China reported a moderate jump in coronavirus cases Saturday after a two-day surge that arose from Hubei province changing its method of counting diagnoses. The swell of cases had dented hopes that the deadly outbreak could be petering out.

With an additional 2,600 reported Saturday, the number of cases in mainland China has surged past 66,000, and the economic fallout is mounting. The latest casualties are flower sellers in the country, some of whom have seen their sales fall up to 95 percent on Valentine’s Day.

More places in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, are enacting “wartime” measures, such as sealing off residential complexes and allowing only essential vehicles on the roads. Authorities in Yunmeng county, where the new steps kicked in Friday morning, said that anyone attempting to breach the lockdown “at compounds, buildings or road connections” would be detained.

Here are the latest developments:

● Beijing announced a new rule requiring all residents returning to the city to self-quarantine for 14 days and warned that those who refused would be punished.

● A Japanese man who was recently diagnosed with coronavirus traveled to Hawaii from Jan. 28 through Feb. 7 and developed “cold-like symptoms” while he was there, state officials said.

● Japan has said that 10 people evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship are in serious condition, as the cruise industry braces for serious losses over coronavirus fears.

● China’s National Health Commission said more than 1,700 medical workers have been infected with coronavirus, six of whom have died, citing the latest available figures as of Tuesday.

● Egypt announced its first case of coronavirus Friday, marking the first confirmed instance of the virus in Africa.

February 14, 2020 at 8:50 PM EST
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Japanese coronavirus patient was recently in Hawaii, officials say

By Marisa Iati

A Japanese man who was recently diagnosed with covid-19 traveled to the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Oahu from Jan. 28 through Feb. 7, state officials said Friday.

The man was asymptomatic while on Maui and developed “cold-like symptoms” but no fever while on Oahu, the state’s health director, Bruce Anderson, told reporters. When he returned to Japan’s Aichi prefecture, the man developed more serious symptoms and sought medical care.

Officials said the man stayed at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations in Hono­lulu while traveling with his wife.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said she did not know the man’s flight information but was aware that he wore a medical mask while in transit, which can limit the spread of the disease. The man probably contracted the virus while in Japan or while traveling to Hawaii, Park said.

Officials are trying to identify people who may have come into close contact with the man while he was in Hawaii. Park said she was less focused on people who may have passed him in a hallway or had other fleeting contact.

“What should be reassuring is the person was asymptomatic while in Maui and had only respiratory symptoms — cold-like symptoms and no fever — while in Oahu,” Park said. “That’s somewhat reassuring to us because we know that when you have the fever you’re probably more likely to be more infectious.”

February 14, 2020 at 7:40 PM EST
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More than 2,600 new cases reported in China

By Marisa Iati

Chinese health officials on Saturday morning reported 2,641 new coronavirus cases and 143 additional deaths nationwide, a sharp decline from Friday’s increase of roughly 5,000 cases.

Saturday’s figures include three new cases in Hong Kong, where one person has died since the outbreak began. The other deaths outside of mainland China have been one in the Philippines and one in Japan.

More than 66,400 cases have been confirmed in China during the outbreak. Roughly 1,500 people have died.

February 14, 2020 at 6:30 PM EST
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Hubei province reports 2,420 new cases and 139 new deaths

By Marisa Iati

Hubei province on Saturday morning reported 2,420 new cases of the virus, most of which were in the city of Wuhan. There were also 139 new deaths.

About half of the new cases were clinically diagnosed by a doctor, as opposed to confirmed by laboratory testing. Hubei’s recent expansion of diagnosis criteria has caused case numbers in the province to skyrocket this week.

Since the outbreak began last month, Hubei has accumulated more than 54,400 cases of the coronavirus and 1,457 deaths, according to the province’s health officials.

February 14, 2020 at 5:45 PM EST
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What’s behind the ‘infodemic’ of false coronavirus news?

By Miriam Berger

The World Health Organization has a term for the onslaught of inaccuracy that has sprung up around the coronavirus: “infodemic,” or an epidemic of false information. Rumors have included wildly inflated death tolls, a connection between the coronavirus and bioweapons, and the notion that people eating bats caused the outbreak

On Thursday, representatives from the WHO visited Silicon Valley to discuss with tech companies how to better combat the spread of false information about the coronavirus online. Facebook and other major social media companies have partnered with the WHO to direct users searching for news about the virus to the WHO and other health organizations.

It’s not clear whether governments are behind some of the false information, but patterns have emerged that echo those found in government-backed disinformation campaigns, experts told The Washington Post’s Kim Bellware on the Post Reports podcast Thursday.

“It’s not that they necessarily want to misinform us about the coronavirus in particular, but its rather that the coronavirus offers a ready vehicle for spreading disinformation and reducing the quality of information that we see on the internet,” said Carl T. Bergstrom, a researcher at the University of Washington. “When you sow that kind of chaos, it really undermines people’s faith in institutions … and that can be really effective for certain hostile governments who want to undermine the stability of a rival country.”

People are susceptible to false information about the virus because much remains unknown.

“When that certainty isn’t there, we latch on to people who offer us promises of certainty,” Bergstrom said.

Some of the false news has had racist and xenophobic elements that target Chinese and other Asian people, Bellware said on Post Reports: “Certain types of misinformation seem to have the end goal of getting people, perhaps in the U.S. or in other countries outside of China, to say, ‘Let’s keep all Chinese people out of our country. Let’s close our borders, round them up. Let’s keep them separate.’ ”

February 14, 2020 at 4:50 PM EST
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Canada confirms eighth case of the coronavirus

By Amanda Coletta

TORONTO — An eighth person in Canada has tested positive for covid-19, Canadian public health officials said Friday.

The woman, who is in her 30s, lives in the interior of British Columbia. She flew to Vancouver from Shanghai in the past week and traveled home by car.

Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s health officer, said the woman was wearing a mask on the flight and is in isolation at home, where she is in “good” condition.

Officials said they plan to ask all passengers who sat within three rows of the woman on the plane to monitor themselves for symptoms. Henry said she would not provide details about when the new patient arrived in Canada or on what flight.

Canadians’ risk of contracting the virus is “still very, very low,” Henry said.

February 14, 2020 at 4:20 PM EST
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Trump thanks Cambodia for accepting Westerdam cruise ship

By Marisa Iati

President Trump tweeted his thanks to Cambodia on Friday after the country accepted a Holland America cruise liner that for days had been seeking a place to dock.

The MS Westerdam had meandered through the South China Sea as four countries turned the boat away over fears of covid-19. The rising number of infections on another ship, the Diamond Princess, has made governments fearful that other cruise liners could be carrying the virus.

“Thank you to the beautiful country of Cambodia for accepting the @CarnivalCruise ship Westerdam into your port,” Trump tweeted, tagging Holland America’s parent company, Carnival. “The United States will remember your courtesy!”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, has also praised Cambodia since the country agreed to accept the Westerdam.

“#Cambodia has demonstrated real solidarity in support of the #COVID19 response,” he wrote on Twitter. “We hope all countries and leaders will follow their lead. Together, for a safer world.”

Cambodian health officials announced late Thursday that all 20 passengers on the ship had tested negative for the coronavirus. Passengers began to disembark early Friday.

February 14, 2020 at 2:58 PM EST
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CDC is using flu labs in 5 cities to test for spread of coronavirus

By Lena H. Sun

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week began using five public health labs that usually test for influenza to also start testing for coronavirus in the United States this week. The labs are in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

The public health labs are part of the CDC’s existing flu surveillance network, which monitors influenza illnesses and hospitalizations. Specimens that test negative for flu will be tested for coronavirus, said Nancy Messonnier, who is leading the coronavirus response at the CDC. Officials plan to expand the testing to more labs in the coming weeks to provide an early warning of where the virus may be spreading.

The United States has 15 confirmed cases, mostly in travelers returning from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. CDC officials say they hope aggressive measures such as quarantines can slow the impact of the disease. But they are also preparing for additional cases. Lab tests confirming more coronavirus cases could allow U.S. officials to take additional actions to prevent spread, such as canceling big social gatherings and boosting the use of telemedicine and telework.

At the same time, flu illnesses have risen sharply in the past few weeks. An extended flu season could add to confusion about whether people are getting sick from the coronavirus or from seasonal flu. Messonnier said there has been an increase in a flu strain that hits children particularly hard. Hospitalization rates for children are as high as they were during the 2017-2018 flu season, one of the worst flu seasons in decades.

This season, at least 26 million people have been sickened by the flu in the United States, including 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths.

February 14, 2020 at 2:51 PM EST
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Some Asian Americans report facing suspicion and ridicule amid coronavirus outbreak

By Marian Liu

Dirty looks, deserted restaurants, bullied children — this is the reality for many Asian Americans after the outbreak of the coronavirus six weeks ago.

Although the epicenter of the illness is in China, where tens of thousands have been affected, there had been only 15 cases in the United States as of Thursday. Still, Asians in the country have been subjected to suspicion and ridicule.

Outbreaks often have been attributed to marginalized groups in society, or the “other,” experts say. Asian Americans are often still seen as “forever foreigners,” no matter the reality of how long they have lived in this country. Time and again, they have been blamed for importing diseases.

Monica Schoch-Spana, a medical anthropologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says other racial and ethnic groups have faced similar scrutiny and discrimination during public health crises.

“What you have over history and throughout modern-day outbreaks is people fixing blame on a contagious disease on outsiders,” she said, citing past instances. In 2009, H1N1, or swine flu, was associated with Mexican Americans; in 2003, SARS with Chinese Americans; and in the 1980s, HIV with Haitian Americans. That virus was also called the “the 4H disease,” a reference to the “perceived risk factors” of “Haitians, homosexuals, hemophiliacs, and heroin” users.

February 14, 2020 at 2:27 PM EST
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In China, epidemic takes much of the romance out of Valentine’s Day

By Siobhán O’Grady

Face masks and hazmat suits don’t exactly set the scene for romance.

But when Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of an epidemic, lovebirds have to make do. For some in China, that has meant finding ways to mark the holiday despite restrictions on movement and restaurant closures. For health workers, it has largely meant sacrificing the special day altogether.

In a video published by the Global Times, the English-language newspaper linked to the ruling Communist Party, health workers described how they were spending the day away from their loved ones to help treat patients who have fallen ill.

Li Tong, who was identified in the video as working at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said his wife also works in the hospital as a nurse. “She is very supportive of me coming to the front line to fight the virus,” he said. “I hope she can take good care of the family and protect herself well when working in the hospital. ”

“Today is really special because it was the first time we didn’t spend Valentine’s Day together, but when I think more patients are getting better under my assistance, I think it is totally worth it,” he added.

“I’m not an expressive type you know. But I’d like to say to my wife, I love you! Hope to see you soon!”

Then he and his colleague began to clap.

Health workers have faced dangerous conditions throughout the outbreak, with a major uptick in cases among emergency workers reported Friday.

Photos from other major cities showed people in face masks gripping bouquets of flowers. In one photo from an isolation ward in Yangzhou, two health workers completely covered in protective gear held their gloved hands up against a window to make the sign of a heart.

Across China, the virus has taken a devastating toll on businesses that have either closed their doors or experienced a massive drop in customers as travel bans and fears over the spread of the virus have largely confined people to their homes.

February 14, 2020 at 2:09 PM EST
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Facebook cancels San Francisco summit because of coronavirus fears

By Miriam Berger

Facebook announced Friday that it would cancel a summit it had planned to hold at San Francisco’s Moscone Center in March.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus,” Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesman, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

The annual event brings together Facebook employees from around the world. It was due to take place this year from March 9 to 12.

The social media giant is not alone. Earlier in the week, the Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile phone summit, was canceled because of travel disruptions. The event had been scheduled to start on Feb. 24.

The cancellations come amid fears that such events could play a major role in proliferating the virus around the world. Attendees at a sales meeting at a hotel in Singapore earlier this month spread the virus to five countries.

February 14, 2020 at 1:29 PM EST
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Egypt confirms first coronavirus case in Africa

By Heba Farouk Mahfouz and Adam Taylor

CAIRO — Egypt’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday that it had detected a case of coronavirus in the country, marking the first known example of the outbreak in Africa.

A spokesperson for the ministry, Khaled Megahed, said in a statement that a foreign national had tested positive for the coronavirus and that the World Health Organization had been notified.

Although the person had not shown symptoms, they were tested due to their travel history. The person was subsequently transported to a hospital and they are now under quarantine. The person’s health is stable, Megahed said.

Health officials are taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus. A number of people who came into contact with the patient have also been tested for the novel coronavirus, Megahad said.

Though they tested negative, they will be placed under a 14-day quarantine as a precautionary measure. The residence where the person was staying was also being sterilized, Megahad said.

The statement did not say where the person was detected or whether they were a resident of Egypt.

February 14, 2020 at 1:15 PM EST
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A look inside Macao’s risky coronavirus casino shutdown

By Shibani Mahtani and Rachel Cheung

MACAO — Visitors arriving in this gaudy Chinese gambling hub are hit with text messages promoting its draw cards: celebrity-chef-branded restaurants and dazzling entertainment shows in one of the dozens of lavish casino resorts.

“Grand Lisboa is looking forward to your visits to our Michelin 3 Stars restaurants!” reads a grammatically imperfect message from the casino complex, whose gold-hued tower was designed to resemble a Brazilian dancer’s feathered headdress. “Exclusive accommodation and transportation offers for your choice!”

But no Michelin-starred restaurants were open on a recent visit. Nor were the pastry shops known for Portuguese egg tarts. Luxury stores at several casino resorts The Washington Post visited were shut, too. At the few open shops, bored staff members watched movies on their phones, slept or paced aimlessly. A saleswoman at a Cartier outlet in the Las Vegas Sands-owned Venetian resort said the store had sold nothing in a week. Elsewhere in the complex, empty gondolas were fastened to railings (opera music, however, was still playing).

The two-week shutdown, which seems likely to be extended, is unprecedented. Since its handover from Portugal to China in 1999, Macao has been the only Chinese territory where gambling is allowed. The casinos transformed the fortunes of the city of 670,000, whose tourism sector accounts for 80 percent of economic output and whose 41 casinos employ about one-fifth of the workforce.

“My parents told me this is what Macao looked like before China opened up, when it was quiet, and no one was here,” said 30-year-old Teng Fong Mei, who was operating an egg waffle cart that has been her family’s business for four decades. Sales have dropped more than 80 percent, she said, as she flipped iron griddles filled with dough.

February 14, 2020 at 12:50 PM EST
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Infection of 1,700 front-line workers complicates coronavirus fight

By Emily Rauhala

More than 1,700 Chinese medical professionals have been infected with the coronavirus, officials said Friday, a stark reminder of the challenge China faces as it tries to contain the outbreak.

A total of 1,716 Chinese medical workers have been infected as of Feb. 11, accounting for 3.8 percent of the overall confirmed cases, Chinese health authorities said.

The announcement, which was made in the Communist Party-controlled media, confirmed what many already knew: Front-line workers are falling, hurting the ability of an overburdened public health system to respond.

By acknowledging the toll on health professionals, Beijing is trying to signal a level of transparency about the safety on a flash-point issue and letting ordinary people know they share their sense of alarm.

“It might raise a red flag about how serious the situation is,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, “and hopefully that leads to a more effective government response.”

But Huang cautioned against seeing the figure as the final word on medical workers, given discrepancies in case reporting so far.

“If it is coming from an official source, we have to take it always with a grain of salt,” he said.

February 14, 2020 at 12:35 PM EST
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Legal scholars argue coronavirus-related travel bans violate international law

By Adam Taylor

A group of 16 scholars argued that travel bans are an inappropriate response to the coronavirus outbreak, as they violate Article 43 of the International Health Regulations, a binding agreement reached by WHO member states in 2005.

“In imposing travel restrictions against China during the current outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (covid-19), many countries are violating the IHR,” the scholars write in an article in the Lancet journal that published Thursday.

While countries “would rather be safe than sorry,” evidence “belies the claim that illegal travel restrictions make countries safer,” they add.

“In the short term, travel restrictions prevent supplies from getting into affected areas, slow down the international public health response, stigmatise entire populations, and disproportionately harm the most vulnerable among us,” the authors write. “In the longer term, countries selecting which international laws to follow encourages other countries to do the same, which in turn undermines the broader rules-based world order.”

A variety of nations, including the United States, have imposed restrictions on travel to China, especially Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, despite guidance from the WHO to avoid such measures.

The legal scholars were led by Steven J. Hoffman, director of the Global Strategy Lab and a professor at York University in Toronto, and Roojin Habibi, a research fellow with the Global Strategy Lab.

Prominent scholars such as Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, were among the authors.