Coronavirus Live Updates: Cambodia Says Cruise Ship Passengers Are Virus-Free


More than 700 passengers from a cruise ship that was allowed to dock in Cambodia last week after being turned away by ports across Asia over fears of the coronavirus have tested negative, Cambodian health officials said on Wednesday.

The 740 passengers have been in Cambodia since their ship, the Westerdam, was permitted to dock in the port city of Sihanoukville on Feb. 13. An additional 233 passengers, who had been forced to remain onboard, will be permitted to disembark on Wednesday.

Holland America Line, which operates the Westerdam, initially said none of the passengers or crew had been infected, but an American passenger was found to be infected when transiting through Malaysia on Feb. 15.

The discovery raised concerns that others onboard the ship had also been exposed. But Wednesday’s tests suggested — for now, at least — that a large-scale outbreak had not occurred. Before landing in Sihanoukville, the ship carried 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members.

“This completes the guests’ testing,” Holland America said in a statement. “These results provide the required clearance for remaining guests in Cambodia to begin their onward journey home.”

The cruise line said that those passengers who had already returned home “will be contacted by their local health department and provided further information,” but gave no details about how that would happen.

Passengers have flown home to countries on at least three continents, including the United States, the Netherlands and Australia.

A total of 747 crew members who remain aboard the Westerdam are being tested for the virus, the company said. It was unclear whether 55 crew members who previously left the ship had been tested or what countries they had returned to.

The ship will remain in Sihanoukville while the crew tests are conducted.

China on Wednesday said it would revoke the credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters working in mainland China, in a significant escalation of Beijing’s pressure on foreign news organizations.

A spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the move was in retaliation for a headline on a Feb. 3 opinion piece about the economic impact of the coronavirus, “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.”

“Sick man of Asia” was a derogatory characterization of China’s weaknesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when it suffered internal divisions and was exploited by foreign powers.

  • Updated Feb. 10, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • How worried should I be?
      While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.

Chinese officials have “demanded that The Wall Street Journal recognize the seriousness of the error, openly and formally apologize, and investigate and punish those responsible,” Geng Shuang, the ministry spokesman, said in a transcript provided by the Chinese government.

The revocations come less than a day after American officials said they would treat representatives of five government-controlled Chinese news organizations — Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and People’s Daily — as foreign government functionaries, subject to rules similar to those applied to diplomats.

President Trump doubled down on his support of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, calling his counterpart’s efforts “a very good job.”

“I think President Xi is working very hard,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country and he’s doing a very good job with a very, very difficult situation.”

He added that the United States was “working with him and helping him as of the last few days.”

The president’s praise for the Chinese Communist Party’s handling of an outbreak that has killed more than 2,000 people in China contrasts with comments made by members of his administration.

Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, last week said the White House was “disappointed in the lack of transparency coming from the Chinese” and said China had turned down American offers of help.

Passengers began disembarking on Wednesday from a cruise ship docked off Yokohama, Japan, as a two-week quarantine of the vessel was coming to an end even as a major coronavirus outbreak on board continued unabated.

An initial group of about 500 people were to leave the boat on the first day of what the Japanese authorities have said will be a three-day operation to offload those who have tested negative for the virus and do not have symptoms. Passengers who shared cabins with infected patients have been ordered to remain on the ship.

Several countries have arranged charter flights to take their nationals home after they leave the boat. Most if not all of these passengers face an additional two-week quarantine in their home countries.

At least 621 passengers aboard the ship, the Diamond Princess, have been infected. On Wednesday, the authorities reported an additional 79 cases on the ship, which originally carried about 3,700 passengers and crew members.

More than half of all the recorded cases outside China, the center of the epidemic, have been aboard the ship.

Many of the infected had already been taken to nearby hospitals. More than 300 Americans, at least 14 of whom were infected, had also been taken off the boat earlier this week and placed in a 14-day quarantine at military bases in the United States.

But another 100 or more Americans will not return home for at least two more weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

The agency said in a statement that “the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk.”

U.S. passengers who have tested positive and are hospitalized in Japan, or who are still aboard the ship, will not be allowed home until they have been off the ship for 14 days, without any symptoms or a positive test for the virus, the agency said.

On Wednesday, the number of confirmed new cases in mainland China appeared again to be slowing, and was put at 1,749. That brought the country’s total number of reported infections to 74,185. Deaths in the previous 24 hours were put at 136, bringing the total in the mainland to 2,004.

Two people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Qom, a city in central Iran, according to a statement from the country’s Health Ministry.

They are the first confirmed patients in Iran with the new virus, which has now been detected in at least 27 countries, mostly among people who had traveled from China.

The statement was reported by the semiofficial Iranian Students’ News Agency, which added that it had no detail on the nationality or health status of the two patients.

The ministry said that it had isolated an unspecified number of people while they underwent testing for the virus, and that the results of those tests would be made public.

Hong Kong reported its second death from the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the number of deaths from the virus outside of mainland China to six.

The victim, 70, had underlying health conditions and had traveled to the mainland for a day in late January, according to the Hong Kong Department of Health.

He was taken to Queen Mary Hospital on Feb. 12 after a fall at home, the department said. The hospital said in a statement that he died Wednesday morning.

Hong Kong has 63 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has isolated more than 100 patients as they await test results. The semiautonomous Chinese city has restricted entry from land ports, and has so far avoided a large-scale outbreak.

But several confirmed patients had no recent travel history outside Hong Kong, and some transmissions may have occurred between colleagues, neighbors and friends who had shared meals, officials have said.

South Korea reported 15 more cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total number of patients infected with the disease to 46.

Of the 15 new patients, 13 were residents of Daegu, 186 miles southeast of Seoul, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a daily news briefing.

Ten of those infected were members of the same church, it said.

Of the new patients, 11 were believed to have contracted the disease through contact with a 61-year-old woman in Daegu who had earlier been diagnosed with the virus.

Officials said they have shut down or quarantined hospital emergency rooms in Daegu where the patients passed through.

South Korea has tested more than 10,000 people for the virus. Of the 46 who have tested positive, 12 have recovered and been discharged from quarantine, officials said.

Russia has barred entry to most Chinese citizens, a significant escalation of the country’s scramble to stop the spread of the coronavirus from its neighbor to the southeast.

The entry of many Chinese citizens, including residents of the semiautonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau, onto Russian territory will be halted indefinitely as of Thursday, according to an order issued on Tuesday by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, the country’s Foreign Ministry clarified that the move would be temporary and that it applied only to visitors with tourist, private, student and work visas. Russia will continue to issue official, business, humanitarian and transit visas, and allow entry to their holders.

Russia, which has so far reported only two confirmed cases of the coronavirus, closed its 2,600-mile land border with China last month and limited travel between the two countries. But it allowed some flights from China into Moscow to proceed.

The new move carries significant economic and geopolitical implications: China is by far Russia’s biggest trading partner, with more than $100 billion in imports and exports in 2018. The Kremlin has looked to cement tighter strategic ties with Beijing amid both countries’ confrontations with the West.

More than 1.5 million Chinese tourists visited Russia last year, helping to prop up regional economies across the country. Russia’s Association of Tourism Operators said on Tuesday that if the ban continues into the high summer season, the industry will lose more than $500 million.

Economic fallout from the epidemic continued to spread on Tuesday, with new evidence emerging in manufacturing, financial markets, commodities, banking and other sectors.

HSBC, one of the most important banks in Hong Kong, said it planned to cut 35,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in costs as it faces headwinds that include the outbreak and months of political strife in Hong Kong. The bank, based in London, has come to depend increasingly…


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