- Death toll passes 2,000 as Hubei reports 132 deaths for Tuesday
- Japan to release first wave of 500 passengers + crew at 10:30 am in Tokyo
- Florida health officials mysteriously refuse to share virus info with reporters
- Russia bars all Chinese from entering
- NYT notes signs of impending economic distress
- South Korea announces “emergency steps” to prepare for outbreak.
- South Korea announces 15 new cases
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Update (1940ET): It’s Wednesday morning in Yokohama. So you know what that means.
Japanese health authorities are beginning the process of offloading the remaining 2,000+ passengers and crew aboard the ‘Diamond Princess’, a ship that has been under quarantine for 14 days.
The offloading will take place in phases over three days, finally wrapping up on Friday. The first 500 people are set to leave at around 10:30 am Tokyo time on Wednesday. There will be no preference given to different nationalities, according to Japan’s Ministry of Health.
Many who depart will be subject to another 14 days of quarantine, including any Americans who elected to stay on the ship instead of traveling back to the US on the evac flight. Roughly 40 Americans were also excluded from that flight because they were being treated for the virus in a Japanese hospital.
So far, 542 people – including at least 14 of the 300 or so Americans who traveled back to the US on Monday in Japan – have tested positive for the virus. And while Japan says it has tested everybody aboard, doctors and experts say there’s no way to certain that people being released won’t be carrying the virus – hence the quarantines when they return home.
But where will they go between now and then? And with no immediate after-care plans – at least none that have been publicly disclosed, it looks like Japan is about to set thousands of people aboard the most infected environment outside China loose in Tokyo.
Of course, Japanese authorities are so paranoid about the Olympics, one would think they would be doing everything in their power to stop an outbreak in Tokyo, especially at such a sensitive time.
About 500 people are set to leave the ship from around 10:30 a.m. Tokyo time on Wednesday, with no preference given to any particular nationality, Japan’s Health Ministry said.
Hopefully, health officials will manage to convince the world that they successfully screened for the virus.
The ship was first quarantined on Feb. 5 more than a week after a man who tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong disembarked. Journalists have shared stories of desperation and paranoia from those trapped on the ship, making it sound like such a nightmare that many who read those stories may never want to travel on a cruise.
In other news, Yonhap reported minutes ago that South Korea has another 15 cases, increasing the countries total by roughly one-third to 46 one day after the country’s president warned of an “economic emergency” as companies like Hyundai suffer from supply shortages from China. The South Korean government has already announced a fiscal stimulus package to help companies hurt by the virus.
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Update (1720ET): Health officials in Hubei reported a big jump in deaths on Tuesday, shattering the state’s narrative that the virus is being beaten because the number of confirmed cases and deaths were falling.
And with the new figures, the China death toll has hit 2,000 exactly, up from 1,868 deaths as of the end of Monday, according to China’s NHC.
- HUBEI REPORTS 1,693 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES, 132 DEATHS FEB. 18
- CHINA’S CORONAVIRUS DEATH TOLL HITS 2,000