A surge in new cases and deaths as diagnostic tools expand.
Early on Thursday, officials announced that nearly 15,000 new cases and 242 new deaths were recorded in a single day in Hubei Province, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, largely because the authorities there had expanded their diagnostic tools for counting new infections.
Until now, only infections confirmed by specialized testing kits were considered accurate. But those kits have been in such short supply — and so many sick people have gone untested — that the authorities in Hubei have started counting patients whose illness have been screened and identified by doctors.
The result was a sudden — and large — spike in the overall tally for the coronavirus: more than 1,300 people killed and well over 50,000 infected.
The change in how cases are counted is only one factor that has made it difficult for experts to determine the true scale of the epidemic. In fact, the shifting landscape of how infections are defined and confirmed has led to significant variations in the estimates for the extent of outbreak.
‘All engagements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama remain indefinitely postponed.’
The Dalai Lama has canceled his public events because of the coronavirus outbreak, his office says.
“As a precautionary measure, in view of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, all engagements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama remain indefinitely postponed,” a statement says.
On March 9, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to appear at a teaching event in Dharamsala, India.
No other events appear on the schedule.
The Dalai Lama’s office has also issued an appeal, urging Tibetans across the world to “collectively pray for the speedy resolution to the crisis and the well-being of humanity.”
The coronavirus outbreak has infected more than 45,000 people in Asia, according to statements from health officials. India, where the Dalai Lama lives, has at least three confirmed cases so far, according to the World Health Organization.
A big tech show has been canceled.
One of the world’s biggest technology trade shows was canceled on Wednesday as the coronavirus outbreak continued to disrupt the global business calendar.
Every year since 2006, Mobile World Congress has drawn representatives of major tech companies to Barcelona to gather in giant conference halls to launch products, hobnob with industry luminaries and discuss deals and partnerships. The event typically draws more than 100,000 attendees from nearly 200 countries across the world. This year’s event was scheduled to begin later this month.
But on Wednesday, the industry group that organizes the trade show, the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, said it was canceling the event because of “the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances.”
The cancellation of the show became inevitable when major companies including Nokia, Ericsson and Vodafone pulled out. The association had announced safety measures to try to keep the show on track, including not admitting people who had been to affected parts of China.
Last year, Mobile World Congress carried political significance when the U.S. government sent a delegation to warn wireless companies against using equipment sold by the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Canceling the event is a blow to the city of Barcelona, which has hosted the conference for years and enjoys a strong economic boost from the thousands of attendees putting their company expense accounts to work at restaurants, hotels and corporate events.
United Airlines extends its suspension of flights to mainland China.
United Airlines said Wednesday that it would not resume flights connecting the United States with mainland China and Hong Kong until April 24, extending an earlier suspension, after a similar announcement by American Airlines.
Demand for such flights declined sharply in late January as concern over the severity of the coronavirus outbreak began to take hold, according to data from the Airlines Reporting Corporation, an industry-owned transaction clearinghouse.
In the first few weeks of January, sales of tickets from the United States to mainland China were down slightly compared to the same weeks the year before, but by the fourth week of January, demand was down 59 percent year over year. Ticket refunds that week were up 534 percent, according to data based on 1.8 million tickets sold in January 2019 and 2020.
The C.D.C. says some coronavirus test kits are faulty.
Some of the coronavirus testing kits sent to states have flaws and do not work properly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.
The C.D.C. began sending the kits to states to allow them to conduct their own testing and get results faster than they would by shipping samples to the C.D.C. in Atlanta. The failure of the kits means that states still have to depend on the C.D.C., which will delay results by several days.
On trial runs in some states, the kits produced results that were “inconclusive,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Dr. Messonnier told reporters that the kits had been sent to 30 other countries as well, but said later Wednesday that she was mistaken.
There have been 13 confirmed cases of the infection in patients in the United States so far.
For one Chinese traveler, paradise is more like purgatory.
What was supposed to be a short detour on her way to begin another semester of studies in Australia has turned into an anxious limbo for one Chinese student when that country joined others in banning travelers arriving from mainland China.
Now, Iris Yao must wait on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea. According to the current regulations, she cannot make her way to Australia until she has been out of China for at least 14 days. Alone in a foreign country and made to feel like a pariah has left Ms. Yao, 22, depressed and frustrated.
She is one of tens of thousands of Chinese travelers whose plans have been upset by rapidly changing regulations thrown up across the region as the coronavirus has spread.
Ms. Yao arrived on the resort island last month for a short stay on her way back to her university in Sydney, Australia, from her hometown in Zhoushan, China. Since then, she has been virtually marooned on Jeju Island, known for its white sand beaches and volcanic landscape.
It might be slice of paradise, but she has not found it relaxing. Instead of the warm welcome once extended to wealthy Chinese tourists, the island’s locals have met Ms. Yao and other Chinese visitors with worry, discrimination and fear.
Some restaurants on the resort island have banned Chinese citizens. Employees at one asked her not to speak Mandarin while eating there, fearing she would scare away customers.
“The fear toward the virus is everywhere,” she said. “I think it’s unfair for all Chinese citizens; they are not allowed to go into restaurants or cannot speak Mandarin.”
London has its first coronavirus case.
London is experiencing its first case of coronavirus, the British authorities said on Wednesday.
The patient, who is the United Kingdom’s ninth case, contracted the virus in China and is being treated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
Britain has confirmed nine cases of coronavirus infections, with five believed to be linked to a British businessman who may have contracted the virus in Singapore. The man, Steve Walsh, is believed to be the cause of five additional cases in France.
On Wednesday, Mr. Walsh released a statement saying he has been released from the hospital and returned home, even as public health officials continue to try to trace the contacts of some of the people he is believed to have infected.
The strategic incident director of Britain’s National Health Service, Prof. Keith Willett, said Mr. Walsh had developed only “mild” symptoms of the virus and had made a full recovery.
“He is no longer contagious and poses no risk to the public,” Professor Willett said in a statement. “He is keen to return to his normal life and spend time with his family out of the media spotlight.”
China directed local leaders to resume production.
The Chinese authorities have approved a broad strategy for trying to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control while restarting economic production, state news outlets reported Wednesday evening.
President Xi Jinping ordered that tax cuts be drafted and put into effect.
Premier Li Keqiang, the country’s No. 2 official, and the country’s cabinet called for major construction projects to begin across the country as soon as possible.
State-owned enterprises were told to cut rents. Banks were ordered to keep interest rates low.
City governments were told to make sure that workers who went home for the Lunar New Year holiday could reach their jobs.
The two most powerful political bodies in China — the Standing Committee of the Communist Party Politburo and the government’s cabinet of ministers — each issued similar orders. Both groups produced hints of the fairly broad stimulus program that many economists expect soon.
None of the announcements directly addressed the difficult balancing act that China now faces: how to put more than 700 million workers back on the job without creating conditions that could allow the virus to spread.
A Japanese official tested positive after visiting a quarantined cruise ship.
The coronavirus has jumped from ship to shore, officials in Japan said on Wednesday, after an employee of the country’s Health Ministry who had surveyed passengers on a quarantined cruise ship tested positive for the virus.
In addition, 39 new confirmed cases were announced among the more than 3,600 crew and passengers on the ship, bringing the total number of infected people to 175.
The ship, known as the Diamond Princess, has been under quarantine for more than a week in the port of Yokohama. The quarantine began after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Japanese authorities have been slowly moving those with the illness off the ship and to hospitals. But onboard, many passengers are complaining that they lack information and have poor access to medicines.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked the Japanese authorities to allow 15 Israelis to disembark the ship, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that it was examining other options for them to complete their 14-day quarantine.
Barring unforeseen developments, the ship’s quarantine is supposed to end on Feb. 19.
The cruise line has been providing internet and telephone service to allow the passengers to stay in touch with their families back home, and the Israelis have been airing their frustrations in the Israeli news media.
“We came on the cruise to celebrate a birthday,” Shimon Dahan, 69, told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. “We were enjoying every moment, then it turned into a nightmare.”
The Foreign Ministry said the Israeli Embassy in Japan was supplying the Israeli citizens with medicines and kosher food.
An unwelcome cruise ship may get to dock.
A cruise ship carrying 1,400 passengers that had been refused permission to stop in Japan, Guam, Taiwan and the Philippines, despite having no diagnoses of coronavirus, may have found a place to dock.
On Wednesday, Cambodia said it would allow the ship, the Westerdam, to dock on Thursday morning and the passengers to disembark, according to a statement from the cruise line Holland America, which owns the ship.
“Westerdam is now sailing for Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where the current cruise will end,” according to a statement from the company. “We are extremely grateful to the Cambodian authorities for their support,” the statement added.
The cruise ship had been on a 14-day voyage after departing from Hong Kong on Feb. 1.
On Wednesday, Holland America said, “All guests on board are healthy, and despite erroneous reports, there are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on board, nor have there ever been.”
With classes suspended, educators in China scramble to keep students engaged.
The Ministry of Education in China instructed schools on Wednesday to find ways to keep the country’s 190 million primary and secondary students busy during the suspension of the school year, but it discouraged any significant efforts to provide classes online.
In a notice posted on its website, the ministry urged provincial school administrators to draw up detailed study plans for students who, like everyone else, are largely confined to their homes.
The ministry encouraged reading and physical exercises and, if possible, online tutoring, though it also warned that primary-school students especially should not spend too much time online. It also announced that special programing on China’s national education television channel, CETV 4, would begin next week; the network had a similar role during the SARS epidemic in 2003.
The coronavirus epidemic that began in Wuhan has now thrown the country’s schools and universities into chaos. Some provinces, including Liaoning and Sichuan, plan to reopen primary and secondary schools on Feb. 17, at least for now, while others have already postponed the school year until at least March, including Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong.
The delays could have the greatest impact on those students preparing for the major national exams for high school and college held at the end of spring.
The State Department is allowing some employees to leave Hong Kong.
The United States will allow nonemergency consulate employees in Hong Kong and their families to leave because of the coronavirus outbreak, a State Department official said on Wednesday.
The decision to allow voluntary departures was made in response to continuing uncertainty surrounding the outbreak and practical considerations such as school closings, the official said.
The consulate in Hong Kong will remain open and continue to provide regular services.
A similar decision was made to allow nonemergency State Department personnel and their families to leave mainland China in late January.
The State Department chartered flights and evacuated about 850 people from Wuhan, where the outbreak began late last year, including employees of the United States Consulate in the city.
Hong Kong has 50 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death. The State Department’s travel advisory for the city is at Level 2, the second-lowest of four levels, and recommends that visitors to Hong Kong “exercise increased caution” because of the outbreak.
This month, the warning for mainland China was raised to 4, the highest level.
“Do not travel to China due to the novel coronavirus,” it said.
Disrupted supply chains are sending a ripple effect across the globe.
The coronavirus outbreak in China has generated economic waves that are rocking commodities markets and disrupting the supply networks that act as the backbone of the global economy.
In Australia, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons of iron ore to China, returning freighters can face a 14-day quarantine.
One of the world’s largest copper mining companies, BHP, has been in talks to possibly delay shipments to Chinese ports.
And China is turning back deliveries of liquefied natural gas, potentially disrupting shipments from Qatar to Indonesia.
“We’re seeing a rippling out,” said Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York. “And we don’t see it stopping.”
Prices for key industrial raw materials such as copper, iron ore, nickel, aluminum and liquid natural gas have plummeted since the virus emerged.
And manufacturers, mining companies and commodity producers of all stripes are weighing whether they will be forced to cut back on production for fear of adding to a growing inventory glut.
Airbnb cancels bookings in Beijing.
Airbnb will suspend bookings in Beijing until May 1, the company said on Wednesday.
The decision was made “in accordance with guidance issued by the government to all companies in the short-term rental industry,” a spokesman for the company said. He added that existing reservations would be refunded.
Airbnb has also waived cancellation fees for travel to and from mainland China until the end of February. Travelers who had booked stays in Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, can cancel reservations without charge until April 1.
The company had continued to accept reservations throughout China during the busy travel season before and after the Lunar New Year holiday, even as the government started to lock down cities and impose road restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
The company also said it would set aside $10 million “to support hosts in the next few years, during the recovery period of the local tourism industry.”
Reporting and research was contributed by Amber Wang, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Yiwei Wang, Claire Fu, Amy Qin, Sui-Lee Wee, Steven Lee Myers, Keith Bradsher, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Matt Phillips, Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May, Elian Peltier, Yonette Joseph, Megan Specia, Heather Murphy, Iliana Magra, Niraj Chokshi and Ceylan Yeginsu.