Coronavirus Live Updates: Infections Up Tenfold in One Week, to Nearly 10,000

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The United States issued a Level 4 warning, its highest, urging Americans to avoid travel to China. Officials said the number of new cases had risen tenfold in the past week.

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Facebook and Twitter said they would crack down on false information about the virus.

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The State Department on Thursday night issued a travel advisory telling Americans not to travel to China because of the public health threat posed by the dangerous new coronavirus. The department set the new advisory at Level 4, or red — its highest alert, reserved for the most perilous situations.

“Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the State Department said. “Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.”

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a global emergency after cases were discovered in more than a dozen countries.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases has gone up more than tenfold in a week, and Chinese officials on Friday reported the highest death toll in a 24-hour period.

◆ Forty-three more deaths in China were announced, bringing the toll to 213.

◆ Nearly 2,000 new cases were recorded in the country in the past 24 hours, raising the worldwide total to nearly 9,800, according to Chinese and World Health Organization data. The vast majority of the cases are inside China; 98 cases have been confirmed in 18 other countries.

◆ Tibet has reported its first confirmed case. This means that all of China’s provinces and territories have now been touched by the outbreak.

◆ Thailand and Japan have each reported 14 cases of infection; Hong Kong and Singapore have 10; Taiwan has eight; Australia, Malaysia and Macau each have seven; France and the United States have six; South Korea, Germany and the United Arab Emirates each have four; Canada has three; Vietnam and Italy each have two; and India, the Philippines, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Finland each have one.

◆ Cases recorded in Taiwan, Germany, Vietnam, Japan, France and the United States involved patients who had not been to China. No deaths have been reported outside China.

Facebook on Thursday said it was taking several steps to prevent the spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus, including removing “content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them.”

The statement provided examples: “This includes claims related to false cures or prevention methods — like drinking bleach cures the coronavirus — or claims that create confusion about health resources that are available.”

The company, which plans to promote important virus-related updates at the top of its News Feed, also said that when its third-party fact checkers rate information as false, that information’s spread will be limited on Facebook and Instagram, and users will be shown accurate information instead. Users who try to share posts identified as false, or who have already shared them, will be told that the content has been debunked, the company said.

On Wednesday, Twitter made changes to its search algorithm to prioritize results from reputable health organizations. It said those changes were in place only in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Britain and Vietnam, but that they would expand as needed. Twitter is blocked in mainland China.

Chinese schools and universities have extended their holidays to help contain the coronavirus. Foreign students in China are leaving in droves. Some American and Australian universities have restricted travel to China.

China’s education ministry ordered schools and universities to lengthen their winter holidays, though it was left to each province to decide on dates. In Hong Kong, a semiautonomous region, a few universities have suspended classes until March 2, and local news media reported that primary and secondary schools would do the same, along with kindergartens.

Chinese education officials urged students to stay at home and not to participate in group activities. Schools and universities across the country asked teachers and students to report their temperature and health conditions every day over messaging apps. Renmin University in Beijing asked faculty and staff who were out of town for the Lunar New Year holiday to delay their return trips.

About half a million foreign students were studying in China as of 2018, including over 20,000 Americans.

The Inter-University Program for Chinese Studies, a language training program on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing, canceled classes for the spring semester. New York University Shanghai delayed the start of the spring semester until Feb. 17. Duke Kunshan University near Shanghai delayed it until Feb. 24.

Duke urged all its students to return home as soon as possible, except those from Hubei Province, where the outbreak began.

The education ministry also canceled standardized English-language exams that were scheduled for January and February. Many universities in English-speaking countries require foreign students to take such tests as part of their applications.

While the students can reschedule the tests, the change of plan will create uncertainties. Many Chinese students plan for those tests months in advance, or even years.

The effects could ripple across universities abroad that rely on tuition fees paid by Chinese students. Australia is currently home to more than 150,000 Chinese students, and one-third of the international students in the United States — nearly 370,000 — came from China last year.

The prominence of Chinese students on those campuses raises the possibility that they could be perceived as vulnerable to the virus. The University of New South Wales in Sydney said one of its students had tested positive for the virus after traveling directly to Sydney from the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

In the United States, Arizona State University announced on Sunday that the authorities had found a confirmed case on campus. The infected person does not live in university housing, “is not severely ill and is currently in isolation to keep the illness from spreading,” the university said.

Some students nevertheless panicked, launching an online petition to cancel classes. The university said it would stay open.

The World Health Organization declared on Thursday that the new coronavirus outbreak was a global health emergency, acknowledging that the disease represents a risk outside of China, where it emerged last month.

The declaration — officially called a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — serves notice to all United Nations member states that the world’s top health advisory body rates the situation as serious.

Countries can then decide whether to close their borders, cancel flights, screen people arriving at airports or take other measures.

The decision came as cases have begun to appear in people who had not traveled to China during the outbreak.

Russell Goldman, Li Yuan, E. Justin Swanson, Kate Conger, Miriam Jordan, Emma Bubola, Elisabetta Povoledo and Jason Horowitz contributed reporting. Elsie Chen, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Amber Wang, Yiwei Wang and Claire Fu contributed research.

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