March 4 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Steve George, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes, Rachel Bowman and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:15 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020
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7:33 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Grand Princess cruise ship scheduled to arrive in San Francisco delayed

From CNN's Sarah Moon

The Grand Princess cruise ship that was scheduled to arrive in San Francisco this evening has been delayed, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in a press conference today. 

The ship is currently off the coast and its arrival has been delayed to provide an opportunity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Coast Guard and state health officials to conduct tests on the ship as there are a number of passengers and crew members that have developed symptoms of the coronavirus, Newsom said.

These groups and organizations are flying test kits to the cruise ship and the samples will subsequently be sent to the state’s public health lab in Richmond for testing, according to Newsom.

7:23 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Truck carrying toilet paper in Australia bursts into flames as coronavirus spurs bulk-buying

From CNN’s Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

A semi-truck carrying toilet paper caught fire and erupted into flames in Brisbane, Australia, late Wednesday night.

A spokesperson for the Queensland Fire and Emergency confirmed to CNN that "the truck was carrying toilet paper." The spokesperson added that firefighters were able to contain the fire upon arrival.  

Why this matters: Bulk-buying has struck Australia as fears of shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak continue to cause worried shoppers to stock up on basic necessities such as toilet paper.  

On Wednesday, major Australian supermarket chain Woolworths announced that customers would only be allowed to purchase four packs of toilet paper per each customer transaction in order to "ensure more customers have access to the product."

7:18 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Number of coronavirus cases in British Columbia rises to 13

British Columbia announced its 13th case of novel coronavirus today, bringing Canada’s total number to 34. 

The latest case is a woman in her 80s, who recently returned from traveling to India and Hong Kong, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer.

Henry said the woman has had a severe illness and is currently in critical condition in isolation in the intensive care unit at Vancouver General Hospital.

Across the country: The 34 cases in Canada now include 20 in Ontario, 13 in British Columbia and one in Quebec.

7:06 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Santa Clara County in California confirms three new cases of coronavirus

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Santa Clara County in Northern California has three new cases of the novel coronavirus, the county’s public health department confirmed on its website today.

One case is from an adult male who is currently hospitalized, exposure details are under investigation. The other two cases, both adult males, are close contacts of an existing case. Both are in isolation at home, according to Santa Clara County’s Public Health Department.

By the numbers: There are now 14 cases in Santa Clara County.

California has 36 cases, including one death.

7:33 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Washington's King County to buy motel to isolate coronavirus patients

From CNN’s Kay Jones

King County, Washington, is still finalizing its purchase of a motel in Kent to serve as an isolation facility for coronavirus patients.

The exact timetable for bringing in patients was not clear this afternoon, as a CNN journalist saw private customers still being checked in at the 85-room Econo Lodge. 

“As you can see, it’s still operating, and we’re going to be working on that within the next few days," county spokesperson Chase Gallagher said.

Gallagher said the primary benefit to the facility the county is buying is that the rooms have their own individual heating and air systems which would avoid contamination across rooms that could be caused by a shared climate control unit. Additionally, there are no shared hallways, as all rooms open to the outside, Gallagher said.

The county is still working out what will happen to the staff currently at the Econo Lodge, although leaders say they hope to find funding to hire up to 11 of the current employees. 

Along with improvements to the motel and taking over a property lease, the total cost of operating it as an isolation facility could be $5.5 million dollars, according to a release from King County. The money is expected to come from the county’s contingency fund.

The interior of a temporary housing unit in Seattle.
The interior of a temporary housing unit in Seattle. Ted S. Warren/AP

In addition to the motel, County Executive Dow Constantine announced today they will be using temporary modular units set up in three communities around Seattle for coronavirus quarantine.

6:43 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

New Zealand confirms third case of novel coronavirus

From CNN’s Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Health officials in New Zealand have confirmed a third case of the novel coronavirus.

The country's Ministry of Health said that the new positive test result came through on Wednesday evening local time, according to a statement. No further information was provided.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said an investigation is underway to find close contacts of the latest positive case. Ardern added that "basic public health is what is going to get New Zealand through."

7:03 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Japan records its biggest one-day increase in coronavirus infections

From CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo

Kyoto city workers sanitize trains on March 4.
Kyoto city workers sanitize trains on March 4. The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Japan recorded 33 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, its biggest one-day increase so far, according to data released by its Ministry of Health.

The country's total now stands at 1,023 cases, of which 706 are from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

6:50 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Coronavirus cases confirmed on another cruise ship

From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention is working with the California Health Department to investigate another cruise ship with confirmed coronavirus cases, according to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield at a White House press briefing tonight.

“We are working in support of the California Health Department that is in the process of evaluating another cruise ship where they do have confirmed cases,” Redfield said. “We at the very beginning of that, looking at the manifest to make sure we understand who’s gotten off the cruise and where they got off the cruise and we’re really involved in that entire contact follow up."

The ship under investigation, the Grand Princess, is getting ready to dock in San Francisco after a “small cluster” of coronavirus cases were traced back to the ship’s previous voyage, according to a statement from Princess Cruises.

The statement recommends previous passengers experiencing symptoms of acute respiratory illness with fever, chills or cough to contact a doctor.


6:26 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Pence to hold meeting with cruise ship industry this weekend

From CNN's Betsy Klein 

Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA
Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA

Vice President Mike Pence will hold a meeting with leaders of the cruise ship industry on Saturday to discuss the coronavirus, according to remarks he made this afternoon during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing.

“There are unique challenges, our experts tell us, in a closed environment” like a cruise ship, Pence said, adding that the group will “talk about best practices.” 

Pence also praised Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who, he said, has “been providing strong leadership for the state,” as well as the state’s public health officials.

Asked whether there will be additional restrictions on travel, Pence said, “At this time they’re not recommending that the President impose additional travel advisories or restrictions… We’re going to follow the data on that very closely."