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Coronavirus cases spike as Europe struggles with its first major outbreak

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Follow Tuesday's latest coronavirus updates here.

As reported cases of the coronavirus spiked to over 79,000 over the weekend, Europe struggled to deal with its first major outbreak of the disease, in Italy. South Korea took "unprecedented, powerful" steps to try to contain the spread of the COVID-19, and Iran reported additional cases. China, which has over 77,000 cases, reported hundreds more.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 53, health officials said Monday. Most people who tested positive were former passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which had been quarantined off Japan. A federal judge temporarily blocked a government plan to send some patients to a facility in Costa Mesa, California, after city officials sued, saying they hadn't been consulted.


Democrats blast White House virus spending plan

Democrats were quick to slam an urgent $2.5 billion plan the White House sent lawmakers Monday to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The funds would pay for vaccines, treatment and protective equipment.

But Democrats said the request fell far short of what's needed.

In a statement Monday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the president's request "long overdue and completely inadequate to the scale of this emergency." She said the House would advance "a strong, strategic funding package that fully addresses the scale and seriousness of this public health crisis."

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., called the plan "woefully insufficient."

And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, "We have a crisis of coronavirus and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response."

To help fund the plan, the administration wants transfer $535 million from an Ebola preparedness account that's been a top priority of Democrats. But they said that request is dead on arrival.  



California city still alarmed over possible transfer of virus patients there

A federal judge on Monday ordered U.S. and California officials to answer questions from local officials about plans to relocate former cruise ship passengers who test positive for a new coronavirus to a facility in Southern California.

U.S District Judge Josephine Staton, who had already temporarily blocked federal officials from transferring passengers to the site, said mistakes can be made when acting in haste. She set another hearing to review the issue next Monday.

The contentious hearing lasted more than two hours and was so crowded some people had to sit on the courtroom floor.

Officials from Costa Mesa, an Orange County city of 113,000, are trying to halt the transfer to their community of patients who were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan and are under quarantine at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. Those who tested positive for the virus were sent to area hospitals but can't be returned to Travis once they no longer need treatment, federal officials said.

City officials questioned why a facility that was recently deemed too dilapidated for a homeless shelter is suddenly being considered for this purpose. Local officials said they weren't included in the planning process and want to know what safeguards are in place to prevent the possible transmission of the virus that has caused more than 2,600 deaths, most of them in China. 

-- The Associated Press


"Mission: Impossible 7" temporarily halts production in Italy

Production on "Mission: Impossible 7," which is being filmed in Venice, Italy, has been temporarily halted due to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

"Out of an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our cast and crew, and efforts of the local Venetian government to halt public gatherings in response to the threat of coronavirus, we are altering the production plan for our three week shoot in Venice, the scheduled first leg of an extensive production for "Mission: Impossible 7," a spokesperson for Paramount Pictures told CBS News. 

Italy has the largest number of coronavirus cases of any country outside of Asia. 

Paramount Pictures and CBS News are both owned by ViacomCBS

By Jordan Freiman

CDC upgrades travel notice for South Korea to "Avoid nonessential travel"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded its travel notice for South Korea on Monday to "Avoid nonessential travel," warning of "a widespread, ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness." 

The coronavirus has spread rapidly in South Korea in recent days. There have been more than 700 confirmed cases of the disease in the country, according to the World Health Organization. 

By Victoria Albert

White House proposes $2.5 billion plan to help fight coronavirus epidemic

The Trump administration has proposed a $2.5 billion plan to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement from the Office of Management and Budget. 

"The Trump Administration continues to take the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease very seriously," said spokesperson Rachel Semmel. "Today, the Administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billion supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness and response activities and to procure much needed equipment and supplies." 

The plan includes a request for $1.25 billion in emergency funding, as well as for an additional $535 million currently earmarked for Ebola prevention and treatment. 

An administration official told CBS News that the plan includes more than $1 billion for vaccines, and that the money will be requested in a lump sum to give the Department of Health and Human Services the maximum amount of flexibility. The official added that while the resources are intended for 2020, the language will allow for spending to continue through 2021. 

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify how much the White House is requesting from Congress.


Chinese health officials announce hundreds of new coronavirus cases; death toll increases

Health officials in China on Tuesday announced that there were an additional 508 cases of people with coronavirus on the mainland, 499 of whom are in the Hubei province where the outbreak is said to have originated. There are nearly 78,000 total cases so far, according to the Chinese government.

China also reported 71 more deaths, bringing the death toll there to more than 2,600.

By Peter Martinez

U.S., South Korea consider scaling back some military exercises to limit coronavirus spread

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that the U.S. and South Korea are looking at scaling back upcoming command post exercises as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement comes hours after military officials announced that a United States Forces Korea dependent living in Daegu tested positive for the coronavirus. This is the first United States Forces Korea-related person who has tested positive for the virus.

Officials said the patient, a 61-year old female, visited Camp Walker's Post Exchange on February 12 and 15. It's not yet clear if others have been exposed. 

South Korea has faced a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases in the last week. There are now at least 763 confirmed cases in the country, according to the World Health Organization. 

By David Martin

Expert: Coronavirus "more dangerous" than flu, but "it's not the zombie apocalypse"

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook spoke about coronavirus with Dr. Larry Brilliant, who helped lead efforts to eradicate smallpox worldwide. Brilliant said he believes the current coronavirus outbreak is reason for concern — but not panic.

"I'll tell you what it's not: It's not the zombie apocalypse. This is not going to be a mass extinction event. It's going to be a rough ride," he said.

Brilliant, an epidemiologist who served as the science adviser on the movie "Contagion," said coronavirus is "more dangerous" than a regular flu outbreak.

"This is not like seasonal flu. Seasonal flu kills 650,000 people every year worldwide ... 45,000 to 50,000 people this year in the United States alone. This is a more dangerous disease because it has a higher case fatality rate, because it spreads more quickly, because it shows up in a disruptive way," he said.

Brilliant also said it's likely that the virus has already spread to more countries than the 35 or 40 that have officially reported cases so far.

"The major reason countries may not report is they don't have a testing kit or a testing facility to know the difference between a coronavirus infection and influenza or malaria. There are only two countries in all of Africa that have the ability to make that distinction," he explained. "So it's not surprising that today for the first time we heard about Afghanistan and … Iran, which is exploding now."

By Paula Cohen

Families "pleading urgently" with Canada for another evacuation flight from Wuhan

More than 40 families urged the Canadian government in a letter to charter an additional flight from Wuhan, China, to evacuate more people from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The families represent about 100 Canadian citizens and permanent residents who want to leave Wuhan.

The families said their relatives did not board either of the previous government-chartered flights due to poor communication and misinformation. They gave examples of language barriers, limited internet access and personal isolation as reasons why people did not board the flights, and also cited general confusion about who was permitted to board the planes.

"We are pleading urgently with the government to have compassion to bring our families and loved ones home," the letter said.

Over 500 Canadians have been evacuated due to the coronavirus since the crisis began, according to Global Affairs Canada. Two Canadian government-chartered flights have flown out of Wuhan, a government plane repatriated 129 Canadians from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship docked in Japan, and a number of Canadians flew home on a United States government-chartered flight from Wuhan.

— The Associated Press


White House looking into emergency budget for coronavirus

The White House is readying an urgent budget request to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The request is still being developed but is likely to come this week, a senior administration official confirmed Monday to The Associated Press. The Department of Health and Human Services has already tapped into an emergency infectious disease rapid response fund and is seeking to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to combat the virus but is pressing for more.

"We need some funding here to make sure that we protect all Americans," Deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said on Fox News. "We need to combat this, we need to make sure our people are safe and the president is always going to take action to do that."

Among the needs is funding to reimburse the Pentagon, which is housing evacuees from China — who are required to undergo 14-day quarantines — at several military bases in California.

Democrats controlling the House wrote HHS Secretary Alex Azar earlier this month to request funds to help speed development of a coronavirus vaccine, expand laboratory capacity and beef up screening efforts at U.S. entry points. Azar is slated to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, and the U.S. response to the outbreak is sure to be a major topic.

President Trump tweeted Monday afternoon to reassure that the coronavirus "is very much under control in the USA." He also mentioned relevant health organizations are "working hard and very smart."

— The Associated Press


Senators to receive classified briefing Tuesday on U.S. response to coronavirus

Senators will attend a classified closed briefing on the coronavirus Tuesday morning at the U.S. Capitol. Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and State Department will also be at the briefing.

— John Nolen


53 confirmed cases of coronavirus identified in the U.S., health officials say

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that there are 53 U.S. citizens infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

According to the CDC website, 14 people are infected in the U.S. either from traveling or person-to-person spread. Thirty-nine other Americans were repatriated to the U.S. and are infected with COVID-19. Out of that group, three came from Wuhan, China, and 36 came from the former quarantine cruise ship Diamond Princess.

By Peter Martinez

How coronavirus in China could cause drug shortages in America

The coronavirus in China could lead to drug shortages in America 01:25

Restrictions on travel to and from China have forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to postpone inspections of Chinese factories. This delay could interfere with China's ability to continue supplying the U.S. with the active pharmaceutical ingredients for antibiotics and other medications used to treat serious illnesses, including tuberculosis, experts said.

"There is a lot of reliance on China for antibiotics, and I worry about it for sure," said former FDA compliance executive Steven Lynn, who now runs a consulting firm. "The worst-case scenario is China starts shutting down all its ports. That means no more air traffic, boats or trains are going out, and raw material can't get out of the country."

Read more from CBS MoneyWatch here. 

By Megan Cerullo

WHO says world must prepare for "potential pandemic"

The World Health Organization chief said Monday the world should be working harder to contain the spread of the deadly new coronavirus, and should be preparing for a "potential pandemic."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that so far, the WHO does not consider the outbreak that has killed more than 2,600 people a pandemic, but said countries should be "doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic."

Agence France-Presse


Stocks plunge as coronavirus spreads in Europe and Asia

U.S. stocks fell sharply Monday as the coronavirus outbreak spreads well beyond China, raising fears about the economic impact of the outbreak on several continents. The Dow Jones dropped 3.56% and closed just shy of 28,000 points.

Finance ministers from the Group of 20 major economies warned during a meeting in Saudi Arabia over the weekend that the coronavirus outbreak could pose a greater threat to the global economy than earlier expected, Bloomberg reports. Worldwide economic growth could plunge more than $1 trillion if the virus, officially known as COVID-19, continues to spread and becomes a global pandemic, Oxford Economics said last week before the outbreaks in South Korea and Italy widened.

A global outbreak could lead to a significant dent in worldwide economic output, Oxford Economics projected last week. If COVID-19 expands beyond Asia and takes root in other countries, global growth would fall $1.1 trillion, or about 1.3%, the research firm estimated.

By Aimee Picchi

Iran denies coronavirus coverup after claim of 50 deaths

Iran's government vowed Monday to be transparent after being accused of covering up the deadliest coronavirus outbreak outside China, dismissing a lawmaker's claim the toll could be as high as 50.

The authorities in Iran have come under mounting public pressure since it took days for them to admit to "accidentally" shooting down a Ukrainian airliner last month, killing 176 people.

The government announced Iran's coronavirus death toll had jumped by four to 12 — by far the highest outside China — as its neighbours closed their borders and imposed strict quarantine measures.

But Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, a lawmaker from the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, alleged the government was "lying".

"As of last night, about 50 people have died" from the coronavirus in Qom alone, ILNA news agency, which is close to reformists, quoted him as saying after a closed session of parliament on the crisis.

The government rejected the claim.

Agence France-Presse


First coronavirus case reported in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has detected its first novel coronavirus case, the country's health minister said Monday, a day after Kabul announced it would suspend air and ground travel to Iran, where 12 people have died from the outbreak.

"I announce the first positive coronavirus (case) in Herat," health minister Firozuddin Feroz told a press conference, calling on citizens to avoid travel to the western province which borders Iran.

Agence France-Presse


Visitor to U.S. airbase in South Korea tests positive for COVID-19

A frequent visitor to a U.S. airbase in South Korea tested positive for the coronavirus, US Forces Korea (USFK) said Monday.

The patient is a 61-year-old female who lives in Daegu, which is home to more than 2,500 U.S. military servicemen and women. It is the first time a USFK-related individual has tested positive for the disease, USFK said in a statement.

"I'm nervous, but I feel confident too," Colonel Edward Blanco told CBS News' Ramy Inocencio. "The coronavirus is really harsh on people who are vulnerable, and our population - relative to the wider population - is not vulnerable. Still, though, we're all nervous about it. It's a creepy thing  to have a sickness out there that's invisible and so easily transferable," he said.

By Haley Ott

Fifth person dies from the coronavirus in Italy

Police manned checkpoints around quarantined towns in Italy's north on Monday as authorities sought to contain cases of COVID-19 virus that have made Italy the focal point of the outbreak in Europe and fears of its cross-border spread.

Civil protection officials said 219 people had tested positive for the virus and five people had died, including two elderly men in northern Lombardy.

But officials still haven't pinpointed the origin of the contagion, which by Monday had spread to more than a half-dozen regions and prompted Austria to temporarily halt rail traffic across its border with Italy.

— The Associated Press


First coronavirus case confirmed in Iraq

Iraq on Monday confirmed its first novel coronavirus case in an elderly Iranian national living in the southern city of Najaf, according to health officials.

Iraq had blocked travel to and from Iran days before announcing that the religious seminary student in Najaf is its first confirmed case.

Agence France-Presse


China 'comprehensively' bans illegal wildlife trade

China on Monday declared an immediate and "comprehensive" ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice believed responsible for the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The country's top legislative committee met on Monday and approved a proposal "on comprehensively prohibiting the illegal wildlife trade, abolishing the bad habit of overconsumption of wildlife, and effectively protecting the lives and health of the people," state television reported.

Agence France-Presse


China issues travel warning for U.S. over coronavirus stigma

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a travel warning for any of its citizens going to the U.S. over stigma surrounding the coronavirus.

Chinese tourists have repeatedly been treated unfairly in the United States due to excessive U.S. epidemic prevention measures and the security situation there, the ministry said in a statement.

The statement went on to advise Chinese tourists to the U.S. to be aware of what security precautions might be in place and limit their travel.

By Haley Ott
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