As deaths from the coronavirus topped 1,000 — nearly all of them in China — Beijing on Tuesday urged countries that have enacted travel restrictions aimed at curbing the outbreak to restore normal ties for the sake of the global economy. The appeal from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs underscored the economic dangers posed by the unprecedented shutdown of much of the world's second-largest economy, as well as the ruling Communist Party's concerns about the outbreak's capacity to fuel domestic instability.

Authorities in the virus-hit city of Wuhan have announced fresh restrictions on residents, making millions of people virtual prisoners in their own homes. Two provincial health bosses have been fired as the Communist Party struggles to contain widespread anger over the spread of the virus. Here’s what we know:

● The death toll from the coronavirus surged again, with 97 deaths on Tuesday. The number of confirmed infections continues to rise, but the rate of growth is slowing.

● American Airlines announced that it will suspend flights to China and Hong Kong through the end of April, a month longer than the carrier had previously planned. The State Department is allowing non-emergency U.S. personnel to leave Hong Kong of their own accord.

● Authorities in Wuhan tightened restrictions on citizens, allowing just one member of a household to make one shopping trip every three days and placing entire buildings under quarantine.

Thirty-nine more people on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been diagnosed with the virus, bringing the total number of infections to 174. Around 3,600 people are being held in quarantine on the ship off the coast of Japan, and crew members say they aren’t being adequately protected as more workers fall ill.

● China is bracing for the return of some 160 million migrant workers to their cities of employment as the country’s economy sputters back to life after an extended holiday following the outbreak.

February 11, 2020 at 10:30 PM EST

South Koreans and Chinese family members evacuated from Wuhan on charter flight

By Min Joo Kim

SEOUL – A group of South Koreans and their Chinese family members were evacuated from Wuhan to South Korea on Wednesday aboard a government-chartered flight.

Seoul had previously sent two charter planes to Wuhan to fly 701 citizens home, but this is the first time Chinese family members of South Korean nationals were evacuated together from the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis.

The third charter flight carrying 147 evacucees landed in Incheon Airport early Wednesday. Five passengers onboard the flight who displayed symptoms related to the virus and two children have been sent to a hospital, according to South Korea’s Health Ministry.

The rest of the passengers have been sent to a facility in Icheon city where they will spend 14 days in quarantine.

South Korea’s Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said on Sunday that Beijing had initially disallowed Chinese family members of South Koreans from joining the evacuation flight, but later allowed it.

“It is the basic national duty to take care of our people isolated in a far foreign land while facing fears of disease,” Park said at a briefing in Seoul. “The Chinese family members transported together are wives, husbands, sons and daughters of our citizens, after all,” Park said.

An online petition asking President Moon Jae-in to ban Chinese nationals from entering South Korea has drawn more nearly 700,000 signatures since the coronavirus outbreak.

South Korea currently restricts entry of foreigners who recently traveled to China’s Hubei Province. Special health screenings are required for arrivals in South Korea from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Two out of 28 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in South Korea were evacuees who flew from Wuhan on government charter flights.

February 11, 2020 at 9:50 PM EST

Coronavirus death toll rises to 1,113, Chinese officials say

By Derek Hawkins

The coronavirus claimed 97 more lives in mainland China on Tuesday, bringing the country’s death toll to 1,113, according to Chinese officials.

Officials also said they identified more than 2,000 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 44,653.

There were 49 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, 10 in Macau and 18 in Taiwan. More than 185,000 people were under medical observation in the mainland.

The vast majority of the new deaths and infections remained concentrated in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, where 94 people were reported dead Tuesday.

More than 4,700 people recovered from the disease, according to Chinese officials.

The number of deaths recorded Tuesday was slightly lower than the previous day, when Chinese officials said 108 people perished from the disease, the most in a single day.

February 11, 2020 at 9:09 PM EST

Japan expands travel restrictions to bar travelers from China’s Zhejiang province

By Simon Denyer

TOKYO – Japan announced on Wednesday it is expanding travel restrictions to ban foreigners who have recently been to the Chinese province of Zhejiang, in a bid to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Zhejiang province would be added to restrictions already imposed on travelers from Hubei province, according to a statement.

Those restrictions also bar foreigners who have been in Hubei for the previous two weeks, as well as anyone with a passport issued by provincial government of Hubei, from entering Japan.

Of more than 45,000 cases of coronavirus recorded since the epidemic began, more than 33,000 have come from Hubei, the central province whose capital Wuhan is the epicenter of the infection. There have been more than 1,100 cases in the coastal province of Zhejiang, but a slightly higher number of infections in Henan and more than 1,200 in the southern province of Guangdong. But the Japanese public broadcaster said around 500 Japanese companies or affiliates have operations in Zhejiang.

February 11, 2020 at 7:54 PM EST

39 more people test positive for coronavirus aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship

By Derek Hawkins

The number of coronavirus infections on the Diamond Princess cruise ship continued to climb Tuesday, with 39 more people testing positive for the disease, according to the cruise line.

There are now at least 174 confirmed coronavirus cases on the ship, which has been docked for nearly a week in the port of Yokohama, Japan. The ship is the site of the largest number of infections outside mainland China.

“We are following guidance from the Japan Ministry of Health on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for these new cases,” Princess Cruises said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

Japanese authorities have removed more than 100 sick people from the ship. About 3,600 passengers and crew remained quarantined on the vessel, and experts were debating whether they should be taken ashore or left onboard.

On Monday, 65 people tested positive for the disease.

February 11, 2020 at 7:27 PM EST

U.S. Postal Service says it cannot ensure timely delivery of express mail sent to China and Hong Kong

By Miriam Berger

The United States Postal Service said it temporarily cannot guarantee Priority Mail Express letters and parcels sent to China and Hong Kong “due to widespread airline cancellations, capacity constraints and restrictions into this area,” the U.S. carrier said in a statement Tuesday.

USPS denied earlier reports Tuesday that it was entirely suspending deliveries to the region.

“Contrary to some media reports, the U.S. Postal Service continues to accept mail destined to China, Hong Kong and Macao,” USPS said in the statement.

USPS’s Priority Mail Express International service offers “fast, reliable, and affordable” shipping within 3-5 businesses days to more than 190 countries, according to its website.

USPS said in the statement that it is additionally suspending “transit mail from other countries sending their mail through U.S. Postal Service offices of exchange (International Service Centers) destined to China, Hong Kong and Macao.”

Widespread quarantines, cancelations of planes, and other restrictions on movement to and within China have deeply disrupted the country’s economy.

Coronavirus cannot be transmitted by mail, contrary to some misinformation circulating. China Post, the Chinese mail service, has been disinfecting postal offices and processing centers in an effort to protect staffers from possible exposure to the virus while on the job.

February 11, 2020 at 6:35 PM EST

Laboratory error caused San Diego patient infected with coronavirus to test negative

By Derek Hawkins and Hannah Knowles

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Tuesday that the patient with the latest confirmed case of coronavirus in the United States initially tested negative for the disease and was briefly allowed to leave a San Diego hospital because of a laboratory error.

The patient was among three evacuees from China who were placed in isolation and underwent testing at the University of California San Diego Medical Center last week after showing signs of the novel coronavirus.

An initial round of tests came back negative, and the people returned to a quarantine site at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Further testing revealed, however, that one of them was infected.

A CDC spokeswoman, Kristen Nordlund, said Tuesday that blood samples from the three patients were inadvertently omitted from a large test run because they were incorrectly labeled.

“CDC conveyed an informal ‘all negative’ notification for the specimens that were tested. Once labeling issues were addressed, CDC subsequently tested the three specimens that had been omitted and found that one of those three tested positive,” Nordlund told The Washington Post.

“This information was conveyed to local public health and CDC teams immediately,” she said. “At all times, appropriate infection control precautions were taken around all of the persons quarantined at Miramar, including these three patients.”

On Monday, the patient returned to the hospital for treatment.

Going foward, a CDC laboratory staff member will join quarantine field teams to make sure that specimens are correctly labeled, Nordlund said.

UC San Diego Health spokeswoman Yadira Galindo said in an email earlier Tuesday that the patient left the hospital “the same way they arrived with all precautions taken.” The person wore a mask, escorted by federal officials who also had “protection.”

“The patient did not interact with the environment after leaving the hospital room,” Galindo said.

The patient was one of hundreds flown back to the United States from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of a now-global outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people. Americans return to 14 days of quarantine meant to prevent them from spreading coronavirus in the community. Health officials have cautioned that a negative test result from the CDC’s laboratory does not necessarily mean someone will not get the virus.

February 11, 2020 at 4:25 PM EST

Why Singapore has so many coronavirus cases

By Adam Taylor

Singapore often receives praise for its health-care system, which has been singled out as a possible model for other countries, including the United States.

As the coronavirus epidemic spreads, the city-state has emerged as one of the major centers of the outbreak outside China. The relatively high number of cases in the country may simply be bad luck — the result of close ties with China. But the county may have recorded a high number of infections because of, rather than in spite of, its advanced health-care system, experts say.

As of Tuesday, the country had 47 cases, meaning it was the place most heavily affected after China and Hong Kong, and the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan.

Local authorities said several events appear to have led to cluster transmissions of the coronavirus, including a business meeting held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, attended by a British businessman who went on to spread the virus in three other countries.

But the high figure may have an additional explanation: Singapore’s successful health-care system is swift and thorough in identifying cases.

Experts told the South China Morning Post that superior approaches to medical treatment may explain why Singapore had announced roughly the same amount of cases as Hong Kong, which borders mainland China.

“It is not just because the culture of transparency is stronger and motivation for learning higher, but the resources that can be invested in tracking events,” Jeremy Lim, a partner at global consultancy firm Oliver Wyman’s health and life sciences practice, told the Hong Kong-based newspaper.

In neighboring Indonesia, by contrast, no coronavirus cases have been confirmed. In a study released last week, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote that Indonesia’s lack of known instances “may suggest the potential for undetected cases.”

Indonesia’s health minister rejected that proposition Tuesday.

Singapore’s willingness to face the coronavirus outbreak head-on has earned it some praise.

“Well done Singapore!” Gabriel Leung, an infectious disease epidemiologist and dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, wrote on Twitter. “If only all health protection agencies could emulate your professional competence and transparency from the first imported cases, until there becomes too many cases to count.”

But some experts said that the number of cases in Singapore was reason to worry.

“Singapore has sustained community transmission despite most capable government on planet, best healthcare system on planet, and warm weather,” Richard Ebright, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University, tweeted Tuesday.

February 11, 2020 at 4:07 PM EST

Wuhan evacuees released from quarantine pose no public health threat in U.S., officials say

By Lenny Bernstein

Health officials reassured communities across the United States that nearly 200 Wuhan evacuees released from quarantine Tuesday pose no threat to anyone’s health.

At a briefing Tuesday afternoon, a county health official and a representative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 195 people housed at March Air Reserve Base since Jan. 29 have been closely monitored. None developed any symptoms of the respiratory disease, now known as “covid-19.”

Base personnel have not been in contact with the evacuees, they said. Anyone working with the evacuees was trained and wore protective equipment, they said.

There have been reports of discrimination against people employed on the base, said Nancy Knight, director of CDC’s division of global health protection, who headed the agency’s effort there. That includes a worker who was denied housing and another whose daughter faced discrimination at school, she said.

“These individuals have completed their quarantine,” she said of the evacuees. “They pose no health risk to themselves, to their families, to the places where they work, to their schools, to their communities.”

She emphasized that they were kept “completely separate from all of the staff at March Air Reserve Base.”

The evacuees at the base were the first of five groups flown from Wuhan by the State Department. Many were staff from the U.S. Consulate in the city at the epicenter of the outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people and sickened more than 42,000, the vast majority of them in central China.

The United States has confirmed 13 infections but no deaths.

The quarantine was the first imposed by the federal government since 1963, Knight said.

February 11, 2020 at 2:40 PM EST

American Airlines extends China flight cancellations through the end of April

By Lori Aratani

American Airlines announced Tuesday that it will suspend flights to China and Hong Kong through the end of April, a month longer than the carrier had previously planned.

The airline cited waning demand for the decision. American offers direct service between Shanghai’s Pudong and Beijing’s Capital international airports from Los Angeles International and Dallas-Fort Worth International. It also flies directly between Hong Kong and Dallas and Los Angeles.

Flights between Los Angeles and Dallas to Shanghai and Beijing will be suspended through April 24. In addition, service between Dallas and Hong Kong will be suspended through April 23 and flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong will be suspended until April 24. The airline had previously canceled flights through the end of March.

American, along with two other U.S. carriers, began canceling service between the United States and mainland China at the end January after the U.S. Department of State raised its China travel advisory to Level 4, its highest level of caution. Delta then announced the cancellation of flights to China through the end of April. United Airlines said flights would be canceled through the end of March, but officials said they continue to evaluate the situation.

February 11, 2020 at 2:35 PM EST

World Bank offers China technical assistance to fight the coronavirus

By Miriam Berger

The World Bank is offering Beijing technical assistance, but no new health-related loans, to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported.

“My thought is that we all wish them a speedy way to address the coronavirus in China,” World Bank President David Malpass said in an interview with Reuters. “We’ve offered technical assistance in the area of health, sanitation and disease policies.”

Malpass told Reuters that “China has its own large international reserves” needed to fight the economic impact of the virus, negating the need for World Bank loans.

Banking sources told Reuters that more than 300 Chinese companies, ranging from food delivery businesses to smartphone producers, have expressed need for more than $8.2 billion in loans to offset the coronavirus’s economic impact.

The country’s economy has been in low gear since January.

February 11, 2020 at 2:10 PM EST

Germany reports two more coronavirus cases, as company at center of cluster plans to reopen its headquarters

By Rick Noack

BERLIN — German authorities confirmed two new coronavirus cases linked to a cluster of infections at a Bavarian automotive supplier Tuesday night, hours before the company was set to reopen its headquarters Wednesday morning.

The two new cases bring the total of confirmed coronavirus patients in Germany to 16.

Fourteen of the cases are linked to automotive supplier Webasto. The company closed its headquarters near Munich two weeks ago, after a 33-year-old employee became Germany’s first confirmed coronavirus patient. He had been infected by a female business visitor from Shanghai. The two had met at a workshop in the offices of the German automotive supplier.

Authorities said that at least 40 individuals had come into close contact with the 33-year-old employee and the Chinese visitor.

February 11, 2020 at 2:10 PM EST

First group of U.S. evacuees to be released from quarantine in California

By Miriam Berger

The two weeks are up: On Tuesday, 195 U.S. evacuees from Wuhan, China, will conclude their 14-day quarantine at a military base in southern California and return to their previous lives, said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The group has been stuck at March Air Reserve Base since Jan. 29, when they were part of the first group of people evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak via a U.S. chartered plane.

None of the passengers have been diagnosed with the virus, said Schuchat. However, one evacuee from another flight who was quarantined at a different U.S. base has tested positive and is in isolation at a hospital, the Associated Press reported. There have been a total of 13 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States.

The March Air Reserve Base group includes State Department workers and their families, as well as other U.S. citizens and their families who had been in virus-stricken Hubei province as the outbreak worsened. As part of the quarantine, the group hasn’t been allowed to leave their fenced-in part at the base or to interact with any base personnel.

Part of the group will be traveling home Tuesday, while others will remain on the base for another day awaiting flights Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Some U.S. citizens on subsequent flights out of Wuhan have criticized Washington’s lack of preparedness and organization.

February 11, 2020 at 1:30 PM EST

Chinese state media is encouraging people to dance for exercise while in quarantine

By Miriam Berger

Videos released by Chinese state media capture a surreal kind of dance party happening in some quarantine centers set up across China as part of Beijing’s efforts to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.

In one video shared by China News Service from Wuhan, the virus epicenter, white hazmat suit-clad medical staff gracefully flex their arms and hands as they encourage patients in face masks to sway their bodies in unison to a song playing from a loudspeaker. The enthusiasm level among patients appears to be low.

It is not clear from the video how sick the patients are, as the severity of an infection with the disease now known as covid-19 varies widely. The majority of cases are not high-risk, though Wuhan has borne the brunt of the over 1,000 deaths from the virus so far.

Light movements like dancing can be helpful for those confined to a bed by invigorating the body’s blood flow. Chinese authorities have encouraged people to exercise to improve their health.

Chinese state media Xinhua News released another video on Tuesday of quarantined and face-mask clad patients dancing in an unnamed city. The makeshift hospital depicted had been converted to house patients with minor symptoms, the English text in the video reports. The video includes a song that appears to be dubbed over the original music score.

China has been forcefully quarantining anyone suspected of having the virus.

February 11, 2020 at 12:30 PM EST

Evacuation of Hong Kong building renews SARs-era fears about virus spread through sewage pipes

By Adam Taylor

The decision to evacuate part of high-rise apartment building in Hong Kong has led to fears that the coronavirus could have spread through the building’s pipes.

Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection announced early Tuesday that it would be evacuating some residents of an apartment building, the Hong Mei House, in the Cheung Hong Estate in Tsing Yi, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

The decision to evacuate more than 100 people in 34 apartments came after there were coronavirus cases in two separate apartments reported to be 10 stories apart.

Officials said that engineers from Hong Kong’s housing department would investigate the sewage system in the building to see whether it could have been the source of the virus’s spread.

To many in the megacity, the decision to evacuate part of Hong Mei House recalls 2003, when the SARS outbreak swept through an apartment building named Amoy Gardens in Kowloon.

In that instance, more than 300 people were infected — and 42 people died — when a defective bathroom pipe helped spread the virus through the building. A block of the building was sealed off and placed under 24-hour medical surveillance.

The apartments evacuated in Hong Mei House were all the same number — 7 — meaning that they were directly above or below each other and shared a bathroom pipe.

Some public health experts have pushed back on the comparison between the two cases. Yuen Kwok-yung, a Hong Kong microbiologist, told reporters in a briefing Tuesday that he did not think it was “another Amoy Gardens,” the Standard newspaper reported.

Though public health experts have said that it is possible that the coronavirus can spread through fecal matter, it was a specific failure in a U-shaped water trap in some bathrooms in Amoy Gardens that allowed SARs to spread.

Officials said that the pipes in the Hong Mei House were in a good condition. Yeun instead pointed to another possibility — that a modified drainage pipe in one apartment could have caused a problem.

High-rise buildings are common across Hong Kong, and much of the city lives in the soaring towers. The outbreak had a major effect on the residents of Amoy Gardens — though major hygiene improvements were made after SARs, some reported health problems caused by the treatments given to them.