Cruise Ship Passengers, Some Infected, Flown Back to U.S.


A day before 328 Americans were to be whisked away from a contaminated cruise ship in Japan, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo told passengers that no one infected with the new coronavirus would be allowed to board charter flights to the United States.

But those plans were hastily changed after the test results for 14 passengers came back positive — just as they were being loaded onto buses and dispatched to the airport, where two reconfigured cargo jets were waiting to fly them to military bases in California and Texas.

After consultations with health experts, the U.S. government decided to let the infected evacuees, who were not yet exhibiting symptoms, board the flights.

The reversal was the latest chaotic turn in a two-week quarantine of the ship, the Diamond Princess, that has become an epidemiological nightmare.

Apple said on Monday that it was cutting its sales forecast because of the coronavirus, in a sign of how the outbreak is taking a toll on manufacturing, even at one of the world’s most valuable companies.

The announcement came hours before China announced new figures for the outbreak. The number of cases was put at 72,436 — up from 70,548 the day before — and the death toll now stands at 1,868, up from 1,770, the authorities said.

In a statement, the iPhone maker, which is heavily dependent on factories in China, said its supply of smartphones would be hurt because production was slowed by the outbreak.

None of the factories that make iPhones are in Hubei Province, the center of the outbreak, but travel restrictions have hindered other parts of the country as well. Production was taking longer than hoped to get back on track after the facilities reopened following the Lunar New Year, the company said.

Apple said it was also cutting its sales forecast because demand for its products was being hurt in China. China has been one of the Silicon Valley company’s fastest-growing and largest markets.

Apple’s warning is significant because it is a bellwether of global demand and supply of products. The company said it was “fundamentally strong, and this disruption to our business is only temporary.”

When Cambodia’s prime minister greeted passengers on a cruise ship amid a coronavirus scare on Valentine’s Day, embraces were the order of the day. Protective masks were not.

Not only did Prime Minister Hun Sen not wear one, assured that the ship was virus-free, his bodyguards ordered people who had donned masks to take them off. The next day, the American ambassador to Cambodia, W. Patrick Murphy, who brought his own family to greet the passengers streaming off the ship, also went maskless.

“We are very, very grateful that Cambodia has opened literally its ports and doors to people in need,” Mr. Murphy said. Five other ports had said no.

  • 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.

But after hundreds of passengers had disembarked, one later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Now, health officials worry that what Cambodia opened its doors to was the outbreak, and that the world may pay a price as passengers from the cruse ship Westerdam stream home.

Officials are testing those passengers still on the ship, but health authorities may be hard put to trace all the those who have headed back to their home countries.

The coronavirus epidemic has been a blow to tourist-dependent businesses around the world, with China blocking tour groups from going abroad and many countries restricting entry to people from China.

As China has become wealthier in recent decades, its tourists have become mainstays of shops, hotels, airlines, restaurants, museums and tour companies on multiple continents. Chinese tourists spent $277 billion abroad in 2018, up from $10 billion in 2000, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

The sudden drop in their numbers is readily apparent, whether on the Champs-Élysées, at the Colosseum or on the beaches of Bali. Italy’s government has weighed whether to provide financial support for tour group operators.

Fear of the virus and travel restrictions have led to cancellation of thousands of flights and hotel bookings, and a handful of cultural and business events. Travel companies have also reported a drop in tourism by non-Chinese people who want to avoid crowded spaces.

China signaled on Monday that it would postpone the annual session of its Communist Party-dominated legislature because of the epidemic, a symbolic blow for a government that typically runs with regimented discipline.

Each March, nearly 3,000 delegates gather in the Great Hall of the People, next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The annual full meeting of the legislature, called the National People’s Congress, is a major event in China’s political cycle. President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders were expected to lay out their agenda for the year, issue the annual budget and pass major legislation.

But delay is now virtually certain, judging by an announcement from the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which oversees the legislature. It said the committee would consider voting on Monday on whether to delay the congress.

It would be extremely unlikely that the proposal would be up for formal approval unless Mr. Xi had agreed it was necessary.

It would be the first time in recent memory that the annual legislative session has been delayed. Even in 2003, when China was battling SARS, the congress went ahead as usual.

A Russian court ruled on Monday that a woman who had escaped coronavirus quarantine must be forcibly isolated in a hospital, sending a clear message to all potential escapees and dodgers.

To prevent the virus from taking hold in Russia, the country has closed its roughly 2,600-mile border with China and ordered the quarantine of hundreds of Russian citizens who recently returned from China.

But at least five people have escaped, citing poor conditions at hospitals and frustration over their status.

Alla Ilyina, the woman ordered into isolation on Monday, made headlines in Russia by carrying out an elaborate plan to escape the 14-day quarantine. On Feb. 7, she broke an electromagnetic lock in her room and fled the hospital while doctors attended to an incoming patient.

Mrs. Ilyina tested negative for coronavirus upon her arrival from China. The court ruled that she would have to stay in a hospital for at least two days and get two negative coronavirus tests before she could return home. After the ruling was issued, she was taken by ambulance to the Botkin infectious diseases hospital in St. Petersburg.

The only Russian citizen to test positive for the virus so far is aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

The world’s second-largest economy practically shut down three weeks ago as the coronavirus outbreak sickened tens of thousands of people, unexpectedly lengthening a Chinese holiday.

The freeze set off warnings that the global economy could be in jeopardy if the world’s pre-eminent manufacturing powerhouse stayed shut for long.

Now, as some factories rumble back into action, the monumental task of restarting China is becoming clear. China’s efforts to contain the virus are clashing with its push to get the country back to work, requiring the country’s leaders to strike a balance between keeping people safe and getting vital industries back on track.

Quarantines, blocked roads and checkpoints are stopping millions of workers from returning to their jobs. Supply lines have been severed.

The reopening of businesses means trying to bring together again much of China’s 700 million-strong labor force after what had become a nearly three-week national holiday. China’s containment efforts have effectively carved up the country. At least 760 million people — slightly over half the country’s population — are under various kinds of lockdown.

The coronavirus epidemic has prompted China to reconsider its trade and consumption of wildlife, which has been identified as a probable source of the outbreak.

The practice is driven by desire to flaunt wealth and beliefs about health benefits from products made from certain animals.

Officials drafted legislation to introduce controls and plan to present it at the next preparatory session for the annual National People’s Congress. The details of the proposal are not yet clear, but the goal is to end “the pernicious habit of eating wildlife,” according to a statement released on Monday by the Standing Committee of the congress.

Although the exact origin of the coronavirus is still under investigation, health officials and scientists say it spread outward from a wholesale market in Wuhan where vendors legally sold live animals from crowded stalls in close quarters with meats and vegetables.

The epidemic has inflamed public sentiment that the consumption of animals like reptiles, civets and hedgehogs is fundamentally unsafe.

The trafficking of endangered or threatened wildlife is prohibited in China, but Wang Ruihe, an official with the National People’s Congress, said last week that enforcement was lax.

Australia will evacuate more than 200 of its citizens who have been trapped on the cruise ship in Japan, and quarantine them for two more weeks at a mining camp in the northern city of Darwin, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday.

The passengers, many of them elderly, will take a Qantas flight to Australia on Wednesday, he said. New Zealanders on the Diamond Princess will be able to join the flight and will be subject to quarantine in Darwin.

The passengers flying out on Wednesday will join more than 200 evacuees from Wuhan, China, the center of the epidemic, who have been housed at the mining camp since last week.

Australia airlifted 242 other people from Wuhan to Christmas Island, where they have been staying for two weeks.

Mr. Morrison acknowledged that some of the cruise ship passengers would be frustrated by the additional two weeks in isolation. But he said that the spread of infections on the ship had forced health officials to take extra precautions.

Organizers of the Tokyo Marathon, citing the confirmation of a coronavirus case in Tokyo, are limiting the race this year to elite runners, including wheelchair elites, the event announced on its website Monday.

A statement posted on the site said that all registered runners could defer their entry to the 2021 event, but that runners who defer would have to pay again and would not receive refunds for this year’s race. About 38,000 participants had signed up for the race scheduled for…


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