Health and Science

Taiwan confirms its first death, American cruise ship passenger tests positive in Malaysia

Key Points
  • China's National Health Commission reported that there were 2,009 new confirmed cases and 142 additional deaths as of Feb. 15.
  • That brings the total number of cases in mainland China to 68,500, and the total deaths so far to 1,665, according the latest statistics from the commission released Sunday.
  • Taiwan reported its first coronavirus death on the island on Sunday.
  • An American cruise ship passenger tested positive for a second time after hundreds of passengers had already left the MS Westerdam.
A girl wearing a face mask plays on her scooter at a park in Beijing on February 15, 2020.
Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

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All times below are in Beijing time.

7:21 pm: Taiwan confirms first coronavirus death on island

Taiwanese health authorities announced the first death from the coronavirus on the island on Sunday. The deceased was a man in his 60s who had not traveled overseas and had hepatitis B and diabetes, Taiwan's Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told media. Taiwan has 20 confirmed cases of the virus.

7:16 pm: Italy to evacuate its 35 nationals on board quarantined Japan cruise ship

Italy will evacuate 35 Italian citizens aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess docked in Japan, officials said Sunday. The U.S., Hong Kong and South Korea have already announced plans to evacuate their people from the ship where 355 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed — the highest concentration anywhere outside of China.

"We decided yesterday to send a flight and bring those 35 Italians home," Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Twitter Sunday.

4:49 pm: South Korea to evacuate its citizens from quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship

South Korea is the latest to announce it will evacuate its citizens from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan's port of Yokohama, where 355 coronavirus cases have been confirmed as of Sunday afternoon. There are some 3,700 total passengers and crew on board.

"The government plans to bring those Koreans home if they are tested negative from screenings by the Japanese authorities and are willing to return," Health and Welfare Minister Park Neung-hoo told media. The U.S. and Hong Kong have also arranged flights to bring its people back. A State Department-organized charter flight is expected to land in Japan Sunday evening to retrieve American citizens.

4:40 pm: American from cruise ship tests positive for second time in Malaysia

An American woman who was previously aboard the MS Westerdam cruise ship in Cambodia has been tested positive after a second test for the coronavirus in Malaysia, local health authorities said Sunday. The results came after hundreds of passengers were already allowed to leave the ship, and authorities say that more than 140 of those passengers traveled through Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur airport. Many of them traveled to onward destinations in the U.S., Europe and Australia, officials said.

The 83-year-old woman initially tested positive after landing in Kuala Lumpur from Cambodia, where the cruise ship had been docked. She was one of 2,257 passengers and crew and the first to test positive. The ship's operator Carnival Cruises had asked for a second test to confirm the woman's condition. Her husband has tested negative.

Cruise ship passengers finally disembark in Cambodia after coronavirus fears
Cruise ship passengers finally disembark in Cambodia after coronavirus fears

4:13 pm: China's Hubei province banning vehicle traffic to contain outbreak

China's Hubai province, home to the city of Wuhan and the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, will ban pedestrian vehicle traffic to contain its spread, local government officials said Sunday. Service vehicles including ambulances, police cars and those carrying essential goods will be except from the ban.

Authorities in the province said they will also carry out routine temperature and health checks on all residents and that businesses can only resume work with the government's permission.

1:38 pm: Japan confirms 70 more cases on Diamond Princess cruise ship

Japan's health ministry said 70 more people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus. This brings the total cases stemming from the cruise ship to 355 out of 1,219 people tested, the ministry said.

Finding clues to understand the coronavirus
Finding clues to understand the coronavirus

12:05 pm: Hong Kong to arrange chartered flight for residents on cruise ship

The Hong Kong government will arrange a chartered flight for its residents on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to a spokesman for the city's Security Bureau.

The government, citing data from the cruise operator, said there are about 330 Hong Kong residents on board — 260 hold a passport from the special administrative region, while 70 have foreign passports.

The flight will bring the residents back as soon as they are cleared to disembark the ship, Hong Kong said. The people will stay at a quarantine facility for 14 days after flying back to the city, the government said.

The cruise ship industry in a storm
The cruise ship industry in a storm

11:11 am: China sends more than 25,000 medical workers to Hubei

China has dispatched more than 25,000 health workers to help Hubei as of Feb. 14, as the central Chinese province seeks to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, state-owned Xinhua reported, citing a senior official at the National Health Commission.

"The total number of medical workers has far exceeded that for rescue in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, and we did it at a much faster speed," Wang Hesheng, deputy head of the commission, reportedly said. He was referring to a magnitude 8 earthquake in May 2008 that hit southwest China's Sichuan Province, that killed an estimated 70,000 to 80,000 people.

Wang said that of the 25,633 medical workers sent to Hubei, about 20,000 are now working in Wuhan city — where the virus is thought to have first emerged. The official said that number does not include medical staff sent by the military, according to Xinhua.

10:13 am: Cruise ship operator awaits further tests for passenger said to have tested positive in Malaysia

The cruise ship operator for MS Westerdam, the ship that docked in Cambodia last Thursday, said it was waiting on results from a new test to see if a passenger who flew to Malaysia had the virus.

Holland America Line said in a statement: "While the first results have been reported, they are preliminary at this point and we are awaiting secondary testing for confirmation."

Malaysian health authorities said the 83-year-old American woman flew from Cambodia to Malaysia — with 144 others from the ship — on Friday, according to Reuters.

Malaysia's health ministry said the woman's husband showed symptoms but his tests came back negative, Reuters said.

Medical staff gesturing as they leave for Wuhan in Nanchang, China's central Jiangxi province on February 13, 2020.
Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

9:31 am: Test kits that show results in 15 minutes are reportedly being developed in China

Chinese researchers have reportedly developed new test kits for COVID-19 that will cut short the testing time, according to a report by state-media Xinhua.

The State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease said on social media that the new kits require a drop of blood for testing, and results can be shown in 15 minutes.

However, Xinhua pointed out that the new testing method by the Guangdong-based lab "has not yet received consensus in the testing industry."

8:49 am: China death toll rises to 1,665, as total cases reach 68,500

China's National Health Commission reported that there were 2,009 new confirmed cases and 142 additional deaths as of Feb. 15.

That brings the total number of cases in mainland China to 68,500, and the total deaths so far to 1,665, according the latest statistics from the commission released Sunday.

A total of 9,419 have recovered and were discharged, the country's health commission said.

8:00 am: Hubei reports 139 additional deaths and 1,843 new cases

Hubei's health authorities reported 1,843 new cases and 139 more deaths as of Feb. 15.

There are now 56,249 known cases of the respiratory virus in Hubei, which has killed 1,596 people in the province alone. Hubei is the center of the epidemic, and has accounted for most of the cases and deaths so far.

Official: US doesn't have high confidence in China's virus information
Official: US doesn't have high confidence in China's virus information

All times below are in Eastern time.

4:15 pm: Toyota will resume output at three auto plants in China

Toyota will resume production at three of its four primary auto plants in China on Monday. The company had initially planned to restart production on Feb.3, but was delayed because of the virus outbreak. — Newburger

2:00 pm: Cruise ship confirms 67 new coronavirus cases as US evacuates citizens

The Diamond Princess cruise ship that is in quarantine in Japan confirmed 67 new cases of the virus on board. The ship was put under quarantine last week in Yokohama with about 3,700 people on board.

American passengers aboard the ship will be evacuated on Sunday with chartered aircraft, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. There are 400 U.S. citizens on board and at least 40 Americans who were infected have been taken off the ship for treatment. Those who are evacuated will undergo 14 days of quarantine once they reach the U.S. — Newburger

1:30 pm: Xi started fighting virus earlier than previously known, newly published speech shows

Chinese President Xi Jinping issued internal orders regarding the virus outbreak roughly two weeks before his first public statements on the epidemic, according to a newly published speech on Saturday in the Qiushi Journal, the Communist Party's top publication.

The speech indicates that Xi started giving orders about the outbreak as early as Jan. 7. His first public instructions on the epidemic was Jan. 20, in which he provided brief instructions on the virus.

China's release of the speech is an apparent effort to mitigate public anger over the handling of the outbreak, and show that Xi has led the battle against the epidemic — including quarantining millions of people in Hubei, the province at the epicenter of the outbreak.

Xi gave the speech on Feb 3, about the time when the virus was becoming a national crisis.

— CNBC's Emma Newburger contributed to this report.