Coronavirus Updates: Dangerous Disease Now Called COVID-19; Death Toll Exceeds 1,100


The World Health Organization on Tuesday proposed an official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus: COVID-19. The acronym stands for coronavirus disease 2019, as the illness was first detected toward the end of last year.

The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that the new name makes no reference to any of the people, places or animals associated with the coronavirus. The goal was to avoid stigma.

Under international guidelines, the W.H.O. “had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” he said on Twitter.

The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic is continuing to climb, Chinese officials said on Wednesday. Nationwide, 97 new deaths and 2,015 new cases emerged in the previous 24 hours, the national health authorities said.

The death toll from the coronavirus reached a new high on Wednesday even as Chinese officials said the rate of new infections showed signs of slowing.

Nationwide, 97 new deaths and 2,015 new cases emerged in the previous 24 hours, the national health authorities said.

Tuesday’s newly confirmed infections represented the lowest in a single day since Jan. 30, when there were 1,982 new confirmed cases.

The new figures brought the total number of deaths in China to at least 1,113. And the total number of confirmed cases rose to 44,653. Most of the newly reported deaths, 94, occurred in Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.

  • 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.

There are 393 COVID-19 cases outside China, in 24 countries.

The coronavirus has jumped from ship to shore, Japan’s health ministry said Wednesday, after an employee of the country’s health ministry tested positive for the illness after surveying passengers aboard a cruise ship being held under quarantine in the port of Yokohama.

Additionally, another 39 of the more than 3,600 crew and passengers have also tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to 175.

The ship, known as the Diamond Princess, has been under quarantine for a week, after a passenger who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Japanese authorities have been slowly moving those diagnosed with the illness off the ship and to hospitals. But on board, many passengers are complaining of lack of information and access to necessary medicines.

The coronavirus outbreak in China has generated economic waves that are rocking commodities markets and disrupting the supply networks that act as the backbone of the global economy.

In Australia, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons of iron ore to China, returning freighters can face a 14-day quarantine.

BHP, which has headquarters in London and Melbourne, Australia, and is one of the world’s largest copper mining companies, has been in talks to possibly delay shipments to Chinese ports.

And from Qatar to Indonesia, exporters of liquefied natural gas face the prospect of disrupted shipments after a crucial importer in China is turning back deliveries.

“We’re seeing a rippling out,” said Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York. “And we don’t see it stopping.”

Prices for key industrial raw materials such as copper, iron ore, nickel, aluminum and liquid natural gas have plummeted since the virus emerged. Countries that export these goods at high rates, including Brazil, South Africa and Australia, are near their lowest levels in recent memory.

And manufacturers, mining companies and commodity producers of all stripes are weighing whether they will be forced to cut back on production for fear of adding to a growing inventory glut.

A person sick from the coronavirus was released from a San Diego hospital this week after a labeling error led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to incorrectly indicate that the person was not infected, the federal authorities said.

The samples had not yet been tested when officials announced mistakenly that the results were negative.

The patient, among hundreds recently evacuated to the United States from China and under quarantine at a military base, was sent back to the base because of the error, the C.D.C. said.

The patient was among three quarantined evacuees at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego whose samples were lacking information and went untested, said Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C.

It was uncertain how the labeling error had been made and which agency had been responsible. A spokeswoman for the hospital, the University of California San Diego, said there had been a miscommunication over how to identify patients.

With a rare, federal quarantine mandated for people arriving from Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, the labeling error raised concerns among some being kept at the base.

“It caused quite a commotion on the base,” said John McGory, who had taught English in Wuhan for six years and is one of about 230 people being held on the San Diego base.

Airbnb will suspend bookings in Beijing until May 1, the company said on Wednesday.

The decision was made “in accordance with guidance issued by the government to all companies in the short-term rental industry,” a spokesman for the company said. He added that existing reservations would be refunded.

Airbnb has also waived cancellation fees for travel to and from mainland China until the end of February. Travelers who had booked stays in Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, can cancel reservations without charge until April 1.

The company had continued to accept reservations throughout China during the busy travel season before and after the Lunar New Year holiday, even as the government started to lock down cities and impose road restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.

The company also said it would set aside $10 million “to support hosts in the next few years, during the recovery period of the local tourism industry.”

Reporting and research was contributed by Amber Wang, Zoe Mou, Albee Zhang, Yiwei Wang, Claire Fu, Amy Qin, Sui-Lee Wee, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Matt Phillips and Tiffany May.



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