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.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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.