January 23 coronavirus news

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2:36 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Just reading in? Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus

From CNN's Jessie Yeung

What started as an unknown virus last month in Wuhan, China, has now killed at least 17 people and infected hundreds more around the world.

If you're just joining us now, here's what you need to know:

  • What is the virus? First identified in Wuhan in mid-December, the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is in the same family of infections as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
  • What are the symptoms? Coronavirus symptoms can look like a common cold -- a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and a fever. For those with a weaker immune system, the virus could cause a more serious respiratory tract illness like pneumonia or bronchitis.
  • How is it transmitted? Coronaviruses are transmitted by animals and people, and this Wuhan strain has been linked to a market selling seafood and live animals. Chinese officials said human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
  • What are the casualties? So far, 17 people have been confirmed dead in China, and 598 cases have been confirmed in the mainland.
  • Where has it spread? Cases have been reported in nearby territories Macao and Taiwan. There have been confirmed cases in the US, South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and suspected cases detected in Hong Kong and Australia.
  • Is there a vaccine? International scientists are trying to create a vaccine for the new virus -- but it probably won't come anytime soon. It will take at least a few months before clinical trials start and more than a year until a vaccine might become available.
  • So what are authorities doing? China adopted Class A prevention and control measures, typically used for major outbreaks like plague. Wuhan is under lockdown, and airports around the world are screening passengers. The World Health Organization is still deciding whether the disease constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern," and what recommendations should be made.

2:34 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Chinese stocks are having their worst day in more than 8 months as the virus spreads

From CNN's Michelle Toh

Stocks in China are having their worst day in more than eight months as the Wuhan coronavirus spreads across the country.

The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) fell nearly 3.2% Thursday afternoon, accelerating earlier losses. It's the index's worst single-day percentage drop since last May, when President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) declined nearly 2.2%. The benchmark has lost more than 4% so far this week.

Japan's Nikkei 225 (N225) slumped 1%, while South Korea's Kospi (KOSPI) decreased 0.9%.

Meanwhile, medical stocks are surging: shares of Zhende Medical and Jiangsu Nanfang Medical spiked 10% in Shanghai, the daily maximum limit.

Read more from CNN Business here.

2:35 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

So far, there are only seven regions controlled by the People's Republic of China where the Wuhan coronavirus hasn't been formally confirmed

Of the 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and four municipalities under the control of the People's Republic of China, only seven have not reported confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus as of mid-day Thursday.

They are:

  • Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • Tibet Autonomous Region
  • Xinjiang Autonomous Region
  • Gansu Province
  • Qinghai Province
  • Shaanxi Province
  • Hong Kong

The self-governing island of Taiwan has reported a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

The Hong Kong government has not formally confirmed the presence of the virus in the city, but said it is investigating two "highly suspected" cases. Preliminary tests of the first individual were positive for the virus.

2:06 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

We're learning more about the 17 people who have been killed by the virus so far

From CNN's Yuli Yang in Hong Kong

Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center.
Staff move bio-waste containers past the entrance of the Wuhan Medical Treatment Center. Dake Kang/AP

China's National Health Commission has released some details about the 17 people who were killed by the Wuhan coronavirus.

Among the dead are 13 men and four women. The time period from symptoms showing to death is between 10 days and three weeks in most cases, according to the government's information.

There was no mention of pre-existing conditions for seven of those who were killed. Six of the seven were men, ages 53, 61, 66, 69, 81 and 82. The only woman who died who was not listed as having a pre-existing condition was 70 years old.

Here's some of what we learned about some of the other victims:

  • Seven suffered from high blood pressure and five suffered from diabetes, among other conditions.
  • One had cancer and one had Parkinson's.
  • The oldest were two 89-year-old men with pre-existing conditions. One, surnamed Chen, sought hospital treatment on January 13 after he experienced difficulty breathing -- but no fever. He was pronounced dead on January 19. The other, surnamed Wang, visited Tong Ji Hospital in Wuhan on January 5 for urinary incontinence and was admitted that day. On January 8, he was transferred to emergency care after he fell unconscious. Doctors then discovered an infection in his lungs. He died 10 days later.
  • The youngest was a 48-year-old woman surnamed Yin who was suffering from fever, exhaustion and a cough. She was treated by a clinic on December 10 for two weeks but did not improve. On December 27, she was admitted to Tong Ji Hospital but then transferred to Jin Yin Tan Hospital, also in Wuhan, on December 31. She died on January 20. Yin was suffering from diabetes and a cerebral infarction before contracting the virus.

1:55 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

Nearly 600 people have been infected by the Wuhan coronavirus in mainland China

At least 598 people have been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus in 25 regions administered by the Chinese Communist Party, according to figures released by national and provincial health authorities by Beijing.

The following areas in China have reported confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus as of mid-day Thursday.

  • Hubei, where Wuhan is located: 444 
  • Beijing: 14 
  • Guangdong: 32
  • Shanghai: 16
  • Zhejiang: 27 
  • Yunnan: 1 
  • Sichuan: 8
  • Shandong: 6 
  • Hainan: 4 
  • Jiangxi: 2 
  • Tianjin: 4 
  • Henan: 5 
  • Chongqing: 6 
  • Liaoning: 3
  • Hunan: 9
  • Anhui: 1 
  • Fujian: 4
  • Guizhou: 1 
  • Shanxi: 1 
  • Ningxia: 1 
  • Guangxi: 5 
  • Hebei: 1
  • Jiangsu: 1 
  • Heilongjiang: 1
  • Jilin: 1

1:41 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

How to protect yourself if you're at risk of contracting the Wuhan coronavirus

From CNN's Holly Yan

People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station on Wednesday in Wuhan, China.
People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station on Wednesday in Wuhan, China. Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images

What started as an unknown virus last month in Wuhan, China, has now killed at least 17 people and infected hundreds more around the world.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself if you are worried about contracting the virus.

Do "what you do every cold and flu season," according to Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state -- where the first US case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed.

More specifically:

  • Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing, per the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Anyone with underlying medical conditions should avoid live animal markets and raw meats altogether, since those people are "considered at higher risk of severe disease," the WHO says.

If you're the one feeling sick:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Disinfect objects and surfaces you touch.
  • Wear a surgical mask.

Read more here

1:29 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

What it's like on the ground in Wuhan

CNN's David Culver, Yong Xiong and Natalie Thomas visited Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak, on Wednesday.

Watch their report:

Read more here about their mad dash to leave the city after authorities announced that public transport would be "temporarily closed."

12:12 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

The World Health Organization may decide today if the Wuhan coronavirus constitutes a global emergency

From CNN Health’s Michael Nedelman

The World Health Organization (WHO) is holding a meeting today where it could decide whether the spread of the Wuhan virus constitutes "a public health emergency of international concern."

The WHO held a similar meeting yesterday but delayed its decision, due to a lack of information.

"The decision about whether or not to declare a public health emergency of international concern is one I take extremely seriously, and one I am only prepared to make with appropriate consideration of all the evidence,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Wednesday. 

"Today, there was an excellent discussion during committee meeting but it was also clear that to proceed, we need more information," he said.

The WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern as "an extraordinary event" that constitutes a "public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease" and "to potentially require a coordinated international response." Previous emergencies have included Ebola, Zika and H1N1.

12:15 a.m. ET, January 23, 2020

China has reported a total of 581 confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing and Yuli Yang in Hong Kong

Health officials in China have confirmed a total of 581 confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus across 25 provinces as of mid-day Thursday, according to official statistics. Those figures do not include cases in the special administrative regions of Macao and Hong Kong or in the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Chinese National Health Commission said in a statement Thursday that as of the end of the day Wednesday:

  • 5,897 people have been found to have had close contact with infected people
  • 4,928 are undergoing medical observation
  • 969 people have been discharged from medical observation
  • 393 suspected cases were identified across 13 provinces, regions and municipalities
  • 95 cases are being qualified as "severe"
  • 17 people have died, all in Hubei province

On Wednesday alone:

  • 257 suspected cases were identified across 13 provinces
  • 131 new cases were confirmed across 24 provinces
  • 8 people died in Hubei province, five men and three women