Coronavirus Updates: Scramble to Track Cruise Passengers After Infection Is Reported

Coronavirus Updates: Scramble to Track Cruise Passengers After Infection Is Reported


The cruise ship had been shunned at port after port for fear it might carry the new coronavirus, COVID-19, but when the Westerdam arrived in Cambodia on Thursday, the country’s prime minister greeted its passengers with flowers.

Amid assurances that the ship was free of the virus, hundreds of elated passengers disembarked, traveling to destinations around the world.

One, however, did not make it much farther than the thermal scanners at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The passenger, an American, was stopped on Saturday, and later tested positive for the coronavirus.

With passengers already headed for destinations on at least three continents, health officials are scrambling to determine how a big a problem they now have — and how to stop it from getting bigger.

With more than a thousand passengers from the Westerdam headed for home, experts said, it may be harder than ever to keep the coronavirus outbreak contained to China.

It is unclear how well the passengers were screened before they were allowed off the ship. But the best approach to containing a broader spread of the virus from the Westerdam would be to track down all of the passengers and quarantine them for two weeks, experts said.

China’s National Health Commission on Monday morning reported 2,048 new cases of coronavirus and 105 new deaths over the previous 24 hours. The death toll dropped from the previous day, when 142 deaths were reported, though the number of new infections remained steady.

  • 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 vast majority of cases and deaths have occurred in Hubei Province, where the outbreak began, though the commission’s latest announcement also reported three deaths in neighboring Henan Province and two in Guangdong, the province next to Hong Kong.

In all, more than 70,500 people have been infected in China and 1,770 have died so far. Four others have died outside of China, as of Sunday night.

Airbus is slowly restarting its assembly line in China. General Motors began limited production on Saturday. Toyota planned to follow on Monday.

Fitfully and painfully, and with some worried prodding from Beijing, China is trying to reopen for business.

The world’s second-largest economy practically shut down three weeks ago when the coronavirus outbreak sickened tens of thousands, unexpectedly lengthening a Chinese holiday. The freeze set off warnings that the global economy could be in jeopardy if the world’s pre-eminent manufacturing powerhouse stayed shut for long.

Now, as some factories rumble back into action, the monumental task of restarting China is becoming clear.

China’s efforts to contain the virus are clashing with its push to get the country back to work, requiring the country’s leaders to strike a balance between keeping people safe and getting vital industries back on track.

Japan’s economy shrank in the last three months of 2019 after a devastating typhoon and a tax increase on shoppers. Now the coronavirus threatens to put the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China into its first recession in five years.

Japan’s output shrank at an annual rate of 6.3 percent in the October-to-December period, the government said on Monday. The country’s consumption tax was raised to 10 percent from 8 percent in October, depressing consumer spending. Days after the tax increase went into effect, Typhoon Hagibis slammed into Japan, causing enormous damage and further suppressing economic activity.

Even before that, Japan’s exports had been hit by slowing growth in China, which has been dealing with a trade war with the United States.

Government officials had hoped that these issues would ease in the new year. But that rosy outlook predates the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, which the figures released on Monday don’t reflect. The coronavirus has closed many of the Chinese companies that buy parts and equipment from Japan. It has also stopped the flow of Chinese tourists to Japan.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinkage. Depending on how long the outbreak lasts, the broader global economy could suffer as well.



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