Diamond Princess Guests to Disembark by Friday: Virus Update

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Japan said it expected to remove all passengers from the stricken Diamond Princess by Friday, as the luxury cruise liner remained docked at the port of Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The announcement came after China reported that 1,886 additional coronavirus cases emerged Monday and there were 98 more deaths, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 72,436. Most were in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, which has seen nearly 60,000 cases so far.

Still, the World Health Organization has cautioned that it’s too early to tell if cases are truly declining. Global health authorities are also mobilizing to prevent a further spread of the virus as passengers from the Westerdam cruise ship — where an American guest was found to be infected — begin fanning out around the globe.

Key Developments

  • China death toll 1,868; mainland cases rise to 72,436
  • Hubei says 1,807 new cases; 93 more deaths
  • Diamond Princess guests expected to disembark by Friday
  • Chinese study says most virus cases are mild
  • Westerdam passengers head home, stoking global concerns
  • Macau casinos will reopen
  • Apple misses quarterly revenue target over virus

Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the novel coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.

Diamond Princess Disembarkation to Begin Wednesday (8:45 a.m. HK)

Japan has taken test samples from all passengers aboard the Diamond Princess, health minister Katsunobu Kato said at a briefing in Tokyo. Disembarkation will start on Wednesday and is expected to be completed by Friday, he said, adding that the ship’s crew would also be tested.

Chinese Study Says Most Cases Mild (8:38 a.m. HK)

A report by Chinese health officials indicated the vast majority of coronavirus cases are mild. The study, which appeared in the Chinese CDC Weekly, analyzed more than 72,000 patients, including confirmed and suspected cases, through Feb. 11. Of the confirmed cases, 81% were considered mild, while 14% were severe and 4.7% were critical. Some 87% of the confirmed cases were between the ages of 30 and 79.

The study reported a case fatality rate of 2.3%, with most of the cases in Hubei province. That compares with a 9.5% fatality rate for SARS, and as much as 0.4% for the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic. The majority of deaths occurred in patients over 60 years old.

China Says More Patients Discharged (8:01 a.m. HK)

A statement from China’s National Health Commission reported the additional 1,886 cases and said 12,552 patients have been discharged.

South Korea Evacuating Citizens from Diamond Princess (7:24 a.m. HK)

South Korea is in discussions with Japan to send a presidential jet to evacuate its citizens from the stricken Diamond Princess cruise line later Tuesday. The ship has been anchored at Yokohama port.

There are 14 South Koreans aboard, including five crew members, and no reported cases of coronavirus among them yet, broadcaster YTN reported.

It comes the day after Australia said it would use a Wednesday chartered flight to evacuate some 200 citizens and permanent residents who have been stranded on the ship.

Infected Westerdam Passengers Trigger Fear Worldwide (5 a.m. HK)

Health authorities from the Netherlands to Thailand are implementing measures to deal with travelers from the shunned Westerdam cruise liner as they fan out toward home, in an effort to prevent a further spread of the virus after an American passenger was found to be infected.

Cruise operator Holland America Line, which gave assurances that the virus hadn’t struck anyone aboard the Westerdam, now says it’s working with authorities to deal with the possible fallout from returning guests who may have been exposed. Those aboard came from 41 countries and territories, and the largest contingent was from the U.S.

Macau’s Casinos Reopening Feb. 20 (5:28 p.m. Monday HK)

The reopening will be conditional based on criteria the city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong didn’t specify in making the announcement. Casinos that need more time to prepare for the reopening will be given a 30-day buffer period. Macau’s famous gaming center has been closed for weeks in a bid to contain the virus’s spread.

Apple to Miss Guidance Because of Virus (4:15 p.m. NY)

Apple Inc. doesn’t expect to meet its revenue guidance for the quarter ending in March due to work slowdowns from the outbreak of coronavirus in China. The company said it anticipates global supply of the iPhone to be “temporarily constrained.”

Japan Cruisers Quarantined; Westerdam Passengers Loose (3:19 p.m. NY)

More than 300 U.S. citizens evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have returned home to begin a 14-day quarantine on military bases and for treatment in hospitals.

But the U.S. cruise passengers were heading for Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Japanese test results showed that 14 had the virus. And a positive test from the Wsterdam, another cruise ship that disembarked passengers in Cambodia, has raised concerns about further spread of the virus around the globe.

Of the Japan evacuees, 171 will be held at Travis Air Force Base between San Francisco and Sacramento, with six people sent to a local hospital for treatment, said William Walters, a senior official with the State Department‘s Bureau of Medical Services.

A further 144 passengers evacuated on a separate flight will be housed at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. Seven people on that flight were flown for treatment at the University of Nebraska.

Damage Cause by Virus Resembles SARS, MERS (2 p.m. NY)

Doctors studying a 50-year-old man who died in China last month from the new coronavirus found that the disease caused lung damage reminiscent of two prior coronavirus-related outbreaks, SARS and MERS.

Read the full story here.

Cruise Travel Risks Remain ‘Manageable’ Despite Virus, WHO Says: (12 p.m. NY)

Cruise ship travel remains a “manageable risk” for now, and it doesn’t make sense to recommend a ban on it, the World Health Organization said, even as the return home of 3,000 travelers from two coronavirus-stricken cruise ships fuels fears of further contagion.

“People say we should steer clear of cruise ships, or steer clear of airports or steer clear of certain ethnic groups,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a press briefing Monday at the organization’s Geneva headquarters. “We have to be really careful” of such suggestions. “We need an approach to managing risk that allows us to continue to operate as a society.”

Slump in Global Goods Trade Likely to Deepen: WTO (7:30 a.m. NY)

The already slumping state of global goods trade may get even worse with coronavirus, the World Trade Organization warned.

The Geneva-based body said its merchandise trade barometer fell to 95.5 from 96.6 in November. That’s before factoring in the effects of China’s health crisis on international commerce.

“The slow start could be dampened further by global health threats and other recent developments in the first few months of the year,” the WTO said. In the months ahead, “every component of the Goods Trade Barometer will be influenced by the economic impact of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of efforts to treat and contain the disease.”

— With assistance by Shinhye Kang, Philip Heijmans, K Oanh Ha, Dominic Lau, Drew Armstrong, and Isabel Reynolds

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