CDC Issues Hong Kong Travel Advisory; Dems Demand Trump Reimburse States Battling Coronavirus

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/19/2020


Diamond Princess confirms another 79 cases as quarantine ends
CDC questions Japan’s handling of ‘DP’ quarantine
UK tells passengers to stay aboard ship until it finishes planning an official evacuation
Wuhan wraps up campaign to quarantine all infected people
CDC issues ‘Level 1’ travel notice for Hong Kong
Dems write letter to Trump asking him to request more resources
Video shows group who broke quarantine in Wuhan being taken to ‘reeducation center’
Russia “clarifies” ban on all Chinese: Says will allow some visas.
Markets climb amid optimism that China is moving to support industries harmed by outbreak
Puma, Adidas warn of virus-related hit in Q1
Taiwan, South Korea report new cases
The 2 Iranian COVID-19 patients reported earlier have died.
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Update (1440ET): In the latest batch of outbreak-related news, the American CDC issued a new “Level 1” travel notice Wednesday advising US citizens traveling there to make sure they remember basic hygiene practices like handwashing, after Hong Kong reported its second death from the virus overnight.

The CDC encouraged Americans planning a trip to the area to cancel it. A few weeks ago, the CDC issued a ‘level three’ travel warning for mainland China, but HK, Macau and Taiwan weren’t covered by that notice.

As Japanese health authorities prepare to release the next batch of passengers and crew from the ‘Diamond Princess’, WaPo reports that the first crewmember who fell victim to the virus has made a full recovery. He was admitted to a hospital on Feb. 5, and has been “successfully treated.” The crew member was Filipino, and about 40 other Filipinos who traveled on the ship were hospitalized in Tokyo. The government of the Philippines is working closely with Japan to figure out how and when the Filipino crew members will be transported back to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, it seems Democrats have found an angle to bash Trump’s (so far extremely adequate) response to the coronavirus outbreak. In a letter signed by 25 Democratic senators, the lawmakers expressed concern that Trump hadn’t yet requested additional money from Congress.

During a briefing a week ago, administration officials told lawmakers that they must be prepared for a very large and lengthy public health response to this virus given how easily it appears to be transmitted, according to the letter. “They also stated that [the Department of Health and Human Services] would exhaust existing funding for the response soon.”

The letter also cites anxieties expressed by state officials that they won’t be reimbursed for expenses like testing kits to screen potential carriers for the virus.

“We strongly urge the Administration to transmit an emergency supplemental request that ensures it can and will fully reimburse states for the costs,” the Senators said.

A link to the letter provided by the Washington Post was broken.

The letter also notes that Trump’s budget calls for a 9% cut in funding to the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC.

In Singapore, where a rapid jump in confirmed virus cases is provoking anxiety, Facebook criticized the city state’s authoritarian government for invoking a controversial fake-news law to block a Facebook page that the government said had been posting “misleading” information about the outbreak.

Although it is legally obliged to take down the site, Facebook Inc said it was “deeply concerned” about the government’s request, which targeted the website of a media organization, the States Times Review, according to Reuters.

“We believe orders like this are disproportionate and contradict the government’s claim that POFMA would not be used as a censorship tool.”

“We’ve repeatedly highlighted this law’s potential for overreach and we’re deeply concerned about the precedent this sets for the stifling of freedom of expression in Singapore.”

The States Times Review is run by Australia-based Singaporean political dissident Alex Tan and has already been censored three times under the “fake news” law, which only came into effect in October.

Circling back to the two deaths in Iran – probably the strangest piece of coronavirus news from Wednesday – The New York Times reports, citing Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA, that both of those who died were “old” and that one had survived brutal chemical attacks during the Iran-Iraq war.

There’s also some “new” news about the 712 people being actively monitored by Washington State, something we noted yesterday. A local TV station reports that the people being watched either had contact with individuals who tested positive for the virus, or others who recently traveled from China. The first coronavirus case diagnosed in the US was in Washington State.

Finally, the AP reports that inspectors in protective suits have been going door to door in Wuhan in an effort to find and quarantine every infected person in the city. Wednesday marked the final day of a campaign to round up anyone believed to be infected, or who appears to be showing symptoms.

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