coronavirus
February 25, 2020

The coronavirus crisis continues, with more than 2,500 fatalities worldwide. But as NPR reports, the number of reported cases in children is surprisingly low. "We're seeing [about] 75,000 total cases at this point, but the literature is only reporting about 100 or so pediatric cases," Terri Lynn Stillwell, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, tells Morning Edition. One small study of infected infants in Wuhan, China, found that the virus presented as a "very mild illness," causing a fever and cough but no severe complications in the children. It's much more dangerous — and deadly — for elderly patients.

Researchers aren't sure why young children seem more resilient to the virus, but Sallie Permar, a professor of pediatrics and immunology at Duke University School of Medicine, told NPR it could come down to antibodies passed along from mothers. Jessica Hullinger

February 16, 2020

Chinese state media published an internal speech delivered by President Xi Jinping on Saturday in which he describes taking action on the coronavirus outbreak as early as Jan. 7.

In the speech, which was given Feb. 3, Xi said he had "issued demands about the efforts to prevent and control" the virus during a meeting of the Communist Party's highest council, the Politburo Standing Committee, last month, and that he personally authorized the lockdown of the epicenter, Wuhan, beginning on Jan. 23. "I have at every moment monitored the spread of the epidemic and progress in efforts to curtail it," he said.

Publishing the speech is viewed as an attempt to show Xi has been involved from the start since he's been criticized for remaining in the shadows. "The overall tone of the speech of appears to be defensive," Minxin Pei, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, told The New York Times. "He wants to change the narrative, which until this point has been very unfavorable to the top leadership."

But some analysts think it could backfire and lead to even more criticism about how the government kept the public in the dark for too long. "It seems like he's trying to indicate that 'we weren't asleep at the wheel,'" Jude Blanchette, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Times. "But it comes off like 'we knew this was a problem, but we weren't sounding the alarm.'" Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

February 9, 2020

China announced Sunday that the death toll resulting from the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan has risen to 811, which is higher than the number of fatalities from the SARS epidemic between 2002 and 2003.

The number of confirmed infections rose to 37,198. The amount of new cases has stabilized in recent days, but the World Health Orgainzation continues to urge caution, and many doctors reportedly believe the number of deaths and infections have been undercounted because of the strain China's testing facilities are under. "It's very, very early to make predictions," said Dr. Michael Ryan, the executive director of WHO's health emergencies program.

WHO's Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the measures being put in place in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, look like they're "paying off," but he also wasn't ready to make any sweeping statements. "We have to understand it with caution because it can show stability for a few days and then they can shoot up," he said. "I've said it many times: It's slow now, but it may accelerate."

The vast majority of deaths have occurred in mainland China. There has been one death in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong. Read more at The New York Times and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

February 8, 2020

A U.S. citizen has died of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Few details have been offered, but the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said the person was around 60 years old and died at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan on Thursday. Two people familiar with the situation said the patient was a woman with underlying health problems. It appears to be the first death of an American since the outbreak began.

"We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss," a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said. "Out of respect for the family's privacy, we have no further comment."

Japan's foreign ministry said Saturday that a Japanese citizen in his 60s also died at a medical facility in Wuhan.

China reported 86 more deaths Saturday, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities past 700 overall. Read more at The New York Times and NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

February 6, 2020

The death toll from China's coronavirus outbreak surged again on Thursday, rising by 73 to a total of 563 people, Reuters reports. It was the third straight record one-day increase. There have been two deaths outside mainland China, one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong. Another 10 cases were confirmed on a quarantined cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama, bringing the total cases on board to 20.

Experts are intensifying a push to develop a vaccine for the flu-like virus. Drugmakers warned they still had a long way to go before finding an effective treatment, although a report of a possible "breakthrough" lifted financial markets that have been struggling against fears of an economic backlash from the outbreak. Harold Maass

January 28, 2020

Stocks in East Asia have taken a hit since the outbreak of the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, and has since resulted in an increasing number of confirmed cases in several different countries, including the United States.

Investors are reportedly concerned the virus' spread could turn into a "longer event" and harm global growth. But one company that hasn't suffered in the wake of the contagion is Japanese face mask manufacturer, Kawamoto, which has seen a rapid spike in shares since the outbreak of the respiratory virus that is transmitted from person-to-person (though it's still unclear how).

What's really telling about Kawamoto's surge is the apparent escalation of fears about the virus, exemplified by the expediency in purchasing products that can serve as preventative measures against its spread even as governments and health experts try to urge a sense of calm. Tim O'Donnell

January 27, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday confirmed a fifth case of coronavirus in the United States, CNN reported. The latest two cases were in California. Both patients are being treated in hospitals, authorities said. All five of the U.S. patients had recently traveled to Wuhan, the city in central China at the heart of the outbreak of the flu-like virus. Chinese health officials on Sunday warned that the virus can spread before infected people have symptoms, potentially increasing the challenge of containing its spread. The death toll in China has risen to at least 80, with more than 2,700 confirmed infections, according to The Associated Press.

Chinese officials released data Sunday offering an early indication of the effect of the deadly outbreak on the world's second largest economy. Liu Xiaoming, vice minister of transport, said overall travel had declined on the first day of the Lunar New Year by 29 percent compared to a year ago, CNBC reported. Rail travel was down by nearly 42 percent. In an effort to contain the virus, authorities have banned most travel in parts of central China where the epidemic started. The government has urged people to stay home and canceled big public events. On Sunday, China Railway Chengdu also announced the suspension of several high-speed train routes, including some to Shanghai.

World stocks dropped on Monday as concerns mounted about possible economic fallout from the outbreak, Reuters reported. The MSCI All-Country World Index, which follows shares in 47 countries, fell by 0.4 percent to its lowest in two weeks. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell by 1.4 percent. U.S. stock index shares also were down sharply several hours before the opening bell as investors sought safe-haven assets, including Treasury notes. Harold Maass

January 25, 2020

As experts tell people not to panic about the unfamiliar coronavirus, several governments are taking steps to limit its spread.

A second case of the respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China, leaving more than 40 people dead and causing quarantines and transit closures throughout China, has been confirmed in the United States. Officials said Friday that a Chicago woman in her 60s has been diagnosed with the virus, and they're monitoring 63 other possible cases across 22 U.S. states. The Chicago patient, who last week returned home from Wuhan, is reportedly isolated in the hospital, and officials say she's doing well and has had limited contact with others.

The U.S. is reportedly planning to evacuate its citizens and diplomats from Wuhan on Sunday via a chartered plane — any additional seats may be offered to non-U.S. citizens. Elsewhere, Hong Kong, where there's five confirmed cases, on Saturday declared the outbreak "an emergency," scrapping Lunar New Year celebrations, restricting links to the mainland, and keeping schools closed. Australia, Malaysia, and France also reported cases Friday.

More than 1,300 have been infected across the globe, mostly in China. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

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