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Coronavirus Live Updates: An American Dies of the Virus in Wuhan, China – The New York Times

By February 8, 2020 Entertainment News

A United States citizen has died from the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China, in what appeared to be the first death of an American from the outbreak.

Few details about the American, who died on Thursday, were immediately available. The person was around 60 years old, according to the United States Embassy in Beijing. Two people familiar with the matter said the person was a woman and had underlying health conditions.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” said a spokesman for the embassy. “Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment.”

Chinese car and car-parts factories may stay closed longer than expected because of the coronavirus, increasing the chances that assembly lines in Asia, Europe and the United States could grind to a halt because of shortages of components.

Several automakers including BMW, PSA and Toyota have delayed restarting their assembly lines in China by another week, and others appear likely to follow suit. Even a relatively brief interruption in the flow of parts and materials could have far-reaching effects, analysts said.

The shutdowns at Chinese factories have hit automakers from several angles. The virus is already causing them to lose sales in China, the world’s largest car market by far. If they are forced to shut down factories outside of China because of parts shortages, as Hyundai has already done in South Korea, they could also lose sales in other regions.

The blow to the auto industry, which employs eight million people worldwide, comes at a time when output from the world’s factories is already sagging. It is likely to amplify the human and economic cost of the outbreak.

China’s ruling Communist Party sent two senior officials to Wuhan to reinforce efforts to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control, amid rising public anger over the handling of the crisis.

  • Updated Feb. 5, 2020

    • Where has the virus spread?
      You can track its movement with this map.
    • How is the United States being affected?
      There have been at least a dozen cases. American citizens and permanent residents who fly to the United States from China are now subject to a two-week quarantine.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      Several countries, including the United States, have discouraged travel to China, and several airlines have canceled flights. Many travelers have been left in limbo while looking to change or cancel bookings.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do.

State media reported on Saturday that a deputy head of the National Health Commission, Weng Hesheng, and the general secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, Xhen Yixin, would take charge of the fight to contain the epidemic in Hubei Province, where Wuhan is situated.

It was not immediately clear if the appointments amounted to a reshuffling of the provincial and city leadership or were simply an effort to reinforce officials on the front line. Still, it appeared to be an acknowledgment that the authorities in Wuhan have been overwhelmed as deaths and infections continue to soar.

Mr. Chen was previously party secretary in Wuhan and deputy party secretary for the entire province. Mr. Weng has held a variety of positions overseeing public health and family planning in the city of Tianjin and, since 2016, on the national level.

The appointments came a day after the State Supervisory Committee, a powerful anticorruption body, announced that it would send a team to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a Wuhan doctor, Li Wenliang. Dr. Li was punished by health officials and the police for privately warning colleagues in December about the mysterious new illness that was appearing in Wuhan’s hospitals.

It is rare for the party to react directly to public pressure, but Dr. Li’s death provoked such an outpouring of public anger and grief that it appeared to force the party’s hand.

Hong Kong had already suffered through months of political protests. Its economy is shrinking, and mistrust divides its people from its leaders.

Now the coronavirus is dealing Hong Kong, Asia’s financial capital, another devastating blow. Airlines are cutting service. Schools are closed. Panicked residents are hoarding rice, face masks and — in the latest run — toilet paper.

In the air is a new emotion for a city where the glimmering skyline once seemed to promise riches and opportunity: fear.

“We don’t know when it will end or how much worse it will get,” said Amber Suen, a flight attendant with Cathay Pacific, the beleaguered Hong Kong airline that on Wednesday asked its 27,000 employees to take three-week unpaid furloughs to save money.

The new coronavirus, which has killed hundreds and sickened thousands in mainland China, has been much less prevalent in Hong Kong. One person has died and at least 25 have been infected, mostly while traveling in the mainland. Its hospitals are respected around the world.

The world is not drawing a distinction, however, in part because the city has tightened but not fully closed the border with the mainland.

The multinational companies that helped make the city global are restricting travel there. Some are advising or requiring returning employees to quarantine themselves. And getting to Hong Kong is becoming increasingly difficult. Virgin Australia joined United Airlines and American Airlines in cutting service. Italy has suspended flights from Hong Kong, while the Philippines and Taiwan are requiring arrivals to go into quarantine.

The death toll and the number of infections have grown again, according to official data released early Saturday.

Across China, 86 new deaths and 3,399 new cases emerged in the previous 24 hours, the national health authorities said.

The new figures brought the total number of deaths in China to at least 722. And the total number of confirmed cases rose to 34,546.

Most of the newly reported deaths, 81, occurred in Hubei Province, the heart of the outbreak.

Many doctors believe that deaths and infections in China are undercounted because hospitals and laboratories are under severe strain to test for the virus.

Travelers to Asia, even to countries far from the epicenter of the virus in China, are beginning to reconsider their plans.

Hard data on cancellations is scarce, as airlines, hotels and travel boards say they do not yet have numbers or will not share them. But tour operators, travel insurance brokers and airline employees say they are facing growing numbers of customers changing their plans.

Brian Fitzgerald, president of Overseas Adventure Travel, a company providing group tours to travelers mostly over 50, said it encountered cancellations to China through April in the wake of the outbreak’s announcement. But this week, he said, tourists scheduled to go to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were reconsidering as well.

January data from April Travel Protection, an insurance provider, which tracks residents in the United States traveling to every country in the world, shows that claims with an Asian country in the itinerary more than doubled compared to January 2019.

More than 20 international carriers have suspended or restricted routes that ended in Wuhan and other major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Reporting and research were contributed by Jack Ewing, Alexandra Stevenson, Austin Ramzy, Tiffany May and Emily Palmer.

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