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Emergency declared in California as cruise ship delayed off shore

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: The Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco
The Grand Princess cruise ship passes the Golden Gate Bridge as it arrives from Hawaii in San Francisco on Feb. 11, 2020.Scott Strazzante / AP file

California has declared an emergency over the coronavirus outbreak, as tests continue Thursday on board a Princess cruise ship that has been linked to two cases of the illness in the state.

The first death in California related to coronavirus was confirmed Wednesday, while another fatality in Washington brought that state's death toll to 10.

Congressional leaders have agreed on an $8 billion emergency funding package to help fight the coronavirus that is headed to the House.

The virus is now spreading more rapidly outside China, where the epidemic started, with mainland China recording just 119 new confirmed cases while hundreds of cases were reported globally.

South Korea alone recorded an additional 516 cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total to 5,328 confirmed cases, the largest outbreak outside of mainland China.

Governments around the world are introducing a range of measures to stop the spread of the disease. In Italy, where there have been more than 2,000 cases, all schools and colleges are shut for 10 days.

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Czech Republic confirms first three cases of coronavirus

854d ago / 9:29 PM UTC

The Czech Republic has confirmed its first three cases of coronavirus, with all the patients having traveled from northern Italy, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on Sunday.

Health officials said the patients — two Czechs and an American student who studied in Milan — showed mild symptoms. Two were in Prague and the third in the city of Usti nad Labem, 56 miles north of the capital.

Vojtech warned against unnecessary travel to regions in northern Italy that have seen the highest number of cases in Europe.

"We ask everyone to very seriously consider not traveling to those (affected) regions for holiday or ski trips unless necessary, because the danger exists," Vojtech told a televised news briefing.

The Czech Republic is the first of its central European neighbors to report coronavirus cases.

Image: Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech arrives for a press conference in Prague on March 1, 2020. The Czech Republic has confirmed three cases of coronavirus.
Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech arrives for a press conference in Prague on March 1, 2020. The Czech Republic has confirmed three cases of coronavirus.Roman Vondrous / AP

Scotland reports first case of coronavirus

854d ago / 9:06 PM UTC
Image: A clinical support technician extracts viruses from swab samples in a coronavirus testing laboratory at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland on Feb. 29, 2020.
A clinical support technician extracts viruses from swab samples in a coronavirus testing laboratory at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in Scotland on Feb. 29, 2020.Jane Barlow / WPA Pool / Getty Images file

Scotland reported its first case of coronavirus on Sunday after a resident in the country’s Tayside region tested positive, officials said.

In a statement, Scotland's government said the patient had recently traveled to Northern Italy, a region that has been hit hard by the virus. The country has reported more than 1,100 confirmed cases and 29 deaths.

The Scottish resident was isolated and began receiving treatment while investigators worked to trace their contacts, the statement said. Additional information about the patient's condition wasn't immediately available.

Sunday’s test result was sent to a public health lab in England for additional confirmation.

Democrats, Trump officials clash over coronavirus response

854d ago / 7:28 PM UTC

Top White House officials and Democrats offered conflicting comments on Sunday over the administration's response to coronavirus.

Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday defended the administration's handling of the outbreak and accused Democrats of politicizing the outbreak. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., blasted Trump for rallying supporters in South Carolina as his administration is faced with the coronavirus crisis.

"How pathetic it is that in the midst of an international health care crisis, you got a president running into South Carolina trying to steal some media attention away from Democrats," Sanders said.

Read the full story here.

Iran deploys thousands of teams to identify infected people, cancels recreational sports

854d ago / 7:09 PM UTC

854d ago / 7:02 PM UTC
Image: Medical staff wave to a former patient who recovered from coronavirus at the makeshift Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, on March 1, 2020.
Medical staff wave to a former patient who recovered from coronavirus at the makeshift Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, on March 1, 2020.AFP - Getty Images

2 more confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state

854d ago / 6:57 PM UTC

Two Washington state residents are in critical condition with confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to public health officials. 

Both men are King County residents in their 60s and had underlying health conditions, Seattle and King County Public Health announced Sunday. The two cases, which were confirmed by state lab testing, have brought the number of cases in Washington up to six. 

A Washington man in his 50s — also with underlying health issues — became the first person in the U.S. to die of COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus, officials said Saturday.

Chuck Todd grills Pence on GOP rhetoric around coronavirus

854d ago / 6:06 PM UTC

2 people in New York City being tested for coronavirus

854d ago / 5:57 PM UTC

Delta suspends flights to Milan until May

854d ago / 5:52 PM UTC
Image: A woman wearing a protective mask poses outside the Duomo in Milan on Feb. 28, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective mask poses outside the Duomo in Milan on Feb. 28, 2020.Luca Bruno / AP

Delta Airlines announced Sunday that it would be temporarily suspending service from New York City to Milan, Italy, amid heightened coronavirus concerns. 

The last of Delta's daily flights between John F. Kennedy Airport and Milan will depart Monday as the airline said it would be suspending the service until at least the first of May. Delta said that it has already put in place several strategies in response to the outbreak as it works alongside health officials. 

Italy has more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the disease and at least 29 deaths as of Sunday. 

'This dystopian look': Face masks enter mainstream amid coronavirus worries

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854d ago / 5:08 PM UTC

People around the world have been given plenty of reasons in the past couple of years to cover up with face masks. In November, India handed out millions of them at schools due to toxic air pollution in the nation’s capital. Hong Kong put in place a ban on masks, which protesters used to counter facial recognition technology.

And most recently, the spread of the new coronavirus has sparked a run on surgical masks, despite their shortcomings in stopping the virus.

“It’s a trend,” one NYU freshman said. “Somehow it makes you look a bit better.”

Read the full story here.

Image: People are increasingly wearing face masks, whether to protect themselves from pollution, viruses, or facial recognition software -- or to follow a trend.
People are increasingly wearing face masks, whether to protect themselves from pollution, viruses, or facial recognition software -- or to follow a trend.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

'SNL' takes on coronavirus and the Democratic presidential candidates

854d ago / 4:49 PM UTC

As fears of coronavirus spread, "Saturday Night Live" lightened the moment by imagining what would happen if Democratic candidates for president elbowed into the leadership spotlight during a White House news conference.

It started with Vice President Mike Pence, played by Beck Bennett, speaking about how President Donald Trump's administration, with him in charge of managing the crisis, is tackling the situation.

"We’ve assembled a very experienced team of some of the best people left in government," he says.

Read the full story here.

We apologize, this video has expired.

Rhode Island announces two presumptive positive coronavirus cases

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854d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

Two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Rhode Island, state officials said Sunday. 

A resident in his 40s tested positive after traveling to Italy in mid-February, according to the state Health Department. The case still needs to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the person is being treated at a hospital under infection control protocols.

A teenager who also traveled to Europe tested positive and is at home with mild symptoms, the Health Department said. A woman in her 30s who has mild symptoms and was on the trip is also being tested.

The department said the 38 people who traveled to Italy with Saint Raphael Academy were told to stay home and self-monitor for two weeks.

"We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low," said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the department's director of health.

Family of infected Washington student releases statement

854d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

The family of the high school student in Snohomish County, Washington who tested positive for coronavirus shared a statement Saturday through the local health district

"Our child became ill with flu-like symptoms on Monday morning. We took the necessary steps to have him seen by medical professionals and to be tested for the flu. We didn’t learn of the testing of COVID-19 until Friday morning, after our now symptom-free child left for school. He promptly returned home before school started."

"We are taking this situation very seriously. Please know that we have been following all guidance and instructions from both the healthcare providers that treated our son, as well the Snohomish Health District. We understand the concerns and anxiety raised, but we ask that the community and media please respect our family’s privacy."

854d ago / 4:00 PM UTC
Image: A tourist looks out from a window at the locked down H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel after a guest tested positive for coronavirus on Feb. 29, 2020.
A tourist looks out from a window at the locked down H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, after a guest tested positive for coronavirus on Feb. 29, 2020.Borja Suarez / Reuters

Paris' landmark Louvre closes for staff meeting on coronavirus

854d ago / 2:18 PM UTC

Art lovers were locked out of Paris's famous Louvre on Sunday as staff at the world’s most-visited museum held a meeting about the coronavirus outbreak.

Long lines of disgruntled tourists snaked outside the museum which is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa portrait and the Venus de Milo sculpture.

A spokeswoman said the museum in central Paris was expected to open after the meeting between management, personnel and the staff doctor.

She added museums were not covered by government orders to cancel and until further notice, all public gatherings indoors or in confined spaces with more than 5,000 people.

The government issued the orders on Saturday in a bid to contain the spread of the virus, which has been confirmed in 100 cases in the country so far. 

Italian national tests positive for coronavirus at locked down Tenerife hotel

854d ago / 1:27 PM UTC

An Italian national staying at a hotel in Tenerife which has been placed on lockdown after four cases of the coronavirus were detected has tested positive for the virus, regional health authorities have confirmed.

The Italian national, part of the same group as the four original cases at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel, has been in isolation in a hotel room since Feb. 24 and will be taken to the hospital, the Canary Islands' regional health authorities said Saturday, adding the Italian was "in good state of health".

It brings the total number of active cases in the Canary Islands to six - five in Tenerife and one in La Gomera.

On Saturday, the fifth day of the hotel's lockdown, some of the 130 guests who had been cleared to leave on Friday were seen exiting its grounds with suitcases.

More than 700 tourists remain inside waiting out a 14-day isolation period imposed on Wednesday.

Democratic candidates criticize Trump's coronavirus 'hoax' claim

854d ago / 12:45 PM UTC

Democratic presidential candidates have critcized President Donald Trump's claim that the coronavirus is the Democrats' "new hoax."

They called the charge "dangerous" and "disturbing" — while Trump complained again they are making political hay of the outbreak.

Trump made the assertion during a rally in South Carolina Friday night. He told the crowd Democrats have been "politicizing" the outbreak. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden told MSNBC earlier Saturday that Trump's rally comments were "absolutely bizarre."

"Look, this is a serious, serious problem. It's able to be solved, but it requires us to be absolutely level-headed and let the scientists have the lead in all of this," Biden said. "But for him to start talking about it being a hoax is absolutely dangerous. It's just not a decent way to act."

Echoing his complaint, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, told the "TODAY" Saturday that he's "very concerned" with how the administration has handled the issue to date.

Number of cases in Iran nears 1,000

854d ago / 11:56 AM UTC

Iran's health ministry said the number of confirmed cases reached nearly 1,000 Sunday. 

Iranian Health Ministry spokesperson Kianoosh Jahanpour said on Iranian state television 987 people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 and 54 people have died.

Only China, where the outbreak originated, has recorded more deaths.  

Along with South Korea and Italy, Iran is one of the coronavirus epidemic hotspots outside of China.

Churches closed in South Korea as coronavirus tally tops 3,700

854d ago / 11:04 AM UTC

Churches were closed in South Korea on Sunday with many holding online services instead as authorities fought to rein in public gatherings, with 586 new infections taking the tally to 3,736 cases.

That came a day after the biggest daily jump of 813 cases in South Korea's battle with the largest virus outbreak outside China, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said. The death toll rose to 18.

In Seoul, the capital, about a dozen worshippers were turned away from the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which put a sermon for its 560,000 followers on YouTube, filmed with a small choir instead of all 200 members and 60-strong orchestra.

"I had heard there would be no service, but just came to check as I live nearby, but yes, it is so empty," said one of them, Song Young-koo, as he left South Korea's biggest church. "It's a wise decision to do it online, since the virus would easily spread at mass gatherings and churches can be no exception."

U.K. PM Boris Johnson to chair emergency response committee about epidemic

854d ago / 10:41 AM UTC

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair a meeting of the government's emergency response committee on Monday, signaling a stepping up of Britain's preparation for COVID-19. 

Describing the outbreak as a "very, very significant challenge," the U.K.'s Health Minister Matt Hancock, admitted that the country was planning for the epidemic to get worse.   

"We've got a clear strategy for dealing with coronavirus — a very, very significant challenge," he told British broadcaster Sky News. "We're also planning in case this gets worse, much worse."

Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Japan could be delayed until autumn

855d ago / 10:09 AM UTC

Tokyo and Beijing are leaning towards delaying Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Japan, originally planned for early April, as the neighbours battle a coronavirus outbreak, Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported Sunday.

Citing diplomatic sources in both countries, the paper said the visit was likely to be postponed until autumn or later.

However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a news conference Saturday, that preparations for Xi's visit were going ahead.

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Republic of Ireland

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855d ago / 10:02 AM UTC

The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the Republic of Ireland on Saturday, health officials in the country said. 

The case is associated with travel from an affected area in northern Italy, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said in a statement, which noted that the patient is receiving appropriate medical care.

It added that it was working to identify anyone the patient had contact with to provide them with information and advice on how to prevent further spread of the virus. 

Husband of British woman jailed in Iran says she may have coronavirus

855d ago / 9:53 AM UTC

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British Iranian mother who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2016, may have contracted coronavirus, her husband said. 

Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement issued by the Free Nazanin Campaign that Tehran's Evin Prison, where she is detained, has repeatedly refused to test her for the respiratory illness following a "strange cold" that has not improved in more than five days. 

"For a long time this has not felt like a normal cold," he said. "These symptoms have lasted almost a week. I know I need to get medicine to get better. This does not go away magically."

Ratcliffe also called on the British government to insist his wife was tested for the virus and has asked U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ensure British Iranians held in the prison are diplomatically protected.

Baby, 6 weeks old, tests positive for coronavirus in South Korea

855d ago / 5:09 AM UTC

A baby born Jan. 15 has tested positive for coronavirus in South Korea, making him perhaps the youngest patient to be infected with the disease.

Both of his parents also tested positive for coronavirus, the infection that causes COVID-19.  

The baby and his mother are in stable condition, South Korean public health officials said. The two have been quarantined in their home instead of being hospitalized because of the baby's age.

The father's condition was not immediately clear. 

Based on a small study of women in China that was published in early February, there is currently no evidence the virus is transmitted before birth from a mother who was infected late in pregnancy. 

Australian passenger from Diamond Princess cruise dies

855d ago / 4:14 AM UTC
Image: FILE PHOTO : A bus arrives near the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where dozens of passengers were tested positive for coronavirus, at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama
A bus arrives near the cruise ship Diamond Princess at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, on Feb. 16, 2020.Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters file

An Australian man who traveled aboard the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship died from COVID-19 this weekend in the city of Perth, the Australian government said.

The Diamond Princess carried 3,700 passengers and crew before a quarantine began in early February off the coast of Japan. At least 621 people tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, including 10 Australians. Six other passengers have died from the virus.

Nine of the Australian patients will return to their home states for medical treatment, according to Australian public health officials.

Australia currently has 26 confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout the country. 

Washington state firefighters quarantined 'out of an abundance of caution'

855d ago / 2:52 AM UTC

Washington state firefighters who came into contact with coronavirus patients have been quarantined "out of an abundance of caution," a local official said Saturday. They will remain isolated for two weeks.

Seven members of the Redmond Fire Department in King County have been removed from service, according to public health officials. Six are quarantined at home and one other at a secured facility. 

In neighboring Kirkland, also in King County, firefighters who responded to an outbreak at a nursing home are being quarantined either at home or at a facility. At least 27 patients and 25 staff members at the Life Care Center have symptoms associated with COVID-19, according to local health officials. 

Kirkland officials did not say how many firefighters there are being quarantined.

Earlier on Saturday, a man in his 50s with underlying health problems died from the virus. There was no evidence he contracted the virus through travel. 

Illinois county confirms new patient with coronavirus

855d ago / 2:08 AM UTC

The second largest county in the U.S. is reporting its third case of coronavirus. 

Officials in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, said on Saturday that the patient has been hospitalized and is in isolation. State and local public health officials are calling it a presumptive case of coronavirus until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm lab results. 

Health officials also said they are working to determine who the patient came in contact with and will actively monitor those people to prevent further transmission. The state will request that the CDC deploy a team to support these efforts.

In January, a husband and wife in Chicago were diagnosed with coronavirus. The wife had recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, to care for her father. Both patients made a full recovery.

More than 1,000 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours reported outside of China

855d ago / 2:07 AM UTC

Fueled by hundreds of new cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran, more than 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported outside of mainland China in the last 24 hours, according to an NBC News analysis of information from the World Health Organization, state government leaders and health officials. This is the greatest single-day increase in confirmed cases outside of China since the coronavirus first surfaced. 

While mainland China reported 573 new cases in the last day, approximately 1,500 new cases were reported in the rest of the world. Also, 61 deaths and nearly 3,000 recoveries were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 2,973 and total recoveries to more than 41,000.

855d ago / 1:38 AM UTC
Image: Washington State Health Officials Give Update On Coronavirus Cases In Seattle Area, After First Death Reported
Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland in Kirkland, Washington. Dozens of staff and residents at Life Care Center of Kirkland are reportedly exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms, with two confirmed cases associated with the nursing facility reported so far.David Ryder / Getty Images

'It's all hands on deck:' Pence on U.S. response to coronavirus threat

855d ago / 1:30 AM UTC

Vice President Mike Pence says that when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus in the United States, "it's all hands on deck."

In an interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Pence said federal agencies were "leaning into" President Donald Trump's directives to "mitigate" the virus' impact on U.S. soil, which includes expanding travel restrictions outside the country.

Watch "Meet the Press with Chuck Todd" Sunday at 9 a.m. ET or check local listings.

On Saturday, Trump and Pence announced additional travel restrictions involving Iran and increased warnings about travel to areas of Italy and South Korea hit by coronavirus. Travel from China to the U.S. has already been restricted. 

"The president’s concern is the health and safety of the American people," Pence said on "Meet the Press." 

When asked whether the White House is worried about potential economic fallout from coronavirus, Pence said the economy "will come back." He also said the president will respect any local or state decisions to close schools if they find it necessary.

"We’re going to focus on the health of the American people," he said.

Northern California county confirms 4th case of coronavirus

855d ago / 12:40 AM UTC

Health officials in Santa Clara County, California, on Saturday confirmed a fourth case of coronavirus.

The patient is an adult woman who is "not ill" and has not been hospitalized, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department said. She was described by officials as a "household contact" of the third case in Santa Clara.  

The third case was described last week by public health officials as an older woman with chronic health issues. She had not traveled out of the country nor come into close contact with a known carrier of the virus.

Santa Clara County officials said in a statement that they are bracing for more cases and are preparing for "community spread," a term used when someone is infected but the source is unknown.

855d ago / 12:31 AM UTC

U.S. lawmakers demand federal briefing on whistleblower complaint

855d ago / 11:58 PM UTC

Three California congressmen who represent districts with military bases that received evacuees from China said Saturday that federal health officials failed to provide a "timely briefing" on their response to coronavirus. 

U.S. Reps. Mark Takano, John Garamendi and Scott Peters, all Democrats, said senior officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not provide sufficient information following a whistleblower complaint alleging improper training and a lack of safety equipment for HHS workers who handled Americans returning from China.

Takano, Garamendi and Peters are asking federal health officials to provide an updated briefing on how they plan to address the growing coronavirus threat in the United States.

"As the representatives of military bases and communities that housed repatriated Americans and given the threat that these serious allegations may pose to public health, we need answers," the representatives said in a statement. "We called for this briefing because during these difficult times, our constituents and the American people deserve a proactive, level-headed response and honesty from the federal government."

HHS officials said in an emailed statement the agency is taking the whistleblower complaint seriously and will offer testing to any staff members from the department's Administration for Children and Families, which participated in repatriation efforts at the military bases, concerned about exposure to coronavirus.

"This is an intensive process involving significant fact gathering," an HHS spokesperson said in reference to the whistleblower's complaint. "We understand Congress’s desire for information and, for that reason and others, HHS is handling this situation with grave urgency. HHS will fully brief Congress and the public when it has completed its investigation."

'Fight the virus not the people:' Demonstrators march against racism in San Francisco's Chinatown

855d ago / 11:16 PM UTC

Hundreds of people gathered in San Francisco's Chinatown on Saturday to march against xenophobia caused by fears of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Demonstrators carried signs that read "Chinatown open for business" and "United we stand together."

California Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, tweeted a photo of the gathering, calling coronavirus a "serious public threat" and "not an invitation to racial stereotyping." 

"Fight the virus not the people," he tweeted. 

In Los Angeles, a group representing Koreatown restaurants said business in general was down about 50 percent in the last week after rumors spread that a Korean Air flight attendant with coronavirus had dined in the neighborhood, NBC Los Angeles reported.

As a result, patrons canceled reservations at some restaurants and others called to check whether it was safe to visit the normally bustling area. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Friday that the flight attendant did not have symptoms while in L.A. and did not pose any risk to the general public.

855d ago / 11:06 PM UTC

Washington state testing over 50 people for coronavirus

855d ago / 11:00 PM UTC

Washington state is currently testing more than 50 people for coronavirus who may have been infected in an outbreak linked to a nursing facility in Kirkland.

Two people linked to the facility, LifeCare, have tested positive: a health care worker in her 40s and a resident of the facility in her 70s.

Test results could come back as early as Saturday afternoon and additional positive cases are expected.

855d ago / 10:42 PM UTC

Pence touts 'productive' coronavirus meeting after additional travel restrictions announced

855d ago / 10:37 PM UTC

855d ago / 10:33 PM UTC
Image: Harborview Medical Center?EUR(TM)s home assessment team carry protective and testing supplies while preparing to visit the home of a person potentially exposed to novel coronavirus at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle
Harborview Medical Center's home assessment team carry protective and testing supplies while preparing to visit the home of a person potentially exposed to novel coronavirus at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Feb. 29, 2020.David Ryder / Reuters

UConn cancels official travel to Italy, urges study-abroad students to return to U.S.

855d ago / 10:30 PM UTC

The University of Connecticut said Saturday it was canceling all official travel to Italy and urged students already in the country for the university's study-abroad program to return to the United States as soon as possible. 

More than 300 students at UConn participate in overseas academic programs in 29 nations, including 88 in Italy.

The school said its decision to have students return to the U.S. is due to circumstances surrounding coronavirus and comes after the CDC issued new guidance Friday evening. 

"To date, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the State of Connecticut or at UConn," the university said in a press release. 

The university had already decided to cancel all official travel to China and South Korea.

China reports plunge in manufacturing activity

855d ago / 10:26 PM UTC

Factory activity in China contracted at the fastest pace on record in February, highlighting the damage from the coronavirus outbreak on the world’s second-largest economy, CNBC reported.

China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to a record low of 35.7 in February from 50.0 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Saturday, well below the 50-point mark that separates monthly growth from contraction.

The somber readings provide the first official snapshot of the state of the Chinese economy since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.

855d ago / 10:23 PM UTC

22 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed in the U.S.

855d ago / 10:05 PM UTC

A total of 22 cases of the new coronavirus have been diagnosed in the U.S., the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said Saturday. This does not include individuals who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship or Wuhan, China. 

At least four of the 22 cases are the result of community spread, which means that exact source of exposure is unclear. Community spread can occur when an infected individual has mild symptoms and does not realize that they are sick. 

At least nine patients have recovered, including patients in California, Washington, Arizona, Illinois and Wisconsin. 

During a press briefing Saturday, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Alex Azar said that most cases are mild to moderate and do not require hospitalization. For example, one of the most recently diagnosed patients, a woman who had traveled from South Korea to Washington, is at home and has not required hospitalization.

How long does the new coronavirus remain active on surfaces?

855d ago / 9:21 PM UTC

As a new coronavirus spreads quickly around the world, U.S. health officials say they are "aggressively" assessing how long it can survive on surfaces to better understand the risk of transmission.

Based on what is known about similar coronaviruses, disease experts say the COVID-19 virus is mainly spread  through coughing or sneezing. Contact with fecal matter from an infected person may also transmit the virus.

The CDC says it may be possible for a person to become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

An analysis of earlier studies of similar coronaviruses, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, concluded that human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for up to nine days at room temperature.

However, they can quickly be rendered inactive using common disinfectants, and may also dissipate at higher temperatures, the authors wrote. It is not yet clear, however, whether the new coronavirus behaves in a similar way.

Washington's governor declares state of emergency after coronavirus death

855d ago / 9:00 PM UTC

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency to direct agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to and outbreak after the nation's first death from coronavirus illness COVID-19 occurred in the state.

“This will allow us to get the resources we need,” Inslee said in a statement. “This is a time to take commonsense, proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of those who live in Washington state."

Trump announces additional travel restrictions and warnings

855d ago / 8:03 PM UTC

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday announced additional travel restrictions involving Iran and increased warnings about travel to Italy and South Korea to combat the coronavirus.

The announcement at a White House press conference came after health officials in Washington state announced the first death in the U.S. from COVID-19.

Travel from China to the U.S. has already been restricted and Trump said he was also looking at restrictions on entry from America's southern border.

First coronavirus death in U.S. occurs in Washington state

855d ago / 6:31 PM UTC

Health officials in Washington state said on Saturday a coronavirus patient has died.

The death is the first from coronavirus illness COVID-19 in the United States.

Read the full story here.

To speed up coronavirus testing the FDA will allow use of labs

855d ago / 6:28 PM UTC

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday said it will allow laboratories to immediately use tests they have developed and validated to achieve more rapid testing capacity for the coronavirus.

“Under this policy, we expect certain laboratories who develop validated tests for coronavirus would begin using them right away prior to FDA review,” Jeff Shuren, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

Trump to hold 1:30 p.m. press conference on coronavirus

855d ago / 5:28 PM UTC

President Donald Trump announced he will be holding the press conference from the White House. You can watch the livestream at nbcnews.com 

Ecuador announces its first coronavirus case

855d ago / 4:06 PM UTC

Ecuador's Health Ministry said Saturday morning that it has confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus.

Minister of Public Health Catalina Andramuño said at a press conference in Spanish that an Ecuadorian citizen who resides in Spain arrived in Ecuador on Feb. 14 without showing any symptoms.

After the woman started feeling "general discomfort" and other symptoms days later, "the appropriate tests for virus and respiratory conditions" were conducted, said Andramuño.

"The coronavirus test came back positive," she said.

The woman is currently in intensive care at a hospital designated to treat coronavirus cases, Andramuño said, adding that the patient is an older person with "other persistent health conditions."

Factory workers in China produce hazardous material suits

855d ago / 3:59 PM UTC

The Zhejiang Ugly Duck Industry garment factory in Wenzhou had to stop its production of winter coats due to the coronavirus and instead began making hazardous material suits.

Image: Sewing factory
Workers sewing at a factory making hazardous material suits to be used in the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, at the Zhejiang Ugly Duck Industry garment factory in Wenzhou on Feb. 28, 2020.Noel Celis / AFP - Getty Images

France bans large gatherings to slow spread of coronavirus

855d ago / 3:50 PM UTC

The French government on Saturday said it is banning public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus, an announcement that comes as the country reports 16 new cases.

“All public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a confined space are temporarily banned across France,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told journalists Saturday.

He also said that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 73 and that there had been no new deaths.

UK cases of coronavirus climb to 23

855d ago / 3:29 PM UTC

The British Department of Health said the number of coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom had risen to 23, as of Saturday at 9 a.m. 

More than 10,480 people in the county have been tested for the virus, with 10,460 of them confirmed as negative, according to the agency. 

Iran's coronavirus death toll rises to 43, the highest outside of China

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855d ago / 2:51 PM UTC

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 43, a spokesman for the country's Health Ministry, told state TV on Saturday, adding that the number of infected people across the country has reached 593.

“Unfortunately nine people died of the virus in the last 24 hours. The death toll is 43 now. The new confirmed infected cases since yesterday is 205 that makes the total number of confirmed infected people 593,” said Kianush Jahanpur.

Iran, which has the highest death toll outside China, has ordered the shutting of schools until Tuesday and the government has extended the closure of universities and a ban on concerts and sports events for a week.

Kim Jong Un says there will be 'serious consequences' if coronavirus spreads in North Korea

855d ago / 10:49 AM UTC

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for stronger anti-virus efforts to guard against COVID-19, saying there will be "serious consequences" if the illness spreads to the country.

During a ruling party meeting, Kim called for the country's anti-epidemic headquarters to strengthen screening and tests to seal off all "channels and space through which the infectious disease may find its way," Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, said Saturday.

Kim emphasized that all fields and units of the country should "unconditionally" obey quarantine instructions laid-out by the anti-epidemic headquarters and he called for the strict enforcement of preventive measures against what he described as a tricky virus that spreads rapidly.

"In case the infectious disease spreading beyond control finds its way into our country, it will entail serious consequences," KCNA quoted Kim as saying during the politburo meeting of the Workers' Party.

The North has yet to report its first infection from the new coronavirus, but it has been pushing a tough campaign it has described as a matter of "national existence."

The country has shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned tourists, intensified screening at entry points and mobilized tens of thousands of health workers to monitor residents and isolate those with symptoms.

Kuwait urges citizens to avoid traveling

856d ago / 9:12 AM UTC

Kuwait has urged its citizens to avoid traveling over concerns of coronavirus contamination, a health ministry official told a media conference Saturday.

The Gulf state has not registered any new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, she said.

The total number of people infected with the disease in Kuwait is 45, the health ministry said on Friday. No deaths have been reported there. 

South Korea urges people to stay indoors after biggest daily spike in cases

856d ago / 8:24 AM UTC

South Korea urged citizens on Saturday to stay indoors as it warned of a "critical moment" in its battle on the coronavirus after recording the biggest daily jump in infections, with 885 new cases taking the tally to 3,150.

The country is grappling with the largest outbreak of the virus outside China, as a new death took the toll to 17, amid a record daily increase in infections since the country confirmed its first patient on Jan. 20.

"We have asked you to refrain from taking part in public events, including a religious gathering or protest, this weekend," Vice health minister Kim Kang-lip told a briefing.

It was a "critical moment" in reining in the spread of the virus, he said, adding: "Please stay at home and refrain from going outside and minimize contact with other people."

As many as 476 of the new cases were from southeastern Daegu city, the site of a church at the center of the outbreak, and 60 from the nearby province of North Gyeongsang, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

Health authorities have run tests on more than 210,000 members and 65,000 trainees of the church linked to a majority of cases after a 61-year-old woman known as "Patient 31" attended religious services there before testing positive.

More than 88 per cent have been checked, and about 3,300 have shown symptoms such as fever, Kim added.

California town wins fight to keep out coronavirus patients from cruise ship

856d ago / 5:52 AM UTC

The federal government said it has canceled plans to use an empty Orange County, California, building to house 35 or more Golden State coronavirus patients who were evacuated from the virus-plagued Diamond Princess cruise ship in Asia.

A government filing Friday sought to halt a court challenge by the city of Costa Mesa, which argued that safeguards for locals weren't considered in the transfer of patients from Northern California's Travis Air Force Base to the state-owned Fairview Development Center, a defunct assisted living center in the center of town.

Read the full story here. 

2 new presumptive cases reported in Washington state, including high school student

856d ago / 4:48 AM UTC

Washington state health officials on Friday announced two new preliminary positive cases of the coronavirus illness COVID-19, including a high school student with no known travel history or exposure to known infected people.

The cases are being classified as presumptively positive because the tests have come back locally as positive but are pending confirmation from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing, said Dr. Kathy Lofy, health officer for the Washington State Department of Health.

A high school student in Snohomish County became ill Monday with fever, body aches and a headache and was seen at two clinics, Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said.

The student was feeling better and attempted to return to school Friday morning, but a local test result came back with a preliminary positive result. The student returned home before attending class, he said. The student is in home isolation and is doing well.

The last time the student was in class was before any symptoms. A small number of students had contact with the individual and will remain at home for 14 days and be monitored for symptoms, Spitters said. The school campus will be sanitized and closed Monday, and people at the clinics are being notified. Spitters urged people to remain calm and stay informed.

The second new case was a woman in King County in her 50s who had recently visited South Korea, returned to Seattle, went to work Tuesday and had symptoms, Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County said. The local test was done Thursday and came back Friday as preliminary positive.

The woman never needed medical care and took care of herself at home and is recovering, Duchin said. Her husband is well and without symptoms and is in home quarantine, he said.

Navy's Pacific Fleet to schedule 14 days between ports amid coronavirus spread

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856d ago / 3:40 AM UTC

The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet will schedule a minimum of 14 days between ports in order to monitor for symptoms of the coronavirus illness COVID-19, a defense official said.

There are no indications that any Navy personnel has contracted the coronavirus illness, the official said. The coronavirus illness has killed more than 2,800 people in mainland China as of Saturday morning local time, according to China’s National Health Commission. It has also spread to other countries.

The 14 days order is intended to permit adequate time for surveillance and monitoring for the development of symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Fourteen days is the same time period being used by health officials in quarantines in possible exposure cases.

Also Friday, U.S. Forces Korea said that the spouse of a U.S. service member stationed in South Korea who had tested positive for COVID-19 had also tested positive. She has been in self quarantine since Wednesday after her husband’s test, the military said, and was being moved to a U.S. military hospital.

Two students at Palo Alto school district sent home after possible parent exposure

856d ago / 3:11 AM UTC

Two students in the Palo Alto Unified School District in California’s Santa Clara County were sent home and will be excluded from school after a parent may have been exposed to the coronavirus illness COVID-19, the superintendent said.

Superintendent Don Austin said in a message to parents Friday that the district acted as a precautionary measure. One is a student at Palo Alto Senior High School and the other attends JLS Middle School, he wrote.

Austin stressed in an email that there are zero cases in the district, but "we have a parent who was exposed to a confirmed case."

"We have no parents, staff or students with reported symptoms," Austin said.

There are three confirmed cases in Santa Clara County, including one announced Friday that involved a person who does not have a travel history or any known contact with a traveler or infected person.

Palo Alto and Santa Clara County are in the San Francisco Bay area.

Trump says coronavirus is Democrats' 'new hoax'

856d ago / 2:58 AM UTC

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — At a political rally Friday, President Donald Trump insisted the government's response to the global coronavirus epidemic was "magnificently organized" and argued that foes in the Democratic Party ere exaggerating its dangers for political gain.

"This is their new hoax,” Trump told supporters on the eve of the state's Democratic primary. "Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus."

Attacking the White House’s response to the coronavirus has become the Democrats' "single talking point," he claimed.

The president has contradicted his own health officials on the potential of the disease's domestic spread, which they have described as almost inevitable.

Oregon reports presumptive case of coronavirus

856d ago / 2:52 AM UTC

Oregon health authorities say that they have the state’s first “presumptive case” of the coronavirus illness known as COVID-19 and that the patient has no known travel exposure and is likely an instance of community spread.

A local test of the person, who lives in Washington County and is being treated at a hospital, came back positive for COVID-19, but officials are waiting for a Centers for Disease Control test for confirmation, Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said Friday.

 "If the test comes back from Atlanta positive then we'll stop calling it presumptive and say it's a positive case," Allen said. "But the guidance from CDC is we should treat a presumptive case as a case until we have any further information."

The patient's age, gender or condition was not released, but they are an adult.

Allen said the person spent time in the Forest Hills Elementary School in Clackamas County but would not be more specific because of patient privacy.

Contact tracing is being conducted and is a top priority, Allen said. Health officials say they are prepared for cases of the coronavirus illness in Oregon.

856d ago / 2:15 AM UTC

Game Developers Conference postpones San Francisco event amid coronavirus spread

856d ago / 1:59 AM UTC

Organizers of the Game Developers Conference scheduled for next month in San Francisco have postponed the event amid a coronavirus outbreak that has spread from China to countries around the world.

Organizers in an announcement Friday did not explicitly mention the coronavirus or the illness caused by it, COVID-19.

But the announcement comes after Amazon Web Services pulled out of the conference because of concerns over COVID-19. The company called it a difficult decision. Microsoft, which makes the popular Xbox system, also announced it would withdraw.

"We fully intend to host a GDC event later in the summer," Organizers of the Game Developers Conference said.

Semester at Sea students fear being stuck on ship as coronavirus spreads around globe

Some 550 students taking part in the venerable Semester at Sea program have been trapped on a ship for about two weeks amid the spread of the coronavirus illness known as COVID-19.

"We feel completely confined, there's nothing around us,” student Kylie Menish said in a phone call from somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. "It’s kind of an awful feeling not knowing exactly what the plan is."

Menish said they took off from San Diego aboard the MV World Odyssey on Jan. 4, and the plan was to make about a dozen stops on four different continents before reaching their final destination, Amsterdam, on April 20.

A spokeswoman for Semester at Sea said officials made the decision to divert from countries on the ship's itinerary "because of decisions out of our control or to give us the best possibility of entry into any future port on our itinerary."

Read the full story here.

At least 50 California residents self-quarantine in homes over potential exposure

856d ago / 1:45 AM UTC

At least 50 people in Riverside County, California, are under self-quarantine in their homes over concerns they may have been exposed to coronavirus. 

All had recently visited Asia, mostly China, and arrived in the U.S. within the last two weeks, said Jose Arballo Jr., spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Health, adding that they had not traveled together.

None have exhibited symptoms, Abrallo said. The health department is closely monitoring each resident and checks in with them two to three times a day by text, email or phone calls. They will be monitored for two weeks and can leave their homes as soon as they are cleared. 

Click here to read more about Americans in self-quarantine for coronavirus.

Coronavirus by the numbers, Feb. 28

856d ago / 1:41 AM UTC

As of now: The U.S. is at 63 cases, which includes nine recoveries. Globally, 84,094 cases have been confirmed, this includes more than 39,000 recoveries and more than 2,900 deaths.

In the last 24 hours, more than 700 confirmed cases, more than 50 deaths and more than 2,800 recoveries have been reported around the world, and at least four countries reported their first confirmed case.

New California coronavirus case had no connection to others, health officials say

856d ago / 1:31 AM UTC

A new coronavirus patient from Santa Clara County, California, had not traveled to China, was not related to two other cases in the region and had not been to Solano County, about 70 miles away, where the country's only other patient without a known source of infection resides, health officials said Friday.

“What we know now is that the virus is here, present at some level, but we still don’t know to what degree,” said Dr. Sara Cody, director of Santa Clara County's public health department, in a news conference Friday.

The two cases of possible "community spread" of the virus could mean that more people may have to stay home from work and school and follow essential hygiene practices, she said.

Santa Clara County officials are working to reconstruct the woman's recent contacts and travels in an attempt to determine where she picked up the virus. 

Dr. Charity Dean of the  California Department of Public Health announced the state has enabled eight public health labs capable of testing for the virus with faster results.

U.S. postpones Asian summit in Las Vegas amid coronavirus fears

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856d ago / 1:18 AM UTC

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has called off a major summit of Asian leaders next month in Las Vegas amid growing alarm over the coronavirus, two U.S. officials tell NBC News.

The United States had planned to host a special summit of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, on March 14.

But planning for the trip was abruptly halted on Friday, just as President Donald Trump said he was considering expanding his travel ban to cover countries that had a disproportionately high number of coronavirus cases. “We’re looking at that,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

U.S involvement in ASEAN, which brings together Southeast Asian nations to confer on economics and security, has played a major role over the years in helping solidify U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region, as Washington seeks to counter the rise of China as the region’s major power.

Read the full story here.

White House mulls tax cuts to boost economy amid coronavirus spread

856d ago / 12:03 AM UTC

The White House is discussing tax cuts as a possible way to stimulate the economy amid a spreading coronavirus, a White House official confirmed to NBC News. The Washington Post was the first to report the news. The official said “lots of options are being explored” to fit different scenarios along with the tax cuts. 

The official said other steps under consideration include interest rate cuts and regulatory changes, but the official didn’t elaborate on how those would be implemented and acknowledged that some options are outside the White House’s control. 

2nd coronavirus case with no known origin in California

856d ago / 11:48 PM UTC

The newly announced coronavirus case in Santa Clara County, California has no known source of infection, the county health department said on Friday.

“This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear,” Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for Santa Clara County and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, said in a press release. “I understand this may be concerning to hear, but this is what we have been preparing for. Now we need to start taking additional actions to slow down the spread of the disease.”

The individual is an older woman with chronic health conditions who was hospitalized for a respiratory illness, according to the press release. Health officials are working to identify contacts. 

This is second case in the U.S. with an unclear origin. The first was also in northern California. 

False claims online distort coronavirus symptoms, promote bogus cures

856d ago / 11:03 PM UTC

False posts online have distorted symptoms of the coronavirus and peddled miracle cures. Members of the public are urged to follow the advice of established institutions like WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to beware of claims suggesting ways to prevent the virus.

Read more about some of the claims spreading online, and the facts you need to know about them.

Pence to Limbaugh, who claimed virus is overhyped: 'We're all in this together'

856d ago / 10:33 PM UTC

Vice President Pence went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show on Friday to assure Americans that threat posed by the coronavirus in the United States is "low" but "we're ready for whatever may come."

Limbaugh, who has vigorously defended the administration's handling of the crisis, has previously compared the coronavirus to "the common cold" and complained that concerns about an outbreak in the U.S. were being "weaponized" by Democrats and the media.

Pence, who has been placed in charge of the administration's response by President Trump, preached unity and caution in his remarks on the right-wing talk show host's program.

"We're all in this together," Pence told Limbaugh.

Read the full story here.

White House considering special powers to produce more protective gear

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856d ago / 10:30 PM UTC

The Trump administration is weighing using special executive authority to spur the production of gear like protective masks that could be used to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S., health secretary Alex Azar confirmed Friday.

Read the full story here.

Coronavirus could be 'once-in-a-century' pathogen, Bill Gates says

856d ago / 10:30 PM UTC

Bill Gates warned on Friday that the new coronavirus "has started behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about."

"I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise," Gates wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gates' foundation has been promoting vaccine research for developing nations for more than a decade. He noted that the combination of the fatality rate of COVID-19 (the disease caused by the new coronavirus) and its ease of transmission between people make it a serious threat.  

Gates said he is ready to commit up to $100 million to fight the spread of the virus in "low- and middle-income countries."

New coronavirus case confirmed in northern California

856d ago / 10:30 PM UTC

A new coronavirus case has been confirmed in northern California, in Santa Clara county.

The county's department of public health announced the case on Friday. They will hold a press conference at 7 p.m. ET. 

Santa Clara county has already had two confirmed coronavirus cases. The two cases were unrelated to one another. Both were in travelers returning from China. At least one of the two has recovered.

The total number of cases in the U.S. is now 63.

Trump blames the media for stock market drops

856d ago / 10:28 PM UTC

Trump sought to calm fears and blamed the media for creating the concerns that have led to the declines in the stock market before departing for a campaign rally Friday afternoon.

“It's the unknown, you know, they look at it and they say how long will this last. I think they're not very happy with the Democrat candidates when they see them and I think that has an impact,” Trump said.

He said he was considering whether to impose further travel restrictions on other countries and that he hopes the Federal Reserve takes action following the stock market rout.

After missteps, CDC says its coronavirus test kit is ready for primetime

856d ago / 9:43 PM UTC

Some states received test kits that were inconclusive or only partially accurate. Other states said they were hamstrung by testing criteria so narrow, it limited who they could screen for the new coronavirus.

Technical difficulties reduced the number of laboratories in the U.S. with working test kits to only about a dozen, including CDC headquarters in Atlanta. That delayed results for suspected patients and frustrated public health authorities.

But things changed this week. Here's how.

Health secretary: 'Blocking and tackling' to find source of infection in CA woman

856d ago / 9:24 PM UTC

Federal, state and local health officials are rushing to investigate the source of a hospitalized California woman's coronavirus infection, health secretary Dr. Alex Azar told reporters on the White House lawn Friday afternoon.

Azar said the investigation would be a "blocking and tackling" effort. The woman, who is hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center, is believed to be the first case in the U.S. of someone who was infected by an unknown source.

“This is a potential community transmission case because we do not have an evident source of how she was infected,” Azar said. “No contact that we know of that we can trace immediately to travel, say, from Wuhan or in China.”

He also said that very soon private labs will “be able to create their own test based on essentially the recipes that the CDC has used in their test kits,” further expanding the country’s testing capabilities.

VP Pence: The government response is an 'all-hands-on-deck effort'

856d ago / 8:57 PM UTC

Sign of the times, cont'd

856d ago / 8:54 PM UTC
Kristen Curley, owner of Nitro-Pak, puts items into a backpack as part of personal protection and survival equipment kits ordered by customers preparing against coronavirus at Nitro-Pak in Midway, Utah.
Kristen Curley, owner of Nitro-Pak, puts items into a backpack as part of personal protection and survival equipment kits ordered by customers preparing against coronavirus at Nitro-Pak in Midway, Utah.George Frey / Reuters

Can dogs get coronavirus? Experts: Don't worry.

856d ago / 8:40 PM UTC

The CDC and WHO have both noted that at present there is no evidence that pets like dogs and cats can be infected by the virus.

"However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets,'' WHO noted on its website. "This protects you against various common bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella that can pass between pets and humans."

Read the rest on TODAY.com.

Amazon restricts employees from non-essential travel

856d ago / 8:34 PM UTC

Amazon told employees on Friday to defer non-essential travel. The restriction applies to roughly 750,000 people in Amazon’s employee ranks. An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that they could not speak to timelines for the restrictions.

Google has also restricted travel to Iran, two regions in Italy, and beginning in March it will ban travel to Japan and South Korea. The announcement came as it alerted employees that a colleague had tested positive for the virus.

Nestlé, L'Oreal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and Cargill are among other multinational companies that have restricted travel in response to the spreading virus.

 

Fed chair: The virus presents 'evolving risks' to U.S. economy

856d ago / 8:26 PM UTC

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

“However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook. We will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”

Read more here.

Officials warn about election meddling amid outbreak

856d ago / 8:22 PM UTC

Internet trolls backed by foreign governments interested in meddling in the U.S. election could try to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus to keep Americans from going to the polls in upcoming elections, according to government officials and experts.

Read more here.

The world's largest tourism fair has been cancelled

856d ago / 8:17 PM UTC

ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism trade fair, has been canceled amid concerns over the outbreak, the event's organizers said on Twitter. The fair was slated to take place on March 4.

Is there a right or wrong way to wash your hands to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

856d ago / 8:06 PM UTC

When it comes to protecting yourself from the coronavirus, masks aren’t the answer, according to the World Health Organization. What is? Something as routine as washing your hands. But it’s not as simple as running them under water with a bit of soap and calling it a day. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) breaks it down into these five steps:

  1. Wet your hands (to the wrist) with clean, running water (the temperature doesn’t matter). Turn off the tap and apply a good amount of soap — it doesn’t matter what kind.

  2. Lather up the soap by rubbing your hands together. Don’t forget to spread that lather to the backs of your hands up to your wrists, between your fingers, and under your nails.

  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning-to-end twice to get the timing right.

  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.

  5. Dry your hands using a clean paper towel or air dryer. Germs can be transferred more easily from wet hands than dry. 

Get more handwashing tips here.

CBS reportedly halts production of 'The Amazing Race'

856d ago / 7:48 PM UTC

CBS temporarily shut down production of the 33rd season of the globe-trotting reality series "The Amazing Race" amid fears over the virus, according to an exclusive report in Variety.

The decision was reportedly made out of an abundance of caution. The virus has not affected anyone directly involved with the show, Variety reported.

France sees 'new stage in the epidemic' with 57 cases

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856d ago / 7:43 PM UTC

French health officials said Friday that a "new stage in the epidemic has been reached" with 57 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, up from 38.

The country is grappling with new cases in Annecy, a city of more than 126,000 people in southeastern France, and in Montpellier, a city of 285,000 near the southern coast, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said. Some of the new cases involve people who returned from organized trips to Egypt.

Veran also recommended people refrain from shaking hands in order to prevent infection, Reuters reported.

Hand hygiene, not face masks, should be main focus for coronavirus prevention

856d ago / 7:33 PM UTC

Frequent hand-washing, not wearing a face mask, is the most important step the public can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, addressed the use of face masks during a media briefing Thursday. The WHO stance regarding surgical masks being worn by the general public is that only those who are already sick with a respiratory illness should wear them.

Read more here.

Top Amazon search result for coronavirus points to 'herbal prepper'

856d ago / 7:09 PM UTC

While Amazon has removed millions of products that made false claims of being able to protect coronavirus, the top result on the platform when searching "coronavirus" on Friday yielded a book written by a self-labeled "herbal prepper."

The book, which Amazon says was published on Feb. 15, includes "what was provable, searching out both media and scholarly articles, with some ideas for pandemic preparedness, plus some herbal knowledge on respiratory ailments," according to the author's website. 

There are currently no legitimate treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and health professionals have warned about an "infodemic" of bad information, both intentional and unintentional. 

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Americans are avoiding Corona beer, aren't sure if it's connected to the coronavirus

856d ago / 7:05 PM UTC

Almost 40 percent of American beer drinkers said they won't buy Corona beer, with about 15 percent of those saying they aren't sure if the pale imported lager has anything to do with the coronavirus, according to a new survey by PR firm 5W.

While the only thing they have in common is a similar name, that hasn’t stopped the beverage brand’s buzz from fizzing as the outbreak spreads.

Purchase intent for the beer has fallen to its lowest in two years, according to polling firm YouGov. In early February the terms “corona beer virus” and “beer virus” trended on Google search results.

Shares in Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and other brands, fell over 5 percent amid a broader market sell-off this week. In a statement the company said sales remain strong and its customers “understand there is no link between the virus and our business.”

Shares in video-conferencing and telecommuting companies soar as more people consider staying home

856d ago / 6:59 PM UTC

As tech stocks tumble, teleconferencing stocks are seeing a bump. Zoom Video Communications, known for its online video-conferencing platform, has seen its shares rise 18 percent this month.

Investors are betting that telecommuting tools will take off as the coronavirus spreads, especially in view of CDC guidelines that recommended replacing in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences as a protective measure against spreading the virus.

Zoom Communications isn’t the only company to see stocks increase this week as the country’s three major indices went into correction. TeamViewer AG, a cloud-based web conferencing platform, saw its stock price surge by about 21 percent.

Death toll rises in Italy to 21

and

856d ago / 6:53 PM UTC

Italy's death toll from the novel coronavirus jumped to 21, with more than 820 infection cases reported, health officials said Friday.

At the beginning of the week, there were six deaths and more than 220 people infected nationwide.

Currently, about 345 people are being hospitalized with symptoms, and more than 60 are under "serious medical treatment," said Angelo Borrelli, Italy's civil protection chief.

In addition, the US Pianese, a soccer club in the Italian region of Tuscany, said three players and one staff member have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The scene in South Korea

856d ago / 6:51 PM UTC
Image: Concern In South Korea As The Wuhan Covid-19 Spreads
Disinfection professionals wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) at a subway station on Feb. 28, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

State Department: U.S. ready to help Iranian response

856d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

The U.S. is "prepared to assist the Iranian people in their response efforts," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Friday afternoon.

The offer was formally conveyed to Iran via Switzerland's government, Pompeo added.

Pelosi calls for 'science-based, evidence-based' response

856d ago / 6:43 PM UTC

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, said it was important for the federal government to have "a well-coordinated, science-based, evidence-based approach" in tackling the virus.

She also called for "calm" preventative measures instead of "panic."

Google provides insight into public questions about coronavirus

856d ago / 6:19 PM UTC

Data from Google shows that people in the U.S. have questions about the new coronavirus, including "how to prepare" and "how many people have died."

The top question in the past week is straightforward: "What is coronavirus?"

But people are also searching for how many U.S. cases there are and what they should do if the contract the virus.

Google

Google's data also shows that search interest has been strongest in Hawaii, followed by areas in and around San Francisco.

From Cannes to cars to concerts, global events face coronavirus challenges

and

856d ago / 6:11 PM UTC

The Cannes Film Festival will continue as planned this year, despite the fact that a resident tested positive for the coronavirus, the organization said on Friday.

The A-list festival, which runs from May 12-23, is the latest major event to face the challenges of the viral outbreak. On Thursday, Facebook said it would cancel its biggest event of the year, the F8 developer conference, which had been scheduled for May 5 and 6 in San Jose, California.

The Geneva International Motor Show was canceled on Friday, and Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile phone trade show, was canceled this month.

However, organizers for SXSW 2020 in Austin, Texas, are currently proceeding with plans to host the annual music, film and interactive festival March 13-22. 

 

CDC: 62 coronavirus cases in U.S.

856d ago / 5:52 PM UTC

There are a total of 62 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., the CDC said Friday.

Of those cases, 44 cases are among individuals repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, head of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Two of these cases are new, she said.

Three cases are among individuals repatriated from Wuhan, China.

The remaining 15 cases are among individuals diagnosed in the U.S. Twelve of these patients had traveled back from China and two contracted the illness through close contact with a traveler; the source of one case is still unclear.

South Korea launches 'drive-thru' testing facilities

856d ago / 5:44 PM UTC
We apologize, this video has expired.

SXSW organizers: We have no plans to cancel at this time

856d ago / 5:36 PM UTC

The annual festival of media, film and music in Austin, Texas, is "proceeding as planned," a spokesperson said. The festival is slated to run from March 13 to March 22.

"Safety is a top priority for SXSW, and we work closely with local, state, and federal agencies year-round to plan for a safe event," the spokesperson said. "Where travel has been impacted, especially in the case of China, we are seeing a handful of cancellations. However, we are on par with years past in regard to registrants who are unable to attend."

The spokesperson added that SXSW organizers were ramping up efforts to halt the spread of the virus according to Austin's public health recommendations.

CVS addresses reports of hand sanitizer shortages

856d ago / 5:30 PM UTC

"We're working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for these products," the pharmacy chain said in a statement.

"This demand may cause temporary shortages at some store locations and we re-supply those stores as quickly as possible."

Illinois virus patients have fully recovered, governor announces

856d ago / 5:18 PM UTC

Both of the coronavirus patients from Illinois have made a "full recovery," the state's governor said in a news release.

"The immediate health risk to the state remains low," Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office said.

Holy Land Catholic churches to give communion by hand only

856d ago / 5:04 PM UTC

Roman Catholic authorities in Jerusalem have instructed their priests to give communion by hand only, rather than placing the wafers on worshippers' tongues, and to empty holy water fonts — both as precautions against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced the measures on Thursday, shortly after the start of Lent, the 40-day season leading up to Easter. Millions of pilgrims frequent Jerusalem and other holy cities such as Nazareth and Bethlehem each year.

Sign of the times

856d ago / 5:02 PM UTC
Image: A pharmacy displays a sign that there is no returns on N95 face masks in advance of the potential coronavirus outbreak in the Manhattan borough of New York City
A pharmacy displays a sign that there is no returns on N95 face masks in the Manhattan borough of New York on Feb. 27, 2020.Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Buttigieg: Virus isn't going to be 'stopped by a big wall'

856d ago / 4:56 PM UTC

Pete Buttigieg, campaigning in South Carolina, highlighted the coronavirus as an example of the type of high-level national security issue that will await the next president.

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, then appeared to criticize President Trump, saying: "This virus does not care what country it is in. It's not going to be stopped by a big wall."

U.S. intel agencies warned of rising risk of outbreak like coronavirus

856d ago / 4:49 PM UTC

The U.S. intelligence community has failed to anticipate some big developments, from the disintegration of the Soviet Union to the rapid rise of ISIS.

But the spies did forecast something like coronavirus.

For years, American intelligence agencies have been warning about the increasing risks of a global pandemic that could strain resources and damage the global economy.

Read more here.

Sanders to Trump: 'Why don't you worry about the coronavirus?'

856d ago / 4:32 PM UTC

Sen. Bernie Sanders, campaigning in South Carolina ahead of the Democratic primary there, slammed President Trump for coming down to the state for a Friday evening rally amid the outbreak. Gary Grumbach, one of our campaign embeds, is with the Sanders campaign today:

Obama's Ebola czar: U.S. is 'far behind' on response

856d ago / 4:27 PM UTC

White House not ruling out suspending trade tariffs on China in the face of the viral outbreak, says Kudlow

856d ago / 4:15 PM UTC

The White House is not ruling out suspending trade tariffs on China in the face of the viral outbreak, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Friday, noting that he and President Donald Trump have had "discussions" on the matter.

"We do not have any precipitous actions planned right now," Kudlow told reporters at a press briefing.

He also reinforced the administration's position that the U.S. economy is strong enough to withstand any hit from the epidemic, noting that “our threat assessment is low and the economy is fundamentally sound.”

Kudlow also categorized the historic week on Wall Street as overreaction, and said the U.S. had withstood worse. "I don't think this stock market plunge is going to have any long-term effect," he said, though he did caution, "It depends how long this lasts and how deep it goes."

Biden slams Trump's response, but says 'this isn't a time to panic'

856d ago / 4:07 PM UTC

Former Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Sumter, South Carolina, ahead of that state's Democratic primary Saturday, criticized President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence over reports they have "silenced" medical experts from informing the public unless they check with the White House first.

Biden cautioned that "this isn't a time to panic," but added that the spread of the virus needs to be taken seriously.

Morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo

856d ago / 3:58 PM UTC
Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on Feb. 28, 2020.
Mask-clad commuters make their way to work during morning rush hour at the Shinagawa train station in Tokyo on Feb. 28, 2020.Charly Triballeau / AFP - Getty Images

Iraq's health ministry: 2 new cases, 6 total

856d ago / 3:50 PM UTC

Two new cases of the virus were recorded in Iraq on Thursday, the country's health ministry said in a statement — one in Baghdad, the other in Kirkuk. 

The total of Iraqis infected with the virus is now six, according to the health ministry.

WHO raises coronavirus risk assessment

856d ago / 3:37 PM UTC

Geneva Motor Show canceled as coronavirus cases rise in Switzerland

856d ago / 3:25 PM UTC

In an unprecedented move, organizers have canceled the Geneva International Motor Show, one of the global auto industry’s largest public events, due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus.

The 90th running of the show, which was to have begun March 3 with a two-day media preview and continued through March 15, was scheduled to see dozens of new cars, trucks and crossovers introduced by manufacturers as diverse as Audi, Hyundai, Ferrari and Aston Martin.

The decision to cancel the event came as the number of cases of the disease soared, with Switzerland now reporting 15 cases.

The auto industry as a whole has been hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic. Click here for the details.

Image: SWITZERLAND-TRANSPORT-AUTO-SHOW-AUTOMOBILE-VIRUS-HEALTH-EPIDEMIC
Workers dismantle the Audi stand on Feb. 28, 2020, after the Geneva International Motor Show was cancelled.Richard Juilliart / AFP - Getty Images

Switzerland bans gatherings of more than 1,000 people

856d ago / 3:12 PM UTC

The Swiss government put an immediate ban Friday on all public and private events involving more than 1,000 people in order to halt the spread of the new coronavirus.

The ban on big events will last until at least March 15, one of the latest major steps by governments to fight an outbreak that has infected more than 82,000 people and killed over 2,700 worldwide. The Swiss move highlights the growing impact of the virus on daily lives and livelihoods.

“We are aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life,” said Switzerland’s interior minister, Alain Berset.

Pence's handling of 2015 HIV outbreak gets new scrutiny

856d ago / 3:02 PM UTC

President Trump's choice of Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the nation's response is bringing renewed scrutiny to the former governor's handling of an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana when he was governor.

Pence reluctantly agreed to authorize a needle exchange program in Scott County in March 2015 after the epidemic centered there saw the number of people infected with HIV skyrocket, with nearly 200 people eventually testing positive for the virus that year.

Despite his own misgivings, he initially issued an executive order allowing one in Scott County before later signing a law allowing the state government to approve them for counties on a case-by-case basis.

Greg Millett, director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, said Indiana's HIV outbreak would have been “entirely preventable” if Pence had acted earlier in response to data that was available to Indiana public health officials and clearly showed an outbreak was imminent.

Read the full story here.

CDC expands coronavirus testing recommendations

856d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance Thursday on who should be tested. The guidance now includes certain individuals with no clear source of exposure, as well as individuals who recently traveled to Italy, Iran, Japan or South Korea.

The previous guidance only recommended testing for people with symptoms — including fever and cough — and recent travel to China or contact with an infected individual.

For individuals without a known source of exposure, the updated guidance advises testing in patients hospitalized with severe acute lower respiratory illness for which other causes, such as flu, have been ruled out.

Dr. John Torres on simple steps to protect against coronavirus

856d ago / 2:50 PM UTC

Dow falls 1,000 points for third time this week on heightened coronavirus fears

856d ago / 2:39 PM UTC

The stock market cratered again on Friday, marking the seventh day of a massive sell-off sparked by rising fears about the coronavirus epidemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by another 1,000 points Friday morning, on the heels of Thursday's historic decline of 1,190, the biggest drop ever for the blue-chip index. The S&P 500 was down by 3.7 percent in early-morning trading on Friday, and the Nasdaq saw losses averaging 3.5 percent.

The meltdown comes as traders appear to lose any hope that the spread of the highly infectious disease has been staunched, with the number of cases continuing to spiral globally.

Mexico confirms its first two cases of coronavirus

856d ago / 2:35 PM UTC

Mexico's assistant health secretary announced Friday that the country now has two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

Hugo Lopez-Gatell said one of the patients is in Mexico City and the other in the northern state of Sinaloa, and neither is seriously ill.

At least five family contacts of the first patient have been placed in isolation. He said one of the men had contact with someone who had traveled to northern Italy where there has been an outbreak.

Brazil on Wednesday confirmed Latin America's first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in a man who traveled to Italy this month.

Mulvaney says coronavirus will probably force some schools to close

856d ago / 1:49 PM UTC

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Friday that some schools "probably" will have to close because of the coronavirus.

"Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably," Mulvaney said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland. 

"May you see impacts on public transportation? Sure, but we do this," he continued. "We know how to handle this. And so that's one of the things that you should — that's the message you try and get out. There are professionals who know how to handle this. There's professionals handling it, and we're going to do the very best that we can."

Whistleblower: Feds helping evacuees lacked virus protection

856d ago / 1:48 PM UTC

A government whistleblower has filed a complaint alleging that some federal workers did not have the necessary protective gear or training when they were deployed to help Americans evacuated from China during the coronavirus outbreak.

The complaint deals with Department of Health and Human Services employees sent to Travis and March Air Force bases in California to assist the quarantined evacuees. The Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that investigates personnel issues, confirmed on Thursday that it had received the unnamed whistleblower's complaint and had opened a case.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., said the whistleblower recently contacted his office, also alleging retaliation by higher-ups for having flagged safety issues.

Although team members had gloves at times and masks at other times, they lacked full protective gear and received no training on how to protect themselves in a viral hot zone, according to a description provided by the congressional office. They had no respirators. While helping the evacuees, team members noticed that workers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were in full gear to protect them from getting sick.

Read the full story here.

Man on quarantined cruise ship off Japan becomes first Briton to die of virus

856d ago / 1:41 PM UTC

A British man who was on a quarantined cruise ship near Tokyo has died from COVID-19, Japan's Health Ministry said on Friday. 

The man was the sixth death on the Diamond Princess, the ministry added in a written statement.

"Out of consideration to protect this persons privacy they will refrain from releasing any additional information," it added.  

Amazon cracking down on misleading coronavirus products

856d ago / 1:13 PM UTC

856d ago / 1:10 PM UTC

Where did the new coronavirus come from? Past outbreaks provide hints.

856d ago / 12:49 PM UTC

As scientists and public health officials around the world scramble to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak, some researchers are also racing to solve the enduring mystery of where the newly identified virus came from.

The coronavirus, which first sickened people in China in December, is thought to have passed from animals to humans, like many similar pathogens, but nothing has been confirmed yet by any peer-reviewed scientific research, global public health agency or academic expert. Beyond that, little is known about its origin.

Although finding the source wouldn't necessarily help scientists develop vaccines or other direct treatments, it could provide crucial pieces of information on how it emerged and evolved. And scientists are using lessons learned from previous outbreaks to know how to approach this one.

Read the full story here.

Green Day cancels upcoming Asia tour

856d ago / 12:26 PM UTC

Green Day has canceled scheduled tour dates in Asia due to the coronavirus epidemic. The band's Hella Mega tour would have taken them throughout the continent in March — and in countries with confirmed cases of the virus — starting in Singapore and stopping in Bangkok, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees — who released their 13th studio album "Father of All ..." on Feb. 7 — released a statement which reads: "We have unfortunately made the difficult decision to postpone our upcoming shows in Asia due to the health + travel concerns with coronavirus. We know it sucks, as we were looking forward to seeing you all, but hold on to your tickets we'll be announcing the new dates very soon."

It is unclear if Green Day will continue with the European leg of their tour, which would kick off in Moscow in May.

There's no Plan B for Olympics

856d ago / 12:07 PM UTC

TOKYO — Tokyo has no Plan B for this year's Summer Olympics despite alarm over the spread of the coronavirus in Japan and elsewhere with under five months before the event, a senior official said on Friday.

"There will not be one bit of change in holding the Games as planned," Katsura Enyo, deputy director general of the Tokyo 2020 Preparation Bureau at the city government, told Reuters.

Having prepared for years and invested some $12 billion, Japan is eager to quell fears the Games might be called off, postponed or moved to a different location due to the virus.

Though on the decline in China where it originated, the flu-like disease is moving fast around the world, including more than 200 cases and five deaths in Japan.

In a telephone interview, Enyo said organizers were "facing up to" the coronavirus - but it would not derail the July 24-Aug. 9 event. "We are not even thinking of when or in what contingency we might decide things. There is no thought of change at all in my mind," she said.

Coronavirus deaths hit 2,788 in mainland China

and

856d ago / 11:52 AM UTC

China's Health Commission on Friday reported 44 new deaths from coronavirus, compared with 29 deaths the day earlier, bringing the total number of deaths on the mainland to 2,788. 

Forty-one of these deaths were in Hubei province, the epidemic's epicenter. 

Officials reported 327 new confirmed cases for a total 78,882. 

Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported 93 new cases and two deaths.

Hong Kong finds coronavirus in pet dog samples

856d ago / 11:41 AM UTC

Hong Kong authorities said on Friday they quarantined a pet dog of a coronavirus patient after its nasal and oral samples tested "weak positive" for the virus, though they added they did not yet have evidence that it can be transmitted to pets.

The dog did not have any symptoms.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said it will conduct further tests to confirm if the dog had been infected with the virus or if the samples were only the result of environmental contamination.

"At present, the AFCD does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected ... or can be a source of infection to people," it said in a statement.

The dog will be put under quarantine for two weeks.

The World Health Organisation website says so far there has been no evidence that companion pets can be infected with the coronavirus.

856d ago / 11:34 AM UTC

WHO says coronavirus outbreak 'getting bigger' after Nigeria reports first case

856d ago / 11:22 AM UTC

Coronavirus outbreak is "getting bigger," the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday after Nigeria confirmed sub-Saharan Africa's first case, reiterating its warning that the virus could reach most "if not all countries."

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a Geneva news briefing that it was looking into reports of some people getting re-infected, which would include reviewing how were tests taken, adding: "But in general a person who had coronavirus infection would be immune at least for a while."

Coronavirus crash wipes $5 trillion off world stocks

856d ago / 10:40 AM UTC

Coronavirus panic sent world share markets crashing again on Friday, compounding their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis and bringing the wipeout in value terms to $5 trillion.

The rout showed no signs of slowing as Europe's main markets slumped 2-3 percent early on and the ongoing dive for safety sent yields on U.S. government bonds, seen as probably the securest asset in the world, to fresh record lows.

Hopes that the epidemic that started in China would be over in months, and that economic activity would quickly return to normal have been shattered this week as the number of international cases have spiraled.

Bets are now that the Federal Reserve will cut U.S. interest rates as soon as next month and other major central banks will follow to try and nurse economies through the troubles and stave off a global recession.

Read the full story here.

Tokyo Disneyland theme parks closed

and

856d ago / 10:31 AM UTC

The two Disney-branded theme parks in Tokyo are to close for two weeks as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, the operator said on Friday. 

"Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea have decided to proceed with an extraordinary closure from Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, through Sunday, Mar. 15," the operator said in a statement posted to its Japanese website. "The reopening date is scheduled for March 16 (Monday), but we will contact closely with the relevant administrative organs and will inform you again."

BTS calls off South Korean concerts because of outbreak

857d ago / 8:34 AM UTC

SEOUL, South Korea — K-pop superstar group BTS has canceled a series of planned concerts in Seoul in April over concerns about a soaring viral outbreak in South Korea, its management agency announced Friday.

“We regret to announce that the BTS MAP OF THE SOUL TOUR ... has been cancelled," the Seoul-based Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement.

It said the COVID-19 "outbreak has made it impossible at this time to predict the scale of the outbreak during the dates of the concert in April.”

The seven-member boy band was scheduled to perform April 11-12 and April 18-19 at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium. The concerts would have involved a number of global production companies and a large number of foreigners among its expert crew, with more than 200,000 concertgoers expected, according to the agency.

South Korean media described the concerts as the inaugural Seoul leg of BTS's new world tour.

“We must take into consideration the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of guests as well as our artists and the dire impact a last-minute cancellation may have on guests from overseas, production companies and staff,” the agency said.

It said it has determined it is "unavoidable that the concert must be cancelled without further delay.”

The agency said its decision was also meant to support the South Korean government’s push to restrict massive public events.

The coronavirus that causes the new illness has infected more than 2,000 people and killed 13 others in South Korea in the largest outbreak outside mainland China.

BTS has a large international following and was the first K-pop act to debut atop the Billboard Album chart in 2018 with “Love Yourself: Tear.”

The latest coronavirus numbers

857d ago / 3:19 AM UTC

As of now: 83,000-plus confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,857 deaths reported. There are now more than 40 countries with confirmed cases, up from 30 a week ago.

Of the new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, 327 were reported in mainland China and 969 were reported in the rest of the world. Also in the last 24 hours, 3,622 people in mainland China recovered from the virus, according to China's National Health Commission.

857d ago / 3:08 AM UTC

CDC investigating reported delay in COVID-19 test for California patient

857d ago / 2:01 AM UTC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it is concerned about reports that there was a delay caused by the federal agency in testing a California coronavirus patient who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, in what may be the first case of community spread in the United States.

The CDC says it is investigating carefully, but a preliminary review of its records indicates the first time the centers were informed of the case was Sunday, and samples were ordered for testing that same day. 

Two top officials with UC Davis Health said in a memo to staff Wednesday that after the patient was transferred to its Sacramento medical center on Feb. 19, "our team asked public health officials if this case could be COVID-19. We requested COVID-19 testing by the CDC."

"Since the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria for COVID-19, a test was not immediately administered. UC Davis Health does not control the testing process," the memo stated. It said the CDC ordered testing for the patient on Sunday and on Wednesday the positive test was confirmed.

The case could be the first person-to-person transmission among the general public in the United States involving a person not believed to have been exposed to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected person.

The "CDC is concerned about reports that testing for COVID-19 for the California patient announced on February 26 was delayed as a result of CDC," CDC press officer Richard Quartarone said Thursday in an email.

"We are investigating this carefully, however, a preliminary review of CDC records indicates that CDC was first informed about this case on Sunday, February 23," Quartarone said.

He said that the federal agency requested samples that day from the patient in order to test for COVID-19 and that samples were sent via courier on Monday and received Tuesday. "Test results were confirmed and communicated on Wednesday, February 26," Quartarone said.

A spokesman for UC Davis Health said no information would be released beyond Wednesday's memo. 

Quartarone also said that under CDC guidelines, testing is allowed for patients who do not meet the specific criteria for testing if clinical suspicion of COVID-19 is high. He said that the situation is "rapidly evolving" and that CDC guidance is being regularly reviewed and updated. 

Outbreak spread sparks fears for American travelers

and

857d ago / 1:04 AM UTC

Some Americans thinking about vacations this spring and summer are reconsidering their travel plans as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread around the world.

More than 81,000 cases have been reported in at least 40 countries, leaving some travelers concerned as the virus continues to spread.

Summer Mutz, 23, of new Jersey and been looking forward to a dream trip to Europe, where she would see the sights in Rome, Vienna and Paris.

"It’s hard and I have a feeling I’m going to end up going because I’ve been dreaming of getting to Europe for years, and now I’m torn," she said. "Coronavirus is a big, scary thing. Right now it’s fear versus dreams."

After going back and forth on whether to cancel, she recently decided she would save her European vacation for another time when things were less uncertain.

Read more on how coronavirus is affecting travelers and the travel industry.

The new coronavirus hasn't mutated much — what does that tell scientists?

857d ago / 11:14 PM UTC

Scientists working to contain the spread of the new coronavirus have noticed something curious about the newly identified pathogen — it hasn't mutated much.

Genetic analyses have shown that the coronavirus has not undergone many significant changes since it first emerged in China in December, according to Timothy Sheahan, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

It's an important detail because that stability suggests why the new coronavirus is effective at moving from person to person.

“Viruses are into efficiency, and if you have a virus that spills over into the human population and isn’t that good at replicating in a person or human-to-human transmission, it may just die out,” he said.

Health officials go into detective mode after new California case

857d ago / 9:35 PM UTC

A California patient who appears to be America's first case of a coronavirus transmission of unknown origin has prompted two major questions: How was she exposed to the virus, and who else might have it?

California public health officials on Thursday said they are trying to find those answers through contact tracing, a process that entails tracking down anyone in recent weeks who might have had contact with the patient, a woman whose identity they are not revealing.

Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the state's Department of Public Health, said at a news conference that since Wednesday — when the test came back positive for the coronavirus — local, state and federal health officials have been "contacting any individuals who might have been exposed, and they're isolating them."

Read more about how health officials are working to track down the source of the infection.

Dow plunges nearly 1,200 points as coronavirus fears send markets diving

857d ago / 9:15 PM UTC

Wall Street suffered brutal losses on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average swinging wildly through more than 1,000 points before closing with a loss of 1,200 points for the worst week since the financial crisis.

The Dow has now lost more than 3,200 points this week, or 10 percent, including a decline of 1,031 points on Tuesday and 879 points on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 fell by 4.4 percent and the Nasdaq Composite was down by around 4.6 percent. Transport-related stocks, tech stocks, and the energy sector all took the heaviest hits, as fears spread that the coronavirus epidemic would strangle global movement.

Read more here.

U.S. could see some empty shelves by mid-April if coronavirus epidemic worsens

857d ago / 8:38 PM UTC

Coronavirus has the potential to become a global pandemic, temporarily emptying retail store shelves in the coming months and depressing some consumer-facing businesses, experts say, with government officials advising families to take measured steps to stock up on certain essentials.

A pandemic is the rapid spread of an infectious disease to a large amount of people in a short period of time across international boundaries.

Ahead of any pandemic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security says families should check their prescription drug supplies, store two weeks supply of water and food, and have non-prescription drugs and health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, and fluids with electrolytes.

Read the full story here.

U.S. companies will see zero growth this year because of coronavirus, Goldman Sachs says

857d ago / 8:25 PM UTC

Earnings growth for U.S. companies will be stagnant in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus, according to Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street firm revised its earnings estimate for the year to $165 per share from $174 per share, representing 0 percent growth in 2020. That is a dramatic move from the consensus. Forecasts still expect earnings to climb 7 percent this year.

Read the full story here.

Tim Cook says some China factories reopening

857d ago / 7:31 PM UTC

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Thursday he is “optimistic” about China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic, noting that his company has ramped up production as factories in the country have come back online.

"It feels to me that China is getting the coronavirus under control," Cook told Fox Business Network in an interview from Alabama, his home state. "You look at the numbers, they're coming down day by day by day. And so I'm very optimistic there."

"When you look at the parts that are done in China, we have reopened factories, so the factories were able to work through the conditions to open, they're reopening," Cook said. "They're also in ramp. So I think of this as sort of the third phase in getting back to normal, and we're in phase three of the ramp mode."

Apple warned last week that it would not meet its guidance for the next quarter due to the epidemic. The trillion-dollar company has seen billions wiped off its value since the outbreak of the virus. Twenty percent of Apple’s iPhone sales come from China, and 50 percent of the product build happens there.

857d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

857d ago / 6:17 PM UTC

Facebook has canceled its yearly F8 developer conference, one of the company's signature events.

“This was a tough call to make -- F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world -- but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Facebook's director of platform partnerships, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, wrote in a blog post.

Papamiltiadis wrote that the company is planning to host a series of local events and livestreams in place of the event.