The death toll in China's virus outbreak rose to 259 on Saturday and Beijing criticized Washington's tightening of travel controls to bar most foreign nationals who visited the country within the past two weeks.
South Korea and India evacuated their citizens from the locked-down Chinese city at the center of an area where some 50 million people are barred from leaving in a sweeping anti-disease effort. Indonesia was sending a plane.
The number of confirmed infections in China rose to 11,791.
The United States declared a public health emergency Friday and President Donald Trump signed an order barring entry to foreign nationals, other than immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days, which scientists say is the longest incubation period for the virus.
China's government criticized the measure, which it said contradicted the World Health Organization's appeal to avoid travel bans, and "unfriendly comments" that Beijing was failing to cooperate.
"Just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the U.S. rushed to go in the opposite way. Certainly not a gesture of goodwill," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Japan's government announced similar restrictions late Friday barring entry to foreigners who visited Hubei province within the past two weeks or obtained visas issued there.
Also Saturday, the ruling Communist Party postponed the end of the Lunar New Year holiday in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, for an unspecified "appropriate extent" and appealed to the public there to stay home.
The holiday ends Sunday in the rest of the country following a three-day extension to postpone the return to factories and offices by hundreds of millions of Chinese workers. The official Xinhua News Agency said people in Hubei who work outside the province also were given an extended holiday.
The party's decision "highlighted the importance of prevention and control of the epidemic among travelers," Xinhua said.
Americans returning from China will be allowed into the country, but will face screening at select ports of entry and required to undertake 14 days of self-screening. Those returning from Hubei will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Beginning Sunday, the United States will direct flights from China to seven major airports where passengers can be screened.
The WHO has declared the outbreak a global emergency.
The U.S. order followed a travel advisory for Americans to consider leaving China. Japan and Germany also advised against non-essential travel and Britain did as well, except for Hong Kong and Macao.
Singapore, a popular tourism and shopping destination, barred Chinese travelers, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to do so.
A plane carrying Indians from Wuhan landed in New Delhi. The government said they would be quarantined for two weeks in a facility set up in a nearby city, Manesar.
South Korea's second evacuation flight landed in Seoul with 330 people from Wuhan. They were to be screened for fever before being taken to two quarantine centers.
South Korea reported its 12th case of the new coronavirus on Saturday, which appeared to be a human-to-human transmission. Australia reported its ninth case.
South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the new patient was a 49-year-old Chinese national who works at a tour guide. He returned to South Korea on Jan. 19 from a business trip to Japan, where he contacted a Japanese citizen who was later tested positive for the virus.
South Korea reported five new cases on Friday, including three human-to-human transmissions.
Since China informed WHO about the new virus in late December, at least 23 countries have reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.
Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China, and WHO noted with its emergency declaration Thursday it was especially concerned that some cases abroad also involved human-to-human transmission.
WHO defines an international emergency as an "extraordinary event" that poses a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.
The Trump administration announced Friday that it was restricting immigrants from six additional countries that officials said failed to meet minimum security standards, as part of an election-year push to further clamp down immigration.
Officials said immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania will face new restrictions in obtaining certain visas to come to the United States. But it is not a total travel ban, unlike President Donald Trump's earlier effort that generated outrage around the world for targeting Muslims.
Trump signed a proclamation on the restrictions Friday; they go into effect Feb. 21
The announcement came as Trump tries to promote his crackdown on immigration, highlighting a signature issue that motivated supporters in 2016 and hoping it has the same effect this November. The administration recently announced birth tourism restrictions, is touting the sharp decline in crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border and citing progress on building the border wall.
"It is fundamental to national security, and the height of common sense, that if a foreign nation wishes to receive the benefits of immigration and travel to the United States, it must satisfy basic security conditions outlined by America's law enforcement and intelligence professionals," the White House said in a statement.
Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea and Nigeria would have all immigrant visas suspended; those are applicants seeking to live in the U.S. permanently. They include visas for people sponsored by family members or employers as well as the diversity visa program that made up to 55,000 visas available in the most recent lottery. In December, for example, 40,666 immigrant visas were granted worldwide.
Sudan and Tanzania will have diversity visas suspended. The State Department uses a computer drawing to select people from around the world for up to 55,000 diversity visas. Nigeria is already excluded from the lottery along with other countries that had more than 50,000 natives immigrate to the U.S. in the previous five years.
Nonimmigrant visas were not affected — awarded to those traveling to the U.S. for a temporary stay. They include visas for tourists, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment. During December, for example, about 650,760 nonimmigrant visas were granted worldwide.
The new restrictions were swiftly met with criticism from immigrant advocates who slammed them as a new Muslim ban.
Sudan and Kyrgyzstan are majority-Muslim countries. Nigeria, the seventh-most populous nation in the world with more than 200 million people, is about evenly split between Christians and Muslims but has the world's fifth-largest population of Muslims, according to the Pew Research Center.
Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project, said the previous visa restrictions should not be expanded.
"President Trump is doubling down on his signature anti-Muslim policy — and using the ban as a way to put even more of his prejudices into practice by excluding more communities of color," he said. "Families, universities, and businesses in the United States are paying an ever-higher price for President Trump's ignorance and racism."
Nigeria has nothing in common with the other nations, said David Olowokere, chairman of the engineering technologies department at Texas Southern University in Houston. The Nigerian economy is Africa's largest, with a 2019 gross domestic product of almost $445 billion.
"You can't develop as rapidly as Nigeria without having some growth problems," said the Nigerian-born professor. "But you can't put Nigeria in the same category as those other countries.
"I can tell you that any Nigerian would think that this does not make any sense," Olowokere said.
Rumors swirled for weeks about a potential new ban, and initially Belarus was considered. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was headed to the Eastern European nation as the restrictions were announced, and Belarus was not on the list.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Homeland Security officials would work with the countries on bolstering their security requirements to help them work to get off the list. Wolf said some nations were able to comply with the new standards in time.
"These countries for the most part want to be helpful, they want to do the right thing, they have relationships with the U.S., but for a variety of different reasons failed to meet those minimum requirements," Wolf said.
The current restrictions follow Trump's travel ban, which the Supreme Court upheld as lawful in 2018. They are significantly softer than Trump's initial ban, which had suspended travel from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days, blocked refugee admissions for 120 days, and suspended travel from Syria. The government suspended most immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to applicants from those countries. Exceptions are available for students and those with "significant contacts" in the U.S.
Trump has said a travel ban is necessary to protect Americans. But opponents have argued that he seeks to target Muslim countries, pointing to comments he made as a candidate in 2015 calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
The seven countries in the ban include nations with little or no diplomatic relationship to the U.S. and five majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
Wolf said immigrant visas were chosen because people with those visa are the most difficult to remove after arriving in the United States.
The initial ban was immediately blocked by the courts and led to a monthslong process to develop clear standards and federal review processes to try to withstand legal muster.
Wolf said officials examined countries for compliance with minimum standards for identification and information-sharing, and assessed whether countries properly tracked terrorism or public safety risks. Officials looked at whether countries used modern passports, shared information that the U.S. could validate on travelers and identified possible criminal suspects in a way that the U.S. could see before entry. They evaluated responses and ranked nations.
Government agencies then discussed whether countries had different, but important, contacts with the U.S. and then decided on restrictions.
"Really the only way to mitigate the risk is to impose these travel restrictions," Wolf said.
The announcement had been expected around the third anniversary of the Jan. 27, 2017, enactment of the first order.
David Bier, an immigration policy analyst with the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, said the expansion had no foundation and had "even less of a rational basis than all its prior iterations."
"This list of nations has no foundation in the security factors on which it was supposed to based," he said. "It's just another arbitrary exercise designed to keep out legal immigrants."
Some prominent British and international media organizations pushed back Friday against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's handling of a prerecorded video message to mark Britain's departure from the European Union.
The Associated Press and several other major news outlets declined to air the government-provided video, which was recorded the previous day at Johnson's official residence, 10 Downing Street. Johnson's press team broke with usual procedures by refusing to allow independent media outlets to film or photograph the statement.
The BBC and commercial rival ITN declined to air any video of the address. Sky News and other organizations ran short clips. News agencies including Reuters and AFP also decided against using the footage.
Johnson did not answer reporters' questions about Brexit during two events Friday as Britain neared its 11 p.m. split from the EU after more than three years of painstaking negotiations with EU leaders and a prolonged political stalemate in Parliament.
His office planned to make the video available on the prime minister's official Facebook page and distributed it via email to news outlets.
AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton said "an essential role of a free press in a democracy is to have access to and question public officials and hold them to account."
"When access to those officials is restricted, so is the public's fundamental right to know about what is happening inside their government. Government handout video and photos, by their very nature, restrict the access of independent news organizations," she said.
Decisions by politicians to eliminate the media from the process, often facilitated by the broad appeal of social media, are becoming more common.
Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute in Washington, cited a trend of people in power, particularly those with authoritarian tendencies, seeking to bypass the press to speak directly to their audiences.
"Increasingly you are speaking to audiences that already like you," Rosenstiel said. "The people who don't like Boris Johnson are not going to watch the Facebook video."
In the U.S., President Donald Trump tweets out his thoughts on a daily basis and frequently speaks to reporters at White House events. Those encounters vary in length, and he avoids formal news conferences.
A briefing by the White House press secretary, a question-and-answer session held on an almost daily basis by earlier administrations, has not happened in nearly a year.
In Europe, journalists were excluded from a major ceremonial event last Friday. No media organizations were present when the chiefs of two of the European Union's main institutions signed the Brexit divorce agreement.
Instead, European Council President Charles Michel tweeted photos of the overnight signing with the president of the EU's executive commission, Ursula von der Leyen, witnessed by Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
The EU rejected repeated media requests for access to the signing.
What's to blame for scores of wildfires devastating Australia's southeast?
There's an increasingly bitter face-off between those who say arson and those who fault climate change.
Each side has powerful backers and their weapons of choice are often fabrications and part-truths that have spread in time with the fires in recent weeks.
Humans burning fossil fuels and humans with criminal intent who torch a combustible landscape both factor into this unprecedented crisis.
But just how to accurately apportion the blame has become a big political issue. The debate is made hotter by many — including some Australian lawmakers — who argue against deeper cuts to carbon gas emissions.
Firefighters blame lightning strikes for most of the major blazes in New South Wales and Victoria states, and many scientists say climate change is the main reason for fires that have claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and razed more than 1 0.6 million hectares (26.2 million acres ).
Still, the arson side often cites repeatedly on social media a debunked statistic that says more than 180 suspected arsonists have been arrested.
"Truly Disgusting that people would do this! God Bless Australia," President Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted. "More than 180 alleged arsonists have been arrested since the start of the bushfire season," he added.
Although it's been discredited by AAP FactCheck, the fact-checking division of news agency Australian Associated Press, the statistic has been repeated thousands of times online.
A AP FactCheck, a partner in Facebook's Third Party Fact Checking program, looking at misinformation on Facebook and Instagram, links the statistic to a statement by police in New South Wales — the worst fire-affected state — that said "legal action" had been taken against 183 people since November for "bushfire-related offenses."
These included only 24 people charged over "deliberately-lit bushfires." Legal action — which includes cautions — had also been taken against another 100 people for conduct that could be described as being careless during a fire ban. The statement did not detail the offenses alleged against the remaining 59 suspects.
Climate change is the main reason for the current extraordinarily destructive fire season, according to Janet Stanley, a director of Australia's National Center for Research in Bushfire and Arson.
"In the past, there's been little interest generally in why people light fires -- whether it's purposefully or accidentally or maliciously or recklessly -- because climate change hadn't kicked in and it really wasn't such a problem because fire could fairly easily be put out," said Stanley, who has studied arson-related wildfires for three decades.
"But because of climate change, this is not the case now. The conditions that make a fire very big and dangerous and spread quickly are now a great deal worse, so it's much harder to put out the fire once it occurs than it was in the past," she added.
Arson has long been part of Australia's wildfire seasons, but it's hard to estimate how big a problem it is because crime scenes are often remote and evidence is frequently destroyed.
The New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency won't release their arson data for the current wildfire season in the two worst-effected states until March.
Swinburne University of Technology arson expert Troy McEwan cautioned that three fires that killed 42 people in Victoria during a wildfire emergency in 2009 had initially been wrongly blamed on arson.
"Certainly a significant proportion of bushfires are deliberately lit in Australia," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"We need to be open to the idea that it could be caused by arson, but, equally, it's not helpful to say these fires are always caused by arson or the majority of them are because the reality is, it seems, that most very large fires are not caused by arson," she added.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack believes arsonists are the major problem.
"It's important to note that most of these fires have been caused by little Lucifers running around with matches and fire-starters and creating havoc," McCormack told reporters, referring to child arsonists, while acknowledging that climate change was also a factor in the fire emergency.
McCormack's rural-based party, the Nationals, is staunchly against any action on climate change that would carry an economic cost, such as making polluters pay for the carbon gases that they emit.
Some lawmakers in Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative Liberal Party publicly dispute any link between climate change and the fires.
A common theme being spread by those looking to exaggerate Australia's contribution to global warming "was that the fires are basically spontaneously occurring because the carbon dioxide in the air is exploding," said Craig Kelly, a conservative lawmaker. "That's nonsense.'"
"There are groups in our society that have exploited these bushfires to push their own political barrow. The climate change alarmists want to hijack the debate and use these fires as an example," Kelly added.
A widely circulated online image purporting to be a NASA satellite photograph shows the wildfires, which are largely confined to southern Australia, extending across the country's tropical north coast. The creator of the image, Anthony Hearsey, explained on his website that it was a digital compilation of almost eight months of NASA fire data and that not all the fires were still burning, but those qualifications were lost online.
Singer Rihanna tweeted the dramatic image to her many followers with the comment: "devastating"
Tourism Australia, a government agency tasked with promoting the country overseas, has included its own fire map on its website to counter online images suggesting much more of the country is ablaze.
Queensland University of Technology researchers Tobias Keller and Timothy Graham suspect automated programs called bots have been used to bolster the apparent popularity of #ArsonEmergency compared to other popular hashtags on the wildfires. The research doesn't identify who is behind the campaign.
Keller, an expert on the spread of political messages on social media platforms, said the involvement of the U.S. president's eldest child was an important achievement for those who overstate the arson problem.
"When someone like Donald Trump Jr. or any celebrity endorses such a narrative, it can gain traction very quickly because everyone looks at what these celebrities post on and what their opinions is and that can be very dangerous." Keller said.
The Senate narrowly rejected Democratic demands to summon witnesses for President Donald Trump's impeachment trial late Friday, all but ensuring Trump's acquittal in just the third trial to threaten a president's removal in U.S. history. But senators pushed off final voting on his fate to next Wednesday.
The delay in timing showed the weight of a historic vote bearing down on senators, despite prodding by the president eager to have it all behind him in an election year and ahead of his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke by phone to lock in the schedule during a tense night at the Capitol as rushed negotiations proceeded on and off the Senate floor. The trial came to a standstill for about an hour. A person unauthorized to discuss the call was granted anonymity to describe it.
The president wanted to arrive for his speech at the Capitol with acquittal secured, but that will not happen. Instead, the trial will resume Monday for final arguments, with time Monday and Tuesday for senators to speak. The final voting is planned for 4 p.m. Wednesday, the day after Trump's speech.
Trump's acquittal is all but certain in the Senate, where his GOP allies hold the majority and there's nowhere near the two-thirds needed for conviction and removal.
Nor will he face potentially damaging, open-Senate testimony from witnesses.
Despite the Democrats' singular focus on hearing new testimony, the Republican majority brushed past those demands and will make this the first impeachment trial without witnesses. Even new revelations Friday from former national security adviser John Bolton did not sway GOP senators, who said they'd heard enough.
That means the eventual outcome for Trump will be an acquittal "in name only," said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a House prosecutor, during final debate.
Trump was impeached by the House last month on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress as he tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid as leverage as the ally fought Russia. He is charged with then blocking the congressional probe of his actions.
Senators rejected the Democrats' effort to allow new witnesses, 51-49, a near party-line vote. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah voted with the Democrats, but that was not enough.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called that decision "a tragedy on a very large scale." Protesters' chants reverberated against the walls of the Capitol.
But Republicans said Trump's acquittal was justified and inevitable.
"The sooner the better for the country," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump confidant. "Let's turn the page."
The next steps come in the heart of presidential campaign season before a divided nation. Democratic caucus voting begins Monday in Iowa, and Trump gives his State of the Union address the next night. Four Democratic candidates have been chafing in the Senate chamber rather than campaigning.
The Democrats had badly wanted testimony from Bolton, whose forthcoming book links Trump directly to the charges. But Bolton won't be summoned, and none of this appeared to affect the trial's expected outcome. Democrats forced a series of new procedural votes late Friday to call Bolton and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, among others, but all were rejected.
In an unpublished manuscript, Bolton has written that the president asked him during an Oval Office meeting in early May to bolster his effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to a person who read the passage and told The Associated Press. The person, who was not authorized to disclose contents of the book, spoke only on condition of anonymity.
In the meeting, Bolton said the president asked him to call new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and persuade him to meet with Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who was planning to go to Ukraine to coax the Ukrainians to investigate the president's political rivals. Bolton writes that he never made the call to Zelenskiy after the meeting, which included acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.
The revelation adds more detail to allegations of when and how Trump first sought to influence Ukraine to aid investigations of his rivals that are central to the abuse of power charge in the first article of impeachment.
The story was first reported Friday by The New York Times.
Trump issued a quick denial.
"I never instructed John Bolton to set up a meeting for Rudy Giuliani, one of the greatest corruption fighters in America and by far the greatest mayor in the history of NYC, to meet with President Zelenskiy," Trump said. "That meeting never happened."
Key Republican senators said even if Trump committed the offenses as charged by the House, they are not impeachable and the partisan proceedings must end.
"I didn't need any more evidence because I thought it was proved that the president did what he was charged with doing," retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a late holdout, told reporters Friday at the Capitol. "But that didn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense."
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she, too, would oppose more testimony in the charged partisan atmosphere, having "come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate.'' She said, "The Congress has failed."
Eager for a conclusion, Trump's allies nevertheless suggested the shift in timing to extend the proceedings into next week, acknowledging the significance of the moment for senators who want to give final speeches.
To bring the trial toward a conclusion, Trump's attorneys argued the House had already heard from 17 witnesses and presented its 28,578-page report to the Senate. They warned against prolonging it even further. The House impeached Trump largely along party lines after less than three months of formal proceedings, making it the quickest, most partisan presidential impeachment in U.S. history.
Some senators pointed to the importance of the moment.
"What do you want your place in history to be?" asked one of the House managers, Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., a former Army Ranger.
To hear more witnesses, it would have taken four Republicans to break with the 53-seat majority and join with all Democrats in demanding more testimony. But that effort fell short.
Chief Justice John Roberts, in the rare role presiding over the impeachment trial, could break a tie, but that seemed unlikely. Asked late Friday, he told senators it would be "inappropriate."
Murkowski noted in announcing her decision that she did not want to drag the chief justice into the partisan fray.
As protesters chanted outside the Capitol, some visitors watched from the Senate galleries.
Bolton's forthcoming book contends he personally heard Trump say he wanted military aid withheld from Ukraine until it agreed to investigate the Bidens. Trump denies saying such a thing.
The White House has blocked its officials from testifying in the proceedings and objected that there are "significant amounts of classified information" in Bolton's manuscript. Bolton resigned last September — Trump says he was fired — and he and his attorney have insisted the book does not contain any classified information.