March 6 coronavirus news

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1:19 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

The US military is preparing for a "second wave" of coronavirus cases by next winter

Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research,second from right, speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research,second from right, speaks during a news conference on the coronavirus at the Pentagon on Thursday. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Viruses spread more easily in cold weather than hot, which is why winter is peak influenza season.

While it has yet to be seen whether the coronavirus will recede as temperatures increase in the northern hemisphere (and cases in tropical Singapore and southern hemisphere Australia may suggest the virus isn't too sensitive to hot weather), some researchers have warned it could become a perennial winter threat.

Speaking at a Pentagon briefing Thursday, Nelson Michael, the director for infectious disease research at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said that efforts to develop vaccines and an effective treatment plan might not be quick enough to wipe out the virus before the "second wave" next winter.

"This is a respiratory virus and they always give us trouble during cold weather, for obvious reasons. We’re all inside, the windows are closed, etcetera, so we typically call that the influenza or the flu season," Nelson said.

He predicted the coronavirus may behave like the flu and give us "less trouble as the weather warms up," but, he cautioned, it tends to come back when the weather gets cold again.

"This is why it’s really important to understand that a lot of what we’re doing now is getting ourselves ready for what we’re calling the second wave of this," Nelson warned.

"We hope it doesn’t happen. If you remember SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), SARS came and went very quickly. We can’t count on that. We have to be ready that even if this epidemic begins to wane, we have to be ready for next winter when it may come back again."

1:02 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Bodies "pile up" in morgue as Iran feels strain of coronavirus

From CNN's Sam Kiley, Artemis Moshtaghian and Sheena McKenzie

Footage from inside Qom's Behesht-e Masoumeh morgue in Iran shows dozens of bodies sheathed in black bags lining the floor, while workers in protective suits and masks busily walk among them.

It's unclear which, if any, of the people whose bodies lie in the morgue were infected with the coronavirus gripping the Middle Eastern country.

And herein lies a huge problem for Iran, one of the worst-hit countries outside China.

Medical precautions clash with tradition: Under Islamic tradition in Iran, corpses are typically washed with soap and water before burial. But two medical workers in Qom told CNN that in some cases precautions related to the outbreak are preventing staff from observing traditional Islamic guidelines for burial.

Instead, patients' bodies are being treated with calcium oxide to prevent them from contaminating the soil once buried in cemeteries, they said.

Bodies are piling up: Testing for the virus takes time, delaying burials and creating a "pile up" of bodies at the morgue, said Behesht-e Masoumeh morgue director, Ali Ramezani, in a report on Iranian state TV, IRIB.

Read the full story here.

12:53 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

"This is not a drill," WHO warns governments

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on the newcoronavirus dubbed COVID-19, at the WHO headquaters on March 2, 2020 in Geneva.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on the newcoronavirus dubbed COVID-19, at the WHO headquaters on March 2, 2020 in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The director-general of the World Health Organization has warned governments that the coronavirus' continued global spread is "not a drill," and will require significant action if public health authorities are to contain the deadly outbreak.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that although public health authorities across the globe have the ability to successfully combat the spread of the virus, the organization is concerned that in some countries, the level of political commitment does not match the threat level.

"This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops. Countries have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans," Tedros said.
"This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government."

Cases approach 100,000: To date, a total of 97,852 infections have been confirmed worldwide, and more than 3,300 people have been killed by the virus, according to CNN's tally.

This number of total cases worldwide is fast approaching 100,000 -- a grim milestone that now appears inevitable with self-sustaining clusters continuing to expand in South Korea, Japan, parts of Europe, Iran and the United States.

Read the full story here.

12:32 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Test results from 45 samples taken onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship expected Friday

From CNN's Sarah Moon

Airmen from the California National Guard drop virus testing kits down to the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California on Thursday.
Airmen from the California National Guard drop virus testing kits down to the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California on Thursday. California National Guard via AP

Test results taken from 45 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship are expected Friday, the ship’s operator Princess Cruises said in a statement on Thursday night.

The samples, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local authorities, are from both passengers and crew members. They were delivered to the state’s public health department lab in Richmond, according to the statement.

"Princess Cruises can confirm there are 3,533 people currently onboard Grand Princess, including 2,422 guests and 1,111 teammates. In total, they represent 54 nationalities," Princess Cruises said.

All guests on the ship have been asked to stay in their rooms while test results are pending. Guests are receiving meal deliveries by room service, they added.

Princess Cruises is the operator of the Diamond Princess, another cruise liner which was quarantined for weeks in Japan last month.

Hundreds of people onboard that ship tested positive for the virus. A top Japanese government adviser admitted in February that the quarantine measures enacted may have allowed additional infections to spread among the ship's crew and passengers.

12:25 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Just joining us? Here are the latest developments

A man helps a woman put on a face mask outside of a metro station in Bangalore, India on March 5.
A man helps a woman put on a face mask outside of a metro station in Bangalore, India on March 5. Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

India is canceling some Holi gatherings over the virus: The country's presidential palace has called off a traditional celebration of the Hindu festival, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he is following advice to avoid public gatherings.

The South Korean religious group linked to that country's outbreak had a donation rejected: Daegu, a city in the south of the East Asian country, refused a $10.1 million donation from the Shincheonji religious group, saying it should instead focus on being more transparent with the authorities and urging followers to get tested. The group has been linked to a major outbreak in the country which began in Daegu.

US health officials are investigating the death of a former cruise passenger: The man in his 70s died Thursday. He had previously been aboard a cruise ship with two passengers suspected of having the novel coronavirus. The news comes as testing began aboard the Grand Princess cruise liner off the coast of California.

Stock markets took another tumble: US stocks finished sharply lower on Thursday, with all three major indexes closing down more than 3%. Markets were already suffering globally due to concerns of the knock-on effect coronavirus quarantines and closures could have on the global economy.

The latest numbers: The novel coronavirus has killed at least 3,383 people, according to CNN's tally -- the vast majority in mainland China. There are now more than 97,850 global cases, with infections in at least 85 countries and territories. More than 17,300 cases have been confirmed outside of mainland China.

CNN's global coronavirus town hall: Health experts from across the US and CNN correspondents around the world joined each other and a live audience to discuss the coronavirus and answer viewers' questions. Scroll through the posts below to catch up.

2:54 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

CNN's town hall on the coronavirus has ended

CNN's town hall on the coronavirus has now concluded.

CNN international correspondents and medical experts answered questions from the audience and gave live reports from London, Shanghai and Milan.

Scroll through our posts to catch up on what happened during CNN's global coronavirus town hall. Keep following our live coverage here.

2:54 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

South Korea has drive-through testing sites. Why doesn't the US?

CNN Correspondent Ivan Watson
CNN Correspondent Ivan Watson

Another audience member at CNN's town hall asked why the US hasn't implemented aggressive testing measures like South Korea has.

South Korea has drive-through testing sites: CNN correspondent Ivan Watson visited one of these sites, where people can get tested in a matter of minutes without ever leaving their car.

"The mayor of the city that implemented that said he was inspired by Starbucks and McDonald's drive-throughs," Watson said. "The doctors that we talked to said this really speeds up the process of testing people and also protects the doctors and the nurses from more contact with potential carriers because the patients never get out of the cars."

It's hugely efficient: That one drive-through test site can process more than 300 people a day, Watson said.

Seoul, the national capital, now has at least three of these drive-through testing centers.

"More than 150,000 people have been tested here," Watson said. "I think this is an example of how amid this public health crisis, people are coming up with ideas. They are adapting."

The US is lagging behind in testing: Only about 1,500 tests have been run in the US, compared to thousands a day in South Korea, said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

There are a few reasons for the delay — the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention botched its roll out of testing, and some in the medical field have complained about strict rules on who is allowed testing. In many places, only those presenting severe symptoms are encouraged to get tested, even though there may be many more asymptomatic patients.

12:04 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

India's presidential palace cancels Holi gathering after spike in virus cases

From CNN's Vedika Sud in New Delhi

India's Presidential palace, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, will not be holding traditional Holi gatherings this year, the country's president said on Twitter.

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said the decision has been taken as a "precautionary measure" amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will be skipping a key event to mark the festival of Holi this year in a bid to avoid public gatherings as the novel coronavirus cases rise in India.

Holi is a popular Hindu festival that signifies the arrival of spring and the end of winter.

2:53 a.m. ET, March 6, 2020

Epidemics can spread globally faster now than before — but our science has also advanced

Dr. Nathan Wolfe
Dr. Nathan Wolfe CNN

There have been epidemics in decades past, and there will be more in future years.

But what an epidemic looks like will continue shifting as we move into a hyperconnected globalized world, said Dr. Nathan Wolfe, virologist and infectious diseases expert, at a CNN town hall.

The world is more connected: "We talked about the 1918 pandemic, how many flights were there in 1918? Zero. How many flights do we anticipate in 2020? 40 million flights. The nature of our world and the connectivity of our world has changed so dramatically we're going to continue to see these outbreaks again and again," Wolfe said.

We will keep seeing these epidemics, he warned: "For many people, they may feel what we're experiencing is a groundhog day, and it's certainly the case these epidemics are going to continue into the future."

But we've also come a long way: "A lot has happened since 10, 12 years ago, when we were doing this. There's been a tremendous investment," Wolfe said.

"Now the US Government invests something on the order of $12 billion a year for health security. It needs to be sustained, it's not enough — but what we weren't doing then, we do now."