China announces investigation after whistleblower doctor dies

Cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast: Coronavirus cases rise to 61

Confirmed China coronavirus infections climb past 30,000,  death toll hits 636, government says

Chinese Dr. Li Wenliang (Late)
China’s anti-graft watchdog announced Friday an investigation after the death of a whistleblowing doctor sparked anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus emergency.

The discipline inspection commission said in a statement that an investigative team would go to Wuhan, the virus-hit city where doctor Li Wenliang died, to “conduct a comprehensive investigation into issues involving Dr. Li Wenliang reported by the masses.”

The doctor who got in trouble with authorities in the communist country for sounding an early warning about the coronavirus outbreak died Friday after coming down with the illness.

The Wuhan Central Hospital said on its social media account that Dr. Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist, was “unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection.”

Dr. Li Wenliang, who was punished after raising the alarm about China's new coronavirus died from the pathogen on Friday, sparking an outpouring of grief and anger over a worsening crisis that has now killed more than 630 people.

At least 31,000 people have now been infected by a virus that ophthalmologist Li Wenliang and colleagues had first brought to light in late December.

The disease has since spread across China, prompting the government to lock down cities of tens of millions of people, while global panic has risen as more than 240 cases have emerged in two dozen countries.

A quarantined cruise ship in Japan now has 61 confirmed cases.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump, whose countries have tussled over trade and human rights, spoke on the phone about the health emergency on Friday.

Xi urged "the US side to respond reasonably to the novel coronavirus outbreak", according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Trump expressed his "confidence" in China's ability to tackle the epidemic, the White House said.

Beijing has been angered by bans on arrivals from China instituted by the United States and other countries, accusing Washington of spreading "panic".

Li, 34, died early Friday, Wuhan Central Hospital said in a post on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform, an announcement that triggered grief on social media -- over a doctor who was hailed a hero -- and anger over the government's handling of the crisis.

"He is a hero who warned others with his life," a fellow Wuhan doctor wrote on Weibo after reports of his death emerged.

"Those fat officials who live on public money, may you die from a snowstorm," wrote one angry Weibo user in a comment that has since been censored.

- Death censored -

Li's death also highlights the enormous risks that frontline doctors have taken to treat patients in overwhelmed and under-equipped hospitals in Wuhan, the quarantined city of 11 million people where the virus emerged in December. Read More

Cruise ship quarantined off Japan's coast: Coronavirus cases rise to 61

41 more people aboard a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the country's health ministry confirmed in a statement Friday morning local time.

The state of play: Positive cases have now been confirmed in 61 of 273 people tested aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to the ministry. Officials are still carrying out tests for those aboard the vessel, which was carrying some 3,700 people.

Princess Cruises said in a statement nine of the first 10 patients hospitalized from the ship were guests — one from the U.S., two Australians, three Japanese people and three from Hong Kong. A Filipino crew member also tested positive.

The nationalities of the latest cases have yet to be released, but half of those on board were guests from Japan, per Princess Cruises.

The length of the quarantine will be at least 14 days as required by the Ministry of Health."

The big picture: A guest from Hong Kong sailed from Yokohama on Jan. 20 before disembarking back home on Jan. 25, Princess Cruises said. He showed no symptoms aboard the ship, but tested positive for coronavirus in a Hong Kong hospital six days later.

In Hong Kong, a second cruise ship has been quarantined. "[T]hree passengers on an earlier voyage were later diagnosed with the new coronavirus," World Dream ship, operated by Genting Cruise Lines, confirmed to Axios.

A city port health official said over 30 crew members aboard the ship had symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat, and have been tested and are awaiting results. Each passenger will also have their temperature checked.

The cruise line is also suspending the World Dream cruise operation until further notice.

About 90% of the passengers are from Hong Kong "and no one is from mainland China," according to an AP reports.

Confirmed China coronavirus infections climb past 30,000,  death toll hits 636 government says

China virus death toll hits 636, more than 30,000 infections as the authorities scrambled to find bed space for thousands of newly infected patients.

The official Chinese death toll from the coronavirus outbreak rose on Friday to 636, with the government saying total infections had climbed past 30,000.

The toll was raised by 73 new deaths from the epidemic, the National Health Commission said in its daily update.

Another 3,143 new cases of infection were confirmed, bringing total infections in the country thus far to 31,161, it said.

The central province of Hubei where the virus originated continued to be hardest-hit, accounting for 69 of the new deaths reported in the 24 hours to Friday.

Of the reported infections, more than 4,800 of those people were in serious condition.

Chinese authorities are still struggling to contain the outbreak despite ordering millions of people indoors in a growing number of cities, with overwhelmed hospitals struggling to treat the surging numbers of ill.

The contagion emerged in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan in December, later spreading to the rest of China and more than two dozen other countries, prompting the World Health Organisation to declare a global emergency.

The number of confirmed infections in China could still grow significantly, with the health commission saying that more than 26,000 other people were "suspected" of having contracted the virus. AFP

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