March 1 coronavirus news

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10:22 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

Trump announces new coronavirus screening procedures in US

President Trump announced new screening procedures for the coronavirus this morning.

The President said in a tweet that people will be screened for coronavirus upon arriving in the US if they are traveling from high-risk countries.

Trump announced Saturday that the countries where some increased screening for passengers leaving from to the US would include Italy, South Korea and Iran in addition to China.

Katie Miller, spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence, clarified to CNN what is covered under the screening measures Trump mentioned in his tweet:

“There is already screening for those coming into the United States for those who have been in China in the last 14 days. This will be expanded to Italy and South Korea. Additionally we are currently working on exit screening from South Korea, Italy, and other European Nations as needed," Miller said.

Read Trump's tweet below:

8:04 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

Coronavirus death toll in Iran climbs to 54

The number of people who have died from the coronavirus in Iran has risen to 54, Iran's Health Ministry said on Sunday, according to state media.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 978 people have been infected by the virus so far, with 385 new cases detected since Saturday, Iran’s state news agency Mehr reports.

There are 175 infected people who have recovered and been dismissed from hospitals, Jahanpour added.

Iran has temporarily shut down schools and has cancelled all public gatherings to help curb the disease, according to IRNA state news agency.

7:52 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

'SNL' spoofs Mike Pence's new role leading coronavirus response

"Saturday Night Live" opened this week's episode by having Vice President Mike Pence, played by Beck Bennett, take on the coronavirus outbreak.

And he wasn't alone.

"I'm Vice President Mike Pence," Bennett said. "Most of you know me from the sentence 'Even if Trump was removed, we'd still be stuck with Mike Pence.'"

Bennett's Pence then explained that President Trump had put him in charge of combating the coronavirus, "even though I don't believe in science."

"And I have to admit, this disease has been quite the test of my faith," he said. "Just like dinosaur bones."

US response: President Trump on Wednesday placed Pence in charge of the US government response to the novel coronavirus, amid growing criticism of the White House's handling of the outbreak.

The President has defended the White House's response, stressing the administration's ongoing efforts and resources devoted to combating the virus.

7:35 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

Retired doctors and nurses could be drafted to tackle coronavirus outbreak in UK

Retired doctors and nurses in the UK could be deployed if the novel coronavirus becomes widespread across the country, the British health secretary said on Sunday.

The plan to recruit retired healthcare professionals -- dubbed "Dad's Army" by UK media -- is one of the broader measures included in a “battle plan” for coronavirus, outlined in a statement by Matt Hancock.

Britain is also considering whether to encourage more home working and discourage unnecessary travel as part of a "social distancing" strategy that would delay the peak of the outbreak until later in the year, potentially helping combat the virus in warmer weather conditions, Hancock said in a statement.

The UK government has already pledged £40 million ($51 million) to finding a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

6:33 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

French official advises against kissing due to coronavirus fears

A French official has advised against a long-time French tradition -- cheek kissing -- over coronavirus fears.

"Reduction of physical social contact is recommended. This includes "la bise," French health minister Olivier Véran told reporters on Saturday in Paris. 

Véran also said people should avoid handshakes as well.  

What is "la bise"? The tradition of planting an kiss on a person’s cheek multiple times, is a well-known French greeting. 

The tradition of "la bise" involves kissing on the cheek, as demonstrated by the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent as he greets his mother in Paris in 1959.
The tradition of "la bise" involves kissing on the cheek, as demonstrated by the late French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent as he greets his mother in Paris in 1959. Keystone /Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Canceled events: France has already banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a confirmed space. The Paris Half Marathon meant to happen Sunday was canceled as well as the Annecy Carnival that was scheduled for March 6-8.

7:34 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

Coronavirus casts a shadow over the Summer Olympics

A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. 
A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Olympic rings in front of the new National Stadium, the main stadium for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, on February 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.  Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

With less than four months until the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics, fears over coronavirus are casting doubts about the biggest sporting event on the planet.

The 2020 Games are in Tokyo and Olympics officials are urging people not to worry about novel coronavirus — there will be a complete Games with tens of thousands of athletes competing.

But with more than 2,900 deaths globally from coronavirus, most of those being in Asia, athletes and fans are concerned that the Tokyo Games could be delayed or canceled altogether.

The World Health Organization is advising the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020, the local organizing committee. This past week Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, said: "No decision has or will be taken in the near term regarding the future of the Olympics."

Read the full story here.

7:33 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

Pope cancels more events due to illness

Pope Francis said on Sunday that a cold will prevent him from participating in a week-long spiritual retreat outside of Rome, scheduled to begin Sunday afternoon.

The Vatican did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday on whether Francis has been tested for coronavirus.

On Thursday, the Vatican said the Pope was suffering from a “mild ailment” that has caused him to cancel his public events in the last four days, and on Friday, officials said the Pope was continuing to hold private meetings at his residence in the Vatican.

 Sunday was the first time the Pope was seen in public since last Wednesday.

Pope Francis wipes his nose during the Ash Wednesday mass on February 26, 2020, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome.
Pope Francis wipes his nose during the Ash Wednesday mass on February 26, 2020, at the Santa Sabina church in Rome. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Speaking from his window on St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope’s voice was clearly affected by a cold and he interrupted his talk to cough several times.

“Unfortunately, a cold forces me not to participate this year [in spiritual retreat]”, the Pope said.

“I will follow the meditations from here. I spiritually join the curia and all the people who are doing spiritual exercises at home.”

 

5:49 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

Greece confirms 3 new cases

A worker walks out as he sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in a school in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on February 27, 2020.
A worker walks out as he sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in a school in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on February 27, 2020. Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP

Greece has confirmed three new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of those infected to seven. 

The patients are a woman in Thessaloniki and two men in Athens, the Greek health ministry said in a statement on Sunday. 

The woman and one of the men are close contacts of previously announced confirmed cases. The third case -- a man in Athens, had recently traveled to Italy.

Outbreak in Italy: Italian authorities are scrambling to contain Europe's biggest outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has sickened more than 1,100 people across the country and killed 29.

5:01 a.m. ET, March 1, 2020

South Korea's death toll reaches 18, with 3,736 cases

Cleaners wearing protective gear spray antiseptic solution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) on February 27, 2020 in Seoul.
Cleaners wearing protective gear spray antiseptic solution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) on February 27, 2020 in Seoul. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 586 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the country’s total to 3,736.

Authorities also reported one new fatality, following the 17 people who had previously died.

South Korea has the largest outbreak of the virus outside of mainland China, where most cases have been recorded.

Of the total number confirmed cases, the city of Daegu has the largest share, with 2,569 cases. At least 2,113 of the cases in Daegu have been linked to the Shincheonji religious group, who have been accused by officials of hampering the fight against the virus.

Schools closed: Daegu's office of education confirmed it has delayed the resumption of 800 schools by two more weeks, as efforts to stop the spread of the disease ramp up.