China is entering the "most critical time" in its fight to contain the spreading coronavirus, a government official said. Meanwhile, Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak is centered, further tightened its already-strict quarantine on residents.
China added 2,641 additional cases, taking the total number of people affected to 66,492, the National Health Commission said in a statement Saturday.
As many as 1,523 people have died from the virus so far, it said.
Another cruise liner was shunned by a port, this time in Vietnam.
New Zealand Extends Travel Restrictions (9:45 a.m. HK)
New Zealand said temporary restrictions on travel from China have been extended for a further eight days, calling it "a precautionary approach" and a matter of public health. The country is preventing foreign nationals traveling from, or transiting through, mainland China from entering, and the position will be reviewed every 48 hours.
Most Critical Time, says Health Commission Official (9:15 a.m. HK)
China is entering the most critical time in its fight to contain the spreading coronavirus, Wang Hesheng, deputy director of the National Health Commission, said during a televised briefing from Wuhan. While Wang didn't elaborate on the comment, outside of Hubei, the number of new confirmed cases have declined for the past 10 days, according to Liang Wannian, an expert at the NHC. Several other provinces have sent 217 medical teams to Wuhan as of Feb. 14, Wang said.
Apple to Reopen Shanghai Store (9 a.m. HK)
Apple Inc. would open one of the seven stores it has in Shanghai starting today, according to a company statement. The maker of iPhones had earlier said it will reopen stores in Beijing, according to an earlier announcement.
Virus spreading in Japan (9 a.m. HK)
New cases have been discovered in prefectures spanning the entire country from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, with a total of seven people testing positive, the Nikkei reported, citing a briefing late Friday by Japan's Health Ministry. Tokyo reported two new patients.
The government is considering expanding the testing for visitors beyond the Hubei and Zhejiang provinces, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said at the briefing, according to the Nikkei. Among the infected are a taxi driver and a member of cab driver union, both of whom attended a houseboat party held in mid January. The boat's staff have previously had contact with visitors from Hubei and one of the employees had tested positive.
Trump Says Xi 'Working Very Hard' (5 a.m. HK)
President Donald Trump said Chinese leader Xi Jinping is "working very hard" on controlling the outbreak.
"It's a tremendous problem. But they're very capable and they'll get to it," Trump said at a Washington event Friday with Border Patrol agents, noting he has spoken with Xi.
Of Americans with the virus, "many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we're in very good shape," he said.
Wuhan Sharply Tightens Lockdown of Residents (1 p.m. NY)
The Chinese city of Wuhan tightened its quarantine on residents and said people will be confined to their neighborhoods except to seek medical care, work to fight the outbreak or keep vital services going.
The notice from the city government, posted in a statement, further tightens the already drastic measures taken by the city to stop the virus. Wuhan has opened quarantine centers to house thousands of patients and others with symptoms, and Hubei province, where the city is located, has announced thousands of new cases a day.
Under the new rules, most Wuhan residents will be allowed to leave residential compounds only for medical care. Other cities that have put lockdowns in place have allowed people to leave every few days to buy food. It wasn't immediately clear from the statement how Wuhan's residents would be able to get food or other supplies.
Under the new rules, some neighborhoods will be barricaded off to keep people from getting in or out, and non-residents won't be able to enter neighborhoods that aren't theirs.
Egypt Reports First Virus Case (12:23 p.m. NY)
In Egypt, a foreigner tested positive for the coronavirus, state news agency MENA reported, citing a statement from Egypt's health ministry and the World Health Organization Friday. It's the first confirmed case of the virus in the country.
The patient was put into quarantine and hasn't shown symptoms of the virus, according to the report.
GM Tries to Shield Plants From China Parts Shortage (12:12 p.m. NY)
General Motors Co. is trying to shield some of its most profitable U.S. plants from running out of components sourced from China, a spokesman said, after a union member at one factory wrote that the threat of a parts shortage at the factories is growing.
Smoking's Role in Coronavirus Merits Study, WHO Says (11:40 a.m. NY)
Smoking may play a role in the severity of infections caused by the coronavirus in China and merits more study, a World Health Organization official said Friday.
Chinese men have had more severe cases of the virus than women and also smoke at higher rates, Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said at a press conference in Geneva.
The virus can cause pneumonia as it infects patients' lungs, which can be weakened from cigarette use. China has higher overall rates of smoking than much of the rest of the world, according to WHO data.
"It's an excellent hypothesis, but one that is unproven," Ryan said. "There will be a lot of interest in looking at smoking as a risk factor."
Report: Beijing returnees should stay home for 14 days
People returning to Beijing should stay at home for observation for 14 days upon arrival, Beijing Daily reported, citing a notice issued Feb. 14 by local health authorities. The publication is affiliated with the Communist Party's Beijing committee.
People who plan to return to the city are being told to report ahead of time to their employers as well as residential communities in which they live, according to the report.
Researchers Publish New Images of the Virus (9:54 a.m. NY)
U.S. researchers published new images of the coronavirus, some of the most detailed visuals yet of the pathogen.
The images were released Thursday by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They were made with scanning and transmission electron microscopes.