Coronavirus live updates: State Department will evacuate Americans from cruise ship, China slams global ‘overreaction’

FAN Editor

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below are in Beijing time.

4:23 pm: Chinese minister says coronavirus hit to Chinese economy will be ‘temporary’ and country will ‘rebound’

“The impact of the epidemic on the Chinese economy will be short term and temporary,” Chinese foreign affairs vice minister Qin Gang said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

“When the epidemic is over, the subdued consumer demand will be released rapidly and the economy will rebound strongly.”

4:18 pm: U.S. State Department will evacuate all Americans from Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan

The State Department will provide a chartered aircraft to fly American citizens aboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise directly from Japan to the U.S., it said in a statement Saturday. The aircraft is set to arrive in Japan on the evening of Feb. 16, and will land in the U.S. at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Some passengers will then continue onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. All passengers will need to be quarantined in the U.S. for a further 14 days. Those symptomatic passengers unable to board the flight will “receive the required care in Japan,”  the State Department said, expressing its gratitude to Japan for its “extraordinary care and hospitality” and assistance. 

“Should you choose not to return on this charter flight, you will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time,” the State Department said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make a final determination on this matter.”

2:50 pm: China rail refunded $4.5 billion in tickets —officials

Chinese officials disclosed Saturday that travel during the latest Lunar New Year period was a fraction of previous years, as people stayed home and took advantage of refund policies that authorities enacted in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

China’s aviation authority said since it first announced a ticket refund policy in late January, domestic and foreign airlines have processed 20 million tickets worth more than 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion). The number of flights has been about a quarter of what it was last year, a representative said.

China’s railway authority said rail trips during the holiday travel period so far have been one-seventh of the 280 million it had anticipated, and that it has processed 11.5 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in ticket refunds.

2:10 pm: China says it will tolerate more bad loans

China’s central bank says lenders will accept higher levels of bad loans in a bid to support firms affected by the virus outbreak, according to a Reuters report.

It said that situation will be manageable as China has a relatively low bad loan ratio, the report said.

He added that the problem will be manageable as China has a relatively low bad loan ratio.

12:55 pm: China bans insurers from offering virus-specific products

China’s deputy chair of the banking and insurance regulator, Liang Tao, said Saturday at a press conference that there are already more than 400 insurance products that can cover risks related to the new coronavirus pneumonia.

“Due to the lack of pricing data, and for the protection against violation of consumer rights, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission prohibits companies from issuing such single-liability products,” Liang said, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks.

12:30 pm: 25,633 medical workers sent to Hubei so far

A total of 217 medical teams comprised of 25,633 healthcare workers have been sent to the virus-hit Hubei province as of Feb. 14, according to state-owned media People’s Daily citing China’s National Health Commission. The majority of them are in Wuhan.

On Friday, China said that 1,716 health workers in the country have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

11:15 am: Trump trade advisor Navarro says drug production could start as soon as this month

White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox Business Network on Friday night Eastern time that testing and production of a coronavirus drug could start as soon as late February.

He said on the show that the White House is “moving at Trump time” on a treatment drug and are hopeful testing and production could begin “as early as the end of the month, mid-March.”

Navarro told Fox Business Network a vaccine could be “hopefully as early as next November,” adding that five large American companies are working to get 150 million doses of a vaccine ready.

10:40 am: US evacuating citizens aboard quarantined cruise ship off Japan

The U.S. is evacuating its citizens and their families who are onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan that has been quarantined for almost two weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited an official from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There will be two evacuation flights from Japan for around 380 people, the report said.

At least 218 passengers on the Diamond Princess were confirmed to be infected.

10:25 am: Support for companies to fight outbreak in China

As of noon on Friday, banks and financial institutions have supplied more than 537 billion yuan ($76.9 billion) in credit to fight the virus, Liang Tao, deputy head of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said Saturday morning at a press conference in Beijing.

9:30 am: China’s foreign minister slams global ‘overreaction’ to virus

China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China’s efforts to control the epidemic have been comprehensive and that it’s “under control,” while slamming the “overreaction” of other countries, according to a Reuters report.

In an interview with Reuters in Berlin, he said: “The epidemic overall is under control.”

“”We’ve taken such complete prevention and control efforts, efforts that are so comprehensive, that I can’t see any other country that can do this,” Wang said, adding that they would find it very difficult, according to Reuters. “But China has been able to do this.”

The U.S. should not take unnecessary measures that will affect tourism and trade, he said, according to Reuters.

The U.S. was among several countries who placed travel curbs on Chinese citizens, or travelers who have been to mainland China.

8:50 am: IBM withdraws from RSA conference in San Francisco

IBM says it’s no longer participating in a major conference — the RSA cyber security conference — in San Francisco in February over virus fears, it said in a tweet.

The conference is scheduled for Feb. 24 to Feb. 28. Earlier, Facebook announced it has called off its global marketing summit set for next month also in San Francisco, for the same reason, according to a Reuters report.

Another major event, Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s largest trade show for the mobile phone industry, was canceled this week over those fears. That decision came after many companies pulled out of the conference, such as LG, Sony, Ericsson, Nokia, Nvidia, Intel and Amazon.

8:05 am: China confirms 143 more deaths, 2,641 new cases

China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 143 deaths nationwide, as well as 2,641 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 14.

That tally includes Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, where 2,420 new cases were reported, and 139 more deaths.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 66,492, and number of total deaths at 1,523, the authority said.

All times below are in Eastern time.

3:03 pm: US health officials will check patients with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus

U.S. health officials will monitor people with flu-like symptoms for the coronavirus in five cities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The five labs are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City, but the agency hopes to expand the monitoring nationwide. — Feuer

1:21 pm: CDC concerned with report of infected health workers in China

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said the notice from China’s National Health Commission about 1,716 health workers infected with the coronavirus was “concerning.” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters during a press briefing that there are currently no U.S. health workers infected with the virus. She also reiterated the possibility of community spread in the United States. — Lovelace

12:11 pm: Chinese official to travel to Germany to discuss outbreak

11:55 am: WHO and China investigate health workers infected with virus

World health officials are working with Chinese authorities to determine when the 1,716 health workers in the country were infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus. It appears infections among medical workers peaked in mid-January and has “rapidly” decreased since, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, said at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “This may reflect increased levels of training, increased levels of protection and increased levels of awareness.” — Lovelace

10:44 am: WHO reveals details on its mission to China

Director-general of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news briefing he expects the WHO-led mission to China to arrive over the weekend. The team will include 12 international and WHO experts, Tedros said, as well as the same number of Chinese counterparts, though he did not identify individual members. He said the experts will visit three provinces to observe on-the-ground response efforts, but did not say if the mission will visit the epicenter of the outbreak, the city of Wuhan in Hubei province. “The goal of the joint mission is to rapidly inform the next steps in the COVID-19 response and preparedness activities in China and globally,” he said. —Feuer

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: China tries to get back to work as Beijing sets a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals.

10:14 am: Beijing authorities issue self-quarantine order for returning residents

Beijing officials charged with responding to the virus issued an order for all those returning to Beijing to remain in quarantine at home for 14 days, Chinese state media The People’s Daily reported. Those who refuse to quarantine themselves or follow the official rules on virus containment will be punished according to law, the newspaper said in a post on Chinese social media site Weibo. —Feuer

— CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. and William Feuer contributed to this report.

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