February 22 coronavirus news

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3:56 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Just joining us? Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

Doctors look at a lung CT image at a hospital in Yunmeng county, Xiaogan city, in China's central Hubei province.
Doctors look at a lung CT image at a hospital in Yunmeng county, Xiaogan city, in China's central Hubei province. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Concerns are growing over the global spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China, with Iran reporting a spike in numbers and deaths, and other Middle Eastern countries reporting their first cases.

South Korea has also seen a huge uptick in cases, with over 430 now confirmed nationwide.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization's director general has said the window of opportunity to control the outbreak is "narrowing."

What you need to know:

The numbers: Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288. Another 109 deaths were recorded in China on Friday, bringing its total death toll to 2,345, according to China’s National Health Commission. The global death toll stands at 2,360. 

Changing the tally: Officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have banned the practice of reducing the number of already confirmed cases. It also mandated that all previously counted cases stand as part of the total confirmed tally. The vast majority of cases and deaths in China have been recorded in Hubei.

Global cases and fatalities: More than 1,500 confirmed cases and 15 deaths from the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China. Italy reported its first death and Iran and South Korea reported new fatalities on Friday.

9,000 in self-isolation in South Korea: Cases in the East Asian country have surged to 430 after more than 220 new infections were reported in 24 hours. Around half of the total cases are associated with a religious group in the south of the country. Two patients have died of the virus in South Korea.

Officials are testing and self-isolating 9,300 members of the religious group to try and contain the outbreak. Authorities are also taking measures including shutting down public places in the capital Seoul and designating "special care zones." Meanwhile, a fourth military member has been infected with coronavirus.

Middle East spread: Iran's health ministry has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, including four deaths, and said it has spread to several cities. Canada's chief public health officer suggested further investigation was needed after a Canadian tested positive for the virus after returning from Iran. Theresa Tam suggested there could be "more widespread transmission than we know about."

Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have reported their first cases.

New cases in Asia Pacific: Apart from China and South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Australia all reported new cases on Saturday.

WHO warning: World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the window of opportunity to contain the virus is "narrowing" and called on countries to prepare for community transmission.

US cases rise: 35 people have tested positive for the virus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 14 other US cases. The CDC said it will now track confirmed cases in two separate groups: people who have been repatriated, and those identified by the US public health network.

3:40 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

BREAKING: South Korea just reported another 87 new cases. That makes 229 in 24 hours

A disinfection worker wears protective gear and prepares to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul.
A disinfection worker wears protective gear and prepares to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea reported an additional 87 coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 433, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The total number of cases reported in the past 24 hours stands at 229, after 142 new cases were confirmed overnight.

Here's a breakdown of the 87 new cases:

  • Daegu city: 55
  • North Gyeongsang province (which surrounds Daegu): 14
  • Gangwon province: 5
  • Gyeonggi province: 4
  • Seoul: 3
  • Gwangju: 2
  • Daejon: 1
  • Busan: 1
  • Ulsan: 1
  • South Jeolla: 1

The statement added that among the 87 new cases, 62 are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province.

3:29 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

31 passengers and 924 crew remain onboard stricken cruise ship in Japan

A mask-clad passenger heads for a temperature check after disembarking from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
A mask-clad passenger heads for a temperature check after disembarking from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Philip Fong/AFP/Getty Images

There are 31 passengers left onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama in Japan, following a series of disembarkations for passengers who have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, a Princess Cruises spokesperson told CNN.

The 924-strong crew also remain on board, the spokesperson added.

On Friday, 253 people who tested negative for coronavirus after 14 days of quarantine left the cruise ship.

The disembarkation of passengers will continue at least through Saturday, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises said.

The ship docked in Yokohama in early February with 3,600 passengers and crew on board.

The virus-stricken ship is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections.

3:06 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

North Korea cancels April marathon over coronavirus fears: tour company

Foreign competitors cross the starting line during the annual 'Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon', at Kim Il Sung stadium in Pyongyang on April 7, 2019.
Foreign competitors cross the starting line during the annual 'Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon', at Kim Il Sung stadium in Pyongyang on April 7, 2019. Kim Won Jin/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has canceled its annual international marathon, which was scheduled to take place in April, due to fears over the coronavirus, according to a Western tour company that books travel to the event.

Young Pioneer Tours wrote in a statement:

“We have received confirmation from our travel partners in North Korea that the Pyongyang Marathon (Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon) held in April has been cancelled due to the current borders of the DPRK being closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) virus. We will be in touch with our tourists who have booked with us on this event.”
2:57 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Washington Post: Trump furious after officials let Americans with coronavirus return from Japan

President Donald Trump was reportedly angry after Americans with coronavirus returned to the US from Japan.
President Donald Trump was reportedly angry after Americans with coronavirus returned to the US from Japan. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

President Donald Trump became enraged with senior advisers this week when 14 Americans who tested positive for the coronavirus were brought back to the US from Japan after he had been told they would remain quarantined overseas, administration officials told The Washington Post.

The President was first told that Americans who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where the coronavirus has spread, would be flown back to the US on two planes but that patients with the infection or with symptoms would stay in Japan, where the ship is anchored, the newspaper reported.

However, the State Department and a US health official decided to bring back the infected Americans on the planes and place them in isolation without telling the President, the Post said.

Administration officials told the Post that Trump learned of the reversal only after the fact and complained that the decision might damage his administration's handling of the outbreak.

Read more here

2:37 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Where the 14 Americans who tested positive for coronavirus in Japan are now

Fourteen Americans who tested positive for novel coronavirus in Japan returned to the United States aboard two state department-chartered flights earlier this week. They flew with more than 300 people who had not been diagnosed with the disease.

These 14 infected travelers, who had been vacationing onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, are now being monitored and cared for at three medical facilities in the US, according to a spokesperson for the US Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Nine of the positive patients are at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
  • Four are at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.
  • One patient is in a Sacramento-area hospital in California.

2:25 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Fears over containing novel coronavirus grow as cases outside China spike

A medical worker is seen at a preliminary testing facility for coronavirus on February 21, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
A medical worker is seen at a preliminary testing facility for coronavirus on February 21, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Concerns are growing over the global spread of the novel coronavirus after a spike in cases outside of mainland China among people with no connection to China or the city of Wuhan, ground zero for the outbreak.

A warning: World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that there was still a chance to contain the Covid-19 virus, "but the window of opportunity is narrowing."

More global cases: His words come as countries outside of China report a sharp increase of coronavirus cases -- particularly in South Korea and Iran. Italy has also reported its first death, raising fears of self-sustaining epidemics.

At the epicenter: Authorities in China's Hubei province confirmed an additional 366 cases of the virus on Friday, 45 fewer than the previous day, taking the total number of cases at the epicenter of the outbreak to over 63,400. The total number of cases in mainland China is now more than 76,200.

Death toll: The global death toll from the outbreak has reached 2,360, after 109 deaths were reported in mainland China Friday, including 106 in Hubei, nine fewer than the previous day. Outside of mainland China, 15 people have died from the coronavirus. In addition to Italy reporting its first death, two new deaths were reported in Iran and one death in South Korea on Friday.

Read more here.

2:13 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

World Health Organization-led team traveling to Wuhan today

World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference in Geneva.
World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference in Geneva.  Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization-led joint mission working on coronavirus in China is traveling today to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing Friday.

It’s up to the team what it wants to focus on there, Tedros said.

So far, the team has been working in 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.

1:59 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

What it's like in the city at the heart of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak

Images from the South Korean city of Daegu show usually-bustling shopping areas deserted and roads empty of traffic.

Daegu is at the center of a coronavirus outbreak after dozens of members of the Shincheonji religious group in the city tested positive for the virus.

Among the 347 total confirmed cases in South Korea, 169 are associated with the group.

Health officials in the city sprayed disinfectant from the back of motorbikes in front of the group's Daegu branch, images show.

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on the street at Dongseongro shopping district in the southeastern city of Daegu.
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on the street at Dongseongro shopping district in the southeastern city of Daegu. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji religious group in Daegu.
South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji religious group in Daegu. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

An employee sprays disinfectant at a railway station in Daegu.
An employee sprays disinfectant at a railway station in Daegu. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images