Mon, Feb 10, 2020 - Page 1 News List

Virus Outbreak: Virus spreads on quarantined liner

Staff writer, with Bloomberg

Chinese medical workers wearing protective clothing check passengers’ travel history at the Shanghai South railway station in Shanghai yesterday.

Photo: AFP

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) yesterday continued to spread on a cruise liner under quarantine in Japan, showing the challenge of containing the global outbreak as the death toll eclipsed that of SARS almost two decades ago.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities said that 3,600 passengers and crew quarantined on the cruise ship World Dream can now disembark and the crew have all tested negative for the virus.

The illness has killed 813 people, with all but two victims in China.

Confirmed cases on the cruise ship Diamond Princess<, moored in Yokohama, Japan, rose by six to 70, Princess Cruises said, making the vessel the biggest center of infections outside of China, while Singapore late on Saturday raised the number of its confirmed cases to 40, making it the second-largest number of infections outside China.

Reported cases in China alone have climbed to 37,198, less than two months after surfacing in late December last year in Wuhan.

The 2002-2003 SARS outbreak killed 774 people and sickened almost 8,100 others, in 26 countries over eight months, the WHO said.

China accounted for about 45 percent of SARS deaths, not including Hong Kong and Macau.

Japanese Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare Katsunobu Kato yesterday said the country would give priority for virus inspections on the ship in Yokohama to elderly people, adding that there are about 600 people on the vessel who need medicine.

Hong Kong authorities began releasing the 3,600 passengers and crew quarantined on the World Dream cruise ship in batches late yesterday afternoon.

Three Chinese passengers were confirmed with the novel coronavirus when the ship was in Vietnam just over two weeks ago and they have since been isolated in China.

The crew have tested negative for the virus, the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection said.

Meanwhile, a UK citizen tested positive on Mallorca, Spanish health officials said, adding that the infection appears to have occurred in a ski resort in France.

“The British patient had been exposed to another person with [the virus] before arriving to Mallorca,” Fernando Simon, national director of Spain’s center for coordination of alerts and emergencies, said in a televised news conference.

The rest of the man’s family have tested negative for the virus, but would remain under observation, he said.

In other developments, the virus might have infected at least 1 in 20 people in Wuhan by the time it peaks in coming weeks, scientists modeling its spread said.

Trends in reported cases in Wuhan — a city of 11 million people in lockdown since Jan. 23 — broadly support the mathematical modeling the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is using to predict the epidemic’s transmission dynamics.

“Assuming current trends continue, we’re still projecting a mid-to-late-February peak” in Wuhan, said Adam Kucharski, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology, in an e-mail yesterday.

Kucharski and his colleagues base their modeling on a range of assumptions about the virus, including an incubation of 5.2 days and a delay from onset of symptoms to confirmation of infection of 6.1 days.

Additional reporting by agencies

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