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WHO declares COVID-19 disease to be a pandemic

The coronavirus crisis continues to unfold across the globe as the World Health Organization uses the word for the first time.
Image: Slovakia
A worker wearing protective clothes disinfects the inside of a public bus in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Wednesday.Vladimir Simicek / AFP - Getty Images

For the first time, the World Health Organization called the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic. Meanwhile, the United States now has more than 1,000 people infected with the coronavirus — but testing in the country is still ramping up, meaning that number could continue to climb.

WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease for which most people do not have immunity.

On Wednesday, the governor of New York questioned the number of people who have been tested for the virus in the U.S.

“When they do the retrospective on this one, they are going to say, 'Why did it take the Unites States so long to bring up the testing capacity?'” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on "TODAY." On Tuesday, Cuomo announced that he was implementing a "containment area" around a one-mile radius in the city of New Rochelle, home to one of the largest clusters of coronavirus cases in the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that more than 8,500 specimens have been tested for the coronavirus across the U.S. Because multiple specimens are required from each individual, the number of actual patients who have been tested is likely far lower.

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U.K. lawmaker and health minister tests positive for coronavirus

British lawmaker, junior health minister and former nurse Nadine Dorries has tested positive for coronavirus, she announced on Tuesday.

“It’s been pretty rubbish but I hope I’m over the worst of it now,” tweeted Dorries, a Conservative lawmaker in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government. 

“More worried about my 84yo mum who is staying with me and began with the cough today,” she added.

Dorries, who is now self-isolating, said in a statement that Public Health England has started “detailed contact tracing.”

There are currently 373 people in the U.K. diagnosed with coronavirus and six people have died.

The Times newspaper reported that Dorries met hundreds of people in Parliament in the past week and attended a reception with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. NBC News was not able to confirm this reporting. 

Manchester City, Arsenal postpone game after coronavirus contact

Two of the world’s most prominent soccer clubs have postponed their game because players on one of the teams were in contact with someone who had contracted coronavirus. 

The Wednesday game between Manchester City and Arsenal was pushed back because Arsenal players met with Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Greek club Olympiakos Piraeus, following their meeting last month. 

Marinakis tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. 

In a statement, Arsenal said the risk to these players of developing COVID-19, the diseases the virus causes, was “extremely low," adding that they will self-isolate in their homes for two weeks. 

It’s the first fixture in Premier League, the top-tier soccer league in England, to be affected by the virus. 

The league said it had no alternative but to postpone the game to complete a proper risk assessment.

It added that there were currently no plans to postpone other games.

Police break up crowd of University of Dayton students after housing closure news

Police at the University of Dayton in Ohio fired "pepper balls" and cleared a street early Wednesday after a disorderly crowd or around 1,000 gathered after learning that the college would be shutting down student housing over fears of the novel coronavirus.

University officials said in a statement that one person was injured by a thrown bottle. University and Dayton police moved to clear the street around 2:15 a.m.

The university's student-run newspaper, the Flyer News, reported that the crowds gathered in reaction to news that the university housing would close Wednesday.

The university announced Tuesday that it would suspend in-person classes and ask students to return home and do online learning.  "Students will remain off campus for at least two weeks following spring break," the university said.

“There were some social media reports and rumors that this was a protest against our coronavirus measures — those reports are inaccurate. Indications are that the students wanted one last large gathering before spring break and the size and behavior of the crowd required police to take action,” the university said in a statement to NBC News early Wednesday.

South Dakota has 5 presumptive cases, including one person who has died

Five presumptive cases of COVID-19 have been identified in South Dakota, the governor said Tuesday. That count includes one person who died, but it is unclear what killed that patient, she said.

"We have one person that has passed away that had underlying medical conditions, and we will continue to wait for a medical examination to see if the virus had anything to do with that —  although we do not have confirmation that that is the reason that the patient is deceased," Gov. Kristi Noem said at a news conference. The person who died was a man in his 60s.

The five cases, which are not in any single community, are the first presumptive cases for South Dakota. Cases are called presumptive when local tests come back positive but when CDC testing has not yet confirmed that result.

If the death was caused by COVID-19, the death would mark the 31st in the United States, according to a count of reported cases by NBC News. The four other people with presumptive positive cases are at home and contact tracing is being done, the governor said.

22 more deaths in mainland China, bringing total to 3,158

China's National Health Commission reported 22 new deaths, all of them in Hubei Province, bringing the total across the mainland to 3,158 as of Wednesday morning.

The coronavirus outbreak began in Hubei Province, which is where the city of Wuhan is located. There have been more than 80,700 confirmed cases reported in mainland China, according to the health commission.

There are outbreaks in other countries, with some of the highest number of cases outside mainland China being reported in South Korea, Italy and Iran. The United States has more than 1,000 confirmed or presumptive cases, according to a count of reports by NBC News. Thirty people have died in the U.S.

Person at New Orleans journalism conference tests positive

Someone who attended a journalism conference in New Orleans this month has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, organizers said Tuesday.

The attendee at the NICAR20 conference last week has mild symptoms and is expected to make a full recovery, the nonprofit organization Investigative Reporters and Editors said in a statement.

The person is self-quarantining at home for 14 days. The case is being considered a presumptive positive because it has not been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Based on the onset of the limited symptoms, they could have contracted the virus either before, during or after the conference," IRE said. The organization said the person as well as the organization is notifying anyone who had close contact or who attended a class with that person.  

Three TSA officers at San Jose airport test positive

Three security officers at the international airport in San Jose, California, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness, the TSA said Tuesday.

"The officers are receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home,” The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement to NBC Bay Area.

The officers worked at Mineta San Jose International Airport, which is in Santa Clara County.

"Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC, as well as the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public," the TSA said.

Santa Clara County has seen 45 positive tests, and the increase in cases that could be instances of community spread prompted health officials there to ban mass gatherings of 1,000 or more people for three weeks. One person died in Santa Clara County Monday morning, the health department said.

More than 1,400 have disembarked from Grand Princess cruise ship

More than 1,400 people have disembarked from the Grand Princess cruise ship, the vessel that was delayed off the coast of California after it was linked to the coronavirus illness COVID-19, the cruise company said Tuesday evening.

There were 3,533 people aboard the ship — including 2,422 guests and 1,111 employees — when it returned from Hawaii to California last week, the cruise company has said. Princess Cruises said that as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, 1,406 people had disembarked.

The ship was delayed for testing after several people from a voyage in mid-February tested positive for COVID-19, including one who died last week in Placer County. On Friday, tests that were flown to the ship came back positive for 21 people aboard, which included 19 crew and two passengers.

On Monday people began disembarking, and California officials have said that 407 people disembarked then.

Officials have said that those disembarking would be subject to a 14-day quarantine, many of them at military bases. Disembarking all of the passengers "will be a multiple day process," Princess Cruises said.