February 29 coronavirus news

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10:12 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

South Korea now has more than 3,100 coronavirus cases

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul

Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at the Dongdaegu train station in Daegu, South Korea, Saturday, February 29.
Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at the Dongdaegu train station in Daegu, South Korea, Saturday, February 29. Kim Hyun-tai/Yonhap via AP

South Korea has reported another 219 coronavirus cases, bringing the country's total number of cases to 3,150.

That's another big jump, following an earlier announcement Saturday morning that authorities had recorded 594 new cases overnight.

The South Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) has also reported one new death since Saturday morning, bringing the nationwide death toll to 17. The deceased is identified as a man born in 1943.

Link to religious group: Earlier on Saturday, KCDC said more than half of the country's coronavirus cases were linked to the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji religious group.

South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip also warned that there were likely to be more confirmed cases in Daegu as tests on the Shincheonji religious group members continue. 

Military cases: There are 27 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in the country's military as of 4pm local time on Saturday, the South Korean defense ministry announced in message to reporters.

The US and South Korean militaries announced Thursday they would postpone a command post training exercise due to growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in South Korea. One US service member serving as part of the 28,000-strong American contingent in South Korea has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been placed in quarantine.

A widow of a former service member serving with US-Forces Korea and a South Korean national who was working at US installations in Korea have also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

10:12 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Macao’s hotel industry and tourism hit by coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

A man wearing protective mask walks across a street in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel in a residential district on February 5, 2020 in Macao.
A man wearing protective mask walks across a street in front of the Grand Lisboa Hotel in a residential district on February 5, 2020 in Macao. Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The average occupancy rate of hotel rooms in Macao in January dropped 13.5% year-on-year to almost 80%, officials said on Friday.

In the 122 hotels and guesthouses in Macao, the average occupancy rate of guest rooms dropped to 79.4%. The number of guests checked into these hotels and guesthouses in January also fell, by 11.4% year-on-year.

Guests coming from mainland China (792,000), South Korea (42,000) and Taiwan (31,000) dropped by 11.3%, 23% and 20.9% respectively, while those from Hong Kong (107,000) grew by 11.0%.

Casinos closed: In early February, Macao, one of the world's top gambling hubs, announced plans to close its casinos amid fears of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory said it would suspend operations in gambling and other related industries for about two weeks, Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said at the time.

10:12 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Saudi Arabia temporarily suspends entry of member states citizens amid coronavirus outbreak 

Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted the entry of citizens from the Gulf Cooperation Council to the cities of Mecca and Medina due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The decision does not apply to the GCC's citizens -- who include citizens of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman -- who have been in the country for 14 consecutive days with no signs or symptoms of the coronavirus infection, according to a statement released by the foreign ministry on Friday. 

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia suspended all pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina for people outside the country. Religious rituals will only be open to residents and nationals, according to the foreign ministry. 

10:10 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Thailand confirms a new coronavirus case

From CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok

Thai public health officers operate a health checkpoint with a thermo scan at Suvarnabhumi International airport in Bangkok.
Thai public health officers operate a health checkpoint with a thermo scan at Suvarnabhumi International airport in Bangkok. AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Thailand reported a new confirmed novel coronavirus case on Saturday, bringing the nationwide number to 42, the country's ministry of public health said in a press conference.

The 21-year-old male Thai national is a salesperson who has been exposed to foreign tourists.

Separately, the Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, announced on social media that the novel coronavirus has been added to the “dangerous communicable disease list under Communicable Disease Act.” The list includes SARS and MERS.

People who fail to follow public health measures can face a fine up to TBH20,000 (US$634) or even two years' imprisonment. This law will come into effect on March 1.

The health authorities added that they will distribute 100,000 face masks daily – three per person.

3:27 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Australia warns citizens: "Do not travel to Iran"

From CNN's Pauline Lockwood in Hong Kong 

The Australian government is warning citizens not to travel to Iran -- one of the hardest hit countries in the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has increased its warning level to "do not travel," with the government travel advice website Smart Traveller warning that Iran will struggle to cope with a large outbreak.

Iran has reported 388 cases and 34 deaths, but there is concern that the numbers could be higher.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer has advised that there is a high level of concern about widespread community transmission of the coronavirus in Iran.

Here's what the Smart Traveller website says:

There have been many deaths. The health care system will likely struggle to cope with a large outbreak. Airlines are reducing or stopping flights into and out of Iran. Medical evacuation is not likely to be possible."

Starting from Sunday, March 1, Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family who are traveling from Iran to Australia will need to self isolate for 14 days.

3:19 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Cherry blossom festivals cancelled in Japan due coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

People wearing masks visit a cherry blossom festival in Matsuda, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, Saturday, February 29.
People wearing masks visit a cherry blossom festival in Matsuda, Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, Saturday, February 29. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Japan's cherry blossoms are a huge tourist draw -- and a source of national pride.

But this year, at least two cherry blossom festivals won't be going ahead.

The Osaka Mint cherry blossom festival in Japan has been cancelled over coronavirus outbreak concerns, according to a statement from the organizers. 

In Tokyo, the Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival also announced it would cancel its event this year, including its main attraction of lighting up trees along the river. 

3:11 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Hong Kong's stock exchange said it will donate over $1 million to fight the coronavirus

From CNN's Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) is donating cash to help support the fight against coronavirus.

The stock exchange is donating HK$10 million (US$1.28 million), the listed company said in a tweet on Saturday. 

The donation will be allocated to several welfare organizations that “provide relief and support to those in need.” HKEX did not specify which organizations the funds will be donated to, or provide a timeline for the distribution.

3:00 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Trump seeks a 'miracle' as virus fears mount

Analysis by Stephen Collinson

Trump made the comments during a news conference and meeting with African American supporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Thursday, February 27.
Trump made the comments during a news conference and meeting with African American supporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Thursday, February 27.  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is hoping for a "miracle" that will make the coronavirus disappear.

But tanking stock markets and signs the disease is stalking America are delivering their verdict on his scattershot management of the crisis.

A historic Wall Street sell off, the first case on US soil that could not be traced to travel to countries battling the virus, and news of drug shortages outpaced White House efforts to show everything was under control.

"It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear," Trump said at the White House Thursday as the virus marched across Asia and Europe after US officials said the US should brace for severe disruption to everyday life.

The President also warned that things could "get worse before it gets better," but he added it could "maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows."

The President's comments, which seemed divorced from the gravity of the situation, followed CNN reporting that raised new questions about Trump's capacity to handle the crisis.

For weeks, aides and allies have tried to impress upon him the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, warning him of the threat to the global economy and -- by proxy -- his own reelection prospects, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Devastating losses in Wall Street that finally convinced him to put a face on the crisis on Wednesday. But his erratic news conference only fanned the impression of a leadership vacuum.

Read more about Trump's response to coronavirus here.

2:52 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

There are 935 people infected with coronavirus in Japan. 705 of them are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Photo taken Feb. 26, 2020, shows the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama Port near Tokyo.
Photo taken Feb. 26, 2020, shows the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship at Yokohama Port near Tokyo. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

Japan’s Ministry of Health updated its numbers of novel coronavirus Friday to a total of 935 cases -- up on an earlier count of 907 cases.

At least 11 people have died from the virus in the country, according to Japanese health officials.

Of the 935 cases, 705 are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama.

The American-owned cruise ship was put under quarantine by Japanese authorities for two weeks in February after a coronavirus outbreak was detected on board.

Six people from the ship have died from coronavirus.

Last week, a top Japanese government adviser admitted that the quarantine measures enacted on the Diamond Princess cruise ship may have allowed additional infections to spread among the ship's crew and passengers.

But by failing to isolate the crew of the Diamond Princess from the beginning of the quarantine, infected workers may have passed on "secondary or tertiary" infections to their fellow crew members and passengers, thereby exacerbating the deadly outbreak, according to Dr. Norio Ohmagari, the director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center at the government-funded National Center for Global Health and Medicine.

Read more about the Diamond Princess cruise ship here.