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Wuhan coronavirus has now killed more people worldwide than SARS

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The global death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus is at least 805, surpassing the number of fatalities from the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak.

When severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept through the region, it infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774.

Like SARS, this latest outbreak is caused by a coronavirus, a family of viruses common to animals that range from the common cold, to more serious diseases, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Both the SARS and Wuhan outbreaks started in China — and both are believed to have originated from wild animal markets.

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Cases of coronavirus on cruise ship triple overnight

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Japanese health officials confirmed Thursday the number of diagnosed cases of coronavirus aboard a Princess Cruises ship has tripled to 61, including 11 U.S. citizens.

In a statement issued late Thursday, the cruise line said the Japanese Ministry of Health confirmed 41 additional passengers aboard the Diamond Princess – docked and quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama Bay – have tested positive for the novel virus, CNN reported.

Princess Cruises’ Public Relations Director Negin Kamali told USA Today that Japanese health officials have evaluated 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members aboard the ship.

Twenty-seven Chinese nationals were screened after getting off a Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas cruise that docked in New Jersey Friday morning.

One passenger who had a fever on the cruise was given Tylenol and the fever went away, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis said.

That person and three others, who were under close observation for their health on the ship, were taken to University Hospital in Newark, which has isolation rooms.

The other 23 Chinese nationals who were screened showed no symptoms and were headed to Newark Liberty International Airport for flights back to China on Friday.

The Bayonne mayor said he was told that none of the 27 people are from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, or have traveled there recently, and the screenings were being done out of an abundance of caution.

Two planes with American evacuees leave Wuhan for U.S.

Two chartered flights with around 300 passengers aboard have left the Chinese city of Wuhan amid a novel coronavirus outbreak centered there, U.S. officials said.

“Two planes have departed Wuhan en route to the United States,” a State Department spokesperson said Thursday night.

U.S. Northern Command said the two-State Department chartered evacuation flights carried around 300 passengers bound for military bases in Southern California and Nebraska, where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

One of the flights will land at Travis Air Force Base in California for refueling before continuing to Omaha. The other will go to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Northern Command said. The quarantines will be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s the second round of flights from Wuhan to the U.S. this week.

A total of 540 American citizens and family members have already been evacuated and are under federal quarantine on three military bases in California: March Air Reserve Base, the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Travis Air Force Base.

The coronavirus has killed at least 638 people globally, although all but two of those deaths were reported in mainland China. China’s national health commission said that as of Friday morning, there were more than 31,000 confirmed cases in the country. There have been 12 confirmed cases and no deaths in the U.S. — Abigail Williams

Coronavirus deaths in mainland China rise to 636, confirmed cases more than 31,000

Seventy-three new deaths from novel coronavirus were reported in mainland China as of Friday, bringing the total deaths there to 636, according to numbers from China’s national health commission.

Novel coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, has been confirmed in more than 31,000 people in mainland China, the commission said. Two people confirmed to have the virus have died elsewhere, one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong.

Almost all of the new deaths — 69 — occurred in Hubei province, which is where the Chinese city of Wuhan is located.

China’s national health commission said of the confirmed cases on the mainland, nearly 29,000 are “currently confirmed.” Some people who had been confirmed have been treated and released.

There are 12 confirmed cases in the United States, but there have been no deaths. A second U.S. citizen in Wuhan has been confirmed to have novel coronavirus, and both are being treated at a local hospital there, a U.S. official said Thursday. — Eric Baculinao and Phil Helsel

Two more charter flights to evacuate U.S. citizens from Wuhan

Two more charter flights have been sent to the Chinese city of Wuhan to evacuate American citizens, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the plans.

Over 500 people are expected to board the planes which are scheduled to land at U.S. military bases Friday. Passengers will then be quarantined to check for symptoms of the respiratory illness.

A total of 540 American citizens and family members have already been evacuated and are under federal quarantine on three military bases located in California: the March Air Reserve Base, the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the Travis Air Force Base.

All of the evacuees — about 1,000 in total — will remain on the bases for 14 days, starting from whenever their plane left China. All are undergoing medical screening for the coronavirus multiple times a day for the duration of the quarantine.

The evacuations are happening at a critical time because a second American citizen has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Wuhan, the U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Both are being treated at a hospital in the city, which is the epicenter of the disease, they said. — Abigail Williams and Erika Edwards

Crew members on quarantined ship test negative

Thirty-three crew members of a cruise ship that was quarantined in Hong Kong tested negative for coronavirus Thursday, according to a statement from the cruise company. All had reported symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

In addition, one crew member who developed fever symptoms is waiting for test results.

The health screening of the 3,600 passengers aboard the World Dream was still in progress, the company, Dream Cruises, said.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s health ministry said three people who tested positive were on board the World Dream cruise ship during a previous voyage that took place between Jan. 19 and 24. — Jasmine Leung

China criticizes decision to suspend flights

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s ministry of foreign affairs, on Thursday criticized some airlines’ decision to suspend flights to and from China amid efforts to contain the global coronavirus outbreak.

“China is strongly concerned and dissatisfied,” she said after a spate of major airlines canceled flights. “We hope relevant countries will bear in mind overall relations and people’s interests and resume normal operation of flights to guarantee normal people-to-people exchange and cooperation.”

“I must stress that certain countries’ ill-advised decisions to suspend flights to and from China are neither cool-headed nor rational,” she added during an online briefing. — Eric Baculinao

Death toll in mainland China reaches 563

The death toll in the novel coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has risen to at least 563 — up from 490 Wednesday. More than 28,000 cases have been confirmed across the country, according to figures released by China’s National Health Commission.

Twelve cases have so far been confirmed in the United States.

Chinese health officials are also currently assessing nearly 25,000 suspected cases.

The vast majority of the deaths have been in mainland China. There was also one death each in the Philippines and Hong Kong, bringing the number of total global deaths to at least 565.

It’s believed the epicenter of the epidemic is the city of Wuhan in central China, which has been on lockdown since Jan. 23. — Phil Helsel

Taiwan bans international cruise ships from docking

Taiwan’s health authority banned all international cruise ships from docking at the island from Thursday amid the increasing threat of the outbreak.

It came in the wake of the 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus aboard the cruise ship quarantined near Japan.

Taiwan’s government also said Thursday it would suspend most visa applications from Hong Kong and Macau starting Friday. — Reuters

Another cruise ship quarantined in Hong Kong

Hong Kong authorities quarantined a cruise ship for a second day Thursday as they checked thousands of passengers and crew for coronavirus.

Hong Kong’s health ministry said Wednesday three people who tested positive were on board the World Dream cruise ship during a previous voyage that took place between Jan. 19 and 24.

The ministry said 3,600 passengers and crew members are currently on board.

The cruise ship was originally bound for Taiwan but had to return to Hong Kong after the Taiwanese government stopped it from proceeding to its port of call in Kaohsiung. — Jasmine Leung and Reuters

Americans from Wuhan arrive in the U.S.

Hundreds of U.S. nationals, who were evacuated from Wuhan, arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday.

The first airplane with repatriated U.S. citizens landed last week at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California. All of the passengers are under federal quarantine orders for 14 days since they left Wuhan.

The same will be true for the 178 passengers who arrived Wednesday at the Travis Air Force Base, southwest of Sacramento, California.

A child on the plane developed a fever during the flight and was hospitalized with a parent in isolation pending testing for the coronavirus.

Several more planes from Wuhan are expected to arrive at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. — Erika Edwards

China cuts tariffs on U.S. imports as it struggles with the coronavirus outbreak

Beijing cut tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports including soybeans, pork and auto parts Thursday in a trade truce with Washington while China struggles with the virus outbreak.

The reductions follow American tariff cuts last month on Chinese goods.

There was no indication Beijing altered its own cuts in response to the rising cost of efforts to contain the outbreak that has depressed business activity by closing factories, restaurants and shops.

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