Coronavirus Live Updates: Americans Evacuated From Wuhan

Hundreds of Americans who had been in Wuhan as the outbreak worsened arrived in California on Wednesday on two evacuation flights arranged by the United States government.

It was a second wave of American evacuations after an earlier flight arrived last week. Days in quarantine on military bases were expected as part of a strict and highly unusual protocol federal officials have put in place to slow the spread of the outbreak.

Among the passengers on the evacuation flights were two sisters and a niece of Guanettee Colebrooke, a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor in suburban Washington. Ms. Colebrooke said she was prepared to welcome them to her home in Virginia whenever they might be allowed to leave quarantine.

“They feel so sad that there are so many people who are unable to be evacuated,” Ms. Colebrooke said. Her sisters made a simple calculation, she said: “They were like, ‘If we can get out of here, let’s get out.’”

Passengers from the evacuation flights were expected to be accommodated at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., and at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Ningxi Xu, a 30-year-old asset manager from New Jersey, said she was thrilled to be among the passengers permitted to fly out of Wuhan, though she was uncertain about what the days ahead — in quarantine — might hold.

“Do you know how the conditions at the Southern California quarantine site have been?” she asked. “Do you know or think they’d allow visitors while we’re in quarantine?”

The State Department also noted that it would stage one or two evacuation flights from Wuhan on Thursday, but had no additional flights planned after that time.

The Diamond Princess anchored off the shore of Yokohama, Japan, on Wednesday.

Nine passengers and one crew member on a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the cruise line, Princess Cruises, said on Wednesday.

The ship, carrying 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members, arrived in Yokohama on Tuesday, but the authorities did not allow anyone off. An 80-year-old Hong Kong resident who had disembarked earlier in his home city was found to be infected.

In all, 273 passengers were tested for the virus after everyone on board underwent an initial health screening. Twenty-one people were cleared, and officials were awaiting the other results.

Princess Cruises said the infected passengers were from Australia, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States, in addition to one crew member from the Philippines.

The passengers who tested positive were being transported by a Japanese Coast Guard ship to a hospital. The other passengers are to remain quarantined on board the ship, the Diamond Princess, for two weeks.

Separately, a cruise ship that left Hong Kong on Sunday was turned around by the authorities in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Wednesday, after three passengers on a previous trip were confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.

The World Dream left the mainland Chinese city of Guangzhou on Jan. 19, returning from Vietnam five days later. Three passengers on that journey were confirmed on Monday to have the new coronavirus, the company, Star Cruises, said in a statement.

Hong Kong’s Department of Health has begun checking temperatures and taking health declaration forms from 1,800 passengers and 1,800 crew members now on the ship. Passengers will not be allowed to disembark without approval from the department.

At least 30 crew members reported having symptoms of illness, Dr. Leung Yiu-hong, the chief port health officer of the Department of Health, said on Wednesday. They were all being tested for the coronavirus, and three who previously had fevers were under isolation, he said.

Of the passengers, 90 percent are Hong Kong residents and the rest foreign nationals, none of whom are from mainland China. Dr. Leung said the passengers now on the ship had not come into contact with those who took the January cruise.

A worker walking among beds in a convention center that has been converted into a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China, on Tuesday.

The death toll from the monthlong coronavirus outbreak has continued to climb in China, rising to 490. New cases have surged by double-digit percentages in the past 11 days, with no sign of a slowdown.

More people have now died in this epidemic than in the SARS outbreak of 2002-3 in mainland China. During that outbreak, 349 people died in the mainland.

The new figures from China’s Health Commission on Wednesday showed that 65 people died on Tuesday and that 3,887 more people had been infected. So far, 24,324 people are known to have been infected.

Health experts say the death toll is likely to rise because of the large number of infections. The mortality rate of the coronavirus, about 2 per cent so far, appears to be far lower than SARS, which has a mortality rate of about 10 per cent.

                                    Coronavirus Map: Tracking the Spread of the Outbreak

The virus has sickened more than 24,500 people in China and 24 other countries.

Experts warn they still lack enough data to say definitively how lethal the new coronavirus is. Many residents in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei Province, believe the death toll is much higher than the official tally because people with flulike symptoms are being turned away by overstretched hospitals. The health care system in Wuhan is so overwhelmed that many cases have not been diagnosed because of a shortage of testing kits.

At the same time, the number of people in China recovering from the virus is rising. On Tuesday, 262 people left hospitals nationwide. The number of suspected cases has dropped for two days in a row. Officials said they were tracking 3,971 suspected cases, compared with 5,173 cases the day before.

On Tuesday, health officials released details of the deaths so far, saying that two-thirds of them were men. More than 80 percent were over 60 years old, and they typically had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.

Hubei Province has been hardest hit by the virus, and is home to the bulk of deaths (479) and infections (16,678). Wuhan in particular has borne the brunt of the deaths and infections.

The government said it has put 252,154 people under surveillance.

Purchasing face masks in Hong Kong, on Wednesday.
Credit Jerome Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hong Kong said that it will begin requiring people who arrive from mainland China to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, as it tries to reduce the potential for imported cases of the coronavirus.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s top official, has resisted demands from some lawmakers and medical workers to completely close off the border, calling it discriminatory and not in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

But she has enacted a series of measures, including closing all but three border crossings, which have resulted in a sharp drop in entries from the mainland.

Mrs. Lam said that Hong Kong now had 21 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including three that were transmitted locally.

The government will also allocate $1.3 billion to help fight the outbreak, she said.

One of the confirmed cases involved someone working at the Kowloon Commerce Center, a hub of multinational firms, according to an internal note sent to employees at the Bank of America, which has an office in one of the towers.

The building’s management office did not respond to a request for comment, and Bank of America declined to comment.

Separately, Taiwan said that beginning on Thursday it would temporarily suspend entry by Chinese citizens who live on the mainland. It previously announced that foreigners who had been to mainland China over the previous 14 days would not be allowed to enter Taiwan.

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