February 25 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 4:50 p.m. ET, February 28, 2020
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10:59 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Iran struggling to contain coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's James Griffiths

People wearing protective masks wait along the side of a street in the Iranian capital Tehran.
People wearing protective masks wait along the side of a street in the Iranian capital Tehran. Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Across the Middle East, flights from Iran have stopped and borders with the country have been closed as the region tries to keep the spread of the deadly coronavirus at bay.

Iran is on the front line of the outbreak -- the health ministry has confirmed 61 cases and 12 deaths.

Lawmaker alleges cover-up: One Iranian lawmaker, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani from the city of Qom, criticized the government's handling of the outbreak, accusing officials of covering up numbers. Farahani said 50 people had died from the virus in Qom, the center of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, though the country's health ministry has denied his claims.

Sanctions hurting efforts to fight virus: The heavy economic sanctions imposed against Iran by the United States and other bodies have made tackling the disease harder, with the country struggling to access novel coronavirus test kits, a board member of Iran's Association of Medical Equipment Importers told the semi-official news agency ILNA on Sunday.

Ramin Fallah told ILNA that "many international companies are ready to supply Iran with coronavirus test kits, but we can't send them money" because of the US sanctions. Last Friday, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Iran on its blacklist, which puts more financial pressure on Iran and Iranian banks. 

Closing borders, flights suspended: Due to the outbreak, Oman has suspended flights to and from the country. Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq have closed their borders with Iran, while Kuwait Airways, Iraq Airways and Turkey have suspended flights to the country. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is banning its citizens from traveling to Iran and Thailand.

1:52 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Singapore confirms new case of coronavirus, bringing total to 90

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Singapore has reported an additional case of novel coronavirus, bringing its total to 90, the country's Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday.

The latest case involves a 75-year-old woman who is a Singapore citizen with no recent travel history to China, it said.

The woman developed symptoms on February 9 and was linked to a cluster of cases at The Life Church and Missions Singapore.

1:41 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Shincheonji religious group agrees to provide entire congregation list

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

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

The religious group at the center of a novel coronavirus outbreak in South Korea has agreed to hand over a list of its entire congregation and their contact information to health authorities, according to South Korea’s vice health minister.

About half of South Korea's coronavirus cases are linked to a branch of the Shincheonji religious group in the southern city of Daegu.

“The Central Disaster Management Headquarters, through consultations with the Shincheonji religious group, has received an agreement to receive the entire congregation list and contact information of the Shincheonji religious group nationwide,” Kim Gang-lip, vice minister of South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare said in a Tuesday news briefing.

Kim said the group has also agreed to provide a list of members in other areas who visited the Daegu branch in January and February, and a list of members of the Daegu branch who visited other areas.

“As soon as the congregation list is secured, the Central Disaster Management Headquarters will distribute it to health centers and local governments.”

More than 9,000 practitioners have been put into self-isolation while they are tested by health authorities.

Who are they? The Shincheonji group is a Christian-inspired religious movement centered around the personality of its founder and chairman, Lee Man-hee.

The infection is believed to have spread rapidly because of the mass worship sessions the group holds, which puts them in close contact with one another for long periods of time.

Kim So-il, a project director at Shincheonji, compared recent criticism of the group to a "19th century witch-hunt."

"It's unfair that all people rebuke Shincheonji," he told CNN, adding that the group was in "great difficulty right now."

Speaking Sunday, a Shincheonji representative told reporters that practitioners are the "biggest victims" of the virus, and urged people to "refrain from hate and groundless attack."

1:28 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

South Korea reports 8th death of patient with coronavirus

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul

South Korea has reported an eighth death of a patient who had novel coronavirus on Monday, according to a text message sent to reporters from the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The man, who was born in 1953, died while receiving treatment at the Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu. The man was confirmed with the virus on February 20.

The message said the cause of death for the patient is under investigation.

1:09 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Vietnam says all 16 coronavirus patients have recovered

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

All 16 patients with novel coronavirus in Vietnam, including a three-month-old infant, have recovered from their illnesses, the country's Ministry of Health said on its website.

One patient is still being monitored in hospital, and the others have been discharged, it said.

More than 1,200 tests have turned out negative since the crisis began, and no new cases have been reported since the 16th patient was diagnosed on February 13, according to the ministry.

Containing the virus: In order to stop the virus spreading, Vietnam placed an entire community on lockdown following the confirmation of its 16th case.

Local authorities locked down the area around the Son Loi commune in Vinh Phuc province, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the capital Hanoi, affecting some 10,000 people.

12:52 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

A quick catch up ...

From CNN's James Griffiths

A worker in protective gear stacks plastic buckets containing medical waste from coronavirus patients at a medical center in Daegu, South Korea.
A worker in protective gear stacks plastic buckets containing medical waste from coronavirus patients at a medical center in Daegu, South Korea. Lee Moo-ryul/Newsis/AP

Multiple outbreaks of the novel coronavirus outside of mainland China have continued to worsen, as experts warn we may be approaching pandemic levels. 

WHO in Italy: A World Health Organization team landed in Italy late Monday to "support Italian authorities in understanding the situation," the WHO said. The team's focus will be on "limiting further human-to-human transmission" after a rapid rise in cases.

Italian outbreak: At least 229 people have been infected with the virus, and seven people have died in the southern European nation. 

South Korea in crisis: In South Korea, more than 893 cases have been confirmed, up from 31 a week ago. At least seven people have died, and the virus has spread throughout the country, though the worst outbreak remains in the southern city of Daegu. 

Iran onset: Iran is on the front line of the outbreak -- the health ministry has confirmed 61 cases and 12 deaths.

China postpones top political meeting: Chinese authorities announced the postponement of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's rubber-stamp parliament, an unprecedented move in recent times. It comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping warned Sunday that that novel coronavirus is the worst public health crisis facing the country since its founding. 

The cases: At the end Monday, China's National Health Commission's had confirmed 77,658 cases in the mainland, and 2,663 deaths. The virus has now infected at least 80,067 people worldwide and killed 2,698.

Read the full story here.

11:12 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

No US drug manufacturers have reported they anticipate drug shortages due to coronavirus: FDA

From CNN Health’s Jen Christensen

A pharmacy technician grabs a bottle of drugs off a shelve at a pharmacy in Utah.
A pharmacy technician grabs a bottle of drugs off a shelve at a pharmacy in Utah. George Frey/Getty Images

No drug manufacturers have reported that they anticipate shortages of particular drugs due to the novel coronavirus, a US Food and Drug Administration spokesperson said on Monday.

The agency said it has been in touch with 180 drug manufacturers to remind them of their regulatory obligation to notify the FDA if they anticipate any disruption in drugs supplies.

Reviewing supplies: The FDA asked companies to evaluate their supply chain in light of the novel coronavirus and what potential challenge that may pose to the global drug supply, the statement said.

Sourcing from China: The FDA says it has identified about 20 drug products that either solely source their active pharmaceutical ingredients or produce finished drug products from or in China.

“We have been in contact with those firms to understand if they face any drug shortage risks due to the outbreak. None of these firms has reported any shortage to date,” FDA spokesperson Stephanie Caccomo said in the statement. “We will continue to remain in contact with the manufacturers so that we can best help mitigate any potential issues in the future.”

Where do our drugs come from? Most active pharmaceutical ingredients -- the drugs that are formulated into capsules, tablets and injections -- are not manufactured in the United States. As of August 2019, 13% of active pharmaceutical ingredients for the US market are made in China, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in October.

The number of firms making those ingredients in China more than doubled between 2010 and 2019. In August 2019, India made 18% of these ingredients and the EU made 26% of these ingredients for the US market.

12:14 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Westerdam cruise passenger who originally tested positive for coronavirus, now found to be negative

From CNN's Jaide Garcia in Atlanta

A helicopter takes off next to the Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
A helicopter takes off next to the Westerdam cruise ship in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images

An 83-year-old American woman was the only passenger from the MS Westerdam cruise ship to test positive for the novel coronavirus. 

She has been retested and is now found to be negative, according to a statement from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesperson Erin Burns. 

The woman had flown to Malaysia to catch a flight back hone, but tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Two sequential tests on samples from that same person were negative," Burns said.

The ship had more than 2,000 people on board and was denied port entry in several countries before Cambodia gave permission for it to dock, according to Holland America Line, the company that owns the cruise ship.

All passengers have disembarked from the ship, and "additional testing of more than 1,500 passengers from the Westerdam was negative," Burns said.

To date, none of the ship's passengers are confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

11:50 p.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Coronavirus will "decrease earnings and growth" around the world, analyst says

From CNN’s Alison Kosik

A financial board at a Daiwa Securities Co. outlet in Tokyo shows the Nikkei Stock Average plunging over 800 points in early trading on February 25, amid concerns over the spread of a new coronavirus. 
A financial board at a Daiwa Securities Co. outlet in Tokyo shows the Nikkei Stock Average plunging over 800 points in early trading on February 25, amid concerns over the spread of a new coronavirus.  Kyodo News/Getty Images

Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial, said in a statement Monday, “The coronavirus might be slowing in mainland China, but the huge jump over the weekend to various other countries has many reassessing 2020 growth estimates."

Detrick continued:

"The (International Monetary Fund) already lowered China’s growth this year, but should the virus continue to spread to other parts of the world, we could see quickly decreasing earnings and growth outlooks.”

Asia stocks mixed: Some Asian stock markets tumbled on Tuesday as coronavirus fears mount.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 (N225) index plunged 3% in early trade. Markets in the country were closed Monday for a holiday.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.5% Tuesday, while China's Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) dropped 2.5%.

South Korea's Kospi (KOSPI) was up 0.6% after closing down nearly 3.9% on Monday, its worst day since October 2018. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) also slightly increased following a 1.8% decline on Monday.

US stocks plunge: The mixed showing in Asia Pacific followed a terrible day for US stocks. US markets plunged almost 1,000 points on Monday, with the Dow closing down 1,032 points -- a 3.6% drop -- for its worst day in two years. That sharp drop wiped out the Dow’s gains for the year -- leaving the index slightly negative for 2020.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite each ended the day down more than 3%, too.