Coronavirus Updates: As Virus Spreads Globally, Governments Shift Focus to Containment

With the threat of a full-scale pandemic growing by the day, governments around the world shifted their focus on Tuesday to devising plans to contain the spread of the new coronavirus rather than to stamp it out, and to do so without causing widespread social disruption and economic upheaval.

In the United States, where there are now more than 100 confirmed cases in 15 states and six deaths linked to the virus, the Trump administration sought to project an image of control even as concerns emerged about early missteps, including defective diagnostic kits and highly restrictive rules for administering the tests, both of which may have contributed to the early spread of the virus.

Major cities across China have announced new travel restrictions on people who have recently visited countries where coronavirus infections are on the rise.

More than 500 Hong Kong residents stranded in Hubei Province for more than a month will be repatriated on charter flights in the coming days, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s top official, announced on Tuesday.

Those scheduled for repatriation include pregnant women, people requiring medical treatment or surgery, and 11 students scheduled to take university entrance exams, said Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs.

The evacuation comes after weeks of planning and mounting pressure from lawmakers. The Hong Kong government had previously cited public health risks and logistical challenges, as well as inadequate quarantine facilities, as a reason for not acting sooner.

“We do not feel that we have delayed the return of Hong Kong people stranded in Hubei,” Mrs. Lam said. “As you are aware, even up to this point, Hubei Province, particularly the city of Wuhan, is still under a very challenging situation,” she added, referring to the region at the center of the outbreak in China.

The evacuated residents will be quarantined at a converted public housing estate in the New Territories district of Fo Tan.

President Trump spoke about his efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus in the United States during a rally on Monday evening in Charlotte, N.C.:

My administration is also taking the most aggressive action in modern history to protect Americans from the coronavirus. You know about this whole thing, horrible. Including sweeping travel restrictions. Today, we met with the big great pharmaceutical companies, and they’re really working hard and they’re working smart, and we had some — we had a great meeting today with a lot of the great companies and they could have vaccines I think relatively soon.

And they’re going to have something that makes you better, and that’s going to actually take place we think even sooner. So it’s — a lot of good things are happening. But we have strong borders and really are tough, and early actions have really been proven to be 100 percent right. We went out, we’re doing everything in our power to keep the sick and infected people from coming into our country. We’re working on that very hard.

He later added:

My job is to protect the health of American patients and Americans first. Washington Democrats are trying to politicize the coronavirus, denigrating the noble work of our public health professionals, but honestly not so much anymore. Everyone appreciates — these are the greatest professionals in the world at what they do.

And continued:

We’re going to reduce the severity of what’s happening. The duration of the virus, we discussed all of these things, we will bring these therapies to market as rapidly as possible. And I have to say with a thriving economy, the way it is, and the most advanced health system on Earth, America is so resilient, we know what we’re doing. We have the greatest people on Earth, the greatest health system on Earth.