Coronavirus Live Updates: Americans Evacuated from Wuhan Arrive in California

Hundreds of Americans who had been in Wuhan as the outbreak worsened arrived in California on Wednesday on two evacuation flights arranged by the United States government.

It was a second wave of American evacuations after an earlier flight arrived last week. Days in quarantine on military bases were expected as part of a strict and highly unusual protocol federal officials have put in place to slow the spread of the outbreak.

Among the passengers on the evacuation flights were two sisters and a niece of Guanettee Colebrooke, a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor in suburban Washington. Ms. Colebrooke said she was prepared to welcome them to her home in Virginia whenever they might be allowed to leave quarantine.

“They feel so sad that there are so many people who are unable to be evacuated,” Ms. Colebrooke said. Her sisters made a simple calculation, she said: “They were like, ‘If we can get out of here, let’s get out.’”

Passengers from the evacuation flights were expected to be accommodated at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., and at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Ningxi Xu, a 30-year-old asset manager from New Jersey, said she was thrilled to be among the passengers permitted to fly out of Wuhan, though she was uncertain about what the days ahead — in quarantine — might hold.

“Do you know how the conditions at the Southern California quarantine site have been?” she asked. “Do you know or think they’d allow visitors while we’re in quarantine?”

The State Department also noted that it would stage one or two evacuation flights from Wuhan on Thursday, but had no additional flights planned after that time.

Hong Kong’s Department of Health has begun checking temperatures and taking health declaration forms from 1,800 passengers and 1,800 crew members now on the ship. Passengers will not be allowed to disembark without approval from the department.

At least 30 crew members reported having symptoms of illness, Dr. Leung Yiu-hong, the chief port health officer of the Department of Health, said on Wednesday. They were all being tested for the coronavirus, and three who previously had fevers were under isolation, he said.

Of the passengers, 90 percent are Hong Kong residents and the rest foreign nationals, none of whom are from mainland China. Dr. Leung said the passengers now on the ship had not come into contact with those who took the January cruise.

The death toll from the monthlong coronavirus outbreak has continued to climb in China, rising to 490. New cases have surged by double-digit percentages in the past 11 days, with no sign of a slowdown.

More people have now died in this epidemic than in the SARS outbreak of 2002-3 in mainland China. During that outbreak, 349 people died in the mainland.

The new figures from China’s Health Commission on Wednesday showed that 65 people died on Tuesday and that 3,887 more people had been infected. So far, 24,324 people are known to have been infected.

Health experts say the death toll is likely to rise because of the large number of infections. The mortality rate of the coronavirus, about 2 percent so far, appears to be far lower than SARS, which has a mortality rate of about 10 percent.

Experts warn they still lack enough data to say definitively how lethal the new coronavirus is. Many residents in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak and the capital of Hubei Province, believe the death toll is much higher than the official tally because people with flulike symptoms are being turned away by overstretched hospitals. The health care system in Wuhan is so overwhelmed that many cases have not been diagnosed because of a shortage of testing kits.

At the same time, the number of people in China recovering from the virus is rising. On Tuesday, 262 people left hospitals nationwide. The number of suspected cases has dropped for two days in a row. Officials said they were tracking 3,971 suspected cases, compared with 5,173 cases the day before.

On Tuesday, health officials released details of the deaths so far, saying that two-thirds of them were men. More than 80 percent were over 60 years old, and they typically had pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.

Hubei Province has been hardest hit by the virus, and is home to the bulk of deaths (479) and infections (16,678). Wuhan in particular has borne the brunt of the deaths and infections.

The government said it has put 252,154 people under surveillance.

Hong Kong said that it will begin requiring people who arrive from mainland China to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, as it tries to reduce the potential for imported cases of the coronavirus.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s top official, has resisted demands from some lawmakers and medical workers to completely close off the border, calling it discriminatory and not in line with World Health Organization guidelines.

But she has enacted a series of measures, including closing all but three border crossings, which have resulted in a sharp drop in entries from the mainland.

Mrs. Lam said that Hong Kong now had 21 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including three that were transmitted locally.

The government will also allocate $1.3 billion to help fight the outbreak, she said.

One of the confirmed cases involved someone working at the Kowloon Commerce Center, a hub of multinational firms, according to an internal note sent to employees at the Bank of America, which has an office in one of the towers.

The building’s management office did not respond to a request for comment, and Bank of America declined to comment.

Separately, Taiwan said that beginning on Thursday it would temporarily suspend entry by Chinese citizens who live on the mainland. It previously announced that foreigners who had been to mainland China over the previous 14 days would not be allowed to enter Taiwan.

From Amy Qin, a China correspondent, and Elsie Chen, a researcher, on the ground in Wuhan:

We came prepared, bringing with us two bags full of masks, hand sanitizer, goggles and disinfectant wipes to protect us as we went around reporting in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

But after arriving last Friday, my colleague Elsie Chen and I quickly realized we had overlooked an important question: What do you eat when covering the coronavirus outbreak?

Since the government imposed a lockdown in this city of 11 million two weeks ago, most of the restaurants have been shut. Grocery stores are still open, and many residents have stockpiled food to cook at home. But back at our hotel, we didn’t even have a microwave, let alone a stovetop.

Exhausted from a long day of travel, we realized there was only one answer: instant noodles.

Two days and four bowls of sodium-packed instant noodles later, my stomach felt as if it had deteriorated into a churning sack of MSG, salt and dehydrated beef cubes.

Knowing it could be days or weeks before we were able to leave Wuhan, Elsie and I made an executive decision: It was time for an upgrade.

We went to one of the large supermarkets and bought a small electric cooktop, groceries and some basic utensils. Stir-fried tomato and egg, the most basic of Chinese dishes, has never tasted so good.

Of course, we couldn’t leave out the chili oil goddess, savior to Chinese students around the world when they’re missing a taste of home: Lao Gan Ma, or Old Godmother.

One of the world’s largest technology conferences, the annual MWC Barcelona, previously known as Mobile World Congress, has been impacted by the virus, with companies beginning to pull out of the gadget showcase.

On Wednesday, LG Electronics, the South Korean electronics giant, said it would no longer attend the event, expected to draw more than 100,000 people from 198 countries and territories for the unveiling of new smartphones, tablets and other mobile technology.

The move shows how the coronavirus epidemic is scrambling the plans of some of the world’s largest companies, as stores are shuttered, airlines cancel flights and business trips have been put on hold.

MWC is one of the world’s most anticipated telecom conferences, and companies spend months preparing and huge amounts on flashy presentations and extravagant booths.

“This decision removes the risk of exposing hundreds of LG employees to international travel which has already become more restrictive as the virus continues to spread across borders,” LG Electronics said in a statement.

The company may not be the only one to pull out of the event. Huawei, the Chinese tech company, hasn’t announced any changes to its schedule, but said that it is monitoring the situation. European employees may end up playing a larger role in the event rather than those from China, a spokesman said.

“For decades, China has taken advantage of the United States,” he said. “Now we have changed that, but, at the same time, we have perhaps the best relationship we’ve ever had with China, including with President Xi.”

Chinese scientists are reporting preliminary success with a new approach for treating the coronavirus: an antiviral drug used for treating influenza and an anti-H.I.V. drug.

The researchers found that Arbidol, an antiviral drug used in Russia and China for treating influenza, could be combined with Darunavir, the anti-H.I.V. drug, for treating patients with the coronavirus, according to ChangJiang News, a state-backed newspaper in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The researchers did not say how many patients they had treated with the combination therapy. It could be too soon to assess its effectiveness. The findings have not been reviewed by outside experts.

With no proven cure in sight, the race is on to find a treatment for the coronavirus.

Li Lanjuan, the lead researcher on the team who belongs to an expert group linked to China’s Health Commission, said she would propose the combination of Arbidol and Darunavir for the sixth version of the government’s treatment plan.

The authorities have tried other treatments. Dr. Li said the anti-H.I.V. drug Kaletra, which was prescribed in the current treatment plan, had toxic side effects.

It started with a stubborn cough. A visit to an urgent care facility. A test being sent off to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And then a 35-year-old resident of Snohomish County, Wash., being named the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the United States.

Hollianne Bruce, the lone epidemiologist assigned to the control of communicable diseases in the county’s public health office, jumped into action. Declining to wait for a C.D.C. team to arrive from Atlanta, she dialed up the patient, who had been taken to an isolation unit at a hospital.

Seeking to establish a rapport, Ms. Bruce told him she knew he was not feeling well. She apologized for the disturbance. But she impressed on him how he might help save lives by sharing where he had been in recent days and with whom he had come into contact.

“We don’t know a lot about this virus,” she told him. “We’d like to ask you some questions.”

The man, who had been taken to the hospital the night before in a covered gurney intended for Ebola patients, agreed to help. It would be the first of several conversations he would have with Ms. Bruce, some by phone, others over a walkie-talkie as she stood outside his sealed room. Once, at his request, she bought him lunch at a nearby Panda Express.

The coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of people in China and sickened more than 20,000 in countries across the world, has been declared a global health emergency. But within the United States, containing the virus is a local responsibility.

Across the country, where at least 10 more cases have since been confirmed, it is health officials at the county and municipal level who are scrambling to isolate the sick, learn where they have been and monitor those who have come into contact with them. Read more on officials attempts in Snohomish County.


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