Yuliya Talmazan
Japan reported three new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, all from passengers on Wednesday’s first charter flight from Wuhan.
The first case is a patient and the other two cases are carriers without any symptoms, Japan’s health ministry said. The three cases were among 206 Japanese people who were evacuated to Tokyo from Wuhan on Wednesday. — Yuliya Talmazan
The World Health Organization's Emergency Committee is due to reconvene on Thursday to decide whether the virus constitutes a global emergency. The committee voted against the move last week.
The WHO officials have raised concerns about signs of a few cases of human-to-human transmission in three countries outside China.
On Wednesday, they also praised China for the "extraordinary steps" the government has taken to prevent the export of cases. "For that, China deserves our gratitude and respect," said WHO's director general, Tedros Adhanom. — Yuliya Talmazan
American Airlines said that the company had suspended flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Beijing. German carrier Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will also suspend their flights both to and from mainland China until Feb. 9. — Yuliya Talmazan
Asian stocks and currencies fell as the death toll rose and more cases were reported with fears growing that the hit to China's economy will ripple around the world.
Zhang Ming, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank, projected the outbreak would cut the country's first-quarter growth by one percent to 5 percent or lower.
Concern is also growing that thousands of Chinese factory workers on Lunar New Year holidays may struggle to get back to work next week, due to travel restrictions imposed to stop the virus' spread. — Yuliya Talmazan
India on Thursday reported its first case of the novel coronavirus in the southern state of Kerala, the country's ministry of health said in a statement.
The patient, who is a student at Wuhan University in China, is stable and in isolation at a hospital, the statement added.
Meanwhile, Philippine health officials have also confirmed the country's first case, Reuters reported.
A 38-year-old Chinese woman, who arrived in the country from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 21, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque. The patient, confined in a government hospital, is currently asymptomatic. — Yuliya Talmazan