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Asia Pacific World

Coronavirus Live Updates: South Korea’s Leader Raises Alert Level to Maximum


President Moon Jae-in on Sunday put South Korea on the highest possible alert in its fight against the coronavirus, a move that empowers the government to lock down cities and take other sweeping measures to contain the outbreak.

“The coming few days will be a critical time for us,” Mr. Moon said at an emergency meeting of government officials to discuss the outbreak, which in just days has spiraled to 602 confirmed infections and five deaths. “This will be a momentous time when the central government, local governments, health officials and medical personnel and the entire people must wage an all-out, concerted response to the problem.”

Mr. Moon did not announce any specific measures to fight the virus. But by raising the alert to Level 4, or “serious,” he authorized the government to take steps like banning visitors from specific countries and restricting public transportation, as well as locking down cities, as China has done.

Many of South Korea’s coronavirus cases are in the southeastern city of Daegu, which has essentially been placed under a state of emergency, though people are still free to enter and leave the city.

More than half of the people confirmed to have been infected are either members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive religious sect with a strong presence in Daegu, or their relatives or other contacts. The authorities have said that they were unable to contact hundreds of the church’s members to screen them for the virus.

In a video posted on Sunday, a spokesman for Shincheonji, Kim Si-mon, said the church had cooperated fully since the first infection of one of its members was confirmed, handing over the names of thousands of members who had attended services in Daegu. He protested what he called negative news coverage of the church, which many mainstream churches in South Korea consider a cult.

“We, too, are citizens of this country and victims of the disease originating in China,” Mr. Kim said. “In fact, we are the biggest group of victims.”

The spike of cases in South Korea, along with rising numbers in Iran and Italy, has added to fears that the window to avert a global pandemic is narrowing. The World Health Organization has warned African leaders of the urgent need to prepare for the virus; it identified 13 African countries as priorities because of their direct links to China, which still accounts for the vast majority of confirmed infections and deaths.

On Sunday, China raised its official numbers to 76,936 cases and 2,442 deaths.

In Seoul, South Korea’s capital, large demonstrations of all political stripes are a routine fact of life. But with the country’s coronavirus cases soaring, the authorities say that needs to stop, at least for now.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

In a televised address on Saturday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged people to comply with a ban on large protests in the capital, warning that the government would deal “sternly” with people who participate in “massive rallies,” as well as those who hoard goods or interfere with quarantine efforts.

But thousands of Christian activists defied the ban that same day, gathering in central Seoul for their weekly protest against President Moon Jae-in, whom they accuse of coddling North Korea and mismanaging the economy.

Police officers were deployed in large numbers but made no attempt to disperse the crowd. Most of the protesters wore masks, but they booed Mayor Park Won-soon when he asked them to leave for the sake of public health.

“We care more about the country and our fatherland than our own lives,” the Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, who organized the rally, shouted at the cheering crowd. He vowed to hold another rally next Saturday.

Iran announced it would close schools, universities and cultural centers across 14 provinces starting Sunday in an effort to curb the coronavirus, which has killed at least eight people in the country, state television said.

Just days ago, Iran said it was untouched by the virus, and the sudden increase in cases has raised concerns that it may be experiencing a significant outbreak. Iran’s health ministry said Saturday that 43 people had tested positive, with eight deaths, state-run Press TV reported.

Experts have said that based on the number of dead, the total number of cases is probably much higher, as Covid-19 appears to kill about one out of 50 people infected.

Eight of the 10 new cases were in the city of Qom, Press TV reported, citing a health ministry spokesman, Kianush Jahanpour. Qom has been the epicenter of the outbreak in Iran, and mosques and schools were closed there on Thursday.

Mehr, an Iranian news agency, reported that the government had begun mass distribution of masks in cities affected by the outbreak.

The closures of schools, universities and cultural centers will last a week. It covers Qom, the capital of Tehran, and a dozen more provinces.

The authorities have also said that concerts and cultural events would be canceled for a week and movie theaters closed, while sports competitions will be held without spectators, state television reported.

The origin of the outbreak in Iran remains unclear, though some officials have speculated the virus could have been transmitted by workers from China.

The State Department raised its travel advisories for Japan and South Korea on Saturday to Level 2, the second-lowest out of four grades, recommending that travelers “exercise increased caution” due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The advisories said that while many Covid-19 cases have been associated with travel to and from mainland China, or contact with someone who had recently been there, South Korea and Japan were now reporting “sustained community spread.” That means it is not known how or where people became infected, and the spread is ongoing, the advisories said.

In Japan, health officials are investigating clusters of cases that have taken on more urgency now that hundreds of passengers have been released from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had the largest concentration of the coronavirus outside mainland China. Cases in South Korea surged to 556 on Sunday, with four deaths.

Japanese officials said Saturday that 23 of the Diamond Princess passengers had mistakenly been cleared without a recent valid test. Those passengers have since been tested and posed “no risk of infection,” the Japanese Health Ministry said.

Since early February, thousands of people returning to the United States from mainland China have been asked to isolate themselves at home for 14 days. Preventing the spread of infectious disease is the essence of public health work, but the scale of efforts by state and local health departments across the country to contain any potential spread of the coronavirus has rarely been seen, experts said.

Local health officials check in daily by email, phone or text. They arrange tests for people who come down with symptoms, along with groceries and isolated housing, in some cases. There is no centralized tally in the United States of people being monitored or asked to remain in isolation, and they are scattered across the nation’s nearly 3,000 local health jurisdictions.

People arriving from mainland China are added each day, while those who have completed 14-day “self-quarantine” periods are released from oversight. In California alone, the department of public health has been monitoring more than 6,700 returning travelers from China. Health officials in Washington State have tracked about 800, and officials in Illinois more than 200.

Even as the first of 34 confirmed coronavirus patients in the United States have recovered in recent days, health officials say they are preparing for what some fear could still be a much wider outbreak.

So far, officials say, the containment effort has been largely orderly. The only known transmission of the virus in the United States has involved people in the same household. But no matter how effective health workers are in monitoring their charges, “there will always be some leakage,’’ said John Wiesman, the secretary of health in Washington State.

“There is no way, with something this large, that you can make it seal-proof,’’ Dr. Wiesman said. While enforcing total compliance with isolation orders may not be possible, he said, “We have to try for 80 to 85 percent, and hopefully that will work.’’

State Department officials say that thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, including a conspiracy theory that the United States is behind the Covid-19 outbreak.

American monitors identified the campaign in mid-January. Agence-France Presse first reported on the assessment on Saturday.

“Russia’s intent is to sow discord and undermine U.S. institutions and alliances from within, including through covert and coercive malign influence campaigns,” said Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia.

“By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response.”

The effort was described as being carried out by several thousand Russia-linked accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which post similar messages at similar times in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

Fringe theories of uncertain origin have accused China of engineering the virus, including suggestions that it is an escaped bioweapon.

Misinformation about the virus — whether shared purposefully or unwittingly — is so rife that the World Health Organization has called it an “infodemic.” The W.H.O. has been working with big tech companies to try to quell the flood of rumors and falsehoods.

Reporting was contributed by Choe Sang-Hun, Derrick Bryson Taylor, Austin Ramzy, Tess Felder, Amy Harmon, Farah Stockman and Edward Wong.



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Education

Masks Are On. Games Are Canceled. Fear of the Coronavirus Comes to U.S. Colleges.


At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, two undergraduates from Wuhan, China, were moved to a special dorm room and told to regularly take their temperatures. At Arizona State University, a student-led petition called for classes to be canceled after a confirmed case of coronavirus. Basketball games were postponed at Miami University in Ohio after two students who had recently returned from China displayed possible symptoms.

The global alarm over the coronavirus is particularly intense on American college campuses, where students from around the world are packed in tightly and illnesses sweep through dormitories and classrooms even in normal winters.

“This virus has sent off some panic bells for me,” said Sarah Linck, 22, a junior at Arizona State, in Tempe. She began shielding herself from the virus as soon as she heard that someone affiliated with her campus — perhaps a student, perhaps an instructor, perhaps someone else — was one of six people confirmed to have the virus in the United States.

At A.S.U., which has one of the largest student bodies in the country, students have been streaming into the campus health center in larger-than-usual numbers. A cough in the back of a classroom now brings nervous glances. Students who had planned to study abroad this semester are furiously rejiggering schedules.

Ms. Linck said she had a weak immune system and had gotten pneumonia more than once before, so she has been especially cautious. Just before stores near campus sold out of face masks, she had a friend who worked at a drugstore buy her one, which she now wears nonstop.

“I don’t know if I should be as worried about it as I am, but with this being the only thing on our minds, it’s difficult not to worry,” said Ms. Linck, who studies construction management.

[Read about the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak here.]

Alarm over coronavirus heightened on Friday as Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines said they are suspending all service to mainland China, leaving travelers stranded.

At colleges across the country, administrators quickly made plans to protect the spread of the virus on their campuses and discourage travel to China. Boston University postponed its study abroad program in Shanghai that had been planned to begin in February.

Hundreds of students are being screened for the virus, either because they recently passed through Wuhan or because flulike symptoms sent them to a campus nurse. Possible cases at many schools — Baylor, Wesleyan and Tennessee Tech — have turned out to be false alarms after testing, but that has not stopped the anxiety.

  • Updated Feb. 22, 2020

    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • One of the people evacuated from Wuhan last week to San Diego had coronavirus but was discharged because of a labeling error.
    • The outbreak has left some Asian-Americans feeling an unsettling level of public scrutiny.
    • Pittsburgh, Wuhan’s “sister city,” has been shaken by the outbreak and is sending aid to relatives and friends trapped in the center of a deadly outbreak.
    • There was a race to contain the disease after one man’s cough became confirmation of America’s first case.
    • Many who recently traveled to China are isolating themselves in ‘self quarantines’ for 14 days.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at [email protected] if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story.

Carolyn Kleve, 20, a junior at Arizona State who is 13 weeks pregnant, is afraid — for herself, but even more so for her unborn child and the 5-year-olds she works with every week as a student teacher.

Ms. Kleve has already skipped one day of classes, but said she cannot miss another without affecting her grades. Before she steps on campus each day, she puts on a mask and snaps on latex gloves. She also washes her hands furiously, but worries it is not enough.

“We’re trapped in a room of 20 to 30 people and I don’t know who has what illness,” Ms. Kleve said of her classes. “Have I already come into contact with it? Who knows.”

At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, six students who were recently in Wuhan arrived this month for classes and were told to self-monitor their health in their dorm rooms. Two of the students, who were natives of Wuhan, have been rooming with each other instead of with American students, as was originally planned.

Melissa Gormley, dean of the college of liberal arts, said that the students had not showed any symptoms, and that she hoped to move the two from Wuhan into dorms with noninternational students soon.

In the meantime, they have been free to rove about campus and attended the semester’s first day of classes on Monday. The incubation period for the virus is about two weeks, meaning people can appear healthy for some time after they are exposed.

Dr. Gormley said she had met with all of the students who had traveled through Wuhan and tried to make them feel welcome.

“We would do whatever we have to do to take care of our people in our community here, whether they were from Wuhan, whether they had traveled to Wuhan, or whether they were another student,” Ms. Gormley said. “And I hope they know that. But I can imagine that being an exchange student in this context would be really scary.”

Students have described a rising anti-Chinese sentiment on their campuses that has extended to anyone of Asian descent. Some students have posted online about avoiding all Asian classmates or steering clear of Chinatowns.

Aaron Li, a senior at Cornell from China, said that he had created a form for Chinese students to anonymously submit concerns or questions about the virus and that one troubling response stuck out. It was from a student who said he had lied to his friends about spending winter break in California; he had actually returned home to China.

“He was worried about what his friends would think,” Mr. Li said, adding that some Chinese students had to simultaneously worry about the health of family members back home.

A campus satire publication dryly pushed back against the rising sentiment with an article under the headline, “Asian Student Asked If He Visited Wuhan Over Break.”

Charles Bui, 18, a freshman at the University of Houston, said he had scrolled past “dehumanizing” jokes online about the deadly virus and had personally seen people express relief after they stepped off an elevator with him.

“The environment doesn’t feel the same as it used to, and so it’s unsettling,” said Mr. Bui, who is Vietnamese-American and plans to major in business. He added that he had sometimes questioned his own reactions, asking, “Is this really about my race or am I overassuming?”

At the University of California, Berkeley, which has a large Chinese student population, officials apologized after the university health center posted an image that included “xenophobia” among a list of “common reactions” to the coronavirus. It was condemned as giving legitimacy to racism.

As the frenzy surrounding the virus grows, campus health officials are taking on two challenges: informing the public about the virus while managing exaggerated fears, and continuing to handle the flu viruses that typically spread this time of year.

Rachel Herman, the director of the Platteville school’s health center, said that members of her staff were in frequent contact with the local health department, but that they still consider influenza to be more concerning than the coronavirus.

Dr. Stacie San Miguel, the director of medical services at the University of California, San Diego’s student health center, said students and others had been flocking to physicians for checkups. The college has one of the largest international student populations — about 19 percent — in the United States, most of whom are Chinese.

“Especially the people who have been to China and had a runny nose, they’re not sure — is this something or not something? — so there has been some anxiety,” Dr. San Miguel said.

So far, the campus has not diagnosed anyone as having the virus, but at a conference on United States and China relations hosted by the college this week, officials introduced a novel standard for meet-and-greets that was aimed at calming nerves: no handshakes.

Julie Bosman, Matt Furber, Roni Caryn Rabin, Vanessa Swales and Ana Swanson contributed reporting.



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Asia Pacific World

Coronavirus Spreads as New Cases Double in South Korea


SEOUL, South Korea — The coronavirus spread to more countries and the numbers of new cases and deaths outside of China climbed, with special concern focused on South Korea, where infections doubled in a single day — raising fears that another Asian country was losing control of the escalating epidemic.

By Saturday, the virus had been identified in two new countries, Lebanon and Israel, bringing the spread to 28 countries, with about 1,500 confirmed cases outside of China, where it originated. The death toll in Iran rose to six, the highest outside of China, and the number of confirmed cases there reached 28, though experts suggest that the real number is likely to be far higher.

South Korea’s prime minister, Chung Sye-kyun, called the situation in his country “grave” and urged citizens to cooperate with the government and avoid large political gatherings, which have continued in the capital, Seoul, despite a city ban.

“The government will sternly deal with acts that interfere with quarantine efforts, illegal hoarding of hygiene goods and acts that spark uneasiness through massive rallies,” Mr. Chung warned in a nationally televised address.

The spike of cases in Korea and the rising death toll in Iran raised fears that the window to avert a global pandemic was narrowing. The World Health Organization warned African leaders of the urgency of preparing for the virus, and identified 13 African countries as priorities because of their direct links to China and the high volume of travel between the countries.

The number of confirmed infections in South Korea, after more than doubling on Saturday, rose to 556 on Sunday morning. More than half were among members of a secretive religious sect, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, and their relatives and other contacts. Most of the cases are centered in and near Daegu, the country’s fourth largest city, which has been placed under a state of emergency.

Between Daegu, a city of 2.4 million people, and a nearby province where the sect’s members often do volunteer work, 465 people have tested positive.

In the neighborhood of the sect’s church in the city, banks, coffee shops, restaurants and convenience stores have all shut down, rendering it a ghost town. Across the city, department stores, shopping alleys and traditional outdoor marketplaces have all been drained of shoppers.

The only busy sites were government-run health centers, where citizens lined up to find out whether they were infected.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

The scare deepened across South Korea as the number of patients soared and two more deaths from the virus were reported.

A 40-year-old worker at an auto-parts factory in Gyeongju, a city near Daegu, was found dead at his home on Friday evening. He was posthumously confirmed on Saturday to have been infected with the coronavirus. A 56-year-old patient from a hospital in Chengdo, another town near Daegu, died on Sunday, health officials said.

On Friday, the first reported case in Busan, South Korea’s second largest city, caused public libraries, horse racetracks and facilities for senior citizens to close. Many churches offered services only online. Others stayed open, but skipped hymns or “Amens” to limit the possibility of congregants’ exposure.

The cities of Chuncheon and Ulsan reported their first cases on Saturday, and the national news agency Yonhap reported that people there were emptying shelves of rice, instant noodle, eggs and other essential food items.

The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea also set off alarms in Israel, after nine South Korean visitors tested positive for the virus upon returning home. They had spent a week touring popular, often-crowded Israeli religious sites. On Saturday, Israel tightened its border and barred South Korean travelers.

Discussions whether to allow other flights from South Korea to Tel Aviv were planned for Sunday, Kan radio said. Health officials were working with the tourism ministry and travel agencies to book flights back to South Korea for the 1,700 South Korean tourists in Israel.

In the United States, State Department officials said that thousands of Russia-linked social media accounts were spreading disinformation about the coronavirus, including a conspiracy theory that the United States was behind the outbreak.

Two senior American officials said that the repatriation this week of 14 American citizens from the cruise ship Diamond Princess who had tested positive for the coronavirus had infuriated President Trump. Mr. Trump is a self-declared “germaphobe.”

William Walters, a top medical official at the State Department, told reporters that the decision to fly the 14 back had been made by the State Department in consultation with Robert Kadlec, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The evacuation of more than 300 Americans was already underway last Sunday when Japanese officials informed American counterparts of the laboratory test results, he said.

The decision to fly back the infected passengers was made over the objections of officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.

The C.D.C. also had advised American passengers of the Westerdam cruise ship, where a passenger was found to have the coronavirus, that they were not required to self-quarantine and were no longer subject to travel restrictions. No other infections were found among passengers on the ship, the C.D.C. confirmed.

An American woman, 83, who had disembarked from the Westerdam in Cambodia along with thousands of others passengers and crew members, had tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Feb. 15.

The woman’s diagnosis had raised concerns and worries that another vector of transmission was going global and Cambodia has called the Malaysian diagnosis flawed.

By Saturday, the patient had been cleared of the coronavirus and was being monitored in the hospital with a “slight cough” after an antiretroviral treatment, said Noor Hisham, the Malaysian health director general.

Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, said the woman never had coronavirus. The prime minister is a close ally of China and he has cast doubts on the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak.

The rise in Iran’s death toll came days after the country had insisted that it had no coronavirus cases. Kianush Jahanpur, the head of public relations at the country’s health ministry, wrote in a tweet that most of the infections came from Qom, 80 miles south of the capital, Tehran. Cases were also reported in Tehran and the northern city of Rasht.

On Saturday, state media reported that universities would be closed in 10 provinces for a week and movies, concerts and other cultural events were canceled countrywide for a week.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director, said the organization was “especially concerned” about the cases in Iran.

The spread of the virus is a concern as Iran holds parliamentary elections this weekend. Many voters in Qom lined up in front of the voting stations wearing masks according to videos from Iranian news agencies.

With confirmed cases rising in Asia and in the Middle East, the W.H.O. confirmed on Saturday that its experts were being allowed into Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus epidemic, for the first time.

Choe Sang-Hun reported from Seoul and Derrick Bryson Taylor from New York. Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech from Bangkok, Farnaz Fassihi from New York, David M. Halbfinger from Jerusalem, Elian Peltier from London and Edward Wong from Washington.



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Asia Pacific World

‘We’re in a Petri Dish’: How a Coronavirus Ravaged a Cruise Ship


YOKOHAMA, Japan — The captain came over the intercom early in the evening: A passenger who had left the ship nine days earlier had tested positive for the new coronavirus sweeping through China.

While the guests on board were unnerved, it was the final night of their two-week luxury cruise aboard the Diamond Princess. The revelry continued as the ship headed toward the port in Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city.

Passengers dined on filet mignon, attended shows in the 700-seat theater and crowded the bars and dance floors into the night. Cruise directors hastily distributed a slate of activities, including Ping-Pong, karaoke and Bollywood dance lessons, to occupy guests who would have to remain on the ship another day while public health officials screened them for symptoms.

Hoping to soak up the final hours of their romantic voyage, Tyler and Rachel Torres, newlyweds from Irving, Texas, took in a performance by a torch singer that evening. “We didn’t really consider the danger of leaving the room,” said Ms. Torres, 24, an occupational therapist. “And since we were on our honeymoon, we refused to waste our last moments on the cruise.”

As the music played on, passengers were potentially exposed to the virus. In all, it took Japanese officials more than 72 hours to impose a lockdown after they were first notified about the case connected to the ship.

The delay by the Japanese government, along with slapdash and ineffective containment measures during the two-week isolation period, would help turn the Diamond Princess into a floating epidemiological disaster.

Feverish passengers were left in their rooms for days without being tested for the virus. Health officials and even some medical professionals worked on board without full protective gear. Sick crew members slept in cabins with roommates who continued their duties across the ship, undercutting the quarantine.

With 634 infections and two deaths, the cruise ship represents the largest concentration of coronavirus cases outside China, meriting its own category in the data compiled by the World Health Organization.

The U.S. government this past week allowed 14 Americans who were infected to board evacuation flights with hundreds of passengers who weren’t. Japanese officials have since let close to 1,000 passengers who tested negative walk free, even though experts fear some of them have been exposed and could later develop symptoms. Crew members were expected to start leaving this weekend.

On Saturday, the health minister admitted that 23 passengers had been released from the ship without taking a valid recent test and had traveled by public transit after disembarking this past week.

Now that the quarantine has ended and most of the passengers have left, the concern is that they could start spreading the virus on shore.

Japanese officials said they did the best they could in a fast-moving situation, as they tried to keep the virus from spreading within the country. After confirming the first cases among those on board, the authorities said, they moved to isolate passengers to reduce transmission. The government has said the quarantine was largely effective.

The ship operator, Princess Cruises, said Japanese authorities took the lead in testing and protocols. It added that the “focus has been and remains the safety, health and well-being of our guests and crew.”

In the early hours of Feb. 2, before the ship had even docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about the initial infected passenger.

A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, and announced it to passengers on the ship that evening.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Only as the parties and shows ended around 11 that night were guests advised to stick to their rooms. After the boat docked in Yokohama, medical officers boarded the ship and went door to door taking temperatures, checking for coughs and testing some passengers for the virus.

The cruise directors scratched the planned activities the next day, while the screening continued. People still mingled on board, lining up at large buffets for meals. They used communal ladles and tongs, and shared salt and pepper shakers on tables.

Passengers figured their departure would be delayed by only a day or so. Many were walking up to breakfast when the captain came over the intercom again on the morning of Feb. 5.

The Japanese health ministry had now confirmed 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, he told them.

Guests needed to return to their rooms immediately, where they would have to stay, isolated, for the next 14 days.

Trapped in their cabins, the 2,666 passengers now had time to recall every encounter that might have exposed them to the virus in the days before the ship’s lockdown.

There was the buffet on Deck 14, where guests were urged to wash their hands before joining the line, though hygiene habits varied widely, some passengers recalled. Now they wondered why the buffet had remained open even after the ship’s officers learned about the infected guest.

Memories of art auctions, afternoon high teas, quiz nights and mahjong games all took on a sinister hue.

“Everything looks tainted in retrospect,” said Sarah Arana, 52, a medical social worker from Paso Robles, Calif., who left on an American evacuation flight.

A Princess spokeswoman said that the crew had carried out “routine environmental cleaning and sanitizing” using disinfectant that is “known to quickly kill coronaviruses in 30 seconds.”

Passengers worried about their excursions on shore. The infected passenger had taken a bus tour in Kagoshima, a city in southern Japan.

Gay Courter, 75, an American novelist from Crystal River, Fla., who once set a murder mystery on a cruise, dwelled on the ship’s last stop, in Naha, the capital of Okinawa. As people disembarked, public health officials took their temperatures — a measure that was becoming more commonplace as the virus spiraled in China.

Looking back, Ms. Courter wondered if the coronavirus had already started to spread. With her husband, Philip, and a group of friends, she ate noodles and fried sweet potatoes at an outdoor stall.

“In my heart, I regret doing that,” she said, “because it was such a crowded place and there were people from the ship crawling around the town.”

Each day, more cases emerged: 10, another 10, then a spike of 41.

What distressed passengers most was a sense that information was being withheld. Hours would pass between when the health ministry leaked new cases to the media and the people on board were notified.

Passengers took to counting ambulances lined up on the pier to guess how many new infections would be announced that day. Japanese guests hung banners off balconies, with one reading, “Serious lack of medicine, lack of information.”

Policies and protocols shifted as the quarantine wore on.

On the second day, health officials began letting those in windowless cabins out for fresh air breaks. It wasn’t until the next day that passengers were warned to keep more than six feet away from anyone else. Mr. Torres, a nurse who has since evacuated with his wife, noticed that others were not always vigilant about wearing masks on deck.

On the fifth day, passengers were issued heavy-duty N95 masks and advised to wear them when they opened their doors to accept deliveries of meals and amenities from the crew.

Halfway into the quarantine, the Japanese government announced that some people would be eligible to continue their confinement onshore — those 80 or older with underlying medical conditions or windowless cabins.

The changes didn’t inspire confidence. Passengers were waiting days for prescriptions to be filled for chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. People were running out of toothpaste and clean underwear.

Tadashi Chida, a passenger in his 70s, sent a handwritten letter to Japan’s health ministry complaining that the crew seemed overwhelmed and that quarantine officers were not attending to those with symptoms.

“The ship is out of control,” Mr. Chida said, adding that his wife had waited nearly a week for medication.

“An outbreak is happening,” he said. “We have no road maps.”

Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said this past week that the country’s authorities had “made the maximum consideration to secure the health of passengers and crew.”

At first, health officials didn’t test everyone, saying they lacked the resources. Instead, they focused on high-risk individuals: those who had direct contact with the infected passenger, and later older and symptomatic people.

Some passengers had trouble getting medical attention, even when they started to show possible symptoms. On the first full day of the quarantine, Carol Montgomery, 67, a retired administrative assistant from San Clemente, Calif., called the infirmary, saying she had a fever and wanted to be tested.

She was told that it was up to the Japanese health ministry, and that no tests were available on board. After a day passed, her husband, John, called the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and tried to convince an official that everybody needed to be tested.

“We’re in a petri dish,” Mr. Montgomery said. “It’s an experiment. We’re their guinea pigs.”

Ms. Montgomery eventually persuaded the ship’s medical office to let the couple leave their cabin for an exam. A doctor gave them flu tests, which came back negative. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic for Ms. Montgomery’s urinary tract infection.

They still did not get tested for the coronavirus. The couple later evacuated with the Americans.

John Haering, a retired railway operations manager from Tooele, Utah, called the medical office when his temperature rose sharply. He was told that if it wasn’t an emergency, he would have to wait.

At one point, someone came to the door with a clipboard, he said, asked for his temperature and left. Inside the cabin he shared with his wife, Mr. Haering, 63, sweated it out, taking cold showers and swallowing the last of their Tylenol supply as his temperature climbed to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Four days later, after his fever had broken, officials in hazmat suits showed up at the couple’s door, ordered Mr. Haering to pack a bag, and loaded him into an ambulance, leaving his wife on the ship.

The next day, a doctor at a hospital about 40 miles from the port told him he had tested positive for the virus. He remains in the hospital, while his wife, Melanie, is now in quarantine on a U.S. military base.

Through it all, crew members were working overtime, sometimes as long as 13-hour shifts. They prepared and delivered meals three times a day to 1,500 staterooms. They dropped off towels, bedsheets and extra treats for guests: Sudoku puzzles, origami papers, beauty masks and, on Valentine’s Day, chocolates.

The crew members, who numbered 1,045, had to remain on the job even as they faced the greatest risk of infection. All told, 85 crew members have tested positive for the virus.

Below deck, they shared close quarters, with as many as four to a bathroom. They ate their own meals buffet-style.

They manned phone lines as frantic guests called looking for answers to endless questions. They swabbed the decks and guardrails after each fresh air break for passengers. They did guests’ laundry. For certain tasks, they did not wear gloves, and they reused face masks for more than the recommended day.

There were also new duties: guarding the hallways at night to ensure that passengers didn’t leave their rooms. When infected passengers were sent to hospitals, crew members had to carry their luggage.

“The emotional, psychological and physical stress that we are going through now is really hard,” said a woman who worked in the kitchens, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing her job. She has since tested positive for the virus.

Even after some crew members came down with a fever, they continued to share rooms with other workers. “My cabin mate is staying with me,” said one person on the housekeeping staff who was consigned to his room when he developed a fever. “But he is working.”

“What’s the point of isolation?” he asked. “We are stuck in a box which is already contaminated.”

The virus has also ravaged public health officials who knew they were walking onto a contaminated ship. Hundreds of these officials, many of them bureaucrats with little experience in managing infectious diseases, helped with screenings and administrative tasks. Some did not wear full protective gear, and six contracted the virus.

Health ministry officials reluctantly allowed Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease specialist, onto the ship late in the quarantine. Dr. Iwata was alarmed by the lack of control measures, even among the medical staff. In videos he posted on YouTube, he said he had observed a nurse at the ship’s medical center receiving ill crew members without wearing a mask.

“She said she was already infected, and so she was completely giving up,” he said in the videos. He took down his YouTube posts after coming under criticism for violating the chain of command on the ship.

To pass the time in captivity, passengers spent long hours streaming movies or posting on social media. They did calisthenics and watched the onboard magician perform tricks on closed-circuit television.

As the infections continued to mount, boredom turned to fear. On private Facebook groups, passengers said they were desperate to leave, with their families using the hashtag #getthemoffthatboat. They questioned the effectiveness of the quarantine, fretting that the virus could pass between rooms through the ventilation system.

After American passengers raised concerns with the embassy, an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote that there was “no current evidence to suggest that the virus spreads between rooms on a ship through the air-handling system.” The best course, the official said, was for passengers to wait out the quarantine in their rooms.

A week and a half later, American officials reversed their position. The U.S. government announced that it was evacuating them before the end of the quarantine and would confine them for an additional 14 days on bases in California and Texas. A letter to American passengers said that “the Department of Health and Human Services made an assessment that passengers and crew members onboard are at high risk of exposure.”

The evacuation turned problematic. While the 328 passengers and crew members were on their way to the airport in Tokyo, American officials learned from Japanese health authorities that 14 of them had tested positive for the coronavirus.

They waited for hours on the tarmac as C.D.C. experts debated with officials from the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services about what to do. It took so long that some passengers had to get off and urinate against the side of the buses.

Officials from the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services ultimately decided to take them all. They put the infected at the back, separating them on two planes with only 10-foot plastic sheeting and tape.

As the passengers boarded, Ms. Courter was standing next to a woman as she was being told she had tested positive. “We were less than three feet away,” Ms. Courter said. “And I remember thinking, ‘I just spent two weeks to avoid anyone who is positive, and now here is one breathing right in front of me.’”

Other countries followed the lead of the United States in organizing charter flights for their citizens and new 14-day quarantines. Still, that left many to just walk off the ship at the end of the quarantine in Yokohama, including a large number of Japanese passengers, who made up half of those on board.

The night of Feb. 18, the health ministry began clearing passengers to leave, giving all certificates saying they had tested negative for the coronavirus and posed “no risk of infection.” Nearly 1,000 walked free over the next three days, some boarding city buses, others climbing into taxis.

Experts have questioned whether those passengers truly pose no risk to the general public. Some could develop symptoms later after having tested negative.

Just two days after leaving the ship on Wednesday with a negative test result, a woman in her 60s developed a fever and tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

The day after news emerged that the 14 passengers who had tested positive were being flown to the United States, President Trump was furious, said two American officials. The decision to fly them into the country had taken him by surprise.

On Thursday, Linda Tsukamoto, 63, a retired retail manager from Marina del Rey, Calif., who decided not to take one of the American flights, was released from the ship. She will not be allowed back into the United States for at least another two weeks, so she checked into a hotel in Tokyo.

She said that hotel staff members were wearing masks, and that there were signs warning guests of the risk of the coronavirus.

“I will stay in most of the time,” she said, “to stay safe after this long journey.”

Reporting was contributed by Eimi Yamamitsu, Makiko Inoue and Hisako Ueno from Tokyo; Ben Dooley and Edward Wong from Washington; and Elaine Yu from Hong Kong.



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Coronavirus Live Updates: W.H.O. Team Heads to Wuhan as Its Leader Warns Africa


A team of experts from the World Health Organization were traveling on Saturday to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

Health professionals from the U.N. agency have worked on the outbreak in three Chinese provinces — Beijing, Sichuan and Guangdong — but had not yet been to the city at its heart.

Dr. Tedros confirmed the trip during an address on Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, where he spoke of the virus’s increasing global spread and urged them to prepare for possible cases on their continent.

“We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Dr. Tedros told the leaders, who had gathered for an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent.

As of Saturday, the virus had spread to 26 countries, and 1,200 cases had been confirmed outside China, including more than 200 new cases in South Korea, multiple infections in Italy and Iran, and one in Egypt, the first to be confirmed in Africa. China has reported over 76,000 cases, including over 2,300 deaths.

With only one confirmed case on the continent, Africa has so far been mostly spared, but health officials have warned that the spread could be deadly in countries with already-strained health systems.

The W.H.O. has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China or their high volume of travel with it, and it has provided online training on the coronavirus to 11,000 African health workers.

South Korea reported 229 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, adding to fears of a global pandemic, while Samsung, the Korean company that is the world’s top smartphone maker, shut down a factory after a worker tested positive for the virus.

The new cases in South Korea brought that country’s total to 433 — more than half of them members of a secretive religious sect, their relatives or others who had gotten the virus from them. Another 111 of the cases were patients or staff members at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, where the two South Koreans who have died of the virus had been admitted.

More than 1,250 members of the sect, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, have reported potential symptoms, and officials are still trying to locate 700 members so they can be screened.

The Samsung factory, located in the city of Gumi, about an hour north of Cheongdo, is expected to resume operations on Monday morning, Samsung said. But the floor of the factory where the patient has worked will be closed until Tuesday morning, it said.

“The health and safety of our employees are our highest priority,” the company said in a statement. “The company plans to implement all necessary measures for disinfection and containment promptly.”

The Gumi factory mainly supplies the domestic market. The company also produces its smartphones in plants in Vietnam and India.

Iran, which insisted as recently as Tuesday that it had no coronavirus cases, confirmed 28 cases and five deaths on Saturday, according to Iranian news reports, making it the country with the highest death toll outside of China, where the number climbed to 2,345 on Saturday.

On Saturday, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization’s director, said the organization was “especially concerned about the increase in cases in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iran was the first country in the Middle East to declare deaths related to the virus. The head of public relations at the country’s health ministry, Kianush Jahanpur, wrote in a tweet that most of the infections came from Qom, 80 miles south of the capital, Tehran. Officials also confirmed cases in Tehran, and in the northern city of Rasht.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Already, cases of travelers from Iran testing positive for the virus have turned up in Canada and Lebanon.

As Iran holds parliamentary elections this weekend, many voters in Qom lined up in front of voting stations wearing masks, according to videos from Iranian news agencies.

Conflicting news reports emerged on Saturday about the mayor of a district of Tehran, who was said to have been hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms on Friday. But the semiofficial news agency Fars later denied that the mayor, Morteza Rahmanzadeh, had been hospitalized, saying he was in good health.

The total number of infections in China rose above 76,000 on Saturday. Spikes in infections were also reported in the United States, which now has 34 cases, with more expected, and Italy, which has 17 and has ordered mandatory quarantine measures.

“The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Dr. Tedros said on Friday. “These dots are actually very concerning.”

An American woman whose coronavirus diagnosis upended the travel plans of thousands of cruise ship passengers, as well as raising fears that another vector of transmission was going global, is now free of the virus, Malaysian officials said on Saturday.

On Feb. 15, the Malaysian health authorities said that the woman, 83, an American passenger who had disembarked from the Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia, had tested positive for coronavirus after arriving at the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Passengers had begun leaving the Westerdam the day before in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where they were welcomed personally by Prime Minister Hun Sen, after the ship had been turned away from several other ports of call. The cruise ship’s owner and Cambodian officials maintained that all of the Westerdam’s passengers were virus-free, even though only 20 among the more than 2,000 people aboard had been tested for the coronavirus.

With the news that the American, who has not been publicly identified, had tested positive — and that a second test had confirmed the result — a Cambodian lab went into overdrive. The lab tested every passenger still in the country for coronavirus, while health experts worried that those who had already left might be unwittingly spreading the virus across the globe.

On Saturday, the Malaysian health director general, Noor Hisham Abdullah, said in a statement that the American woman was now clear of the coronavirus and was being monitored in the hospital with a “slight cough,” after an antiretroviral treatment.

About 80 percent of patients who contracted this strain of coronavirus had mild symptoms, Dr. Noor noted, citing data from the World Health Organization.

The announcement led to a furious response from Mr. Hun Sen, who accused the Malaysians of shoddy lab work. The woman never had coronavirus at all, Mr. Hun Sen claimed.

“The irresponsibility of some foreigners on the health test of Westerdam passengers makes Cambodia the victim of its humanitarian work,” Mr. Hun Sen said in a Facebook post on Saturday. “If I were the Malaysian P.M., I would remove the health minister for being neglectful and irresponsible.”

Dr. Noor, the Malaysian health director general, did not retract the earlier positive test results in his statement. The World Health Organization on Saturday said it had no update on the woman’s test results.

Just days after releasing nearly 1,000 passengers from the cruise ship quarantined for two weeks in the port of Yokohama that has been a coronavirus hot spot, Japan’s health minister admitted that 23 passengers had been mistakenly cleared to leave without taking a valid recent test.

In a news briefing on Saturday night, the health minister, Katsunobu Kato, apologized for the mishap, in which the passengers left the ship, the Diamond Princess, on Wednesday and Thursday although they had not been tested for the coronavirus since before the ship went into lockdown on Feb. 5.

In certifying that the passengers posed “no risk of infection,” the Japanese Health Ministry said it had tested them and checked for symptoms as they disembarked.

Mr. Kato said that all 23 mistakenly cleared passengers had left the ship and boarded some form of public transportation. He said none of them had reported any symptoms so far and 20 had already agreed to be retested, with three negative tests so far.

Although several governments that evacuated citizens from the ship — including those in the United States, Australia, Hong Kong and South Korea — confined them for an additional 14 days at home, Japan said that passengers who had tested negative for coronavirus and showed no symptoms could leave starting this week.

On Tuesday, the day after news emerged that 14 passengers who had tested positive were being flown to the United States, President Trump was furious, a senior American official said. The decision to fly them into the country had taken him by surprise.

Mr. Trump is a self-declared “germophobe.”

The Washington Post reported on Mr. Trump’s anger on Friday.

The previous day, William Walters, a State Department official, told reporters that the decision had been made by the department in consultation with Robert Kadlec, a Health and Human Services official, shortly after Japanese officials had informed American counterparts of the laboratory test results, as the 15 or so buses were en route from the Diamond Princess to the tarmac at Haneda airport.

On the subject of the passengers released untested, Mr. Kato said that public health officers who had been conducting the tests missed the 23 passengers as they went door to door.

“While they made their multiple rounds to take samples, some passengers left their rooms to go outside and do exercise or something,” he said, “so they were unavailable.”

A total of 634 people tested positive on board the cruise ship, and two passengers infected with the coronavirus have died.

Dozens of British and European passengers from the coronavirus-hit cruise ship the Diamond Princess arrived in Britain on Saturday, after weeks trapped onboard the ship off Japan, according to Britain’s Foreign Office.

A repatriation flight landed at the Boscombe Down military base in southern England with 32 people aboard, who were expected to be placed under a 14-day quarantine.

The passengers arrived as Britain’s National Health Service said it was trying out home tests for the coronavirus in London. Prof. Keith Willett, the strategic incident director for the outbreak at the N.H.S., said in a statement that letting medical staff visit potential coronavirus patients at home was “safer for you and your family and limits the spread of infection.” Home tests may be expanded to other cities in the coming weeks.

The British authorities said at least nine people in the country had tested positive for the virus. Elsewhere in Europe, there have been 12 confirmed cases in France, 16 in Germany, and at least 20 in Italy, among other countries.

Airline revenue down $29 billion. Auto sales in China cratering. Supply chains snapped.

The coronavirus outbreak, whose breadth and duration remains a disquieting question mark, is forcing international companies across nearly every industry to face a stark reality: Business will not go on as usual.

And investors have taken notice. U.S. stocks fell for the second straight day on Friday, with the S&P closing more than 1 percent lower, putting it on pace for its worst day of the month. Oil and gas prices also fell.

Auto sales in China collapsed this month, with the Chinese Passenger Car Association saying that sales at dealerships had plummeted 92 percent in the first half of February compared with the same period last year. China is the world’s biggest car market by a wide margin, so a nose-dive in sales causes pain.

The International Air Transport Association this week warned of a deep drop in earnings of about $29 billion in this year among global carriers, with virtually all of the losses expected to hit airlines in the Asia-Pacific region.

A dozen coronavirus cases have been confirmed at a single nursing home in Wuhan, China, the city at the center of the epidemic. Public health experts have said that nursing homes are among the most dangerous sites for transmission of the virus.

The elderly have been particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, with many of the reported deaths occurring among people 60 and older. And nursing homes often house their residents in close quarters, which facilitates the rapid spread of viruses.

The nursing home, the Wuhan Social Welfare Institute, said 11 elderly residents and an employee had been confirmed to have the virus, according to a notice from the municipal civil affairs bureau in Wuhan, where the coronavirus emerged. One of the residents has died, the notice said.

The nursing home also reported 19 suspected infections, involving 12 employees and seven residents.

“I think nursing homes would be the most dangerous place for an outbreak to occur,” said Dr. Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong.

In an indication of the risks that nursing homes pose, officials in recent days have moved to impose restrictions on how they provide care.

The Wuhan Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs recently told nursing home directors that in order to prevent cross-infections, residents would no longer be allowed to return to their nursing homes if they visited a hospital for medical treatment, according to a report by the news outlet Southern Weekly. The report was removed by government censors.

In the city of Qiqihar, near the Chinese border with Russia, a district party secretary was removed from his post because he had not done enough to prevent the epidemic, according to an official notice on Feb. 15. Of 10 confirmed cases in the district he oversaw, one occurred in a nursing home, the notice said.

In the eastern province of Zhejiang, an official recently said that the province had been the first in China to seal off nursing homes, barring all from entering except for some essential staff members.

“Everyone knows that the elderly are the key group for epidemic prevention and control, and nursing homes are a place where the elderly live in high concentration,” said the official, Li Jie.

The French government said Friday it would urge companies to review their “overdependence” on China for raw materials and parts as the coronavirus outbreak exposes weaknesses among French manufacturers that have outsourced their supply chains there.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government had ordered a review of which strategic industries have grown too reliant on China for production, and is looking at ways to start bringing some production back to France or Europe.

He singled out automakers, which have had trouble getting parts like brake pedals, and the pharmaceutical industry, which gets 80 percent of the raw materials for some drugs from China and Asia.

“The epidemic shows that supply bottlenecks create problems in certain strategic industries,” Mr. Le Maire said after meeting with French business leaders about the economic fallout of the epidemic.

The government estimated the economy may shrink by around 0.1 percent this year as result of the outbreak. The government will help French companies affected by the virus by extending deadlines for paying taxes and encouraging big firms, especially in the luxury industry, to go easy on smaller suppliers having trouble filling orders.

France is also studying whether to allow companies to declare the coronavirus a “force majeur,” which relieves firms from liabilities for breach of contract because of circumstances beyond their control.

Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, is home to more than one third of all French investment in China.

The disappearance of tens of thousands of flights from China’s skies in recent weeks points to how the coronavirus has hobbled a nation.

Within just three weeks — from Jan. 23 to Feb. 13 — daily departures and arrivals for domestic and international flights in China dropped to just 2,004, from 15,072, according to Flightradar24, an industry data firm.

Restrictive measures adopted by China have helped delay the spread of the virus to other countries, the World Health Organization said this week, but the country’s increasing isolation could have lasting economic consequences.

Chinese travelers account for about a fifth of all tourism spending, more than any other country, according to the U.N.’s World Tourism Organization. In 2018, Chinese residents spent $277 billion abroad, according to the United Nations, or nearly twice as much as residents of the United States.

Oxford Economics said in a new report that, in a worst-case scenario, the outbreak could cut $1.1 trillion in global output.

Reporting and research were contributed by Hannah Beech, Liz Alderman, Vivian Wang, Choe Sang-Hun, Elian Peltier, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Farnaz Fassihi, Steven Lee Myers, Elaine Yu, Marc Santora, Matt Philips, Niraj Chokshi, Amie Tsang, Keith Bradsher, Amber Wang, Yiwei Wang and Ed Wong.



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With 4 Deaths in Iran and More Cases on 3 Continents, Fears of Coronavirus Pandemic Rise


Read live updates on the coronavirus outbreak here.

HONG KONG — An alarming surge of new coronavirus cases outside China, with fears of a major outbreak in Iran, is threatening to transform the contagion into a global pandemic, as countries around the Middle East scrambled to close their borders and continents so far largely spared reported big upticks in the illness.

In Iran, which had insisted as recently as Tuesday that it had no cases, the virus may now have reached most major cities, including Tehran, and has killed at least four people, according to health officials. Already, cases of travelers from Iran testing positive for the virus have turned up in Canada and Lebanon.

The number of cases also soared in South Korea, with the sudden spread tied to a secretive church where hundreds of congregants attended services with numerous people infected with the virus.

The United States now has 34 cases, with more expected, and Italy experienced a spike from three cases to 17 and ordered mandatory quarantine measures.

“The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.”

As uneasiness about the breadth and duration of the outbreak grew, stocks fell for the second straight day on Friday amid worries the virus would drag down global demand and hurt the world economy.

The disturbing reports out of Tehran suggested the virus was being transmitted far more widely there than officials had previously acknowledged. While the country’s health officials confirmed only 18 cases by Friday, the number of deaths indicates the total is likely to be far higher.

Four reported deaths probably mean at least 200 cases, said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. If the virus kills about 2 percent of known victims, as Chinese doctors have reported, then the number of deaths can be multiplied by 50 to get a rough case estimate, he explained.

“People don’t die right away of this virus — it usually takes two or three weeks after cases start to spread for the first death,” Mr. Osterholm said. “So there may be a lot more cases, and a lot more deaths on the way. And we didn’t even know there was a problem in Iran before yesterday.”

Minou Mohrez, who is on the infectious disease committee of the Iranian Health Ministry, told the official IRNA news agency on Friday that it was clear the virus was spreading across Iran’s cities.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

“A coronavirus epidemic has started in the country,” she said. “It’s possible that it exists in all cities in Iran.”

A spokesman for the Health Ministry, Kianush Jahanpur, said on Friday there were more than 735 people hospitalized with flulike symptoms who were being tested for the virus.

Kuwait’s civil aviation authority on Friday stopped all flights to and from Iran, which shares a long border with both Afghanistan and Iraq, where health officials have a limited capacity to stop the spread of the virus should it find its way to those countries.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, the director of infectious hazards management for the W.H.O., said the rapid increase in cases in Iran was disquieting.

“We are wondering what the extent of the outbreak in Iran is,” she told reporters on Friday. “We are wondering about the potential for more cases to be exported in the coming days. We want all countries to be aware of this and to put in place detailed measures to pick up these cases as early as possible.”

As concern grew that Iran was emerging as an important new vector of transmission, the country where the coronavirus originated was also responding to significant negative developments.

Officials in China, already straining to deal with an outbreak that has infected more than 76,000 people and resulted in 2,300 deaths, announced a new front in its war on the virus on Friday as officials reported clusters of infections in at least four prisons in three provinces.

The outbreaks, affecting at least 512 prisoners and guards, raised the specter of the disease spreading through the country’s extensive prison system.

More than 200 of the infections occurred in one prison in the city of Jining, 450 miles east of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province and the center of the outbreak; officials there suggested that the cluster may have been tied to a prison guard.

In South Korea, the total number of cases surpassed 340 on Saturday morning, and the authorities were racing to trace all the people who had come in contact with members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. Members of that church, along with their relatives and others who got the virus from them, account for more than half of the country’s confirmed infections.

More than 1,250 other church members have reported potential symptoms, health officials said, raising the possibility that the nation’s caseload could skyrocket.

As of Saturday, more than 700 members of Shincheonji, which mainstream South Korean churches consider a cult, still could not be reached, according to health officials, who were hoping to screen them for signs of infection.

In response, the government is shutting thousands of day-care facilities and community centers, even banning the outdoor political rallies that are a feature of life in downtown Seoul.

All four virus-related deaths in Iran occurred in Qom, a holy city popular with Shiite pilgrims across the Middle East.

People have already tested positive in Qom, Tehran and Gilan, near the Caspian Sea, said Mr. Jahanpur, the Health Ministry spokesman.

“Most of these people were residents of Qom or they had traveled to Qom in the past days or weeks,” he said.

In Qom, schools and religious seminaries were shut down on Thursday as officials urged people to avoid gathering in large groups. But on Friday, as Iranians went to vote in parliamentary elections, polling stations were open and the communal pools of ink for people to dip their fingers proving they voted were in wide use.

With rumors spreading across the country on instant messaging services like Telegram, a confused and increasingly worried public watched as Tehran’s largest metro station was suddenly closed. Workers wearing protective gear descended on the station, apparently responding to reports of sick commuters. It remained closed Friday night.

There was growing skepticism over the government’s handling of the outbreak. Mahmoud Sadeghi, an outspoken member of Parliament from Tehran, accused the government of “covering up the spread of an epidemic.”

While the source of the outbreak in Iran could not be pinned down, officials speculated that it began in the large population of Chinese workers in the country.

Critics accused the government of playing down the disease, and failing to take strict precautions to prevent its arrival in the country, in order to avoid provoking China, a key trading partner and a lifeline for Iran’s economy in the face of U.S. sanctions.

The sanctions against Iran could hamper its ability to contain the spread of the virus and diminish the country’s ability to mobilize international support.

“Iran does have problems accessing specialized medication for rare and special diseases because of sanctions — either private companies or banks refuse to work with Iran in fear of U.S. secondary sanctions,” said Tara Sepehri Far, an Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch.

The new global clusters showed, again, the difficulty in judging the true number of infections, amid concerns about underreporting and rapidly shifting definitions of confirmed cases.

Further bolstering the idea that the virus is spreading widely, an epidemiological modeling team from Imperial College in London estimated Friday that two-thirds of the people infected with coronavirus who left mainland China before restrictions were imposed had traveled throughout the world without being detected.

The team, one of several modeling groups regularly consulted by the W.H.O., calculated how many cases were detected in different countries and how many should have been detected based on flights that left Wuhan just before most air travel out of China ended.

Detection failures “potentially resulted in multiple chains of as-yet-undetected human-to-human transmission,” the modeling team’s study concluded.

The virus is spreading even in places that might be expected to have the closest monitoring and prevention. In Beijing, a spike in cases at two hospitals raised fears that the epidemic could be growing in a city so far largely exempt from extensive infections.

The infections — and in some cases, deaths — of medical workers have become a potent symbol of the epidemic’s toll for many Chinese. On Thursday, another doctor in Wuhan died. The doctor, Peng Yinhua, 29, had postponed his wedding to continue treating patients, according to local news reports.

Earlier this week, a high-profile doctor, Liu Zhiming, the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died.

The almost random nature of new reports and new deaths is an indication the virus is moving much faster than countries are reporting to the W.H.O., Dr. Osterholm said.

“How many of these clusters and travel cases and prison outbreaks do we have to see before we realize that we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg?” he said. “Testing is just getting set up around the world. There’s barely any in Africa right now. Even in the U.S., we’re testing travel cases — but we’re not testing in any meaningful way that will pick up cases that we didn’t suspect were there.”

Vivian Wang reported from Hong Kong, Donald G. McNeil Jr. and Farnaz Fassihi from New York, and Steven Lee Myers from Beijing. Marc Santora contributed reporting from London and Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea.



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Education

Coronavirus Forces Foreign Students in China to Choose: Stay or Go


HONG KONG — Word came from home via hurried emails and instant messages to campuses across the country: Leave China now.

Dexter Lensing listened. China had just been stricken by a new coronavirus that so far has killed more than 1,300 people and ground much of the country to a virtual halt. The Ph.D. student was one of nearly half a million foreigners studying at universities in China who was forced to choose whether to stay or leave.

For decades, students like him have bridged language, politics and culture to help close the distance between China and the rest of the world. Mr. Lensing in particular was drawn to China by its opaque political system, in which decisions are made in the shadows and people in power can rise and fall with the eddies of Beijing’s palace intrigue.

Now Mr. Lensing is one of likely thousands of others who are wondering when or whether they will have an opportunity to study in China again.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been so disappointed in my life,” said Mr. Lensing, 33, who is now in Belmont, N.C., with his sister. In his final academic year at Georgia State University, he worries he will not have a chance to return. His most valuable possessions, he said, remain in a dormitory in the northern Chinese city of Harbin.

The coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,300 people in China, has temporarily severed many of the ties between the country and the global community. For many Chinese students abroad, that means worrying about family at home and, in some cases, enduring unwanted attention from classmates.

For many foreign students studying in China, the outbreak has frozen or even ended their opportunities to study a vast and complicated country. The severing comes at a fraught time for China’s relations with the world, as it seeks to build itself up as a counterweight to American global influence.

The impact could be particularly significant when it comes to the United States. Many of the young American students who traveled to China in the 1980s when China began to open up went on to become journalists, business leaders and politicians who helped connect the two countries.

But student exchanges were already falling, and educational partnerships have been under pressure by free speech and geopolitical issues. The number of American students studying in China totaled about 11,600 as of 2018, down more than 2 percent compared with the year before.

“It’s a metaphor for the decoupling that is going on in the high technology, trade and investment realm, although for totally different reasons,” said Orville Schell, the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. “All of those trends represent a wrenching of the fabric that was weaving a more cosmopolitan side of China.”

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Not all students have fled. Some were stuck, like a group of Nigerian students and teachers at the universities in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. The government of Pakistan has told about 800 other students to stay in Wuhan for fear that their country’s health care system cannot handle their return.

Some, like Kathy Song, chose to stay. Ms. Song, a China studies and social sciences double major at New York University Shanghai, has taken up residence with her uncle, aunt and young cousin, who live in Beijing.

Ms. Song, 19, who speaks Mandarin and practiced during summer holidays in China visiting relatives, chose to study in China because she believes that, as an American born Chinese, she can help to dispel misconceptions on both sides.

“China is the world’s biggest developing country,” she said, “and I believe its relationship with the U.S. is going to be one of the most important for this century.”

With much of the city closed, Ms. Song is spending a lot of her time indoors. Inspired by her uncle, she has taken up calligraphy. She is also learning the differences in parenting styles between her uncle and her parents back in New York.

“My uncle cares a lot about the studies,” she said, adding, “He’s way more intense than my parents.”

Others who chose to stay are discovering how much they miss human interaction. Esma Dallakyan, a masters student from Armenia studying at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, spends most of her time studying in her dorm room. Campus life is increasingly isolating.

“All the streets are empty and you can’t find anyone to talk to,” she said, “It’s a little bit lonely.”

As a student of public health and a former Armenian health official, she has been getting a different kind education. “Now, as I see the efforts of the government in real time, I feel like it’s an internship,” said Ms. Dallakyan, 26.

Those who left China have little to do but wait.

“I live far away and it’s not easy to buy tickets and plan when to go back to China,” said Diego Rocha, 31, who is in his second year of an M.B.A. at Tsinghua-MIT.

Mr. Rocha, who is now home in São Paulo, Brazil, said that if graduation in the spring is delayed he will have a harder time getting a visa to stay and find a job in China. During the final semester, business students are partnered with a local company, something that is now up in the air.

For foreign students living in a country where information is heavily controlled, many like Mr. Rocha and Ryan Trombly, 19, were caught off guard by the sudden panic, adding to their sense of rootlessness.

“It’s funny because it really came out of the blue for a lot of us,” said Ms. Trombly, a sophomore at Duke Kunshan University, a new academic partnership between Duke and Wuhan University in China.

Just a week before authorities began to shut down entire cities to try to contain the outbreak, Ms. Trombly was on a study tour through Nanjing, Shanghai and Hangzhou. “There were a few foreign articles but no domestic attention on the virus, and so we were traveling without masks,” she said.

By the time she left the country on Jan. 24 for a long-planned visit to see her parents in Phoenix over China’s weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, her local train station — usually brimming with people — was the quietest she had ever seen it.

Ms. Trombly plans to eventually return to China to complete two more years of study. For now she is taking online classes.

“I know China is on the rise and very important for what I want to do in the future in international relations,” she said.

Some students were savvy about China’s history with outbreaks. Government officials initially hid the outbreak of SARS 17 years ago, worsening the spread and raising questions about Beijing’s transparency on matters of global safety.

Kerrie Wong, 33, is in her second year of her M.B.A. at Tsinghua with Mr. Rocha. Like him, she stayed in China after the first year of study, even though it is not mandatory.

But on Jan. 1, when there were just a few reports of people falling ill, her mother called from Boston.

“She was telling me that I need to get out now,” Ms. Wong said. She and her parents had lived in Hong Kong during the SARS crisis, which killed nearly 300 people in the semiautonomous Chinese city. She flew out of Beijing on Jan. 7.

She will need to return to China to give her oral defense which was originally scheduled for April or May. Still, she didn’t regret her decision.

“The worst fear is that, as a foreigner, when the news is not as transparent as western news, there is always going to be an information lag,” she said.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry.”



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Business Energy & Environment

Saudi-Russian Alliance Is Strained as Coronavirus Saps Demand for Oil


An alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia has helped prop up oil prices for the last three years. But the two big oil producers were not in perfect harmony this week, as they have tried to recalibrate production targets to cope with reduced demand from China, whose economy has been crippled by the coronavirus epidemic.

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, wanted to move ahead quickly with a meeting to consider new production cuts, but he has struggled to persuade Moscow, even after his father, King Salman, made a call to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Monday.

Instead, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries this week convened three long days of meetings of a technical group that produced a recommendation to cut output by 600,000 barrels, an almost 30 percent addition to curbs agreed upon in December but probably less than the Saudis wanted, according to some analysts.

Still, Russia’s representatives told the group that while they found the recommendations reasonable they needed more time to consider them, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The inability to reach a quick consensus inevitably raised concerns about whether Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, and Russia were still able to work together to coordinate oil policy.

“The real question is whether the Russians and the Saudis are on the same page on the necessity for collective action,” said Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, who monitored the meeting in the OPEC press room.

Ms. Croft speculated that Russia might be “slow-walking” on cuts, though she figures that Moscow will come around in time.

Still, the fact that meetings did occur, and the prospect that further cuts might be on the way, was enough to at least temporarily halt what had been a steep fall in oil prices since the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has now killed more than 600 people in China. Brent crude, the international benchmark which exceeded $70 a barrel in early January, was trading at about $55 a barrel on Friday.

In an interview, Bjornar Tonhaugen, head of oil market research at Rystad Energy, a research firm, said the 600,000-barrel-a-day cut being discussed was “quite a reasonable number.”

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

As OPEC ponders what to do, it faces a difficult calculation. The degree of impact that the coronavirus outbreak will have on demand for oil is not yet known, though it is expected to be substantial. Several Chinese cities have been seemingly shut down, with some factories idled and flights canceled.

The curtailment of economic activity will result in a major reduction of energy consumption — a huge concern for OPEC because China is the world’s largest energy importer and a key customer. Wood Mackenzie, a market research firm, figures that oil demand for the first three months of this year will be slashed by about 900,000 barrels a day, or nearly 1 percent of global consumption.

The effects of reduced energy use are already being seen in the market for liquefied natural gas, a chilled fuel used in industry and power generation.

Rystad Energy estimates that Chinese imports of liquefied natural gas fell 10 percent in January from a year earlier. Analysts say that with customers not needing as much fuel as they thought, Chinese buyers are trying to stop or reschedule shipments with some of them going to the extreme option of declaring force majeure — a legal term for unforeseen circumstances that invalidate a contract.

Total, the French oil company, said it had recently rejected a force majeure claim by a Chinese buyer of liquefied natural gas. Analysts say the situation is likely to worsen, as vessels laden with gas are forced to go elsewhere — all while the liquefied natural gas market is already amply supplied and prices are at rock bottom.

“There is clearly a major issue in China with its ability to take L.N.G.,” said Frank Harris, head of liquefied natural gas consulting at Wood Mackenzie.

In the oil market, there are offsetting factors. The output of the Libyan oil industry is down by about one million barrels a day, or about 1 percent of world demand, because of political turmoil. While it is widely assumed that Libyan oil will come back on the market soon, no one is certain when that will be.

With the oil industry just beginning to come to terms with the implications of the coronavirus, there is an argument for waiting until the next OPEC meeting, scheduled for early March, to make decisions.

“I don’t know why the urgency,” said Bill Farren-Price, director of intelligence at RS Energy group, a market research firm. “It looks slightly panicky to me.”

Whether the split between Russia and the Saudis will widen will become clear only over time, but some analysts say Russia has good reason to continue to coordinate policy with OPEC.

Analysts say Mr. Putin benefits from playing along with the Saudis. Working with OPEC gives Russia a seat at the table at which many of the world’s largest oil producers negotiate output decisions that have an impact on prices.

Ties to the Saudis also fit with Mr. Putin’s efforts to expand Russia’s influence in the Middle East, in countries like Syria and Iraq, as well as in Libya. A web of business relationships is forming between Russian companies and Riyadh and its allies like Abu Dhabi, where Lukoil recently became the first Russian firm to gain participation in natural gas production.

The Russians “seem to be content to be part of this coalition and maintain this political role even if their implementation of cuts is very limited,” Mr. Farren-Price said.



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Europe World

Russia, Germany, Coronavirus: Your Friday Briefing


(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning.

We’re covering an intelligence warning of Russian aid to the Trump campaign, Germany’s reckoning with a domestic terrorist attack and the post-Brexit immigration overhaul that will affect women.


Russia is aiding President Trump in the 2020 election, intelligence officials warned the House Intelligence Committee in a secret briefing last week.

Five people described the briefing to our reporters, who also learned that Mr. Trump had been angered by the briefing, saying Democrats would use it against him.

Our reporters were told that Mr. Trump then berated Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, for allowing the briefing. This week, Mr. Trump announced he was replacing Mr. Maguire with a political ally: Richard Grenell, his ambassador to Germany. Two administration officials said the timing was a coincidence.

Another accusation: Britain, Australia and the United States made simultaneous assertions that Russia’s main military intelligence agency had carried out a broad cyberattack against the republic of Georgia in October that took out websites and interrupted television broadcasts.


That was Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, speaking about a gunman’s attack on two bars frequented by immigrants in Hanau late Wednesday, killing nine people — all immigrants or their descendants.

The rampage took place deep in the heart of a region that prides itself on its diversity and tolerance.

Officials identified the gunman as a 43-year-old German who posted a racist video and screed online. Hours after the attack, he was found dead from a gunshot, along with his mother, at his home.

In London: An attacker who entered a London Central Mosque during afternoon prayer and stabbed a 70-year-old prayer leader was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, the police said.

Regular worshipers said they were familiar with the suspect, and the authorities said they were not treating the stabbing as an act of terrorism.


Chinese officials announced on Friday that 889 new cases of the coronavirus had been reported in the previous 24 hours, raising the overall total above 75,000.

The new count came after the government changed its criteria for confirming cases of the virus for the second time in about a week. The government said that confirmation of cases in Hubei Province will require genetic testing, a process that is difficult to conduct and whose results are often wrong. Here are the latest updates.

New focus: Public health officials are rushing to study clusters of cases — for example, a Tokyo party where one case spread to a dozen, or the church in Daegu, South Korea, where 77 people were infected. Here are maps of where the virus has spread.

A personal account: Blair Zong, 33, lives in San Jose, Calif., but was visiting her relatives in Wuhan, China, when the outbreak became an epidemic. She agreed to keep a daily diary of her two weeks in quarantine after she was evacuated back to the United States.

Traveling soon? We talked to experts about what you need to know.

From its earliest days, Google urged employees to speak out. Now it appears to be clamping down. It has scaled back opportunities for employees to grill their bosses and tried to prevent discussions about labor rights.

Then, in November, Google fired at least four activists who had stepped forward to denounce its treatment of workers. We spoke to some of them, including Rebecca Rivers, above, for The Times Magazine’s annual Future of Work issue.

U.K. immigration plan: Women’s groups warned that salary thresholds generally set at 25,600 pounds, or about $33,300, for foreign workers, designed to wean the economy off cheap foreign labor and set to go into effect next year, will give precedence to occupations in which women are underrepresented and deepen gender inequality.

Roger Federer sidelined: The Swiss tennis star, currently ranked No. 3, said he had undergone knee surgery and would miss a series of tournaments, including the French Open in May.

January temperatures: Last month was the warmest in 141 years of record keeping, and 2020 is “virtually certain” to be among the 10 warmest years on record.

Snapshot: Above, Whisky the Norwegian wonder dog and some of her toys. The Border collie is so smart that she knows not only the names of her toys but also the categories they belong to. What a good girl.

What we’re reading: This imagined scene from McSweeney’s of Billy Joel playing “Piano Man” for the characters he wrote the song about, who are aghast. “Hilarious,” writes Dan Saltzstein, senior editor for Special Projects.

Read: Douglas W. Tallamy’s “Nature’s Best Hope” examines grass-roots solutions for reversing wildlife decline. It’s new this week on our hardcover nonfiction best-seller list.

Smarter Living: Even the cocktail you choose is part of your carbon footprint. If you want a greener happy hour, check where your choices were bottled and go with the closest geographical option. Find other tips in this week’s Climate Fwd: newsletter.

We’re in the thick of the U.S. presidential election, with a few primaries and caucuses already completed and a slew of states set to vote in the coming weeks. “The Daily” recently spoke with Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor, to discuss the lessons learned from the last presidential election and how they have informed our 2020 coverage. Here are excerpts from the conversation.

On his reflections from the 2016 election:

I think that the combination of post-economic crisis, and a sense that there are parts of America that were still shaken by the economic crisis, I think a lot of Americans — more Americans than we understood at the time — were rattled and were looking for something dramatic.

There were [Times] reporters out in the country who were writing stories about what was going on in the country. But we didn’t elevate them and say, “Wait a minute, there’s something powerful going on here.” We didn’t see that.

On how The Times is approaching the current election:

We’ve brought in people from the business staff to go out to the country to talk about the effects of the economy. We are about to announce a plan to put writers in seven or eight states that we’re usually not in. And we give huge play now to stories about anxiety in the country. I think if you read The New York Times right now, you read a New York Times that reflects a country that’s in some turmoil, a country that’s divided much more than we understood in 2016.

And I don’t think we’ve labeled any — the campaigns would disagree — but I don’t think we’ve made anybody feel like the inevitable candidate. Or the long shot. I am extremely proud of where our coverage is right now.

On his thoughts on covering both sides of a story:

I do think that American journalism has a tendency to go for the easy version of what I call “sophisticated true objectivity.” And the easy version is: “OK, this guy said this. This guy said that. I’ll put them together. You decide.”

True objectivity is you listen, you’re empathetic. If you hear stuff you disagree with, but it’s factual and it’s worth people hearing, you write about it.

(Some answers have been condensed and edited. You can listen to the full conversation, or read a transcript, here.)


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Alex


Thank you
To Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Chris Harcum for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the second of a two-part series about a digital underworld of child sexual abuse imagery.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Religious offshoots (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Noah Weiland, who recently completed a stint writing our Impeachment Briefing, is starting a new beat in our Washington bureau covering health policy.



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Asia Pacific World

Coronavirus Live Updates: Another Young Doctor Dies in China


A 29-year-old respiratory doctor in Wuhan, the city at the center of the new coronavirus outbreak in China, died on Thursday night after being infected by the virus, according to an announcement from the hospital where he worked. It was the latest in a string of deaths among health care providers working to contain the outbreak.

The doctor, Peng Yinhua, was also among the youngest of the publicly announced victims of the virus, which has largely killed older men with underlying health conditions.

On Chinese social media, users expressed shock at Dr. Peng’s age. They also cited state media reports that Dr. Peng had planned to get married on Feb. 1, but that he had postponed the wedding because of the epidemic.

Last month, the death of another young Wuhan doctor, Li Wenliang, provoked an outpouring of anger and grief on social media. Dr. Li, 34, had been reprimanded by the local authorities for trying to warn his medical school classmates about the virus before officials had acknowledged an outbreak. When Dr. Li died of the virus, he became a potent symbol of perceived government mismanagement and concealment.

After Dr. Peng’s death, some users seemed to nod to Dr. Li as well. “We send away another hero,” one person wrote on Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like platform.

“Exactly how many more medical staff have to die?” another wrote.

Earlier this week, another high-profile doctor, Liu Zhiming, died. Dr. Liu was the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan.

South Korea said on Friday that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections rose to 156, a near tripling over three days.

Among the 52 new cases reported on Friday, 41 are in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern part of the country, and the surrounding region, South Korean disease control officials said in a statement. Among those, 39 of the new cases were connected to a church called Shincheonji.

Officials said a 61-year-old woman who had attended services at the church over the past two Sundays had been identified as a potential source of the spread of the virus.

The new figures give South Korea the world’s second largest number of confirmed cases if those from the Diamond Princess cruise ship are not included in Japan’s total. The vast majority of cases are in mainland China, which has reported more than 75,000 cases. Japan has 94 cases, which does not include the more than 600 people who had been on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

South Korea reported on Thursday what officials said could be its first death from the coronavirus. A 63-year-old patient with symptoms of pneumonia died on Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo.

With much of China still on lockdown, businesses are struggling to get up and running. Foxconn, the Taiwan company that manufactures Apple’s iPhones and other gadgets, indicated just how difficult that will be.

The company on Thursday said its revenues would take a hit from the spread of the coronavirus, and that it would be “cautious” in resuming work at its factories in China. Plants outside of the country, in places like Vietnam and Mexico, were at full capacity, the company said.

The warning comes as Chinese leaders try to balance restarting the economy with controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Following repeated extensions of the Lunar New Year holiday, many migrant workers remain at home, facing mandatory quarantines and lockdowns. A number of businesses and officials have issued warnings that such policies need to be relaxed to avoid a new economic crisis.

Even if factories get all their workers back, other policies are likely to make life difficult. Some local governments require new preventive measures, like requiring workers to wear masks, or housing each worker in a single dorm room. In other cases, cities have invoked mandatory two-week quarantines on all returning workers.

Concerns about production at Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics, underscore the broader impact the epidemic could have on global supply chains. A huge portion of the world’s electronics come out of China’s factories. A longer suspension of production could hit overall supply.

The Chinese Embassy in Nepal has attacked a Nepalese newspaper for publishing a column criticizing Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and an illustration of Mao Zedong wearing a face mask.

The Embassy said in a statement this week that the Kathmandu Post had “deliberately smeared” the government and people of China, and “viciously attacked” the nation’s political system.

The statement, which singled out the paper’s top editor, was the latest example of the Chinese government’s increasingly muscular brand of diplomacy and its efforts to publicly quash criticism of its policies, even abroad. This week, Beijing also announced it would expel three Wall Street Journal reporters in retaliation for a headline on an opinion piece.

The column in question in the Kathmandu Post is a syndicated opinion piece, entitled “China’s secrecy has made coronavirus crisis much worse” and originally published in The Korea Herald, that was reprinted in the Post on Tuesday. The paper accompanied the column with an illustration of a Chinese bank note digitally altered to depict Mao wearing a surgical face mask.

The Chinese Embassy’s rebuke singled out Anup Kaphle, the Kathmandu Post’s editor-in-chief, for scorn, saying that he was “a parrot of some anti-China forces.” It warned that the Chinese government could take further action.

One of Asia’s poorest and least-developed democracies, Nepal has grown closer to China as it seeks to reduce its dependence on India. Chinese investors have pumped millions of dollars into the country.

In an editorial on Wednesday, the newspaper alluded to China’s growing economic influence on Nepal and accused the embassy of violating diplomatic norms by using threatening language against the outlet and disparaging its top editor.

“The Chinese embassy’s statement, ultimately, is not just about the Post, or its Editor-in-Chief,” the editorial said. “It is a rebuke to not bite the hand that feeds.”

Officials in Canada announced a new case of the coronavirus on Friday in a patient who had recently returned from Iran, which itself had just confirmed its first few cases of the virus.

Iranian officials on Wednesday announced two coronavirus cases in the country, and then just hours later reported that both patients had died. On Thursday, officials there announced three more confirmed cases.

The case of the new Canadian patient, the sixth in the western province of British Columbia, could raise fears of cluster cases and an expanding global reach of the virus. Health officials are investigating viral clusters in South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Britain and France.

The source of the virus in Iran remains unknown. A senior health official there said that none of the people who have been diagnosed had traveled to China or been in contact with anyone who had traveled there, according to the state-controlled IRIB news agency.

The authorities in British Columbia said the new patient was a woman in her 30s, who was presumed positive based on local testing and was awaiting final confirmation from national officials.

Chinese officials announced on Friday that 889 new cases of the coronavirus had been reported in the previous 24 hours, raising the overall total above 75,000.

The death toll went up by 118, to 2,236.

All but three of the new deaths were in China’s central Hubei Province, the focus of the outbreak. Hubei was also the source of nearly three quarters of the new confirmed cases of infection.

The new count came one day after Chinese health authorities said they were using new criteria to count cases of the coronavirus. The move appeared to undo a change they made last week.

That earlier change allowed health officials in Hubei to count cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including with the use of CT scans showing lung infections, not just those confirmed using specialized kits to test for the virus.

On Thursday, officials said Hubei would now resume using the same criteria as the rest of the country. Cases will be considered confirmed only if the virus is found.

The World Health Organization said on Thursday that two new drug therapy trials to help fight the coronavirus are set to begin in China and that early results may be available within three weeks.

One trial involves an experimental antiviral drug made by Gilead. It has not yet been licensed for use.

The drug was tested against the Ebola virus in Congo, where it was not very effective. But when it was given to the first American known to be infected with the coronavirus, an unidentified man in Washington State, he recovered.

The second trial involves a combination of two anti-H.I.V. drugs that is sold as Kaletra in the United States and available in generic versions.

If either therapy helps prevent severe pneumonia, sepsis or organ failure in coronavirus patients, death rates may fall. Two other drugs — favipiravir and chloroquine — have also been discussed as potential treatments.

Reporting was contributed by Paul Mozur, Donald G. McNeil Jr., Choe Sang-Hun, Roni Caryn Rabin, Carlos Tejada, Elaine Yu and Tiffany May.



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