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U.S. to Quarantine Americans Returning From Hubei: Virus Update

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U.S. to Quarantine Americans Returning From Hubei: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. declared a public health emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak in China, ordering as much as a 14-day quarantine of citizens returning from the province at the center of the outbreak and denying entry to some foreigners.

In addition, flights to the U.S. from China will be restricted to seven airports. U.S. carriers have already significantly cut travel to and from the country. Foreign nationals who have been in China recently will be denied entry to the U.S.

The actions, announced Friday by President Donald Trump’s newly formed virus task force, will begin Feb. 2.

Under the temporary emergency measure, U.S. citizens who have been in Hubei province during the past two weeks will be subject to the quarantine, said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Citizens returning from elsewhere in China will be subject to screening, and have to self-quarantine for two weeks while being monitored.

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More From the U.S. Virus Task Force Briefing (4:25 p.m. NY)

The travelers who will be denied entry are foreign nationals -- other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents -- who have been in China within the past 14 days.Only 1 in 6 U.S. cases of the coronavirus have been detected through airport screening, officials said.Chinese flights will be funneled through Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York’s JFK International, Honolulu, Chicago, Atlanta and Seattle.The new entry measures are being taken after instances of asymptomatic spread became clearer and China cases exploded.Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “This is a serious health situation in China, but I want to emphasize the risk to the American public is low. Our goal is to do all we can to keep it that way.”Azar: “The prudent, targeted and temporary actions will decrease the pressure on public health officials screening incoming travelers, expedite the processing of U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning from China, and ensure resources are focused on the health and safety of the American people.”

Key Developments:

China confirmed cases rise to 9,809 from 7,700; death toll at 213At least two-thirds of China’s economy to stay shut next weekVirus Impact: Travel warnings, car output and moreSee first images of how Coronavirus replicates in cells here

A New Wave of Flu Risks Patient Confusion (2:39 p.m. NY)

A new wave of influenza is picking up in the U.S., raising the risk that patients who get the seasonal illness may think they have coronavirus, which has nearly identical symptoms early on in a patient’s illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 19 million Americans have fallen ill with the flu so far this season, including 180,000 people who ended up in the hospital. About 10,000 Americans have died, including more than 60 children.

This season of flu began early in the U.S. After, stalling, it’s picked back up with a new strain of H1N1 influenza, according to a government survey of the illness.

“If coronavirus becomes a larger issue in the U.S., this will be a difficult thing,” said Gregory Poland, director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “As clinicians, we are bombarded with people right now who have flu-like symptoms.”

CDC Puts Americans Returned From Wuhan in Quarantine (1:14 p.m. NY)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that aggressive steps will be needed to stop the coronavirus from taking hold in the U.S.

“If we take strong measures now, we may be able to blunt the impact on the United States,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said on a call with reporters Friday. “The virus is continuing to spread rapidly throughout China.”

The government has put about 200 U.S. citizens repatriated from Wuhan under legal quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California. The group includes State Department personnel, family members, children and other Americans. It’s the first time such a policy has been used in the U.S. since the 1960s, when a quarantine order was issued to stop the spread of smallpox.

The quarantine was implemented after one person wanted to leave, Messonnier said.

“We are facing an unprecedented public health threat. This is one of the tools in our toolbox,” Messonnier said.

She declined to comment on how other Americans returning from China would be monitored.

U.S. Works to Get Americans Out of Wuhan (12:15 p.m. NY)

The U.S. State Department is working to arrange additional flights for U.S. citizens still in Wuhan, where the Chinese outbreak of coronavirus is centered, according to an official with knowledge of the plans. The U.S. government effort follows the cancellation of flights by major U.S. carriers from much of China.

Seats would be offered as they become available, the official said.. The State Department is encouraging all American citizens in China to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment (STEP) program at step.state.gov to receive updates on evacuation flights.

Delta, American Suspend Flights to China (11:20 a.m. NY)

Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. will suspend all flights to China due to health concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak, becoming the first U.S. carriers to take such action.

Delta flights will cease from Feb. 6 through April 30, while American will halt flights starting today and running through March 27.

The decisions came the day after the U.S. government warned Americans not to travel to China. European carriers including British Airways, Air France and Deutsche Lufthansa AG had already halted flights.

Chinese Official Criticizes U.S. Reaction (9:53 a.m. NY)

Chinese officials took issue with U.S. comments about the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, and promised they would bring the infection under control.

“U.S. comments are inconsistent with the facts and inappropriate.” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in statement posted online Friday. The World Health Organization “called on countries to avoid adopting travel bans. Yet shortly afterward, the U.S. went in the opposite direction, and started a very bad turn. It is so unkind.”

U.S. officials said this week that they had difficulty getting specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the front lines of the outbreak in China, and late Thursday the State Department advised Americans traveling in China to come home. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday also said the outbreak may help bring jobs back to the U.S.

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Chen Xu, said during a press conference in Geneva that the country had been transparent about the disease.

“We have conducted our business in an open and transparent manner with the outside world,” he said.

Xu said that China would work with the World Health Organization to bring the disease under control, following a declaration by the WHO that the outbreak was an international emergency. The declaration will “not only coordinate global prevention control measures but enables us to mobilize international resources to respond to the epidemic,” he said.

Stocks Slide, Treasuries Rally on Virus Jitters (9:33 a.m. NY)

Stocks dropped and bonds rallied on heightened concern that the spread of the coronavirus will slam global growth. The S&P 500 Index pared its monthly advance as investors remained on edge over the impact from the coronavirus. Treasury 10-year yields tumbled toward the lowest since October.

Delta, United Airlines Let Pilots Say No to China Trips (8:44 a.m. NY)

The Air Line Pilots Association secured agreements with United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. to allow pilots to decline to fly to China if they have concerns about traveling there, according to union representatives at both carriers. Late Thursday, the pilots union at American Airlines sued the carrier in an effort to halt its China flights and called on members to refuse to fly to the Asian country.

Germany Reports Sixth Case in Munich Outbreak (8:10 a.m. NY)

Germany reported a sixth infection from an outbreak that began at an auto-parts supplier near Munich. The new case involves a child who caught the virus from his or her father, who worked at the company, Bavarian health authorities said. The German cluster is significant because it’s one of the biggest examples of human-to-human spread outside China.

Russia Reports Two Confirmed Cases (7:55 a.m. NY)

Two Chinese nationals are being kept in isolation, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said. The Kremlin will weigh temporary curbs on work visas, and the country has closed the Mongolia-Russia border to Chinese nationals. Russia also said it’s halting many flights with China.

Li Supports Holiday Extension for Virus-Hit Areas, CCTV Says (7 a.m. NY)

Regions with a rapid spread of new confirmed cases can lengthen holidays, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said. He also called for staggered travel for people returning from holiday.

Italy Unlocks Emergency Funding (6:45 a.m. NY)

The Italian cabinet declared a state of emergency, freeing up state resources to combat the virus. Two Chinese nationals are being treated in isolation in Rome, after 18 tourists from the country were taken to a hospital, health authorities reported.

Singapore, Vietnam and Pakistan Issue Travel Restrictions (6:30 a.m. NY)

Singapore has suspended visas of Chinese citizens with immediate effect. This includes those already issued, according to government officials at a briefing Friday. Vietnam has also ordered a suspension of visas for Chinese tourists.

Pakistan has stopped all direct flights to and from China until Feb. 2 and plans to delay opening its northern border with China.

U.K. Confirms Two Cases of Coronavirus (6 a.m. NY)

Two patients in England, who are members of the same family, tested positive for coronavirus, the government said. The patients are receiving specialist care in Newcastle.

“We are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread,” Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said. The government put the mortality rate from the new coronavirus at 2%.

Meanwhile, all passengers who boarded a flight from Wuhan are well, the U.K. government said. Travelers from China with symptoms are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Hong Kong Schools to Stay Closed Until March 2: (5 p.m. HK)

Hong Kong is extending school holidays till March 2, depending on the coronavirus situation, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a briefing. The government will step up scrutiny of tourists from Hubei province, including sending them into quarantine.

Lam again dismissed calls to close Hong Kong’s borders with China, and asked the city’s medical staff to reconsider any plans to strike.

Goldman Sees Hit to U.S. Growth (4:05 p.m. HK)

The coronavirus outbreak will cut U.S. economic growth by 0.4 percentage point in the first quarter as the number of tourists from China declines and exports to the Asian nation slow, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said.

Trapped Italian Cruise Ship Passengers Allowed to Disembark (3:44 p.m. HK)

About 7,000 passengers who’ve been kept on a cruise ship near Rome over fears of a virus outbreak on board were allowed to disembark on Friday morning.

Passengers on the ship owned by Carnival Corp., had been held in the port of Civitavecchia since Thursday morning, after one of them came down with fever and respiratory symptoms. Subsequent examinations showed the illness was not the new coronavirus.

Japan Raises Travel Warning After Criticism Over Virus Gaps (1:11 p.m. HK)

Japan moved to strengthen its travel warning for China and to bar patients infected with the new coronavirus from entering the country, after criticism that its initial response to the deadly outbreak was too lax.

The government is set to advise that non-urgent trips to China should be canceled. It also plans to bring forward an order allowing compulsory hospitalization to Feb. 1, earlier than Feb. 7 as originally planned, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament. Patients will be barred from entering the country from the same date, he added.

Countries Worry About Evacuee Contagion, Economic Impact (11:53 a.m. HK)

Tensions are rising across the region as governments bring their citizens home from the outbreak epicenter in China, risking greater exposure among domestic populations.

Australia plans to isolate its evacuees from Wuhan on Christmas Island, better known for its grim history as a detention center for would-be asylum seekers, while the U.S. flew its citizens from the virus-stricken Chinese city to an isolated military base in California.

Economist Sees Far Bigger Impact Than During SARS (7:35 a.m. HK)

The global cost of the coronavirus could be three or four times that of the 2003 SARS outbreak that sapped the world’s economy by $40 billion, according to the economist who calculated that figure.

The sheer growth in the Chinese economy over the last 17 years means the global health emergency triggered by the coronavirus outbreak has far greater potential to gouge global growth, according to Warwick McKibbin, professor of economics at the Australian National University in Canberra.

U.S. Tells Americans to Leave China (9:59 a.m. HK)

The U.S. State Department on Thursday night warned Americans not to travel to China because of the spreading coronavirus outbreak. “Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means,” the department said in the advisory, which was Level 4, the most severe travel warning category.

The advisory puts China among several nations that the U.S. warns its citizens to avoid, including North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq and Somalia.

Study Sees Early Signs of Human Transmission (8:38 a.m. HK)

The coronavirus was spreading from person to person earlier than reported, according to a study by Chinese scientists.

Among 47 cases that occurred during 2019, 14 had been in contact with another person with respiratory symptoms, indicating likely human-to-human transmission, researchers from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published Jan. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their analysis of the first 425 cases in Wuhan found that in its early stages, the epidemic doubled in size every 7.4 days.

“There is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December,” Qun Li and colleagues said. Official confirmation of such transmissions wasn’t reported until weeks later.

Global Virus Cases Now Top Official SARS Count (7:58 a.m. HK)

The total number of coronavirus cases around the world has reached more than 9,950. That tops the count from the SARS epidemic, which in 2003 saw 8,096 officially reported cases, according to the WHO.

The latest tally shows the speed with which the new virus has spread in a short period of time, from the first case in December. It’s reached the same level that SARS did during its span of about eight months.

An overwhelming number of the cases, as with SARS, are in China. The country has 9,692 confirmed cases, while there are about 100 cases outside Greater China across 18 nations.

The numbers come with a footnote, however. SARS cases were widely considered to be under-reported, as possibly thousands went undocumented in the first few months. At the same time, the official count for the current virus is likely to be below the actual number of cases, as health officialsscramble to widen testing.

WHO Calls Coronavirus International Emergency (3:06 p.m. NY)

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak centered in China a public health emergency of international concern, a step that will let public health authorities aid countries with less-robust health systems to stop the spread of the virus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China‘s efforts to contain the outbreak, saying he had never seen a nation respond so aggressively to a disease, including building a new hospital in just 10 days. It’s a contrast to the criticism China faced for a lack to transparency during SARS.

Tedros said there’s no need at this time for measures that interfere with travel and trade, even though many governments, airlines and businesses have already taken such steps.

U.S. Has First Human-to-Human Transmission (12:43 p.m. NY)

A woman in Chicago who had been diagnosed last week with the coronavirus infected her husband, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday, the first case of human-to-human transmission to occur in the U.S.

Both patients are in their 60s and are doing well while being kept in isolation, CDC officials said on the call. The agency said the virus is not spreading widely and that the risk to the U.S. public remains low.

Disease experts are still trying to understand exactly how the virus spreads, and at what point after a person has become infected they become contagious. It’s also not clear, said CDC officials, how long a person has to be sick before testing positive. Both factors can present a challenge for health workers keeping tabs on contacts of people considered at risk

--With assistance from Sybilla Gross, Jason Gale, Adela Lin, Natalie Lung, James Paton, Michelle Fay Cortez, Bryce Baschuk, Angus Whitley, Isabel Reynolds, Siraphob Thanthong-Knight, Lily Nonomiya, Kana Nishizawa, Crystal Chui, Mark Schoifet and Robert Langreth.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: John Harney in Washington at jharney2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kazunori Takada at ktakada17@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Adveith Nair, Mark Schoifet

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