Coronavirus Update

Feb 11, 2020

As 10 February 2020, approximately 40,570 cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been confirmed worldwide with 910 fatalities. Notably, total fatalities from the coronavirus have officially surpassed fatality numbers from the 2002-03 SARS epidemic that began in China. On 8-9 February, authorities in Wuhan confirmed the deaths of a U.S. citizen and a Japanese national; officials had quarantined both in Wuhan after they contracted the virus.

On 10 February, Chinese authorities lifted some travel restrictions as businesses began to reopen following an extended Lunar New Year holiday; many employers were allowing staff to work from home, if possible. Thermal scanners have been installed at transportation nodes and officials are reportedly enforcing temperature checks and mask requirements.  Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has dispatched a team to Beijing to assist authorities in investigating and containing the virus outbreak.

Ships continue to face quarantine and it remains uncertain how long these measures will last. At least 3,711 passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship — which has been docked at the Japanese port of Yokohama since 4 February — remain quarantined. Thus far, there have been at least 136 confirmed cases of the virus aboard the ship; infected individuals have been evacuated to health facilities in Tokyo. Japanese health officials are considering whether to screen everyone aboard the vessel; at present, authorities have limited the scope of screening procedures to those passengers labeled most “at risk” due to a shortage in supplies. Another cruise ship — Holland America’s MS Westerdam — continues to wait off the southwest coast of Taiwan as it seeks access to a port facility to disembark its 2,257 passengers and crew members. The governments of Guam, Japan and South Korea have refused to allow the ship to dock due to virus concerns. The vessel has reported that it has no confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus, and no quarantines have been implemented on board.

Meanwhile, at least 21 countries have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan or mainland China, including Canada, France, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. The evacuees will be tested for the virus and quarantined in accordance with each country’s specific set of procedures.

Taiwan has announced that residents of Hong Kong and Macao will no longer be allowed to enter beginning on 11 February, except for business travelers, residents of Taiwan and their dependents, and employees who were transferred to Taiwan.

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