Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak is centered, further tightened its already-strict quarantine on residents, and Egypt confirmed its first infected patient.
China added 2,641 additional cases, taking the total number of people affected to 66,492, the National Health Commission said in a statement Saturday. As many as 1,523 people have died from the virus so far, according to the statement.
Hubei province reported 2,420 additional cases on Saturday, down sharply from 4,823 a day earlier. Both totals were below the nearly 15,000 reported on Thursday after the province changed the method for counting infections. The number of deaths rose to 1,457 with the addition of 139 new fatalities.
Elsewhere in China, health authorities told people returning to Beijing to stay home for two weeks of observation, Beijing Daily reported.
Another cruise liner was shunned by a port, this time in Vietnam.
- National total is now 66,492; deaths at 1,523
- Hubei total cases reaches 54,406
- Researchers publish new images of the virus
- Smoking may play role in severity of infections
- GM tries to shield plants from China parts
Trump Says Xi ‘Working Very Hard’ (5 a.m. HK)
President Donald Trump said Chinese leader Xi Jinping is “working very hard” on controlling the outbreak.
“It’s a tremendous problem. But they’re very capable and they’ll get to it,” Trump said at a Washington event Friday with Border Patrol agents, noting he has spoken with Xi.
Of Americans with the virus, “many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape,” he said.
Wuhan Sharply Tightens Lockdown of Residents (1 p.m. NY)
The Chinese city of Wuhan tightened its quarantine on residents and said people will be confined to their neighborhoods except to seek medical care, work to fight the outbreak or keep vital services going.
The notice from the city government, posted in a statement, further tightens the already drastic measures taken by the city to stop the virus. Wuhan has opened quarantine centers to house thousands of patients and others with symptoms, and Hubei province, where the city is located, has announced thousands of new cases a day.
Under the new rules, most Wuhan residents will be allowed to leave residential compounds only for medical care. Other cities that have put lockdowns in place have allowed people to leave every few days to buy food. It wasn’t immediately clear from the statement how Wuhan’s residents would be able to get food or other supplies.
Under the new rules, some neighborhoods will be barricaded off to keep people from getting in or out, and non-residents won’t be able to enter neighborhoods that aren’t theirs.
Egypt Reports First Virus Case (12:23 p.m. NY)
In Egypt, a foreigner tested positive for the coronavirus, state news agency MENA reported, citing a statement from Egypt’s health ministry and the World Health Organization Friday. It’s the first confirmed case of the virus in the country.
The patient was put into quarantine and hasn’t shown symptoms of the virus, according to the report.
GM Tries to Shield Plants From China Parts Shortage (12:12 p.m. NY)
General Motors Co. is trying to shield some of its most profitable U.S. plants from running out of components sourced from China, a spokesman said, after a union member at one factory wrote that the threat of a parts shortage at the factories is growing.
Read the full story here.
Smoking’s Role in Coronavirus Merits Study, WHO Says (11:40 a.m. NY)
Smoking may play a role in the severity of infections caused by the coronavirus in China and merits more study, a World Health Organization official said Friday.
Chinese men have had more severe cases of the virus than women and also smoke at higher rates, Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said at a press conference in Geneva.
The virus can cause pneumonia as it infects patients’ lungs, which can be weakened from cigarette use. China has higher overall rates of smoking than much of the rest of the world, according to WHO data.
“It’s an excellent hypothesis, but one that is unproven,” Ryan said. “There will be a lot of interest in looking at smoking as a risk factor.”
Report: Beijing Returnees Should Stay Home for 14 Days (9:56 a.m. NY)
People returning to Beijing should stay at home for observation for 14 days upon arrival, Beijing Daily reported, citing a notice issued Feb. 14 by local health authorities. The publication is affiliated with the Communist Party’s Beijing committee.
People who plan to return to the city are being told to report ahead of time to their employers as well as residential communities in which they live, according to the report.
Researchers Publish New Images of the Virus (9:54 a.m. NY)
U.S. researchers published new images of the coronavirus, some of the most detailed visuals yet of the pathogen.
The images were released Thursday by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They were made with scanning and transmission electron microscopes.
To see more of the images, click here.
— With assistance by Jing Yang