January 31 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jessie Yeung, Steve George and Fernando Alfonso, CNN

Updated 1:48 p.m. ET, February 4, 2020
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4:02 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

HHS declares coronavirus a public health emergency in the US

From CNN’s Ben Tinker

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

The novel coronavirus is now a public health emergency in the United States, Alex Azar, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, announced at a White House press briefing today.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

3:55 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Pentagon looking into additional facilities for coronavirus quarantine

From CNN's Barbara Starr

The Pentagon expects to receive a request from the Department of Health and Human Services as early as today for additional housing capacity for people arriving in the United States aboard charter planes arranged by the US government.

They're being placed into quarantine to ensure they do not have coronavirus, according to a US official directly familiar with the latest developments.

The housing would be for US government personnel, contractors and dependents arriving in the US under the State Department’s order to not travel to China. Nearly 200 people are already being quarantined at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California. But that facility is now considered at capacity.

The Trump Administration is quietly looking at other military bases and facilities that could be used to quarantine people expected to continue arriving in the US through the weekend.

At this point, the effort would not extend to Americans returning from China aboard commercial aircraft, only those returning on flights such as the one arranged by the State Department earlier this week that landed at March Air Reserve Base in California.

2:16 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

CDC’s coronavirus quarantine order is first in more than 50 years

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht, Michael Nedelman and Jen Christensen

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for nearly 200 Americans who returned from Wuhan, China, is the first such order in more than 50 years. 

“While we recognize this is an unprecedented action, we are facing an unprecedented public health threat, and this is one of the tools in our toolbox to mitigate the potential impact of this novel virus on the United States,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, referring to the coronavirus that has sickened thousands in China.

The 195 Americans, many of them diplomats and their families, flew from Wuhan to California on Wednesday. They’ve been staying at March Air Reserve Base since then under a three-day voluntary quarantine.  

“We believe that this approach of having a quarantine for the incubation period offers the greatest level of protection for the American public in preventing introduction and spread,” Cetron said. “That is our primary concern.”

CDC officials thanked quarantined individuals for their flexibility. Cetron said most of the passengers were “exuberant and elated to be out of harm’s way” during their journey from Wuhan, and they understand the need for a longer quarantine. 

Cetron noted there are cons to quarantine – if they aren’t done properly, if there’s fear and stigma or if people aren’t treated with respect.

“We’re taking every measure possible to ensure these people are treated with dignity and respect,” Cetron said.

One quarantined individual had previously tried to leave the base. CDC officials declined to offer more information about that person.

There are currently six confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in the US – one in Arizona, two in California, two in Illinois and one in Washington.

Some historical context: A quarantine order like this was last used in the 1960s for smallpox evaluation, Dr. Marti Cetron, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, said Friday during a telebriefing with reporters.

2:02 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Passenger says federal quarantine "is a very good thing"

From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy

A charter flight from Wuhan, China, carrying approximately 200 U.S. citizens, lands at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Wednesday, January 29.
A charter flight from Wuhan, China, carrying approximately 200 U.S. citizens, lands at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Wednesday, January 29. Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Getty Images

A passenger who was onboard the US State Department evacuation flight from Wuhan, China to California tells CNN the CDC mandated 14 day quarantine “is a very good thing."

The passenger requested anonymity because their family has received threats.

The passenger says officials sat them down in a sort of "town hall" meeting and read the official CDC statement.

"I think this is absolutely the best decision to keep us and the public safe," the passenger said. "I believe it is always a good idea to take every possible precaution, especially when it comes to health.”

They say the first question was how the passengers would be able to watch the Super Bowl.

"Then we joked about having chicken wings," the passenger said. 
1:28 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

US orders 14-day quarantine for Americans evacuated from Wuhan

From CNN's Elizabeth Cohen

A team in white biohazard suits watch as some of the approximately 200 passengers walk to waiting buses upon arriving on a charter flight from Wuhan, China, after landing at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Wednesday, January 29.
A team in white biohazard suits watch as some of the approximately 200 passengers walk to waiting buses upon arriving on a charter flight from Wuhan, China, after landing at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, on Wednesday, January 29. Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Getty Images

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is ordering a 14-day quarantine for nearly 200 Americans who recently returned from Wuhan, China.  

The 195 Americans, many of them diplomats and their families, flew from Wuhan to California on Wednesday. They’ve been staying at March Air Reserve Base since then under a three-day voluntary quarantine.  

Several other countries, such as France, South Korea, and Australia have ordered their returning citizens from Wuhan to be quarantined for 14 days.   

Some background: This morning, a longtime CDC adviser told CNN that the agency should consider extending the three-day quarantine because other countries are doing the same, and because of a report published last night in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that infected people can transmit the virus before they develop symptoms.   

In that study, there were five instances of asymptomatic transmission of the Wuhan virus in one cluster. A woman in Shanghai was infected by one of her parents, who had no symptoms; that woman flew to Germany and while she was asymptomatic transmitted the virus to two colleagues; one of those colleagues, while healthy, transmitted the virus to two more coworkers.  

1:06 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Flights to Wuhan bring travelers stranded abroad home

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing

A passenger aircraft operated by Xiamen Airlines sits on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport, in Roissy, France, on Tuesday, January 28.
A passenger aircraft operated by Xiamen Airlines sits on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle airport, in Roissy, France, on Tuesday, January 28. Anita Pouchard Serra/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Two flights chartered by the Chinese government have brought stranded travelers from Hubei Province, epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, back home from Thailand and Malaysia.

The Xiamen Airlines-operated flights landed at the international airport of Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, on Friday night, according to the Chinese foreign ministry and flight data. 

The foreign ministry said the flight from Bangkok, Thailand, carried 76 passengers. It is unclear how many people were aboard the flight from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The authorities had earlier said that the two flights were expected to bring back more than 200 Hubei residents.

Arranged by the government, two Boeing 737-800 jets took off from the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen on Friday afternoon, according to a statement from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). 

The statement added that passengers would be billed for their flight.

About flying to Wuhan: Technically, flights into Wuhan are allowed but all departures are banned — except special flights, such as evacuation flights. But almost all airlines have canceled their Wuhan flights, both international and domestic, making it nearly impossible for stranded travelers to find alternative flights home.

 

12:20 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

EXCLUSIVE: Inside a coronavirus isolation ward in Macao

Photos exclusively obtained by CNN give a rare glimpse into a coronavirus isolation ward in Macao, the semi-autonomous Chinese territory where seven people have contracted the virus.

These are among the first photos showing treatment inside an isolation ward, aside from official images from Chinese state media. Medical workers, wearing face masks and protective suits, and a patient (face obscured) can be seen at the Centro Hospitalar Conde de São Januário in Macao.

 

12:12 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

Sweden confirms first case of coronavirus

From CNN’s Ashley Keegan and Emma Thelander

The clinic for infectious diseases is seen in Jönköping, Sweden, on January 31.
The clinic for infectious diseases is seen in Jönköping, Sweden, on January 31. Mikael Fritzon/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images

Sweden has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a woman in Jönköping county who had visited the Wuhan area of China, Sweden’s Public Health Authority said Friday.

When the woman landed in Sweden on January 24, she was free of symptoms of the infection, but later developed a cough and contacted a local hospital. She was isolated in the hospital's infection clinic, the agency said in a statement, but is not seriously ill.

12:00 p.m. ET, January 31, 2020

CDC has investigated 241 US patients for coronavirus

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed 241 patients under investigation for the novel coronavirus in 36 states, according to an update posted to the agency's website Friday.

Of them, six have tested positive, 114 negative, and 121 are still pending.

There is one case is in Arizona, one in Washington state, two in California and two in Illinois.

The sixth patient is also the first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the US, according to an announcement by the CDC on Thursday. He is the husband of an Illinois woman who was diagnosed with the virus after returning from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated -- though he did not travel to China himself.

Pending cases includes specimens that have been received and not yet undergone testing, as well as those in transit to CDC from health authorities in various states.

Previously, there were 165 patients under investigation in 36 states, as of January 29, including five positive, 68 negative and 92 pending cases.

CDC is the only lab in the US that can conduct diagnostic testing for the virus, but it is developing coronavirus testing kits to share with "domestic and international partners," according to an earlier statement.