Medical workers outside Mechnikov North-Western State Medical University, where students have been place under quarantine, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

March 9 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Joshua Berlinger, Steve George, Tara John and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:14 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020
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1:10 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Recovering from coronavirus illness can take up to "six weeks," WHO official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

It can take several weeks to fully recover from illness caused by novel coronavirus, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of Health Emergencies Programme at the World Health Organization, said during a briefing on Monday.

"It takes anything up to six weeks to recover from this disease," Ryan said. "People who suffer very severe illness can take months to recover from the illness."

Ryan added that recovery is often measured by the patient no longer exhibiting symptoms and having two consecutive negative tests for the virus at least one day apart, but some countries may measure "recovery" differently.

To date, there is no specific medicine to treat coronavirus illness, but those infected can recover with appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms — and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care, according to WHO.

1:06 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Egypt suspends all large gatherings to deter spread of coronavirus

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly decided on Monday to suspend all crowded events or large gatherings until further notice.

The decision is part of the precautionary measures the government has adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement.

Egypt's Culture Ministry announced the suspension of artistic and cultural activities with large gatherings until further notice, state news said.

 

1:06 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Senate finance leader is considering "targeted tax relief measures" to respond to coronavirus

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Sen. Chuck Grassley’s communications director says he “is exploring the possibility of targeted tax relief measures” to respond to the COVID-19. 

Grassley is the Senate Finance Committee chair.

"While we continue to assess the economic impacts, Chairman Grassley is exploring the possibility of targeted tax relief measures that could provide a timely and effective response to the coronavirus," Michael Zona said in a statement.

"Several options within the committee’s jurisdiction are being considered as we learn more about the effects on specific industries and the overall economy," he added.

12:54 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

"We are not at the mercy of this virus," WHO director says

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said the threat of a pandemic due to coronavirus "has become very real" as the virus continues to spread around the world.

"Now that the coronavirus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real. But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is: We are not at the mercy of this virus,” Tedros said Monday.

"This is an uneven epidemic at the global level. Different countries are in different scenarios, requiring a tailored response. It’s not about containment or mitigation – which is a false dichotomy. It’s about both,” Tedros added, all countries must take a “comprehensive blended strategy” for controlling their own epidemics. 

What each country does to control the spread of novel coronavirus, “can also affect what happens in other countries and globally,” Tedros said.

Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, addressed the issue of a pandemic, saying the principle definition is that the disease has reached a point where it cannot be controlled, adding “if this was influenza, we would have called it ages ago," Ryan said. 

One thing to note: CNN is already calling the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic because the virus has affected large numbers of people and spread to all but one continent, and because several places are experiencing sustained community transmission.

 

12:56 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

World Health Organization shipping protective equipment to 28 more countries

From CNN’s Jacqueline Howard

The World Health Organization is preparing to ship personal protective equipment to an additional 28 countries, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media briefing on Monday.

“We have shipped supplies of personal protective equipment to 57 countries. We are preparing to ship to a further 28 and we have shipped lab supplies to 120 countries,” Tedros said.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, said that the agency making the protection of health care workers during this outbreak a priority.

“As you are well aware, one of the big concerns we have for any infectious disease and particularly respiratory pathogens is the risk of transmissions in health care facilities," Van Kerkhove said. "What we are doing in all countries is when cases are reported to us, we do follow-up to see if any of those infected individuals are health care workers."

The global count of coronavirus cases surpassed 100,000 in 100 countries over the weekend.

“For the moment, only a handful of countries have signs of sustained community transmission.” Tedros said, adding that most countries still have sporadic cases or defined clusters. 

“We must all take heart from that,” Tedros said.

12:41 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Germany reports its first coronavirus deaths

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

Two people have died of coronavirus in Germany — the first deaths in the country from the virus.

The deaths occurred Monday in the district of Heinsberg and the city of Essen, the health ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia told CNN.

In a statement to CNN, health minister Karl-Josef Laumann said he "was shocked to learn about the two deaths."

"My thoughts are with the relatives. I wish the families a lot of strength in this difficult time. The deaths show that we have to take the situation very seriously," he said.

On Sunday, a German national from Hamburg died while on vacation in Egypt. 

About Germany's cases: There are 1,112 people in Germany who have tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the country's disease control agency.

12:34 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Georgia identifies state park for isolating coronavirus patients

From CNN's Devon Sayers

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced that out of an abundance of caution the state has identified Hard Labor Creek State Park in Morgan County as a location for isolating and monitoring patients who may have been exposed to coronavirus, according to a statement released by the his office.

The state park is located about an hour east of downtown Atlanta.

No patients are currently scheduled to be transferred to this location. State officials are currently preparing the site for the placement of future patients having already delivered and installed seven emergency trailers, according to the governor’s office.

12:32 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

French football matches will be played in front of fewer than 1,000 fans until April

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok

All Ligue 1 matches in France will be played behind closed doors or with a maximum attendance of 1,000 spectators until April 15 due to the coronavirus outbreak, French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said at a news conference today

Maracineanu said the restrictions had been decided in coordination with European partners, adding: “We are in an exceptional context and the sporting world must take part in this collective effort. I want to applaud the sense of responsibility and the solidarity that world actors are showing with whom I am in permanent contact.”

The decision comes after Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 game against Strasbourg was postponed this past Saturday due to the virus. 

Maracineanu also confirmed that France’s upcoming international football friendly matches against Ukraine (scheduled to be played in Paris on March 27) and Finland (scheduled for March 31 in Lyon) could also be impacted.

“If they can be postponed, they will be. If they cannot be, then they will have to happen with no more than 1,000 people in the stadium, she said.

12:18 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

New York is making its own hand sanitizer using prison labor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today that the state will attempt to combat "price gouging" and a shortage of hand sanitizer by making its own.

Cuomo said at a press conference that the hand sanitizer will be made by Corcraft, a company that operates in the state's prison. The company employs inmates to produce products like household cleaners and tables and chairs.

He said they are aiming to make "100,000 gallons" a week.

Cuomo said New York's hand sanitizer will be "75% alcohol" and added that the smell has a "floral bouquet."

He said the product will not be sold on the open market at this time. It will be made available in schools and prisons.