Live Updates: The Coronavirus

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(CNN) — Coronavirus cases pass 115,000 worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, although it is not yet considered a pandemic.

WREG will continue to post updates on this developing story right here to keep you informed with the latest information. Keep scrolling down for the latest information.


FRIDAY, MAR. 13

Latest local updates:


Latest numbers from the CDC:

  • 1,215 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday, March 12 at noon
  • Thirty-six people have died from the virus
  • 42 states and the District of Columbia have confirmed cases
  • 125 cases are travel related
  • 102 of the patients got the virus from close contact
  • 988 cases under investigation

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 11

A Delta Airlines plane sits on the tarmac at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport(MKE)in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 8, 2020. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

American and Delta slash US and overseas flights as coronavirus causes a plunge in bookings

The coronavirus took another bite out of the airline industry on Tuesday, as several airlines announced deep cuts to their international and domestic schedules.

American, the world’s largest airline, said it would cut its international capacity by 10% this summer compared to the current schedule, and eliminate 7.5% of its domestic flights in April.

Delta Air Lines said it will slash its international flights between 20% to 25% and trim domestic flights by 10% to 15%.

“We are prepared to do more as the situation evolves,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Should the environment get worse, we can go deeper.”

Bastian spoke at an investor conference sponsored by JPMorgan along with five other airlines – American, United, JetBlue, Spirit and Alaska.

Discount carrier Spirit Airline also announced it would cut capacity by 5% in April, and it could possibly make deeper cuts in May.

“I think it is safe to say there will be capacity reductions in May, with the 5% reduction in April just being the first move,” said Spirit CEO Ted Christie.

Spirit will still have 9% more capacity in April than it did a year ago. But it had previously expected to grow capacity by 14% before this slowdown.

Executives at several of those carriers said they expect tougher times ahead.

United, the first airline to cut its domestic schedule last week, said that new bookings to Asia and Europe have essentially been wiped out by canceled reservations to those destinations. It has suffered a 70% drop in net bookings on domestic flights when taking canceled reservations into account.

“While those numbers are encouraging compared to international, we’re planning for the public concern about the virus to get worse before it gets better,” said Scott Kirby, United’s president, who will become CEO in May. “As testing expands in the [United States], many more cases are likely to turn up in many more communities around the country. As such, we’re planning for domestic bookings to deteriorate further in the weeks to come.”

Kirby said United is preparing for a “dire” scenario, in which revenue plummets 70% in April and May, 60% in June, 40% in July and August, 30% in September and October and 20% in November and December.

“We, of course, hope that it will be better, but we’re not willing to count on that,” he said.

Kirby said the current situation is far worse than the 40% drop in demand following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Delta said it would make additional moves to save about $3 billion, including a suspension of share repurchases, a deferral of contribution to the company’s pension plans, a cut in capital spending and a deferral of maintenance spending on aircraft it expects to park. It also said it would institute a hiring freeze and set up a way for employees to sign up for unpaid leave. And Delta and other airlines said they could no longer stand by its previous earnings outlook for 2020.

Airlines around the world are also cutting back. Norwegian Air canceled 3,000 flights that had been scheduled for mid-March to mid-June, reducing its capacity over the period by 15%. Qantas slashed almost a quarter of its flights over the next six months.

British Airways, Ryanair and other carriers canceled flights to and from Italy after the government in Rome imposed a nationwide quarantine designed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. BA had already announced cancellations for some European and transatlantic flights for the second half of March.

Comparisons to 9/11

The spread of the coronavirus and guidance from US health officials has caused many major companies to limit employee travel and also led to the cancellation of major public events, such as South by Southwest. Delta’s Bastian said he did not anticipate trying to encourage passenger bookings through steep fare cuts.

“This is clearly not an economic event. It’s a fear event, more akin to what we saw after 9/11 than in 2009,” Bastian said, referring to the fall in travel during the Great Recession.

In the last two weeks, the US airline industry is seeing a bigger drop in demand than following 9/11, said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly announced in an email to employees Monday that he would take a 10% paycut, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed. And Southwest is “seriously considering reductions to our scheduled flying in the short term,” according to the spokesperson. But it has yet to announce details of the schedule cut.

Airlines expect to bounce back

The only good news for airlines from the crisis has been a sharp drop in the cost of jet fuel, the second largest expense at most airlines. American said it will save $3 billion in cost savings this year compared to its earlier guidance, due to the lower fuel prices. That doesn’t include savings from reduced fuel consumption due to canceled flights. Delta said it expects to save $2 billion on fuel.

Despite the loss of passengers and the drop in fares, the airline industry should be able to withstand the crisis, according to several executives.

“Fact is our industry is exponentially more resilient today than it’s been in the past,” said American CEO Doug Parker. “Our earnings base is well higher than any time before 2013, and our balance sheet have dramatically more liquidity.”

A crisis like this would have resulted in requests for an airline industry bailout in the past, Parker said. He pointed out there was no request for a bailout when airline CEOs met with President Trump and other governmental officials at the White House last week.

“This current crisis is a test of the ability of our restructured industry to withstand the types of shocks that we’ve never been able to withstand before,” he added. “I know that American Airlines is positioned to pass that test, and I suspect the rest of the industry is as well.”

Virtually all the airlines have announced plans to have employees take voluntary leaves of absences. As yet, though, no one has announced involuntary layoffs or furloughs.

“We’ve been very aggressive at going out with voluntary time off,” said JetBlue’s Hayes. “I’m optimistic that we can, even with future capacity cuts, achieve this through voluntary means. That is our preference and our goal.

There were discussions in Washington once again on Tuesday about a federal bailout for the travel industry, including airlines. That helped to lift airline stocks, which have been particularly badly hit in the last two weeks. But none of the executives speaking Tuesday endorsed the idea of a bailout.

“We are not going to count on any kind of government intervention,” said United’s Kirby.


Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs ( Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images )

Department of Veterans Affairs adopts ‘no visitors’ policy at nursing homes due to coronavirus

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that more than 134 nursing homes across the country have adopted a “no visitors” policy in an effort to lower the risk of exposure to the coronavirus among older veterans who are particularly vulnerable to infection.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said earlier Tuesday that those facilities, which house more than 8,000 veterans, are “going into an emergency situation.”

“While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still considers COVID-19 to be a low threat to the general American public, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced, March 10, new safeguards aimed at limiting COVID-19 exposure risk for two of its most susceptible patient populations: nursing home residents and spinal-cord injury patients,” the VA said in a press release.

“All VA nursing homes will adopt a “No Visitor” stance, meaning no outside visitors will be permitted to see residents,” the release said.

The only exceptions to this no visitor stance “will be in compassionate cases, when Veterans are in their last stages of life on hospice units,” according to the department.

VA nursing homes have also suspended new admissions but “will continue to welcome resident transfers from VA facilities once medical personnel have determined patients are not at risk for infection.”

Tuesday’s announcement comes as the VA says it is tracking six patients with either a Center for Disease Control confirmed or presumptively confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

Wilkie confirmed during testimony on Capitol Hill earlier this month that one veteran is being treated at a VA facility in Palo Alto, California, and said the agency has a section of the campus set up to receive veterans who have the virus.

That case marked the first time coronavirus directly touched the second largest federal agency, which provides care to veterans at 1,243 health care facilities across the country.

But the number of veteran cases has steadily increased in recent days as a VA spokesperson told CNN Tuesday that five presumptive positive diagnoses are awaiting CDC confirmation. Those patients are located in Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana and Washington.

Despite some complaints from local health officials in California about a lack of kits used to test for the virus, Wilkie told CNN earlier this month that he is not aware of any such reports coming from VA facilities.

“We do all sorts of things, we have questionnaires, we take temperatures … we are using our own resources,” he said. Asked if any VA facilities have requested additional testing kits, Wilkie said: “Not that I know of,” citing the fact that he was only aware of one case at the time.

The VA has about 1,000 testing kits, Veterans Health Administration head Dr. Richard Stone told House lawmakers during that hearing last week, adding that the department plans to order more. Each kit is capable of testing hundreds of people.


A US flag is pictured on a soldier’s uniform during an artillery live fire event by the US Army Europe’s 41st Field Artillery Brigade at the military training area in Grafenwoehr, southern Germany, on March 4, 2020. – The 41st Field Artillery Brigade plans, prepares, executes and assesses operations to provide US Army Europe with long-range precision strike capabilities. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

US military expected to announce halt to troop and family relocation moves in areas impacted by coronavirus

The US military is expected to announce a 60-day pause on all previously scheduled moves for troops and their families in areas significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a defense official with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The Pentagon is also continuing to review whether it can continue with planned military exercises around the world, the source said. That announcement comes as US military leaders announced a joint exercise in Africa would be scaled back to protect forces from potential coronavirus exposure.

Top Pentagon leadership, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, have been briefed on a potential halt on relocations, the source said. The directive would impact so-called ‘Permanent Change of Station’ moves that routinely occur for US troops and their families when they move to another part of the world on orders from the US military.

For now, the directive would only apply to troops in Italy and South Korea, both of which have been hit hard by the virus. South Korea has more than 7,500 infected people and a death toll of 54, according to the World Health Organization, while Italy has over 10,000 infected people and 631 dead to date.

Commanders in Italy and Korea are already working with families who may have already shipped household goods to another post, to ensure they continue to have a place to live.

“These particular effects are very modest, it’s what happens next,” said Mark Cancian, a retired Marine colonel who is now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, of the potential move. “This is the leading edge of what could be much broader adaptations the department is going to have to make and those would have an impact.”

“Troops scheduled to move to Europe in general could be held back. If that happens the effects will be much more significant,” said Cancian, who also flagged the Pentagon discussions about pausing military exercises around the world.

“If they scale back all overseas exercises that’s a much bigger deal,” Cancian said. “If all the rotations into Europe were stopped, if all exercises were stopped, if Naval deployments were stopped. That would have a major effect on day to day readiness and global presence.”

The Army has already paused military moves in northern Italy and South Korea without waiting for Esper to make a defense department-wide decision.

Pentagon officials say they are prepared to expand the order globally if the situation escalates in other areas.

If they do so, it could affect tens of thousands of troops and family members. The Pentagon’s initial step would be to end transfers of anybody in an area where there has been a community wide outbreak, the source said.

For now, the relocation ban on troops in Italy and South Korea could also impact troops in other areas of Europe and in the Pacific, the official said.

The Pentagon is using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of a Level Three area as a guidepost for its planning. Under that designation, all non-essential travel is banned and travelers are told stay home for 14 days after returning to the US.

Also Tuesday, US military leaders announced that they would be scaling back the size and scope of the African Lion military exercise with Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal “to minimize exposure of US and partner nation service members to the novel coronavirus.”

“The safety and protection of all of our forces — US and partner nation — is a priority,” Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of US Africa Command, said in a statement. “Modifying the exercise still improves readiness while minimizing risk to protect both US and partner forces.”

Scheduled to start March 23, the exercise will now include only portions that do not require troops to lodge together in close quarters.


(Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

How to keep your workplace clean — and yourself healthy — during the novel coronavirus outbreak

You may spend more waking hours at work than you do at home, but when was the last time you really, really cleaned your workspace?

Offices provide hundreds of microscopic hiding spots for viruses and bacteria — the crevices in your keyboard, the button for your floor on the elevator, the communal fridge handle.

While the novel coronavirus is primarily transmitted between people, touching infected surfaces can pass the virus, too.

But don’t call out sick just yet: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) have tips on how to properly disinfect work stations to keep yourself healthy and your workplace clean during a pandemic.

Wipe down your work station.

Before you start your shift, use an EPA-approved product to disinfect your desk, keyboard, computer mouse, work phone and any other objects or surfaces that you or your coworkers touch a lot.

But make sure you’re disinfecting the right way. To work, the surface you disinfect must remain wet for a long period of time — usually between 3 to 5 minutes — and that’ll require a lot of wipes.

Wash your hands. A lot.

Get ready to make lots of trips to the nearest sink. You should wash your hands after you eat, touch door handles or blow your nose, among many, many other actions. Whenever you can wash your hands, you should — just make sure you’re washing your hands correctly. Here’s the proper way to do it.

Sanitize when soap isn’t available.

If you can’t leave a meeting to scrub your hands with soap, hand sanitizers are a fine substitute. But it’s always best to wash with soap and water after a few pumps of sanitizer — gels won’t clean your hands like washing them will.

Save the handshakes.

The novel coronavirus is transmitted primarily between people, so avoid unnecessary physical contact. Refusing a handshake isn’t ill-mannered anymore — it’s recommended. Flash a friendly wave, peace sign or thumbs-up instead.

Clean your smart phone.

What was all that hand washing and disinfecting worth if your phone is dirty? You’re safe using a damp, soapy microfiber cloth to clean the screens and backs of iPhones and Androids (though Apple said this week that disinfectant wipes are OK to use on iPhones, too). Just avoid getting water in any of the ports.

There you have it. A little scrubbing goes a long way. But if you want to kill the most germs, note the difference between disinfecting and cleaning: Cleaning only removes viruses and bacteria from surfaces, but disinfecting wipes them out.


US coronavirus cases reach 1,000 as millions more testing kits are on the way to labs across the country

Health officials are calling for “all hands on deck” in communities across the US as coronavirus cases reached 1,000 and millions more testing kits are on the way to labs across the country.

The appeal comes as the federal government prepares to release specific recommendations on next steps for the areas hardest hit by the outbreak, including California, Washington state, New York and Florida.

“Keeping the workplace safe, keeping the home safe, keeping the school safe and keeping commercial establishments safe. This should be universal for the country,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “When you have community spread, you obviously are going to ratchet up the kinds of mitigations that you have. But at a minimum, this is the minimum we should be doing.”

Cases of the virus have been reported in 37 states and the District of Columbia. As it spreads, universities across the country have announced plans to temporarily shut down campuses in favor of online lessons, festivals and concerts from coast to coast have been postponed and local leaders are urging more companies to let their employees work from home.

“We would like the country to realize that, as a nation, we can’t be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago. That it doesn’t matter if you’re in a state that has no cases or one case, you have to start taking seriously what you can do now,” Fauci said.

“Everybody should say, ‘All hands on deck. This is what we need to do,'” he said.

Hard-hit areas work to curb spread

In one of the most sweeping measures, California’s Santa Clara County — where dozens of people have tested positive for the virus — said it was temporarily banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is expected Wednesday to announce restrictions in gatherings of more than 250 in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, according to the Seattle Times. The restrictions are aimed at sports, concerts and other cultural events, the newspaper reported.

King County, the largest county in the state, is home to more than 2.2 million people.

It’s also where 190 people have been infected with the virus and at least 22 have died. County officialsurged residents to “avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.”

The virus has killed 24 people overall in Washington state, and 31 across the country.

And in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a 1-mile “containment” area around the suburb of New Rochelle where more than 100 cases are concentrated and announced he was deploying the National Guard to help clean public spaces and deliver food to homes.

More tests on the way

As states are working to contain the virus, health officials are ramping up efforts to test more Americans.

Vice President Mike Pence said Monday another 4 million tests would be available by the end of the week, on top of at least a million tests already in place across the country.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said his department didn’t know how many people have been tested.

“We don’t know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in” to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Azar told CNN’s “New Day.”

Azar said the government is now working with the CDC to create a reporting system to help “keep track of how many we’re testing.”

Meanwhile, officials with the CDC are also continuing to face scrutiny over slow testing procedures which critics say contributed to a delayed response to the virus.

Researchers found virus was spreading sooner than officials thought

A delay in testing for the virus came after the CDC had to remake a part of the testing kits sent out to states after some were deemed faulty. It wasn’t until this week that public health labs in all 50 states were able to test for the virus. The 78 labs have the ability to test 75,000 people combined, the CDC said Monday.

“If we had the ability to test earlier, I’m sure we would’ve identified patients earlier in the community, possibly at hospitals,” Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County, said last month. “But we were also looking at not only availability of testing but whether patients met criteria for testing.”

Dr. Helen Y. Chu and a team of scientists with the Seattle Flu Study also hypothesized the virus was circulating in Washington state for days without anyone realizing it. The team repurposed influenza tests to instead look for coronavirus, without government approval, The New York Times reported.

The study found a positive coronavirus test from a teen who had no travel history and who hadn’t been to any areas where there had been an outbreak, showing the virus was spreading in the community earlier than officials thought.

Early Wednesday, the Seattle Flu Study Twitter account posted a statement by Lead Principal Investigator Dr. Jay Shendure saying in part, “In the face of this unprecedented health threat, there are times when we have all felt the need to move fast in an effort to save lives.”

“We are actively working and have had good cooperation with local, state, and national health authorities on the response to COVID-19. Our team is productively collaborating with state regulators and has identified a path forward that will allow us to continue testing,” the statement said. “This collaboration will be crucial to helping us overcome the current challenge and putting in place a strong foundation for the future.”

Cruise ships propose new guidelines to government

Also Wednesday, some passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship arrived at the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia to begin their quarantine. The ship docked this week in Oakland, California, following an outbreak of the virus on board.

The more than 2,000 passengers will be placed in quarantine at multiple military bases for two weeks.

The Grand Princess was one of two sites of an outbreak at sea. The first one, the Diamond Princess Cruise ship which was docked at the port city of Yokohama, Japan in February, saw at least 46 Americans test positive for the virus and repatriated to the US for quarantine.

Pence said Tuesday the cruise line industry had submitted a proposal to include measures such as advanced screening and upgraded medical services aboard each ship.

His announcement follows advisories issued by the State Department and the CDC warning Americans with underlying health conditions not to board cruise ships.

“Recent reports of COVID-19 on cruise ships highlight the risk of infection to cruise ship passengers and crew. Like many other viruses, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships,” the CDC said.


WOLRDWIDE TOTALS: Coronavirus cases pass 115,000 worldwide


TUESDAY, MAR. 10

Local coronavirus updates


Coronavirus sparks total lockdown in Italy and alarm in the US as cases rise globally

Tourists look at the closed Ancient Forum from the outside on March 8, 2020, in Rome, after millions of people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus that is sweeping the globe. – On top of the forced quarantine of 15 million people in vast areas of northern Italy until April 3, the government has also closed schools, nightclubs and casinos throughout the country, according to the text of the decree published on the government website. With more than 230 fatalities, Italy has recorded the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak began in December. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

The novel coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally, sparking a total lockdown across Italy and emergency measures worldwide, as markets recover from Monday’s historic rout.

The virus, known as Covid-19, has now infected close to 113,000 people worldwide and resulted in more than 4,000 deaths. The majority of these cases are in mainland China, where the outbreak first emerged — but the rate of infection has been slowing in the country, and the situation stabilizing, even as the virus wreaks havoc elsewhere

In an apparent show of confidence, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in virus-stricken Wuhan Tuesday, his first visit to the city at the epicenter of the global outbreak since the crisis began. The trip comes as Chinese authorities recorded 19 new cases, 17 of which were in Wuhan, and two were imported from overseas — marking the third straight day of no locally transmitted cases outside Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is the capital. Of the country’s 80,754 patients, nearly 60,000 have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

Other Asian countries like South Korea are also beginning to see a slowdown in the virus’ spread. South Korea, which has carried out more than 190,000 tests as part of a free nationwide screening program, recorded it’s lowest number of daily confirmed cases of the virus in weeks on Tuesday — a sign that the country may has “passed the peak” of the outbreak, South Korean Health Minister Park Neunghoo told CNN.

But these cautious signs of progress throw into sharp relief the deteriorating situation in the West.

States across the US are declaring emergencies, with even congressmen being self-quarantined after exposure to a patient. And in Europe, the outbreak that began in Italy has spread far and wide, with nearby countries like Germany reporting dramatic spikes in daily cases.

All of Italy is under lockdown

In an unprecedented and potentially legally fraught move, all of Italy and its 60 million residents have been placed under lockdown, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Monday, part of a raft of sweeping quarantine measures intended to contain the outbreak.

The northern region of Lombardy and 14 other provinces had already been placed under lockdown — but this new decree will extend those restrictions across the entire country, as the virus continues to spread throughout Italy and mainland Europe.

The drastic measures include blanket travel restrictions, a ban on all public events, the closures of schools and public spaces such as movie theaters, and the suspension of religious services including funerals or weddings.

To enforce the movement ban, military police, railway police, and health workers are carrying out checks on transportation sites like highways and train stations.

This lockdown represents the toughest coronavirus response to be implemented outside of mainland China, and comes as the country buckles under the weight of the epidemic.

Parts of Italy, particularly the northern regions, are seeing a “tsunami of patients,” and the healthcare system is “one step from collapse,” said Antonio Pesenti, intensive care coordinator in the Lombardy crisis unit.

So far, Italy has 9,172 cases and 463 deaths — the most of any country outside of China.

The new lockdown may help slow the virus from spreading further — but some, like the Lombardy president, fear it is “still insufficient” given the sheer scale and speed of the Italian outbreak.

The virus spreads across the US

The virus is rapidly spreading across the United States too, with new cases reported in at least 20 states on Monday.

The country now has 732 confirmed and presumptive positive cases and 26 deaths, spread out across 36 states and the capital, Washington, DC.

Washington state has been the hardest hit; 22 of the country’s 26 deaths were in Washington, which has 180 cases. At least 10 states, including Washington, have declared states of emergency, which give state governments access to emergency funds and powers.

But there are signs of growing frustrations with the federal government’s handling of the outbreak. On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing delays, and earlier this month, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee criticized the Trump administration for not sticking “to the science.”

In some ways the friction began as early as February, when new federal travel restrictions ruffled state and local officials, who complained the rollout had been opaque and confusing. But these tensions are only ramping up now as the virus threatens to disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods.

Multiple schools in Washington have already moved to online learning. Many large colleges like Columbia University, New York University, Stanford, and the University of Southern California are also beginning to hold classes remotely instead of in person.

And employers like Amazon and Boeing have begun asking employees in virus-hit areas to work from home, in an echo of the same measures rolled out across Asia just a month or two ago.

Markets are slowly recovering from Monday’s crash

Coronavirus fears and an oil price war sparked a global panic on Monday, with markets entering into stunning decline.

Oil prices collapsed after Saudi Arabia launched a price war against onetime ally Russia — and the crisis was only worsened by the coronavirus, which has slammed economies worldwide and weighed heavily on investors.

Wall Street had already faced heavy losses for several weeks because of the virus; the oil price war served a second blow, and the Dow ended the day with its biggest point drop in history, closing Monday down 2,014 points, or 7.8%.

On Tuesday, markets in Asia Pacific mostly stumbled, with South Korea’s Kospi, China’s Shanghai Composite, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 all falling, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index swung between gains and losses.

There are some signs of recovery, with Dow futures jumping 500 points, or 2.2%, and Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was trading firmly in the green.

But the virus may prove harder to recover from; about $9 trillion was wiped off global stocks in nine days, Bank of America said in a research note on Thursday. And markets are still seeing wild swings, indicative of just how deep investor anxieties run.


SEATTLE, WA – FEBRUARY 29: A healthcare worker prepares to transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland on February 29, 2020 in Kirkland, Washington. Dozens of staff and residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland are reportedly exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms, with two confirmed cases of (COVID-19) associated with the nursing facility reported so far. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

A state-by-state breakdown of US coronavirus cases

State governments are working to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the US, as federal officials say more testing will likely see the number of known cases continue to increase.

There were at least732 cases and 26 deaths in the United States across 36 states and the District of Columbia as of 6 a.m. ET on March 10. That national figure includes 662 people diagnosed through the US public health system and 70 people repatriated to the US — 46 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 21 on the Grand Princess cruise ship and three from China.

Here are the reported number of cases from each state, not including those who were repatriated.

  • Arizona: 6
  • California: 107 (including two deaths)
  • Colorado: 12
  • Connecticut: 2
  • District of Columbia: 4
  • Florida: 15 (including two deaths)
  • Georgia: 17
  • Hawaii: 2
  • Illinois: 11
  • Indiana: 4
  • Iowa: 8
  • Kansas: 2
  • Kentucky: 6
  • Louisiana: 1
  • Maryland: 6
  • Massachusetts: 41
  • Minnesota: 2
  • Missouri: 1
  • Nebraska: 3
  • Nevada: 4
  • New Hampshire: 4
  • New Jersey: 11
  • New York: 142
  • North Carolina: 7
  • Ohio: 3
  • Oklahoma: 1
  • Oregon: 14
  • Pennsylvania: 10
  • Rhode Island: 3
  • South Carolina: 7
  • Tennessee: 4
  • Texas: 13
  • Utah: 1
  • Vermont: 1
  • Virginia: 5
  • Washington state: 180 (including 22 deaths)
  • Wisconsin: 2

MONDAY, MAR. 9


First coronavirus case confirmed in Shelby County

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Officials in Memphis and Shelby County on Sunday morning confirmed the area’s first case of novel coronavirus.

Official said the adult patient was being treated at Baptist Hospital and was in good condition. The patient had traveled outside the state, but not outside the country.

Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department, said the tests came back positive from the state’s lab Saturday and the results will be forwarded to the CDC.

People who came in contact with the patient are being identified and will be quarantined and monitored daily for 14 days, she said.

Haushalter said the health department did not think there was a major risk to the public at large.

“It doesn’t take much time,” Haushalter said. “10 minutes or more to be listed as a contact. So we want to make sure that we’re being very diligent and get a very thorough history and have an extensive list based on that history.”

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said he had been in touch with Gov. Bill Lee about the case, and that city facilities had been sanitized.

“We’re taking this situation very seriously,” Strickland said.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said county government had adjusted its policies to allow any workers who might have symptoms of illness to stay home, and he encouraged private employers to do the same.

“We don’t believe there is a need to panic,” Harris said.

WREG spoke with one man who says his employer is implementing similar policies.

“They’ve encouraged us to do our due diligence like washing your hands and all that and making sure you’re taking care of yourself,” Darrion Johnson said. “And if you’re sick, stay home.”

This is the third confirmed case of novel coronavirus in Tennessee, So far, in addition to Shelby County, cases have been confirmed in Williamson County and Davidson County.


SCS says school employee placed on ‘cautionary quarantine’ after contact with coronavirus patient

An employee at Treadwell Elementary and Middle schools has been placed on a cautionary quarantine after contact with a patient who tested positive for coronavirus, the school district said Monday.

Shelby County Schools said the district confirmed late Sunday evening that the employee had been placed on a 14-day quarantine directed by the Shelby County Health Department.

The employee has not shown any symptoms following the contact, SCS said.

SCS said there is no expected risk to school-age children at this time.

“Please note that quarantine helps keep the spread of any illness to a minimum and is not an immediate cause for alarm. SCS supports this very cautious approach,” the school district said in a statement.

In a letter to parents, the school district said it was prepared for an event like this. The district said its plan of action would provide the following additional resources:

• Providing CDC-approved cleaning agents to every school

• Ensuring all bathrooms are continuously stocked with soap and paper towels, and encouraging students and staff to wash hands frequently

• Ensuring principals and school nurses have the resources and guidance needed to detect and report symptoms exhibited at school and provide approved health guidance for any affected individuals

• Working in close partnership with the SCHD and continuing to update our protocols as the situation evolves, and

• Providing ongoing communication to families, staff and our school communities as new developments are learned.

The first case of COVID-19 in Shelby County was confirmed Sunday morning by county and city officials. It was the third confirmed case in Tennessee.

Shelby County Health Department officials have said the risk to the public at large is low, but people who had come into contact with the patient would be placed on quarantine and monitored daily for symptoms.

Dr. Alisa Haushalter with the Shelby County Health Department said that quarantine was less serious than isolation. She explained on WREG’s Live at 9 Monday that quarantine meant a person had come in contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus, but had not shown any symptoms themselves.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said he had been in contact with the superintendent of schools on the matter.

Harris also said that the one confirmed patient diagnosed with COVID-19, who is at Baptist Hospital, was recovering.


FRIDAY, MAR. 6

Stadium employee tests positive for coronavirus after working Seattle XFL game

A part-time stadium employee who worked at a Seattle football game later tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

King County health officials released a statement late Thursday that said the CenturyLink Field employee worked at the February 22nd game between the XFL’s Seattle Dragon’s and Dallas Renegades. After working to evaluate potential exposures with both the employee and the stadium’s operator, First and Goal, officials determined “that the risk of infection to attendees was low.”

“Public Health is following up with a few co-workers with close contacts of the employee at the February 22nd game to provide guidance on appropriate precautions,” they said.

Members of the public who attended the game require no extra precautions, they said, while cautioning that the overall risk in King County is increasing and so everyone should be on the lookout for coronavirus symptoms.

“Nothing is more important to the professional sports teams of King County than the public safety and the well-being of their fans at all sporting events,” county officials said. They added that the stadium staff would be disinfecting all areas of the arena before and after every event while increasing the number of hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue.

Anyone who is pregnant or who has weakened immune systems and anyone over 60 with underlying health conditions should avoid attending games or matches at the stadium — or any large gathering of people — Seattle & King County health officials said, citing new public health recommendations devised to slow the spread of the virus.

As of now, Seattle’s professional sports organizations — the Dragons, the Seahawks, the Mariners, and the Sounders FC — will continue with their regularly scheduled events.

The teams are in touch with local health officials and their respective leagues on a regular basis.

The Seattle Sounders released a statement on Thursday saying that they are working closely with First & Goal Inc. and CenturyLink Field to provide a safe stadium experience.

Part of that effort “includes expanded sanitation procedures — encompassing enhanced cleaning treatments to disinfect all areas of the stadium before and after every event — in addition to increased hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue and continued staff education and training.”

Over 200 cases in the US

State governments throughout the US are working to contain the spread of the coronavirus, as federal officials say more testing for the illness will likely see the number of known cases increase.

There are more than 200 cases in the United States, with at least 70 cases and 10 deaths in Washington state alone.

That national figure includes 156 people diagnosed through the US public health system, and 49 people repatriated to the US (46 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and three from China).

Still, officials insist that even as the number of cases continues to climb, there is no need to panic.

“The risk to the American people of the coronavirus remains low, according to all of the experts that we are working with across the government,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a news conference on Tuesday.


THURSDAY, MAR. 5

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivers a press conference after the Senate impeachment vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on February 5, 2020. – The US Senate acquitted President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress following a historic two-week trial. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Senate approves $8.3 billion total coronavirus response package

The Senate voted on Thursday to approve a sweeping spending package to direct billions of dollars toward the US government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak as lawmakers scramble to fight the spread of the disease.

The package will next be sent to the White House for the President’s signature. It passed the House on Wednesday with broad, bipartisan support.

The agreement provides $7.8 billion in appropriations to address the outbreak of coronavirus as well as an authorization for $500 million in mandatory spending to fund a telehealth program in an effort to expand access to health services for seniors for a total of $8.3 billion in all.

Lawmakers have been meeting for days to hammer out a package to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The total funding package that will be allocated by the deal is an amount far higher than the $2.5 billion White House request. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed $8.5 billion to deal with the outbreak.

Last week, however, the President opened the door to a higher spending level to combat coronavirus than what the White House initially requested, saying, “We’ll spend whatever is appropriate.”

The White House is expected to back the deal with President Donald Trump tweeting on Wednesday after the House approved the package, “Congress has agreed to provide $8 Billion to fight Coronavirus!” and “This is great news for our Health, our Economy, and our Nation!”

Some Republican senators, though, balked at the price tag of the deal.

GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said he anticipates some budget-conscious Republicans will vote against the package because of its large price tag, though he didn’t indicate who might oppose it.

“Not everyone will vote for the bill. But they would not have voted for it at $2.2 billion either,” Blunt said, referring to the much smaller original supplemental request from the White House.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky offered an amendment to the coronavirus funding package that would offset costs by canceling certain foreign aid spending. But the Senate voted to table, or kill, the motion ahead of the final vote.

In a show of bipartisan support, however, GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking member on the committee, both spoke on the floor about the legislation ahead of the final vote.

“Today we face a serious global crisis with the spread of the coronavirus, we all know that. The American people, I believe, expect us here in the US Senate to set aside politics and set into motion a swift and sweeping response to this danger,” Shelby said.

Leahy said in his own remarks on the floor, “We have tried to set an example, the two of us, from two different parties, two different parts of the country, I think it’s fair to say two different political philosophies. We have come together on this as we have on so many other issues in appropriations to give an example to our colleagues of what we think is best.”


Williamson County man Tennessee’s first confirmed case of coronavirus

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in the state of Tennessee.

According to health officials, the man lives in Williamson County and had just recently returned home from traveling out of state. He has not been out of the country.

He is isolated at home and is experiencing very mild symptoms.

State health officials say the overall risk to the general public is low. They are now working to identify those he had contact with in the past coupe of days.

The results of the man’s coronavirus test have been confirmed by state health officials, but they were also sent to CDC for confirmation as well.

Health officials said Tennessee has been testing for the coronavirus since February 20. It was one of the first five states to begin testing.


House passes $8.3 billion total coronavirus response package

The House voted on Wednesday to pass a sweeping spending package to dedicate billions of dollars to dealing with the coronavirus outbreak as lawmakers scramble to combat the spread of the disease.

The measure will next need to be taken up by the Senate. The White House is expected to back the deal.

he agreement provides $7.8 billion in appropriations to address the outbreak of coronavirus as well as an additional $500 million to fund a telehealth program in an effort to help expand access to health services for seniors.

The legislation was formally unveiled on Wednesday afternoon with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer promising a vote later in the day.

Lawmakers have been meeting for days to hammer out a package to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The total funding package of $8.3 billion is an amount far higher than the $2.5 billion White House request. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed $8.5 billion to deal with the outbreak last week.

The emergency funding package will include over $3 billion to help fund research and development for vaccines as well as diagnostic tests and therapeutic responses to coronavirus.

It will also include $2.2 billion to be used for efforts related to prevention, preparedness and response to the spread of coronavirus, of which $950 million will go to supporting state and local health agencies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday that the House would “move swiftly to pass this vital coronavirus emergency response package.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated on Wednesday that the aim is to pass the emergency funding bill this week.

“Our goal would be to do it this week, if we get cooperation,” McConnell said, shortly after a broad agreement was reached.

GOP Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said he anticipates some budget-conscious Republicans will vote against the package because of its large price tag, but he didn’t indicate who might oppose it.

“Not everyone will vote for the bill. But they would not have voted for it at $2.2 billion either,” Blunt said, referring to the much smaller original supplemental request from the White House.

GOP Whip John Thune said if some members push for procedural votes because they have concerns with the bill, it could slow things down. But the South Dakota Republican was hopeful the Senate would pass it “fairly quickly.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama, who directed talks for Senate Republicans, was more hopeful. He repeatedly predicted the bill would pass Thursday.


FORT CARSON, CO – JUNE 15: A soldier salutes the flag during a welcome home ceremony for troops arriving from Afghanistan on June 15, 2011 to Fort Carson, Colorado. More than 500 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team returned home following a year of heavy fighting and high casualties in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Multiple US military branches screening recruits for coronavirus amid mounting concern

Multiple US military branches are screening new recruits for the novel coronavirus as part of a sweeping effort to prevent the virus from spreading among the armed forces.

While recruits are always screened for health issues, the coronavirus is now a particular concern for the US Navy, Air Force and Army who have implemented new screening procedures as the virus spreads.

The move underscores comments made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley earlier this week that the military is planning for all scenarios as it faces the coronavirus. The virus has killed people worldwide and there are now more than 92,000 global cases, with infections in more than 70 countries and territories.

The Navy told CNN in a statement Wednesday that it began screening for the coronavirus in the initial processing of recruits in January. All incoming recruits are screened using medical and exposure risk criteria and any individuals identified as having potential risk would be further treated — though none have met that criteria yet.

The screenings involve evaluation for related symptoms such as a fever or lower respiratory illness and questions about overseas travel history and whether they’ve had close contact with anyone with the virus.

That process mirrors the screenings the Army began conducting Tuesday after a rehearsal the day before. Army trainees are screened at all four Army Training Centers as they arrive.

The Army’s initial screening questions include:

  • “Have you or anyone living with you traveled to or through China, Korea, Japan, Iran or Italy?”
  • “Have you had contact with a confirmed positive COVID-19 (Coronavirus) individual?”
  • “Are you sick or have any of the following symptoms? Cough, sore throat, diarrhea, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue.”

Should a recruit answer “no” to all of the questions and have a temperature below 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re allowed to continue to training.

The Air Force is also screening recruits when they leave processing centers before they enter training. An Air Force official emphasized to CNN that the branch always screens for health issues, but the coronavirus is a particular focus.

Beyond screening recruits, top US commanders around the globe have become increasingly concerned that as allies shut down borders and travel in response to the virus’ spread, there’s a risk that military readiness may start degrading by the end of March, according to several defense officials.


KRAKOW, POLAND – 2020/01/07: A man walks past a Starbucks shop in Krakow. (Photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Starbucks forced to halt the use of personal cups at its stores because of coronavirus

Environmentally conscious coffee lovers who bring their own mugs to buy fresh java at Starbucks won’t be able to do so for a while.

Starbucks on Wednesday announced it is temporarily suspending the use of personal cups and tumblers at its stores to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

EVP Rossann Williams said the company will continue to honor its 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or tumbler for coffee, even though customers can’t use them.

“We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation,” Williams said in an open letter posted on the company’s website.

Starbucks said it is also increasing the number of cleanings at all its company-operated stores and suspending business-related air travel, both domestic and international, for the rest of March according to Williams.

Large meetings at the company’s offices in the United States and Canada are being postponed or modified, the company said.

“We will continue to communicate with transparency and act courageously and responsibly to ensure the health and well-being of our partners and customers,” Williams said.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how long it is suspending the program. The Seattle-based coffee chain has given customers discounts for using their own cups for new purchases since 1985, according to the company’s website.

In 2010, Starbucks launched a campaign promoting the use of personal tumblers to reduce its paper trash output. The program has prevented millions of pounds of paper from ending up in landfills, the company said.


WEST PALM BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 15: People board a United Airlines Boeing 757 airplane at Palm Beach International Airport on February 15, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

United, JetBlue cutting US flights because of coronavirus

 United Airlines and JetBlue Airways became the first airlines to cut their US flight schedules on Wednesday, as passenger worry about the coronavirus has caused a sharp drop in demand.

While airlines around the world have been making steep cuts in international flights, these are the first set of cuts made to a US flight schedule.

United will ax flights in the United States and Canada by 10% and overseas flights by a total 20% in April from its original international schedule. That includes overseas flights that were canceled several weeks ago. United is looking at similar domestic and international cuts in May.

The moves were disclosed in an email Wednesday to employees made available to CNN. It also disclosed a hiring freeze, a program of voluntary unpaid leaves of absences or a reduced schedule for US employees and a delay of scheduled pay raises for management employees.

The airline plans to cut the schedule “in a way that minimizes the impact on our employees and our operation,” according to the email, including reducing frequency of flights per week between two cities or cutting routes with alternative travel options via indirect flights.

The email did not give details about how much travel had fallen at United amid the growing fears of the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. The crisis “continues to evolve rapidly” for the airline industry, said the email from CEO Oscar Munoz, and Scott Kirby, United’s president who is set to succeed Munoz in May.

“We sincerely hope that these latest measures are enough, but the dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible moving forward in how we respond,” said the email.

Later Wednesday, JetBlue confirmed that it would take action in response to the coronavirus, including a plan to reduce capacity by an “initial” 5% “in the near term.”

“We are closely monitoring booking trends to assess whether additional capacity reductions will be required,” the airline said in a statement. It added that passengers who are booked on affected flights will be moved to other flights that will get them to their destinations “on the same day.”

JetBlue said it is looking at measures to preserve cash, “including reducing hiring for both frontline and support center positions, considering voluntary time off programs as appropriate, and limiting non-essential spending.”

United had already warned investors that the crisis had cut virtually all of its revenue on flights to China and Hong Kong during the current quarter, and about 75% onother trans-Pacific flights. But it said that it still expects to hit its earnings target for the quarter due partly to lower spending on fuel. Besides the fuel savings that comes from canceling flights, the price of jet fuel has plunged in recent weeks.

But the email did not give any new guidance on earnings. And it warned that “a lot has changed since this weekend.”

Shares of United closed up 2% on Wednesday and JetBlue shares gained 3.5% as stocks rebounded from a recent sell-off. But shares of both airlines are still down nearly 25% since Feb. 21.

As for other airlines cutting back their flights, a company spokesperson for American Airlines said, “We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will make any updates as necessary.”

Executives from most of the major airlines, including United CEO Oscar Munoz, met with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on air travel and how to coordinate activity between the industry and the government.

In response to a question, President Trump said he did not believe that the airlines would need a bailout, similar to the one they received in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Don’t ask that question please, because they haven’t asked [for] that. I don’t want you to give them any ideas,” said Trump about the possibility of a bailout. He said the idea had not been discussed. He also said he believes flying is safe.

“Where these people are flying, it’s safe to fly,” he said.

Passenger uncertainty about travel has prompted major US airlines to suspend their change fees, which itself is hurting their revenue.

JetBlue was the first to announce a suspension of the fee last week, and American suspended its fees on Sunday.

Delta suspended the fees for international travel on Monday evening and on all tickets Wednesday. United announced Tuesday it would suspend its change fee. But fees are only being suspended on newly booked tickets.

The airlines take in a tremendous amount of money on change fees. In the third quarter alone the US carriers took in $739 million in change fees, and $2.8 billion in change fees for the 12 months ending in September.

Southwest in the only major US airline that generally does not charge change fees. A spokesman for the company said it is monitoring the situation and “will make any necessary adjustment we see fit.”


Testing for coronavirus is expanded to patients who have a doctor’s order, CDC says

With California recording its first fatality from the coronavirus, and a total of 11 people dead and 159 others infected nationwide, federal health officials are expanding testing for the fast-moving outbreak.

The new guidance issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday formalizes an announcement by Vice President Mike Pence that any American with a doctor’s order can be tested with no restrictions.

It removes earlier restrictions that limited testing for the virus to people who’d been hospitalized with a fever and respiratory symptoms — or a patient who had close contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.

Clinicians should now “use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with … (coronavirus) and whether the patient should be tested,” the CDC said.

Experts have questioned whether the United States can meet the likely surge in testing demand that will follow the change in guidelines.

Two coronavirus tests in the United States have FDA emergency use authorizations and are in use nationwide. They are the CDC test kits that distributed to public health laboratories across the country — and another test designed and used by New York state.

Number of cases grows nationwide

There are now at least 159 known coronavirus cases across 15 states, most of them in California and Washington states.

A cruise ship passenger died from the coronavirus Wednesday, nearly two weeks after he returned home — California’s first death as the disease sickens people in 15 states.

The death reported was linked to the Grand Princess cruise ship, which is being held off the California coast so federal health officials can screen the people aboard, some of whom were on an earlier cruise with the California victim.

The unidentified man was 71 and had underlying health conditions, Placer County health officials said. He was likely exposed to the virus on the cruise from San Francisco to Mexico between February 11 to 21.

After the Grand Princess finished its Mexico trip last month, it went on another cruise to Hawaii and is on its way back. There are 62 passengers on the ship who sailed on that San Francisco-Mexico voyage and remained on board for the current Hawaii one, the company said.

“We have shared essential travel and health data with the CDC to facilitate their standard notification to the state and county health authorities to follow up with individuals who may have been exposed to people who became ill,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.

To screen passengers, the US Coast Guard will deliver sampling kits to the ship Thursday via helicopter, and a medical team aboard will administer the tests. The samples will be sent by helicopter to a lab in Richmond, California, Princess Cruises said.

There are 11 passengers and 10 crew members who’ve developed symptoms Gov. Gavin Newsom said. The ship is carrying 2,500 passengers.

The governor declared a state of emergency, which allows for more money to be allocated for the state’s response.

Washington state is hard-hit

Of the deaths nationwide, 10 have been in Washington state. Nine of those deaths happened in King County, and a majority of them had ties to Life Care Center, a long-term nursing home in a Seattle suburb.

The nursing home’s outbreak and a series of new cases over the past few days in states such as Florida, Georgia and Rhode Island have heightened concerns among health care experts, said Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“As more areas see community spread, local communities may start employing tools that encourage social distancing,” Messonnier said.

“The goal of social distancing is to limit exposure by reducing face-to-face contact and preventing spread among people in community settings.”

A large number of cases are from a cruise ship

The nationwide number of infected people includes 46 repatriated citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship — which docked in Japan last month after an outbreak and quarantine — as well as three people repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Texas has announced its first case, a patient from near Houston who is in his 70s and recently traveled overseas. He is hospitalized.

The number of US cases has continued to rise since health officials allowed more labs to conduct tests for the virus.

Public health labs across the country using CDC test kits are expected to test up to 75,000 people by the end of the week, the CDC said. That’s on top of the nearly 1 million people expected to be tested through commercial labs approved for testing by the US Food and Drug Administration.


WEDNESDAY, MAR. 4

Italian government orders schools nationwide to close due to coronavirus

Italian media say the Italian government has ordered schools nationwide to close for the next two weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, but the country’s education minister says a final decision on the closure not yet been confirmed.

State-run RAI, the ANSA and LaPresse news agencies reported Wednesday that Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had agreed on the closure during a cabinet meeting. But Education Minister Lucia Azzolina told reporters that nothing is final yet.

Italy has seen its virus caseload explode since the first positive test was registered in northern Lombardy on Feb. 19. Since then, more than 2,500 people in Italy have tested positive, and 79 have died. Italy is the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak.

In the early days of the outbreak, officials closed schools in Lombardy and Veneto, the two hardest-hit regions. Over the weekend, they closed schools in Emilia Romagna.


TUESDAY, MAR. 3

Dr. Alisa Haushalter with the Shelby County Department of Health says they are prepared if the coronavirus makes its way to the Mid-South.


Health Department opens coronavirus hotline for questions

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department has opened a hotline to answer your coronavirus questions.

There is no case of the virus here in Memphis or in Tennessee, but health officials know many of you are concerned.

For more information, call the Shelby County Health Department’s coronavirus hotline at (901) 692-7523.

Alisha Haushalter, the director of the Shelby County Health Department says it’s good for people to seek information, but there is no need to fear.

“You can trust we are going to notify you if we have known coronavirus in our community,” Haushalter said.

There is a state law that requires reporting of suspects or of known cases of infectious diseases so we will get notice immediately if there is someone who is even being investigated of coronavirus.

The health department has even set up a hotline that has been operating for about a week, and people have been calling.

She says coronavirus is different from the basic flu symptoms.

“People tend to have a deeper type of cough, similar to pneumonia, that is much lower in the respiratory tract,” she said.

And if there is an outbreak in Shelby County, we are told the public will be notified after the mayor.

Agencies like the University of Tennessee, the school system and the CDC are working together to keep track of any coronavirus threat.

Tuesday afternoon, the CDC will hold held a tele-briefing with the media for an update on the illness.

Health officials say you want to make sure you are getting current scientific information like that from the CDC.


A state-by-state breakdown of US coronavirus cases

State governments are working to contain coronavirus cases in the US, as federal officials say more testing for the virus will boost the number of positive cases.

On Tuesday, there were 57 cases across 12 states, as well as 45 cases from individuals repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the site of an outbreak and quarantine. Three others cases of the virus are in people who were repatriated from China.

Still, officials insist that even if the number of cases continues to climb, there is no need to panic.

“The risk to the American people of the coronavirus remains low, according to all of the experts that we are working with across the government,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a Tuesday news conference.

Here are the cases in each state:

Washington state: 18

Six people have died in Washington state — four of whomwere inside a long-term nursing facility in a suburb of Seattle.

The patients were residents of the Life Care Center facility, King County health officer Jeffrey Duchin said Monday. Four more cases were linked to the facility.

“Current residents and associates continue to be monitored closely, specifically for an elevated temperature, cough and/or shortness of breath,” officials said in a statement on the Life Care website. “Any resident displaying these symptoms is placed in isolation. Associates are screened prior to beginning work and upon leaving.”

More than 50 residents and staff experienced symptoms, Duchin said.

The state has reported a total of 18 cases.

California: 20

California has reported 20 coronavirus cases, the most of any state.

At least half of the state’s cases are travel related and at least four are from unknown origin, the California Department of Public Health said.

One of the patients was admitted to UC Davis Medical Center in February and was tested days later as they didn’t fit existing CDC testing guidelines. That Solano County patient may have been the first known instance of the “community spread,” meaning officials were not sure how the virus was contracted and the person had no relevant travel history.

Oregon: 3

One Oregon County declared a state of emergency after two people tested presumptive positive, a Lake Oswego School District news release said.

A district employee and a family member, both Washington County residents, tested positive.

The third case in the state was in Umatilla County, Oregon, officials said, adding it’s considered a case of community transmission.

The resident was at a youth basketball game last week, the Oregon Health Authority said in a news release.

“Athena-Weston School District officials have closed the gym and will conduct a deep cleaning out of an abundance of caution,” the release said. “The gym is physically detached from the rest of the school. Health officials do not consider the separate school building to pose any risk of exposure.”

Illinois: 4

A woman in her 70s was identified as the fourth coronavirus case in Illinois. The patient is also the spouse of the state’s third case, a man in his 70s, a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health and Cook County Department of Public Health says.

Both are reported to be in good condition. The woman is quarantined at home and complying with guidance, the statement says.

The state’s previous two cases have both fully recovered.

Massachusetts: 2

Officials announced the second case in Massachusetts, a woman in her 20s who recently traveled to Italy on a school trip.

The woman did not show any symptoms, a news release from the state’s Department of Public Health said.

The patient is the state’s first presumptive positive case — yet to be confirmed by the CDC. In January, Massachusetts confirmed a man in his 20s living in Boston was carrying the virus.

The man had recently traveled to Wuhan, China and sought medical help after his return, the department said. He remained in isolation while he was recovering.

Florida: 2

Two people tested presumptive positive in Florida, the state’s governor said.

The first is a man in his 60s who has pneumonia and is hospitalized in stable condition. It’s unknown how the man contracted the virus but he has been in isolation and will remain there until he is cleared by health officials, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said in a statement.

The second patient, a woman in hers 20s, recently returned from northern Italy. The patient is stable and isolated at home.

Of the 23 people tested in the state, officials are still awaiting the results of six people, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

“I have been working with federal partners and our Department of Health to ensure that communities are ready to handle the challenges presented by COVID-19.” he said in a statement. “The dedicated professionals at our county health departments, as well as those working at local medical providers, are well equipped to address these and future cases.

Georgia: 2

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday night the state’s first two confirmed cases of the virus, saying both patients were residents of the same household in Fulton County, one of the state’s most populous counties.

One of the two returned from Milan, Italy, through Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, state officials said.

The patients were in isolation “with minimal symptoms” and were never hospitalized, Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey said in the conference.

Kemp told residents to be cautious if they start experiencing potential symptoms.

“If you start feeling bad, don’t go out,” he said. “Call your doctor.”

Officials did not give the patients’ ages.

Rhode Island: 2

Rhode Island reported its first two presumptive positive cases from a group of patients who had recently traveled to Europe together. A third person is being tested, the State of Rhode Island Department of Public Health said.

The first two presumptive positive cases are a man in his 40s and a teenager, the department said. The person being tested is in her 30s.

The three were on a school trip, the department said, adding it was monitoring all 38 people who went on that same trip.

“They have been instructed to not go to school or work and to remain at home for these 14 days,” the department said in a news release.

New York: 1

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state’s first coronavirus case is a 39-year-old health care worker who recently returned from Iran and is now in isolation with her husband.

The woman did not have any symptoms when she flew back to the US last week, officials said.

Cuomo said the goal was to “test as many as you can” and isolate anyone who tests positive to reduce the spread.

“We will have more cases, we will have community spread. That is inevitable,” Cuomo said.

Arizona: 1

The one patient identified to have coronavirus “has recovered and is no longer infected with the disease,” state Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said Monday.

State officials are awaiting the results of one last test after testing 26 residents and receiving 24 negative results, Christ said.

New Hampshire: 1

New Hampshire’s first presumptive positive case was an individual who had traveled to Italy recently, State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said.

The patient is not hospitalized and is in home isolation, Chan said.

There’s no reason to believe the case represents “wider-spread community transmission,” Chan added.

Wisconsin: 1

Wisconsin reported its only case of the coronavirus early February. The patient was an adult with a history of travel to Beijing, China, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said.

That person was isolated and doing well and the risk to the public was low, the department said.

That individual has recovered and is out of isolation, CNN affiliate WDJT reported.


MONDAY, MAR. 2

UTHSC offers coronavirus answers on new website

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new website run by researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis is providing coronavirus answers for the public.

UTHSC’s site went live recently (click here). It contains information on how the virus is spread, how to protect yourself and whether there is danger from accepting packages from China, for example.

There is even a section to ask local health experts questions.

A team of researchers at UTHSC is studying the coronavirus in its lab.


Novel coronavirus infects more than 88,000 worldwide as clusters spread

The death toll from the novel coronavirus has passed 3,000 worldwide, as outbreaks in Italy and Iran continue to worsen and dozens of countries reported their first cases of the highly infectious illness.

The virus, formally known as Covid-19, has infected more than 88,400 people since the outbreak began last December in Wuhan, China.

The vast majority of cases and deaths are still in mainland China, concentrated in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital — however, despite travel bans, mass quarantines and emergency measures in China, it continues to spread.

The virus has reached every continent except Antarctica, with outbreak clusters in Italy and Iran rapidly spreading to nearby countries. Case numbers are rising in Canada, the United States, South Korea, and other newly-infected places.

The first cases have also reached Latin America and Africa; in the latter, the virus has been reported in Egypt, Nigeria, and Algeria, raising concern of a possible spread across the continent.

Italy and Iran outbreaks

Iran and Italy are at the heart of the outbreaks in the Middle East and Europe. In the past 10 days, 37 countries have confirmed their first cases, mainly in these regions.

Iran now has 978 cases and 54 deaths, since announcing its first case of novel coronavirus on February 19. Neighboring countries including Afghanistan, Turkey, Iraq, and others have closed borders with Iran or implemented travel restrictions.

Schools have been widely suspended in Pakistan, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and other countries.

Meanwhile, Italy now has 1,694 cases and 34 deaths — the most coronavirus cases of any country outside of Asia. And it’s not slowing down — on Sunday, Italy reported a 50% increase in cases compared to the previous day.

Several cities and towns in the country’s north are under lockdown, with movement limited in or out of affected areas — effectively quarantining 100,000 people.

Other countries like the US have also implemented travel restrictions to and from Italy. Two American airlines have suspended flights to Milan.

Authorities in Europe are taking precautions to prevent large gatherings of people.Many public spaces like the Louvre in Paris and Milan’s La Scala opera house have closed, while crowded events like the Paris half-marathon have been canceled. A French official advised against a long-time French tradition — cheek-kissing — to avoid close physical contact.

Spreading across the Americas

New cases of the virus have begun emerging in North and South America in recent days.

Canada now has 24 cases, spread across Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.

The United States has89 confirmed cases — including 44 evacuated passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three repatriated from Wuhan, 38 cases that were detected and tested on US soil and four cases “presumed positive.”

The US also reported its first two deaths this weekend — one on Saturday, and one late Sunday. Both were in Washington state, where authorities are investigating a possible outbreak at a nursing facility.

New York, Rhode Island, and Florida also reported their first cases this weekend. Patients in all three states had recently traveled to virus-hit countries — one to Iran, and two to Italy.

President Donald Trump warned the American public that more cases were “likely,” but urged them not to panic at a news conference on Saturday. He is expected to visit the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta this week.

Meanwhile, new cases in Latin and SouthAmerica have raised concerns; Brazil reported its first case on February 26, marking the first time the virus had reached the continent. Only days later, Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic reported their first cases.

“For several weeks, countries in the Americas have been preparing for the possible importation of cases of Covid-19,” said Carissa F Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in a statement on February 26 after Brazil reported itsfirst case.

“A multi-sectoral response to ensure strengthened surveillance, health service readiness, preventing spread, and maintaining essential services, are key interventions to slow transmission and save lives.”

South Korea

In Asia, the spotlight is on South Korea, which has over 4,200 cases and 26 deaths. The youngest patient there is a 45-day-old baby.

About 60% of all nationwide cases are linked to the Shincheonji religious group and its branch in the southern city of Daegu, which has reported more than 2,500 cases.

The group, an offshoot of Christianity, faces a legal complaint filed by the Seoul city government on charges including homicide, the city announced in a news release today.

The group has been accused of withholding information or hampering officials’ investigation into the virus — but its leaders have vehemently denied these allegations.

“I’m sure there have been areas where we could have done better but we do want to emphasize that we did our best in the situation,” Kim Shin-chang, Shincheonji director of international missions, told CNN Sunday.

Kim insisted that the group had been fully transparent and cooperative, and denied the government’s claim that Shincheonji members had traveled from Wuhan to South Korea.

“It makes me wonder if (the government ministry) are trying to exaggerate the link or possibly move the responsibility to Shincheonji,” he said.

South Korean authorities have contacted at least a third of all Shincheonji members, and warn that the number of cases may keep increasing in the coming days as they track down and test the remaining members for coronavirus.


What symptoms to be on the lookout for and how to protect yourself from coronavirus

As the United States recorded its first coronavirus death — and the number of infections grows worldwide — many people are wondering what symptoms to be on the lookout for and how to protect themselves.

There are now 71 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in the United States. Here’s what you should know to keep yourself safe:

What are the symptoms

Coronavirus makes people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Its symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache and a fever that can last for a couple of days.

For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.

How does it spread

Transmission between humans happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person’s secretions, such as droplets in a cough.

Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. The virus can also be transmitted by coming into contact with something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Caregivers can sometimes be exposed by handling a patient’s waste, according to the CDC.

The virus appears to mainly spread from person to person.

“People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest),” the CDC says. “Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with … coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

How is it treated

There is no specific antiviral treatment, but research is underway.

Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early. If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your doctor. Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication. The CDC says a room humidifier or a hot shower can help with a sore throat or cough.

People with coronavirus should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. In some severe cases, treatment includes care to support vital organ functions, the CDC says.

People who think they may have been exposed to the virus should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

How long is the incubation period

Quarantine is usually set up for the incubation period — the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure. For coronavirus, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure, because 14 days is the longest incubation period seen for similar illnesses.

How can you can prevent it

There is no vaccine to protect against it, at least not yet.

The US National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine but it will be months until clinical trials get underway and more than a year until it might become available.

Meanwhile, you may be able to reduce your risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Awareness is also key. If you are sick and have reason to believe it may be coronavirus, you should let a health care provider know and seek treatment early.


Two dozen new cases of coronavirus were reported in the US over the weekend

The total number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States jumped by two dozen over the weekend, as the first two deaths from the outbreak were confirmed.

New cases of the virus were announced in Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington state, New York and Florida on Sunday, bringing the US total to 89 as of Monday morning, up from 65 on Friday night.

The new cases prompted emergency declarations in at least two states and sparked new warnings. Schools in the Seattle area, Portland area, and Rhode Island all announced closures for cleaning this week after presumptive positive cases linked to either students or staff.

Dozens of new cases

At least 18 new cases were announced across the country on Sunday, includingthe first two cases ever reported in Florida.

Those cases involve one resident of Hillsborough County who tested positive and has a history of travel to Italy. The other is an adult in Manatee County who also tested positive but had no history of travel outside the US, a statement from the Florida Department of Health said. Both were in self-isolation as of Sunday night and will remain isolated until they are cleared by health officials, the statement said.

“This is the scenario that we prepare for every day in public health,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said in a statement. “The Department is moving forward with the appropriate plans, and we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local medical providers to ensure these individuals receive the proper treatment and that anyone who has come into contact with them is following the necessary protocols, limiting or stopping any further spread.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency as a result of the cases, a memorandum from his office said.

An emergency proclamation also was issued in Washington state, where both US deaths from the virus occurred. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency after the first death was confirmed on Saturday in King County. The patient was a man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer for Seattle and King County said during a news conference on Saturday. He said he and other health officials were made aware of the case on Friday.

The second death was a man in his 70s who suffered from underlying health conditions and died Saturday, Seattle & King County Public Health said in a news release.

At least 6 cases linked to one facility

The latter patient was one of four new cases confirmed Sunday among residents of a long-term nursing facility in Kirkland, Washington, where officials have been investigating a possible outbreak of coronavirus.

The patients were residents of the Life Care Center, where a cluster of cases were reported starting Saturday.

More than 50 residents and staff from the facility are experiencing symptoms, and will be tested for coronavirus, Duchin said. The facility has about 108 residents and 180 staff members, he said.

The investigation was sparked after two people linked to the facility — a resident and a health care worker — both tested positive for the coronavirus, Duchin said.

As of Sunday night, 13 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Washington state — 10 of them in King County and three others in Snohomish County — according to health officials.

Duchin said it is likely more cases will be discovered.

“We believe that these are cases of community acquired transmission,” Duchin said. As health officials test more, “we’ll likely find more cases,” he said.

More cases from coast to coast

Meantime, five new cases were announced in northern California Sunday — three of them in Santa Clara County.

One patient was a woman who had underlying health issues and was hospitalized. Two others were a husband and wife who had recently traveled to Egypt, according to a news release from the Santa Clara Public Health Department.

The new cases brought the total number of cases in Santa Clara County to seven.

Alameda County and Solano County each had one resident test positive for the virus, a joint news release from the counties’ health departments announced. Both are health care workers who were exposed to a patient at UC Davis in Sacramento, the release said.

More than 120 UC Davis health care staff were in self-quarantine after possibly being exposed to the patient admitted to the medical center last week.

A second case was also reported in Oregon on Sunday. The Washington County adult had close household contact with the state’s initial case and did not require medical attention, the Oregon Health Authority said in a news release.

New cases were also announced in Rhode Island, the first two in the state. An adult female and a teenage girl were both diagnosed with the virus, Rhode Island Health Officials announced. They had traveled to Europe on the same trip in mid-February, according to a news release from the Rhode Island Department of Health.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a statement Sunday night that a woman in her late 30s had been identified with a presumptive positive case of coronavirus in that state. The woman contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran. She has respiratory symptoms but is not in serious condition, the statement said.

The patient went to the hospital in Manhattan and remains isolated in her Manhattan home, a New York State Department of Health spokesperson told CNN.

“There is no cause for surprise — this was expected. As I said from the beginning, it was a matter of when, not if there would be a positive case of novel coronavirus in New York,” Cuomo said.


SATURDAY, FEB. 29

U.S. reports its first death from coronavirus

(AP) — A person has died in Washington state of COVID-19, state health officials said Saturday, marking the first such reported death in the United States.

State officials issued a terse news release announcing the death, gave no details and scheduled a news conference.

Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state worried about the novel coronavirus spreading through West Coast communities after confirming three patients were infected by unknown means.

The patients — an older Northern California woman with chronic health conditions, a high school student in Everett, Washington and an employee at a Portland, Oregon-area school — hadn’t recently traveled overseas or had any known close contact with a traveler or an infected person, authorities said.

Earlier U.S. cases include three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak; 14 people who returned from China, or their spouses; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who were flown to U.S. military bases in California and Texas for quarantining.

Convinced that the number of cases will grow but determined to keep them from exploding, health agencies were ramping up efforts to identify patients.

The California Department of Public Health said Friday that the state will receive enough kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to test up to 1,200 people a day for the COVID-19 virus — a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom complained to federal health officials that the state had already exhausted its initial 200 test kits.

Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area reported two cases where the source of infection wasn’t known. The older woman was hospitalized for a respiratory illness, and rapid local testing confirmed in one day that she had the virus, health officials said.

“This case represents some degree of community spread, some degree of circulation,” said Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County and director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department.

“But we don’t know to what extent,” Cody said. “It could be a little, it could be a lot.”

“We need to begin taking important additional measures to at least slow it down as much as possible,” she said.

Cody said the newly confirmed case in Santa Clara County is not linked to two previous cases in that county, nor to others in the state.

The Santa Clara County resident was treated at a local hospital and is not known to have traveled to Solano County, where another woman was identified Wednesday as having contracted the virus from an unknown source.

Dozens of people had close contact with the Solano County woman. They were urged to quarantine themselves at home, while a few who showed symptoms of illness were in isolation, officials said.

At UC Davis Medical Center at least 124 registered nurses and other health care workers were sent home for “self-quarantine” after the Solano County woman with the virus was admitted, National Nurses United, a nationwide union representing RNs, said Friday.

The case “highlights the vulnerability of the nation’s hospitals to this virus,” the union said.

Earlier Friday, Oregon confirmed its first coronavirus case, a person who works at an elementary school in the Portland area, which will be temporarily closed.

The Lake Oswego School District sent a robocall to parents saying that Forest Hills Elementary will be closed until Wednesday so it can be deep-cleaned by maintenance workers.

Washington state health officials announced two new coronavirus cases Friday night, including a high school student who attends Jackson High School in Everett, said Dr. Chris Spitters of the Snohomish County Health District.

The other case in Washington was a woman in in King County in her 50s who had recently traveled to South Korea, authorities said.

Both patients weren’t seriously ill.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States is considered small. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.

But health officials aren’t taking any chances. Some communities, including San Francisco, already have declared local emergencies in case they need to obtain government funding.

In Southern California’s Orange County, the city of Costa Mesa went to court to prevent state and federal health officials from transferring dozens of people exposed to the virus aboard a cruise ship in Japan to a state-owned facility in the city. The passengers, including some who tested positive for the virus and underwent hospital care, had been staying at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.

On Friday, state officials said the federal decided it no longer had a crucial need to move those people to the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa. That’s because of the imminent end of the isolation period for those passengers and the relatively small number of persons who ended up testing positive, officials said.

The new coronavirus cases of unknown origin marks an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the U.S. because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures like quarantines, though state health officials said that was inevitable and that the risk of widespread transmission remains low.

California public health officials on Friday said more than 9,380 people are self-monitoring after arriving on commercial flights from China through Los Angeles and San Francisco. That’s up from the 8,400 that Newsom cited on Thursday, though officials said the number increases daily as more flights arrive.

Officials are not too worried, for now, about casual contact, because federal officials think the coronavirus is spread only through “close contact, being within six feet of somebody for what they’re calling a prolonged period of time,” said Dr. James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health.

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

As infectious disease experts fanned out in the Solano County city of Vacaville, some residents in the city between San Francisco and Sacramento stocked up on supplies amid fears things could get worse despite official reassurances, while others took the news in stride.

The woman in the community who has coronavirus first sought treatment at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, before her condition worsened and she was transferred to the medical center in Sacramento.

Sacramento County’s top health official told The Sacramento Bee on Friday that he expects several medical workers to test positive themselves in the next few days. Numerous workers at both hospitals have been tested, but the tests were sent to labs approved by the CDC and generally take three to four days to complete.

Peter Beilenson, Sacramento County’s health services director, said he expects even those who test positive to become only mildly ill.

Confusion over how quickly the woman was tested for coronavirus concerned McKinsey Paz, who works at a private security firm in Vacaville. The company has already stockpiled 450 face masks and is scrambling for more “since they’re hard to come by.” The company’s owner bought enough cleaning and disinfectant supplies to both scrub down the office and send home with employees.

But they appeared to be at the extreme for preparations.

Eugenia Kendall was wearing a face mask, but in fear of anything including the common cold. Her immune system is impaired because she is undergoing chemotherapy, and she has long been taking such precautions.

“We’re not paranoid. We’re just trying to be practical,” said her husband of 31 years, Ivan Kendall. “We wipe the shopping carts if they have them, and when I get back in the car I wipe my hands — and just hope for the best.”


There are at least 4 coronavirus cases in the US that are not travel-related, officials say

NUTLEY, NJ – FEBRUARY 28: A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on February 28, 2020 in Nutley, New Jersey. The facility develops novel therapies for some of the worlds most difficult diseases. At least 53 countries have reported cases of infection. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

(CNN) — There are now at least four US coronavirus cases without any related travel history, health officials say.

A woman in Oregon and a high school boy in Washington state are presumptive positives, which means their tests were conducted at local labs but the results have not yet been confirmed by the CDC.

The other two mystery cases are from California.

An older woman in Santa Clara County who had been hospitalized for a respiratory illness tested positive for the virus but had no relevant travel history or contact with anyone infected, health officials said.

“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission, but the extent is still not clear,” said Dr. Sara Cody, director of the county’s public health department.

Theother California case is a Solano County woman who is hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center and in serious condition.

The two counties are about 90 miles apart. The Santa Clara patient had not traveled to Solano County, officials said.

With an increase in cases with unknown origins and a change in testing guidelines across the country, CDC officials said they were hoping to have every state and local health department testing for the virus by the end of next week.

As of early Saturday, there were at least 67 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US — the majority of which were repatriated passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. Worldwide, the virus has killed at least 2,922 — including 2,835 people in China — and there have been 85,055 confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization has “increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at a global level,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday, referring to the WHO’s formal name for the disease caused by the virus.

“The continued increase in the number of cases,” he said, “and the number of affected countries over the last few days, are clearly of concern.”

Here’s what else you need to know heading into the weekend:

States announce presumptive positives

Oregon Health Authority officials confirmed the state’s first presumptive case Friday — a Washington County resident with no history of related travel nor close contact with another confirmed case, the agency said in a news release.

“As such, public health officials are considering it a likely community-transmitted case, meaning that the origin of the infection is unknown,” the release said.

Officials said the patient is in isolation.

“We are awaiting confirmation of the test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but at this time we are considering this a presumptive case,” said State Epidemiologist and State Health Officer Dean Sidelinger in a statement.

Officials also haven’t traced how a Washington state high school boy was infected. Those test results were also presumptive positive.

The student, a Snohomish County resident, is doing well, said Dr. Chris Spitters, interim health officer for the Snohomish Health District.

The patient is one of two presumptive positive cases in the state.

A woman from King County tested positive at the state’s Public Health Laboratory and is in home isolation, according to a release from the Washington State Health Department. Her test is awaiting confirmation from the CDC.

She visited South Korea for about two weeks earlier this month, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer at Public Health of Seattle & King County. The woman returned and worked for one day before noticing symptoms. She developed a fever, cough, some nausea, a headache and a sore throat, Duchin said in a news conference Friday. Officials are now investigating the woman’s workplace and anyone she may have come in contact with, he said.

More cases reported internationally

Meanwhile, other countries raised their coronavirus counts on Saturday.

France has 73 registered cases, Spain 50, and the United Kingdom 23, the governments reported.

Iran’s death toll reached 43, with 593 cases reported, according to the health ministry via state-run news.

Officials work to expand testing capabilities

In hopes of enabling more rapid testing capabilities, the US Food and Drug Administration announced a policy Saturday allowing certain laboratories to use tests they developed and validated before the FDA has reviewed them.

“We believe this policy strikes the right balance during this public health emergency,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “We will continue to help to ensure sound science prior to clinical testing and follow-up with the critical independent review from the FDA, while quickly expanding testing capabilities in the US.”

The guidance only applies to labs that are certified to perform high-complexity testing. Once labs have validated a test, the guidance says, they must notify he FDA and submit a request for emergency use authorization within 15 business days.

The CDC, following an earlier change in testing guidelines, is working to expand the number of labs that can test for the virus.

Testing kits from the CDC arrived Friday in California, and additional kits were expected soon, according to a news release from the California Department of Public Health.

“These new testing protocols and resources will help California medical experts identify and treat COVID-19 cases, trace potential exposures and better protect public health,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

Some testing kits initially sent to state and local labs were flawed, delaying their ability to test for the virus.

“This has not gone as smoothly as we would have liked,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Friday.

Guidelines for who should be tested were broadened by the CDC earlier this week after the first case of unknown origin emerged in California.

Initial guidance called for testing only if a patient had a travel history to China or had been in close contact with someone who had been there, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.

The Solano County patient now in serious condition wasn’t initially tested at UC Davis or the Northern California hospital she was transferred from because she did not fit the CDC criteria for testing at the time.

“As soon as that case was recognized, we met and we revised our case definition for persons under investigation,” Redfield said.

The guidance was updated on the CDC’s website Thursday.

“Today that has been posted along with a new health advisory that the recommendation should be when a clinician or individual suspects coronavirus, then we should be able to get a test for coronavirus.”

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FRIDAY, FEB. 28

WREG takes inside look at Methodist’s coronavirus screening process

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — WREG got an inside look at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Hospital’s coronavirus screening process Friday.

Dr. Jeff Harris, medical director of Methodist University’s emergency department, says everyone who walks through the front doors of every Methodist hospital will be asked about their travel history.

“Every patient has the signage that says if you’ve had international travel or if you have any reason to suspect you’ve been exposed, notify staff immediately,” Harris said.

Harris says if a patient feels they may have been exposed, the hospital will send the patient to an isolated area for additional screening. If someone showed positive results, they would be placed in an isolation room for further monitoring.

“Someone that needed a respiratory support would stay in an respiratory isolation room their entire time at the hospital,” Harris said.

Harris says there are isolation rooms in every Methodist hospital. They look just like any other hospital room and contain all the same equipment. The only difference would be the lower air pressure.

“So, this room has high-efficiency filters that take the air and filter it,” Harris said.

He says patients wouldn’t notice a difference in pressure. However, they would have minimal physical contact with the outside world until their results improved.

Harris says this is all a part of their protocol, but they are constantly looking for new ways to prepare for the worse.

“We’ve been talking about this for weeks of what do we need to do to our preparedness plans to be ready for a potential outbreak locally,” Harris said.

Harris says, just like any other virus, the coronavirus can be prevented by practicing good hygiene.

Baptist Hospitals says they also have isolation rooms similar to the ones at Methodist hospitals.


The CDC has changed its criteria for testing patients for coronavirus after the first case of unknown origin was confirmed

Spencer Stone, one of three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a Paris bound train in August, was rushed to the University of California, Davis Medical Center, after he was stabbed in a fight in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,)

After a US patient contracted novel coronavirus and left medical authorities no clues as to where it came from, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun sending out new testing guidance to health care workers, the top CDC official said Thursday.

A patient in California who has cornonavirus didn’t travel anywhere known to have the virus, the CDC announced Wednesday night. And the patient wasn’t exposed to anyone known to be infected.

The patient is in serious condition, Rep. John Garamendi, who represents the district in California where the patient is from, told CNN’s “OutFront with Erin Burnett.

“Whether this person can actually talk or not is of question. She’s been intubated, and so may not be in a position to discuss it,” he said.

Earlier in the outbreak, CDC guidance to doctors in the United States was that a patient had to have a travel history to China or be a close contact of someone who had been there before being tested, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.

The new patient who prompted the guidance change was transferred from another Northern California hospital last week.

According to a letter from UC Davis Health, the patient “did not fit the existing CDC criteria for Covid-19, a test was not immediately administered.” After doctors persisted in their request for the test, on Sunday, CDC went ahead with testing.

That patient became the first US case of unknown origin, according to the CDC. It could be the first US case of “community spread” of the virus, when the source of the infection is unknown.

“As soon as that case was recognized, we met and we revised our case definition for persons under investigation,” Redfield said. “Today, that has been posted (to the CDC website) along with a new health advisory that the recommendation should be when a clinician or individual suspects coronavirus, then we should be able to get a test for coronavirus.”

The mysterious nature of this case is significant, said Dr. Dean Blumberg, an infectious disease specialist at UC Davis Medical Center.

“That suggests that the virus is out there in the community, and that means pretty much that everybody’s at risk,” he told CNN affiliate KCRA. “We don’t know who might be carrying it. We don’t know who we can get it from.”

As for whoever passed the virus to the UC Davis patient, “that other person probably exposed other people,” Blumberg said.

“And you have to realize that this virus is so new, that none of us have any immunity to it. So, anybody who’s exposed is at high risk of getting infected with this.”

Health officials are now trying to trace those who may have been in contact with the UC Davis patient.

“We currently have people in the field working in the community from the local, from the state and also from the CDC,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.

“They’re contacting any individuals who might have been exposed, and they’re isolating them.”

But Angell emphasized “the risk to the general public remains low.”

The United States has 60 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

  • 42 are former passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, the site of a recent outbreak and quarantine.
  • 3 are Americans recently repatriated from Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak.
  • 1 patient at UC Davis Medical Center contracted the illness through unknown means.
  • Most of the other 14 patients either had recently been to China or are a spouse of someone who recently returned from China.

How life might change if coronavirus spreads

‘Simply inadequate’ number of test kits so far

There’s been a strain on testing capabilities since novel coronavirus was first detected in the United States last month.

In the early weeks of the virus, the CDC was the only facility in the United States that could test for the virus.

Since then, coronavirus test kits have been shipped to labs across the country, but some produced inconclusive results. The CDC said it would remake parts of the test kits.

The UC Davis patient was transferred from another California hospital February 19 with a suspected viral infection, the university hospital’s letter said.

UC Davis said it requested CDC testing for Covid-19, the formal name of the virus, because neither Sacramento County nor the California Department of Public Health were conducting testing.

“Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for Covid-19, a test was not immediately administered,” the letter says. “UC Davis Health does not control the testing process.”

The patient is from Solano County, which declared a local emergency Thursday, allowing it to use funds for response efforts.

Multiple health care personnel were exposed to the patient, Solano County Health and Social Services public health officer Dr. Bela Matyas said.

Since the patient didn’t meet the criteria for testing, the patient was not in airborne isolation initially, Matyas said.

Hospitals are trying to identify the people who were exposed to the patient to put them into appropriate categories — whether they need to be under isolation or under quarantine, he added.

Some of the patient’s family members are in isolation, he said. The person has no connection to Travis Air Force Base, which is in the county and has seen several repatriation flights from China.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at least 8,400 people have been monitored locally, but the number of test kits his state has received isn’t enough.

“We have just 200 kits, and that’s for not just the traditional diagnostic, but also surveillance. It’s simply inadequate,” Newsom said Thursday. “But no longer will that be the case. … We have been assured of our capacity to significantly, exponentially increase the capacity to test.”

By this weekend, 93 labs across the United States are expected to have testing capabilities, Azar said. And as many as 70 companies are vying to develop a “bedside diagnostic” test for hospital use.

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a two-step test that will allow labs other than the CDC to test for the virus, Azar said.

Previously, the process for testing involved three steps. The third step had been causing some inconclusive results, Azar said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, “the FDA authorized the use of those tests by using just the first and second step (to) provide a definitive diagnostic,” Azar said. “Forty labs are qualified to already be doing that.”

US is testing treatment

Meanwhile, a clinical trial is underway at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha to evaluate how effective an antiviral drug would be on people diagnosed with coronavirus, the National Institutes of Health said.

There have been at least 82,056 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 2,800 deaths — the vast majority in China.

The drug being tested in the trial, remdesivir, was previously tested in humans for Ebola, but studies found it was ineffective in fighting that disease. It was also tested in MERS and SARS trials in animals.

There are also clinical trials of the drug going on in China, the NIH said, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases developed the American study to match those studies.

The first participant in the Omaha trial is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Participants will receive 200 milligrams of remdesivir intravenously when they’re enrolled and another 100 while they’re hospitalized for up to 10 days in total. A placebo group will receive a solution that resembles remdesivir but contains only inactive ingredients, the NIH said.


THURSDAY, FEB. 27

New coronavirus case escalates US response

VACAVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Public health officials were retracing the steps of a Northern California woman on Thursday believed to be the first person in the U.S. to contract the highly contagious coronavirus without traveling internationally or being in close contact with anyone who had it.

The diagnosis, confirmed Wednesday, marks an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the U.S. because it means the virus could now spread beyond the reach of quarantines and other preventative measures. But state health officials were quick to reassure the public on Thursday that such a scenario was inevitable and the risk of widespread transmission remained low.

The case raised questions about how quickly public health officials are moving to diagnose and treat new cases. State and federal health officials disagreed Thursday about when doctors first requested the woman be tested.

Doctors at the UC Davis Medical Center said they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test the woman for the virus on Feb. 19. But they said the CDC did not approve the testing until Sunday “since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria” for the virus, according to a memo posted to the hospital’s website.

CDC spokesman Richard Quartarone said a preliminary review of agency records indicates the agency did not know about the woman until Sunday, the same day the woman was first tested.

Quartarone said the agency is concerned about reports of delayed testing and is “investigating this carefully.” He said the CDC has can test about 400 specimens per day.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state was limited in how many people it could test because it only had 200 testing kits. But he said federal officials have promised to send many more testing kits in the coming days.

“I’m not going to politicize this moment And I’m not going to point fingers,” Newsom said. “We have had a very strong working relationship with the (Trump) administration.”

Investigators were focused Thursday on tracing the woman’s movements to figure out how she got the virus and who else she may have unwittingly infected. The woman first sought treatment at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, a city of more than 100,000 people about 59 miles (95 kilometers) from San Francisco.

Ten experts from the CDC arrived Thursday morning and were heading to Vacaville to help with the search, said Dr. James Watt, interim state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health.

With the patient as ground zero, they are interviewing immediate family members. Then, as with any similar case, they are expanding the net to include more distant family members who may have been in contact, social events the patient may expanded, like going to church. Did she go to work? Attend a concert?

They are not too worried, for now, about casual contact, because federal officials think the coronavirus is spread only through “close contact, being within six feet of somebody for what they’re calling a prolonged period of time,” said Watt, who was the state’s deputy epidemiologist for 10 years before he took the interim post two months ago.

“That’s more than casual contact at a grocery store,” Watt said. “That’s where our focus is going to be. … What was the pattern of disease transmission?”

All of the 59 other cases in the U.S. have been for people who had traveled abroad or had close contact with others who traveled.

Earlier U.S. cases included 14 in people who returned from outbreak areas in China, or their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from where the ship was docked in Japan.

Some of those people have been treated at Travis Air Force Base, located in Solano County where the Northern California woman lives. But there is no evidence the woman has any connection to the base, said Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.

The global count of those sickened by the virus hovered Thursday around 82,000, with 433 new cases reported in China and another 505 in South Korea.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family that can cause colds or more serious illnesses such as SARS and MERS.

The virus can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

Officials are advising people to take steps to avoid infection with coronavirus or other respiratory infections like colds or the flu, including washing hands with soap and water and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Japan to close schools nationwide to control spread of virus

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is asking all elementary, middle and high schools nationwide to close until late March to help control the spread of the new virus in the country.

The request caught many local officials by surprise. While not legally binding, it is expected to be followed. It will affect 12.8 million students at about 34,800 schools nationwide.

The decision comes amid growing concern about the rise in the number of untraceable cases of the virus in Japan. The country now has more than 910 cases, including 705 from a quarantined cruise ship. An eighth death from the virus was confirmed Thursday on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Flu season. Coronavirus. How managers can handle sickness and paranoia at the office

(CNN) — The threat of a virus spreading at work raises a perennial issue: What can a manager ask employees to do when they’re showing signs of being sick? Or when their employees are worried about being exposed to a contagious illness?

Though the chance of contracting the coronavirus in the United States is still low, employers are on high alert for how best to keep employees healthy given that the virus has spread to all but one continent and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now expects it to spread within the US. Not to mention the fact that this is already a bad flu season and influenza thus far has been far more of a risk for US workers.

What should a manager do if an employee doesn’t want to travel?
Growing concerns about the coronavirus have forced US employers to make some tough decisions about sending employees overseas for business trips and holding large events.

Employers are legally obligated to provide employees with a healthy, safe work environment and several are opting to err on the side of caution.

For instance, Cisco, Amazon, Ericsson and Sony pulled out of participating in the Mobile World Congress in Spain over coronavirus fears.

And Facebook canceled F8, its biggest annual event, due to concerns over coronavirus.

If, however, an employee tells his manager he doesn’t want to go on a scheduled business trip for fear of catching something, in most instances the company may still insist he go — especially if travel is part of his job description.

“But it’s more of a best practice for employers to see how they can accommodate the employee and try to resolve their concerns. It’s better for the employment relationship,” said Alka Ramchandani-Raj, an attorney specializing in workplace safety at the law firm Littler Mendelson.

For starters, a lot will depend on where the employee plans to travel and what health risks are associated with that area.

A manager should find out more about the employee’s specific concerns, said Amber Clayton, the director of the Knowledge Center at the Society for Human Resource Management.

Then if the company believes the trip would be safe, the manager should cite the official guidance it has from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization, Ramchandani-Raj said.

The manager and employee should also assess whether the trip is essential. If so, explore what the company can do to make the employee feel safer traveling. That could mean providing protective gear and giving the employee proper training on how to use it.

If you determine the trip isn’t essential — or if the concerned employee is pregnant, older or has a health condition that puts her at higher risk — figure out other ways the same work can be accomplished, perhaps through video conferencing.

In all cases, “communication is key,” Ramchandani-Raj said.

Should a company send an employee on a trip despite her concerns, the employer puts itself at risk if the employee does contract a virus while away.

“The employee could take legal action, saying ‘You sent me into a situation of risk,'” Clayton cautioned. And if the employee comes back and spreads the virus to others at work, worker compensation for others who get infected may become an issue, she noted.

Can a manager send a sick employee home?
Everybody thinks they’re a hero for coming to work sick. But their colleagues may not appreciate it.

“Companies should have clear policies and procedures in place to prevent the spread of illness,” Clayton said. That includes explicitly encouraging people to stay home — or to leave the office — when they’re not feeling well and not punishing those who do, especially when a global health emergency has been declared.

To specifically contain and prevent the spread of coronavirus, SHRM now recommends companies “send symptomatic employees home until they produce documentation from a medical professional that they are able to return to work.”

The group also recommends that organizations “require employees returning from high-risk areas to telework during the incubation period, only returning to the office when they can produce medical documentation confirming they are able to return to work.”

Be diplomatic
Asking someone who is showing signs of being sick to stay home has to be done in the context of their well-being. “Let them know you’re there to support them,” Ramchandani-Raj said. If they’re not feeling great but feel they can still work, encourage them to telecommute if possible.

If an employee refuses and they’re struggling to function well, you might say you can’t let them work on site because you’re worried about their health as well as everyone else’s in the office. If you feel their illness poses a direct threat to colleagues’ safety, you may be able to insist they be evaluated by a doctor, Ramchandani-Raj said.

But in all instances managers must be careful not to make assumptions and discriminate against anyone in the process.

For example, in the case of the coronavirus, which started in China, a manager in a US office should never assume that an employee of Chinese descent is at any higher risk of carrying the disease than anyone else in the office.

Or if an employee complains about a colleague who is having coughing fits, the manager needs to observe that behavior directly and speak with the colleague in question to see if he’s not feeling well and wants to go home.

“What you don’t want is retaliatory or discriminatory conduct from one employee to another. That can become bullying,” Ramchandani-Raj said.

You can, however, try to accommodate the complaining employee by letting him temporarily work in a different area or even work from home.

Where can a manager with questions go for help?
Managers who aren’t sure how to handle a health situation involving an employee should go to their HR representative or the company’s employee safety director, Clayton said.

And they can keep abreast of the latest guidance for businesses on the coronavirus and other active health concerns by checking the sites of the CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 26

How to prepare for coronavirus in the United States: 10 questions answered

Officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that the novel coronavirus will spread in US communities, and a case announced on Wednesday might be the country’s first instance of it.

“Our aggressive containment strategy here in the United States has been working and is responsible for the low levels of cases that we have so far. However we do expect more cases, and this is a good time to prepare,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s principal deputy director, said during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday.

“The coronavirus that we’re talking about is a respiratory virus. It’s spread in a similar way to the common cold or to influenza. It’s spread through coughs and sneezes,” she said. “So those everyday sensible measures that we tell people to do every year with the flu are important here — covering your cough, staying home when you’re sick and washing your hands.”

No one knows what community spread could look like in the United States — it could be mild or very severe — and the World Health Organization has noted that, while the deadly coronavirus outbreak has the potential to develop into a pandemic, it’s not quite there yet.

In case of an outbreak that spreads within US communities, what can you do to protect yourself and your family? Here are 10 questions answered about how to prepare.

1. What should I buy?

The US Department of Homeland Security recommends on its website that, before a pandemic strikes, to store a two-week supply of water and food, as well as over-the-counter medications you tend to take.

“Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins,” according to the department.

“In general for emergency preparedness, we encourage all households to have an emergency response kit,” which could be used during any public health or severe weather emergency, said Jennifer Kertanis, president-elect of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

2. Are there places I should avoid?

The CDC has released travel warnings and alerts in relation to coronavirus disease.

As of Wednesday, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to mainland China and South Korea. Travel alerts for older people and people with chronic medical conditions to consider postponing nonessential travel have been issued for ItalyIran and Japan.

Regarding whether there are places to avoid in your community, such as the grocery store or library, health officials recommend to simply be mindful of avoiding close contact with people who may be sick.

Also, if you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

3. Should I keep my child home from school?

If your child is sick, it’s important to keep them home from school in order to protect other students from getting sick — but if your child is not sick, monitor local school closings.

Widespread transmission of the novel coronavirus could lead to schools, child care centers and other places for mass gatherings experiencing more absenteeism and even shutting down if that precaution is needed, according to the CDC.

Closing schools or canceling gatherings in response to public health concerns are common actions that school districts have had to make before throughout history.

“Even in my own state of Maine, schools have in recent weeks and months had to close for influenza. During the H1N1 crisis many years ago, schools were also closed then,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a member of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

For the coronavirus, however, “one of the questions that is scientifically out there that will govern or drive how school closures are calculated is to what extent children themselves carry or transmit this virus,” he said. “Scientifically we need to have a better understanding of to what extent children are carriers or transmitters of the virus — the point of that is, it’s premature right now based on the science to make uniform claims about what school closures may look like.”

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told her family that while they are not at risk right now, they should plan for what to do if their lives were significantly impacted, she said during a press briefing on Tuesday. She also said she called the children’s school district about what would happen if schools need to close.

Messonnier said her agency wants people to understand their lives might be disrupted.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad,” she said, adding that while CDC officials hope the spread won’t be severe in the United States, they are planning as if it could be.

4. Should I work from home?

Community spread of the virus could be reasonably mild or very severe — but Americans should still talk to employers about whether working online will be an option if needed, according to the CDC.

The CDC has even posted guidance on its website to help businesses and employers plan for possibly including telework or flexible sick leave policies into operations if there is significant spread of coronavirus across the country.

Sick employees shouldn’t return to work until their temperature has stayed below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) for at least 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicine, the CDC said.

Yet “what community spread looks like in the United States will vary greatly community by community. It might vary by time, it might vary by place,” Shah said.

“Although we believe, according to the US CDC, that community spread is likely in the United States, the magnitude of that possibility as well as how it actually plays out, that will vary greatly between Washington state, Florida, Maine and any other state,” he said, adding because of that, “there will not be a one-size-fits-all approach here.”

5. What should I do about my medications?

Before a pandemic, it is recommended to periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure you have a continuous supply in your home if needed, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

Also, it could be helpful to get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference.

6. What if I have to go to the doctor?

Talk to your doctor’s office about telehealth options.

Your doctor likely offers the option to conduct an appointment over the phone or via video conferencing, and if not, your doctor could recommend a physician who does.

7. Do I need a facemask?

The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear facemasks.

Rather, the CDC recommends to only wear a mask if a health care professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have the novel coronavirus and are showing symptoms — that is in order to protect others from the risk of getting infected.

Overall, the use of facemasks remains crucial for health workers and people who are caring for someone infected with the virus in close settings, such as a health care facility or at home, according to the CDC.

While the CDC does not recommend N95 respirator masks for the general public, it does recommend them for health care workers. But certain types of facial hair can prevent respirators from working effectively. So, the CDC created an infographic showing which styles of facial hair are riskier than others.

8. If I don’t need a mask, how can I avoid getting sick?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, according to the CDC.

The CDC also notes that there are several things to do to prevent the spread of any respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water

The proper way to wash your hands is for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after going to the bathroom and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

In general, the public should do “what you do every cold and flu season,” said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state — where the first US case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed.

Since it is currently flu season in the United States, the CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine — it’s not too late. Remember to also practice other good health habits too, such as managing stress and drinking plenty of fluids.

“Exercise, eat a good diet, get a lot of sleep, wash your hands, do everything you can to stay healthy right now,” Shah, of Maine CDC, said.

9. What if someone in my household has the virus — or thinks they do?

The best way to first determine whether you have the virus is to get tested.

If you develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days after travel from China, call your doctor right away. If you have had close contact with someone who has traveled and is showing those symptoms, you should call ahead to a doctor, according to the CDC.

Your doctor will then work with your state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for the novel coronavirus.

An infected person might not show symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure. That’s especially worrisome because this novel coronavirus can be transmitted while a person isn’t showing any symptoms. Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and trouble breathing are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

If you are sick or suspect you are, the CDC recommends to stay home except to get medical care and separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor’s office so that the office can make preparations to keep other people from getting infected or exposed to the virus.

In the case of suspected coronavirus, if you are sick, the CDC does recommend to wear a facemask — and cover your coughs and sneezes, clean your hands often and avoid sharing personal household items with others, such as utensils, dishes or bedding.

10. What if I want more information?

If you have more questions about the novel coronavirus, reach out to your local health department or find more information on the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov.

“One of the things that local health departments and state health departments are really doing is trying to make sure that we’re getting the best information out so that we’re quelling fear but at the same time leaning forward and preparing people as this continues to grow and develop,” said Kertanis, of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

“In any type of situation like this where we’re dealing with a new illness, something that’s growing and changing rapidly, it’s almost fear of the unknown,” she said.

Experts have said that the most important thing you can do is not panic and stay informed.

“We really want to urge everyone to avoid dubious sources of information and stick with trusted sources like their state health departments or the US CDC,” Shah said. “We’re in a situation where fear and misinformation can spread more quickly than this virus.”


WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 26: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a new conference with members of the coronavirus task force, including Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, acting Transportation Under Secretary Joel Szabat, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House February 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump updated the American people about what his administration’s ‘whole of government’ response to the global coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President: US is ‘ready’ for novel coronavirus outbreak as cases spread worldwide

In Washington, US President Donald Trump announced a new team dedicated to tackling the virus, led by Vice President Mike Pence.

“Mike will be working with the professionals, doctors and everybody else that’s working,” Trump said, adding that Pence will report directly to him. “Because of all we’ve done (so far), the risk to the American people remains very low.”

“It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared,” the President continued. “We have, as I said, we have the greatest people in the world. We’re very ready for it. We hope it doesn’t spread. There’s a chance that it won’t spread, too. And there’s a chance that it will.”

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director for the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said the US should expect to see more cases of coronavirus.

“Our aggressive containment strategy here in the United States has been working, and it is responsible for the low levels of cases that we have so far,” she said. “However, we do expect more cases. And this is a good time to prepare.”

Trump’s speech comes after cases of the virus were confirmed in South America — they have now been reported in every continent but Antarctica.

In Europe, officials are working overtime to stop a continent-wide outbreak, as the situation in Italy continues to worsen. More than 400 cases have been reported in the Southern European nation, the majority of those in the northern Lombardy region. Sporting and social events across northern Italy have been canceled over fears of spreading the virus.

More than 18 cases of the virus have been confirmed in both Germany and France, while two French patients have died from the disease.

South Korea outbreak

In Asia, the worst outbreak beyond mainland China is in South Korea, where more than 1,595 cases have been reported, including 12 deaths.

That outbreak appears to have begun in the southern city of Daegu, where around 700 of the cases have been reported, but it has since spread throughout the country, bringing with it travel restrictions and emergency measures.

The South Korean government has also rolled out a new phone app, which requires travelers entering the country to self-diagnose themselves and report any possible symptoms.

Joint US-South Korea military drills were called off Thursday due to the outbreak, after multiple members of the military were diagnosed with the virus.

An American soldier infected with the virus is being treated at Camp Humphreys, near the city of Pyeongtaek, the headquarters of the United States Forces Korea (USFK).

The soldier has been placed in negative pressure isolation to prevent the virus spreading, and is being monitored by medical professionals, Camp Humphreys Commander Michael Tremblay said.

The soldier is a 23-year-old man and is the first American service member to be confirmed with coronavirus.

In the US, the Pentagon said late Wednesday that it was prohibiting all non-essential Department of Defense travel to South Korea due to the outbreak.

Worldwide spread

Pressure is now growing on officials in Japan over plans for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, events for which are due to begin next month.

Around 150 cases have been confirmed in Japan, in addition to the almost 700 cases confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which began disembarkation last week after 14-days of quarantine.

Tokyo 2020 officials said Thursday that they were not currently considering canceling the Olympic Torch relay, which begins on March 26, but will look into how to host it without increasing the risk of infection, including scaling down events and the number of spectators.

Speaking to CNN, Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee, said the IOC has never had to deal with a possible pandemic and that “we are in daily if not hourly contact with the World Health Organization and the specialized agencies” to understand the facts and tendencies of the on-going coronavirus threat.

As for potential scenarios if the Games were indeed under threat, Pound suggested the Olympics could “be postponed for a few months, postponed for a year” if necessary or “dispersed in parcels around the world.”

“We’re not anywhere near that kind of decision making process,” he added.

Friday prayers have been canceled in Iran, after the worst outbreak in the Middle East saw a rapid spike in numbers this week.

Around 140 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Iran, and 19 deaths. Multiple neighboring countries have cut off travel to Iran, while Qatar has ordered the evacuation of citizens from the country, along with Kuwaitis who wish to leave Iran.

Sheikh Hamad al-Thank “issued directives to evacuate the citizens of the State of Qatar and citizens of the sisterly State of Kuwait, who are currently in Iran, due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus,” Qatari state media reported.

Pandemic fears rattle markets

The World Health Organization (WHO) has so far held off on classifying the coronavirus’ spread as a global pandemic, but the outbreak appears to be getting closer to meeting the global health body’s definition of one.

Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases said Tuesday that the situation has met two of the criteria for a pandemic: “the fact that this virus has caused illness — including illness that has resulted in death — and sustained person-to-person spread.”

“As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer towards meeting the third criteria: worldwide spread of the new virus,” she said.

The situation has rattled global markets and led to concern about the long term economic impact of the virus, with the Dow posting major losses earlier this week, though the US market opened marginally higher Wednesday.

In a widely-criticized tweet Wednesday, Trump claimed that CNN and MSNBC “are doing everything possible to make the (virus) look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible.”

He later blamed the stock market downturn on the Democratic presidential debates.


TOKYO, JAPAN – JANUARY 31: A passenger receives a temperature check before taking a flight bound for Wuhan at Spring Airlines’ check-in counter at Haneda airport on January 31, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. The Chinese government arranged a charter flight operated by Spring Airlines for tourists from Wuhan to return to the city first time since the center of the outbreak of a new coronavirus has been under lockdown. The number of those who have died from the Wuhan coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, in China climbed to over 213 on Friday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and several others. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

CDC considering expansion of airport health screenings for novel coronavirus

There are “ongoing” conversations at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about expanding airport health screenings for the novel coronavirus due to the rapid spread of the infection in Italy, South Korea and Japan, according to an agency spokesperson.

Currently, the United States is doing health screenings only for passengers who are flying in from China. Those screenings involve a temperature check and observations for symptoms.

At the time the CDC made the decision to start screening passengers from China, there were far fewer cases of the coronavirus in China than there are currently in Italy, South, Korea or Japan.

When the screening started on January 17, there were 45 reported cases of the new coronavirus in China. Japan currently has about three times that number of cases, Italy has about 10 times as many, and South Korea has more than 25 times as many.

“We’re not changing our posture at the moment [but] every day we re-evaluate what we’re doing and making sure that we’re adjusting what we’re doing to make sure we’re hitting the right notes,” the CDC spokesperson said.

In addition to airport screenings, there are travel restrictions for passengers arriving from China. Foreign nationals who have visited China in the past 14 days may not enter the United States. Citizens and residents may enter, but based on their travel and health history, they will have some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days from the time they left China, according to the CDC.

At a press conference Wednesday night, President Trump said there could be travel restrictions placed on passengers from other countries such as South Korea and Italy.

“At a right time we might do that. Right now it’s not the right time. But at a right time,” Trump said.

When asked specifically about travelers from Italy, Trump said “at some point we may cut that off. At some point depending on what happens we may cut certain additional countries off, like we’ve had to do with China.”

Some experts would like to see the airport health screenings expanded.

Dr. Arthur Reingold, head of the division of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, Berkeley, said the “extrapolation” from China to the other countries “makes sense.”

“I think if we’re going to try and reduce the introduction of the virus in the United States, then presumably the answer is yes,” said Reingold, a former CDC infectious disease epidemiologist.

There have been 400 cases in Italy and 12 deaths, 1,261 cases in South Korea and 12 deaths, and 147 cases in Japan, with hundreds more cases from Diamond Princess cruise passengers who disembarked in Japan.

Others think it would become unmanageable to monitor passengers from Italy, Japan and South Korea.

In 2018, more than 22 million passengers flew to the United States from the three countries combined, according to US Department of Transportation statistics.

“It becomes really unwieldy and complicated,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor College of Medicine. “And eventually, even a week from now, that list of countries could potentially double.”

He added that it made sense to screen passengers from China at the beginning of the outbreak, but that eventually it wouldn’t be worth the expense and time.

“I think we’ve maxed out on the benefit of travel screening,” he said. “It made sense when the passengers were coming from one country, and I think in some ways it was effective. But now we’re really going to see diminishing returns.”

Airport screening has long been controversial. Israel, for example, has abandoned it, with a health official there calling it “ineffective and inefficient.”

In the United States, temperature and symptom checks haven’t caught a single coronavirus case. However, another part of the screenings has worked better: At least two passengers read the information cards handed out during the screenings and sought medical care when they developed symptoms listed on the cards.

Globally, about 50% of the original exported cases were detected through temperature checks, according to Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.


CDC confirms the first US coronavirus case of ‘unknown’ origin. The California patient was hospitalized for days before getting tested

A California patient being treated for novel coronavirus is the first US case of unknown origin, CDC officials said, adding that the patient did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient.

This may be the first instance in the country of “community spread,” officials said.

The Solano County resident was admitted to UC Davis Medical Center last week but wasn’t tested until Sunday, according to a letter sent to UC Davis staff and obtained by CNN.

The patient is one of 60 confirmed cases of the virus in the US, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday. Forty-two cases are former passengers on theDiamond Princess cruise ship, the site of a recent virus outbreak. The other 15 were either travelers coming back from China or spouses of travelers. Three others were repatriated from China.

How the person was exposed to the virus is still unknown, the CDC said. The agency said it has not yet ruled out that the patient was exposed to a returned traveler who was infected.

The patient was transferred to the medical center from another Northern California hospital Febuary 19 with a suspected viral infection. UC Davis requested testing for novel coronavirus by the CDC, because, the letter says, neither the Sacramento County northe California Department of Public Health are conducting testing.

“Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered,” the letter says. “UC Davis Health does not control the testing process.

The CDC ordered testing on Sunday and results came back positive Wednesday, the letter said.

“This is not the first COVID-19 patient we have treated, and because of the precautions we have had in place since this patient’s arrival, we believe there has been minimal potential for exposure here at UC Davis Medical Center,” the center said.

In the letter, the medical center also asked a small number of employees to stay at home and monitor their temperature.

CDC says Americans’ lives may be disrupted

If the California case does turn out to be community spread, hospital staff will need to alter the way they evaluate sick patients, one health care executive said.

Hospitals receiving patients with flu-like symptoms have been asking people to detail theirtravel history or exposure to anyone who has recently traveled, Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, the chief clinical officer and executive vice president of Providence St. Joseph Health, told CNN’s Don Lemon.

“Now we’re going to have to be thinking, how do we change that strategy? Who all do we need to be testing for coronavirus? Right now, during flu season, that would be a lot of people and so we need to figure out how we can scale up the testing and the screening,” she said. Providence St. Joseph Health operates 51 hospitals and more than 1,000 clinics across the country.

At this time, the CDC says on itswebsite, the virus is “NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States.” But health officials say they expect it will at some point.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said.

She said the CDC wants people to understand their lives may be disrupted.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad,” she said.

If that’s the case, Compton-Phillips says, it’s “problematic” that there are only 12 US labs other than the CDC with working coronavirus test kits.

“There’s a very limited number of them” she said.

US is testing treatment

Meanwhile, a clinical trial is underway at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, to evaluate how effective an antiviral drug wold be on people diagnosed with coronavirus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said.

There’s been at least 82,056 confirmed cases worldwide and 2,800 deaths — the vast majority of which have been in China.

The drug being tested in the trial, remdesivir, was previously tested in humans for Ebola and in animals for MERS and SARS. There are also clinical trials of the drug going on in China, the NIH said, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases developed the American study to match those studies.

The first participant in the Omaha trial is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Participants will receive 200 milligrams of remdesivir intravenously when they’re enrolled and another 100 while they’re hospitalized for up to 10 days in total. A placebo group will receive a solution that resembles remdesivir but contains only inactive ingredients, the NIH said.


WEDNESDAY, FEB. 26

The US has started human testing of a drug to treat the novel coronavirus

Hope for treating the novel coronavirus could be on the horizon, as the first US study of a drug to treat the illness is underway.

So far, there is no cure or vaccine for the virus, which has infected more than 80,000 people and killed over 2,700 worldwide in the past few months.

News of the drug testing came Tuesday, just as a federal health official warned that the virus will eventually start spreading in US communities.

A clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the antiviral drug remdesivir in adults diagnosed with coronavirus started at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, the National Institutes of Health said.

The first participant is an American who was evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan.

Also on Tuesday, top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned about the potential spreading of the novel coronavirus in the US.

“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

There have been more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide. The death toll is now more than 2,700, the majority in mainland China.

The US has now confirmed 57 cases, US health officials said Tuesday, a number that is expected to grow.

“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could be bad,” Messonnier said.

Clinical trial for a treatment

There are currently no specific medicines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat the novel coronavirus. Without one, a top infectious disease doctor said Tuesday, the US could see mortality rates from the coronavirus similar to those in China.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has calculated a case fatality rate of about 2% for the novel coronavirus — meaning about 2% of those known to be infected have died. That’s higher than influenza, which is about 0.1%, but much lower than severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, (9.6%) and MERS, Middle East respiratory syndrome (35%).

“I think we would expect something similar to that because we don’t have an antiviral drug,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Tuesday night on “Cuomo Prime Time.” “The people who are dying who require intensive care, for example in an intensive care unit — maybe even intubation for respiratory assistance in breathing — the Chinese have that. They have a pretty good system, and yet you’re still seeing the 2% mortality. … So if, in fact, we do get a pandemic that does impact us in this country, I think you’re going to see comparable types of morbidity and mortality.”

Remdesivir, the drug being tested at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, was previously tested in humans for Ebola and in animals for MERS and SARS.

There are clinical trials of remdesivir going on in China, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases developed the current study to match those trials, the NIH said in its news release.

Participants in the US treatment group will receive 200 milligrams of remdesivir intravenously when they’re enrolled in the study. They will receive another 100 milligrams while they are hospitalized for up to 10 days total. A placebo group will receive a solution that resembles remdesivir but contains only inactive ingredients, the NIH said.

US cases rise to 57

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States rose to 57 on Tuesday, with four more patients who were on a cruise ship, the CDC said.

The current total breaks down to 40 passengers who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was traveling in Asia, three people repatriated from China, and 14 US cases.

Of the 14 US cases, eight are in California, two in Illinois and one each in Massachusetts, Washington, Arizona and Wisconsin.

Although President Donald Trump cast coronavirus as “a problem that’s going to go away,” experts worry a pandemic could be in the offing, given the virus’ spread in Europe and the Middle East.

The CDC is employing a twofold approach, working to contain the virus while also implementing strategies to lessen the impacts on communities, Messonnier told reporters.

“We’ve also enacted the first quarantine of this scale in the US, and are supporting the State Department and (Department of Health and Human Services) in repatriating citizens from high-risk areas,” she said.

In addition, the center is tracking and isolating cases when it can, issuing travel advisories for affected countries and taking on the increasingly difficult task of preventing the introduction of new cases, most notably at points of entry into the United States, she said.

Messonnier described the containment strategies as “largely successful” and said they were geared toward “buying us more time to prepare.”

What to look for and what to do

The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to those of a common cold. The virus usually causes a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, with symptoms including a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

People may be able to reduce their risk of infection by avoiding those who are sick, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and washing hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds.

Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early. People with symptoms that feel worse than a standard cold should see their doctor.


The CDC has thoughts about facial hair and they have to do with preventing coronavirus

When it comes to novel coronavirus safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some suggestions about facial hair.

Side whiskers, soul patches, lampshades and handlebar moustaches are good to go, according to a CDC infographic. But styles like a stubble, beard, Dali and mutton chops, are not recommended because they are likely to interfere with a facepiece respirator.

Masks and respirators are being utilized around the world to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has reached more than 80,000 cases globally. A respirator covers at least the nose and mouth and protects against particles including infectious agents, the CDC said. However, the CDC does not recommend routine use outside of workplaces.

Facial hair poses a risk to the effectiveness of respirators because it may keep the exhalation valve from working properly if the two come into contact, the infographic said.

No matter the style choice, the hair should not cross the respirator sealing surface, the infographic said.

A goatee, horseshoe and villain mustache are okay, with caution, the infographic noted.


Tokyo 2020 preparations going ahead ‘as planned’ despite coronavirus threat

 Olympic organizers have insisted that preparations for Tokyo 2020 are going ahead “as planned” despite the novel coronavirus outbreak in Asia.

The virus has so far claimed the lives of over 2,700 worldwide, with the majority recorded in mainland China.

A number of sporting events have already been impacted, including the Tokyo marathon which has been restricted to elite athletes only.

“(We) will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organizations,” the local Olympic organizing committee said in a statement to CNN Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told AP there is potential for the Olympics to be postponed or canceled, estimating a three-month window in which to make that decision.

Local organizers told CNN that the three-month window “is not necessarily the IOC’s collective view.

Meanwhile, the IOC also offered its own assurance the Games would go ahead, telling CNN that “countermeasures against infectious diseases constitute an important part of Tokyo 2020’s plans to host a safe and secure Games.

“The IOC is in contact with the World Health Organization, as well as its own medical experts. We have full confidence that the relevant authorities, in particular in Japan and China, will take all the necessary measures to address the situation.”

The Olympics are scheduled to take place between July 24 and August 9.

The 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, have been postponed until next year and the Asian Indoor Track and Field Championship in Hangzhou has been canceled.

The Six Nations, rugby’s premier international competition in the northern hemisphere, has said it is in “close contact” with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Irish government regarding Ireland’s fixture against Italy scheduled for March 7.

Italy confirmed 322 cases of the virus on Tuesday, the highest number of infections outside Asia.

Japan’s J-League postponed seven Levian Cup matches in February and all domestic games through early March, while Inter Milan’s Europa League game against Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors.


TUESDAY, FEB. 25

New patients from Diamond Princess cruise ship push tally of US coronavirus cases to 53, CDC says

The latest tally of novel coronavirus cases in the United States has jumped to 53, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The tally now includes 36 passengers who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three people repatriated from China and 14 US cases, the CDC said.

Of the 14 US cases, two of them were the result of person-to-person transmission, one coming in California and the other in Illinois, health officials said.

The breakdown of US cases is eight in California, two in Illinois and one each in Massachusetts, Washington, Arizona and Wisconsin.

The three patients repatriated from China came from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the CDC.

Late last week, CDC officials said there were more Diamond Princess passengers who tested positive for coronavirus in Japan and those cases would be added to the US count once the results were official.

News of the uptick in US cases comes as the worldwide count topped 80,000 people, the overwhelming majority in China. At least 2,700 people have died.

The emergence of hundreds of cases outside China — namely, in Italy and South Korea — has served to disrupt global supply chains, corporate profits and American and international markets.

During a trip to India, US President Donald Trump cast coronavirus as “a problem that’s going to go away,” but experts worry a pandemic could be in the offing, given the virus’ spread in Europe and the Middle East.


Chemicals sit inside a refrigerator at the Moderna Therapeutics Inc. lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Moderna this week started testing a personalized treatment that teaches the body how to fight cancer. Photographer: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biotech company Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine is ready for initial tests

US biotech firm Moderna has shipped an experimental coronavirus vaccine to US government researchers just six weeks after it started working on the immunization.

Moderna said in a statement Monday that the first batch of its novel coronavirus vaccine, called mRNA-1273, has been sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Shares in the company, which is located near Boston, gained as much as 20% in premarket trading on Tuesday.

Moderna said the first vials of the experimental vaccine would be used in a planned Phase 1 study in the United States, which typically involves testing a vaccine on a small number of healthy humans.

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told the Wall Street Journal that a clinical trial of the vaccine could start by the end of April, with results becoming available in July or August.

The Journal, which was first to report the development, said that two doses of the vaccine would be tested on up to 25 volunteers to see if it produces an immune response that protects against the virus.

Even if the clinical trial is successful, further testing and regulatory approvals would be needed before the vaccine could be deployed widely.

Health officials and pharmaceutical companies around the world are working at a breakneck pace to identify treatments or a vaccine to help fight the coronavirus, which has infected more than 80,000 people around the world.

Fauci told CNN last month that researchers could expedite the approval process for a vaccine following a successful Phase 1 trial in an attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

Moderna is not the only drug company hoping to find a preventative treatment for the virus.

Pharma giants Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline are working on vaccines, as are government scientists including some at NIAID.

Shares in Gilead gained nearly 5% on Monday after the World Health Organization said that one of its drugs, remdesivir, is showing signs of helping to treat the coronavirus.

While the experimental vaccine developed by Moderna remains unproven, the speed at which it was created represents a breakthrough.

According to Moderna, the vaccine was developed within 42 days of the company obtaining genetic information on the coronavirus.

By comparison, it took researchers about 20 months to start human tests of the vaccine for SARS, an older coronavirus, according to a journal paper written by Fauci.


Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. South Korea reported another large jump in new virus cases Monday a day after the the president called for “unprecedented, powerful” steps to combat the outbreak that is increasingly confounding attempts to stop the spread. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

White House submits $1.25 billion emergency request as part of $2.5 billion coronavirus effort

The White House has requested $1.25 billion in emergency funding to address the novel coronavirus, part of an effort to direct as much as $2.5 billion in total funds to bolster its response to the growing global crisis, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

“To this point, no agency has been inhibited in response efforts due to resources or authorities,” Russell Vought, the acting director at the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the letter to lawmakers requesting the funds. “However, much is still unknown about the virus and the disease it causes.”

In total, Vought wrote, the administration expects “to allocate at least $2.5 billion in total resources” for the response effort. Much of that support would come from shifting funds already appropriated to other government agencies toward the effort.

Lawmakers said they were preparing for the administration’s request to reach Capitol Hill, even as the final numbers were still in flux in advance of the letter sent Monday evening.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, told reporters Monday that his staff had been in discussions with the White House about the looming request.

The news comes on the eve of a briefing Tuesday morning on the coronavirus for all senators in a classified setting, two sources with knowledge of the plans tell CNN.

Along with the $1.25 billion emergency funding request, the White House requested that an additional $535 million in emergency funding previously appropriated for the prevention and treatment of Ebola be redirected toward the effort to counter coronavirus.

“Tremendous progress has been made on Ebola and the current national response priority should be” coronavirus, the letter states, noting that “these two proposals would make $1.8 billion in new resources available for the current response.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the funding effort “long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency,” promising a House funding package that would better address the issue.

The California Democrat pointed to Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arguing that “weeks after the Trump Budget called for slashing the CDC budget during this coronavirus epidemic, this undersized funding request shows an ongoing failure to understand urgent public health needs.”

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, calling the funding request “woefully insufficient” and bashing the administration for taking “weeks” to make it.

“It is profoundly disturbing that their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities,” she said, adding that House Democrats would move to “enact a robust package that fully addresses this global emergency without allowing this administration to steal from other necessary programs.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, dismissed the request as “too little too late,” calling President Donald Trump’s move to repurpose Ebola funding “indicative of his towering incompetence and further proof that he and his administration aren’t taking the coronavirus crisis as seriously as they need to be.”

“We’ve seen no sign that President Trump has any plan or urgency to deal with the spread of the coronavirus — we need real leadership and we need it fast,” Schumer added.

The US now has 35 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. More than a dozen Americans who tested positive for the disease returned to the US this week after spending weeks in isolation on the luxury cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Japan.

Although the White House initially took a measured approach to handling the virus, administration officials earlier this month issued travel bans, quarantine orders and increased mandatory screenings as officials evaluated the growing threat posed by the illness.

Trump had downplayed concern about the contagion on Sunday as he departed the White House for India, claiming his administration has the virus “very much under control in this country.”

White House officials had been expected to ask Congress for emergency funding this week amid growing fears of a larger outbreak in the US, according to two officials familiar with the anticipated request. Government aides had worked throughout the weekend on the supplemental request, according to a person familiar with the plans.


Coronavirus cases top 80,000 as markets plunge on pandemic fears

Multiple outbreaks of the novel coronavirus outside of mainland China have continued to worsen, as experts warn we may be approaching pandemic levels.

A World Health Organization team landed in Italy late Monday to “support Italian authorities in understanding the situation,” the WHO said. The team’s focus will be on “limiting further human-to-human transmission” after a rapid rise in cases. At least 272 people have been infected with the virus, and seven people have died in the Southern European nation.

In South Korea, more than 970 cases have been confirmed, up from 31 a week ago. At least 10 people have died, and the virus has spread throughout the country, though the worst outbreak remains in the southern city of Daegu.

Chinese authorities announced the postponement of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, an unprecedented move in recent times. It comes after President Xi Jinping warned Sunday that that novel coronavirus is the worst public health crisis facing the country since its founding.

At the end of Monday, China’s National Health Commission’s had recorded 77,658 cases in the mainland, and 2,663 deaths. The novel coronavirus has now infected at least 80,067 people worldwide and killed at least 2,700.

South Korea in crisis

Even as the outbreak appeared to be stabilizing in parts of China, with six provinces on Monday lowering their response level, the number of cases worldwide has continued to grow.

In South Korea, all flights have been suspended to Daegu, the southern city where the initial outbreak occurred. Several countries and territories have announced restrictions on travel from South Korea, or new warnings for citizens traveling to the country.

The Daegu outbreak had been centered around the Shincheonji religious group, but the virus appears to have spread now beyond practitioners.

Several hundred members of the group have tested positive for the virus, and more than 9,000 practitioners have been put into self-isolation while they are tested by health authorities. The infection is believed to have transmitted rapidly because of the mass worship sessions the group holds, which puts them in close contact with one another for long periods of time.

Shincheonji has said they are the “biggest victims” of the outbreak, and warned people against “groundless attacks” against them because of the outbreak. They have said they are cooperating with the authorities amid accusations of secret member rolls making it difficult to track potential cases through the country.

Speaking late Monday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said military commanders in Korea “are looking at scaling back the command post training due to concerns about the coronavirus.”

Esper said he is confident the US and South Korea will “remain fully ready to deal with any threats that we might face together.”

Hundreds of cases of the virus have been confirmed across the country, including among the military. Soldiers often live in close confines and there are fears of a self-sustaining outbreak among forces based in various areas.

Italian outbreak

Outside of Asia, one of the worst outbreak is in Italy, where around 100,000 people in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto are facing travel and other restrictions as the country struggles to contain a sudden spike in cases that has so far seen at least 219 confirmed cases.

Strict emergency measures were put in place over the weekend, including a ban on public events in at least 10 municipalities, after a spike in confirmed cases in both regions.

Italy still has not identified “patient zero,” the source of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, two officials said Monday.

“The important thing is to identify ‘patient zero,’ where he/she is from, and to stop this chain of infection,” Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy’s civil protection agency, said.

Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region, said “no news” when asked Monday by CNN affiliate Sky 24 about the hunt for the carrier.

Borrelli suggested an explanation for the sudden spike in cases over the weekend: “I believe that the incubation period meant that the infections all exploded at a certain moment.”

In a statement Monday, the European Commission said was providing aid worth $250 million to affected regions and sectors of the EU.

“As cases continue to rise, public health is the number one priority. Whether it be boosting preparedness in Europe, in China or elsewhere, the international community must work together. Europe is here to play a leading role,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.

The Commission added that it was stepping up support for member states following developments in Italy.

Stella Kyriakides, commissioner for health and food safety said: “In view of the rapidly evolving situation, we stand ready to increase our assistance. In this vein, a joint expert mission of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization will depart to Italy this week to support the Italian authorities.”

Iran struggling to contain

Across the Middle East, flights from Iran have stopped and borders with the country have been closed as the region tries to keep the spread of a deadly coronavirus at bay.

Iran is on the front line of the outbreak — the health ministry has confirmed 61 cases and 14 deaths.

One Iranian lawmaker, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani from the holy city of Qom, criticized the government’s handling of the outbreak, accusing officials of covering up numbers. Farahani said 50 people had died from the virus in Qom, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, though the country’s health ministry has denied his claims.

The heavy economic sanctions imposed against Iran by the US and other bodies have made tackling the disease harder, with the country struggling to access novel coronavirus test kits, a board member of Iran’s Association of Medical Equipment Importers told the semi-official news agency ILNA on Sunday.

Ramin Fallah told ILNA that “many international companies are ready to supply Iran with coronavirus test kits, but we can’t send them money” because of the US sanctions.

Not a pandemic?

Despite the rapid spread of the virus around the world in the past week, health officials are not yet calling this a pandemic — though they’re close.

William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN that “we’re on the knife’s edge.”

There is no precise, mathematical definition of a pandemic. Outbreaks get characterized as pandemics by epidemiologists — who are not yet using the term. They’ll be looking for evidence of sustained transmission among people who have not recently traveled to China or has close contact with someone who recently traveled to China.

As more information emerges over how the virus is being spread in Italy, Iran and South Korea, among other countries, that evidence may soon arise.

Markets have plunged on fears of an imminent pandemic declaration. The Dow has lost more than 1,400 points in the last three trading days, wiping out any gains for the year so far. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell, and Asian markets have been suffering due to the virus and fears of a wider economic downturn.


MONDAY, FEB. 24

Novel coronavirus cases top 79,000 amid worsening outbreaks in South Korea and Italy

Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned the novel coronavirus is the worst public health crisis facing the country since its founding, as new outbreaks continued to expand in South Korea and Italy, raising fears of a global pandemic.

Speaking Sunday, Xi said the “current epidemic situation is still severe and complex, and the prevention and control work is at the most critical stage.” The crisis is “the most difficult to prevent and control in China” since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, Xi said. He added the outbreak was likely to have a “great impact” on the country’s economy, but that epidemic prevention and control methods were beginning to have an effect.

Following Xi’s address, China announced it would delay the annual gathering of nearly 3,000 national legislators in Beijing, according to state media on Monday, underscoring the continuing impact and severity of the outbreak.

The National People’s Congress’s Standing Committed voted to delay the full session of the (NPC), the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, which had been scheduled to start on March 5. No new date has been announced.

As of Monday, there were at least 77,150 confirmed cases in mainland China, bringing the global total to

more than 79,000, with the death toll at 2,620.

A total of 27 of those deaths have occurred outside of mainland China, a major spike from a week ago, when only five deaths had taken place outside China, and most of those involving people who had a direct link to the country.

Major new outbreaks are also now developing in South Korea, Iran and Italy, with dozens of confirmed cases and multiple deaths.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday that 70 additional coronavirus cases have been confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 833.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the country was at a “watershed moment” Sunday, as he issued the highest level of national alert and ordered new resources to tackling the outbreak, which is largely focused on the southern city of Daegu but has spread throughout the East Asian country, including among the military.

The Ministry of Defense of South Korea confirmed Monday that an additional four soldiers had been confirmed to have contracted the virus, bringing the total of military personnel to 11. There are fears that the outbreak could spread quickly among troops living in close confines, and potentially spread to US forces stationed in Korea.

‘Witch hunt’

In the South Korean city of Daegu, the outbreak has been centered around the Shincheonji religious group.

Some 300 members of the group have tested positive for the virus, and more than 9,000 practitioners have been put into self-isolation while they are tested by health authorities. The infection is believed to have spread rapidly because of the mass worship sessions the group holds, which puts them in close contact with one another for long periods of time.

A Christian-inspired new religious movement centered around the personality of its founder and chairman, Lee Man-hee, the outbreak has brought intense scrutiny and no small amount of hostility on the group. Of those South Koreans who identify as religious, more than 60% belong to a mainstream Christian denomination.

Kim So-il, a project director at Shincheonji, compared the recent criticism of the group to a “19th century witch-hunt.”

“It’s unfair that all people rebuke Shincheonji,” he told CNN, adding that the group was in “great difficulty” right now.”

Speaking Sunday, a Shincheonji representative told reporters that practitioners are the “biggest victims” of the virus, and urged people to “refrain from hate and groundless attack.”

Police in Daegu said Sunday that they had deployed about 600 officers to locate the 670 members of the Shincheonji religious group whose whereabouts are unknown. Officers were visiting their registered addresses and using telecommunications service providers’ location tracking information, police said.

According to the South Korean law on the prevention of infectious diseases, health authorities are able to seek help from police and telecommunication service providers are obliged to provide information when requested by the police.

The virus has spread beyond the Shincheonji members, however, with separate outbreaks in a hospital near Daegu, as well as among the country’s military. As of Monday, more than 760 cases had been confirmed nationwide, and seven deaths.

Italy locked down

Outside of Asia, there have been a spike in cases in Italy and Iran, renewing fears that the virus is spreading globally despite numerous travel restrictions placed on China.

Authorities in Italy announced sweeping closures across the country’s north and emergency measures Sunday as they scrambled to contain Europe’s largest outbreak. More than 130 cases have been confirmed in Italy so far, and three deaths.

“We still cannot identify patient zero, so it’s difficult to forecast possible new cases,” Angelo Borrelli, head of the country’s Civil Protection agency, said at a Sunday news conference.

Strict emergency measures were put in place over the weekend, including a ban on public events in 10 municipalities, after a spike in confirmed cases in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.

Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced severe restrictions in the affected regions, which included the closure of public buildings, limited transport, and the surveillance and quarantine of individuals who may have been exposed to the virus.

“We are asking basically that everyone who has come from areas stricken by the epidemic to remain under a mandatory house stay,” Speranza said at a Saturday press conference.

Italy’s top soccer league, Serie A, canceled at least three games scheduled to be played in Lombardy and Veneto regions.

The country’s fashion capital, Milan, announced it would close its schools starting Monday for a week. School trips inside and outside Italy were also being canceled from Sunday, according to a statement by Italy’s Ministry of Education.

Global concerns

Speaking Sunday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the “window of opportunity is narrowing” to contain the worst of the outbreak to mainland China.

“Although the total number of cases outside China remains relatively small, we are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case,” he said.

The increase in cases in Iran, South Korea and Italy “is also a matter of concern and how the virus is now spreading to other parts of the world,” Tedros added.

Members of the G20, currently meeting in Saudi Arabia, warned that the coronavirus poses the greatest risk to the global economy.

“Global economic growth remains slow and downside risks to the outlook persist, including those arising from geopolitical and remaining trade tensions, and policy uncertainty. We will enhance global risk monitoring, including of the recent outbreak of Covid-19. We stand ready to take further action to address these risks,” according to the final document of the conference.

The host of the G20 meeting, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan, said that countries will be ready to act on the risk coronavirus poses to commerce.

“We all agreed that all countries and states will be ready to intervene as needed to face these risks and it’ll be a multilateral intervention including the WHO (World Health Organization) to monitor these risks and use relevant policies as needed,” Jadaan said.

US stock futures dropped Sunday evening as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread globally.


Global stocks hammered as coronavirus cases surge in South Korea and Italy

CASALPUSTERLENGO, ITALY – FEBRUARY 23: A man wearinig a respiratory mask and gloves is pictured on February 23, 2020 in Casalpusterlengo, south-west Milan, Italy. Casalpusterlengo is one of the ten small towns placed under lockdown earlier this morning as a second death from coronavirus sparked fears throughout the Lombardy region. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

Stock markets are falling around the world after the number of coronavirus cases surged in Italy and South Korea, putting two more major economies at risk from a virus that has already caused widespread disruption in China.

South Korea’s Kospi index closed down nearly 3.9% on Monday, its worst day since October 2018, after coronavirus cases in the country surged past 800. In Italy, the main market index was down more than 4.5% after the number of cases there topped 200 — including five deaths — and authorities started shutting down public buildings, schools and sports events in parts of the country.

US stocks were poised to open sharply lower. Dow futures were down more than 800 points, or more than 2.7%. S&P 500 futures declined 2.7%, and Nasdaq futures were off 3.3%. The Dow closed 228 points lower on Friday, and all three indexes recorded a weekly loss.

A growing number of companies are warning that the coronavirus will prevent them from meeting sales or profit targets for the first three months of the year. Reduced demand for goods and services, and factory closures in China, are also expected to knock the global economy and weigh on trade at a time when Japan and Germany are already teetering on the brink of recession.

The stock market reaction to the outbreak had so far been muted. But the spike in the number of cases in Italy and South Korea, the world’s eighth and twelfth largest economies, raises fears of a pandemic and ups the stakes for businesses and investors.

On Monday, investors across much of the developed world sold stocks and rushed into safe haven assets such as gold. The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 dropped 3.3% in early trading and Germany’s DAX shed more than 3.5%. In France, the CAC 40 dipped 3.7%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.8%, while China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.3%.

Oil prices tumbled, too, on fears that reduced economic activity will hit demand for energy. US futures fell 3.6% to trade at $51.47 per barrel. Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, also lost about 3.6% and was last trading at $56.37 per barrel. Shanghai crude futures, China’s oil benchmark, sank 4% to 400 yuan ($56.91) per barrel.

Investors meanwhile piled into gold, sending prices up 2.6%. The Swiss franc, another traditional safe haven, strengthened against the US dollar.

Coronavirus-related deaths have risen to more than 2,620 worldwide, with over 30 outside of mainland China. There are at least 79,300 confirmed cases globally.

Italian authorities have announced sweeping closures in the country’s north as they scramble to contain Europe’s biggest outbreak. Italy’s confirmed cases surged from three on Friday morning to more than 150 on Sunday. The outbreak is the biggest so far outside Asia.


SUNDAY, FEB. 23

White House expected to ask Congress for coronavirus funds this week

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 11: U.S. President Donald Trump President Trump speaks to reporters on the topic of Roger Stone, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), and 2020 presidential candidates, after signing the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act the Oval office at the White House on February 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(CNN) — White House officials are expected to ask Congress for emergency funding this week to battle the coronavirus amid growing fears of a larger outbreak in the US, two officials familiar with the forthcoming request said.

Government aides worked throughout the weekend on the supplemental request, which is still not final but could be sent to Capitol Hill as soon as Monday, according to a person familiar with the plans.

That source said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has ruffled feathers through the process by requesting amounts of money that “have been seen as largely out of proportion.” The source noted HHS already has money that could be used for coronavirus issues, but claimed Azar “has been pushing hard for this to overcompensate” for management decisions regarding coronavirus containment that the source criticized.

The US now has 35 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Fourteen Americans who tested positive for the disease returned to the US this week after spending weeks in isolation on the luxury cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Japan.

A spokesperson for HHS referred questions to the Office of Management and Budget.

Another person familiar with the talks vehemently disagreed with the characterization that Azar had asked for too much funding or mismanaged any part of the coronavirus response effort.

An HHS spokesperson noted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already notified Congress of its intent to spend up to $66 million from its Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

The supplemental funding request was first reported by Politico.

The discussions about funding come as the Trump Administration has grappled with how to deal with the rapidly-spreading disease, including what to do with those Americans on board that cruise ship who were flown back to the US to continue quarantine.

President Donald Trump downplayed concern about the contagion on Sunday as he departed the White House for India, claiming his administration has the virus “very much under control in this country.”

“It’s a big situation going on throughout the world, and I can say that the Unites States, we’ve pretty much closed our doors in certain areas and about certain areas and lose certain areas,” he told reporters. “We have the greatest doctors in the world, we have it under control, we accepted a few people — a very small amount of people, they’re very well confined, and they should be getting better fairly soon. Very interestingly, we have no deaths.”

Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the outbreak in China, claiming Xi has worked “very, very hard” to contain the virus.

The Trump administration has suspended all commercial flight traffic from China and has imposed quarantine orders on certain people who have recently spent time in China if they attempt to return to the US.

Officials were still working on the supplemental request heading into Sunday afternoon and the precise amount of funding has not yet been set. But the preparations to ask Congress for more money represents a significant step in the administration’s response to the global outbreak of the virus, which originated in China.

Although the White House initially took a measured approach to handling the virus, administration officials earlier this month issued travel bans, quarantine orders and increased mandatory screenings as officials evaluated the growing threat posed by the illness.

SUNDAY, FEB. 23

Judge halts plan to move virus patients to California city

A group of officials including member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors Michele Park Steele, from third left, Rep. Harley Rouda, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, hold a news conference in Costa Mesa, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. A court temporarily blocked the U.S. government from sending up to 50 people infected with a new virus from China to the Southern California city for quarantine after local officials argued that the plan lacked details about how the community would be protected from the outbreak. (Mindy Schauer/The Orange County Register via AP)

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — A court temporarily blocked the U.S. government from sending up to 50 people infected with a new virus from China to a Southern California city for quarantine after local officials argued that the plan lacked details about how the community would be protected from the outbreak.

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Friday to halt the transportation of anyone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus to Costa Mesa, a city of 110,000 in the heart of Orange County. U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Stanton scheduled a hearing on the issue Monday.

City officials quickly sought court intervention after learning from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services that U.S. officials planned to start moving patients to a state-owned facility in Costa Mesa as early as Sunday.

They said in court documents that local officials were not included in the planning effort and wanted to know why the Fairview Developmental Center was considered a suitable quarantine site and what kind of safeguards were in place to prevent the possible transmission of the virus that has spread worldwide.

“The city has not been part of any of the process that led to the consideration of the site, and it would be unfair to not include us in this kind of significant decision that has great impact on our community,” Mayor Katrina Foley told the Orange County Register.

In a court filing, federal and state officials said city’s arguments against the quarantine threaten public health.

“Plaintiffs’ ill-informed and legally baseless application endangers the safety and well-being of the American people,” the filing says. “Plaintiffs ask this Court to substitute unfounded speculation for the expertise of federal and state public-health authorities. Instead of providing public-health expertise (or any expertise), Plaintiffs ask this Court to rely on internet statements and speculation.”

The California Health and Human Services Agency said in a statement Saturday that it was working with federal authorities to find a place for people who were evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan and taken to Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.

Anyone who tested positive for the virus cannot stay at the base and must be sent either to the hospital or if they’re not sick enough, isolated until the infection has cleared.

The Fairview center in Costa Mesa is being considered as a place to send them.

“If Fairview were chosen, the federal government would be responsible for providing health care — easing the burden on our hospitals during flu season — and for providing robust security to ensure the public safety and public health of the surrounding community,” the state’s statement said.

Fairview is a 109-acre campus that was once home to about 2,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It’s now nearly empty as the state has moved residents into community homes and other living situations.

A state lawmaker whose district includes Costa Mesa said he feared the virus could travel through the facility’s air vents.

“The coronavirus patients should be treated humanely and with the best medical care available. But the first priority must be to contain the virus and make sure it doesn’t jump into the local population,” Republican state Sen. John Moorlach said.

Globally, the virus has infected nearly 78,000 people in 29 countries, and more than 2,300 have died.

FRIDAY, FEB. 21

Virus cases jump in S Korea to 346, China daily count drops

Workers wearing protective gears help clean each other’s suits after disinfecting as a precaution against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. South Korea on Friday declared a “special management zone” around a southeastern city where a surging viral outbreak, largely linked to a church in Daegu, threatens to overwhelm the region’s health system. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Saturday reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.

Initial infections were linked to China, but new cases in South Korea and Iran — where there have been four deaths — don’t show a clear connection to travel there. In an emerging cluster of illnesses in northern Italy, the first to fall ill met with someone who had returned from China on Jan. 21 without experiencing any symptoms of the new virus, health authorities said.

China said Saturday the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.

The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889 on Friday.

Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.

The World Health Organization warned that clusters not directly linked to travel, such as the ones in South Korea and Iran, suggest that time may be running out to contain the outbreak.

“The window of opportunity is still there. But our window of opportunity is narrowing,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We need to act quickly before it closes completely.”

Tedros singled out Iran’s discovery of 18 cases and four deaths in two days — and that a traveler from Iran carried the virus to Lebanon, and another traveler from Iran to Canada.

“These dots are very concerning — take them as dots or trends,” he said.

South Korea Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun started a government meeting on the health emergency Friday by saying, “We have entered an emergency phase.”

“Our efforts until now had been focused on blocking the illness from entering the country,” he said. “But we will now shift the focus on preventing the illness from spreading further in local communities.”

Chung promised support to ease a shortage in hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment in Daegu, where the first case was reported on Tuesday. By Friday, the city of 2.5 million and its surrounding areas had 152, including South Korea’s first two fatalities in Cheongdo hospital.

Nationwide, the numbers told of a ballooning problem. There were 20 new cases reported Wednesday, 53 on Thursday and 100 on Friday.

The central government declared a “special management zone” around Daegu, which didn’t restrict movement of residents or supersede local officials’ power but served as official recognition of the problem.

Most of those cases have been linked to a single house of worship, a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where a woman in her 60s attended two services before testing positive for the virus.

About 1,000 others who attended services with the woman have been isolated in their homes for screening, and health authorities say they’re trying to monitor thousands of other church members.

All 74 sites operated by the Shincheonji Church have been closed and worshipers have been told to instead watch services online for a sect whose leader claims to be an angel of Christ, but who is dismissed by many outsiders as a cult leader. Its teachings revolve largely around the Book of Revelation, a chapter of the New Testament known mostly for its apocalyptic foreshadowing.

Health and city officials say the woman eyed as a potential transmitter at the church had contact with some 1,160 people, both at the church and at a restaurant and a hospital where she was treated for injuries from a car accident.

“I hope South Korea will do everything to contain this outbreak at this early stage,” Tedros said.

Usually bustling downtown streets of Daegu were nearly deserted as people wearing face masks lined up at clinics seeking testing. Crowds formed in supermarkets where shelves of ramen and curry were nearly bare. Eight hundred area schools, due to start a new academic year on March 2, delayed their openings by a week.

“Panic is taking hold,” said Daegu resident Huh Mi-yeon. “People are scared of any situation where they would run into another person.”

The first three cases in the country’s 600,000-member military also sprung up on separate bases Friday, bringing added concern. A sailor on Jeju Island and an army officer in North Chungcheong province both tested positive. Both had made recent visits to Daegu, officials said. A third infection was reported in an air force officer who is based in Daegu but who had recently traveled to military headquarters in central South Korea, the defense ministry said, prompting the quarantine of 80 soldiers there.

Globally, more than 76,000 people have been infected in 27 countries, and more than 2,200 have died. Italian authorities say the number of people infected has more than quadrupled due to an emerging cluster of cases in the country’s north. Many of the new cases represented the first infections in Italy acquired through secondary contagion and brought the country’s total to 14 on Friday.

In the United States, 35 people have tested positive for the virus, including 18 who returned home from a quarantined cruise ship in Japan and one new case reported Friday in California.

The U.S. Department of State is advising citizens to reconsider cruises to or in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region. The spread of the virus is causing countries to implement strict screening procedures. The State Department warns that depending on local conditions, passengers could be unable to get off a ship or become subject to quarantine procedures.


US officials have now confirmed 34 of novel coronavirus in the country, according to an announcement Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These include 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 13 US cases.

“We are keeping track of cases resulting from repatriation efforts separately because we don’t believe those numbers accurately represent the picture of what is happening in the community in the United States at this time,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Friday.

The 21 repatriated include 18 former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Japan, plus three who had been previously evacuated from China. There are 10 additional passengers among the Diamond Princess evacuees who tested positive for the virus in Japan, and who Messonnier said will likely be added to the official US count once the Japanese test results have been adjudicated.

The 13 US cases include seven in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. Among these cases, there are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California.

The 13th US case was confirmed overnight in Humboldt County, California. County officials offered few details but said a close contact with symptoms was also undergoing testing, and both are self-isolating at home.


Novel coronavirus deaths top 2,200 as number of new cases in China rises again

Hopes for a slowdown in the spread of the novel coronavirus were dashed Friday as the number of new cases rose in China, and outbreaks worsened in Japan and South Korea.

Authorities in China’s Hubei province confirmed an additional 411 cases of the virus Thursday morning, 62 more than the previous day, taking the total number of cases at the epicenter of the outbreak to 62,442.

Later Thursday, provincial authorities upgraded that figure to 631, after changing the criteria to include figures from a prison in the region.

There are an additional 14,000 or so cases outside Hubei, with the majority in other parts of mainland China.

The death toll from the outbreak now stands at 2,247, after more deaths in mainland China Thursday, including 115 in Hubei, seven more than the previous day.

More than 42,000 patients remain hospitalized across Hubei, including 2,018 in a critical condition. So far, 11,788 patients have been treated and discharged since the outbreak began.

Meanwhile, fears are growing of self-sustaining epidemics elsewhere in Asia.

Outside China, the largest coronavirus outbreaks have been in South Korea and Japan, where hundreds of people were infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which began disembarking passengers this week from Yokohama Bay.

The number of cases in South Korea has soared, from 28 a week ago to at least 204 as of Friday afternoon. The outbreak there is centered around the southern city of Daegu.

Among the new cases, most are linked to the Shincheonji group. South Korean authorities Thursday were seeking to question more than 1,000 members of the religious group who attended a service with one of the recently confirmed cases.

Daegu’s mayor asked the congregation and their family members to self-quarantine at home.

Three other new cases connected to Daegu involved members of the military.

Medical teams have been dispatched to the city, where they will test people without overseas travel history or relation to other confirmed cases. Until now, tests have only been conducted on cases with recent travel history to China, Hong Kong, and Macao, or on people showing suspicious symptoms of the virus after being in contact with confirmed cases.

On Friday, the South Korean government designated Daegu and neighboring Cheongdo as “special management areas” for infectious disease.

Japan outbreak

In Japan, where attention has been focused for weeks on the Diamond Princess cruise liner docked at Yokohama, fears are growing of a separate outbreak centered around Nagano, northwest of Tokyo.

At least 78 cases have been confirmed in Japan unrelated to the ship, and one death. Cases have also been reported as far south as Okinawa and on Kyushu, according Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

On Thursday, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new travel advisory for Japan, but only at the mildest level, which recommends people “practice usual precautions” and avoid contact with sick people.

“At this time, CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to Japan,” the agency said. By comparison, it currently lists mainland China as a level 3 warning and advises travelers to “avoid nonessential travel.” The notice excludes Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

Hundreds of travelers on board the Diamond Princess were due to disembark Friday. Many have already left the ship and begun flying home.

As they have done so however, more evidence has emerged about the alleged failure of the quarantine on board. Around a dozen passengers who were deemed not to have the virus were later found to be showing symptoms when they flew to the US, leading them to require isolation from other passengers on the evacuation flight.

An additional two passengers evacuated from the ship tested positive on arrival in Australia Friday.

Brendan Murphy, chief medical officer for the Australian government, said in a statement that 164 people from the Diamond Princess arrived to the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility in Darwin on Thursday to begin their 14-day quarantine.

Upon arrival, six passengers had minor respiratory symptoms and/or fevers. Of those, two people have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Murphy said both patients “remain well” and were being housed in an isolation unit at the quarantine facility. Murphy added that “the development of positive cases after return to Australia is not unexpected” as there was evidence of spread of infection on board the Diamond Princess.

Murphy reassured other passengers and the crew on the Qantas evacuation flight saying that “all measures were taken to ensure their protection” and that “the small number of passengers on the plane meant passengers could be spread out. Higher risk passengers were seated in separate sections.”

Hundreds the 3,000 or so people on board the Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus during the two-week quarantine. On Thursday, Japanese health officials announced that two passengers with the virus had died in hospital. Both were Japanese citizens in their eighties.

The outbreak is expected to put the cruise industry under pressure as passengers defer or cancel trips. Airlines are also expected to take a major hit, after dozens of carriers cut flights to China and elsewhere in the affected region.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated the total global lost revenue for airlines due to coronavirus could be $29.3 billion.

IATA expected a potential 13% drop in passengers for the year across the Asia-Pacific region, and the financial impact will be “severe for those particularly exposed to the China market,” it said in a statement Thursday.


THURSDAY, FEB. 20

11 Americans at Omaha facility tested positive for coronavirus, hospital says

(CNN) — Most of the Americans who were being monitored at the University of Nebraska Medical Center for coronavirus after evacuating a cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus, the hospital says.

UMNC said in a statement Thursday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention verified the Nebraska Public Health Lab results showing that 11 of the 13 patients have the novel coronavirus. The other two evacuees who were taken to the Omaha hospital tested negative, the statement said.

The hospital had said some of the patients had tested positive in Japan but some “came with a lack of clarity what their test results were,” Shelly Schwedhelm told CNN. Schwedhelm is the UNMC/Nebraska Medical Executive Director of Emergency Management and Biopreparedness who has clinical oversight of the quarantine and biocontainment units.

Several people are exhibiting minor symptoms but others are not showing any symptoms, the release said.

CNN has attempted to reach the CDC about the results.

The US Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response asked UNMC early Monday to take in 13 patients who had either tested positive, or had a high likelihood of testing positive, for the novel coronavirus.

The patients had been on a cruise ship docked off the cost of Japan for two weeks.

UNMC was commissioned by the CDC in 2005 to create the biocontainment unit where three patients currently are. The rest of the patients are in a separate federal quarantine center on the campus that UNMC built through a private-public partnership.

In 2014, UNMC successfully treated three patients with Ebola, and the medical facility has the capacity to manage other highly infectious diseases such as SARS, monkeypox and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.


4 virus patients from cruise ship moving to Washington state

A bus carrying the passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship prepares to leave a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. The cruise ship started letting passengers who tested negative for the virus leave the ship Wednesday. Test results are still pending for some people on board. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

SEATTLE (AP) — Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.

The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.

Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursdayin satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.

“The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital.

When it docked in Japan, the Diamond Princess was put under quarantine. But more than 600 passengers and crew have been infected with the coronavirus that has caused a large outbreak in China. The virus causes a flu-like illness and can lead to pneumonia.

Over 300 American passengers were flown home on U.S.-chartered airplanes last weekend, including 14 with infections. They were all placed in quarantine at military bases in California and Texas or a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

Centers for Disease Control spokesman Scott Pauley said test results for the cruise ship passengers have continued to trickle in from Japan even after their return to the U.S. The four patients moved to the Spokane hospital Thursday are among those with more recent test results. They would not have been separated from other passengers while on the flight back to the U.S.

Previously, hundreds of Americans were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and most have completed two weeks in quarantine in the U.S.

In California, more than 115 people ended their quarantines this week at a pair of military bases. One person at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego tested positive for coronavirus and remains at a local hospital. Another in close contact with that person remains under quarantine.

Also, 57 Americans who were held at a Nebraska National Guard camp left Thursday, with all in good health. They’ve not been asked to wear masks or take any other health measures, said Joe Smith, a spokesman for theCDC.

“There is no need. These are healthy people,” he said.

Fifteen cases of the virus have been diagnosed in the U.S., mostly travelers who became ill after returning from earlier trips to China. The first reported case of the virus in the U.S. was a Washington state resident.

Other Americans have since been diagnosed while in Asia.

AP writers Lauran Neergaard in Washington and Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco contributed to this report.


Global shipping has been hit by the coronavirus. Now goods are getting stranded

SHANGHAI, CHINA – OCTOBER 04: Tugboats guide a container ship of Maersk Line at the Yangshan Deepwater Port, operated by Shanghai International Port ( Group) Co., Ltd. (SIPG), on October 4, 2019 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Ji Haixin/VCG via Getty Images)

The arteries of global trade are clogging up.

Shipping companies that carry goods from China to the rest of the world say they are reducing the number of seaborne vessels, as measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus crimp demand for their services and threaten to disrupt global supply chains.

About 80% of world goods trade by volume is carried by sea and China is home to seven of the world’s 10 busiest container ports, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Nearby Singapore and South Korea each have a mega port too.

“A closure of the world’s manufacturing hub impacts container shipping at large, as it is a vital facilitator of the intra-Asian and global supply chains,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, an international shipping association. “This will affect many industries and limit demand for containerized goods transport,” Sand told CNN Business.

Everything from cars and machinery to apparel and other consumer staples are shipped in containers, and disruption to the industry could reverberate far beyond China as the country seeks to contain the coronavirus outbreak by keeping factories shut and workers at home.

The longer the health crisis lasts, the harder it will be to move goods around the world. The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 560 people and infected at least 28,000 — mainly in China, where close to 60 million people are living in cities on lockdown.

Already, carmaker Hyundai has suspended production at its plants in South Korea because of a disruption to the supply of parts caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China, the company said in a statement.

Floating quarantine

The shutdowns mean that some ships can’t get into Chinese ports, as the loading and discharging of goods slows, said Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, a trade body. Others are stuck in dock, waiting for workers to return to ports so that construction and repairs can be completed, Platten added.

Still more vessels are idling in “floating quarantined zones,” as countries such as Australia refuse to allow ships that have called at Chinese ports to enter their own until the crew has been declared virus-free, added Sand. Platten said he knew of at least one crew that is running low on food because their ship has been idled for so long.

In Singapore, authorities are requiring all vessels that have called at ports in mainland China over the past 14 days to submit a health declaration form. According to port authorities, some shipping companies have taken additional measures, including canceling shore leave for crew, but port operations have not been disrupted.

Giant shipping companies such as Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA-CGM have said that they have reduced the number of vessels on routes connecting China and Hong Kong with India, Canada, the United States and West Africa.

The shipowners say that moves to idle Chinese factories beyond the end of the Lunar New Year has curtailed demand for vessels and forced them to adjust their capacity during what is already a low season for shipping because of the Chinese holiday.

BIMCO members, which include 1,900 shipowners, operators, managers, brokers and agents, report limited or no demand from Chinese buyers of seaborne commodities, such as coal, crude oil and iron ore, said Sand. The lack of activity is reflected in oil prices, which have crashed into a bear market.

Logistics company Freightos warned clients to expect delays in getting goods out of China, and consider shifting some shipments from sea to air or even sourcing goods from other countries where possible. The backlog of shipments that typically follows the Lunar New Year will be made worse by the current situation, pushing ocean freight rates up and exacerbating delays, Freightos said.

Air cargo disrupted

It’s not just shipping that’s been affected.

IAG Cargo, the air cargo arm of British Airways parent IAG, on Monday canceled all services to and from mainland China for at least the remainder of the month, citing a UK government travel advisory, according to a statement on its website.

German logistics groupDHL has reported “severe disruptions to inbound and outbound air cargo shipments, trucking and rail cargo services.”

The lockdowns could have a “major impact on supply chain operations and industrial production” in China across industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical and medical supplies, and high-tech manufacturing, it said in a report.

DHL has suspended deliveries in Hubei province, the epicenterof the virus, but said it doesn’t foresee other changes to its operations.

UPS and FedEx Express said they continue to fly into and out of China. UPS said it has seen reduced demand for its services as a result of business closures.


These are the countries where novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide

The novel coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. At least 2,100 people have died and more than 75,500 people have been infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

China’s National Health Commission has confirmed the virus can be transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission” — where a virus is passed on due to an infected person sneezing or coughing — as well as by direct contact.

There are at least 1,100 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in 29 countries and territories outside mainland China. More than 600 of those cases are linked to the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan.

Eleven people have died outside of mainland China from the virus. Three deaths have been recorded in Japan, including two Diamond Princess passengers. Hong Kong and Iran have recorded two deaths each, with one death each in South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and France.

Several countries, including the United States and Japan, have evacuated their nationals on flights from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and the epicenter of the outbreak. The US and other countries have also evacuated passengers from the Diamond Princess.

This is a full list of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, officially called Covid-19, outside mainland China.

Australia (at least 15 cases)

The Australian state of Queensland has confirmed its fifth case of novel coronavirus, pushing the national total to 15 confirmed cases.

The patient, a 37-year-old Chinese woman, is currently isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital. She is a member of the same tour group as Queensland’s four previously confirmed cases.

Belgium (at least 1 case)

Belgium has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, after one of nine repatriates from Wuhan tested positive for the virus, Belgium’s public health department said in a statement.

“The person who tested positive is healthy and shows no signs of illness for the time being,” the statement said.

“They were transferred to St. Peter’s University Hospital in Brussels, one of our country’s two reference centres. This hospital has all the necessary expertise and support to ensure the best possible care.”

Cambodia (at least 1 case)

Cambodia reported its first case of coronavirus — a 60-year-old Chinese man who flew into the country from Wuhan with three family members. They tested negative for the virus, according to a Ministry of Information statement. The man’s condition was stable and he only showed mild symptoms, it said.

Canada (at least 8 cases)

Eight cases of 2019 novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Canada, according to government figures.

Three of the cases are in Ontario, with five cases in British Columbia.

The Canadian government has warned its citizens against all travel to Hubei province. It said the risk of the new coronavirus spreading within Canada remained low.

Egypt (at least 1 case)

Egypt announced its first case of novel coronavirus on Friday, according to a joint statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The person who tested positive is a “foreigner,” the statement said.

Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Khaled Mujahid said Egypt discovered the case by testing passengers coming from countries where infections have emerged.

Mujahid added that the WHO was immediately informed, and all preventive measures will be taken in cooperation with them.

Finland (at least 1 case)

Finland has one case of coronavirus. The patient, a 32-year-old woman from Wuhan, arrived in the country on January 23, traveling the same day to a village in the northern Lapland region, according to CNN affiliate MTV3 Finland.

She developed respiratory symptoms and fever on Sunday and went to the emergency room on Tuesday, MTV3 Finland reports.

France (at least 12 cases, 1 death)

A Chinese tourist who tested positive for coronavirus has died in France, according to a statement from French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn, confirmed to CNN by the French Health Ministry.

This is the first person to die from coronavirus in Europe.

France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised against all non-essential travel to the whole territory of mainland China over the coronavirus epidemic.

The status of Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus is “highly not recommended” by the ministry.

Germany (at least 16 cases)

Two additional people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the German state of Bavaria, a spokesman for the state health ministry said in a statement.

The two new patients bring the total number of confirmed cases to 14 for the state of Bavaria, and 16 for Germany overall.

According to the Bavarian health ministry, the two new cases are related to a company from the district of Starnberg, where most of the previously known cases were also employed.

Hong Kong (at least 63 cases, 2 deaths)

Hong Kong reported a second death due to the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, according to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority.

A Hospital Authority spokesperson told CNN that the second victim is a 70-year-old man who was diagnosed on February 14 and admitted to Princess Magaret Hospital.

The other patient to die in Hong Kong was a 39-year-old man who died on February 4 and had an underlying illness. The patient took the high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan on January 21 and returned to the city from Changshanan on January 23. He was said to have never visited any health care facilities, wet market or seafood market, or had any exposure to wild animals during the incubation period.

Hong Kong has temporarily closed some of its borders with China and stopped issuing travel permits to mainland tourists.

India (at least 3 cases)

India has confirmed its third case of coronavirus in Kerala.

The third case is a student who tested positive for the virus after returning from Wuhan, according to a Facebook post from Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja. The student has been admitted to a district hospital in Kerala and is in stable condition.

Iran (at least 2 cases, 2 deaths)

The first two coronavirus patients in Iran have died in hospital, an Iranian Health Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Iranian health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour said in a tweet: “Following the outbreak of the acute respiratory illnesses in recent days in Qom, two cases, who in preliminary tests proved positive for Corona Virus, unfortunately, have passed away in the ICU. Both patients were elderly and suffered from immune system deficiencies.”

The country’s health ministry confirmed the first two cases of novel coronavirus earlier on Wednesday.

Italy (at least 3 cases)

Italy has confirmed its third case of coronavirus, after an Italian national tested positive for the infection, the country’s health ministry said in a statement.

The patient is the first Italian to contract the virus, following two cases of Chinese tourists with the infection.

According to the statement, the patient was quarantined in the city of Cecchignola, on the outskirts of Rome, after being repatriated from Wuhan last week.

Japan (At least 68 cases, 1 death; plus 624 cruise ship cases, 2 deaths)

Japan’s health ministry has announced that two Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers died from the novel coronavirus on Thursday.

Both passengers were in their 80s and died in hospital in Japan.

Seventy-nine new cases were confirmed from the ship on Wednesday, according to the health ministry.

In Japan, a total of 692 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed, with 624 on the Diamond Princess and 68 outside the ship.

Japan has confirmed one death from the coronavirus not linked to the ship — a woman in her 80s in Kanagawa prefecture.

Macao (at least 10 cases)

Macao has confirmed at least 10 cases of the coronavirus.

A total of 41 entertainment operations in the semiautonomous Chinese city have been suspended for 15 days starting February 4, according to the government.

The operations include casinos, betting branches, theaters, cinemas, game centers, internet cafes, discos, bars, nightclubs and dance halls.

The outbreak has had a devastating impact on tourism in the gambling enclave, which relies heavily on mainland Chinese visitors. Gambling is illegal on the mainland and Lunar New Year is usually a particularly busy time for Macao’s casinos. But not this year — tourism to the city has dropped 73.6% year-on-year, the Macao government announced on January 29.

Malaysia (at least 22 cases)

The first case of coronavirus involving the Westerdam cruise ship was confirmed by Malaysia on Saturday, after an 83-year-old US citizen tested positive, according to a report from state news agency Bernama.

Several Asian countries refused to let the Westerdam dock in their ports before being allowed to disembark in Cambodia on Friday. The cruise ship, which had a total of 1,455 guests and 802 crew onboard was not under quarantine, Holland America Line said last week.

All passengers and crew members onboard the cruise ship were allowed to return to their respective countries by the Cambodian government after they successfully passed through health screenings.

The US citizen and her husband, also American, were found to have symptoms as soon as they landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Cambodia, Bernama added. They were referred to the Sungai Buloh hospital for examination, which concluded that the woman tested positive while her husband, age 85, tested negative.

The husband is still undergoing treatment and observation at the hospital for his symptoms.

The total tally of confirmed cases in Malaysia is now up to 22, according to Bernama.

Nepal (at least 1 case)

There was one confirmed case in Nepal — a 31-year-old Nepali PhD student who lives in Wuhan but flew to Nepal earlier this month. He was admitted to hospital in Kathmandu on January 13, but was subsequently released on January 17 after his condition improved.

The Health Ministry said people in close contact with the patient have been identified and are being monitored.

Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)

The Philippines announced its third confirmed case of the coronavirus during a news conference by the Department of Health.

The patient is said to be a 60-year-old woman from China who arrived in Cebu from Wuhan, via Hong Kong in January.

The Philippines has reported its first coronavirus fatality — the first death from the virus outside of mainland China.

The patient was a 44-year-old Chinese man who flew in from Wuhan in January. He is the partner of a 38-year-old Chinese woman who was traveling with him, and who was the first confirmed case reported in the Philippines.

Earlier, the Department of Health stressed it is “on top of the evolving situation” but urged the public to wear surgical masks and avoid crowded places if they are experiencing symptoms, such as coughing and a fever.

Russia (at least 2 cases)

Russia has identified its first two cases, both Chinese citizens, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.

One patient is being treated in the Zabaikalsky region, which borders China, with the second case detected in the Tyumen region in Western Siberia, which borders Kazakhstan, TASS reports.

According to Golikova, Russia will begin evacuating its citizens from the Chinese provinces of Wuhan and Hubei, where there are 300 and 341 Russians respectively.

Singapore (at least 84 cases)

Singapore’s Ministry of Health reported three new cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the nationwide total to 84 confirmed cases.

Among them are two women, aged 57 and 35, and a 54-year-old man. None of the patients has any recent travel history to China.

The 35-year-old woman is linked to a 28-year-old man connected to the cluster at the Grace Assembly of God church.

South Korea (at least 104 cases, 1 death)

South Korea reported its first death from the novel coronavirus on Thursday in a statement from the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The deceased was among 22 new confirmed cases, bringing the country’s total to 104 on Thursday.

Among these 22 new cases, 21 are from the south of the country and one is from Seoul, according to the KCDC.

Among the 21 new cases from the south, five are linked to a church, and 13 are related to the same hospital, including the dead patient.

Spain (at least 2 cases)

Spain’s National Center for Microbiology has confirmed the country’s second case of coronavirus.

The diagnosed person is one of four that had been in contact with a French national who had been infected with the virus and were subsequently put under observation by Spanish authorities.

“The National Center for Microbiology analysed samples from these four people. One of them tested positive for coronavirus while the other three tested negative,” the Spanish health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)

There is one case of the coronavirus in Sri Lanka.

A statement from the health ministry assured residents that local hospitals were prepared to handle any further outbreak. The government is contacting people who may have come into contact with the single case to detect potential contagion.

Sweden (at least 1 case)

Sweden has confirmed one case of the virus, a woman in Jonkoping county who had visited Wuhan.

When the woman landed in Sweden on January 24, she was free of symptoms of the infection, but later developed a cough and contacted a local hospital, Sweden’s Public Health Authority said in a statement. She was isolated in the hospital’s infection clinic, but is not seriously ill.

Taiwan (at least 23 cases, 1 death)

Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare reported another coronavirus case on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infected on the island to 23.

The latest patient is a 60-year-old woman who is the sister of a man who died of the coronavirus on Sunday in Taiwan. She is the fifth person from the same family who contracted the virus, a ministry statement said.

The man who died is Taiwan’s first fatality from the virus. He was in his 60s and had a history of hepatitis B and diabetes, and no history of traveling abroad.

Thailand (at least 35 cases)

Thailand has confirmed its 35th case of novel coronavirus Monday, the Ministry of Public Health said.

The latest case is a 68-year-old Chinese woman tourist who was the fourth person from the same family to become infected with the virus, the ministry added.

Thai airports are now screening all Chinese visitors for symptoms. Thai citizens are also being asked to report anyone who seems to have fallen ill after recently traveling from China.

United Arab Emirates (at least 9 cases)

The United Arab Emirates confirmed its ninth case of novel coronavirus on Sunday, according to the Emirati Ministry of Health.

A 37-year-old Chinese national is in stable condition after receiving treatment, the ministry added in a statement.

The latest case brings the total number of people to have contracted the virus to nine in the nation.

Three people have been treated and released from hospital while one patient is currently receiving intensive care, according to the statement.

United Kingdom (at least 9 cases)

A ninth patient has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom, Public Health England said in a statement.

“One further patient in England has tested positive for novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to nine,” chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty said in the statement.

“This virus was passed on in China and the patient has now been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ (hospitals) in London.”

United States (at least 15 cases)

The 15th confirmed coronavirus case in the US is being treated at Methodist Texsan Hospital in San Antonio, according to a statement Thursday by Dr. Paul Hancock, chief medical officer at Methodist Healthcare.

The patient “was an evacuee from China in quarantine at Lackland Air Force Base and was found to have a fever,” Hancock said.

The patient arrived in the United States on a State Department-chartered flight on February 7, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

California has confirmed eight cases of the virus, Illinois has two, and there is one each in Arizona, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and in Washington state where that patient was discharged last week.

The State Department is telling US citizens not to travel to China amid the outbreak. In an advisory posted on the State Department website, the agency elevated its travel warning to “Do Not Travel” and warned of possible “travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.”

The advisory said US citizens currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means.

Vietnam (at least 16 cases)

Vietnam has confirmed its 16th case of novel coronavirus, according to a government news report.

The 50-year-old male patient is the father of a previously confirmed case in Son Loi commune in the northern Vinh Phuc province.

The local authorities on Wednesday locked down the area around Son Loi commune of Binh Xuyen district to contain spread of the virus. Residents in the area are quarantined for 20 days from February 13.


NEW YORK — The novel coronavirus outbreak finally appears to be stabilizing in central China, where the virus was first detected before it spread throughout the country and the world.

 China announced a drop in new infections today, though that’s partly because it changed its criteria for what counts as a confirmed case.

Elsewhere, small outbreaks are expanding fast.

 Two passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died from the virus, while more than 600 people from the ship have contracted it. Their deaths come as passengers who have tested negative for the virus have begun to leave the ship after a 14-day quarantine.

At least 2,126 people are now dead from the virus, almost all in mainland China, while more than 75,600 have been sickened worldwide.


TUESDAY, FEB. 18

Coronavirus explained: What you need to know

A new Chinese coronavirus, a cousin of the SARS virus, has infected hundreds since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December. Scientist Leo Poon, who first decoded the virus, thinks it likely started in an animal and spread to humans.

“What we know is it causes pneumonia and then doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising, but then in terms of mortality, SARS kills 10% of the individuals,” Poon, a virologist at the School of Public Health at The University of Hong Kong, said.

It’s not clear how deadly the Wuhan coronavirus will be, but fatality rates are currently lower than both MERS and SARS. Experts stress that it will change as the outbreak develops.

The World Health Organization offered guidance to countries on how they can prepare for it, including how to monitor for the sick and how to treat patients. Here’s what you should know about coronaviruses.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronavirus symptoms

The viruses can make people sick, usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, possibly a headache and maybe a fever, which can last for a couple of days.

For those with a weakened immune system, the elderly and the very young, there’s a chance the virus could cause a lower, and much more serious, respiratory tract illness like a pneumonia or bronchitis.

There are a handful of human coronaviruses that are known to be deadly.

Middle East respiratory syndrome, also known as the MERS virus, was first reported in the Middle East in 2012 and also causes respiratory problems, but those symptoms are much more severe. Three to four out of every 10 patients infected with MERS died, according to the CDC.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, is the other coronavirus that can cause more severe symptoms. First identified in the Guangdong province in southern China, according to the WHO, it causes respiratory problems but can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, shortness of breath, respiratory distress and kidney failure. Depending on the patient’s age, the death rate with SARS ranged from 0-50% of the cases, with older people being the most vulnerable.

The Wuhan coronavirus is currently thought to be more mild than SARS and MERS and takes longer to develop symptoms. Patients to date have typically experienced a mild cough for a week followed by shortness of breath, causing them to visit the hospital, explains Peter Horby, professor of emerging infectious diseases and global health at the University of Oxford. So far, around 15% to 20% of cases have become severe, requiring, for example, ventilation in the hospital.

How it spreads

Viruses can spread from human contact with animals. Scientists think MERS started in camels, according to the WHO. With SARS, scientists suspected civet cats were to blame. Officials do not yet know what animal may have caused the current outbreak in Wuhan.

When it comes to human-to-human transmission of the viruses, often it happens when someone comes into contact with an infected person’s secretions, such as droplets in a cough.

Depending on how virulent the virus is, a cough, sneeze or handshake could cause exposure. The virus can also be transmitted by touching something an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Caregivers can sometimes be exposed by handling a patient’s waste, according to the CDC.

Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed for the Wuhan coronavirus, but experts are now trying to understand who is transmitting it most, who is at most risk and whether transmission is occurring mostly in hospitals or in the community. SARS and MERS were largely transmitted inside hospitals, Horby said. Some people are also considered to be “superspreaders.”

Who is affected?

MERS, SARS and the Wuhan coronavirus appear to cause more severe disease in older people, though uncertainty remains around the latest outbreak. Of the cases of Wuhan coronavirus reported so far, none are yet confirmed to be among children, Horby said. The average age is people 40 or over, he said.

Coronavirus treatment

There is no specific treatment, but research is underway. Most of the time, symptoms will go away on their own and experts advise seeking care early. If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, see your doctor.

Doctors can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication. The CDC says a room humidifier or a hot shower can help with a sore throat or cough.

Drink plenty of fluids, get rest and sleep as much as possible.

Should you worry about the Wuhan coronavirus?

The Wuhan coronavirus fatality rate is lower than for SARS and MERS, but still comparable to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, explains Neil Ferguson, professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London.

“It is a significant concern, globally,” Ferguson says, noting that we don’t fully understand the severity.

Ferguson believes the fatality rate is likely to be lower due to an “iceberg” of milder cases we are yet to find, but he highlights that novel viruses spread much faster through a population.

How can you can prevent it?

There is no vaccine to protect against this family of viruses, at least not yet. Trials for a MERS vaccine are underway. The US National Institutes of Health is working on a vaccine against the new virus, but it will be months until clinical trials get underway and more than a year until it might become available.

You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds.

Awareness is key. If you are sick and have reason to believe it may be the Wuhan coronavirus due to travel to the region or coming into contact with someone who has been there, you should let a health care provider know and seek treatment early.

Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch.

If traveling to China, be aware of symptoms and avoid live animal markets, which is where the latest outbreak began in Wuhan.

Coronavirus and pregnancy

In pregnant women, the more severe versions of MERS and SARS coronaviruses can be serious. There are cases in which a woman infected with MERS had a stillbirth, a 2014 study showed.

SARS-associated illnesses were linked to cases of spontaneous abortion, maternal death and critical maternal illness, a 2004 study found.

Coronavirus and cats, dogs and other animals

Pets can catch coronaviruses and the infections can become severe. Sometimes the viruses can lead to deadly diseases. One can cause feline infectious peritonitis in cats and something called a pantropic canine coronavirus can infect cats and dogs, according to a 2011 study.

Cats can catch SARS, but none of the infected cats developed symptoms, according to the study. The feline coronavirus typically is asymptomatic, but can cause mild diarrhea. Feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, can cause flu-like symptoms for a cat, but can also be more serious for cats and can cause organ failure, but it is not contagious and will not spread from animal to animal or person to person.

Pantropic canine coronavirus that can impact cats and dogs can be fatal to dogs, studies show.

These particular dog and cat viruses don’t seem to spread to humans.


MONDAY, FEB. 17

A security guard wearing a protective mask stands guard inside an Apple Inc. store in Shanghai, China, on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. China is entering the “most critical time” in its fight to contain the spreading coronavirus, a government official said. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Apple warns of ‘iPhone supply shortages’ because of coronavirus

(CNN) — Apple warned investors on Monday that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is hurting its business more than previously expected by limiting how many devices it can make and sell in China.

In an investor update, Apple said it no longer expects to meet the revenue guidance it provided last month for the upcoming March quarter. “Work is starting to resume around the country, but we are experiencing a slower return to normal conditions than we had anticipated,” the company said.

Much of Apple’s manufacturing operations are based in China, which has been hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly half the country’s population are living under some form of travel restrictions.

“The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues,” Apple said. “These iPhone supply shortages will temporarily affect revenues worldwide.”

Apple temporarily closed all of its stores in China. While the company said it is “gradually reopening” stores, those locations have reduced hours and that foot traffic is “very low.”

The company expects the business disruption to be temporary. In general, iPhone sales are surging, up nearly 8% to $56 billion in the last three months of 2019.

Major international companies have closed offices and factories in response to the deadly virus. Some are starting to reopen, but the situation is still far from business as usual.

Huawei, the country’s top smartphone maker, recently reopened its Shenzhen headquarters where it employs about 40,000 people, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person said its decision was in line with local guidelines that authorized businesses to reopen.

But employees returned to a dramatically different environment than the one they left in January. When they clock in each morning, Huawei workers must now provide details about their body temperature and whereabouts for the last two weeks, the person said. There are also temperature checks at office buildings and in parking lots, while face masks and hand sanitizers are dispensed throughout its campus.

Baidu, China’s top search engine provider, said recently that it was “gradually” reopening its offices. But employees who come in “must meet quarantine conditions, and they can only return to work in the campus after approval,” the company said in an internal memo seen by CNN Business.

— CNN Business’ Clare Duffy, Michelle Toh and Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.

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A bus carrying US citizens leaves the Daikaku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama port, next to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, with people quarantined onboard due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, on February 17, 2020. – Americans began leaving a quarantined cruise ship off Japan on February 17, 2020, to board chartered flights home as the number of new coronavirus cases diagnosed on the vessel jumped to 355. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)

Americans evacuated from a quarantined cruise ship get stuck on buses with no bathrooms and fly 10 hours in cargo planes

(CNN) — More than 300 Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship for almost two weeks finally headed home Sunday night. But their journey back to the US felt like trading one ordeal for another.

“They have sent over a dozen emails assuring us that there would not be an additional quarantine, and they just told us that we’d be re-quarantined for 14 more days,” said a sobbing Karey Maniscalco.

“I’ve just lost a whole month of my life.”

Others, like Gay Courter from Florida, were grateful to the US government.

“I want to go somewhere where I feel safe, and that is under American jurisdiction,” she said. “I just want to thank President Trump and the US government. … There has been a lot of silence, but now we realize silence has been putting together a very good plan.”

More than 3,600 passengers have been stuck on the cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan, since February 4.

Since then, at least 456 people on the Diamond Princess tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,700 people and infected more than 71,000 others worldwide.

CNN got an exclusive look at the journey from the ship to a convoy of buses to US government chartered flights that took more than 300 Americans to military bases in California and Texas.

As they prepared to board the two planes, an official from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told them not to expect a normal flight.

“This is a converted cargo 747,” the official said, wearing full protective gear. “So there is less insulation than a regular passenger jet. So bring extra layers to stay warm.”

Before they boarded the planes, the passengers sat for hours on buses, with no access to bathrooms. A health worker at the front of a bus was covered head-to-toe in protective medical gear, just like everyone else who comes in contact with quarantined passengers.

“We’re just waiting. I don’t really know what we’re waiting for,” Maniscalco said from behind her face mask on the bus.

Finally, they were allowed off the buses and onto the tarmac at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Exhausted cheers erupted.

Once on board the aircraft, they sat in temporary seats with makeshift bathrooms and no passenger windows.

“First class, baby,” one woman joked.

The flights carried 14 passengers who tested positive for coronavirus, but who weren’t showing symptoms.

US health officials apparently learned of the positive test results after those passengers boarded the buses and made a last-minute decision allowing them to board the flights.

The infected passengers were put in a specialized containment area on the flights, isolating them from the rest of the passengers.

But Maniscalco said she still worried about her health.

“It’s not good conditions,” she said on the plane, still wearing her face mask.

“No one on here has had their temperature taken by the federal government, or any government for that matter. So we’re all sitting in really close, tight quarters. Everyone’s sitting next to each other. I have a girl sitting here in just a minute. It seems dangerous.”

After she landed, Maniscalco had a more optimistic view of the situation.

“Every single person we encountered was the most kind and thoughtful person,” she said.

“They knew we were ornery and scared, and they did everything in their power to make us feel at ease. They kept saying that they knew we’ve been through a great ordeal and how stressed out we were, and now we are safe.”


Japan confirms 99 more cases of new virus on cruise ship

JAPAN — Japanese officials have confirmed 99 more people infected by the new virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess, bringing the total to 454.

The ministry has been carrying out tests on passengers and crew on the ship, docked in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo.

The 14-day quarantine for those on the ship was due to end Wednesday.

Outside China, the ship has had the largest number of cases of the COVID-19 illness caused by the virus that emerged in China late last year.


Novel coronavirus death toll tops 1,770 as US passengers on quarantined cruise ship fly home

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus has risen to 1,770, with an additional 100 deaths reported Sunday in Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the outbreak.

There have been more than 71,000 cases worldwide, with the vast majority of those in mainland China. The largest outbreaks outside of China have been in Singapore and Japan, where the Diamond Princess cruise ship has been docked for almost two weeks now, while health officials tested the thousands of passengers and crew on board.

So far, more than 350 cases have been confirmed aboard the ship, with an additional 70 on Sunday. More are expected before the official end of the quarantine period, after which Japanese officials said it would take two or three days for passengers to disembark, during which they will be tested once again.

Hundreds of Americans on board were able to leave Sunday, on a specially-chartered flight organized by the US government. They are swapping one quarantine for another, however, with US authorities saying Saturday that on their return stateside, the passengers will have to undergo another two-weeks of observation and testing at one of two military bases.

The move sparked anger from many passengers, who saw it as yet another delay to getting back to their normal lives. “It’s like a prison sentence for something I did not do,” passenger Karey Mansicalco told CNN from her cabin. “They are holding us hostage for absolutely no reason.”

Global spread

Taiwanese authorities on Sunday reported the island’s first death from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The man in his mid-60s tested had a history of hepatitis B and diabetes and no history of traveling abroad. His death came as another case was confirmed in Taiwan, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 20.

While the vast majority of deaths have occurred in mainland China, there have been fatal cases of the virus in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan and France. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than two dozen countries worldwide, affecting nearly every continent.

“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), told CNN last week. “We don’t know a lot about this virus. This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”

While more research is needed to fully understand the virus, Redfield said that the CDC has focused on surveillance to track cases and containment strategies to slow possible progression of the virus in the US.

Slowing progression gives more time for researchers to work on developing and testing a vaccine and antiviral drugs for this novel coronavirus. Currently, there is no known cure for the virus.

When did Xi know?

As the outbreak has worsened, officials in Hubei have faced increasing scrutiny about whether they intentionally downplayed reports of the virus in the early weeks, or ignored evidence that it was being spread from person-to-person, delaying any efforts to contain it before it was too late.

Multiple officials have been removed from their positions, while others have offered to resign. It had been thought that any blame for the delay in response was contained to Hubei itself, and that central authorities were as in the dark as the international community until late January, when Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped in himself, ordering “all out efforts” to rein in the virus’ spread.

Over the weekend, however, a transcript of a speech Xi gave earlier this month was published. In it, Xi said he first “issued requirements for the prevention and control of the new coronavirus” on January 7.

While the speech underlines that Xi has been personally directing the response to the outbreak — something that has been repeatedly emphasized in state media — the revelation that he knew about the virus when Hubei officials were publicly downplaying its danger, exposes him to the risk of being blamed, along with them, for failing to properly handle the outbreak in its early weeks.

It also raises additional questions for the World Health Organization (WHO), which has previously praised China for its “transparency” and for sounding the alarm early and enabling a global response to the virus.

Back to work

China is not only sending mixed messages over when and what Xi knew. With the country facing increasing economic pressure — which could have global ramifications — many cities are attempting to return to something like normality.

Speaking last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged continued efforts “to advance science-based epidemic control, and resume production in an orderly way to better support outbreak response and preserve normal economic and social order.”

A specially customized train left Guizhou in western China for Hangzhou carrying around 300 migrant workers, state media reported. Carriages have “strict temperature monitoring, better ventilation and scattered seating,” and it is hoped it could be a model for returning workers to travel while not being exposed to potential infection.

At the same time, however, cities and provinces most affected by the outbreak are facing stringent new controls, on top of existing lockdowns which have left people trapped inside their homes and unable to work.

On Sunday, Hubei announced new measures, including province-wide traffic restrictions on all non-emergency vehicles and the closure of all non-essential public venues. Already there are reports of residential compounds being completely sealed off, with no one able to go in or out except in rare circumstances.

Health screening is to be stepped up, with officials going door-to-door to look for new cases. Anyone displaying potential symptoms “should be immediately reported to the local community or village,” the government said in a circular announcing the new restrictions.

Anyone suspected or confirmed to be infected with the virus, their close contacts, or anyone with a fever, should be “timely treated or placed in quarantine instead of self-isolation at home,” it said.

On the economic side, Hubei said that “companies should not resume production unless allowed by local epidemic prevention authorities.”


14 passengers on US charter flights evacuating the Diamond Princess have tested positive for coronavirus

(CNN) — Fourteen passengers aboard US chartered flights evacuating Americans and their families from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for novel coronavirus, according to a joint statement from the US Departments of State and Health and Human Services.

The passengers are among the more than 300 people removed from the ship, which is docked off the Japanese port city of Yokohama, Sunday night and flown to military bases in the United States.

US officials were notified that they had tested positive for coronavirus during the evacuation process, after passengers had disembarked the ship, the agencies said in the joint statement Monday. The passengers had been tested two to three days before the evacuation flights, the statement said.

“After consultation with HHS officials, including experts from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the State Department made the decision to allow the 14 individuals, who were in isolation, separated from other passengers, and continued to be asymptomatic, to remain on the aircraft to complete the evacuation process,” the agencies said.

One charter flight carrying evacuated Americans arrived at Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield, California, around 11:28 p.m. local time Sunday. A second arrived at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas at 3:56 a.m. local time Monday.

The passengers who tested positive were isolated from the other passengers during the flights, the statement said. And all passengers are being “closely monitored” throughout the flight.

“Any who become symptomatic will be moved to the specialized containment area, where they will be treated,” the statement said.

After the flights land, any passengers that developed symptoms on the flights and those who had already tested positive will be transported to “an appropriate location for continued isolation and care.”

The remaining passengers will remain under quarantine for 14 days.

Passengers arriving to Travis Air Force Base will be housed in the same facility as evacuees who arrived from Wuhan earlier this month, a spokesperson for the base told CNN. New evacuees will be kept in a separate area of the Westwind Inn on the base, the spokesperson said.

Before the announcement about the infected flight passengers, some Americans aboard the Diamond Princess said they didn’t want to take a chance being evacuated for fear they would be subject to possible infection.

Sacramento resident Matthew Smith told CNN affiliate KOVR that he would rather deal with issues in Japan than be evacuated and quarantined in the United States.

“We decided we would just face whatever consequences here rather than exposing ourselves to that situation,” Smith told the affiliate.”It kind of didn’t make any sense if the us was fearful that these were infected people which is why they’re going to quarantine them for another 2 weeks to have thrown them all together”

Smith’s wife Katherine Codekas was met with some surprise when she told authorities that she and her husband weren’t going to go with the other American evacuees, KOVR reported.

“They came back around again and I said no we’re not going and they very sincerely wished us luck but there was a little look of surprise on their face,” Codekas explained to the affiliate.

“You know, it’s not like we’re the last helicopter off the roof top in Ho Chi Mihn City,” she told KOVR. “We’re on a boat and we’re watching people go away and people just make different choices about how they want to confront the virus.”

SUNDAY, FEB. 16

How to protect yourself from coronavirus

(CNN) — The novel coronavirus is now a “public health emergency of international concern,” killing more than 1,600 people and infecting more than 69,000 worldwide.

Even worse: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects this virus to keep spreading beyond this year.

Here’s what makes this strain so unusual and what you can do to protect yourself.

Why is this coronavirus different?

There are many kinds of coronaviruses, including some that cause the common cold.

But this deadly strain is called a “novel” coronavirus because it has not previously been identified in humans.

It’s unusual for several reasons:

— Scientists believe this type of coronavirus jumped from a different animal to humans, which is rare.

— It then became transmissible from human to human, which is even more rare.

— An infected person might not show symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure. That’s especially worrisome because this novel coronavirus can be transmitted while a person still isn’t showing any symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and trouble breathing are some of the most common symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

“It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties,” the World Health Organization says.

“More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.”

How can you protect yourself?

In general, the public should do “what you do every cold and flu season,” said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state — where the first US case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed.

That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

If you’re the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don’t use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.

WHO also recommends staying at least 3 feet or 1 meter away from anyone who may be infected.

Is there a cure for novel coronavirus?

No. Patients can be treated and may recover from their symptoms, but there is no known cure for the novel coronavirus yet.

What about a vaccine?

Scientists are working on a vaccine, but don’t expect it anytime soon.

The US National Institutes of Health is trying to develop one, but says it will take at least a few months before clinical trials start and more than a year until a vaccine might actually become available.

Separately, scientists in Texas, New York and China are also trying to create a vaccine, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But the challenge is daunting, Hotez said.

“The lesson we’ve learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats.”

SATURDAY, FEB. 15

US to evacuate Americans on cruise ship quarantined in Japan from coronavirus outbreak

 (CNN) — The US government is preparing to evacuate Americans who have been quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan for over a week, after dozens of people on board tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month.

The US embassy in Tokyo on Saturday sent an email to Americans on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship detailing plans for a voluntary evacuation for US citizens and their immediate family from the ship to take place Sunday evening local time.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the US’ plans.

Over 3,600 people, including 428 Americans, have been stuck on the cruise ship docked in Yokohama since February 4 in what has become the largest outbreak of the virus outside of mainland China. At least 24 Americans are among the 219 people infected with coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise.

The email from the US embassy, obtained by CNN from a passenger onboard the ship, says that the US government “recommends, out of an abundance of caution, that US citizens disembark and return to the United States for further monitoring.”

Those who choose to return to the United States on the charter aircraft will be required to undergo another 14 days of quarantine. “We understand this is frustrating and an adjustment, but these measures are consistent with the careful policies we have instituted to limit the potential spread of the disease,” the email reads.

Charter aircraft will arrive in Japan in the evening of February 16, according to the email. Buses will transport the Americans directly from the Yokohama port to an unspecified airport.

Passengers choosing to return on the charter flight will be screened for symptoms of the virus.

Americans who have already tested positive for coronavirus, as well as those showing symptoms of the virus, will not be able to board the aircraft, and will continue to receive treatment in Japan.

The aircraft will land in the US at Travis Air Force Base in California, with some passengers continuing onward to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Roughly 380 Americans and their families on the ship will be offered seats on two charter planes to the US organized by the State Department, Henry Walke, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, told the Journal on Friday.

Those who choose not to take the charter flights “will be unable to return to the United States for a period of time,” which the CDC will have final say in the matter.

The Japanese government said Saturday that it “appreciates” the US’ decision to offer voluntary evacuation to American citizens onboard the Diamond Princess.

“The Government of Japan believes that the measures taken by the U.S. Government will help mitigate the Government of Japan’s burden regarding medical response in the ‘Diamond Princess’ and appreciates such measures,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday.

Other passengers on the Diamond Princess will be disembarked over several days beginning February 21, and the crew will likely begin their own quarantine once all passengers have left the ship, Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, told passengers in a letter read by the ship’s captain.

Passengers who have met the Japanese Ministry of Health’s criteria for being at high-risk of getting infected with the virus have been allowed to disembark from the ship and spend the remainder of their quarantine ashore in Japanese government housing.

Since it was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19, has killed more than 1,500 people and infected more than 67,000 people globally, the vast majority in mainland China.

FRIDAY, FEB. 14

China reports major drop in new virus cases; 143 new deaths

BEIJING (AP) — China reported Saturday a figure of 2,641 new virus cases, a major drop from the higher numbers in recent days since a broader diagnostic method was implemented.

The number of new deaths rose slightly to 143, bringing the total fatalities in mainland China to 1,523. The total number of confirmed cases in the country now stands at 66,492, according to a notice from China’s National Health Commission.

COVID-19, a disease stemming from a new form of coronavirus, has spread to more than 24 countries since December, when the first infections appeared in central China.

Saturday marks the second day the number of new COVID-19 cases fell since a spike Thursday, when the hardest-hit province of Hubei began including clinical diagnoses in its official count. Using the wider scope of classification, the central Chinese province reported 15,152 cases, including 13,332 that were diagnosed using doctors’ analyses and lung imaging, as opposed to the prior standard of laboratory testing.

Hubei health authorities said in the notice that the new method was adopted to facilitate earlier treatment for those suspected of infection.

“The current fight against the novel coronavirus epidemic is a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Communist Party Central Committee meeting Friday, according to state media.

“In response to the shortcomings and deficiencies exposed by the epidemic, (the government) should work to strengthen areas of weakness and close up loopholes,” Xi said.

China has imposed unprecedented measures in a sweeping campaign to contain the virus. At the outbreak’s epicenter in the central province of Hubei, cities with a combined population of more than 60 million have been placed under lockdown, with outbound transportation halted and virtually all public activities suspended.

People returning to Beijing will now have to isolate themselves either at home or in a concentrated area for medical observation, said a notice from the Chinese capital’s prevention and control work group published by state media late Friday.

The notice warns there will be legal consequences for those who don’t comply with the 14-day quarantine. It did not elaborate on how the isolation will be enforced. While Beijing returnees were previously ordered to “self-quarantine” for two weeks, that measure allowed for occasional outings and implementation varied across neighborhoods.

Chinese officials have warned that COVID-19 may spread further as migrants return to their jobs in cities or other provinces after a prolonged Lunar New Year holiday.


Associated Press researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.


THURSDAY, FEB. 13

CDC director: Novel coronavirus ‘is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year’

(CNN) — As an outbreak of a novel coronavirus has swept through Hubei province, China, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been preparing for its worst case scenario — a widespread outbreak of illnesses in the United States.

“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an interview on Thursday.

“We don’t know a lot about this virus,” he said. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”

As of Thursday, there have been 15 cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed in seven states: eight in California; two in Illinois; and one in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Texas.

This ‘will become a community virus’
While more research is needed to fully understand the virus, Redfield told Gupta that the CDC has focused on surveillance to track cases and containment strategies to slow possible progression of the virus in the United States. Slowing progression gives more time for researchers to work on developing and testing a vaccine and antiviral drugs for this novel coronavirus. Currently, there is no known cure for the virus.

“The containment phase is really to give us more time. This virus will become a community virus at some point in time, this year or next year,” Redfield said. “We don’t have any evidence that this coronavirus is really embedded in the community at this time, but with that said, we want to intensify our surveillance so that we’re basing those conclusions based on data.”

The containment strategy refers to efforts to prevent widespread transmission of the coronavirus in the United States, including having people with confirmed cases stay in isolation and placing restrictions on travel between affected areas in the world. Such containment measures were used widely during the SARS global outbreak of 2003, during which 8,098 people worldwide became sick and of those, 774 died, according to the CDC.

Due to the current novel coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration has put in place travel restrictions that block foreign nationals from entering the United States if they visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival to the United States.

Restrictions also apply to US citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in the two weeks prior to their return to the United States. Upon their return, those citizens will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days.

World Health Organization officials and other experts have criticized travel restrictions on foreign nationals, even arguing that such restrictions could backfire.

“We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus said last week during a media briefing in Geneva.

US officials have defended the government’s response, saying they’re taking important steps to prepare for the virus and slow its spread — and that the timing of their efforts is key.

“Frankly, some people criticized when we decided that we wanted to temporarily suspend travel into the United States from individuals who were not Americans or permanent residents who had been in the hot zone in the last 14 days. Some people didn’t think that that was what they would do,” Redfield told Gupta on Thursday.

“Well, we felt very strongly that our obligation was to do all we can to protect the American public,” Redfield said. “I would rather be criticized for over-protecting America than under-protecting America at this stage.”

Regarding the travel restrictions on foreign nationals, Gupta asked, “Obviously, Dr. Redfield, the virus doesn’t discriminate based on race. Why do we?”

In response, Redfield spoke more to the restrictions on US citizens, saying, “The issue here was first a strong commitment to take care of the Americans that are going to come back, whether they happen to potentially have this virus or not — and you saw that with the over 800 individuals that the State Department has repatriated and we’ve assisted in that.”

Concerns about the virus’ spread
When it comes to preventing spread of the virus and learning more about the pathogen, Redfield told Gupta that he thinks asymptomatic transmission of the novel coronavirus is possible and concerning.

In other words, Redfield said that an infected person not showing symptoms could still transmit the virus to someone else, based on what he has learned from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There’s been good communication with our colleagues to confirm asymptomatic infection, to confirm asymptomatic transmission, to be able to get a better handle on the clinical spectrum of illness in China. What we don’t know though is how much of the asymptomatic cases are driving transmission,” Redfield said.

“What I’ve learned in the last two weeks is that the spectrum of this illness is much broader than was originally presented. There’s much more asymptomatic illness,” Redfield said. “A number of the confirmed cases that we confirmed actually just presented with a little sore throat.”

Weeks into the outbreak, CDC still not invited to China
Meanwhile, Redfield said that the CDC has been eager to help China in its efforts to fight this outbreak. Nearly six weeks after the CDC first offered to help China with the coronavirus outbreak, the offer still has not been accepted.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus was first identified in early January.

“There’s a lot of information we don’t know — that’s why I offered to provide assistance, direct assistance, and send our CDC folks over there back on January 6 to really help them gather that information and also to help us see the information first hand that we need to help make the right public health recommendations for our nation,” Redfield said.

“That letter has not been responded to yet by the official Chinese government,” he said. “We do believe that we’re the best in the world in this space and we’re ready to help and assist them, but they’re an independent nation that has to make that decision that they’re going to invite us in.”

According to WHO, there are more than 47,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide, with the vast majority in mainland China.


Canceling Tokyo Olympics ‘not being considered’ amid coronavirus outbreak, say organizers

 (CNN) — There are no plans to cancel the Tokyo 2020 Games despite the novel coronavirus outbreak in Asia, Olympic organizers have confirmed.

The virus has so far claimed the lives of 1,350 people and infected over 60,000 worldwide, with the vast majority of cases reported in mainland China.

“I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered,” Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said in a press conference Thursday, PA Media reports.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) member John Coates added that organizers are working “to ensure that all of the athletes, and all of the people who come to Japan for the games are not going to be affected, and that all the necessary precautions are being taken.”

The Games will take place between July 24 and August 9 this year.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, videos and features

A number of sporting events have already been impacted by the virus.

World Rugby confirmed Thursday that the Hong Kong Sevens and the Singapore Sevens have been moved from April to October 10-11 and 16-18 respectively.

“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority,” said a statement.

“This prudent decision has been taken in order to help protect the global rugby community and the wider public and was taken based on the World Health Organization and relevant public authority travel and health guidelines.

“The decision is fully supported by stakeholders, including unions and commercial partners.”

READ: China table tennis team takes refuge in Qatar

Fans who bought tickets for either event will be able to attend the rescheduled tournaments or will be given a full refund, World Rugby added.

The Hong Kong Sevens is the highlight of the city’s sporting calendar that regularly sees 120,000 fans in attendance across the weekend.

On Wednesday, the Chinese Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Shaghai on April 19, was postponed, while the LPGA canceled two golf events in Thailand and Singapore scheduled to tee off later this month.


The 15th US case of coronavirus is an evacuee at an Air Force base in Texas

TEXAS — The 15th case of the novel coronavirus in the United States is one of the evacuees at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The patient has been under federal quarantine since arriving in the US from China on a chartered flight on February 7, the CDC said. The person has been isolated and is receiving medical care at a hospital.

This is the first case of the coronavirus confirmed in Texas. Eight cases have been confirmed in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. There are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California. Two California cases are among evacuees from China.

Earlier this week, 195 evacuees were released from federally mandated quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in California. No one in that group had tested positive for the novel coronavirus

According to the CDC, more than 600 people evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, remain quarantined in the US.


Deaths in China from coronavirus top 1,300 with big jump in cases as country expands diagnosis

The Chinese province at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak reported a record spike in deaths Thursday, bringing the total number to more than 1,300 people globally, as experts warned the epidemic could “create havoc” in less prepared countries.

Health authorities in Hubei announced an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 cases of the virus, known officially as Covid-19, as of Thursday morning, the largest single-day rise since the epidemic began and almost 10 times the number of cases confirmed the previous day.

The government explained the spike as due to a change in how cases are tabulated — the total will now include “clinically diagnosed cases” after rising numbers of residents complained about the difficulty in getting tested and treated for the virus.

“Clinically diagnosed cases” are those patients who demonstrate all the symptoms of Covid-19 but have been unable to be scientifically tested, or died before they were tested. The hope is that more people will be able to receive treatment by allowing doctors to diagnose them with the virus.

Almost 34,000 patients have been hospitalized across Hubei, the central Chinese province of which Wuhan is capital, including 1,400 or so in a critical condition. So far, 3,441 patients have recovered and been discharged.

Globally, the virus has infected more than 60,000 people, with the vast majority of cases in mainland China. On Thursday, China said it has confirmed 59,804 cases on the mainland, an increase of 15,152 cases from the previous day.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the country now stands at 1,367, according to China’s National Health Commission.

Only two deaths have occurred outside of mainland China.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials described China’s decision to broaden their definition of what constitutes a confirmed case as a necessary measure.

“When the situation is evolving, you change your definition just to make sure you can monitor the disease accurately, and this is what they have done recently — change the case definition to incorporate more cases that were not in the initial case definition, but also integrate cases that are both asymptomatic or with little symptom,” Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of WHO’s Infectious Hazards Management Department, said during a press conference Wednesday.

However, the major increase in the number of deaths and cases of the coronavirus appears to dash hopes that the outbreak was leveling off. It comes as additional cases were confirmed on the quarantined cruise ship docked in the Japanese city of Yokohama, and in the US, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned the country “can and should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold.”

In the UK too, a new case was confirmed Wednesday in the capital London, with health officials warning that more were likely to follow.

WHO officials had previously expressed some optimism at the apparently stabilizing outbreak in China, but even then they cautioned that the virus could still spread elsewhere.

“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.

“We have to invest in preparedness,” Tedros said, adding that richer countries should help invest in countries with a weaker health system. He warned the virus could “create havoc” if it reaches a country whose health system is not capable of handling such an epidemic.

Case number confusion

The massive increase in the number of cases exposes confusion over just how to diagnose the virus globally, not least in central China, where residents with symptoms had expressed frustration that they were not able to get treatment due to a delay in diagnosis.

Those delays could be significant, with some reports of patients waiting up to a week for their results, as the testing kits were sent from Hubei to a lab in Beijing. While there have been efforts to speed up the process, scientific testing of samples is difficult and time consuming, and allowing doctors to diagnose patients will enable far more people to receive treatment, including in several purpose-built hospitals dedicated to treating the virus in Wuhan.

Delays in testing are not confined to China. In the US, the CDC currently requires that all potential samples are shipped to its central laboratories for full testing.

In its guidance for hospitals, the CDC also warns that “in the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected.” However, it adds that if a person is showing symptoms but tests negative for Covid-19, it is likely that the virus is not the cause of their illness.

Speaking at a US Senate hearing on Wednesday, Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said that testing was not been done aggressively enough and should be expanded to cover more symptoms.

“I think that we should be leaning in very aggressively to broaden diagnostic screening right now, particularly in communities where there was a lot of immigration, where these outbreaks could emerge, to identify them early enough that they’ll be small enough that we can intervene to prevent more epidemic spread in this country,” he said.

Gottlieb pointed to Singapore, which has now identified around 50 cases, to make a point about the US, which receives similar numbers of travelers from China every year.

“On a statistical basis, there’s no reason to believe that if Singapore got implants of this virus, we didn’t. You would expect them to be identified earlier in Singapore” as a densely populated island, he said. “But it does suggest, at least to me, that we probably have some community spread right now that we just haven’t identified yet.”

He also questioned the quality of data coming out of China — something many outside observers have been doing, and the radical shift in how cases are diagnosed will likely not help.

“I don’t trust the reporting in China, and I also believe that the China numbers reflect the most severe cases, so we’re getting a skewed view of the case fatality rate and how severe this is,” Gottlieb said.

Counting milder or asymptomatic cases could make the case fatality rate drop significantly, he added, but “even a case fatality rate of .2 or .5 could be catastrophic if this is highly contagious and spreads around the world.”

Speaking at the same hearing, Asha George, executive director of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, said that China may be limited in its testing and reporting resources, versus simply “a lack of desire on the part of the Chinese government to report.”

In public health schools, George said students are taught to assume they don’t have complete data and account for cases they don’t yet know about.

“We’re often taught to multiply by seven or eight times what you’ve been told. For every one case you see, there are seven or eight out there that you don’t,” she explained. “So that means actually we’d be looking at hundreds of thousands of cases. I think that’s the scale at which we should be planning.”

Cruise ship misery

Outside of China, the largest single outbreak remains on a cruise ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said an additional 44 virus cases had been confirmed on board the

Diamond Princess as of Thursday, bringing the total number on board to 219.

Kato did not give a breakdown by nationality of the new cases, nor of passengers versus crew. CNN’s latest tally indicates that at least 24 Americans have tested positive for the virus aboard the ship.

The Health Minister also said that people who had tested negative for the virus and are over 80 years old, or have a non-virus medical condition requiring attention, will be allowed to leave the ship and move to a government medical facility, if they wish. He did not give a timeline for that process. Already on Tuesday, an unknown number of passengers with non-virus medical conditions were allowed to disembark.

Frustration is growing, however, among the thousands passengers and crew on board, who have been unable to leave the ship for a week now.

Speaking to CNN, one crew member said she fears the crew are at greater risk of being exposed to the outbreak because they are not being quarantined in the same way as the passengers and are having to continue working to take care of the guests.

Sonali Thakkar, 24, from Mumbai, said she and her colleague — who she shares a cabin with — became ill with a headache, cough and a fever two days ago. Her supervisor told her to stop working and she is currently staying in her cabin in isolation.

“I’m not eating very well and have been having fevers,” she told CNN in a Skype call Wednesday. “We all are really scared and tense.”

Thakkar fears that the virus may be spreading around the crew members. At least five have already tested positive for the virus.

There was more positive news for another cruise ship, which has been struggling to find a port to dock at for several days after countries turned it away due to fears over a potential coronavirus outbreak.

The MS Westerdam had been in a holding pattern at sea after it was denied entry by Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan despite the ship having no confirmed cases on board. It is due to arrive in Cambodia Thursday morning, after authorities there approved it to dock there.

Tedros, the WHO director, thanks Cambodia for welcoming the ship.

“This is an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for,” the WHO director-general said, adding that “outbreaks can bring out the best and worst in people” and that “stigmatizing individuals or entire nations does nothing but harm the response.”


An aircraft, chartered by the U.S. State Department to evacuate Americans from the novel coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan, arrives at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California, U.S., February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Poroy

A second case of the coronavirus has been confirmed among US evacuees at California base

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Ca. — A new case of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed among US evacuees at a San Diego County, California air base, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

The patient is among a group that was under a federal quarantine order after returning on a State Department-chartered flight that arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on February 7, the CDC said.

This is the second evacuee from Wuhan, China, under quarantine at the base to test positive for novel coronavirus. The first patient arrived at the base on February 5. She was the first US evacuee from China to be known to be infected with the novel coronavirus.

“The first and second patients arrived on different planes and were housed in separate facilities; there are no epidemiologic links between them,” the CDC said in a news release.

The two patients are being cared for at UC San Diego Health, hospital officials said.

“At this time there is no indication of person-to-person spread of this virus at the quarantine facility,” said Dr. Chris Braden, who leads the CDC on-site team.

Braden said the CDC will investigate and work to detect and contain any cases of infection.

Errors by a hospital in San Diego and the CDC led to the first patient being sent back to base instead of isolation at the hospital, according to a health official familiar with the situation.

The hospital sent their specimens to a CDC lab in Atlanta for testing. According to the source, three of the four specimens were incorrectly labeled upon arrival and so they were not tested. The CDC lab did not realize the specimens were from the Miramar patients.

When no results were reported back, CDC staffers mistakenly gave UC San Diego Health the results of other patients who tested negative. That mistake led to the Miramar patients being transferred back to the base Sunday afternoon.

After they arrived back at the base, the mistake was discovered and the tests were run on the three Miramar patients.

The results for the woman came back positive, and she was transported back to UC San Diego Health on Monday morning, where she was in isolation. The woman has had a very mild illness, according to the source, with no fever and a slight cough. The other three patients tested negative.

The newest case is the 14th confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the United States and the eighth case in California.

The health authority in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital, reported 242 more people died of the coronavirus in the province Wednesday, raising the death toll in the epicenter since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak to 1,310. The global death toll is at least 1,357, with one death in Hong Kong and one death in the Philippines.

The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases has now exceeded 60,015 with the vast majority of cases in mainland China.

More than 1,300 people have died from the virus and more than 60,015 people have been infected. The vast majority of infections have been in mainland China.

The World Health Organization and the United States have declared the outbreak a public health emergency, but US officials have urged residents not to panic.


WEDNESDAY, FEB. 12

No coronavirus outbreak in Mid-South, but health officials monitoring 20 people

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County Health Department says it’s monitoring 20 people who may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus while overseas.

However, local health officials say there is no outbreak in the Mid-South, and the flu virus is a much larger threat locally.

“Currently, there is no outbreak of the coronavirus in Shelby County, Tennessee, Mississippi or Arkansas,” said health officer Dr. Bruce Randolph. “We’re really encouraging  people not to become hysterical.”

Randolph said the 20 people under monitoring have not shown any symptoms, but the department will check on them after 14 days. This is only a precautionary measure as recommended by the CDC, and Randolph said people locally have little to worry about.

“They’re not quarantined,” Randolph said. “What we’re asking is that they self-isolate.”

Randolph said, despite the threat of the coronavirus, residents have a higher chance of catching the flu. 

To date, the coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people worldwide, infecting more than 40,000 people, the Shelby County Health Department says.

But since the start of flu season, Randolph said, influenza has killed more than 10,000 people in the U.S. and has infected nearly 20 million people worldwide. 

He said the chance of someone in the Mid-South getting the coronavirus is very low.

“Your greatest fear needs to be the flu,” Randolph said.

Health officials said the two viruses have similar symptoms such as cough and fever, and they encourage everyone to seek medical attention immediately if they feel they have been exposed.

The Shelby County Health Department is still offering free flu vaccines at all health clinics.

Quametra Wilborn, WREG


This is where Wuhan coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide

The Wuhan coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. At least 1,100 people have died and more than 45,000 people have been infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

China’s National Health Commission has confirmed the virus can be transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission” — where a virus is passed on due to an infected person sneezing or coughing — as well as by direct contact.

There at least 510 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in more than 25 countries and territories outside mainland China. Two people have died outside of mainland China from the virus — a 44-year-old Chinese man in the Philippines, and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.

A number of countries, such as the United States and Japan, have evacuated their nationals on flights from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

This is a full list of places outside mainland China with confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

  • Australia (at least 15 cases)
  • Belgium (at least 1 case)
  • Cambodia (at least 1 case)
  • Canada (at least 7 cases)
  • Finland (at least 1 case)
  • France (at least 11 cases)
  • Germany (at least 16 cases)
  • Hong Kong (at least 50 cases, 1 death)
  • India (at least 3 cases)
  • Italy (at least 3 cases)
  • Japan (at least 28 cases, plus 175 cruise ship cases)
  • Macao (at least 10 cases)
  • Malaysia (at least 18 cases)
  • Nepal (at least 1 case)
  • Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)
  • Russia (at least 2 cases)
  • Singapore (at least 47 cases)
  • South Korea (at least 28 cases)
  • Spain (at least 2 cases)
  • Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
  • Sweden (at least 1 case)
  • Taiwan (at least 18 cases)
  • Thailand (at least 33 cases)
  • United Arab Emirates (at least 8 cases)
  • United Kingdom (at least 8 cases)
  • United States (at least 13 cases)
  • Vietnam (at least 15 cases)

United States

Thirteen people living in the US have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

California has seven cases, Illinois has two, and there is one each in Arizona, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and in Washington state where that patient was discharged last week.

There are two instances of person-to-person transmission in the US — one in Illinois and one in California.

The State Department is telling US citizens not to travel to China amid the outbreak. In an advisory posted on the State Department website, the agency elevated its travel warning to “Do Not Travel” and warned of possible “travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.”

The advisory said US citizens currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means.


Medical personnels wearing protective suits wait near a block’s entrance in the ground of a residential estate, in Hong Kong, early on February 11, 2020, after two people in the block were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus according to local newspaper reports. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP) (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

TUESDAY, FEB. 11

WHO team arrives in China as Wuhan coronavirus deaths top SARS

Originally Published: 10 FEB 20 23:07 ETUpdated: 11 FEB 20 11:56 ETBy James Griffiths, CNN

    (CNN) — The number of deaths from the Wuhan coronavirus had risen to over 1,000 by Tuesday morning, as experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in China to assist with controlling the epidemic.

Chinese health authorities said 108 people died from the virus in mainland China on Monday, with the majority of those deaths occurring in Hubei province, the capital of which is Wuhan — the city where the virus was first found. The total number of deaths stands at 1,018, all but two of those in mainland China.

Globally,  43,114 have now been diagnosed with the virus, again with the majority in China. Around 4,000 patients have been treated and released from hospital in China since late December.

A team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts landed in China on Monday. The organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said they will “lay the groundwork for a larger international team,” which will join them “as soon as possible.”

The WHO group in China is led by Bruce Aylward, who helmed the body’s response to Ebola, as well as initiatives for immunization, communicable diseases control and polio eradication.

Their arrival comes as the WHO is facing increasing criticism for its initial decision not to declare a global health emergency, and for officials’ effusive praise of China’s handling of the crisis, even as Beijing faces outrage domestically for, among other things, the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, and the subsequent censorship of that news.

Cruise ships in crisis

Outside of China, the single largest outbreak is on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, currently docked in Yokohama, a port city south of Tokyo.

At least 135 people have tested positive for the virus so far, as Japanese health authorities continue to examine hundreds of passengers and crew, who have been under quarantine for almost a week. The recommended quarantine time is 14 days.

Passengers have been vocal about their displeasure with ship operator Princess Cruises and the Japanese government’s handling of the outbreak. On Monday, several crew members appealed for help from the Indian government, alleging they were at risk of infection by not being segregated.

“We are extremely scared at this point in time,” Binay Kumar Sarkar said in a video obtained by CNN. “Our request is to segregate the crew members from the infected.”

He said that none of his colleagues had been checked for the coronavirus.

“Only people who are recording temperatures higher than 37.5 degree Celsius are being checked,” he said. “Please help save those who have not been infected yet. There are 160 Indian crew members and 8 Indian passengers on board. Please rescue us. Help evacuate us before we contract the virus. 90% of us are healthy as of now. I appeal to India’s Prime Minister Modi, please bring us home safe and sound.”

Princess Cruises did not respond to a request for comment about the video.

Three other cruise ships have faced delays and quarantines in the past week over virus fears, in Hong Kong, Thailand and the US, though none have confirmed an outbreak.

Housing estate fears

While most countries and territories are reporting low numbers of cases, there were renewed fears of a separate outbreak in Hong Kong Monday.

Memories of the 2003 SARS crisis run deep in Hong Kong, which has been on high alert for weeks now, with many people working from home and runs on face masks and hand sanitizer amid concerns about shortages. The city’s leader Carrie Lam closed most of the border crossings with mainland China last week, following intense pressure from health care workers, many of whom walked out in protest at the decision not to seal the city earlier.

In the early hours of Tuesday, health officials began a partial evacuation of residents from an apartment block in Tsing Yi, in northwestern Hong Kong, over fears the virus may have been transmitted via the building’s pipes.

Two residents living on different floors of a high-rise tower called Hong Mei House had been infected with coronavirus, health officials said. Parts of the building have now been evacuated as health officials and engineers carried out emergency checks.

Microbiologist KY Yuen said that an improperly sealed pipe could have resulted in the virus, by carrying feces into the building’s ventilation system and blowing it into people’s apartments.

“As the pipeline that transfers feces is connected to the air pipe, it is very likely for the virus in the feces to be transmitted through the air fan into the toilet,” Yuen said. He added that the transmission route is not clear yet, so the evacuation was a precaution.

At least 12 cases have been confirmed at Hong Mei House. During the SARS outbreak, pipelines were a major source of transmission. At the Amoy Gardens housing estate, there were more than 300 infections and 42 deaths, after a flaw in the plumbing design allowed SARS to spread throughout the building.

Economic woes

Much of China was due to go back to work on Monday, after the Lunar New Year holiday became an extended voluntary quarantine for hundreds of millions of people across the country. With many remaining in isolation or working from home, fears of a larger economic shock are growing.

The epidemic has already driven up the price of food nationwide, with vegetables 17% more expensive. The worst price rise was in pork, a major staple of the Chinese diet that was already under pressure because of a devastating swine disease. Pork prices have risen 116% compared to a year ago.

Other items saw modest price rises by comparison: Health care was 2.3% more expensive, for example, while clothing prices rose 0.6%, according to the country’s statistics bureau.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that the country needs to stabilize the economy and prevent large-scale layoffs during the coronavirus outbreak.

During a meeting at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Xi said the economy had been doing well, and he predicted that the economic impact of the coronavirus would be short lived.

He added the country is ready to help companies resume production and would assist those that have been heavily affected.


Spencer Fehrenbacher is under quarantine on a
cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

At least 24 Americans suffering from coronavirus are aboard cruise ship quarantined in Japan

Originally Published: 10 FEB 20 11:00 ETUpdated: 11 FEB 20 11:19 ETBy Dakin Andone and Mick Krever, CNN

    (CNN) — At least 24 Americans are among the 135 people infected with coronavirus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Princess Cruises said Monday, explaining it is using numbers from Japan’s Health Ministry.

Princess has not released the nationalities for six patients who the cruise line said were added to the overall tally Sunday.

A growing number of people face 14-day quarantines as health officials around the world try to stem the tide of the outbreak, which has killed more than 900 people and infected more than 40,000 worldwide.

More than 3,000 people — including 428 Americans — are stuck on the cruise ship that became a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for coronavirus.

Among them is Spencer Fehrenbacher, an American citizen and masters degree student in Tianjin, China, who wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year with his friends on the ship.

Now, he’s confined to his cabin, spending his time reading and watching TV instead of enjoying all the amenities the ship has to offer.

Early in the week, Fehrenbacher said his mood was “pretty good.” By the third day of quarantine, the ship’s captain had laid out rules allowing passengers in interior cabins to get some fresh air, Fehrenbacher said. The passengers are allowed out for about an hour and a half, but have to wear masks at all times and stay one meter away from each other.

Rebecca Frasure and her husband, Kent, learned Friday that 41 additional people tested positive, she said in a video blog, “and come to find out that I was one of those 41 people.” She had a slight cough, she said, but no other symptoms.

Footage filmed by Kent Frasure showed Japanese health officials at the door to their cabin, notifying Rebecca she would need to go to the hospital within the hour. Kent, who tested negative, couldn’t come.

“I may be there for three days to I-don’t-know-how-long,” Frasure said. “I guess it depends on if I develop any further symptoms.”

Newlyweds Milena Basso and Gaetano Cerullo are also on the ship, but instead of enjoying the honeymoon they’d planned for more than two years, they’re worried about staying healthy and being trapped for longer than 14 days.

“We just don’t feel like we’re safe,” Basso told CNN. “We should be quarantined in a sanitary environment that’s safe, not on a cruise ship that’s already infected.”

Basso made a plea to US President Donald Trump: “Get us a government-based airplane. Get us off the ship.”

American author Gay Courter, who is stuck in a cabin on the ship with her husband, Phil, said she’s having nightmares about people she’s been in contact with on the ship who may have been infected.

The Japanese government has said they can leave the ship on February 19, Courter said, but she’s not optimistic.

“I’m not going to trust that statement, because so many more are getting sick,” she said.

Watching ambulances come and go from her cabin’s balcony and seeing people running around in hazmat suits, Courter told CNN’s Erin Burnett it’s “like I’ve landed in a B movie, and I can’t wake up.”

“I don’t know what they’re going to do with us,” a weary Courter said. “Our wish, our fervent hope, is the United States government is working on a plan to get the 400 Americans out of here.”


MONDAY, FEB. 10

People queue for free face masks outside a cosmetics shop at Tsuen Wan in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020. China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of a new virus. Most have been in the central city of Wuhan where the outbreak began in December. More than 45 cases have been confirmed in other places with nearly all of them involving Chinese tourists or people who visited Wuhan recently. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

This is where Wuhan coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide

Originally Published: 29 JAN 20 05:45 ETUpdated: 10 FEB 20 19:12 ETBy Eric Cheung, CNN

    (CNN) — The Wuhan coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. At least 900 people have died and more than 40,000 people have been infected, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

China’s National Health Commission has confirmed the virus can be transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission” — where a virus is passed on due to an infected person sneezing or coughing — as well as by direct contact.

There at least 440 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in more than 25 countries and territories outside mainland China. Two people have died outside of mainland China from the virus — a 44-year-old Chinese man in the Philippines, and a 39-year-old man in Hong Kong.

A number of countries, such as the United States and Japan, have evacuated their nationals on flights from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

This is a full list of places outside mainland China with confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Australia (at least 15 cases)

The Australian state of Queensland confirmed its fifth case of Wuhan coronavirus on Tuesday, pushing the national total to 15 confirmed cases.

The patient, a 37-year-old Chinese woman, is currently isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital. She is a member of the same tour group as Queensland’s four previously confirmed cases.

More than 240 Australians on the repatriation flight from Wuhan, via Qantas, reached the Australian territory of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday.

A total of 241 Australians were transferred to Christmas Island to be quarantined, while a pregnant woman and her partner were sent to Perth for isolation, according to Morrison’s tweets.

Morrison added that the government is also working with Chinese authorities on a second repatriation flight from Wuhan, and the New Zealand government about possibly repatriating its nationals on the same flight.

Belgium (at least 1 case)

Belgium has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, after one of nine repatriates from Wuhan tested positive for the virus, Belgium’s public health department said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The person who tested positive is healthy and shows no signs of illness for the time being,” the statement said.

“They were transferred last night to St. Peter’s University Hospital in Brussels, one of our country’s two reference centres. This hospital has all the necessary expertise and support to ensure the best possible care.”

Cambodia (at least 1 case)

Cambodia reported its first case of Wuhan coronavirus on Monday — a 60-year-old Chinese man who flew into the country from Wuhan with three family members. They tested negative for the virus, according to a Ministry of Information statement. The man’s condition was stable and he only showed mild symptoms, it said.

Canada (at least 7 cases)

Seven cases of 2019 novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Canada, according to government figures.

Three of the cases are in Ontario, with four cases in British Columbia.

The Canadian government has warned its citizens against all travel to Hubei province. It said the risk of the new coronavirus spreading within Canada remained low.

Finland (at least 1 case)

Finland has one case of coronavirus. The patient, a 32-year-old woman from Wuhan, arrived in the country on January 23, traveling the same day to a village in the northern Lapland region, according to CNN affiliate MTV3 Finland.

She developed respiratory symptoms and fever on Sunday and went to the emergency room on Tuesday, MTV3 Finland reports.

France (at least 11 cases)

Five new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in France, health minister Agnes Buzyn, said at a news conference on Saturday. This raises the number of cases in France to 11.

All of the five new cases are British nationals — four adults and one child.

“None of them are in serious condition,” Buzyn said.

France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised against all non-essential travel to the whole territory of mainland China over the coronavirus epidemic.

The status of Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus is “highly not recommended” by the ministry.

Germany (at least 14 cases)

There are now 14 people confirmed to be infected with the Wuhan coronavirus in Germany, according to the government’s website.

Twelve cases are in the state of Bavaria, and the other two are in the state of Hesse.

Hong Kong (at least 38 cases, 1 death)

Hong Kong has confirmed two more cases of Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the total to 38, Sophia Chan, secretary for food and health, told a news briefing on Monday.

The two new cases include a 69-year-old man who has no travel history and is currently in critical condition, and a 55-year-old woman from a family cluster of cases who attended a hot pot dinner party.

Hong Kong has reported one death from the coronavirus — a 39-year-old man who died on February 4 and had an underlying illness. The patient took the high-speed train from Hong Kong to Wuhan on January 21 and returned to the city from Changshanan on January 23. He was said to have never visited any health care facilities, wet market or seafood market, or had any exposure to wild animals during the incubation period.

Hong Kong has temporarily closed some of its borders with China and stopped issuing travel permits to mainland tourists.

West Kowloon Station, where high-speed rail runs between the city and mainland China, is closed until further notice. Half of all incoming flights from China have been canceled. Residents of Hubei province, where the virus was first reported, are also being denied entry to the city.

Most government offices, except those involved in emergency and essential services, will be closed for the rest of the week. All schools will also be shut until at least March 2.

This comes as Hong Kong recalls painful memories from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, a pandemic that killed more than 280 people in the city.

India (at least 3 cases)

India confirmed its third case of coronavirus on Monday in Kerala.

The third case is a student who tested positive for the virus after returning from Wuhan, according to a Facebook post from Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja. The student has been admitted to a district hospital in Kerala and is in stable condition.

Italy (at least 3 cases)

Italy has confirmed its third case of coronavirus, after an Italian national tested positive for the infection, the country’s health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The patient is the first Italian to contract the virus, following two cases of Chinese tourists with the infection.

According to the statement, the patient was quarantined in the city of Cecchignola, on the outskirts of Rome, after being repatriated from Wuhan last week.

Japan (at least 26 cases, plus 135 in cruise ship quarantine)

The number of new coronavirus cases on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama on Monday has been reduced from 66 to 65, captain Stefano Ravera announced.

“We have now been advised that the number of cases is reduced from 66 to 65, of which five were crew members,” he said in a recording heard by CNN.

This brings the total number of cases on the Diamond Princess to 135.

Japanese authorities are still testing hundreds of passengers on board the ship, which has been stuck at the harbor south of the capital Tokyo for almost a week now.

Not including those in quarantine on the cruise ship, Japan has confirmed 26 other casesof coronavirus in total.

At least three people with the coronavirus in Japan have no travel history to Wuhan. One, a man in his 60s, is a bus driver who drove tour groups from Wuhan for nine days before getting ill. His was the first case of suspected human-to-human transmission in Japan.

A third plane carrying Japanese evacuees from Wuhan arrived in Tokyo on Friday.

Notably, the Japanese flights also carried medical supplies for the Chinese government. They included thousands of surgical masks, safety goggles and 50 sets of protective suits.

Macao (at least 10 cases)

Macao has confirmed at least 10 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus.

A total of 41 entertainment operations in the semiautonomous Chinese city have been suspended for 15 days starting tonight, according to the government.

The operations include casinos, betting branches, theaters, cinemas, game centers, internet cafes, discos, bars, nightclubs and dance halls.

The outbreak has had a devastating impact on tourism in the gambling enclave, which relies heavily on mainland Chinese visitors. Gambling is illegal on the mainland and Lunar New Year is usually a particularly busy time for Macao’s casinos. But not this year — tourism to the city has dropped 73.6% year-on-year, the Macao government announced on January 29.

Malaysia (at least 17 cases)

Malaysian health officials have confirmed an additional case of the Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 17.

According to state news agency Bernama, the latest case involves a 31 year-old Malaysian with no travel history to mainland China.

Ministry of Health Director Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah said the man began developing symptoms on February 3 after returning from Macao. The patient was then admitted to hospital on February 7, and tested positive for the novel coronavirus two days later.

Nepal (at least 1 case)

There was one confirmed case in Nepal — a 31-year-old Nepali PhD student who lives in Wuhan but flew to Nepal earlier this month. He was admitted to hospital in Kathmandu on January 13, but was subsequently released on January 17 after his condition improved.

The Health Ministry said people in close contact with the patient have been identified and are being monitored.

Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)

The Philippines announced its third confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus on Wednesday during a news conference by the Department of Health.

The patient is said to be a 60-year-old woman from China who arrived in Cebu from Wuhan, via Hong Kong in January.

The Philippines reported its first coronavirus fatality on Sunday — the first death from the virus outside of mainland China.

The patient was a 44-year-old Chinese man who flew in from Wuhan in January, and who died on Saturday. He is the partner of a 38-year-old Chinese woman who was traveling with him, and who was the first confirmed case reported in the Philippines.

Earlier, the Department of Health stressed it is “on top of the evolving situation” but urged the public to wear surgical masks and avoid crowded places if they are experiencing symptoms, such as coughing and a fever.

Russia (at least 2 cases)

Russia has identified its first two cases, both Chinese citizens, Russia’s TASS news agency reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.

One patient is being treated in the Zabaikalsky region, which borders China, with the second case detected in the Tyumen region in Western Siberia, which borders Kazakhstan, TASS reports.

According to Golikova, Russia will begin evacuating its citizens from the Chinese provinces of Wuhan and Hubei, where there are 300 and 341 Russians respectively.

Singapore (at least 43 cases)

There are now 43 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore.

Three new cases confirmed on Sunday have “no recent travel history to China,” according to a statement released by Singapore’s health ministry.

The ministry previously advised citizens to “defer all travel to Hubei province and all non-essential travel to mainland China.”

Minister of trade and industry Chan Chun Sing said at a news conference the government will distribute four masks each to 1.3 million households starting Saturday. He added that the country has “sufficient masks” if they manage the supply appropriately.

The health ministry earlier urged employers to implement flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or telecommuting, for employees who have been to China in the past 14 days.

South Korea (at least 27 cases)

South Korea now has 27 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus across the country, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The government announced Saturday that it would be reimbursing people who had been hospitalized or quarantined amid the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The Welfare Ministry said in a news release that families who had been put out for more than 14 days could receive a government subsidy, of varying amounts.

A family of one will receive approximately $380 per month while a family of four will get approximately $1,030, according to the release.

Spain (at least 2 cases)

Spain’s National Center for Microbiology has confirmed the country’s second case of Wuhan coronavirus.

The diagnosed person is one of four that had been in contact with a French national who had been infected with the virus and were subsequently put under observation by Spanish authorities.

“The National Center for Microbiology analysed samples from these four people. One of them tested positive for coronavirus while the other three tested negative,” the Spanish health ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)

There is one case of the Wuhan coronavirus in Sri Lanka.

A statement from the health ministry assured residents that local hospitals were prepared to handle any further outbreak. The government is contacting people who may have come into contact with the single case to detect potential contagion.

Sweden (at least 1 case)

Sweden on Friday confirmed its first case, a woman in Jonkoping county who had visited Wuhan.

When the woman landed in Sweden on January 24, she was free of symptoms of the infection, but later developed a cough and contacted a local hospital, Sweden’s Public Health Authority said in a statement. She was isolated in the hospital’s infection clinic, but is not seriously ill.

Taiwan (at least 18 cases)

Taiwan confirmed its 18th coronavirus case on Sunday, according to a statement from the self-governing island’s Ministry of Health and Welfare.

The new case is a 20-year-old man, the son of a couple in their 50s who were confirmed to be coronavirus patients previously.

Taiwan has banned travelers who are from mainland China or had been to China, Hong Kong and Macao since Friday.

Thailand (at least 32 cases)

Thailand reported seven new confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total tally up to 32, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

Four of the cases are Chinese nationals, and the other three are Thai nationals.

Thai airports are now screening all Chinese visitors for symptoms. Thai citizens are also being asked to report anyone who seems to have fallen ill after recently traveling from China.

United Arab Emirates (at least 7 cases)

The United Arab Emirates has confirmed two new coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to seven, according to the official Emirates News Agency.

The nationalities of the two new cases are 1 Chinese and 1 Filipino, according to the agency.

United Kingdom (at least 4 cases)

British authorities have diagnosed a fourth case of Wuhan coronavirus in the country, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said in a statement on Sunday.

“A further patient has tested positive for novel coronavirus in England, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to four,” Whitty said in the statement. “The new case is a known contact of a previously confirmed UK case, and the virus was passed on in France.”

Whitty added that the patient had been transferred to a specialist NHS centre at The Royal Free Hospital in north London.

United States (at least 12 cases)

There are now 12 casesof the novel coronavirus in the United States.

The latest case is a US citizen who had traveled to Beijing and is now in isolation at home in Wisconsin, according to local government officials.

In addition to the new case in Wisconsin, six confirmed cases are in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, and two in Illinois.

The State Department is telling US citizens not to travel to China amid the outbreak. In an advisory posted on the State Department website Friday, the agency elevated its travel warning to “Do Not Travel” and warned of possible “travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.”

The advisory said US citizens currently in China should consider leaving using commercial means.

Vietnam (at least 13 cases)

Vietnam confirmed its 13th Wuhan coronavirus case on Friday, according to an online report from government media.

Over 1,000 Vietnamese nationals returning from China and about 500 others who had close contact with confirmed cases are currently being quarantined and monitored.

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