January 22 coronavirus news

By Joshua Berlinger, Steve George and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Updated 10:05 p.m. ET, January 22, 2020
18 Posts
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6:05 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

The Wuhan market at the center of the outbreak remains tightly sealed

From CNN's David Culver and Yong Xiong in Wuhan, China

A woman wears a mask while pushing a wheelbarrow past the closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
A woman wears a mask while pushing a wheelbarrow past the closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Getty Images

In the heart of Wuhan's city center is the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.

Under normal circumstances it would be packed with shoppers scrambling for fish and seafood in preparation of the Lunar New Year.

The holiday pretty much revolves around the dining table, as reunited families catch up with each other and visiting friends.

But this year the market stands empty, its entranceway cordoned-off and guarded by police and security officials in medical masks.

The usually congested streets surrounding the market are also deserted. No one here is taking any chances.

Chinese authorities and scientists have pointed to wild animals sold at the market as the likely source of a coronavirus outbreak that has killed nine people and sickened 440 inside China in a matter of weeks. The virus has also spread to Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States, sparking fears of a potential global pandemic.

Though the market has been closed since January 1 for disinfection, health authorities have so far been unable to determine which animals harbored the virus.

The new strain of coronavirus, which can infect both animals and humans, is in the same family as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Li Bin, China's national health commissioner, said Wednesday that officials are aware of around 2,200 cases of "close contact" with known virus carriers. Regarding suspected cases, 715 patients have been discharged while more than 300 patients remain on medical watch.

4:03 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

This is either great timing ... or terrible

As the World Health Organization (WHO) meets in Geneva Wednesday to debate whether a global emergency needs to be declared over the Wuhan coronavirus, Netflix is dropping a new documentary series on... pandemics.

This isn't just fortuitous (or terrible, depending on your perspective) timing for Netflix's marketing team, it's reflective of growing concerns among the scientific community that we are overdue a major pandemic, on the scale of the Spanish Flu, which affected some 40% of the world's population and killed up to 50 million people.

CNN explored this in our own documentary "Unseen Enemy," which came out in 2017.

World-renowned epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant, guides viewers through his difficult decisions as he worked on the teams that forcibly vaccinated the last remote villagers against smallpox. Others describe how the global spread of HIV/AIDS could have been stopped if governments and public health bodies had acted more deliberately to warn the public. Dr. Brilliant warns now that there may be 30 emerging human pathogens that have the potential to become epidemics.

3:21 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

How financial markets are reacting to the coronavirus

From CNN's Jill Disis, Laura He and Anneken Tappe

Wu Jun/Visual China Group via Getty Images
Wu Jun/Visual China Group via Getty Images

Dow closed in the red Tuesday as reports of the first case of the Wuhan coronavirus in the United States weighed on the market.

Asian markets were in the red Tuesday, though they recovered Wednesday to trade positive.

Market analysts and economists have suggested that the new coronavirus could become a major risk should it continue to spread.

“From an investment standpoint, the risk with any virus is in the scope of its economic impact, and the mere fact that this has spread from China overnight to the US so quickly reinforces the idea that the negative fallout could be global rather than local,” said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, in emailed comments.

China's Shanghai Composite was negative most of Wednesday, though was last trading slightly in the green. Still, it trailed other major indexes in Asia.

Shanghai's performance Wednesday indicates that China is "far more vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus" than other parts of Asia, according to Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda.

"The divergence in Asian markets, though will only last as long as few cases of the virus are reported outside of the mainland," he said in a research note. "Therefore, today's rally ex-China should be treated with caution until the entire picture becomes much clearer."

2:24 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

Australia's Prime Minister assures worried citizens that his country has "the best health system in the world"

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison said Wednesday that the risk of transmission of the coronavirus to his country "remains low," but that the government would take several steps to protect the country.

Here's what he said on Twitter:

6:01 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

The World Health Organization will convene an emergency meeting today, and the death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has risen to 9

From CNN's James Griffiths and Nectar Gan in Hong Kong

The death toll from the Wuhan coronavirus has risen to nine, as dozens more cases were reported across China and as far afield as the western United States sparking fears of a possible pandemic.

Top officials at the World Health Organization will convene for an emergency meeting in Geneva today to decide whether the quickly developing outbreak constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern," and what recommendations should be made regarding it, including potentially cross-border screening, greater surveillance and rolling out treatment programs.

Chinese health authorities said Wednesday that at least 440 cases had been confirmed across the country, with three new deaths linked to the virus in Hubei, the central Chinese province of which Wuhan is the capital.

Officials in Washington state confirmed the first case on US soil Tuesday. Cases have also been reported in South Korea, Thailand and Japan, and suspected cases detected in Australia.

Read more here

1:13 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

Here's what we learned from Chinese authorities today

From journalist Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Oel Celis/AFP/Getty Images
Oel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Li Bin, China’s National Health Commission Minister, held a news conference today to discuss the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.

Here's what we learned:

What China is doing to combat the spread: Li said also local authorities in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and the entire province of Hubei (of which Wuhan is a part) have been asked to tighten regulations of farm markets and wild animals. The virus is believed to have originated from a market. Authorities will do more to screen passengers at transportation hubs like airports, ports, bus stations and train stations, using devices like thermometers and thermal body scanners. They'll also take measures to improve ventilation and sterilization.

Nine people have died so far: All the people killed by the virus were in Hubei province. The majority of them have been elderly and had pre-existing conditions.

How it's spreading: Li said experts believe the virus is spreading via human-to-human transmission, specifically through the respiratory tract. Li also said there is a possibility that the virus could mutate -- aiding the spread of the disease.  

1:13 a.m. ET, January 22, 2020

North Korea is banning foreign tourists from entering the country due to the coronavirus' spread

From CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

The Chinese flag flies on the Yalu River Broken Bridge, with the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, and the North Korean city of Sinuiju behind it, in the Chinese city of Dandong on February 23, 2019.
The Chinese flag flies on the Yalu River Broken Bridge, with the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, and the North Korean city of Sinuiju behind it, in the Chinese city of Dandong on February 23, 2019. Greg Barker/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea is closing its borders to all foreign tourists from Wednesday as a precaution against the Wuhan coronavirus, according to Young Pioneer Tours, a travel agency that runs tours to the country.

Separately on Tuesday, North Korean state news agency KCNA reported the recent outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus and said, that “the state was making nationwide efforts to block this virus from entering.”

Though North Korean citizens are, for the most part, closed off to the rest of the world, the country does operate a small tourist industry that caters mostly to Chinese tourists.

It's unclear exactly how many tourists visit the country each year. China's Global Times, a state-sanctioned tabloid, reported last year that about 100,000 people visited North Korea each year -- 80% of whom were Chinese.

11:11 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

Wuhan coronavirus case confirmed in Macao

From journalist Vanessa Chan in Hong Kong

The Macau Tower (left) and the skyline is seen during sunset in Macau on December 18, 2019. 
The Macau Tower (left) and the skyline is seen during sunset in Macau on December 18, 2019.  Eduardo Leal/AFP/Getty Images

Another case of the Wuhan coronavirus has been identified in China’s Special Administrative Region of Macao, according to local health officials.

Dr. Lei Chin-ion, the director of the Macao Health Bureau, said a 52-year-old woman from Wuhan was confirmed as being infected with the virus after she went to hospital in Macao on January 21.

She had arrived in Macao from Wuhan on January 19 and had travelled by train and bus, Lei said at a news conference today. She claims she had no contact with anyone with a confirmed Wuhan coronavirus back home, Lei said.

The number of cases outside mainland China now stands at 8, with 1 in Macao, 3 in Thailand, 1 on the self-governing island of Taiwan, 1 in South Korea, 1 in Japan and 1 in the United States.

11:00 p.m. ET, January 21, 2020

China exempts service fee on Wuhan travel refunds

From journalist Alexandra Lin in Hong Kong

A traveller receives check-in assistance from airline staff at the Daxing International Airport.
A traveller receives check-in assistance from airline staff at the Daxing International Airport. Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

China is encouraging passengers traveling to and from Wuhan to change their travel plans during the busy Lunar New Year holiday period, by exempting them from service charges for refunds for all modes of transport.

The fee will be waived for all train, bus, ferry and air passengers that arrive and leave Wuhan, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Transport (MoT).

In the coming days, hundreds of millions of Chinese are expected to begin traveling across the country and overseas as the annual Lunar New Year break gets fully underway.

The holiday is most important in the Chinese calendar and will see people from across the country cram themselves into homebound trains, buses and planes for family reunions

More than 60 routes connect Wuhan with other countries, including direct flights to New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Paris and London, as well as over a hundred internal flights to other major Chinese cities. The central city of 11 million people is also a hub for the country's high-speed rail network.