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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.