Hundreds of passengers begin disembarking from quarantined cruise ship in Japan.
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.
The disembarkation is taking place even as at least 542 passengers aboard the ship, the Diamond Princess, have been infected with the virus. On Tuesday, the authorities announced an additional 88 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 removed from the ship and 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 more than 100 Americans who were not evacuated on chartered flights cannot return home for at least two more weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
“C.D.C. believes the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk,” it added.
Passengers will not be allowed to return to the United States until they have been off the ship for 14 days, without any symptoms or a positive test for the virus, the agency said. The decision applies to those who have tested positive and are hospitalized in Japan, and to those who are still aboard the ship.
New cases in China appear to be slowing.
On Wednesday, the number of confirmed new cases in 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 to 2,004.
The economic pain from the epidemic is continuing to spread.
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 on China for growth.
Jaguar Land Rover warned that the coronavirus could soon begin to create production problems at its assembly plants in Britain. Like many carmakers, Jaguar Land Rover uses parts made in China, where many factories have shut down or slowed production; Fiat Chrysler, Renault and Hyundai have already reported interruptions as a result.
U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday, a day after Apple warned that it would miss its sales forecasts because of the disruption in China. Stocks tied to the near-term ups and downs of the economy slumped, with financials, energy and industrial shares the leading losers.
The S&P 500 index fell 0.3 percent. Bond yields declined, with the 10-year Treasury note yielding 1.56 percent, suggesting that investors are lowering their expectations for economic growth and inflation.
With much of the Chinese economy stalled, demand for oil has fallen and prices were down on Tuesday, with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate selling for roughly $52.
In Germany, where the economy depends heavily on global demand for machinery and automobiles, a key indicator showed economic sentiment has tumbled this month, as the economic outlook has weakened.
More than one-tenth of China’s people are largely confined to their homes.
At least 150 million people in China — over 10 percent of the country’s population — are living under government restrictions on how often they can leave their homes, The New York Times has found.
More than 760 million Chinese people live in communities that have imposed strictures of some sort on residents’ comings and goings, as officials try to contain the epidemic. That larger figure represents more than half of the country’s population, and roughly one in 10 people on the planet.
China’s restrictions vary widely in strictness. Some neighborhoods require residents only to show ID, sign in and have their temperature checked when they enter. Others prohibit residents from bringing guests.
But in places with more stringent policies, only one person from each household is allowed to leave home at a time, and not necessarily every day.
In one district in the city of Xi’an, the authorities are allowing residents to leave their homes only once every three days to shop for food and other essentials. The shopping may not take longer than two hours.
Tens of millions of other people are living in places where local officials have “encouraged” neighborhoods to restrict people’s ability to leave their homes.
Japan said 500 people would be released from cruise ship, even after more infections were confirmed.
About 500 people will be released on Wednesday from a quarantined cruise ship that has been a hot spot of the outbreak, Japan’s health ministry said, but confusion about the plan was widespread.
The ministry said only those who had tested negative and were asymptomatic would be allowed to leave the Diamond Princess, which has been moored off Yokohama since Feb. 4.
The authorities said 2,404 people on the ship had been tested for the virus, and earlier in the day, the ministry announced that 88 additional infections had been confirmed. That brought the total on the ship to 542.
Australia plans to repatriate about 200 of its citizens who aboard the ship on Wednesday, and other countries have similar plans. Japanese officials did not say whether any of those people were among the 500 who will be allowed to disembark.
The release coincides with the expiration of a two-week quarantine imposed on the ship, but it was not clear if that was the reason for letting people go. More than 300 Americans were released this week before that period was completed.
Some public health experts say that the 14-day isolation period makes sense only if it begins with the most recent infection a person might have been exposed to — in other words, new cases mean a continuing risk of exposure and should restart the quarantine clock.
In addition, many infected people have tested negative initially, only to test positive days later, after becoming sick. The Japanese announcement suggested that Japanese people who are released will not be isolated, a decision officials did not explain.
The director of a hospital in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the epidemic, died on Tuesday after contracting the new coronavirus, the latest in a series of medical professionals to be killed in the epidemic.
Liu Zhiming, 51, a neurosurgeon and the director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died shortly before 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the Wuhan health commission said.
“From the start of the outbreak, Comrade Liu Zhiming, without regard to his personal safety, led the medical staff of Wuchang Hospital at the front lines of the fight against the epidemic,” the commission said.
Chinese medical workers at the forefront of the fight against the virus are often becoming its victims, partly because of government missteps and logistical hurdles. After the virus emerged in Wuhan late last year, city leaders played down its risks.
Last week the Chinese government said that more than 1,700 medical workers had contracted the virus, and six had died.
The death nearly two weeks ago of Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who was initially reprimanded for warning medical school classmates about the virus, stirred an outpouring of grief and anger. Dr. Li, 34, has emerged as a symbol of how the authorities controlled information and have moved to stifle online criticism and aggressive reporting on the outbreak.
Few cases in Europe, but plenty of stigma.
With just 42 cases of the coronavirus confirmed in Europe, the continent faces a far less serious outbreak than China. But the people and places associated with the illness have faced a stigma as a result, and fear of the virus is, itself, proving contagious.
One British man who tested positive for the virus was branded a “super spreader,” and his every movement was detailed by the local media.
In France, business plummeted at a ski resort identified as the scene of several transmissions of the virus.
And after some employees of a German car company were found to have the virus, the children of other workers were turned away from schools, despite negative test results.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, warned last weekend of the dangers of letting fear outpace facts.
“We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma,” Dr. Tedros said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference. Fear, he said, may hamper efforts to combat the outbreak. “The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself,” ge said. “It’s the stigma that turns us against each other.”
Domestic workers from the Philippines will be permitted to return to Hong Kong.
The Philippines has lifted its travel ban on citizens employed as domestic workers in Hong Kong and Macau, officials said Tuesday.
The nation had enacted the ban on Feb. 2 on travel to and from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, preventing workers from traveling to jobs in those places.
Hong Kong alone is home to about 390,000 migrant domestic workers, many of them from the Philippines. The travel ban had left many anxious about the sudden loss of income.
On Tuesday, the authorities in Hong Kong announced that a 32-year-old Filipino woman was the latest person in Hong Kong to have contracted the virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases there to 61. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the woman was a domestic worker.
A spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said that workers returning to Hong Kong and Macau would have to “make a written declaration that they know the risk.”
South Korea’s leader warns of a dire impact on economy.
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea warned on Tuesday that the outbreak in China, his country’s biggest trading partner, is creating an “emergency economic situation,” and ordered his government to take actions to limit the fallout.
“The current situation is much worse than we had thought,” Mr. Moon said during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “If the Chinese economic situation aggravates, we will be one of the hardest-hit countries.”
Mr. Moon cited difficulties for South Korean companies in getting components from China, as well as sharp drops in exports to China. He also said travel restrictions hurt the South Korean tourism industry, which relies heavily on Chinese visitors.
“The government needs to take all special measures it can,” Mr. Moon said, ordering the allocation of financial aid and tax breaks to help shore up businesses hurt the most.
Cruise ship passengers blocked from leaving Cambodia.
The ship, the Westerdam, was turned away from five other ports over virus fears, but Cambodia allowed it to dock last Thursday. Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials greeted and embraced passengers without wearing protective gear.
More than 1,000 people were allowed to disembark. Other countries have been far more cautious; it is not clear how long after infection people develop symptoms, and some people at first test negative for the virus, even after becoming sick.
Hundreds of passengers left Cambodia and others traveled to Phnom Penh, the capital, to wait for flights home.
On Saturday, an American who left the ship tested positive on arrival in Malaysia.
On Tuesday, some passengers who went to the airport later returned to their hotel. It was not clear if any passengers had been able to fly out.
Reporting and research were contributed by Austin Ramzy, Isabella Kwai, Alexandra Stevenson, Hannah Beech, Choe Sang-Hun, Raymond Zhong, Lin Qiqing, Wang Yiwei, Elaine Yu, Roni Caryn Rabin, Richard C. Paddock, Motoko Rich, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Megan Specia, Michael Wolgelenter, Richard Pérez-Peña and Michael Corkery.