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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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1006d ago / 8:57 AM UTC

Murder probe sought for South Korea sect at center of coronavirus outbreak

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The mayor of Seoul has asked for a murder investigation into leaders of a Christian sect at the center of the country’s deadly coronavirus outbreak.

A large majority of the more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the South Korean outbreak, the largest outside China, have been linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive movement that reveres founder Lee Man-hee.

Seoul’s city government said Sunday it had filed a criminal complaint, asking for an investigation of Lee and 12 others on charges of murder, injury and violation of prevention and management of infectious diseases. 

"Lee Man Hee, the chairman, and the rest of the accused not only evaded the test and are in hiding but are not taking any measures to get their sect members to actively work with the health authorities to prevent further spreading of COVID-19,” Park Won-soon, mayor of the capital Seoul, said in a Facebook post Sunday. 

Park said if Lee and other leaders of the church had cooperated, effective preventive measures could have saved those who later died of the virus.

More than 4,200 cases have been reported in South Korea as of Monday, with 22 deaths.

In a press conference Monday, Lee said that he took the test for the novel coronavirus and was told the result was negative. 

Many have blamed the church’s secretive nature and tightly packed conditions at services for the large number of cases linked to it.

1006d ago / 7:15 AM UTC

How to wash your hands properly, according to doctors

Hand-washing is the easiest way to prevent the spread the coronavirus and the common flu. Believe it or not, there’s a right way to wash your hands. 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.
  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. Both doctors recommend humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning-to-end twice to get the timing right. “Before surgery, surgeons have to stand at the scrub sink for 5 full minutes, and use an under-the-nail brush, and a very strong soap with a scrub brush on each finger, both sides of their hands, and scrub all the way up to their elbows. No one expects the rest of us to scrub as much, but that gives you an idea of what is needed to really kill most germs,” Laird says.
  4. Rinse your hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean paper towel (best bet), hand dryer (OK), or let them air dry (in a pinch).

Read more about when to wash your hands.

1006d ago / 4:28 AM UTC

France closes the Louvre as virus spreads

In Paris, the Louvre Museum closed its doors Sunday as coronavirus continue to spread globally.

Workers who guard the museum's trove of artworks were fearful of being contaminated by the museum's flow of visitors from around the world.

“We are very worried because we have visitors from everywhere,” said Andre Sacristin, a Louvre employee and union representative for its staffers.

“The risk is very, very, very great," he said in a phone interview. While there are no known virus infections among the museum's 2,300 workers, “it’s only a question of time,” he said.

A short statement from the Louvre said a staff meeting about virus prevention efforts stopped the museum from opening as scheduled Sunday morning. On Sunday afternoon, would-be visitors were still waiting to get inside.

1006d ago / 3:34 AM UTC

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declares health emergency after two coronavirus cases

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a public health emergency Sunday after officials reported two presumptive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The cases must still be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but DeSantis said the declaration was necessary to control the virus.

He said the patients are residents of Manatee and Hillsborough counties on the Gulf Coast.

Both adults are isolated and being cared for, the state Health Department said. Additional information was not immediately available.

1006d ago / 3:11 AM UTC

Dominican Republic, France report Caribbean virus cases

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Health officials in the Dominican Republic and France on Sunday reported the first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the tourist-rich Caribbean, while British cruise ship passengers who had been trapped at sea due to virus fears were finally set to come home.

Dominican Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas said a 62-year-old Italian man had arrived in the country on Feb. 22 without showing symptoms. He was being treated in isolation at a military hospital and “has not shown serious complications.”

France, meanwhile, reported three cases on the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, the first in one of France's overseas territories.

The announcements came shortly before the Braemar cruise ship, which had been denied entry to the Dominican Republic due to the virus fears, at last found a place to dock — the Dutch territory of St. Maarten.

1006d ago / 2:39 AM UTC
1006d ago / 2:37 AM UTC

2nd person dies in Washington state from coronavirus

A second person has died in Washington state from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, health officials said Sunday.

The man, who was in his 70s, had underlying health conditions, they said.

The announcement came one day after officials said a man in his 50s in Kirkland, east of Seattle, died after contracting the disease through community spread, the term used when there is no known source of transmission.

Officials also confirmed three new cases, those of two women in their 80s and 90s and a man in his 70s, who were in critical condition.

The latest cases raised the number of COVID-19 patients in King County to 10.

1006d ago / 1:22 AM UTC

First coronavirus case reported in New York state

New York state reported its first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, saying Sunday that a woman is quarantined in Manhattan after contracting the virus during a recent trip to Iran.

In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the woman, who is in her late 30s, is isolated in her home with respiratory symptoms that are "not serious." He added that she has been in a "controlled situation" since arriving in New York.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio later said the woman is in isolation in Manhattan.

Her test results were confirmed by a public laboratory in Albany, Cuomo said. 

"There is no reason for undue anxiety — the general risk remains low in New York," he said. "We are diligently managing this situation and will continue to provide information as it becomes available."

1006d ago / 1:08 AM UTC

Three more people diagnosed with coronavirus in Northern California

Three more people were diagnosed with novel coronavirus in Northern California, raising the number of confirmed cases in Santa Clara County to seven, public health officials said Sunday.

It wasn't immediately clear how one of the patients contracted the virus. The county Health Department described the person as a woman with a chronic health condition.

A couple with chronic health conditions who had recently traveled to Egypt also tested positive for the virus and are now hospitalized.

The county's Health Department announced a case of possible “community spread” on Friday — the patient hadn't traveled to China nor knowingly been in contact with others who have the virus.

Santa Clara County is about 50 miles southeast of San Francisco.

1006d ago / 1:02 AM UTC

Dow futures drop more than 200 points, indicating another rough week for Wall Street

Investors braced for another turbulent week as stock futures tumbled Sunday night as concerns around the coronavirus kept Wall Street under pressure.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped more than 300 points, indicating a loss of 342 points at Monday’s open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Dow futures briefly fell more than 500 points earlier.

The Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite all fell more than 10 percent last week, their biggest weekly declines since October 2008.They also entered correction territory, down more than 10 percent from all-time highs notched earlier in February.

Those declines came after a sharp increase in coronavirus cases outside of China. The number of cases continued to increase over the weekend, including in the U.S.

Read the full story here. 

1006d ago / 11:50 PM UTC

Two new coronavirus cases in California health care workers

Two health care workers in Northern California have tested positive for the coronavirus: one each in Alameda and Solano counties.

Both individuals had exposure to a woman who tested positive Wednesday and is currently hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center. That woman was the first reported case of community spread in the U.S.

The two health care workers are from NorthBay VacaValley Hospital. Both are in isolation at home. 

The two cases are presumptive positives, meaning they are waiting on confirmatory testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

1006d ago / 10:14 PM UTC

High school student in Washington didn’t know he was tested for coronavirus

The Washington state high school student with coronavirus didn’t know he was being tested for the illness, Snohomish Health District said in a press release Saturday.

The student started feeling sick on Monday, and eventually went to a clinic and got a flu test, which came back negative. 

Unbeknownst to him and his family, a sample from the clinic was passed along to Seattle Children’s, which, as part of an ongoing study, tested it for a number of pathogens, including the coronavirus.

The student stayed home from school until he had been fever-free for 48 hours. He had returned to campus “for approximately 5 minutes” on Friday when he received a call to come home immediately. His family “did all the right things,” the press release said. 

1006d ago / 9:29 PM UTC

Czech Republic confirms first three cases of coronavirus

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
1006d ago / 9:06 PM UTC

Scotland reports first case of coronavirus

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.

1006d ago / 7:28 PM UTC

Democrats, Trump officials clash over coronavirus response

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.

1006d ago / 7:09 PM UTC

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

1006d 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
1006d ago / 6:57 PM UTC

2 more confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state

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.

1006d ago / 6:06 PM UTC

Chuck Todd grills Pence on GOP rhetoric around coronavirus

1006d ago / 5:57 PM UTC

2 people in New York City being tested for coronavirus

1006d ago / 5:52 PM UTC

Delta suspends flights to Milan until May

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. 

1006d ago / 5:08 PM UTC

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

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
1006d ago / 4:49 PM UTC

'SNL' takes on coronavirus and the Democratic presidential candidates

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.
1006d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

Rhode Island announces two presumptive positive coronavirus cases

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.

1006d ago / 4:02 PM UTC

Family of infected Washington student releases statement

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."

1006d 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
1006d ago / 2:18 PM UTC

Paris' landmark Louvre closes for staff meeting on coronavirus

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. 

1006d ago / 1:27 PM UTC

Italian national tests positive for coronavirus at locked down Tenerife hotel

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.

1006d ago / 12:45 PM UTC

Democratic candidates criticize Trump's coronavirus 'hoax' claim

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.

1006d ago / 11:56 AM UTC

Number of cases in Iran nears 1,000

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.

1006d ago / 11:04 AM UTC

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

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."

1006d ago / 10:41 AM UTC

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

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."

1006d ago / 10:09 AM UTC

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

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.

1006d ago / 10:02 AM UTC

First case of coronavirus confirmed in Republic of Ireland

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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. 

1006d ago / 9:53 AM UTC

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

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.

1007d ago / 5:09 AM UTC

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

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. 

1007d ago / 4:14 AM UTC

Australian passenger from Diamond Princess cruise dies

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. 

1007d ago / 2:52 AM UTC

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

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. 

1007d ago / 2:08 AM UTC

Illinois county confirms new patient with coronavirus

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.

1007d ago / 2:07 AM UTC

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

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.

1007d 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
1007d ago / 1:30 AM UTC

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

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.

1007d ago / 12:40 AM UTC

Northern California county confirms 4th case of coronavirus

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.

1007d ago / 12:31 AM UTC
1007d ago / 11:58 PM UTC

U.S. lawmakers demand federal briefing on whistleblower complaint

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."

1007d ago / 11:16 PM UTC

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

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.

1007d ago / 11:06 PM UTC
1007d ago / 11:00 PM UTC

Washington state testing over 50 people for coronavirus

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.

1007d ago / 10:42 PM UTC
1007d ago / 10:37 PM UTC

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