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CDC confirms second U.S. coronavirus case of unknown origin as World Health Organization raises global risk level to "very high"

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Coronavirus risk upgraded to "very high" by WHO

Follow along with Saturday's coronavirus live updates.

Health officials announced a second coronavirus case in California on Friday in which they didn't know how the person was infected. Earlier, the World Health Organization upgraded the global risk from the outbreak to "very high."

The virus has disrupted plans for everything from major sports tournaments and concerts to planned U.S. military exercises. The global death toll is now over 2,800, and the disease has made its first worrying appearance in sub-Saharan Africa.

More than 83,000 cases of the COVID-19 disease have now been confirmed in more than 50 countries. While about 36,000 of those people have recovered, fast-growing outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran — along with the first case confirmed in Nigeria — show the battle to contain the virus is still in its early stages. Officials have worried the disease could spread widely in countries with weaker public health systems, specifically in Africa and Latin America. 

In the U.S., at least 63 people were being treated for COVID-19 as of Thursday, most of them evacuated from Asia. The origin of two cases, both women in California, have been impossible for doctors to trace, leading the CDC to warn the U.S. has likely seen its first case of "community spread."

The head of the World Health Organization said that kind of transmission, of unknown origin and possibly from the general population, represented the third of four outbreak stages that every nation must be prepared for: "Every country must be ready for its first case, its first cluster, the first evidence of community transmission, and for dealing with sustained community transmission," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

"We are not defenseless," insisted Tedros, urging "every country and every person" to help ensure cases are detected early and that authorities are able to trace contacts, provide care and prevent widespread community transmissions. 

As coronavirus spreads, how to protect yourself from the outbreak
 

Quarantined cruise ship passengers won't go to Costa Mesa after court battle

The U.S. government announced Friday that it won't try to send dozens of cruise ship passengers quarantined amid coronavirus fears to a city in Southern California that argued the move would pose a potentially life-threatening local risk.
 
The government informed the California Department of Public Health that it had determined it doesn't need to use the state-owned Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to isolate passengers from the Diamond Princess, the state agency said.
 
Local officials had said they weren't included in the planning process and wanted to know what safeguards were in place to prevent the possible transmission of the virus. 
 
A federal judge had temporarily barred the swap and questioned why patients weren't being sent to facilities designed to handle contagious illnesses like Ebola. The Fairview center previously housed people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  
"This is a victory for the citizens of Costa Mesa and Orange County," Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement. "But the government has not promised not to place future infected persons there, so the battle is not over. We will continue to ask the court to prohibit the government from using this completely inappropriate facility for housing people infected with a highly communicable and potentially fatal disease."

—The Associated Press

 

Notre Dame ends Rome study abroad programs for the semester, citing coronavirus fears

After the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for Italy on Friday, warning Americans to "Reconsider travel" to the country, the University of Notre Dame ended its study abroad program in Rome for the semester. 

"The 106 Notre Dame students studying in Rome will be flown back to the United States as soon as possible," the university wrote in a Facebook post. "Affiliated faculty and staff who choose to return to the United States will also be flown back." 

The university added that in accordance with U.S. protocol, the students will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to America. Notre Dame noted that more than half of that quarantine time will occur during the school's spring break. 

By Victoria Albert
 

South Korea reports 594 new coronavirus cases

South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 594 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to Reuters. That brings the country's total number of cases to 2,931. 

By Victoria Albert
 

China announces 47 new deaths, 427 new cases

Chinese officials on Saturday announced 47 new deaths and 427 new cases of the novel coronavirus. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to at least 79,251. 

All but two of the deaths came from Hubei, the epicenter of the worldwide outbreak, officials said.  

By Victoria Albert
 

Second coronavirus case of unknown origin in California

Another person in Northern California has tested positive for coronavirus who wasn't known to have been exposed through travel or contact with an infected person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The patient, an older adult woman with chronic health conditions, is the second person in the U.S. to contract the disease known as COVID-19 without officials knowing exactly how, Santa Clara County officials said.

The county's health department urged residents to prepare for the possibility of widespread community transmission, where an illness spreads from an unknown source. "This new case indicates that there is evidence of community transmission but the extent is still not clear," Dr. Sara Cody, the county's health officer, said in a statement.

The new patient is the county's third case of the disease. The other two patients had traveled from mainland China, and one was released from isolation last week.

By Alex Sundby
 

Wisconsin coronavirus patient released from isolation after negative tests

A Wisconsin coronavirus patient was declared "virus-free" and released from home isolation after nearly a month, a county public health agency said Friday. The person was feeling well and tested negative for the virus twice, Karri Bartlett, a community health supervisor with the Dane County agency, said in a video posted to YouTube.

The unidentified person had been in isolation at their home since January 30 after traveling to China, Bartlett said. "As you can imagine, not leaving your home for nearly a month takes its toll, and throughout this period, this person has been nothing but patient and understanding," she said.

Person with Coronavirus in Dane County is Now Virus-Free by Public Health Madison & Dane County on YouTube
By Alex Sundby
 

Wall Street suffers worst week since 2008

Wall Street closed out its worst seek since the 2008 financial crisis with another drop triggered by mounting coronavirus concerns.

The Dow dropped 357 points, or 1.4%, to 25,409.36, following a nearly 1,200 point drop on Thursday. The broader S&P 500 stock index fell 0.8% in early trading, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite edged slightly higher.

Earlier in the day, the Dow shed more than 1,000 points before paring losses in reaction to a statement from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, who noted that the Fed is tracking "developments" and their potential impact on the economy. The S&P 500 has lost 11% of its value since last Friday while the Dow has lost more than 12% on investor fears that the growing coronavirus outbreak could crimp economic growth.

By Aimee Picchi
 

Mike Pompeo faces skeptical lawmakers about coronavirus response

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced questions from lawmakers skeptical about the administration's response to the coronavirus threat in a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The hearing was ostensibly about the strike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani last month, but Pompeo just as often fielded questions about the administration's preparedness for dealing with the health crisis.

"We agreed that I was going to come here today to talk about Iran and the first question is not about Iran," Pompeo said testily when Democratic Representative David Cicilline kicked off the hearing by asking about the coronavirus, setting the tone for future contentious back-and-forth between lawmakers and the secretary of state. Cicilline noted that Iran had reported several cases of the coronavirus.

Pompeo said that the U.S. has "made offers to the Islamic Republic to help" with the response to the outbreak, but added that health care infrastructure in Iran is "not robust," and that the U.S. is concerned Iran is not sharing all the information it has.

By Grace Segers
 

House Democrats and Republicans trade accusations over coronavirus response

Members of Congress met with federal health officials Friday morning for an update on the coronavirus outbreak, but some members left early, complaining Democrats were criticizing the Trump administration's response. "Those things need to be apolitical," said Republican Congressman Paul Mitchell of Michigan. "They need to be about solving a problem, not about scoring political points."

Democrats in the briefing said administration officials were short on facts. They're also critical of Vice President Mike Pence, who they suspect might be trying to muzzle health officials.

"Pence seems like he may be vetting written statements," Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told reporters. At the White House, Larry Kudlow, President Trump's economic adviser and a member of his coronavirus task force, said no one was being stifled.

"There's a big difference between stifling and coordinating, and I think you have to coordinate — it's a big government," Kudlow said.

- Skyler Henry and Alex Sundby

 

New coronavirus cases among cruise ship passengers quarantined in U.S.

Two more people who were evacuated from a cruise ship in Japan earlier this month have tested positive for the coronavirus, Dr. Nancy Messonnier with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Friday. The U.S. evacuated more than 300 people from the Diamond Princess nearly two weeks ago, and 44 of them have contracted the COVID-19 disease.

Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, didn't provide additional details about the two new cases. All U.S. evacuees from the cruise ship and from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, have been ordered to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

By Alex Sundby
 

Coronavirus quarantines in U.S. appear inevitable, doctor says

Doctor warns of likely coronavirus quarantines in U.S.

Amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak, one doctor suggested that Americans worried about quarantines should begin preparing. CBS News medical consultant Dr. David Agus predicted the question would be "not if but when and where" quarantines will be occurring during an appearance on "CBS This Morning."

"The death rate is very low with this virus. Most people will survive this virus," he said.

Agus advised asking companies what their work from home policy would be, and being aware that children in the household may have to take school from home.

"Get a week of food, dry food in your house. And be ready for this. There's no reason to panic, we're all going to do fine," he said. "But there's going to be a new way of life, and we have to prepare for that way of life."

Agus also recommended stocking up on two to three weeks of medicines.

By Elizabeth Elkind
 

Bloodbath on Wall Street as stocks continue to sink

Finance expert explains markets' coronavirus dip

Financial markets opened sharply lower on Friday, putting stocks on track for a seventh straight day of losses as investors brace for the economic fallout from the widening coronavirus outbreak.

The Dow plunged 1,026 points, or 4%, to 24,741 in morning trading, following a nearly 1,200 point drop on Thursday. The broader S&P 500 stock index fell 3.7% in early trading, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite declined 3%.

The value of U.S. equities has tumbled more than $3 trillion from their market highs last week amid turbulence caused by the widening outbreak. The downdraft puts stocks on track for their worst week since October of 2008, when markets cratered during the financial crisis.

By Aimee Picchi
 

WHO upgrades global risk of virus spread to "very high"

The United Nations health agency on Friday upgraded the global risk from the new coronavirus to "very high." The World Health Organization said the continued increase in cases and countries affected was "clearly of concern".

"We have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of COVID-19 to very high at global level," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

By Stephen Smith
 

Iran warns "tough week ahead" as it grapples with growing virus outbreak

Iran's success or failure in combating the coronavirus will have an impact far beyond the country's 80 million people, as the majority of cases in the Mideast now link back to Iran.

"We will have a tough week ahead," Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki warned Friday. "The main peak of the coronavirus will be in next week and coming days." 

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour again reported a huge spike in cases, saying there were 388 confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran and 34 deaths as of Friday. In brief remarks from Tehran, he cautioned the number of cases would likely further spike as Iran now has 15 laboratories testing samples. 

An Iranian woman wears a protective masks to prevent contracting coronavirus, as she sits in the bus in Tehran
An Iranian woman wears a protective masks to prevent contracting coronavirus, as she sits in a bus in Tehran, Iran, February 25, 2020. WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS

In Tehran and other cities, authorities canceled Friday prayer services to limit crowds. Universities are to remain closed another week. Schools will be closed for at least three days, Namaki said. Parliament also will be closed, state television said, citing a lawmaker.

Questions remain over Iran's true coronavirus case count. Experts, including at the World Health Organization, worry the Islamic Republic may be under-counting, or underreporting the number of cases in the country.  

CBS/AP

By Tucker Reals
 

U.K. passenger from virus-stricken cruise ship dies in Japan

A British man who was on board a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo has died, Japan's health ministry said on Friday.

The ministry confirmed the man's nationality and death on Friday without giving any identifying details.

The man was the first foreigner to have died from the illness after spending time aboard the Diamond Princess. Another five Japanese nationals on the vessel have died and more than 700 others tested positive for the disease. 

AFP

 

Mexico reports first cases of virus

Mexico's assistant health secretary announced Friday that the country now has two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. Hugo Lopez-Gatell said one of the patients is in Mexico City and the other in the northern state of Sinaloa, and neither is seriously ill.

At least five family contacts of the first patient have been placed in isolation. He said one of the men had contact with someone who had traveled to the northern Italian region where there has been an outbreak.

Brazil on Wednesday confirmed Latin America's first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in a man who traveled to Italy this month. 

Associated Press 

 

Azerbaijan reports first case of coronavirus

Azerbaijan confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus disease on Friday, according to Russia's Interfax news agency.

"This is a Russian citizen who arrived in Azerbaijan from Iran. He is placed in the infectious unit of the special regime (quarantine)," the country's emergency coordination office was quoted as saying by Interfax. The patient was reportedly in stable condition.

Health officials were tracing the patients' contacts. Azerbaijan is the 53rd nation to confirm the presence of the new disease, which is estimated to kill between 1 and 2% of those infected.

Answering common questions about the coronavirus
By Tucker Reals
 

California monitoring 8,400 for virus as they try to track origin of mystery case

California is currently monitoring 8,400 people for the new coronavirus as doctors try to work out how a woman in the state contracted the illness without any connection to a likely origin. 

Multiple health care personnel who were exposed to the patient in the days before her diagnosis were also being kept in isolation and even quarantine. Governor Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that federal officials have promised to send more testing kits as part of the government's emergency initiative to increase coronavirus testing capabilities nationwide.  

 

Russia imposes new travel restrictions on Iranians, South Koreans

Russia decided Friday to temporarily bar the entry of all Iranian citizens as the coronavirus outbreak in the Islamic Republic grew quickly and spread from their across the Middle East. Similar restrictions were imposed on South Korean citizens, but the restrictions would not apply to official delegations from either country wishing to visit Russia.

"Citizens of the Member States of the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan), crews of aircraft, members of official delegations and persons holding a residence permit in Russia, coming from Iran, are not subject to the restrictions," according to the official Russian government order.     

Flights to and from South Korea were to be banned starting March 1, but Russia's government was not, as of Friday, planning to evacuate nationals from South Korea, home to the largest COVID-19 outbreak outside China. The Russian Embassy in Seoul did not rule out such evacuation flights in the future, however. 

Tucker Reals and Svetlana Berdnikova

 

U.S. schools brace for coronavirus

Schools across the United States are canceling trips abroad, preparing online lessons and even rethinking "perfect attendance" awards as they brace for the possibility that the new coronavirus could begin spreading in their communities.
 
Districts have been rushing to update emergency plans this week after federal officials warned that the virus, which started in China, is almost certain to begin spreading in the U.S. Many are preparing for possible school closures that could stretch weeks or longer, even as they work to tamp down panic among students, parents and teachers.
 
President Trump has worked to minimize fears about the virus, but on Wednesday he also recommended that schools to start planning for arrival of the COVID-19 virus "just in case."  

Associated Press

 

"Slightly unwell" Pope Francis nixes public events amid Italy's virus outbreak

Pope Francis, still feeling "slightly unwell" after appearing to cough and wipe his nose earlier this week, cancelled all of his public audiences Friday amid a growing and deadly outbreak of the new coronavirus in Italy. The Vatican said Francis would, however, hold all of his scheduled afternoon appointments at his residence.

There has been no suggestion the pope himself might have COVID-19 disease, and the Vatican has not mentioned a fever — considered the most common symptom of it.

"The Holy Father celebrated Mass this morning and at the end, as usual, greeted the participants, but he decided to postpone today's official audiences," the Vatican said in a statement. In spite of guidance from global health experts for people, particularly in countries with significant outbreaks of the new virus, to limit direct contact with others, the Vatican confirmed to CBS News that the pope had greeted participants at the Mass as usual, shaking their hands and exchanging a few words with them."

Italy Pope Ash Wednesday
Pope Francis wipes his nose as he celebrates the Ash Wednesday Mass in the Santa Sabina Basilica, in Rome, February 26, 2020. Gregorio Borgia/AP

It was not clear Friday whether Francis had been tested specifically for the new disease. Now 83, he has generally enjoyed good health, but he had part of a lung removed as a young man due to an infection, and the coronavirus is known to be particularly dangerous for older patients and those with underlying health conditions.

Anna Matranga and Tucker Reals

 

Hong Kong virus patients' pets to be quarantined after dog tests "weak positive"

Dogs, cats and other mammals owned as pets by confirmed COVID-19 patients in Hong Kong must now undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine after a pet dog tested "weak positive" for the virus, Hong Kong health officials said Friday.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement that the dog was not showing any symptoms, and there was no evidence to suggest pets could be infected, or be a source of infection for humans, despite the preliminary test result on the animal.

The dog was being quarantined at a veterinary facility and undergoing further tests to determine whether it had genuinely contracted the new coronavirus, or whether the test result might have come from environmental contamination of its mouth and nose, the agency said.

HONG KONG-CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
Women wearing masks walk their dogs on a pier in Hong Kong in a January 30, 2020 file photo, amid a coronavirus outbreak centered in mainland China. DALE DE LA REY/AFP/Getty

If confirmed, the dog would be the first case of a pet catching the new coronavirus.

Grace Qi

 

Lithuania becomes 50th country to confirm presence of coronavirus

Lithuania confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus in a woman who returned from Italy, the government said on Friday. The 39-year-old, who returned from Verona on Monday and immediately went on sick leave, has been isolated in hospital in the Baltic state's northern city of Siauliai and has mild symptoms. Her family members are being monitored.

"We are putting all efforts to establish all people who contacted the infected person so that we can adopt preventive measures and (stop) the spread of the virus," Deputy Health Minister Algirdas Seselgis said in a statement.

The government also decided to deploy troops at airports to help take down the contact info of people arriving from infected regions. Health experts are also on duty for consultations and, if needed, medical check-ups. 

- AFP

 

South Korea coronavirus cases top 2,000

South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 256 new coronavirus cases Friday, according to Reuters. That brings the total number of infections there to at least 2,022.

Nearly 200 of the new cases came from Daegu, the southeastern city at the center of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak, Reuters added, citing the KCDC.

 

Nigeria reports first confirmed coronavirus case

Nigeria confirmed its first coronavirus case Thursday in Lagos State, according to a tweet from the country's Federal Ministry of Health. 

Health officials added that the patient is an Italian citizen who works in Nigeria, and returned from Milan on February 25. The patient, who has no serious symptoms, is being cared for at a hospital in Lagos.

NIGERIA-HEALTH-PREVENTION-VIRUS
A Port Health Service staff member stands next to a thermal scanner as passengers arrive at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, January 27, 2020. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty

Nigeria was the 49th country to report a coronavirus case, but one of the first in Africa.

By Victoria Albert
 

China reports 327 new confirmed cases, 44 new deaths

Chinese officials reported 327 new cases of the coronavirus and 44 new deaths Friday morning. That announcement brings the global death toll to more than 2,800, and the total number of cases in China to more than 78,000.

By Victoria Albert
 

First case of coronavirus confirmed in the Netherlands

The first case of coronavirus in the Netherlands was detected on Thursday, the national public health institute announced. The patient had travelled to northern Italy, the worst-hit area in Europe.

All those who have been in "close contact" with the person involved have been checked out and the patient has been placed in isolation, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said. The public health body advised everyone in the country to be careful to avoid more infections.

AFP

 

Pelosi says bipartisan agreement close on coronavirus response bill

Congress is working on a bill to fund the federal emergency response to coronavirus, and both Republicans and Democrats said now is not the time to play politics. "We're coming close to a bipartisan agreement in the Congress as to how we can go forward with a number — that is a good start," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pointing a finger at the Chinese government. "If China would've allowed our doctors and our scientists in earlier, the world would be safer," he said.

Vice President Pence to lead U.S. coronavirus response

Congress is set to receive a fourth briefing on the coronavirus from the Trump administration on Friday. On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence met with the coronavirus task force.

"The president has no higher priority than the health and safety of the American people," he said.

Skyler Henry

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