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Cruise Ship With No Coronavirus Cases Rejected at Multiple Ports

Newser — Jenn Gidman

Coronavirus now has an official name from the World Health Organization—COVID-19—though the WHO also has been using an unofficial moniker: "public enemy No. 1." That's what Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group's director-general, called the outbreak Tuesday at a Geneva press conference, per NBC News.

The death toll in China, where the illness is most prevalent, is now upward of 1,110, Chinese health officials say, and more than 500 cases and two fatalities have been reported outside of that country.

"A virus is more powerful in creating political, economic, and social upheaval than any terrorist attack," Ghebreyesus said at the presser. "If the world doesn't want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy No. 1, I don't think we will learn from our lesson." More on the epidemic:

  • Glimpse of hope: There were 2,015 new cases reported in China on Wednesday, but that's actually a sliver of good news, notes Reuters, as it was the lowest daily rise in almost two weeks.

That may bode well, with a possible dying-down of the outbreak by the end of April, according to certain estimates, though some experts warn this is just the beginning of coronavirus-related problems in other areas.

  • Tracing the 'hot spots': The New York Times reports the coronavirus hasn't only been tied to a "misery cruise" on the Diamond Princess, where close to 175 people have been diagnosed, but also to other specific buildings around the world, including a Hong Kong apartment building, a French ski chalet, and a department store in China.

None of these places are near Wuhan, the outbreak's epicenter, leading to new fears on how, and how fast, this disease can spread.

  • Cornering a conduit: In the case of the Hong Kong apartment building, health officials think they've pinpointed how the virus is spreading: via building pipes.

Per CNN and the Times, a 62-year-old woman found to have been infected had an unsealed pipe in her bathroom, which was 10 floors below the apartment of a 75-year-old man who'd already been diagnosed.

CNN notes pipes were "a major source of transmission" during the 2003 SARS outbreak.

  • Stranded: Another cruise ship, Holland America's MS Westerdam (which has 650 Americans aboard), wasn't allowed to dock in Thailand on Tuesday, even though no one on the ship has been officially diagnosed, per NBC.

The ship, which originally set sail from Hong Kong, had earlier been turned away from Shanghai, the Philippines, and Guam, USA Today reports. It reportedly will be allowed to dock and disembark in Cambodia.

  • Nasty side effect: Harassment of members of the Asian community has been on the rise due to the epidemic, NBC reports.

Those who've found themselves the targets of xenophobic abuse are sharing their stories.

  • Images of isolation: Intelligencer hosts a photo showcase out of Wuhan, which has been locked down to keep the illness from spreading.

The pictorial shows mask-filled scenes from when residents get bold enough to venture outside.

  • Just ... no: Two teen pranksters wearing hazmat suits pretended to accidentally spill a bucket of liquid containing the coronavirus on the floor of a New York City subway, sending some passengers screaming.

Other riders didn't seem as perturbed, with some even laughing. One noted, "That better be Kool-Aid" (the two teens tell Insider that's actually what it was); video here.

"At the end of the day it was a joke," 17-year-old David Flores says of his antics with Morris Cordewell, 19. Not everyone appreciates their sense of humor.

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This article originally appeared on Newser: Cruise Ship With No Coronavirus Cases Rejected at Multiple Ports