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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Three masked robbers appeared at dawn on Monday outside a Hong Kong supermarket. There, they held a deliveryman at knifepoint and made off with over $100 worth of one of the most sought after commodities in this city of seven million: toilet paper.

Toilet paper has been sold out across the city for weeks after a run on the product was prompted by rumors that manufacturers in mainland China would cease production or that the border would be sealed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Retailers have dispelled the rumor, saying there is no genuine shortage. But bulk packs of toilet paper are snatched off supermarket shelves almost as soon as they are restocked, and city blocks are crowded with residents lined up at shops just to buy the product.

So short is the supply that lovers exchanged individual rolls on Valentine’s Day as a sort of pragmatic joke. Online, users have offered to barter surgical masks, which actually are in short supply, for a few rolls of toilet paper. And one hoarder was shamed on social media when neighbors spotted an apartment whose windows were crowded by a wall of toilet paper rolls.

The toilet paper stolen in Monday’s heist was later discovered stashed at a hotel, local news outlets reported, but the perpetrators remain at large.

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, has repeated an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that has spread from small-town China to the right-wing news media in the United States: The new coronavirus originated in a high-security biochemical lab in Wuhan.

In a television interview on Fox News on Sunday, Mr. Cotton suggested that a dearth of information about the origins of the virus raised more questions than answers.

“We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that,” Mr. Cotton said on the program Sunday Morning Futures. He then raised the possibility that the virus originated in a “biosafety level-4 super laboratory.” Such laboratories are used for research into potentially deadly infectious diseases.

“Now, we don’t have evidence that this disease originated there but because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says, and China right now is not giving evidence on that question at all,” he added.

After receiving criticism for lending credence to what has been largely considered a fringe theory, the senator took to Twitter to say he did not necessarily think the virus was an “engineered bioweapon.”

Research and reporting was contributed by Russell Goldman, Austin Ramzy, Ivan Nechepurenko, Steven Lee Myers, Claire Fu, Tiffany May, Richard C. Paddock, Sui-Lee Wee, Alexandra Stevenson, Roni Caryn Rabin, Ben Dooley and Keith Bradsher.





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NADIA CAMPARI

My name is Nadia Campari and I am a news and fashion blogger. My hobby is travelling and I want to share my excpiriences with you.