Virus Update: Hong Kong Closes Border, 4500 Cases

The BBC reports:

Hong Kong has announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China as the new coronavirus continues to spread. More than 100 people have now died in China, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500.

High-speed trains and ferries that cross the border will be suspended from Thursday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced. She wore a face mask.

The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally. On Monday, Germany and Japan confirmed that they had cases involving people who had not travelled to China but caught the virus from someone who had.

USA Today reports:

U.S. consulate staffers and other Americans in Wuhan will be evacuated to California on Wednesday as the death toll rose to 106 from a new virus racing through China.

Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China, is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The State Department said some private, paying U.S. citizens would be added to the flight leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport bound for Ontario, California.

“This capacity is extremely limited and if there is insufficient ability to transport everyone who expresses interest, priority will be given to individuals at greater risk from coronavirus,” the department said in a statement.

CNBC reports:

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Tuesday said he’s worried that coronavirus cases in China are actually much higher than the official numbers.

“I think we are dramatically underestimating” cases in China by “tens of thousands,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “We know the numerator,” said Gottlieb, who left the Food and Drug Administration in April 2019. “We don’t know the denominator.”

The New York Times reports:

A shortage of medical kits needed to quickly diagnose the new form of coronavirus spreading across China has slowed the country’s ability to respond to the outbreak and fueled concerns that the number of cases has been underreported.

China’s Medical Products Administration said on Sunday that it had approved four new virus detection kits, including one that sequences the genetic makeup of the disease. But China’s three leading medical device manufacturers have said that they do not have the capacity to quickly produce the products, according to reports in the state news media.

Residents in the central Chinese city of Wuhan who arrived at hospitals to seek testing were told that medical workers did not have the kits needed to confirm a diagnosis.