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

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.

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

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.

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.

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