February 21 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 8:04 PM ET, Fri February 21, 2020
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11:36 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

New British Columbia coronavirus case brings total infections in Canada to nine

A woman in her 30s has become the sixth case of novel coronavirus in British Columbia and the ninth for Canada overall.

According to a joint statement issued by British Columbia's Ministry of Health, the woman is presumed positive based on local testing, while samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) for final confirmation. 

The woman had recently returned from Iran, the statement said.

The patient is in isolation at home, the statement said, and her close contacts will be identified and contacted by public health officials.

“This brings the total number of cases in British Columbia to six. (They) will remain in self-isolation and under care by public-health teams. The first case has recovered, as indicated by the resolution of symptoms, followed by two successive negative test results 24 hours apart,” the statement said.

Cruise passengers test positive: The largest group of Canadians confirmed infected with the coronavirus are linked to the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Out of 256 Canadian passengers, 47 have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, the government said.

Even those who have tested negative face a long journey home. Canada's foreign minister said Wednesday that all Diamond Princess passengers will be put into quarantine in Ontario for 14 days on their arrival.

11:22 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

A Hong Kong riot police officer has been infected with the virus. Another 59 officers are in quarantine

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

The Chinese financial hub of Hong Kong has announced three new cases of the coronavirus -- with a 48-year-old police officer among them.

A total of 68 cases of the virus have now been confirmed in Hong Kong, including two deaths.

In a statement released today, Hong Kong Police said the officer felt unwell on February 18 and sought medical treatment on the same day. He then tested positive for the coronavirus on February 20.

The officer had not traveled overseas within the past 14 days.

59 police officers quarantined: According to the police statement, the infected officer was the leader of the North Point anti-riot police squad. He had dinner with 59 other police officers at a restaurant on February 18. The Department of Health has defined all 59 people the officer dined with as close contacts.

According to police, some of the 59 officers that the confirmed case dined with were still reporting for work as recently as Thursday night. They have now all been placed in quarantine.

One of the other cases, a 58-year-old man, worked as a taxi driver and the Center for Health Protection is currently conducting relevant contact tracing

11:05 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Hubei province accounts for the vast majority of coronavirus cases and deaths in mainland China

Medical staff work at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan on February 17.
Medical staff work at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan on February 17. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Two months after the novel coronavirus outbreak began, there are now at least 75,465 cases across mainland China. The country's death toll stands at 2,236.

By far the vast majority of cases are in Hubei province -- its capital Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak.

According to Hubei's health authority, 62,422 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the province alone, with 2,144 deaths.

There are just over 13,000 cases of the virus in mainland China outside Hubei and 92 deaths.

Here are the other worst hit provinces as of February 20:

Guangdong: 1,332 cases, 5 deaths

Henan: 1,265 cases, 19 deaths

Zhejiang: 1,175 cases, 0 deaths

Hunan: 1,010 cases, 4 deaths

Anhui: 987 cases, 6 deaths

10:50 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

South Korea reports 3 military members infected with coronavirus

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul

Three members of the South Korean military, including an officer each from the army, the navy and the air force, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

All three had a connection to the Daegu region, one of the epicenters of the growing South Korean virus outbreak.

There are now 156 infections from the virus in South Korea, and one death.

  • According to South Korean government statements, a 22-year-old navy sailor on Jeju Island was diagnosed with the virus today, after showing symptoms on Wednesday. He had been to Daegu on vacation on February 13.
  • An army officer in North Chungcheong Province who tested positive for the virus had also been to Daegu on vacation where he met up with his girlfriend who goes to Shincheonji Church of Jesus. A large number of the congregation have since been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
  • An air force officer in South Chungcheong Province also tested positive today, after being dispatched from Daegu as an examiner on February 17. On Wednesday he was running a high fever.
10:29 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Japanese government defends its cruise ship quarantine strategy

By CNN’s Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

As international criticism mounts of its handling of the Diamond Princess cruise ship crisis, the Japanese government has released data to back up its quarantine strategy.

In a report from the government-funded National Institute of Infectious Disease (NIID), newly-released data claims widespread transmission between passengers and crew had dropped after quarantine was put in place.

"Transmission toward the end of the quarantine period, which is scheduled to end for most passengers on 19 Feb, appears to have occurred mostly among crew or within passenger cabins," the report said.

The report showed that the onset of confirmed cases of Covid-19 peaked on February 7 before sinking to zero by February 15. The report said cases among crew peaked on February 13.

“The decline in the number of confirmed cases, based on reported onset dates, implies that the quarantine intervention was effective in reducing transmission among passengers," it said.

At least 626 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the ship, including the deaths of two Japanese passengers in their 80s.

'Ongoing risk': The report comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Japan’s quarantine measures might not be sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.

"The CDC believes the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk," the organization said in a statement released Tuesday.

The CDC said that all US passengers and crew of the ship have been placed under travel restrictions, preventing them from returning to the US for at least 14 days after they have left the Diamond Princess.

10:17 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Global death toll from coronavirus rises

From CNN’s Shanshan Wang in Beijing

Another 115 people died of the coronavirus in Hubei province on Thursday, the Hubei health authority announced today, raising the death toll in the province to 2,144.

Hubei is the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak and has seen the vast majority of infections and deaths since the epidemic began.

Hubei authorities confirmed an additional 411 cases of the virus in the province on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 62,442. 

By the numbers: The Hubei report brings the total number of deaths in mainland China to at least 2,236. The global death toll is at least 2,247, with 11 deaths outside of mainland China.

Japan has reported three deaths from the coronavirus, while Hong Kong and Iran have each reported two. Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea and France have each reported one death. 

The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 76,691 with the vast majority of cases in mainland China.

10:01 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know

A laboratory technician holds virus samples at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province, on February 19.
A laboratory technician holds virus samples at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province, on February 19. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak, announced 411 new cases today, after authorities changed the definition of a "confirmed case."

Only patients who have tested positive for the virus are now counted in the official figures, Chinese authorities said on Thursday.

Here's the latest:

Cases increase: The confirmed number of cases in mainland China have increased by 889, according to the country's National Health Commission. The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China is now 75,465, bringing the global total to 76,691.

Death toll rises: The number of people killed by the virus continues to rise, with 118 more deaths announced in mainland China today -- 115 of them in Hubei. In total, the global death toll is now 2,247.

South Korea cases spike: 52 new cases of the coronavirus have been reported in one day in South Korea, bringing the total in the country to 156. One person in South Korea has died from the virus.

A large number of patients are members of a church in the country's southeast.

South Korea and Japan now have the largest number of cases outside of mainland China.

Evacuees test positive: Several passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the United States and Australia have tested positive for the coronavirus, local health authorities say.

In the US, 11 out of 13 Diamond Princess evacuees who were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for testing have been confirmed to be infected.

Two Australian evacuees who have been infected are being housed in a special isolation unit at the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility.

In total, 626 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the stricken ship, including two deaths.

Passengers disembark: More passengers who have tested negative for the virus are expected to leave the Diamond Princess today, the third day of departures from the formerly quarantined ship.

Travel warning: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new travel advisory for Japan due to the coronavirus outbreak. The CDC advises travelers to “practice usual precautions,” in accordance with a “Watch - Level 1” notice out of three possible levels. Yesterday, the agency listed the first travel notice outside of mainland China -- for Hong Kong, which also carries the “Level 1” advisory.  

9:50 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Iraq closes borders to Iranian travelers for three days over coronavirus fears

From CNN's Hamdi Alkshali and Taylor Barnes

Iranians won't be allowed to travel to Iraq over the countries' shared land borders for three days after five cases of the coronavirus were reported in Iran.

The Iraqi Border Ports Authority announced the new measures on Thursday. Two people have now died from the virus in Iran.

Any Iraqi nationals currently in Iran will be able to return to the country but have to stay 14 days in quarantine in their homes to make sure they are not infected, the Iraqi government said.

Flights suspended: Kuwait Airways suspended all flights to Iran on Thursday until further notice and advised its citizens not to travel to the southern Iranian city of Qom.

“Kuwaiti Airlines announces that, upon instructions from the Ministry of Health and the General Administration of Civil Aviation, it has been decided to suspend the operation of all its flights to the Islamic Republic of Iran from starting today until another notice due to the discovery of a number of cases infected with coronavirus and to avoid any possibility of transmission of the virus between passengers,” the airline said in a statement.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry said in a statement that it is advising citizens not to travel to the Iranian city of Qom. Those returning from Qom will be put into 14-day quarantine to ensure they do not carry the virus.

9:19 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Eleven evacuees from Diamond Princess test positive for coronavirus in US

From CNN's Nick Watt

The building that houses the quarantine unit at Nebraska Medical Center is seen on Tuesday in Omaha.
The building that houses the quarantine unit at Nebraska Medical Center is seen on Tuesday in Omaha. Josh Funk/AP

Eleven evacuees from the Diamond Princess cruise ship flown out by the United States have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In total, 13 of the US evacuees were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center earlier this week for testing, according to a news release from the UNMC.

All but two tested positive, the release said.

The 13 evacuees were transported from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan to the US on February 17 on two separate flights.

Ten of the evacuees taken to UNMC are in a quarantine unit, while three others are in the Nebraska Biocontainment unit, according to the release..