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WHO: Yes, This Is a Global Health Emergency

Makes declaration as 7K are held on cruise ship over coronavirus fears
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2020 1:40 PM CST
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The Costa Smeralda cruise ship is docked in the Civitavecchia port near Rome, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. A couple on board is being screened for coronavirus.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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(Newser) – Russia has closed its 2,615-mile border with China, the first human-to-human transmissions have been confirmed in the US and Europe, the number of cases hit 8,249 and the death toll hit 171, and India and the Philippines reported their first cases. Those are just some of Thursday's updates on the Wuhan coronavirus: CNN reports 7,000 people are being held on a Costa Cruises ship in a port near Rome while a Hong Kong couple, who boarded the cruise ship in Italy after arriving from Macau, are being tested for the virus. The woman, 54, developed a fever and breathing difficulties Wednesday night, Fox News and USA Today report; the ship was on a tour of the western Mediterranean and had already visited Spain. The ship is now docked at Civitavecchia port near Rome, and the cruise line says no one will be allowed to leave until the couple tests negative.

If they're positive, cruise passengers could be quarantined for up to two weeks. Just 10 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, where the government has closed a high-speed rail station that typically connects the city to mainland China. Meanwhile, the US commerce secretary was on Fox Business Channel Thursday noting that while he didn't "want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease," he believes the coronavirus "will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America." That's because companies will want to move operations away from hard-hit locales, says Wilbur Ross. Also Thursday: The World Health Organization met yet again and this time decided to declare the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, NPR reports. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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