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U.S. Woman From Cruise Falls Ill as 2,200 Head Home: Virus Update

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U.S. Woman From Cruise Falls Ill as 2,200 Head Home: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- The illness of an 83-year-old U.S. cruise-line traveler with the coronavirus has raised concern as more than 2,200 passengers and crew head home after being trapped at sea for almost two weeks.

The first coronavirus death outside Asia, a Chinese tourist in France, and new cases in Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia suggest no let up in the outbreak.

The UN’s top doctor warned the virus is unpredictable as he called for nations to get all units of government involved.

Key Developments

China’s total people affected: 66,492; deaths: 1,523WHO says virus path ‘impossible to predict’Westerdam passengers blocked from leaving MalaysiaU.S. senators urge emergency funding for responseEurope Suffers First Virus Death as Fatalities Move Beyond AsiaU.S. plans to evacuate Americans on board the Diamond Princess cruise shipU.K. releases eight of nine infected patientsLocking People Up to Stop Virus Spread Could Prompt Legal Fights

Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the novel coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.

WHO Chief Urges Broader Response (3:45 p.m. NY)

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged the international community on Saturday to make their response to the coronavirus government-wide.

“This is not a job for health ministers alone. It takes a whole-of-government approach,” he said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference. “That approach must be coherent and coordinated, guided by evidence and public health priorities.”

The WHO chief again praised China, saying the steps taken by the Beijing government are encouraging.

“China has bought the world time. We don’t know how much time,” he said. “We’re encouraged that outside China, we have not yet seen widespread community transmission.”

Liner Passengers Can’t Leave Malaysia (2:45 p.m. NY)

Some passengers from the Westerdam luxury liner were blocked from leaving Malaysia after an 83-year-old U.S. woman from the ship tested positive for the coronavirus, the Dutch RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said by phone.

The travelers who left when the ship docked in Cambodia and headed to Malaysia were denied boarding an Amsterdam-bound flight from Kuala Lumpur, according to the Dutch foreign ministry. Two were Dutch citizens, both RIVM and the foreign ministry said. They remained in Malaysia, along with a group of Dutch citizens that may have had contact with the infected woman, who also remains in the country. The RIVM estimates 11 people weren’t able to board.

Holland America, which operates the liner, on Saturday said everyone on the ship was tested on Feb. 10 and none had an elevated temperature, and during the cruise “no indication” of the coronavirus was evident.

The ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew was allowed by Cambodia to dock in the port city of Sihanoukville on Friday after being turned away by countries including Japan and Thailand over fears it harbored the coronavirus. The company said 236 customers and 747 crew remained on the ship on Saturday after many took charter flights to Phnom Penh to start trips home.

A number of Dutch citizens are home and will be monitored daily by local authorities. The Holland America line ship had 91 Dutch passengers, a spokesman for the RIVM said.

Democrats Urge Extra U.S. Virus Funds (12:30 p.m. NY)

The Trump administration was “strongly urged” by Senate Democrats to seek emergency funding to fight the coronavirus, and in a letter released Saturday they criticized officials for not being forthcoming about the costs of U.S. action.

A decision this month by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to shift $136 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other units showed a “need for more resources,” senators led by Patty Murray of Washington state wrote to the White House, even as administration officials “continue to assert that there are already sufficient resources.”

Emergency funding would cover states’ costs to implement federal orders such as travel screening and quarantines, the lawmakers said.

Ship Passengers to Be Isolated in U.S. (11:30 a.m. NY)

The approximately 400 U.S. citizens aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess in Japan, who are to be evacuated by the State Department, will be housed separately from other Americans who earlier returned from China and are under 14-day isolation orders.

The ship’s passengers will be screened for the coronavirus before they leave the ship in Yokohama, before takeoff, during the flight and when they land at Travis Air Force Base in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Saturday. Screening will continue for passengers transferred to Lackland base in Texas.

Canada Sends 3 to Diamond Princess (11 a.m. NY)

Canada’s Public Health Agency is sending three officials to assess the situation on Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess, quarantined in Yokohama, as more passengers are diagnosed with the coronavirus. The ship is the largest infection cluster outside China.

Global Affairs Canada is working with Japan to determine next steps, spokesperson Barbara Harvey said in an email on Saturday.

Some 3,500 people are on the ship. An additional 67 cases have been found, the Japanese health minister said, pushing total infections to almost 300.

Westerdam Passenger Has Virus (9:55 a.m. NY)

An 83-year-old U.S. citizen has been diagnosed with the coronavirus after traveling on the Westerdam, a Holland America Line ship that finally docked in Cambodia after being spurned by multiple countries.

The woman and her husband were among 145 passengers who flew to Malaysia on Friday, the country’s health ministry said in a statement. She was found with symptoms and sent to a hospital where she’s in isolation in stable condition. Her 85-year-old husband tested negative but placed under observation.

The Westerdam, a luxury liner, arrived in Sihanoukville early Thursday with more than 2,200 passengers and crew.

Virus Path ‘Impossible to Predict’ (9:45 a.m. NY)

All nations must be ready to handle coronavirus cases and prepared to prevent further transmission, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

“It’s impossible to predict what direction this epidemic will take,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement at the Munich Security Conference.

“We’re concerned by the continued increase of the number of cases in China,” he added, saying there has been a “lack of urgency” from the international community in funding a response.

“Most of all, we’re concerned about the potential havoc this virus could wreak in countries with weaker health systems,” Tedros said. “We must use the window of opportunity we have to intensify our preparedness.”

U.K. Releases All But One Patient (8:30 a.m. NY)

The U.K. discharged all but one of the nine patients being treated for the coronavirus after twice testing negative, the government said Saturday. A center in Milton Keynes, north of London, still has 100 people, the NHS said.

All 94 people being kept in in quarantine in Wirral after returning from China also have been released, according to the statement.

5 New Singapore Cases (8 a.m. NY)

Singapore confirmed five new cases of the coronavirus, all linked to previous cases, the Ministry of Health said Saturday, increasing the total people infected to 72.

Epidemic Poses ‘Severe Challenges’ to China (6:44 a.m. NY)

“The epidemic has posed a severe challenge to China’s economic and social development,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the Munich Security Conference. “Nonetheless, the difficulties will be temporary and short-lived. With its strong resilience and vitality, the Chinese economy is well-positioned to overcome all risks and challenges. The fundamentals sustaining sound economic growth have not changed and will not change.”

Death in France First From Disease in Europe (6:15 p.m. HK)

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist died in Paris, becoming the first fatality of the coronavirus in Europe, France’s health ministry said. The man’s daughter, 50, was also infected and remains in a hospital in Paris. There are now 10 remaining cases in France and four of those have been released from hospital after recovering from the virus, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said on Saturday.

China is Testing Vaccines on Animals (5 p.m. HK)

China is testing some vaccines against the coronavirus on animals, Zhang Xinmin, an official with the science and technology ministry, said at a press conference on Saturday. Vaccine research has been given top priority by the central government and the ministry has coordinated with several departments to find a solution.

Earlier, China said it’s administering its centuries-old traditional medicine along with Western medicines on patients affected by the coronavirus disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM as the method is called, was applied on more than half of confirmed cases in Hubei. To read the full story, click here.

Why Reports of Drugs for Coronavirus Are Premature: QuickTake

U.S. to Evacuate Citizens from Diamond Princess (4 p.m. HK)

The State Department will evacuate its citizens and their families from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that’s been quarantined in Japan, the American embassy in Japan said. The ship is the largest infection cluster outside China, with an additional 67 cases reported on Saturday.

Chartered aircraft will bring American passengers and crew back to the U.S., where they will be quarantined for two weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the liner has appropximately 400 U.S. citizens.

To read the full story, click here.

Isolation in Beijing (3:30 p.m. HK)

The city of more than 21 million residents told people to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks in the latest attempt to keep the deadly coronavirus from spreading. New arrivals should stay at home for observation for 14 days because it’s sometimes unclear to authorities which provinces they may have visited or transited in, He Qinghua, an official with the ministry of public health, told reporters. He did not specify who exactly the quarantine would apply to.

To read full story, click here.

Lunar New Year Travel Market Plunged (3:15 p.m. HK)

Air, rail and road travel market got slammed during the peak Lunar New Year season as fears about the spreading coronavirus prompted people to abandon trips.

Passenger travel would likely fall 45% on-year during the 40-day travel season that ends Feb. 18, the transport ministry said. Between Jan 25. and Feb. 14, airlines carried an average of 470,000 people a day, only a quarter of last year’s volume. Passengers from Feb. 15-23 were only a tenth of the peak period.

Read full story here.

Cash is Quarantined Too (1:45 p.m. HK)

China cut off the transfer and allocation of old bank notes across provinces, and between cities most affected by the deadly outbreak, according to Fan Yifei, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China. The central bank also ramped up measures to sanitize old money to reduce contagion risks and added 600 billion yuan ($85.9 billion) of new cash for Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus, he said.

WHO is Arriving in Beijing (1:30 p.m. HK)

The World Health Organization and other international experts will arrive in Beijing this weekend. They will visit three provinces and cities to learn about virus protection and control measures and will make suggestions, the National Health Commission said on its website.

PBOC Says Virus Won’t Cause Large Price Increases (11:44 a.m. HK)

The virus outbreak is putting pressure on price stability because production has been delayed, but it won’t lead to large-scale inflationary pressures, China’s central bank said.

The People’s Bank of China’s stance is unchanged and it will maintain prudent monetary policy, Deputy Governor Fan Yifei said in Beijing Saturday. The central bank is confident the effects of the outbreak can be dealt with, and the economy can be kept stable, according to a statement released before the briefing.

New Zealand Extends Travel Restrictions (9:45 a.m. HK)

New Zealand said temporary restrictions on travel from China have been extended for a further eight days, calling it “a precautionary approach” and a matter of public health. The country is preventing foreign nationals traveling from, or transiting through, mainland China from entering, and the position will be reviewed every 48 hours.

Most Critical Time, says Health Commission Official (9:15 a.m. HK)

China is entering the most critical time in its fight to contain the spreading coronavirus, Wang Hesheng, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said during a televised briefing from Wuhan. While Wang didn’t elaborate on the comment, outside of Hubei, the number of new confirmed cases have declined for the past 10 days, according to Liang Wannian, an expert at the NHC. Several other provinces have sent 217 medical teams to Wuhan as of Feb. 14, Wang said.

Apple to Reopen Shanghai Store (9 a.m. HK)

Apple Inc. would open one of the seven stores it has in Shanghai starting today, according to a company statement. The maker of iPhones had earlier said it will reopen stores in Beijing, according to an earlier announcement.

Trump Says Xi ‘Working Very Hard’ (5 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said Chinese leader Xi Jinping is “working very hard” on controlling the outbreak.

“It’s a tremendous problem. But they’re very capable and they’ll get to it,” Trump said at a Washington event Friday with Border Patrol agents, noting he has spoken with Xi.

Of Americans with the virus, “many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape,” he said.

Wuhan Sharply Tightens Lockdown of Residents (1 p.m. NY)

Wuhan tightened its quarantine on residents and said people will be confined to their neighborhoods except to seek medical care, work to fight the outbreak or keep vital services going. Wuhan has opened quarantine centers to house thousands of patients and others with symptoms, and Hubei province, where the city is located, has announced thousands of new cases a day, according to a statement.

Wuhan residents will now be allowed to leave residential compounds only for medical care. Other cities that have put lockdowns in place have allowed people to leave every few days to buy food. Neighborhoods will be barricaded off to keep people from getting in or out, and non-residents won’t be able to enter neighborhoods that aren’t theirs.

Researchers Publish New Images of the Virus (9:54 a.m. NY)

U.S. researchers published new images of the coronavirus, some of the most detailed visuals yet of the pathogen.

The images were released Thursday by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They were made with scanning and transmission electron microscopes.

To see more of the images, click here.

--With assistance from Pavel Alpeyev, Chelsea Mes, Yinan Zhao, Niu Shuping, Iain Rogers, Michael Bellusci and Wout Vergauwen.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jing Yang in Shanghai at jyang251@bloomberg.net;Dong Lyu in Beijing at dlyu3@bloomberg.net;Steve Geimann in Washington at sgeimann@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Anand Krishnamoorthy

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