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.
After missteps, CDC says its coronavirus test kit is ready for primetime
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.
Health secretary: 'Blocking and tackling' to find source of infection in CA woman
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.
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32d ago / 8:57 PM UTC
VP Pence: The government response is an 'all-hands-on-deck effort'
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."
Amazon restricts employees from non-essential travel
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.
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32d ago / 8:26 PM UTC
Fed chair: The virus presents 'evolving risks' to U.S. economy
“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.”
Officials warn about election meddling amid outbreak
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.
The world's largest tourism fair has been cancelled
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.
++++ ITB Berlin 2020 cancelled. +++ Our team deeply regrets the circumstances & looks forward to welcoming you next year at ITB Berlin, 10 to 14 March 2021. Thanks to all visitors, exhibitors & partners around the world who have supported us in the past days and weeks. #ITBBerlinpic.twitter.com/5ApQn6dOTv
Is there a right or wrong way to wash your hands to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
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.