Coronavirus Live Updates: The Illness Now Has a Name: COVID-19 – The New York Times

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Credit…China Daily, via Reuters

The World Health Organization on Tuesday proposed an official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus: COVID-19. The acronym stands for coronavirus disease 2019, as the illness was first detected toward the end of last year.

The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that the new name makes no reference to any of the people, places or animals associated with the coronavirus. The goal was to avoid stigma.

Under international guidelines, the W.H.O. “had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” he said on Twitter.

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic is continuing to climb, Chinese officials said on Wednesday. Nationwide, 97 new deaths and 2,015 new cases emerged in the previous 24 hours, the national health authorities said.

The new figures brought the total number of deaths in China to at least 1,113. And the total number of confirmed cases rose to 44,653. Most of the newly reported deaths, 94, occurred in Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.

There are 393 COVID-19 cases outside China, in 24 countries.

“With 99 percent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” Dr. Tedros said.

The coronavirus has jumped from ship to shore, Japan’s health ministry said Wednesday.

An employee of the country’s health ministry tested positive for the illness after surveying passengers aboard a cruise ship being held under quarantine in the port of Yokohama.

Additionally, another 39 of the more than 3,600 crew and passengers have also tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to 174.

The ship, the Diamond Princess, has been under quarantine for a week, after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Japanese authorities have been slowly moving those diagnosed with the illness off the ship and to hospitals. But on board, many passengers are complaining of a lack of information and access to necessary medicines.

As countries worldwide have organized flights to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, and issued travel warnings advising against going there, the government of Pakistan has been taking an unusual tack — telling its citizens to stay.

If infected nationals return home, the virus would likely spread unabated across the country, whose health care system is in shambles. Already strained hospitals lack trained doctors and supplies. Pakistan is one of the last places in the world still battling polio, and incidents of dengue fever and H.I.V. are on the rise.

Pakistan has about 800 citizens in Wuhan.

On Twitter this week, Dr. Zafar Mirza, a senior health adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, urged Pakistani nationals in China to remain calm.

A Pakistani student stuck in Xianning, on the outskirts of Wuhan and appealing to be evacuated, shot back.

“Do you even a little care for us?” wrote the user, identified on Twitter only as Muhammad Ibraheem, and is studying medicine at Hubei University of Science and Technology. “Why don’t you kill all of us? It will be easy for you guys, or sell us to China. At least you will get some benefits. You left us to die here.”

The coronavirus outbreak in China has rattled the global economy, disrupting virtually every major industry, from food and fashion to automobiles and technology. And there is no sign that the economic impact is about to ease up.

The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • What do you need to know? Start here.

    Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

The sportswear giant Under Armour told investors on Tuesday that its revenues in the first few months of 2020 — and potentially beyond — would take a hit of $50 million to $60 million because of the outbreak.

The Asia-Pacific region made up about 12 percent of Under Armour’s total sales last year and has been one of its faster-growing markets. “Given the significant level of uncertainty with this dynamic and evolving situation, full-year results could be further materially impacted,” the company said.

Patrik Frisk, the company’s chief executive, said Under Armour was monitoring the situation in China, which could affect its ability to obtain some materials.

“With respect to factories,” he said, “we are continuing to see closures and changing timelines of when they might reopen, and trying to assess what it means.”

President Trump has made no secret about his phobia of germs.

Never was it more in evidence than during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, when Mr. Trump was not yet president but was an active voice on Twitter. He demanded draconian measures like canceling flights, forcing quarantines and even denying the return of American medical workers who had contracted the disease in Africa.

“Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days — now I know for sure that our leaders are incompetent. KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” Mr. Trump tweeted after learning that one American medical worker would be evacuated to Atlanta from Liberia.

He also said, “People that go to far away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences!”

Now Mr. Trump confronts another epidemic in the form of the coronavirus, and this time he is at the head of the country’s health care and national security agencies.

The illness has infected few people in the United States, but health officials fear it could soon spread more widely. Public health experts worry that his extreme fear of germs, disdain for scientific and bureaucratic expertise and suspicion of foreigners could prove a dangerous mix.

Even as China struggles to contain the outbreak, the government is urging factories and farmers to get up and running again.

Local governments should help businesses reopen, Cong Liang, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning body, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

He said that local officials should establish ways for factories to restart, and that they should also eliminate bureaucratic hurdles like “filling out forms to fight the epidemic,” according to a transcript provided by the agency.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a notice urging that farms begin spring planting. Addressed to its “numerous farmer friends,” the notice said they should buy seed and seedlings, and apply fertilizer and pesticides as needed.

The government statements reflect the problems that China’s containment efforts have caused the world’s No. 2 economy. Many businesses remain closed, well after the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, in large part because workers are unwilling or unable to leave their hometowns and villages to go back to their jobs.

Chinese officials must walk a fine line, however. Getting China to work again means more human-to-human contact at a time when more cases and deaths are still being reported every day.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus could pose broad economic risks, the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, told American lawmakers on Tuesday. But he indicated that the central bank was comfortable holding interest rates steady for now.

“We are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy,” Mr. Powell told House Financial Services Committee members.

The Fed’s policy rate is now set in a range of 1.5 to 1.75 percent. Officials cut it three times last year to insulate the economy against wobbling global growth and fallout from President Trump’s trade battles.

When asked by lawmakers about the economic effect of the coronavirus, Mr. Powell said, “We know that there will be some — very likely be some — effects on the United States,” he said. “I think it’s just too early to say. We have to resist the temptation to speculate on this.”

Nearly a third of the confirmed coronavirus cases in Tianjin, a city of more than 15 million about 70 miles southeast of Beijing, have been linked to one department store, adding to fears about rapid transmission in tightly clustered communities.

Of 102 confirmed cases in the city, at least 33 patients worked or shopped at a department store in the Baodi district, or had close contact with employees or customers, according to the Tianjin health authorities. Many of them had no history of travel to Wuhan, the city where the outbreak emerged. Officials estimated that 11,700 customers had visited the shopping complex during a period in late January. The authorities said that those customers would be quarantined, and that the store itself, which they did not identify, had been sealed and disinfected.

It was not immediately clear how the authorities had tracked the shoppers, but health officials in the city have put out alerts on social media and on state news outlets urging residents to contact the government if they visited the store recently. News reports also said residents had been asked at various checkpoints in the city if they had been there.

In addition, emergency measures were imposed over sections of Baodi — home to nearly one million people — with all but two entrances and exits for certain residential areas sealed off and security personnel on round-the-clock patrols.

Hong Kong officials have put into quarantine dozens of residents of one apartment building after two people who live on different floors of the building were found to be infected with the coronavirus, the authorities said on Tuesday.

The two cases appeared to suggest that the virus had spread through the building, perhaps through a pipe, raising new fears about how the virus spreads. In all, quarantines were ordered for residents of more than 30 units of the Hong Mei House, which is part of the Cheung Hong Estate, a public housing block in the New Territories area of the city.

Officials from the city’s Center for Health Protection said the quarantine decision was made after an unsealed pipe was found in the apartment of a newly confirmed patient, a 62-year-old woman. She lives 10 floors below a resident who was earlier found to be infected.

Five more people living in different units displayed symptoms of the coronavirus, but all tested negative, officials said.

At a government-organized news briefing on Tuesday, Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said that the exact route of transmission had not been confirmed, but that a pipe in one infected household appeared not to be sealed.

There are now 49 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hong Kong, health officials said, including three extended family members of the 62-year-old woman living in the building.

A senior Chinese official warned on Tuesday that three populous provinces could be vulnerable to the spread of the coronavirus as migrant workers return to their jobs after the Lunar New Year break.

The official, He Qinghua, said that the provinces of Zhejiang, Guangdong and Henan could see a rise in new cases, even as the rate of new infections declined outside Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.

The remarks highlight the looming possibility that more people could become infected as they resume their normal routines.

On Monday the China representative for the World Health Organization said that his agency had found the numbers of cases slowly rising in 10 provinces. The representative, Guaden Galea, said that it was too soon to say the epidemic had peaked.

A British businessman believed to be the source of a cluster of coronavirus cases in Britain and in France came forward on Tuesday, saying that he had fully recovered but would remain in isolation as a precaution.

The businessman, Steve Walsh, from Hove, in southern England, contracted the virus while at a conference in Singapore last month, according to his representatives, before traveling on to a chalet in the French Alpine resort of Les Contamines-Montjoie. Five more of Britain’s eight known coronavirus cases are linked to Mr. Walsh or the chalet, as are those of five British people in France.

On Monday evening, British public health officials said that two of the cases in the cluster were health care workers and that they had been advised to isolate themselves.

A man accused of imitating a coronavirus victim by collapsing on a subway train in central Moscow this month was arrested and will face up to five years in prison if found guilty, law enforcement officials have said.

In a video of the prank, a man is seen collapsing in the middle of a subway car. After other passengers try to assist him, he begins convulsing.

Others, believed to be accomplices, shout, “Coronavirus here, move out quickly!” The yelling prompts a panic in the car, with passengers scrambling for the exits.

The suspect was identified as Karomatullo Dzhabarov, a Moscow district court said on Monday. Two people suspected of being accomplices in the Feb. 2 prank were also held and their homes searched, the police said.

At least two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia.

A Holland America cruise ship with more than 2,200 people aboard was denied entry to Thailand on Tuesday over fears that passengers may be carrying the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of ports from which it has been turned away to at least five.

The ship, the Westerdam, which left Hong Kong on Feb. 1, had already been turned away in at least five places, including the United States territory of Guam, the Philippines and Japan.

Thailand, which has reported more than 30 cases of the virus, had agreed to let the ship dock in Bangkok, but then reversed course.

Holland America has said that no one onboard has come down with the virus.

“The ship is not in quarantine and we have no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board despite media reports,” Holland America said in a statement.

The ship, said to have 1,445 passengers and 802 crew on board, was originally bound for Yokohama, Japan.

It was unclear where the ship would head next. A country may be more willing to accept the ship once it has been afloat for the standard 14-day quarantine period and has no reported cases of the virus.

A different ship, the Diamond Princess, has been docked for more than a week in Yokohama, Japan, where it was put under quarantine after cases of infection were confirmed. The total number of cases on board is 174 including at least 10 crew members.

A Chinese law professor who blamed China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, for failing to contain the coronavirus outbreak has been confined to his home, according to one of his friends.

The professor, Xu Zhangrun, had published an essay in Chinese, “When Fury Overcomes Fear,” which circulated widely on overseas Chinese-language websites last week. The essay was translated into English and published on ChinaFile, a website that covers China, on Monday. It argues that Mr. Xi and his government have banned the free flow of information and that officials neglected their responsibilities as the outbreak worsened.

Mr. Xu, a law professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, wrote that the coronavirus epidemic “has revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance.”

“It is true: the level of popular fury is volcanic and a people thus enraged may, in the end, also cast aside their fear,” he added.

After publishing the essay, Mr. Xu was ordered by the Chinese authorities not to leave his home, according to the friend, Rong Jian.

The Chinese Communist Party has dismissed two health officials in Hubei, the province at the center of the epidemic, state-run news outlets reported on Tuesday. They were the first senior officials to be punished for the government’s handling of the outbreak.

The officials were replaced by a deputy head of the National Health Commission, Wang Hesheng, whom Beijing dispatched to the region three days ago to take over the provincial government’s response to the crisis, according to state media.

Mr. Wang will take over the duties of both officials: Zhang Jin, the Communist Party secretary for Hubei’s health commission, and Liu Yingzi, the health commission’s director. Mr. Wang previously held a variety of positions overseeing public health and family planning in the city of Tianjin, and on the national level beginning in 2016.

It was not immediately clear whether the dismissals were the beginning of a broader political shake-up in the provincial government, whose response to the outbreak has been widely criticized. The party secretary and the mayor of Wuhan both offered to resign but have so far remained in their posts.

Reporting and research was contributed by Austin Ramzy, Vivian Wang, Steven Lee Myers, Russell Goldman, Elaine Yu, Richard C. Paddock, Ben Dooley, Motoko Rich, Amber Wang, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Yiwei Wang, Claire Fu, Amy Qin, Sui-Lee Wee, Chris Buckley, Megan Specia, Jeanna Smialek, Ivan Nechepurenko and Iliana Magra.