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Coronavirus death reported in Taiwan, US cruise passengers released from quarantine

Posted at 8:59 AM, Feb 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 10:59:39-05

Another coronavirus-related death was reported outside of China this weekend.

An unidentified man in his 60s was first admitted to a hospital on Feb. 3 after he developed a cough a week earlier, Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare said in a statement. He died from the virus on Saturday, and his remains will be reserved for further medical testing, according to the statement.

This death is the fourth reported coronavirus fatality to take place outside mainland China. France reported a coronavirus fatality Sunday and the World Health Organization (WHO) said Japan and the Philippines both recorded deaths. As of Sunday morning, China has 1,524 reported coronavirus fatalities and nearly 67,000 cases, the WHO said.

Health officials and businesses around the globe continued to contain the virus and treat any patient who may have contracted the disease. The first group of the 400 U.S. passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked at the port of Yokohama in Japan for quarantine since Feb. 3, were allowed to leave the boat Sunday morning.

They were bused to the airport, tested for any symptoms and, if cleared, will be flown to Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, U.S. officials said. The U.S. will provide those passengers free, chartered flights back to America until March 4, and symptomatic passengers will remain in care in Japan, according to a letter sent out by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

At least 285 people onboard the Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus as of Sunday morning, and the boat's owners, Princess Cruises, said it will cancel all trips until April 20 because of the quarantine period.

"We are preparing Diamond Princess to return to service April 29, 2020 for the start of Japan's annual Golden Week celebrations," the company said in a statement released Saturday night.

There are 15 reported cases in the U.S. as of Sunday morning, according to the WHO. Chicago officials announced Saturday night that two patients who contracted the virus were released from home isolation after eight days.

One of those two, an unidentified woman in her 60s, had visited Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, and transmitted the disease to her husband, according to health officials. They both tested negative for the virus, following their treatment and isolation, according to Dr. Terry Mason, the chief operating officer for the Chicago Department of Public Health.

"They have been through a lot. We thank them, and everyone else involved, for their cooperation throughout the process," he said in a statement.