February 7 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 8:36 PM ET, Fri February 7, 2020
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11:52 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Health official: "A lot of people are wearing masks that don't need them"

Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images
Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has warned of a global "chronic shortage" of equipment that could shield individuals from coronavirus — like masks and gloves.

Following this news, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reminded people that most of them don't need to be wearing masks.

"A lot of people are wearing masks that don't need them," he told CNN. "A lot of people feel that they need to be wearing masks, even though, unless you're right in the middle of a situation where's a lot of people coughing and sneezing — that really we don't recommend routinely, that people wear masks."

He noted that health care workers — especially those treating patients in China — are the ones who need the equipment.

"The situation of a health care provider needing personal protective equipment is another more serious issue than masks for everybody," he said.

Health officials have urged people in the US to take the usual precautions they would during cold and flu season. That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

If you're the one feeling sick, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.

Read more about how to protect yourself from coronavirus — as well as colds and flus — here.

11:31 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Cruise ship in Japan has the most coronavirus cases outside China

The Diamond Princess cruise ship is seen docked at Yokohama Port on Friday.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship is seen docked at Yokohama Port on Friday. Credit: Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News/AP

At least 61 passengers aboard a cruise ship in Japan have been infected with the coronavirus, making it the single highest concentration of coronavirus cases outside of mainland China in the whole world.

CNN's Will Ripley spoke to some of the passengers aboard the ship who "sounded downright scared."

The number of cases on the ship tripled overnight from 20 to 61, Ripley reported. 

What we know about this ship: The Diamond Princess is anchored off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo, with 1,045 crew and 2,666 passengers — including 428 Americans — on board. The vessel has been quarantined since Tuesday, and passengers are expected to remain under quarantine for at least 14 days — so roughly 11 more days.

This ship is one of three cruise ships in Asia have had their travels disrupted during the coronavirus outbreak. Two of the vessels are docked in Japan and Hong Kong and under quarantine as officials try to slow the spreading of the virus. A third ship in the East China Sea has been unable to dock because of outbreak fears.

11:21 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

What we know so far about the coronavirus outbreak

Workers in protective gear are seen near the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan on Friday.
Workers in protective gear are seen near the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan on Friday. Credit: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The death toll and number of people infected by the Wuhan coronavirus continues to grow, with no signs of slowing despite severe quarantine and population control methods in China.

Here's where things stand this morning:

  • How many cases have there been? Around the world, there have been 31,482 confirmed cases; 31,161 of those cases have been in mainland China.
  • How many deaths have there been? At least 638 people have died, and all but two of them have been in China. One person in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines have also died.
  • In New Jersey: A cruise ship docked this morning near New York City as some passengers have a history of travel to China. Twenty-three passengers were cleared, and four are being evaluated at an area hospital after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the cruise ship to evaluate the situation.
  • Other cruise ships in Asia: Two of the vessels are docked in Japan and Hong Kong and under quarantine as officials try to slow the spreading of the virus. A third ship in the East China Sea has been unable to dock because of outbreak fears
11:18 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Hong Kong healthcare workers end five-day strike over coronavirus handling

From CNN’s Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A light installation is displayed by striking members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) and other activists at the Hospital Authority building in Hong Kong on Friday.
A light installation is displayed by striking members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) and other activists at the Hospital Authority building in Hong Kong on Friday. Credit: Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

Medical workers in Hong Kong have ended their strike after members voted not to extend it.

Thousands of workers have been on strike for five days, demanding that the Hong Kong government close all borders with mainland China and take further emergency measures against the virus.

In a press statement released on Friday, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said that more than 7,000 members voted in a poll to decide whether to continue the strike and 4,000 members voted against it. 

Over the past five days, the union has organized a medical sector strike that has heavily impacted services across the city. On Wednesday alone, over 7,000 employees took part accounting for nearly 10% of all public sector medical workers in the city. 

For most of the week, public hospitals have had limited services due to the strike. Remaining staff members have had to focus efforts on emergency services, so patients with mild conditions were advised to find private hospitals or clinics instead.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has implemented emergency measures such as mandatory quarantines for travelers coming from China, and closed all but three of Hong Kong's mainland China border crossings.

11:08 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

What we know about the three cruise ships that had their travels disrupted by coronavirus

People stand on balconies aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Daikoku Pier in Yokohama, Japan on Friday.
People stand on balconies aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Daikoku Pier in Yokohama, Japan on Friday. Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images

At least three cruise ships in Asia have had their travels disrupted during the coronavirus outbreak.

Two of the vessels are docked and under quarantine as officials try to slow the spreading of the virus, and a third has been unable to dock because of outbreak fears.

The ships had spent time at multiple ports across Asia before fears of the virus prompted the quarantines and backlash.

Some details about the situation are still unclear, but here's what we know about the three ships right now:

  • The one docked in Japan: The Diamond Princess is anchored off the coast of Yokohama, near Tokyo, with 1,045 crew and 2,666 passengers — including 428 Americans — on board. At least 61 people on board have been infected. The vessel has been quarantined since Tuesday, and passengers are expected to remain under quarantine for at least 14 days — so roughly 11 more days.
  • The one docked in Hong Kong: The World Dream, is docked at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Cruise Terminal with more than 3,600 passengers and crew members on board. A Hong Kong Department of Health official said 33 crew members had shown symptoms of illness at varying degrees, although most had tested negative for the coronavirus. All passengers will have to remain on board until "we complete the quarantine work," the official said — but it's unclear how long that could take.
  • The one without a port: In the middle of the East China Sea, the Westerdam is struggling to find a port to dock at after being turned away from both Taiwan and Japan over fears of passenger contamination. The company that operates the line said it has no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board. The cruise is in the middle of a 30-day voyage (it initially left Singapore on January 16), and it's not clear when or where it could dock.

10:27 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Health organization says drop in new coronavirus cases is good news – but remains cautious

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

The World Health Organization (WHO) said a decrease in new cases of coronavirus is “encouraging news” — but stressed the need for people to be “vigilant.” 

The world is facing a “severe disruption” of the supply of personal protective equipment, included masks needed to protect from coronavirus WHO chief Tedros Adhanom said today. 

Adhanom said prices have shot up by a “significant increase,” about 20 times inflated. Demand is also up by about 100 times, compounding he issue, he said.

11:46 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

23 passengers cleared, 4 being evaluated after CDC screens ship in New Jersey

From CNN Health’s John Bonifield, Taylor Romine and Joe Sutton

Twenty-three cruise ship passengers were cleared, and four are being evaluated at an area hospital after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention boarded the ship today in Bayonne, New Jersey.

The officials were there to screen the 27 passengers who recently traveled from mainland China, according to the New Jersey governor Phil Murphy.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship, “The Anthem of the Seas," docked this morning in the Port of Bayonne.

“There are folks on the ship that have a history of travel to China and so CDC and local health officials are going to board the ship when it docks to do an assessment in port for coronavirus,” a CDC official said.

"New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus and the risk to residents remains low,” Murphy said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the CDC previously said the agency is aware of two family members on board the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship who became ill on board. The family has a travel history to mainland China, but not a history of travel to Hubei Province — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

CDC staff consulted with the New Jersey Department of Health and have decided to test all four family members for the novel coronavirus out of an abundance of caution. The New Jersey Department of Health will facilitate the specimen collection, and the samples will be sent to CDC for testing.

9:46 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

Tributes and anger after the death of Li Wenliang

A photo of the late ophthalmologist Li Wenliang is seen beside flower tributes at the Wuhan Central Hospital on Friday.
A photo of the late ophthalmologist Li Wenliang is seen beside flower tributes at the Wuhan Central Hospital on Friday. Credit: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

Li Wenliang, the Wuhan doctor who was targeted by police for trying to sound the alarm in December, died of the coronavirus late last night.

Grief and anger: Chinese social media has exploded into near-unprecedented levels of grief and fury against the government, with calls for accountability and freedom of speech -- rarely seen in China's tightly-controlled online sphere.

People attend a vigil for Doctor Li Wenliang in Hong Kong on Friday.
People attend a vigil for Doctor Li Wenliang in Hong Kong on Friday. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

China's social media channels were awash with anger following news of Li's death -- the topics "Wuhan government owes Dr. Li Wenliang an apology," and "We want freedom of speech," soon began to trend on China's Twitter-like platform, Weibo, before disappearing from the heavily censored platform.

A man stops by a message drawn into the snow that reads, "Farewell to Li Wenliang" in Beijing on Friday.
A man stops by a message drawn into the snow that reads, "Farewell to Li Wenliang" in Beijing on Friday. Credit: Chinatopix/AP

9:42 a.m. ET, February 7, 2020

A cruise ship has been denied entry by Japan and is in a "holding pattern" off the coast

From CNN’s Jake Kwon, Will Ripley, Sandi Sidhu, Matt Rivers and Ben Westcott

A cruise ship has been denied entry by Japanese authorities and is now in a “holding pattern” off the southeast coast of Okinawa over fears of coronavirus.

The MS Westerdam left Singapore on January 16 for what should have been a 30-day cruise around Asia. But after leaving Hong Kong on February 1, the ship has been turned away from ports in the Philippines and Taiwan due to fears that there may be coronavirus cases on board.

In Hong Kong, the ship disembarked 1,254 guests and embarked 768 guests before departing on Saturday, the cruise company Holland America Line (HAL) said.

There is no suggestion that any passengers, current or former, have been infected, the cruise company said on Twitter.

On Thursday, the Japanese government said that it would not allow the Westerdam to call anywhere in their territory.

The ship planned to make stops in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and finally China but had revised the ship’s final destination from Shanghai to Yokohama following the warning by US CDC on January 28th, according to the company.

Australian passenger David Holst, 63, is traveling on the Westerdam with his wife Judy.

"No one wants us," Holst told CNN from the cruise ship. "Holland America said they're in discussions with the US State Department, the US Navy, and the Dutch government to try and find a solution. I have no idea what that will be or when that would be."

Holst said he and his wife had spent more than $20,000 on the trip, including flights. But he said the past six or seven days had been a "nightmare."

"It keeps getting worse and everyone on board is just living in fear that the bell is going to ring and the captain is going to say, 'Return to your cabins, we're in quarantine and we've got a virus case on board,'" he said.