January 30 coronavirus news

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11:51 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

Tesla Model 3 production delayed in Shanghai because of coronavirus outbreak

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Elon Musk's Tesla factory in China just got up and running. Now its vehicle production there will be delayed because of the deadly Wuhan virus outbreak

Beijing has taken extraordinary measures to try and contain the outbreak, including placing major cities on lockdown and extending the Lunar New Year holiday. Officials in Shanghai, where Tesla's China factory is located, extended the holiday period from January 30 to February 9.

"At this point, we're expecting a 1 to 1½ week delay in the ramp (up) of Shanghai-built Model 3 due to a government-required factory shutdown," Tesla's chief financial officer Zachary Kirkhorn said during an earnings call Wednesday.

Kirkhorn said the hit to Tesla earnings will be limited because profits from the China-made cars are still in the early stages. He added that the company is also keeping an eye on whether there will be supply chain disruptions for Tesla's California-made cars.

Read the full story here.

11:38 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

New Zealand charters Air New Zealand aircraft to evacuate citizens from Wuhan

The New Zealand government has chartered an Air New Zealand aircraft to evacuate its nationals currently in Wuhan, according to a government press release.

The statement says the aircraft will have capacity for 300 passengers.

“This is a complex operation as we work through all the necessary requirements but we are working to have the aircraft depart as soon as possible,” said Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

"We encourage all New Zealanders in the Hubei region to register on Safetravel and ensure all their details are accurate and up to date. This will give us a better understanding of the level of demand for this flight," he continued.

Any spare seats on the flight will be offered to Pacific Island and Australian citizens “as a matter of priority."

11:31 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

Hong Kong Customs crack down on stores selling fake surgical masks

People wait in line to purchase surgical masks in a  Hong Kong shopping mall on January 29.
People wait in line to purchase surgical masks in a Hong Kong shopping mall on January 29. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Hong Kong customs officials are carrying out a large scale city-wide special operation to crack down on stores selling fake surgical masks amid the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Officers with the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department have conducted spot checks on almost 200 stores across the city, including pharmacies, chain stores, and other shops that sell the face masks.

"The spot check operation focused on three aspects of surgical masks, namely false origin claims, non-compliance with consumer goods safety standards and false trademarks," a statement from the customs department said.

The operation, codenamed "Guardian," is to ensure masks sold in Hong Kong comply with consumer goods safety standards.

"Immediate announcements will be made if any irregularities are spotted during the operation," the statement said.

The crackdown comes as supplies of face masks are running low in Hong Kong. Long lines of residents queueing outside pharmacies and stores are a common sight around the territory.

Hong Kong has now confirmed 10 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

11:25 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

Three Japanese nationals evacuated from Wuhan have coronavirus

Ambulances line up ahead of the arrival of an airplane carrying Japanese citizens repatriated from Wuhan amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
Ambulances line up ahead of the arrival of an airplane carrying Japanese citizens repatriated from Wuhan amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Carl Court/Getty Images

At least three of the Japanese citizens evacuated from Wuhan on Wednesday have been diagnosed with the Wuhan coronavirus. 

Only one of the patients has a fever, while the other two are not showing any symptoms, Japan’s Health and Welfare Ministry announced today.

They are currently quarantined in Tokyo.

Two flights carrying more than 400 Japanese citizens arrived back in the country from Wuhan on Wednesday and Thursday.

11:12 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

Huge queues outside Hong Kong pharmacies as residents scramble for face masks

Footage taken in Hong Kong's eastern Tin Hau district shows hundreds of people queuing to get their hands on face masks, as fears grow around the continued spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Supplies of face masks in the city are running low and many pharmacies or drugstores have put up signs saying they've sold out of masks and hand sanitizer, as people scramble to stock up.

The line in Tin Hau shows people outside a pharmacy on Thursday morning -- the line can be seen stretching around the block, up a flight a stairs, and down another street.

Similar scenes are playing out across the city as people hear that a store has received a new shipment of masks, or wait before opening time in the hopes of new stock.

Hong Kong has now confirmed 10 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

10:58 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

Wuhan coronavirus has now spread to every region within mainland China

Tibet has now confirmed its first case of the Wuhan coronavirus, Chinese health authorities said Thursday.

Tibet was previously the only region administered by the Chinese government to have avoided the virus. Now, all provinces, autonomous regions, special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macao) and municipalities have confirmed cases.

Cases have also been confirmed in the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The spread to Tibet, a remote and mountainous region, will renew concerns about how easily the virus is transmitted, particularly when people are asymptomatic.

On Tuesday, Tibet announced the indefinite closure of all tourist attractions, state-run newspaper People’s Daily reported, citing the regional Communist Party committee.

All travelers, including tourists, entering Tibet are now required to register with authorities and be quarantined for 14 days.

There are now 7,711 confirmed cases in mainland China, with 4,586 in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated.

10:24 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

Chinese state media is going big on the Wuhan virus ... a week after lockdown began

A courier delivers supplies to the Wuhan Union Hospital on January 29 in Wuhan.
A courier delivers supplies to the Wuhan Union Hospital on January 29 in Wuhan. Getty Images

China's largest state-run media outlets are belatedly going big on the Wuhan virus Thursday morning, a week after the city at the center of the outbreak was placed under lockdown.

Both state broadcaster CCTV -- known as CGTN internationally -- and news agency Xinhua were leading their websites with multiple stories about the virus and efforts to stem its spread across the country.

The top story on both was President Xi Jinping ordering the military to aid in containing the virus.

While the Wuhan virus has been headline news around the world for weeks, its coverage in China has been more mixed. More independently-minded outlets, particularly Caixin, The Paper and the Beijing News, have been dedicating significant resources and space to the virus, but state and Communist Party outlets have been more restrained for the most. (Though some internationally focused publications, like the English-language Global Times, have been covering it extensively.)

For much of the crisis, the Wuhan virus was not the primary story on Xinwen Lianbo, CCTV's main daily news broadcast, watched by hundreds of millions of people across China.

Last week, as Wuhan was being placed under lockdown and cases of the virus were spreading worldwide, the People's Daily -- the official mouthpiece of the Party -- was still playing it well below the fold.

"The report that gets top billing at the site today is about a gathering yesterday of former senior officials ahead of the Spring Festival. It is essentially just a list of names, including Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Zhu Rongji, that ends with expressions of support for Xi Jinping," wrote David Bandurski of Hong Kong University's China Media Project last week.
"Why would such a story be emphasized over a national health crisis? The reason is not necessarily distraction, though the leadership certainly wishes everyone could look away. This story is there to serve the paramount purpose of reiterating Xi Jinping’s power and status, one of the primary roles played by Party media."

With the Wuhan crisis expanding even more in the past week, and Xi taking personal control over the response, the approach to covering it in state media appears to have shifted -- we can likely expect more banner headlines about Xi's orders in the days to come.

10:07 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

WHO: "The whole world needs to be on alert"

World Health Organization Health Emergencies Program head Michael Ryan
World Health Organization Health Emergencies Program head Michael Ryan Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise, the head of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme Michael Ryan has said, "The whole world needs to be on alert now."

"The whole world needs to take action and be ready for any cases that come, either from the original epicenter or from other epicenters that become established," Ryan told reporters Wednesday.

His comments come as the WHO will reconvene an emergency committee on Thursday to advise the agency on whether the coronavirus outbreak meets the definition of a public health emergency of international concern, the agency announced.

WHO leadership called the committee back together due to the "potential for a much larger outbreak," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Ghebreyesus said that, while nearly 99% of cases have occurred in China, cases of person-to-person transmission in a handful of other countries have become a cause for concern.

Last week, the organization said the virus was an emergency in China, but does not yet constitute an international public health emergency.

Still, in daily situation reports, the WHO has listed its risk assessment as "very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level."

Ryan said that many countries are taking action at borders and around travel — and one advantage of declaring an emergency is the ability to better coordinate the global response.

 "One hundred ninety-four countries implementing unilateral measures based on their own individual risk assessment is a potential recipe for disaster at least politically, economically and socially," Ryan said. "So ensuring that all measures that are being taken that affect travel, trade and economy are based on rational public health evidence is very important."

9:48 p.m. ET, January 29, 2020

China should respect rights in coronavirus response: HRW

Children wearing protective facemasks to help stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus play soccer inside a condominium complex in Beijing.
Children wearing protective facemasks to help stop the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus play soccer inside a condominium complex in Beijing.  Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

International rights group Human Rights Watch has said the Chinese government should ensure that human rights are protected while responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement, the rights group said that the government's initial response to the outbreak was "delayed by withholding information from the public, underreporting cases of infection, downplaying the severity of the infection, and dismissing the likelihood of transmission between humans."

But since mid-January, China ramped up its response as the number of confirmed cases of the virus drastically increased. Almost 60 million people are living under a full or partial lockdown in Hubei province -- where the outbreak originated.

"In addition, authorities have detained people for 'rumor-mongering,' censored online discussions of the epidemic, curbed media reporting, and failed to ensure appropriate access to medical care for those with virus symptoms and others with medical needs," the statement said.

The coronavirus outbreak requires a swift and comprehensive response that respects human rights,” said Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Authorities should recognize that censorship only fuels public distrust, and instead encourage civil society engagement and media reporting on this public health crisis.”