South Korea Confirms a Jump in Coronavirus Infections

The new figures give the country the second largest number of confirmed cases outside mainland China.

Comments: 74

  1. When the Westerdam was allowed to dock in Cambodia it probably paid a significant fee to the country. Was there also a bribe involved.

  2. @ron With or without any direct financial incentive, there are multiple advantages for Cambodia to receive the Westerdam: 1) Political brownie points with China, 2) Political brownie points with the US as well; 3) Tourism dollars from the disembarked passengers. Had the ship declared an emergency, which would happen if it were turned away till it ran low on fuel, the nearest port would be forced by maritime law to take it, so Cambodia is also savvy to milk the situation in their favour by voluntarily taking it first.

  3. @ron Cambodia is a vassal of China.

  4. The corona virus has spawned political hostility. All the spleen over trade and technology is caught up in the Chinese response to the corona virus. The west's "insulting" messaging they see as unfair and demeaning to China. Trump trade hawks are vociferous that a full scale effort to rein in China is necessary.

  5. The Diamond Princess quarantine strategy was a disaster from the get go. Mixing a growing number of infected passengers with previously heathy passengers, made no sense. Now, everyone is a potential carrier when they leave the ship, and most if not all must enter another quarantine period. On shore. Instead of keeping everyone on the ship for 14 miserable days, they should have categorized people into smaller groups and brought them onshore for quarantine. From the start.

  6. @Andrew B Not sure there is any single city with ability to quarantine 4000 people. Large casinos have enough rooms especially if double occupancy but how do you airtight an entire casino that’s wasn’t design for negative pressure?

  7. @Andrew B All the confirmed cases have been taken off board and sent to health facilities.

  8. @Andrew B Passengers who were not evacuated by their country were released, free to travel and mingle with the public. No quarantine has been required.

  9. It boggles the mind that the Chinese government changed the criteria for counting Coroniavirus cases yet again! This makes it even harder to tell whether we are turning the tide on the virus or not! I don’t even work in health care, and even I can figure that out! The Chinese Communist Party is beyond inept. The only thing they care about is making sure they look good so they retain a grip on power. Meanwhile, the health of the world is at stake and they will have the blood of thousands on their hands.

  10. @L They might have changed it after too many non-COVID-19 patients were misdiagnosed just using CT scan. They are focusing on accuracy and triage so the most dire cases get the needed resources. Academic interest to determine the exact fatality rate are secondary at the moment.

  11. @L This is a story about how inept Japanese government is, and yet you're complaining about Chinese government? I think you should be grateful that Chinese quarantined themselves to prevent the spreading. May God bless all when these ppl with virus return to North America.

  12. Holland American Lines claimed that no passengers on the Westerdam were infected by the COVID-19 virus. Subsequently it was allowed to dock in Cambodia, and passengers were allowed to leave the ship, tour the country, as well as make arrangements to return to their homes. A short time later a passenger from the ship who had flown to Malaysia was found to be infected by the virus. Holland American Lines insisted she be retested, and she was _again_ found to be infected. Physicians believe it is possible she might have infected other passengers. After the initial infection was confirmed, an American man who had worked on the Westerdam and was confined to his hotel in Cambodia, bragged on YouTube that he sneaked out of Cambodia and returned to the USA. The story was verified by a Washington State news source. He claims to have been "cleared by the CDC" and insists that he has no symptoms. This is how epidemics spread and become pandemics.

  13. @Odysseus Has it become a "global pandemic?" Despite daily headlines, no it did not happen. It has been an "infodemic," as one researcher labeled it.

  14. @Paulo It's not over yet.

  15. Now that the Diamond Princess situation has led to loss of life, it is going to be hard to escape a liability situation of some sort or other. I feel that Princess Cruises is not 100% blameless in this because they learned of the first cases diagnosis sometime between 30 Jan and 1 Feb, but chose to continue cruising as normal till arrival in Yokohama, instead of limiting passenger contact at that point to curb spread. The minute crew members were found to be infected, there would also be a need to isolate not just the other crew sharing their sleeping quarters but also the passengers served by the crew who had fallen ill. Granted there isn't a lot of real estate on board but the public rooms aren't in use so they could be converted to temporary crew quarters. Japan should also have mobilized local caterers to provide the food in order to minimize sick crew handling food that becomes a vector throughout the ship. Keeping people feeling "on vacation" in an emergency like this has been costly in the toll of not just deaths but the 29 serious cases from the ship

  16. There are hundreds of inhabitable islands in Japan where tent cities could have been erected for sequestering the healthy from the infected.

  17. Not to mention a lot of big US military installations with the same type of facilities being used to house quarantinees in the US. I never understood why they didn't at least take the Americans off the ship and put them there for two weeks.

  18. Japan did not consult an infectious disease expert to investigate the cruise ship quarantine protocols prior to releasing the passengers. An infectious disease dr from Kobe voluntarily went on-board and found many problems and said the quarantine system was chaotic. When he returned home he put himself in isolation away from his family and coworkers. He warned of the dangerous decision to allow the untested passengers to go free into the Japanese population. Japan respects the chain of command in their bureaucracy to a fault. Decisions are made by people who don't know what they are doing simply because they are the next person in line, the boss. I think this is a perfect example of a bureaucrat who was in charge and made a terrible, rash decision.

  19. This is the same danger the US now faces, since the top scientists, capable managers, and knowledgeable experts who once headed our government have been replaced by political cronies.

  20. @Dustin Mackie We are so in danger with our anti science; anti truth; anti people Republican leaders. They only care about money and power. If they come up with a vaccine that costs $10,000 a dose; then GOP will buy stock in it.

  21. @American2020-- Japan will live to regret this decision!

  22. Why is the CDC reporting the cases in the U.S. only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Why are there only 52 cases pending, and a total of only 427 tests done since January 21, 2020? The CDC keeps saying transmission is not occurring in the USA, but how can they say that when they are not looking? At this point I’m concerned that American health care workers with pneumonia of unclear etiology are not being tested for SARS-CoV19. I keep hoping the press will start looking at what we are doing and not doing. I think the concerns about causing panic exceed the damage caused by lack of transparency. I understand the current test has many false negatives, especially when throat swabs are used and not nasal swabs. I understand home isolation of suspect cases is a solid public health procedure. I worry public health officials are being overconfident in their approach. The death toll is not the only issue, the 20% who get really sick is the terrible part. Our health care system will be overwhelmed leaving heart attack and stroke victims waiting. Health insurance companies are being awfully quiet about their plans.

  23. @Diane Agreed. In response to these concerns that COVID-19 could already be among us, the CDC announced last week that it would do surveillance testing on patients in five cities (NY, Chicago, LA, SF, Seattle) who have pneumonia but negative flu tests. What are the results of these tests? They should be available by now.

  24. Every MAJOR city, and certainly the Nation’s Capital with its high percentage of international residents, should be on that list for more advanced testing. The lack of transparency about US cases is utterly disappointing, but not particularly surprising.

  25. Yes, I would also like to know the results of those tests. They made a big deal out of announcing they were going to do them a couple of weeks ago and would be nice to know results.

  26. I assume the research is being done but just in case shouldn’t we be looking to bats for a start towards a vaccine. How do they get this carry it and don’t die en masse from it.. I realize the strain can be quite different than the one in humans but it should have some common dna.

  27. Shouldn’t questions like - how long does the virus stay alive on surfaces - How far does it travel based on temp, humidity.... - etc, etc be emphatically resolved by now?

  28. Right?!? You would think...

  29. @Rajesh No. The viruses on a surface will die off with something like a half life. It will depend on temperature, humidity, the nature of the surface and any fluid the virus is deposited with. It will depend on how many viruses are needed for it to cause an infection and how many viruses are deposited on the surface. It will also depend on how safe you want to be to be safe with a surface. 90%, 99%, 99.99%?

  30. @Andrew Nielsen Those studies are eminently possible and ideally would be underway. The CDC has the virus growing in cell culture ready to be shared with researchers. Would be nice to know if someone is running those tests.

  31. A vaccine will certainly arrive too late and is just a marketing opportunity for drug giants. The main unsolved problem is how to eradicate the virus reservoir in wild animals. Chinese meat markets and international smuggling of numerous wild and often endangered animals is at the root of this outbreak. Without stopping this criminal activity, unknown viruses will appear in regular intervals. China has to finally take efficient measures to stop the repetitive initiation of pandemics after 20 years of inertia. Prevention means abandoning some pseudo-traditional food habits for the sake of world health. We have to make this clear to the Chinese government and tie it to trade-relations.

  32. 2 of the cruise ship passengers who were infected and let off the ship said the coronavirus response was blown out of proportion and that the flu kills more people than this virus does. Correct on that matter but its many times more deadly and is even more contagious than the flu and to think one of the two commenting is a nurse. I suggest that this person go back to nursing school and study harder, this type of lackadaisical attitude is what will cause a world wide pandemic. Stupid fools. The U.S. is ripe for a massive pandemic. Just think, the low percentage of people not even washing their hands after using the bathroom guarantees a pandemic. Wash your hands; don't wear a mask is the mantra pushed by medical professionals. I agree but the dirty and unsanitary habits of most Americans in general needs to change and where have these medical professionals been regarding that? Nowhere!! Humans seem to be hell bent on self destruction, good common sense doesn't exist, just superstition and old bad habits.

  33. All those comments criticising China for their lack of transparency need to stop and ask themselves would Trump and his sycophants behave any differently.

  34. @Chris apparently not ^^

  35. Why is the US # of infected staying at 15 when that is clearly no longer true? The infected American passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess and transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha are not being counted in the total # of infections. (At least according to the Johns Hopkins map: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6 ) They were included on the map for a hot second and now they've mysteriously vanished. Everyone keeps claiming and reporting that China is trying to minimize the # of infections by changing the way cases are counted. Isn't America doing exactly the same thing by keeping those Americans classified as part of the "Other" category instead of including them in the general American count of cases? They are on American soil. They are in an American hospital. They should be counted as American cases.

  36. @Sofia I believe the infections are recorded in the country where they are diagnosed. Therefore, the 14 U.S. passengers were recorded in Japan.

  37. It is very puzzling these undercounts, to be sure. About as infuriating and clueless as expert engineers continuing to push out euphemisms e.g., certain people’s ‘propensity’ to spew more germs, or certain people’s immune systems more ‘exuberant’ to explain the spread and lethality of this virus. I’m almost convinced the experts know next to nothing about this epidemic; so instead, they busy themselves with avoiding panic and fudging numbers.

  38. The real problem is in cambodia and laos and north korea where the leaders refuse to acknowledge any cases, close hospitals where they are diagnosed and manipulate labs that report results....they will become huge centers of infection in a few months... unlike South Korea.

  39. Frank King's lack of judgment and his total inability to comprehend the enormity of his moral and ethical lapse in breaking quarantine is astounding. From the interviews he has given since returning home, it is clear that he still has no understanding that what he did was wrong, selfish, and stupid. He may have put tens of thousands of people at risk (fellow passengers on his two flights, passengers on subsequent flights of the same aircraft, people in three airports, and all the people each of those people subsequently came into contact with), based on his intuition that he "felt fine." How can somebody who was so personally impacted by COVID-19 be so incredibly ignorant of the virus's virulence and of its ability to be transmitted by people who are also asymptomatic?

  40. Some people are immune to brain-eating virus. How could it be so?

  41. @Jay Ethics aside (God help us), if we just look at this from a economic standpoint (as so many people are wont to do these days), he's now taking resources away from the over-extended organizations working hard to contain this virus. Including our own CDC, i.e. our own tax dollars.

  42. Death rate = deaths / (deaths+recoveries) = 2000 / (2000+15000) = 11%. But try getting the WHO or The New York Times or, God forbid, an op ed to say that!

  43. You have a point in not counting the people currently contaminated. One can’t know how a person just tested positive will turn out.

  44. @Andrew Nielsen What a ridiculous calculation. It's meaningless fear mongering.

  45. @Andrew Nielsen : Also, one has to wonder what the death rate will be when the medical system becomes so overwhelmed with patients that they can't be treated at the current levels of support.

  46. So much finger pointing when it is China and China alone that created this disaster with all their secrecy.

  47. What's taking people so long to realize that this virus scare might just be another hoax, an alternative to the climate change attempted coup, that scientists are cooking up to take over control of the world?

  48. @smartypants Imagine the world controlled by scientists, not megalomaniac politicians. Scary isn't it?

  49. @smartypants: If you're auditioning a stand-up routine, you might want to try another career.

  50. @Lisa Simeone good one

  51. Cruise ships have long been festering reservoirs of disease, in addition to being appalling polluters. Time to abolish the entire industry.

  52. I just have this feeling we are slow walking our selves into a crisis with the C and D team out on the field. This could get really ugly as the people in charge don’t believe in science, just ask them about climate change and the role of greenhouse gases.

  53. I just love the photos of all the supposedly "healthy" passengers going off in buses driven by people in hazmat suits.

  54. Yes, especially passengers wearing their N95 masks incorrectly. Did they not get proper instructions on how to wear these masks? I am sure there were language issues but a simple IKEA-esque illustrated how-to-wear-N95 would have helped.

  55. The Summer Olympic Games is scheduled to begin in Tokyo at the end of July and go through the beginning of August. Will the Games have to be canceled or rescheduled because of this deadly disease?

  56. I am a Japanese resident living in central Tokyo near the Olympic Stadium. The Summer Olympics should be cancelled or be relocated to London since they kindly offered their city as an alternate location. This Tokyo Summer Olympics is already saddled with corruption, negligence, and overspending. The egotistical Abe administration & bureaucrats will definitely try to hide the real infection # in Japan & bribe IOC to go forward with the Summer Olympics without any regard to the overall well-being of Japanese residents, athletes & tourists from around the globe. The Olympics is just a sporting event. It is not worth jeopardizing the health of so many people. Obviously, COVID-19 could be contained by July. If not, cancel or relocate.

  57. What's happening in Daegu, South Korea is concerning, but it will yield reliable data on transmissions. The cluster in Japan took place in a cruise ship but the one in Daegu happened in a much more representative place (church and then to surrounding areas). With so much expertise and journalists, what unfolds in Daegu will teach us a lot about what strategies work and whether if the virus can be contained once it spreads into the population. It may just be that we're going to see a pandemic, and we'll have to live with the virus and pivot towards treatment and vaccine.

  58. Western resistance to quarantine is based on historical abuses, some of which were racist while others simply reflected the likelihood of transmission within sequestered communities and the crowded living quarters of sojourners who understandably lived with maximum economy. But guilt is not science. Quarantines have been used and useful for centuries, and can now be conducted with the aid of informed science instead of just fear. Hand washing is effective but mostly voluntary and creates vulnerability through non-compliance. Isolation is effective until latency outruns it. While draconian, quarantine needs to remain in the toolbox.

  59. What a lovely simple, and sad commentary. I wish the best for her and especially her grand parents. We are the lucky ones in the far East of the USA so far and I believe this flu will be contained and end soon. The world has many brilliant people working on the vacccine.

  60. I thank NYT for comprehensive reporting from around the globe on this Wuhan virus. I think, in 2 years - when researchers study global response to combating this virus - we may find some very interesting results. And some may show that all this quarantine was over done. And if response to it was similar - and more, crucially, not panicky - to a flu epidemic might have been more effective. Also, earlier reports have shown that Wuhan virus is most effective in cold weather or environment. I know most of the northern world including China is in winter with cold temperatures. I wonder if Chinese or any researchers are doing a case study that if hospitals or facilities are warned up - spread of Wuhan virus diminishes considerably or even stops.

  61. @Neil Neil, Laurie Garrett, an infectious disease specialist, and Harvard beg to differ: 'So, #Trump said #COVID19 would "go away in April" when China gets hotter. Nope. "Sustained transmission & rapid growth of cases are possible over a range of humidity conditions...changes in weather alone will not lead to declines in case counts."' https://twitter.com/Laurie_Garrett/status/1230006267323854848

  62. Sounds like 2 naught spread guess was premature. Air ducts, sewer pipes long residual look like a scary resilient bug situation.

  63. I am relatively certain that whatever may be the primary agent of this virus transmission one-to-another, very likely has nothing to do with someone’s ‘propensity’ to spew germs. What does that even mean. I am relatively certain, also, it is not the case that fewer infections by this virus occur in people whose immune systems are more ‘exuberant’. Is this the kind of science explanations we can expect from the experts, that there is a genie in certain people who thereby spew more germs; a genie that makes some people’s immunity stronger? Are we to believe of all the data from thousands of cases globally, that the so call experts cannot identify the patterns of transmission? Maybe we need to jettison the change agents and newly baked engineers at NIH and WHO, etc., and get some real medical researchers who know how to figure out this epidemic. One thing in this article is crystal clear, that the experts cited therein appear to know nothing, thus their reliance upon euphemisms to explain something that needs hard science. If we only knew of all their spectacular failures of the past, more of us would demand some meaningful action for the big salaries and fame.

  64. We have a trip to Seoul coming up in March and the NYT’s coverage of what’s happening has been very helpful in keeping us informed without fear, it’s seeming more likely that we will postpone. I hope we all remember to be compassionate during this time. For those interested in up-to-date South Korea stats you can visit http://www.seoul.go.kr/coronaV/coronaStatus.do - Chrome can translate the page to other languages if necessary.

  65. >China changes the way how they count victims again Amazing transparency. Well done President Xi. No country has ever been as transparent as China and the CCP. - WHO

  66. China handled an incident in 2004 that enlightens. In April 2004 the SARS virus escaped a BSL3 lab in Beijing at least three times. That led to doubts about the biosafety and biosecurity at Chinese virus labs. China invited WHO experts to the lab to analyze the incidents. WHO investigators had full access. China had been accused of not being forthcoming and forthright in the 2002 SARS outbreak. The new outbreak of SARS in Beijing was the fault of a series of flaws at the CDC's National Institute of Virology. Other lab scientists wanted details about these new 2004 SARS infections and how the virus escaped the lab. That was their opportunity to learn. That information was not disclosed. Nearly 16 years later. Why hasn’t China allowed WHO investigators to access the Wuhan Institute of Virology BSL4 labs - although some suspect the new coronavirus might have started there? Investigators could rule out the lab as being complicit or implicate it. Instead, the visiting WHO team were shown only the Wuhan Airport, Zhongnan hospital, Hubei provincial CDC, including a BSL3 laboratory in China’s Center for Disease Control (CDC).

  67. @ notsoimportant Confused. With the help of the World Health Organization, was China able to determine how the contagion was released and prevent future mistakes? How does this example of international cooperation make the US CDC at fault for China’s reticence to seek help for a global problem? Isn’t doing our best to safeguard the national health paramount?

  68. Because face is more important to the Chinese government than human lives, human rights, or human decency. If we want China to stop putting the world at risk - with their highest-in-the-world carbon emissions, or despicable live-animal market incubators (twice now) of deadly pandemics, or catastrophically filthy and cruel animal farming leading to disease sweeping through a billion-plus pigs: we will have to force them. Trump muscling China is boorish and misplaced, but it does show that they will respond to our pressuring them ... while we still can. America has to get out from under the sway of corporations who profit from China’s de facto slave labor and lax pollution control and stand up for our safety, our jobs, and our planet.

  69. @Notsoimportant Good God, people repeating the same fake news that the article just repudiated. At this point it is either they never read news from reputable source or they just have ax to grind.

  70. Do not believe any numbers whatsoever coming from the Chinese government. Sad but true. They want all news to sound upbeat, things are getting better, or, at least, not getting worse variety. But history (and present day) tells us, not to trust them, at all. This is what a non-transparent self-serving tyrannical government brings the world - disease and distrust. We need the WHO to step up. To stop praising the Chinese and bring some...health to the world.

  71. New age of sycophants at the WHO, corrupted by China’s influence.

  72. Good luck with you! Hope you never get ill!

  73. @Moosh Agreed! Anything coming from China is never to be trusted!