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Passengers quarantined because of coronavirus begin leaving Diamond Princess ship in Japan

As Chinese authorities confirm a hospital director tasked with fighting the coronavirus outbreak has died from the virus, here is the latest.
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• 2,004 dead, more than 74,100 confirmed cases in mainland China

• Wuhan hospital director dies of coronavirus

Some begin leaving cruise ship in Japan after quarantine

• Apple says coronavirus will hit revenue expectations

• Japan plans HIV drug trials for coronavirus

• 'Every scenario on the table': WHO

Some begin leaving quarantined Diamond Princess ship in Japan

Some passengers from a cruise ship quarantined in Japan because of the novel coronavirus began leaving the vessel Wednesday after being kept on board for around two weeks.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that a few hundred are expected to leave each day for the next three days. Only those who have tested negative are being allowed to leave.

Princess Cruises, the operator of the ship, said Wednesday that the disembark process is expected to take several days because passengers will be tested, which can take two to three days. "A certificate that indicates a negative COVID-19 test result is expected to be granted by Japanese health authorities to exit the ship," Princess Cruises said in a statement.

The Diamond Princess was quarantined in early February after a passenger who got off in Hong Kong later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Since then, more than 540 people on board have tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 2,000 people in mainland China. More than 300 U.S. citizens and family members were evacuated from the ship to the U.S. Sunday.

The ship had been said to have around 3,700 passengers and crew aboard, but as people tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes the illness known as COVID-19, they were taken to hospitals.

The situation on the cruise ship prompted the Centers for Disease on Tuesday to announce travel restrictions for those leaving the Diamond Princess.

The CDC said that all passengers and crew aboard will be prevented from returning to the United States for at least 14 days after they leave the Diamond Princess. Princess Cruises said that based on information from various embassies, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong will require an additional 14 days of quarantine upon arrival.

The CDC said Tuesday that more than 100 U.S. citizens were still on the ship or in hospitals in Japan. — Olivier Fabre and Phil Helsel

Deaths in mainland China grow to more than 2,000, health commission says

China's national health commission said Wednesday morning local time that the number of deaths on the mainland linked to the novel coronavirus and the illness known as COVID-19 has risen to 2,004.

The national health commission also reported more than 74,100 confirmed cases on the mainland as of Wednesday morning.

Of the 136 new deaths, 132 occurred in Hubei Province, which is at the center of the outbreak and home to the city of Wuhan, the national health commission said.

China's national health commission had previously reported a total of 1,868 deaths in mainland China and more than 72,400 confirmed cases.

The novel coronavirus has also been detected in at least 25 other countries, including in the United States. There have been no deaths in the U.S., and the vast majority of deaths and confirmed cases have been in China, according to World Health Organization figures.

There have been reported four deaths outside of mainland China, one each in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan and France, health officials have said. — Phil Helsel

Hackers use coronavirus to spread malware

Careful what you click on when it comes to coronavirus.

Cybersecurity company Check Point published a report Tuesday detailing how the coronavirus outbreak has become a popular way to spread malware and steal sensitive login credentials — including new websites that have been created to target people who are worried about the virus.

The company said one website created on Feb. 11 purports to sell "the best and fastest test for Coronavirus detection at the fantastic price of 19,000 Russian rubles (about US$300)."

There is no such test.

Jason Abbruzzese

1,868 dead, 72,436 confirmed cases in mainland China

The total death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 1,868, officials of China's National Health Commission said Tuesday.

There were 1,886 new confirmed infections as the total number of confirmed cases grew to 72,436.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters Tuesday that the Chinese government and people have been making "all-out efforts" to counter the outbreak.

"The most stringent and thorough measures have been taken, and relevant efforts are gradually showing their effects," Geng said. "We have the confidence and capability to win this battle." — Dawn Liu

Wuhan hospital director dies of coronavirus

The head of a leading hospital in Wuhan, the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak, died of the virus Tuesday.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission confirmed that Liu Zhiming, director of Wuchang Hospital, died Tuesday at age 51.

"Since the outbreak, Comrade Liu Zhiming, regardless of his personal safety, led the medical staff of Wuchang Hospital to fight the epidemic, and made important contributions to the prevention and control of new-type coronavirus pneumonia in our city," the commission said in a statement.

Thousands of medical workers from across the country have been sent to Wuhan, which has been bearing the brunt of the epidemic, in recent weeks to help the overwhelmed local health authorities.

The Chinese government has also built two hospitals in a matter of days in the city to expand the capacity to handle a growing number of coronavirus patients.

Image: Liu Zhiming, director of Wuchang Hospital
Liu Zhiming, director of Wuchang Hospital.Ling/Ropi / Zuma Press

Liu's is the ninth known death among medical personnel battling the epidemic in China.

Earlier this month, public outrage was stirred by the death from the virus of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who had been threatened by police after warning others of an unusual respiratory illness in December, before it had spread widely.

Meanwhile, doctors and medical professionals who die after contracting the virus through their work treating infected patients are to be granted a rare "martyr" status, China's Central Military Commission announced Monday, implying "preferential treatment" for their families. — Leou Chen and Yuliya Talmazan

Cruise ship quarantine in Japan could end as early as Wednesday

Japan's health minister said Tuesday that plans to allow passengers to leave the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship were still being finalized but that the operation could start as early as Wednesday.

But the official, Katsunobu Kato, told reporters in Tokyo, near where the ship is docked, that the start could be delayed by one or two days because of the large number of passengers and crew involved.

"We still have to create a situation where they can return home smoothly," Kato said.

The Health Ministry said Tuesday that 2,404 people among the 3,700 initially on board have been tested so far and that 542 returned positive results. This represents the biggest number of cases outside China.

The U.S. evacuated more than 300 American passengers from the ship Sunday — 14 of them tested positive for the virus during the evacuation process. — The Associated Press

Apple says coronavirus will hurt revenue expectations

Apple expects to fall short of previous quarterly revenue guidance because of problems in production and demand in China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated," the company said Monday in an investor update.

It added that the worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained and that demand for its products in China has been affected, noting that all of its stores in China and many of its partner stores had been closed. — Phil Helsel

Japan plans HIV drug trials for coronavirus

Japan plans to start a trial use of HIV medications to treat patients infected with coronavirus as the growing number of cases poses an increasing threat to the country's economy, as well as public health.

Yoshihide Suga, the government's top spokesman, said at a briefing Tuesday that the government is "currently conducting preparations so that clinical trials using HIV medication on the novel coronavirus can start as soon as possible."

Suga said he couldn't comment on how long it would take for the new drug to be approved. — Reuters

COVID-19 not as deadly as other coronaviruses: WHO

The director-general of the World Health Organization has said that new data suggest that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses and that more than 80 percent of patients develop only mild cases of the disease.

The official, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told reporters in Geneva on Monday that China has published a paper with detailed data on more than 44,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, that gives doctors and researchers a better understanding of the age range of people affected, the severity of the disease and the mortality rate.

The virus causes severe disease, including pneumonia and shortness of breath, in about 14 percent of cases, he added. About 5 percent of patients have critical disease including respiratory failure, septic shock and multiple-organ failure.

And the virus is fatal in 2 percent of reported cases, while the risk of death increases the older you are, he said. — Yuliya Talmazan