Nurses walk inside a quarantine room for coronavirus patients at finished but still unused building A2 of the Shanghai clinic
Nurses walk inside a quarantine room for coronavirus patients at finished but still unused building A2 of the Shanghai Public Clinical Center, in Shanghai, China, Feb. 17, 2020.

Chinese health officials reported Tuesday the number of confirmed cases from a coronavirus outbreak has surpassed 71,000, with the death toll rising to more than 1,800.

About 11,000 of those infected have already recovered from the virus.

China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported Tuesday 93 more deaths as more health care workers arrived to help a medical system that has been under intense pressure since the first cases were discovered in late December.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Monday the Chinese data appears to indicate a decline in new cases, however, he said the trend "must be interpreted very cautiously."

"Trends can change as new populations are affected. It is too early to tell if this reported decline will continue. Every scenario is still on the table," he said.

He described the outbreak as "very serious" with the "potential to grow" but said it was mostly confined to Hubei province.

"Outside Hubei, this epidemic is affecting a very, very tiny, tiny proportion of people," he said.

The majority of the cases found outside of China have been passengers on a cruise ship under quarantine in Yokohama, Japan.

A woman wearing a protective face mask receives a temperature check from a security guard as she enters Qianmen Street, a popular tourist spot, in Beijing, Feb. 16, 2020.
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American cruise ship passengers return to U.S. 

The United States said Monday it had evacuated more than 300 of its citizens and their immediate family members who had been onboard the Diamond Princess. One flight carrying the passengers arrived early Monday at Travis Air Force Base in California, while another landed hours later at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

A group of 14 people who did not show symptoms, but did test positive for the virus, were allowed on the flights in an area isolated from the rest of the passengers. All of the evacuees will be under quarantine for 14 days.

With 99 new cases reported by Japanese officials Monday, a total of 454 of the 3,700 people on the cruise ship have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Australia announced Monday it would also be evacuating its citizens from the ship. Canada, Italy, South Korea and Hong Kong are planning their own evacuation efforts.

The U.S. State Department is also looking into the case of a U.S. citizen who was diagnosed with the coronavirus after departing another cruise ship, the Westerdam, whose passengers tested negative for the virus before disembarking in Cambodia.

Malaysian medical authorities said the passenger, an 83-year-old woman, twice tested positive for the virus upon arriving in Malaysia after showing signs of a viral infection, a State Department spokesperson said Sunday. She is the first person from the Westerdam to test positive. Her husband tested negative.

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The spokesperson said U.S. authorities to not have "sufficient evidence to determine when the passenger may have been exposed and where." The American patient remains in Malaysia where she is receiving treatment.

The World Health Organization said Sunday a team of international experts arrived in Beijing to meet with Chinese officials.

A group of ambulances from the Solano EMS Cooperative stage at the visitor center at Travis Air Force Base, adjacent to Fairfield, California, Feb. 16, 2020.

WHO needs more info on virus

WHO head Tedros said the hope is to collaborate on boosting international knowledge about the outbreak. He has called for the international community to work together and "be guided by solidarity, not stigma."

While China has recently been complimented for the way it has handled the outbreak and its efforts to contain it, the WHO is still asking for more information on how China is making its diagnoses.

Chinese state media Saturday published a speech President Xi Jinping made Feb. 3 that shows Chinese authorities knew more about the seriousness of the coronavirus at least two weeks before it made the dangers known to the public. It wasn't until late January that officials said the virus could spread between humans.

In his Jan. 7 speech, Xi ordered the shutdown of the cities most affected by the virus. Those lockdowns began Jan. 23.

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