February 28 coronavirus news

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9:55 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

At least 5 Diamond Princess passengers have died

A woman in her 70s is the fifth passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship to die from the novel coronavirus, Japan’s Health Ministry said Friday.

A top Japanese government adviser told CNN this week that the quarantine measures enacted on the Diamond Princess, which was docked off Yokohama for two weeks, may have allowed additional infections to spread among the ship's crew and passengers.

The American-owned cruise ship was put under quarantine by Japan after a coronavirus outbreak was detected on board.

At least 705 people contracted the virus during the quarantine. For a time, the ship had the largest concentration of cases outside of mainland China, where the virus is thought to have originated.

Japan has now confirmed 10 deaths from the coronavirus.

9:55 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Spain cases spike to 32, hundreds of tourists in Tenerife need monitoring

A tourist in quarantine inside the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta on Tenerife, Spain, on Thursday, February 27.
A tourist in quarantine inside the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta on Tenerife, Spain, on Thursday, February 27. Joan Mateu/AP

Spain has reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus overnight, bringing its total number to 32, according to the health ministry.

Twenty-nine of those cases have a direct link to known risk zones in other countries, the ministry's emergencies coordinator, Fernando Simon, told reporters Friday.

But where the three other patients contracted the virus is unknown, he said, as they hadn’t recently travelled to affected areas.

Meanwhile, 130 guests at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife will be allowed to leave today after several days on lockdown, Simon said. Those guests had no contact with four people who have tested positive at the hotel.

“Apart from that group there is a group of 500 people who might have had casual contact with the infected patients -- not a close contact -- who have no symptoms. They need to be monitored but they don’t have to be isolated. We need to make a decision regarding those. They are mostly foreigners and we need to work with their governments to arrange their exit, this is not as easy”, Simon said.

8:01 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

If you're just joining us...

The coronavirus is continuing to spread as authorities around the world struggle to contain outbreaks. Clusters in northern Italy and Iran’s Qom province are proving particularly difficult to control. 

In South Korea, more than 500 new infections were reported for a second consecutive day, with more than 2,300 confirmed cases, making it the most-affected nation outside mainland China, in terms of reported case numbers. 

Here's what you should know:

Global markets are on track for their worst week since the 2008 global financial crisis, as coronavirus fears have pushed stocks down for a seventh consecutive day.

South Korean authorities are scrambling to find almost 3,000 members of a religious group, at the heart of the country’s biggest outbreak.

Sub-Saharan Africa reported its first case in Lagos, Nigeria, on Thursday, as an Italian man who works in the country tested positive. More countries are reporting first cases as well, including Lithuania, Belarus and New Zealand.

The full picture of Iran's outbreak is still unclear. It has the highest death toll outside of mainland China, with 34 reported, but only 388 cases. The viral death rate has been at around 1-2% elsewhere, suggesting that thousands of people may be carrying the virus undetected.

The Geneva Motor Show, one of the world’s biggest car shows, has been canceled because of coronavirus fears, The show is the latest in a string of international events scrapped because of the virus, including the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that was scheduled for this month.

A plan is in the works to evacuate quarantined foreign diplomats from North Korea, a source inside the country tells CNN. The date of the evacuation flight has not been confirmed, but the source says it will likely fly from Pyongyang to Vladivostok, Russia.

The death toll is rising, with 2,867 deaths now reported in mainland China, and 79 outside.

Here's where they've happened:

Iran: 34

Italy: 17 

South Korea: 13 

Japan: 9

HK: 2

France: 2  

Philippines: 1 

Taiwan: 1

9:56 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

South Korean officials search for almost 3,000 religious group members

South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, South Korea, on February 21.
South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, South Korea, on February 21. Credit: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korean authorities are trying to track down almost 3,000 members of a religious group at the heart of the country's coronavirus outbreak.

South Korea has more than 2,300 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 13 deaths, making it the most-affected country outside mainland China.

The governor of Gyeonggi province, Lee Jae-myung, has requested that police track down 2,995 members of the group, which practises an offshoot of Christianity.

Health surveys were conducted on 30,814 Shincheonji members and found 740 people suffering from symptoms of the coronavirus. The surveys were conducted by 210 Shincheonji members who performed the task on behalf of government workers because group leaders say members won’t answer calls from people outside the group.

Lee says investigators tried for three hours to convince the group’s leadership to handover a list of members in the province. Shincheonji’s members handed over a list of 33,582 members based in the province, but Lee said thousands more people were linked to the group.

Read more:

9:56 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Geneva Motor Show cancelled on coronavirus fears

A general view shows the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2019.
A general view shows the Geneva International Motor Show in March 2019. Credit: Robert Hradil/Getty Images

The Geneva Motor Show, one of the world’s biggest car shows, has been canceled because of coronavirus fears.

The car show was due to get underway on March 2, and more than 660,000 people were expected to attend over nearly two weeks. Almost half of those visitors were expected to travel to Geneva from other countries.

The move comes as the Swiss government imposes a ban on any large-scale events with more than 1,000 people attending, at least until March 15. Switzerland has 15 reported case of the coronavirus.

The show is the latest in a string of international events scrapped because of the coronavirus. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona scheduled for this month was canceled on health concerns.

6:04 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Global stocks plummet again in worst week since 2008 financial crisis

Global stocks are on track for their worst week since the global financial crisis, as coronavirus fears have pushed markets down for a seventh consecutive day.

The MSCI index, which tracks shares in many of the world's biggest companies, has fallen 8.9% — its worst percentage decline since October 2008.

European stocks suffered significant losses in early trading Friday, with Germany's DAX, dropping as much as 5% in early trading and London's FTSE 100 shedding 4.4%. In Italy, where 17 people have now died as a result of the virus, the benchmark FTSE MIB index was down nearly 4%.

China's Shanghai Composite closed down 3.7%, bringing losses for the week to 5.6%, the index's worst performance since April 2019. Japan's Nikkei ended down 3.7% and benchmark indexes in Australia and South Korea both shed 3.3%.

A man in a mask is seen passing a financial markets display board in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday.
A man in a mask is seen passing a financial markets display board in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday. Credit: Kyodo News/Getty Images

The coronavirus has increased fears that the epidemic will wipe out corporate profits and push some of the world's biggest economies into recession.

US stock futures were also sharply lower Friday, suggesting that the country's three main indexes will resume their plunge after a sharp sell-off on Thursday during which the Dow suffered its worst ever points loss, dropping 1,191 points, or 4.4%. The S&P 500 suffered a similar fall and has slid more than 10% from its recent peak.

Read more: The Coronavirus is fast becoming an 'economic pandemic'

6:01 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Are you immune to the coronavirus after having it?

Laboratory technicians testing samples of virus at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province. 
Laboratory technicians testing samples of virus at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province.  STR/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at NYU School of Medicine, spoke with CNN about the coronavirus and whether people can become immune to it.

"Common cold coronaviruses, you don't actually have immunity that lasts for very long, and so we don't know the answer with this specific coronavirus. If you recover, are you immune, and if you are immune, how long does that last? And that's actually going to be one of the challenges with designing a vaccine is how do you actually cause the immunity to last long enough to protect you," Gounder said.

How to protect yourself: In general, the public should do "what you do every cold and flu season," said Dr. John Wiesman, the health secretary in Washington state -- where the first US case of Wuhan coronavirus was confirmed.

That includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from anyone who may be infected.

If you're the one feeling sick, cover your entire mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. But don't use your hands. Use either your bent elbow or a tissue that you throw away immediately afterward.

Listen to Dr. Gounder explain:

9:56 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

New cases in UK linked to Iran, infections reach 19

Two people in England and one in Wales have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total in the United Kingdom up to 19, according to the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

The two patients in England contracted the virus while in Iran and have been transferred to specialist NHS infection centers at the Royal Free Hospital in London, the department says.

European nations are trying to contain transmissions of the virus across the region, as Italy struggles with an outbreak in its north. Cases in the UK, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Austria and Spain have been linked to the Italian cluster.

Read more here.

10:00 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Japan reports ninth death as Hokkaido declares state of emergency

A man in his 70s who tested positive for the coronavirus died in Japan on Friday after 22 days in hospital, the Japanese Health Ministry says.

The man died in the Wakayama Prefecture on Japan's Honshū island, south of Osaka.

Separately, the governor in the country's northernmost prefecture and island, Hokkaido, declared a state of emergency Friday through March 19 in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference, Governor Naomichi Suzuki urged residents to stay inside their homes over the weekend. The governor said the number of infections is steadily increasing on the island, which now has the highest number of confirmed cases in Japan outside of the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Officials recently reported 13 cases in Hokkaido.

Read more: