Quarantine ends on cruise ship as death toll passes 2,000

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• Passengers begin leaving quarantined Diamond Princess ship in Japan

• Second coronavirus death recorded in Hong Kong

• U.S. evacuee from cruise ship confirmed to have virus

• 2,004 dead, more than 74,100 confirmed cases in mainland China

• China revokes credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters over opinion piece

• China announces measures to cut costs for business affected by outbreak

• Adidas, Puma warn of coronavirus hit to China business



Passengers begin leaving quarantined Diamond Princess ship in Japan

Some passengers from a cruise ship quarantined in Japan because of the coronavirus began leaving the vessel Wednesday.

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 get off the ship.

Princess Cruises, the operator of the ship, said Wednesday that the process will be be delayed as passengers are tested for the virus, 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.

Japan’s health minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters Tuesday that passengers “will have to find their own way home to from the port” and use public transport at times.

Some 621 people on board have been confirmed to have the virus out of the more than 3,000 who have been tested. There were about 3,700 passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess before the quarantine.

More than 300 U.S. citizens and family members were evacuated from the ship to the U.S. Sunday.

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


U.S.evacuee from cruise ship confirmed to have virus

Meanwhile, a new case of coronavirus was confirmed among people evacuated from quarantined cruise ship to a California military base, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The patient, who tested positive for the virus in Japan but had no symptoms, was placed in isolation Monday at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa along with another evacuee who tested negative for the virus in Japan but then showed symptoms, according to a statement from representatives of the hospital and Napa County. — Todd Miyazawa and Yuliya Talmazan


American passenger still on cruise ship unclear happens next

An American passenger who remained on the Diamond Princess cruise ship to stay in Japan near his wife, who is in the hospital with COVID-19, said he has no idea what will happen after he eventually gets off the ship.

Kent Frasure, from Forest Grove, Oregon, has been in quarantine for over 14 days but has tested negative for the virus twice and expects to leave the ship Friday.

Frasure, 42, told NBC News he has not been briefed on what happens when he walks off the ship and whether he will have to observe any travel restrictions while in Japan.

“It’s a big concern,” Frasure said. “Am I allowed to walk the streets of Tokyo? Can I walk into a Pizza Hut or something? Can I go into this sushi place or are we stuck again for 14 more days in some sort of housing?”

The State Department said earlier this week that American passengers who didn’t leave on two chartered flights provided by the U.S. government will not be able to return to the U.S. until March 4, which is 14 days after remaining passengers were expected to depart the ship. — Gabe Joselow and Bill Neely


Death toll in mainland China surpasses 2,000

Officials with China’s National Health Commission said Wednesday that the number of deaths on the mainland linked to the novel coronavirus that causes illness known as COVID-19 has risen to 2,004.

Health officials also reported more than 74,100 confirmed cases on the mainland.

Of the 136 new deaths, 132 occurred in Hubei Province, the center of the outbreak where the virus is believed to have originated.

The National Health Commission had previously reported a total of 1,868 deaths in mainland China and more than 72,400 confirmed cases. — Phil Helsel


Second coronavirus death recorded in Hong Kong

Hong Kong reported its second death from the new coronavirus Wednesday as authorities drew up plans to fly home hundreds of city residents stranded on a quarantined ship in Japan.

The 70-year-old man who died had underlying illnesses and was one of 62 confirmed cases in the Chinese-ruled city, a Princess Margaret Hospital spokeswoman said.

People wearing masks walk in Central, a business district in Hong Kong, on Wednesday. Kin Cheung / AP

In addition to those cases, 52 Hong Kong residents have tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan. There were 352 Hong Kong nationals on the ship. — Gabe Joselow and Reuters


Iran reports two preliminary cases of coronavirus

Two preliminary cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Iran, the country’s health ministry said Wednesday.

A health ministry spokesperson said two preliminary tests were confirmed positive in the city of Qom in northern Iran. — Amin Khodadi


China revokes credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters over opinion piece

China has revoked the press credentials of three journalists of the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper declined to apologize for a column with a headline calling China the “real sick man of Asia”, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Geng Shuang told a briefing that Beijing made several representations to the paper over the column published on Feb. 3, which China criticized as racist and denigrating its efforts to combat the coronavirus epidemic, but that the paper had failed to apologize or investigate those responsible.

“The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and maliciously attacks China,” Geng told reporters. “In light of this, China has decided to revoke the press cards of the three Wall Street Journal correspondents in Beijing starting today.”

The ministry spokesman did not identify the journalists — Reuters

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China. China on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 said it has revoked the press credentials of three reporters for the U.S. newspaper Wall Street Journal over a headline for an opinion column deemed by the government to be racist and slanderous.Ng Han Guan / AP file


Adidas, Puma warn of coronavirus hit to China business

German sportswear makers Adidas and Puma both said Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak was hurting their business in China due to store closures and fewer Chinese tourists traveling and shopping in other markets.

Adidas and Puma make almost a third of their sales in Asia, which has been the major growth market for the sporting goods industry in recent years.

The region is also a key sourcing hub, with many sneakers produced in China and other Asian countries.

Adidas said in a statement that its business in the Greater China area had dropped by about 85 percent year-on-year in the period since Chinese New Year on January 25. — Reuters


China announces measures to cut costs for business affected by outbreak

China’s premier announced new measures Tuesday to cut costs for businesses in the wake of the economic damages wreaked by the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at China’s powerful State Council meeting, Premier Li Keqiang said the policies are meant to stabilize business performance and maintain employment.

Li said employers’ contributions to the old-age pension, unemployment and workplace safety insurance schemes will be lowered or waived to cushion the impact of the outbreak on businesses, especially smaller firms, and allow them some respite following the resumption of normal production. — Eric Baculinao



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