In China, the official death toll of the coronavirus has hit 1,016, as the total number of cases in China has reached more than 42,000. Meanwhile, dozens of people have been quarantined and others evacuated at Hong Mei House, a Hong Kong housing complex, on Tuesday, after the virus has reportedly spread through the building’s pipes, infecting two residents of two different floors.
Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s health secretary, said the decision to quarantine 23 apartments and evacuate the rest of the complex followed the discovery of an unsealed bathroom pipe in the apartment of a 62-year-old woman diagnosed with the virus – who lives 10 floors below another tenant who is infected. Four other tenants in three different apartments are showing coronavirus symptoms.
By Tuesday, the coronavirus has hit more than 43,100 people in China and in 24 other countries. Chinese officials put the death toll in their country at 1,016, up 108 from Monday, when it was 908.
An American citizen evacuated to the US from Wuhan last week is infected with the coronavirus, the UC San Diego Health medical center said in a statement on Monday. The patient had been discharged originally, after testing negative. The patient, who had been evacuated on a State Department flight from China that carried 167 Americans, has since returned to the hospital. This is the 13th confirmed case in the US, 7th in California. More than 500 Americans have been evacuated over the past two weeks from China to Nebraska, Texas and California.
The evacuees are being quarantined for 14 days, to determine if they have developed fevers, coughs and other early signs of the virus.
Meanwhile, the Holland America cruise ship Westerdam, carrying 1,900 passengers and a crew of 800, which left Hong Kong on February 1, cannot find a safe harbor and has been turned away by five countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and the US territory of Guam.
Holland America on Monday insisted no one on board the Westerdam has shown any symptoms of the virus, stating: “The ship is not in quarantine and we have no reason to believe there are any cases of coronavirus on board despite media reports.”