February 21 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 8:04 PM ET, Fri February 21, 2020
49 Posts
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12:47 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

US changes the way it counts coronavirus cases

From CNN's Ben Tinker

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will now track confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the United States in two separate and distinct groups: those repatriated by the US Department of State and those identified by the US public health network.

What this means: By these new metrics, there are now 21 confirmed cases among repatriated Americans and 13 confirmed cases among Americans first identified on US soil, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.

Eighteen cases have been confirmed among passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship now back in the United States. Three cases have been confirmed among passengers from the Wuhan repatriation flights now back in the United States.

Up until yesterday, the CDC was reporting 15 confirmed cases in the United States. The reason that number has dropped to 13 is because two cases have moved into the case count of repatriated individuals.

The change in the counting system starts today.

11:41 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

253 people aboard Diamond Princess cruise disembark

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki and Sandi Sidhu

Today, 253 people who tested negative for coronavirus after 14 days of quarantine disembarked from Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to the press release from the Japanese Ministry of Health.

The disembarkation of passengers from the ship will continue at least through Saturday, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises told CNN.

11:35 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Japan reports 9 more coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo.

Nine new cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Japan, bringing the countrywide total to 726, according to the press release by the Japan Ministry of Health.

The total number of confirmed cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship stands at 639 and the number of land-based cases in Japan stands at 87.

11:14 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

China's changing coronavirus case count is "not unusual" in an outbreak, health official says

From CNN Health’s Jacqueline Howard

China has changed how it counts coronavirus cases in Hubei province three times now — but a World Health Organization official told reporters during a media briefing on Friday that is normal during an active outbreak.

“It’s not unusual to count things in different ways as the epidemic evolves,” said Sylvie Briand, WHO director of the infectious hazards management department.

"It’s really numbers for action and not numbers for numbers,” she said. “As long as we understand how things are counted and what the numbers include then it helps us to make the best possible decision to protect the health of people.”

Last week, China announced it would count “clinically diagnosed” cases in its tally for Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. Then yesterday, the government changed its approach and “clinically confirmed” were excluded from the tally of confirmed cases.

"China has revised their guidance on case classification for COVID-19, removing the classification of 'clinically diagnosed' previously used for Hubei province, and retaining only 'suspected' and 'confirmed' for all areas, the latter requiring laboratory confirmation,” WHO officials wrote in a situation report on Thursday. "Some previously reported 'clinically diagnosed' cases are thus expected to be discarded over the coming days as laboratory testing is conducted and some are found to be COVID-19-negative."
10:53 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Health expert on coronavirus containment: "The window of opportunity is narrowing"

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

There’s great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China and among people with no connection to China or Wuhan, World Health Orginization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

There’s still a window of opportunity to contain the virus, Tedros said, “but the window of opportunity is narrowing.”

WHO is calling on countries to continue containment measures while preparing for community transmission, he said. He said China’s containment measures in Wuhan and elsewhere are “hammering” the virus and can help contain it.

"We must not look back and regret that we failed to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have,” he said.

The outbreak can still go any direction, Tedros said, and countries need to prepare for any eventuality.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the World Health Organization's Infectious Hazards Management Department, said the agency is working to prepare countries’ health care workers with training and making sure they know how to protect themselves, and to make sure countries have enough workers to handle a number of cases.

10:50 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

World Health Organization-led team will travel to Wuhan tomorrow

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht

The World Health Organization-led joint mission working on coronavirus in China will travel tomorrow to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today during a press briefing. It’s up to the team what it wants to focus on there, Tedros said.

So far, the team has been working Beijing, Sichuan and Guangdong, he said.

Tedros said previously the team includes experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US National Institutes of Health, as well as experts from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Nigeria, Germany and Russia. The team includes experts in epidemiology, virology, clinical management, outbreak control and public health.

10:30 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Iran says coronavirus has spread to several cities

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Tehran

The novel coronavirus has spread to several Iranian cities, Minnou Mohraz, a member of the National Committee for Infectious Diseases at the Ministry of Health said today.

 “The spread of the coronavirus started in Qom and has reached other cities in the country like Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht and other cities due to people traveling. There is a possibility that it exists in all cities across the country,” Mohraz said.

Mohraz said that the source of virus in Iran could be a Chinese worker who works in the city of Qom and had traveled to China. “It’s clear that new coronavirus has circulated in the country and probably the source of this illness was Chinese workers who work in the city of Qom and had traveled to China.”


10:04 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Singapore now has at least 86 cases of confirmed coronavirus

From CNN's Akansha Sharma and Anna Kam

Singapore reported one new case of the novel coronavirus today, taking the national total of confirmed cases to 86, according to a press release by the country's Ministry of Health.

The new confirmed case is a 24 year-old Singapore national. He has no recent travel history. He was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection yesterday and is currently in isolation.

9:53 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Trump economic adviser says "there's barely any impact" to US economy from coronavirus

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow downplayed the prospect of a significant impact to the US economy from coronavirus today. 

Asked by reporters about the potential impact of the coronavirus on the economy and whether he anticipates it being similar to the effect of SARS, Kudlow said, “I understand the risks, and I understand these things could change quickly, but right now what we know is there’s barely any impact here at home.”

“The human toll in my opinion is more important than the statistics… [China’s] getting hurt very badly,” he added.