China

China says it has launched an investigation into "issues" related to the death on Friday of a doctor whose early efforts to alert his colleagues to the dangers of a new coronavirus were quashed by authorities.

Meanwhile, President Trump spoke with China's leader Xi Jinping to discuss the coronavirus epidemic, which has rapidly gone global since it began in China in December.

Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist working in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the epidemic originated, died on Friday local time, weeks after he was hospitalized and treated for a coronavirus infection.

Updated at 7:58 p.m. ET

Hong Kong confirmed its first death from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday as health workers in the territory were on their second day of a walkout aimed at forcing closure of the border with mainland China — the epicenter of the epidemic.

A 39-year-old man who had visited Wuhan, China, where the virus first appeared, died at Hong Kong's Princess Margaret Hospital on Tuesday morning, the hospital confirmed.

The number of people who are infected with the new coronavirus that is spreading from China is dwarfed by those affected by a far more common respiratory illness: seasonal flu.

Every year there are as many as 5 million severe flu cases worldwide and hundreds of thousands of deaths. By contrast, so far there have been about 20,000 (and rising) cases of coronavirus, most of them mild.

In an era of online shopping and global shipping, some NPR listeners have written to us with this question: Am I at risk of catching the new coronavirus from a package I receive from China?

Almost certainly no, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures," the CDC concludes in its Q&A.

Updated on Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET

China said it was going to build two hospitals in under two weeks.

The time frame was not an exaggeration. Ground was broken on the first facility on Jan. 24. Chinese media reported that the facility, with beds for 1,000 coronavirus patients, opened its doors on Feb. 3.

But the term "hospital" may not be exactly on point.

South Florida Students And Teachers Return To School After Coronavirus Scare

Jan 31, 2020
THE BENJAMIN SCHOOL / Courtesy

Thirty high school students and three teachers from a Palm Beach County school were given the “all clear” to return to campus after a potential coronavirus scare that started with a visit to Yale University over the weekend.

School officials say the group has not shown any signs of sickness following the four-day conference in Connecticut.

Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET

The World Health Organization announced Thursday that the outbreak of a deadly and fast-spreading strain of coronavirus constitutes a global health emergency.

"Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak and which has been met by an unprecedented response," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.

Updated at 9:40 p.m. ET

The deadly strain of coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan has now spread to every part of mainland China, from Shanghai to Tibet. The rapid increase caused the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency and prompted Russia to close its long border with China.

Late Thursday, the U.S. State Department also issued a "do not travel" advisory for China.

If you live in the U.S., your risk of contracting the new strain of coronavirus identified in China is exceedingly low.

South Florida Students Told To Stay Home After Possible Exposure To Coronavirus

Jan 29, 2020
The Benjamin School / Courtesy

Thirty high school students in Palm Beach County have been told to stay home because they may have been exposed to coronavirus at a weekend conference.

The group had attended a Model United Nations event at Yale University in Connecticut that was cut short when the university notified participants that a student from China with a cough and fever had been taken to Yale New Haven Hospital. The Chinese student tested positive for influenza and has been isolated while awaiting test results for coronavirus.

More than a dozen cities in the Chinese province of Hubei are under official lockdown. And some cities and villages are taking it upon themselves to seal off their communities — even if their actions aren't legal.

It's all to prevent the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that has killed over 130 people and sickened more than 5,900 in China.

What do these measures consist of? And do scientists think they will help contain this rapidly spreading virus?

The strictest quarantine is in Wuhan, a city of 11 million that's the epicenter of the outbreak.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. ET

Public health officials around the world were responding to the fast-growing outbreak of the new coronavirus, as officials in China, at the epidemic's epicenter, announced that the number of cases there had reached nearly 6,000.

The World Health Organization announced that it would send international health experts to China to help understand the outbreak and guide the response.

Florida Officials Monitoring Spread Of Coronavirus

Jan 28, 2020
AL DIAZ / MIAMI HERALD

Gov. Ron DeSantis called coronavirus a “significant public health threat” and said Florida officials have been monitoring its spread.

“We have had a number of people who have been in that area of China and had some concerns about whether they had contracted the coronavirus,” he said at a Monday afternoon event in Boca Raton. “Everybody to this date who has been tested has come back negative. We do not have a confirmed case in the state of Florida.”

A fifth U.S. case of coronavirus has been confirmed, this one in Arizona's Maricopa County. A statement released on Sunday from the Arizona Department of Health Services described the patient as "a member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing."

Just a few months ago, Tom Inglesby helped gather top officials from governments, businesses and health organizations around the world to play a kind of war game.

"It was a scenario looking at global consequences of a major new epidemic," says Inglesby, who directs the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University.

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