February 27 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Ben Westcott, Eliza Mackintosh, Fernando Alfonso III, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2:36 p.m. ET, February 28, 2020
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8:12 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

New coronavirus cases linked to Italy crop up across Europe

GermanHealth Minister Jens Spahn and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer speak to the media about the spread of the coronavirus in Germany on February 27.
GermanHealth Minister Jens Spahn and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer speak to the media about the spread of the coronavirus in Germany on February 27. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

New cases of the novel coronavirus cropping up across Europe are being traced back to the dramatic outbreak in Italy.

Spain, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom on Thursday all reported new patients, who tested positive for the virus after traveling to parts of northern Italy that have been stricken by the epidemic.

Spanish health authorities have confirmed three unrelated coronavirus cases — two women and a man, who had all traveled to Milan before falling ill.

In Germany, a 32-year-old man is being treated for coronavirus after having traveled to the Lombardy region of northern Italy, where cases of the virus are heavily concentrated. The man, who began suffering flu-like symptoms upon his return, is now being cared for in hospital isolation.

A Danish man, who developed a cough and fever after a skiing holiday in Lombardy, is also being treated for coronavirus.

And in the UK, two more patients tested positive for COVID-19, after having been infected in Italy and Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands.

8:02 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Chinese city gives residents up to $1,400 for reporting novel coronavirus symptoms

The city of Qianjiang, in China's Hubei province, is awarding residents who proactively report symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus.

Any resident who reports symptoms and is confirmed to have the novel coronavirus will be awarded 10,000 yuan — or about $1,426 — according to a Qianjiang government press release.

Meanwhile, patients who come forward and are classified as "suspected cases" will be rewarded 2,000 yuan (or $285). Those that are not immediately confirmed to have the illness upon first diagnosis will be rewarded 1,000 yuan ($142).

The new incentives came into force Thursday.

Qianjiang, situated in the epicentre of China's coronavirus outbreak, Hubei Province, has reported 197 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and nine deaths.

Hubei, which has seen 65,596 confirmed cases and more than 2,641 deaths since the start of the epidemic, is doling out monetary incentives to residents in other cities too: Hanyang, Jiangan, Wuchang and Shiyan.

Shiyan authorities recently rewarded a resident 10,000 yuan ($1,426) — but for reporting someone else.

7:33 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Coronavirus in photos: Travel bans, face masks, and fear

The novel coronavirus has gone global. What had began as an outbreak in China is now threatening to become a worldwide pandemic, having reached every continent except Antarctica. The total number of cases has soared to more than 82,000.

As anxiety and fear spreads around the world, international authorities are scrambling to contain the virus. Numerous countries are closing borders, placing cities on lockdown, and implementing stringent quarantine measures; Italy has effectively quarantined 100,000 people.

This rise in public fear has seen shops in Italy and other hard-hit regions sell out of medical supplies like face masks -- an echo of the same panic buying that had gripped Asia just earlier this month.

And though the WHO has yet to call the outbreak a pandemic, international experts are warning that people should prepare for such an escalation.

Scroll through our gallery below to see how people are coping with, and protecting themselves from, the virus.

8:28 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

France should prepare for coronavirus situation "similar to Italy," infectious diseases specialist says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, visits the Pitié-Salpêtrièr hospital in Paris on Thursday, where the first French victim of the coronavirus died.
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, visits the Pitié-Salpêtrièr hospital in Paris on Thursday, where the first French victim of the coronavirus died. Credit: Martin Bureau/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

An infectious disease specialist has warned that France should brace itself for a coronavirus outbreak comparable to what Italy is currently facing.

Authorities in Italy are struggling to contain the virus, which has infected more than 370 people and left 12 dead there.

There are just 16 confirmed cases in France, but Professor of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Pitié-Salpêtrièr hospital in Paris, Eric Caumes says he expects the situation to worsen given the “many channels of transmission” already circulating in the population.

“Even if the severity is probably much weaker than we imagined, it probably transmits much better than we imagined,” he said, addressing the press alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting Pitié-Salpêtrièr.

The hospital is where France’s first coronavirus patient, a 60-year-old man from the l’Oise region, died. He is one of two people to have died in the country.

Macron paid tribute to the hospital staff, saying the death “very much touched the team."

“I count on you and you can count on me so that we can work together and respond,” Macron told medical staff.  

8:29 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Europe's coronavirus outbreak is exposing — and fueling — its rifts

Analysis from CNN's Luke McGee

The dramatic outbreak of the novel coronavirus in northern Italy has forced European leaders to sharpen their thinking, as they attempt to contain a disease that has so far killed more than 2,800 people.

At least 11 European countries have confirmed cases of coronavirus, some of which have been traced back to Italy.

Europe is prepared for handling outbreaks like this. The European Union has no formal role in setting health policy among its member states, however it does issue advice and coordinate efforts to prevent the spread of disease. That coordination is especially important when you consider that while many European nations share open borders, their governments do not trust and are not inclined to work with one another. The EU has been able to provide a forum and fill gaps in information where this has been the case. And for now, it appears to be working.

No matter how well Europe is handling this current crisis, the outbreak is unintentionally fanning the flames of several live debates.

A virus that originated in China and spread to two of Italy's most active economic areas, home to Milan and Venice, creates a perfect storm. It tangentially touches on many of the EU's current priorities and has the potential to affect them negatively both in the short and long term.

First, there is the perennial question of how effective the bureaucratic body in charge of the bloc is at dealing with continent-wide challenges. In terms of health, the EU can only really act as an advisory body, as healthcare ultimately falls to national governments.

The coronavirus outbreak has also exposed the ever-shaky levels of trust between EU member states. "There's a meaningful lack of trust," says Mujtaba Rahman of the Eurasia Group. "There is a feeling in Italy that the numbers are high because the government has been aggressive in its policy response. There is also a feeling that other member states have lower numbers because they haven't been aggressive." Italy has tested more potential coronavirus patients than some other EU countries.

And in EU politics, trust matters.

Read all of Luke McGee's analysis here:

9:05 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

In historic move, Saudi Arabia suspends travel for pilgrimages to Islam’s holiest sites

From CNN's Tamara Qiblawi in Beirut

Saudi Arabia has suspended pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina for people outside the country over novel coronavirus fears. The kingdom, which bills itself as the custodian of Islam’s two holiest sites, will open religious rituals to residents and nationals only. 

In recent years, diplomatic rifts in the region restricted travel for pilgrims from Qatar and Iran, prompting an outcry. But a wholesale temporary ban on foreign visits to the holy sites is a first in living memory. 

Across the Middle East, governments have been struggling to cope with the spread of Covid-19. Iran, a regional breeding ground for the virus, has canceled this Friday’s prayers in affected provinces. Iraq has closed schools, public offices and other public gatherings until March 7. 

Kuwait, which has the second-largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases after Iran, is also scrambling to stem the spread of the virus, evacuating citizens from Iran and Italy, which has also seen a surge in the virus. 

The majority of Middle Eastern coronavirus cases have come from Iran, one of the biggest outbreak countries outside of China. Iran has 141 confirmed cases, and 22 have died from the sickness, according to state media. 

Saudi Arabia, which froze diplomatic relations with Iran in 2016, has no reported cases of the virus. In addition to stopping pilgrimages for outsiders, preventative measures include suspending the entry of nationals of “countries with confirmed Coronavirus outbreaks,” according to a tweet by the Saudi foreign ministry. 

“Saudi Arabia stress that these measures are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation by the relevant authorities,” a graphic embedded in the tweet said. “We ask God Almighty to spare all humanity from all harm. #CoronaVirus #COVID19”

6:21 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Japan's Prime Minister requests closure of all schools until April

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

A school closed due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak is seen in Hokkaido, Japan, on Thursday.
A school closed due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak is seen in Hokkaido, Japan, on Thursday. Credit: Kyodo News/Getty Images

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday asked all elementary, junior high and high schools to close from Monday until the end of March, when their spring vacation concludes.

The move comes amid fears over the spread of coronavirus in Japan, and after criticisms of how authorities there dealt with the quarantine of a cruise ship earlier this month.

A top Japanese government adviser has admitted that the quarantine measures enacted on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama may have allowed additional infections to spread among the ship's crew and passengers.

The number of confirmed cases in Japan has risen to more than 800 -- nearly 700 of which were reported on the cruise liner -- and seven people have died.

8:32 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Iran coronavirus deaths reach 22, as crisis worsens

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

Twenty-two people have now died from the novel coronavirus in Iran, the worst-hit country outside of China.

The mortality rate from Covid-19 in Iran has soared to over 13% -- significantly higher than any other country experiencing an outbreak of the pathogen. Some suspect that may be down to an under-reporting of the total number of cases, which stand at more than 140. The death rate in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus, is around 2%.

The country, which is already struggling with an economic crisis worsened by crippling US sanctions, is scrambling to contain the virus, as well as the fears it has sown.

Despite the virus' spread, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that authorities won't quarantine any Iranian cities. He also warned about the virus becoming "a weapon at the hands of our enemies," as part of "propaganda" against the country.

Iran's Qom province has become ground zero of the country's coronavirus outbreak with 63 confirmed cases, according to state news agency IRNA. Pilgrimages have continued unabated to the holy city of Qom, despite health officials calling on clerics to limit visitors.

5:14 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

"We can overcome it," says resident of city at heart of South Korean outbreak

From CNN's Ivan Watson, Tom Booth and Sophie Jeong in Seoul

Businessman Son Young-ha, 31, is living at the center of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak.

Out of the more than 1,700 cases of the virus that South Korea has confirmed, more than 1,100 are from the southern city of Daegu.

On the streets, Son said that there are fewer cars and restaurants are less crowded. "It's a lot quieter than before. People seem to be careful of the situation," he told CNN over Skype.

“Weddings and group meetings have been mostly canceled because people are kind of afraid of this situation. I believe that Daegu citizens are aware of the seriousness of the situation, and they’re doing their best.”

But despite that, he says he isn't overly concerned and claims reports of runs on supermarkets and queues for masks are exaggerated.

"Even if you go to a market or a convenience store in front of the house, there’s no shortage of food," he said.

"We don’t doubt the central government and local governments are doing their best, so rather than overwhelming fears, we think that if we work together to deal with the situation, we can overcome it.”