Wuhan coronavirus death toll tops 900 as China cautiously returns to work

CNN correspondent David Culver tells Brian Stelter about reporting under quarantine in China and making contact with residents who are living in a state of lockdown. "Trust is currency here," he says.

Posted: Feb 10, 2020 12:30 PM
Updated: Feb 10, 2020 12:30 PM

Millions of people across China are heading back to work after the Lunar New Year break turned into an extended quarantine due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

Many will be working from their homes, however, with strict quarantine guidelines in place in many cities and most businesses urging people to work remotely if possible to reduce the chances of transmission.

Some semblance of normality may have returned, but the outbreak shows no signs of slowing, with the number of confirmed cases now at over 40,000 worldwide and the death toll at 910.

That means the coronavirus has officially killed more people than the SARS pandemic of 2003, previously one of the worst medical crises in recent Chinese history.

A total of 3,281 patients infected with the coronavirus have since been discharged from hospital as of Sunday, Chinese health authorities said.

The vast majority of the deaths have been in mainland China, leaving the country in something of a bizarre situation where some areas of it will be returning to something approaching business as usual, even as other regions face increasingly draconian restrictions on their movement and behavior in a desperate attempt to contain the virus.

A team of doctors and researchers from the World Health Organization left for China on Sunday to assist with the outbreak, led by Bruce Aylward, who the organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described as a "veteran of past public health emergencies." Aylward led the WHO's response to Ebola, as well as initiatives for immunization, communicable diseases control and polio eradication.

Even as the epicenter of the outbreak remains in Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is the capital and accounts for almost 30,000 of the total confirmed cases, the epidemic has spread worldwide, affecting more than two dozen countries.

The largest outbreak outside of mainland China is on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in the Japanese city of Yokohama. On Monday, an additional 65 cases were confirmed aboard, bringing the total number of cases on the ship to 135 -- nearly doubling the previous total of 70 confirmed cases Sunday.

Japan has 160 total cases, including those aboard the cruise ship. Beyond Japan, Singapore has reported 40 cases, Hong Kong has 38 infections and one death, Thailand has confirmed 32 cases, and South Korea 27.

Cruise ship lockdown

Cruise liners have emerged as a major battleground in the attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

As well as the ship in Yokohama, two vessels in the US and Hong Kong had also been under quarantine, with passengers and crew tested for the virus.

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, which has been docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, since returning on Friday, will be able to set sail Monday, however, after four passengers who were taken to hospital for further evaluation showed no signs of the virus.

All 3,600 people on board the World Dream ship in Hong Kong will also be able to disembark Monday, after five days under quarantine. Health authorities said that everyone on board had tested negative.

Passengers on board the Princess Cruises liner in Yokohama have not been so lucky. So far at least 135 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus, amid signs of a full blown outbreak on board, one of the largest outside of mainland China. Information from Princess Cruises and a CNN tally put the number of infected Americans on the ship at 24.

Those cruise passengers have been under strict quarantine for over a week now, confined to their cabins as medical personnel conduct tests on the 3,700 people on board.

Princess Cruises said it will offer a full refund to all passengers on board. The company's president, Jan Swartz, thanked passengers for their "perseverance and understanding."

"All monies paid to Princess Cruises including your cruise fare, round trip Princess Air, pre- or post-Cruise Plus hotels, transfers, prepaid shore excursions, gratuities and other items, and taxes, fees and port expenses will be refunded to the original form of payment," Swartz wrote.

Swartz said the company will "refund reasonable independent expenses," along with air travel, transfers or pre/post-cruise hotels. Each guest also will receive a 100% future cruise credit equal to the fare passengers paid for the quarantined voyage, Swartz wrote. That credit has to be applied by February 28, 2021.

"It is our sincere hope that the refund and credit will help ease at least a small bit of the stress you may be feeling right now," Swartz wrote in a letter to passengers.

Citizen journalist missing

There was outrage in China on Friday as news emerged of the death of Li Wenliang. A doctor in Wuhan, Li had attempted to warn friends of a new virus spreading, but was detained by police in the city for "rumormongering." He was later hailed as a whistleblower by both the public and state media, but was soon hospitalized with the virus.

Following Li's death, Chinese authorities struggled to control the narrative, especially as the censors appeared to be trying to massage the timing of the announcement, deleting posts announcing his passing. Hundreds of thousands of posted demands for free speech online, in a rare challenge to the authorities, who deleted posts left and right.

History appeared to be repeating itself over the weekend, as it emerged that citizen journalist Chen Qiushi had been missing for several days. Chen, who had been carrying out critical reporting from inside of Wuhan, went missing on Thursday evening, just as hundreds of thousands of people in China began demanding freedom of speech online.

Friends and family later found out from the police that he had been forced into quarantine. By Sunday, Chen's disappearance had started to gain traction on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, with many pleading for his release.

"Hope the government can treat Chen Qiushi in a fair and just way," one user wrote on Sunday morning. "We can no longer afford a second Li Wenliang!"

Tight censorship and control of the narrative in the early days of the outbreak has been blamed for aiding the spread of the virus from Wuhan to the rest of the country. Officials in the city downplayed the severity of the virus in public even as evidence was available that it was spreading from person-to-person.

Draconian controls

While some Chinese cities will be attempting to get back to normal -- or at least to business, with staff working from home -- others are introducing yet more stringent controls.

In a joint statement Saturday, China's National Health Commission, Supreme Court and Ministry of Public Security announced seven "medical-related crimes" that would be severely punished during the epidemic.

They include attacking medical personnel, refusing medical checks and damaging or destroying property at medical facilities.

According to the statement, anyone who violates new virus control regulations will be quickly prosecuted and could face arrest, jail or even the death penalty.

Many cities and provinces have introduced mandatory self-quarantine policies for anyone returning from elsewhere in the country. Transport in and out of Hubei also remains severely disrupted.

As the virus continues to spread, Wuhan announced Saturday its second rapidly constructed new hospital was ready to welcome patients.

Built from scratch to hold victims of the coronavirus, the Leishenshan hospital can hold up to 1,500 patients and will have 32 wards, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said.

CCTV said that the first team of medical staff arrived at the hospital on Saturday.

The National Health Commission also announced at a news conference on Saturday that it had chosen a temporary official name for the virus -- Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, or NCP.

The graphic in this story has been updated to reflect the latest information.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1499485

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1626291662
Cuyahoga1447662412
Hamilton1044761409
Montgomery731681240
Summit610421094
Lucas55643904
Butler51076707
Stark459431053
Lorain35141568
Warren32476369
Mahoning30315672
Clermont27930321
Lake26669434
Delaware23960162
Licking23547283
Trumbull22550552
Fairfield22179241
Greene22098311
Medina21763305
Clark19630349
Richland18342280
Portage17696247
Wood17244220
Allen15730269
Miami15355296
Muskingum14551174
Columbiana13756263
Wayne13585263
Tuscarawas12479298
Marion11797175
Scioto11388154
Pickaway11286141
Erie10676180
Ross10462196
Lawrence9663137
Hancock9546149
Ashtabula9479197
Belmont9133197
Geauga8829157
Jefferson8481191
Huron8229139
Union810756
Washington8031137
Sandusky7724145
Athens769572
Knox7606138
Darke7553151
Seneca7208144
Ashland6817125
Auglaize667896
Shelby6410111
Brown628582
Crawford6184130
Defiance6087102
Mercer608293
Fulton592996
Highland590099
Madison587576
Clinton576190
Logan574692
Guernsey572467
Preble5660121
Putnam5250108
Williams520184
Perry512561
Champaign505071
Jackson498770
Ottawa479086
Coshocton471582
Morrow451256
Pike430762
Fayette422160
Adams411587
Gallia411265
Hardin411076
Van Wert364078
Henry357871
Holmes3567122
Hocking352578
Wyandot317961
Carroll297059
Paulding275945
Meigs259249
Monroe212953
Noble196546
Morgan190832
Harrison178242
Vinton162624
Unassigned05
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