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    Canadian officials said Sunday that they are tracking down airline passengers and others who were in close contact with the first person in the country detected with an emerging virus that originated in China. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said the man, who is in his 50's, had mild symptoms when he flew from Wuhan to Guangzhou, China, and then on to Toronto. He was admitted to hospital a day after arriving on a China Southern Airlines flight on Thursday. Officials said Saturday that the man was in stable condition in isolation. Tam said officials are locating passengers who were within a 2-meter radius of the man's seat or anyone who may have served or helped him. Tam said other passengers or people at the airports should not be overly concerned. She said close human-to-human contact is necessary to spread the virus. “Any other passengers should remain calm,” Tam said. She said the risk to Canadians remains low. While the illness was confirmed by a test in Toronto, official confirmation would come after tests by the federal government's National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases in Winnipeg. The new viral illness was identified in China, where it has killed 56 people, and has spread worldwide. Coronaviruses cause diseases ranging from the common cold to SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS first infected people in southern China in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing nearly 800 including 44 Canadians.
  • The French government was meeting Sunday to decide whether to repatriate some 800 French citizens who are living in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a deadly virus. Officials will make “decisions on the methods and how we might do that” at gathering later Sunday called by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn told LCI TV. It would be joining other countries planning for evacuations from Wuhan, which is under lockdown by the Chinese government in an attempt to halt the spread of the pneumonia-like virus that has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000 people. The U.S. Consulate in Wuhan announced it will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight on Tuesday. French hospitals are treating three confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more are likely, officials said. The confirmed cases are all Chinese citizens who recently returned from travels there. French automaker PSA said Saturday it was evacuating its expatriate employees and their families from Wuhan and quarantining them in another city. It did not elaborate. French medical teams on Sunday began meeting passengers arriving on flights from China at Paris' Charles de Gaulle and other airports, a new effort to catch possible cases early on. France has decided not to take the temperatures of arriving passengers because it “provides a false sense of safety,” the health minister said. She said in each of France's three confirmed cases, they arrived without a fever. Buzyn said there was no reason for France's general public to go outside with masks. She also said a decision to cancel a Chinese New Year's fete in Paris, which has a large Chinese population, was not based on a medical decision. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the city's Chinese residents were simply not in the mood for a party, given the spread of the virus. The Chinese community in Rome said there won't be any public celebrations of the Lunar New Year on Feb. 2 either for the same reason.
  • Almost 2,000 cases of a new viral respiratory illness have been confirmed since an outbreak began last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Scientists have identified the illness as a new kind of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others have evolved into more severe illnesses, such as SARS and MERS, although so far the new virus does not appear to be nearly as deadly or contagious. WHAT'S NEW TODAY ___ The National Health Commission said the number of confirmed cases in China rose to nearly 2,000 and the death toll, to 56. ___ The U.S. reported a third case, a man in southern California who traveled from the hard-hit city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. ___ Singapore and South Korea each reported one new case Sunday, while Thailand reported three new cases. ___ The U.S. said it was chartering a plane to fly out its consulate staff and some civilians from the city. France said it was preparing a similar evacuation, possibly by bus. Japan said it too was arranging an evacuation flight. ___ China's health minister said the country was entering a “crucial stage” as “it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.” ___Chinese authorities announced a temporary ban on the trade of wild animals, saying they will “severely investigate and punish” violators. ___ Beijing said it would delay the start of classes after the Lunar New Year holiday ends later this week. ___ Two of Hong Kong's biggest attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, announced they were closing for the time being. ___The International Tennis Federation has moved a regional Fed Cup qualifying event out of China amid travel restrictions caused by the outbreak. The Asian Football Confederation moved an Olympic qualifying event from China to Australia.
  • A patient in Southern California is the third person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the new pneumonia-like virus from China, health officials said. The Centers for Disease Control confirmed a traveler from the Chinese city of Wuhan — the epicenter of the outbreak — tested positive for the virus, the Orange County Health Care Agency announced just before midnight Saturday. The patient is in isolation at a hospital and in good condition, a release from the agency said. The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. It is a member of the coronavirus family that's a close cousin to the deadly SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past. The first known case in California comes on the heels of diagnoses in Washington state, on Jan. 21, and Chicago, on Jan. 24. Both patients — in Washington, a man in his 30s, and in Chicago, a woman in her 60s — had also traveled to China. The death toll from the virus in China is at 56 so far. China has issued massive travel bans in hard-hit sections of that country to try to stem spread of the virus, and the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan announced Sunday that it would evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight. The CDC expects more Americans to be diagnosed with the newly discovered virus, which is believed to have an incubation period of about two weeks, as worldwide the number of confirmed cases nears 2,000. The CDC is screening passengers on direct and connecting flights from Wuhan at five major airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Orange County patient had contacted local health officials, who provided guidance to reduce exposure to the public while awaiting laboratory confirmation from the CDC. The Orange County agency has consulted with the CDC and the California Department of Health and will follow up with people who have had close contact with the patient. Guidance from the CDC advises that people who have had casual contact with the patient are at “minimal risk” for developing infection. There's no evidence that person-to-person transmission occurred in Orange County, and the risk of local transmission remains low, the release said. Further details about the case weren't released. The CDC hadn't added the Southern California case to its summary of U.S. cases as of early Sunday.
  • A new viral illness being watched with a wary eye around the globe accelerated its spread in China on Sunday with 56 deaths so far, while the U.S. Consulate in the city at the epicenter announced it will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight. China's health minister said the country was entering a “crucial stage' as “it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.' Ma Xiaowei declined to estimate how long it would take to bring the situation under control, but said travel restrictions and other strict measures should bring results “at the lowest cost and fastest speed.” President Xi Jinping has called the outbreak a grave situation and said the government was stepping up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to the city at the center of the crisis, Wuhan, which remains on lockdown with no flights, trains or buses in or out. The epidemic has revived memories of the SARS outbreak that originated in China and killed nearly 800 as it spread around the world in 2002 and 2003. Its spread has come amid China's busiest travel period of the year, when millions crisscross the country or head abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday. The latest figures reported Sunday morning cover the previous 24 hours and mark an increase of 15 deaths and 688 cases for a total of 1,975 infections. The government also reported five cases in Hong Kong and two in Macao. Small numbers of cases have been found in Thailand, Taiwan Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, France and Australia. The U.S. has confirmed cases in Washington state, Chicago, and most recently Southern California. Canada said it discovered its first case, a man in his 50s who was in Wuhan before flying to Toronto. Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea each reported one new case Sunday, while Thailand reported three new cases. A notice from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said there would be limited capacity to transport U.S. citizens on a Tuesday flight from Wuhan that will proceed directly to San Francisco. It said that in the event there are not enough seats, priority will be given to to individuals “at greater risk from coronavirus.' The French Consulate also was considering an evacuation of its nationals from the city. It said it's working on arranging a bus service to help French citizens leave Wuhan. French automaker PSA Group said it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. Japan was also making preparations to fly its nationals out of Wuhan. Chinese travel agencies have been told to halt all group tours, and concern is growing over the potential impact of millions of people traveling back to the cities after the Lunar New Year holiday ends on Thursday. China's National Health Commission said anyone traveling from Wuhan is now required to register with community health stations and quarantine themselves at home for 14 days — the virus' maximum incubation period. Beijing has decided to delay the start of classes after the Lunar New Year holiday ends, the official Beijing Daily reported on its website. That will extend to all schools in the capital from kindergartens to universities. Hong Kong announced similar measures on Saturday and on Sunday two of that territory's biggest attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, announced they were closing for the time being. A proposal to possibly quarantine suspected cases and others at a still-unoccupied public housing complex in the Hong Kong suburb of Fanling sparked a protest by area residents. Though largely peaceful, they were joined by black-clad protesters like those who have clashed with police during months of anti-government protests and those protesters set a fire in the lobby of one of the buildings. The fire was extinguished without appearing to cause major damage. Police later moved in n to disperse the group, using pepper spray on occasion. In the heart of the outbreak where 11 million residents are already on lockdown, Wuhan banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday. The city will assign 6,000 taxis to neighborhoods to help people get around if they need to. China cut off trains, planes and other links to the city Jan. 22, and has steadily expanded the lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million — greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined. Wuhan is building two makeshift hospitals with about 1,000 beds each to handle the growing number of patients. The city has said the first is expected to be completed Feb. 3. Medical workers in Wuhan have been among those infected and local media reported a doctor died on Saturday morning. The 62-year-old physician was hospitalized on Jan. 18 and died a week later. Xinhua also said medical supplies are being rushed to the city, including 14,000 protective suits, 110,000 pairs of gloves and masks and goggles. Videos have circulated online showing throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations and there have been complaints that family members had been turned away at hospitals that were at capacity. The National Health Commission said it is bringing in medical teams to help handle the outbreak and the Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, Xinhua reported. The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. First detected last month, the virus is believed to have originated in a type of wild animal sold at a Wuhan market to be consumed as food. Chinese authorities announced a temporary ban on the trade of wild animals Sunday, saying they will “severely investigate and punish” violators. They also called on the public to refrain from eating wild animal meat. Investigators are closely observing whether the virus was mutating, but thus far found “no obvious signs,' that it is doing so, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control, Gao Fu, told reporters. That could make it easier to develop vaccines against the virus, something the center is already working on. Xinhua quoted center official Xu Wenbo as saying the they had isolated the virus and were identifying seed strain. The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the crisis is getting worse but could reflect better monitoring and reporting of the virus. Those killed by the virus have mostly been middle-aged or elderly people, sometimes suffering from other conditions that weaken their ability to fight back. It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. alone. ___ Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto, researcher Henry Hou and video journalist Dake Kang in Beijing and Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this report.
  • France and a major automaker said Saturday that they are moving to get citizens out of a locked-down Chinese city where a deadly outbreak of a new virus originated and has spread worldwide. French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees and their families from Wuhan in central China, quarantine them in another major Chinese city and then bring them back to France. The Foreign Ministry said French officials were studying “eventual options' for all its nationals to leave if they wish. It comes a day after France announced that three cases of the new virus are being treated in two French hospitals — the first confirmed in Europe. All the patients are Chinese who had recently returned from China and are doing well, officials said. A leading infectious disease specialist treating two of the patients said the illness appears less serious than comparable outbreaks in the past, like SARS, and that the chance of a European epidemic appears weak now. The respiratory virus has spread to a handful of other countries from Wuhan, which is under strict rules to isolate the city of 11 million. The virus has sickened more than 1,200 people and killed at least 41. The vast majority of the infections and all the deaths have been in mainland China. The virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses and causes cold- and flu-like symptoms. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. PSA Group did not say how many employees would be part of an evacuation. In a series of tweets, the automaker said transportation, housing and other organizational considerations are being worked out. PSA, which sells its Peugeot and Citroen cars in China, has a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corp. in Wuhan. PSA said it was working closely with Chinese authorities and the French Consulate. The French Foreign Ministry's statement made no mention of PSA's plans. The automaker did not say how long the quarantine period would last. However, French medical experts have said the incubation period for the virus appears to be 14 days. PSA also said it is working with Chinese partner DFM and authorities to take care of Chinese employees. It didn't elaborate. French authorities cautioned against panic at home but were concerned about its citizens in Wuhan and those arriving in France, which has direct flights to China. Starting Sunday, medical teams will be at France's airports, notably Paris' Charles de Gaulle, to help passengers arriving from Chinese cities with questions or medical needs, French health chief Jerome Salomon said. Dr. Yazdan Yazdanpaneh said the two patients at Paris’ Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital are a couple from Wuhan. The 31-year-old man and 30-year-old woman arrived in France on Jan. 18 without symptoms, but developed them soon afterward, the doctor said. They were taken Friday to Bichat and tested positive for the virus, Yazdanpaneh said. The two are staying in separate, specially equipped rooms where air enters but cannot escape to guard against transmission. They are doing well, but Yazdanpaneh could not speculate when they might be released. Ways in which the virus can be transmitted remain unclear. Yazdanpaneh, a leading French expert who heads Bichat’s infectious diseases unit, said that cases imported from China were “not a surprise” and that France had prepared, including by developing a test that provides rapid results for suspected cases. On the other hand, he said, the chance of “an epidemic in France or in Europe is weak, extremely weak.” “This illness is a lot less serious — and we don’t say this based on two patients, but talking to our international colleagues — than, for example, SARS,” Yazdanpaneh said, referring to the 2002 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed hundreds of people. The mortality rate for the virus identified last month is thought to be less than 5%, whereas it was double that for SARS, he said. The “virulence and dangerousness” of the new strand of coronavirus 'is something you evaluate by looking at the number of deaths over the number of infections,' said Jerome Salomon, France's health chief. “The number of deaths is increasing but more slowly than the growing number of cases.” He added that authorities think “there are many more cases than those that have been confirmed, which automatically brings down the mortality rate.” But Salomon stressed a series of unknowns, including the source. “We still need data,” he said. ___ Alex Turnbull in Paris contributed to this report.
  • Chinese authorities announced a temporary ban on the trade of wild animals Sunday following a viral outbreak in Wuhan, saying they will “severely investigate and punish” violators. Local authorities will “strengthen inspections and severely investigate and punish those who are found in violation of the provisions of this announcement,” read the the ban issued by three government agencies. No wildlife can be transported or sold in any markets or online, according to text of the announcement in state media. Suspected violators will be sent to security services, and their will be properties closed and sealed. Legal breeding centers will be quarantined. The ban will continue until “the epidemic situation is lifted nationwide” in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and block potential sources of infection and transmission. The three agencies also opened a hotline where people can report violations, and called on the public to refrain from eating wild animal meat. The agencies are the State Administration of Market Regulation, Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration. The wildlife ban comes as the new virus accelerated its spread in China with 56 deaths, and 1,975 infections. China cut off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan on Wednesday, as well as public transportation within the city, and has steadily expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million — greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined. Demand for wild animals in Asia, especially China, is hastening the extinction of many species, on top of posing a perennial health threat that authorities have failed to fully address despite growing risks of a global pandemic. In an earlier response to the crisis in Wuhan, China’s Agriculture Ministry issued an order for tightened controls on trade in wildlife. A group of 19 prominent researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the nation’s top universities had called for the government in China to crack down on wildlife markets such as the one at the center of the Wuhan outbreak. Illegal trade flourishes in “loopholes” of the legal wildlife trade in China and increases the probability of an outbreak, the group wrote in an open letter posted on Weibo. “This is the hidden danger for the trade and consumption” of wild animals, the letter read. They advocate vastly increasing on-site inspections and government oversight of all wildlife markets. The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, meanwhile, appealed for an end to wildlife markets everywhere, not just in China. Zoonotic diseases, or those contracted by humans that originated in other species, account for a large share of human infectious illnesses. Not all of them come from the wildlife trade: rabies is endemic across many species and one of the biggest causes of death in the developing world. But mixing species of wild animals increases the risk of diseases mutating and growing more virulent as they spread in unregulated markets, experts say. The emergence of such diseases is a “numbers game,” said Christian Walzer, executive director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's health program. “If these markets persist, and human consumption of illegal and unregulated wildlife persists, then the public will continue to face heightened risks from emerging new viruses, potentially more lethal and the source of future pandemic spread,” he said. “These are perfect laboratories for creating opportunities for these viruses to emerge.' Researchers have not yet announced a definitive source for this latest outbreak, which like many other viruses can infect multiple species. One of the first measures taken by Wuhan authorities was to close down the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where 41 of the first cases originated. “That’s the big black box right now,” said Jon Epstein, an epidemiologist with the Ecohealth Alliance. He was in China following the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which was traced to consumption of wild animals in the southern city of Guangzhou. Epstein helped the ongoing global effort over nearly two decades to find the wild source of that virus, which sickened more than 8,000 and killed less than 800. SARS has been linked to various animals, including bats and the cat-like masked palm civet. Bats are known to harbor coronaviruses, but scientists have yet to fully understand the new virus and how it leapt from animals to people. Epstein said researchers suspect but haven’t proven that the Wuhan virus came from bats. Before it infected humans, it likely first jumped to an as yet unidentified mammal. Researchers don't know which species exactly were sold in the Wuhan market, but Epstein said mammals commonly found in such markets—such as ferret badgers, raccoon dogs or civets—might be involved in the transmission of the new virus to people. The crackdown on wildlife trafficking and sales persisted only about six months after the SARS outbreak faded in mid-2003, Walzer said. “The solution is simple,” he said. “In the sense that we know where the problem is.” In cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, there’s little sign of markets catering to gourmands seeking “ye wei,” or “wild flavors.” But in provincial cities and in some parts of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, those determined to eat such exotic dishes can find all sorts of creatures for sale: pangolins, badgers, salamanders, scorpions, hedgehogs and even wolf puppies. A photo of a menu list from a vendor in the Wuhan market called “Wild Game Livestock for the Masses,” circulated online, showed more than 110 species for sale. Court records show that authorities in Hubei, the province where Wuhan is located, investigated 250 cases related to wildlife trafficking and poaching in 2019 alone. According to local media reports, since 2018 an estimated 16,000 wild animals were hunted in the province of more than 60 million people. Hubei is home to Shennongjia, a UNESCO World Heritage nature reserve that is a habitat of great biodiversity with many rare species including the clouded leopard, golden snub-nosed monkey and the Chinese giant salamander. Video footage filmed by a conservation activist in eastern China’s Zhejiang and Anhui provinces, which also have a long tradition of consuming wild species, showed many wild species laid out for inspection in a market. In most cases, vendors are registered to sell some unprotected species, usually a limited amount of just a few, such as hares, wild boar and muntjac, a kind of tiny deer. But enforcement is “not that strict,” said Tian Jiang Ming of the Anti-Poaching Squad, a group of volunteers who visit markets are report on illegal wildlife sales. The illegal offerings tend to be kept hidden away in back freezers, he said. “The vendors are selling illegally poached animals with these licenses in hand,' he told The Associated Press. Only in 2014 did China criminalize consumption of protected species with a law specifying a maximum three-year jail term. But it also has allowed commercial farming of certain species, including tigers — a practice that conservation advocates say encourages illicit trafficking in protected species. It's difficult to secure prosecution since it's hard to prove animals have been poached, Tian Jiang Ming said. “The forestry department needs to prove illegal poaching by the sellers but they don’t have the investigative resources to find them,' he said. ___ Wang and Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok.
  • During the thunderous reception for the celebratory disability-rights documentary “Crip Camp” at the Sundance Film Festival, the loudest response came when disability advocate Judith Heumann, one of the film’s chief personalities, wheeled on stage. “It was as loud as a jet airplane taking off,” Jim LeBrecht, who co-directed the film with Nicole Newnham, said the morning after the film's premiere. Even on a night when Taylor Swift’s “Miss Americana” also debuted, “Crip Camp” caused a stir at the Park City festival. The movie begins as a nostalgic remembrance of Camp Jened, a summer camp for teens with disabilities in upstate New York that, before shuttering in 1977, was run by hippies with much of the spirit of nearby Woodstock. For camp attendees who came with polio, cerebral palsy and other disabilities, Jened was a utopia of acceptance and community. And it helped spark a movement. “Crip Camp” recounts how many of those who went to Jened — including Heumann, a polio survivor, and LeBrecht, born with spina bifida — went on to play prominent roles in the disability-rights movement, culminating in 1990's Americans with Disabilities Act. “Crip Camp” unfolds as a broader chronicle of a decadeslong fight for civil rights that has received less attention than other 20th century struggles for equity. The makers of “Crip Camp,' the second film backed by Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Productions, believe the film can be a galvanizing moment. “I hope this film will ignite other stories,” said Heumann, whose lifetime of advocacy includes successfully suing to become the first wheelchair-using teacher in New York, leading a historic 1977 sit-in and serving as a special adviser on disability rights at the State Department. “These stories are out there.” But by any metric, the stories of people with disabilities are among the least represented in film and television. Last year, USC Annenberg’s annual inequality report found that, of the 4,445 characters in the most popular movies of 2018, just 1.6% were shown with a disability. U.S. census figures estimate 27.2% of Americans have some form of disability. A 2019 study by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that about half of U.S. households favor authentic portrayals of actors with disabilities. Yet Hollywood, where villains are still regularly signaled by deformity, has a long history of unfavorable, stereotyped or inauthentic depictions of disability. “We’ve learned so much about people around us from film and television, and if what you’re getting is just purely stories about people having tragedies — in the case of ‘Million Dollar Baby’: ‘Please kill me. Please, please.’ — or the kind of super, overcoming story that we sometimes call the ‘super-crip’ story, neither of these people are relatable and neither are reflective of the community in general,” said LeBrecht, a Berkeley, California-based sound designer. Heumann, LeBrecht and Newnham hope “Crip Camp” encourages conversations about how movies and media have fostered false impressions of people with disabilities. “There needs to be a fundamental altering in what goes on in media,” said Heumann, who has written about disability representation for the Ford Foundation. “At Sundance, I’m in a room with hundreds and hundreds of progressives who pride themselves on being progressives, who pride themselves on supporting diversity. And the number of people who say — and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this — ‘We didn’t know.’' “Crip Camp” has already effected some change. LeBrecht, having attended previous Sundance festivals, urged the festival to improve accessibility. He previously was unable to go into the festival’s filmmakers lounge because it didn’t have an elevator. Sundance recently announced that it would, with the Ruderman Family Foundation, provide more resources for attendees with disabilities and program more movies featuring people with disabilities. Newnham says a planned campaign around the film’s release later this year on Netflix is intended to further prompt discussion. The change needed goes much deeper than accessibility, she said. It's about reprogramming how the non-disabled think of people with disabilities. “We’re excited that the film seems to be being seen as a celebration of disability culture and pride, and we feel that can go a long way, too,” said the Emmy-winning documentary producer and director. A veteran of the ups and downs of activism, Heumann knows change comes slowly. And she remains frustrated at the movement’s lack of progress. “When I’m truthful, I feel very angry about what’s gone on,” Heumann said. “We’re frequently having to temper our thoughts and our comments because people don’t necessarily want to hear them,' she added. 'People have to be in a certain head space to be willing to have difficult discussions.” But “Crip Camp,” she granted, could be a new beginning for how disability is understood on screen, and off. “Whoever we are,” Heumann said, “we have the ability to make change.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • The new virus from China has the world on edge because it’s a close cousin to viruses that killed hundreds in separate outbreaks. While it’s too early to tell if this latest threat will prove as deadly, health authorities are drawing on lessons from that grim past. WHAT’S THE LINK The new virus comes from a large family of coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. But in late 2002, a coronavirus named SARS erupted in southern China, causing a severe pneumonia that rapidly spread to other countries. It infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774 -- and then it disappeared, thanks to public health measures. In 2012, another coronavirus dubbed MERS began sickening people in Saudi Arabia. It’s still hanging around, causing small numbers of infections each year: The World Health Organization has counted nearly 2,500 cases of MERS in the Middle East and beyond, and more than 850 deaths. So far, deaths from the new virus have been a small fraction of the roughly 1,300 confirmed infections, most of those cases in China. WHERE DO THESE VIRUSES COME FROM? SARS and MERS came from animals, and this newest virus almost certainly did, too. The first people infected visited or worked at a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. SARS initially was traced to civet cats sold in a live animal market, but later scientists decided it probably originated in bats that infected the civets. People can catch MERS from infected camels, although again, bats likely first spread that coronavirus to camels. That animal-to-human jump is a huge concern for all kinds of viruses. Every so often, new strains of bird flu make the jump from Asian live poultry markets to people, for example. “These wildlife markets are a risk,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University, who assisted the WHO and China during the SARS outbreak and advises Saudi Arabia about MERS. HOW SIMILAR ARE THEY? Experts can't yet tell whether the new virus called 2019-nCoV -- it stands for “novel coronavirus” — is more like SARS or MERS. Genetically, they’re all closely related but “they really are different viruses,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. One indication of a virus’ danger is how easily it spreads from person to person. Unlike SARS, “it looks like it doesn’t transmit through the air very easily and probably transmits through close contact,” said Dr. David Heymann, who headed WHO’s global response to SARS. And while it's too soon to be sure, Heymann said the new virus appears most dangerous to older adults who have other health problems. . Complicating matters, if this new virus is fairly mild, it may be harder to stem the spread. That’s because people who aren’t sick enough to see a doctor and thus don't learn they should be isolated could keep spreading it, noted Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, who has consulted for WHO. Nor is there any way to know yet how often people become infected but show no obvious symptoms. 'We may see more mild cases as the surveillance intensifies,' WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Friday in Geneva. “So the issue is not so much really numbers that we know will go up.” IT’S FLU SEASON IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE -- HOW WILL PEOPLE KNOW THE DIFFERENCE? Since symptoms are similar — fever, cough and in more severe cases shortness of breath or pneumonia — it’ll take a medical test to tell. There is one, but health authorities in China, the U.S. and elsewhere are working to make it more widely available. Given that it is flu season in China, too, it's “all the more impressive that they were able to recognize this outbreak quickly,” Dr. Brian Garibaldi of Johns Hopkins University said. Precautions that hospitals often use for flu season and for other infectious diseases should help for this, too, Garibaldi added. For example, in many U.S. hospitals people are given masks if they arrive with a fever and cough during flu season. And a legacy of the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak -- which also resulted in infected travelers -- is that doctors and hospitals are supposed to ask about recent foreign trips. HUNTING VACCINES While there is no vaccine — or specific treatment — for SARS or MERS, Fauci said it is technically possible to create a vaccine against this new virus. NIH did develop a potential vaccine candidate for SARS. It proved safe in a small first-step study in people but never was tested further because by then, the outbreak was ending. This time around, scientists have more of a head start. Just weeks after the first unusual pneumonias were reported, Chinese scientists mapped the genes of the viral suspect and shared them with world health authorities. Now, NIH is among several groups working to create a vaccine for the new virus, using newer and faster technology than was available during SARS. Fauci hopes to begin first-step safety tests in about three months, but something ready for real-world use would take far longer. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
  • China's leader on Saturday called the accelerating spread of a new virus a grave situation, as cities from the outbreak's epicenter in central China to Hong Kong scrambled to contain an illness that has infected more than 1,200 people and killed 41. President Xi Jinping's remarks, reported by state broadcaster CCTV, came at a meeting of Communist Party leaders convened on Lunar New Year — the country's biggest holiday whose celebrations have been muted — and underlined the government's urgent, expanding efforts to control the outbreak. Travel agencies have been told to halt all group tours, the state-owned English-language China Daily newspaper reported, citing the China Association of Travel Services. Millions of people traveling during the holiday have fueled the spread of the outbreak nationwide and overseas after it began in the city of Wuhan in central China. The vast majority of the infections and all the deaths have been in mainland China, but fresh cases are popping up. Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases Saturday — four each —and Japan, its third. Canada reported its first case Saturday in Toronto. Officials said the man is his 50s and recently flew from Wuhan to Guangzhou, China and then on to Toronto on Jan. 23. France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe, and the U.S. identified its second, a woman in Chicago who had returned from China. In the heart of the outbreak where 11 million residents are already on lockdown, Wuhan banned most vehicle use, including private cars, in downtown areas starting Sunday, state media reported. Only authorized vehicles would be permitted, the reports said. The city will assign 6,000 taxis to neighborhoods, under the management of resident committees, to help people get around if they need to, China Daily said. In Hong Kong, leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, the highest one, and close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks on top of next week's Lunar New Year holiday. They will reopen Feb. 17. Lam said direct flights and trains from Wuhan would be blocked. In a sign of the growing strain on Wuhan's health care system, the official Xinhua news agency reported that the city planned to build a second makeshift hospital with about 1,000 beds. The city has said another hospital was expected to be completed Feb. 3. The new virus comes from a large family of what are known as coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal. China cut off trains, planes and other links to Wuhan on Wednesday, as well as public transportation within the city, and has steadily expanded a lockdown to 16 surrounding cities with a combined population of more than 50 million — greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined. China's biggest holiday, Lunar New Year, unfolded Saturday in the shadow of the virus. Authorities canceled a host of events, and closed major tourist destinations and movie theaters. Temples locked their doors, Beijing's Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland closed, and people canceled restaurant reservations ahead of the holiday, normally a time of family reunions, sightseeing trips and other festivities in the country of 1.4 billion people. “We originally planned to go back to my wife’s hometown and bought train tickets to depart this afternoon,” said Li Mengbin, who was on a stroll near the closed Forbidden City. “We ended up canceling. But I’m still happy to celebrate the new year in Beijing, which I hadn’t for several years.” Temples and parks were decorated with red streamers, paper lanterns and booths, but some places started dismantling the decor. People in China wore medical masks to public places like grocery stores, where workers dispensed hand sanitizer to customers. Some parts of the country had checkpoints for temperature readings and made masks mandatory. The National Health Commission reported a jump in the number of infected people, to 1,287. The latest tally, from 29 provinces and cities across China, included 237 patients in serious condition. Of the 41 deaths, 39 have been in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital city. Most of the deaths have been older patients, though a 36-year-old man in Hubei died this week. French automaker PSA Group says it will evacuate its employees from Wuhan, quarantine them and then bring them to France. The Foreign Ministry said it was working on 'eventual options' to evacuate French citizens from Wuhan “who want to leave.” It didn't elaborate. The National Health Commission said it is bringing in medical teams to help handle the outbreak, a day after videos circulating online showed throngs of frantic people in masks lined up for examinations and complaints that family members had been turned away at hospitals that were at capacity. The Chinese military dispatched 450 medical staff, some with experience in past outbreaks, including SARS and Ebola, who arrived in Wuhan late Friday to help treat many patients hospitalized with viral pneumonia, Xinhua reported. Xinhua also said medical supplies are being rushed to the city, including 14,000 protective suits, 110,000 pairs of gloves and masks and goggles. The rapid increase in reported deaths and illnesses does not necessarily mean the crisis is getting worse but could reflect better monitoring and reporting of the virus. It is not clear how lethal the new coronavirus is or even whether it is as dangerous as the ordinary flu, which kills tens of thousands of people every year in the U.S. alone. ___ Associated Press writer Rob Gillies, Associated Press researcher Henry Hou and video journalist Dake Kang contributed to this report.