March 18 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Steve George, Angela Dewan and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:37 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020
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8:44 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

US surgeon general: "We should be acting as if we have the virus"

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during a press briefing about the coronavirus in Washington, DC, on March 14.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks during a press briefing about the coronavirus in Washington, DC, on March 14. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Whether you test positive or negative for the novel coronavirus, "we should be acting as if we have the virus," US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said on NBC this morning.

Speaking to the importance of following mitigation measures during the current coronavirus outbreak, Adams said that any person who feels sick should stay home — and testing negative for the virus should not change that.

"If we do those three things — making sure we’re cleaning our surfaces, making sure we’re washing our hands, and making sure we’re staying six feet away from people — that’s how we will most protect ourselves from this disease," Adams said today.

Adams added: "You should not change your approach to mitigation measures based on a positive or a negative test. You could test negative and still be early in the incubation period and still spread coronavirus."

Earlier this week: During a White House briefing yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence noted that while testing for the novel coronavirus is becoming more widely available, the actions of people in the United States should take remain the same, even if they can’t get a test.

“You don’t need the results of testing to know what you should do,” Pence said, urging everyone in the country to follow the principles in the Trump administration’s 15-day plan to slow new infections in the US.

The plan, announced Monday, offers more stringent recommendations about staying home and avoiding groups of 10 people or more, among other things.

8:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

West Virginia senator: "We have no testing, we are not prepared"

From CNN's Carma Hassan

Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media after a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 12.
Sen. Joe Manchin speaks to the media after a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 12. Alex Wong/Getty Images

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told CNN this morning that he was worried as they were waiting for the state’s first case of coronavirus because he didn’t want people to be “lulled into a false sense of security.”

The state is now reporting one case of the novel coronavirus.

Manchin said the state’s population is vulnerable because they have older people as well as people with respiratory issues and diabetes. 

“I thought it was just carnage waiting to happen, I wanted to make sure that people understood that they shouldn’t get a false sense of security,” Manchin said.

“What we did, they didn’t test, John,” Manchin said to CNN's John Berman. “Up until a couple days ago we only had 40 tests done, now I think we are at 130 or so, but with that being said, John we have no testing, we are not prepared, people think that we are immune from this.”

Manchin said he spoke to Vice President Mike Pence and told him they need the testing kits and supplies, such as personal protection for first responders and health care workers.

“When it hits my state – and it has hit – it’s going to be absolutely catastrophic,” Manchin said.

8:50 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

China to send 100,000 coronavirus testing kits to the Philippines

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

Motorists queue at a health checkpoint on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines, on March 16.
Motorists queue at a health checkpoint on the outskirts of Manila, Philippines, on March 16. Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

China is sending 100,000 novel coronavirus test kits and other essential medical supplies to the Philippines to assist the country "in fighting the epidemic," according to Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

"China will send 100,000 testing kits; 10,000 N95 masks; PPEs 10,000 ; surgical masks 100,000," Locsin said in a tweet posted on Wednesday.

The announcement came after Locsin spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila said that the they have been "closely coordinating with the Department of Health to ensure a speedy receiving of the aforesaid donations so as to contribute to the Philippine Government's efforts in fighting the epidemic and benefit the Filipinos as soon as possible."

The numbers: The Philippines currently has 202 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus including 17 deaths.

8:36 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

UK prime minister: "Take action that is unprecedented for a government in peace time"

From CNN's Nada Bashir in London

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, in London on March 18.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, in London on March 18. House of Commons

United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the coronavirus outbreak as “a national emergency.”

The government is asking public “to take action that is unprecedented for a government in peace time – and possibly unprecedented in the last century," he said at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today.

Johnson pledged “further measures to support workers of all kinds throughout this crisis,” saying the government is working with unions and colleagues across parliament. 

The UK’s Press Association and UK media reported that only lawmakers scheduled to submit questions to the prime minister were attending today's session.

Johnson, pressed by the opposition leader about not doing enough to “test, test, test” as advise by the World Health Organization said “we are getting much closer to having a generally available test which will determine whether or not you have had the disease.”

“This country is actually far ahead of many comparable countries in testing huge numbers of people, we’re increasing our tests from 5000 to 10,000 a day," Johnson added.

8:31 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus-hit cruise ship docks in Cuban port

From CNN’s Patrick Oppmann in Havana

The British cruise ship MS Braemar is seen off the coast of Havana, Cuba, on March 17.
The British cruise ship MS Braemar is seen off the coast of Havana, Cuba, on March 17. Stringer/Reuters

The transatlantic cruise ship MS Braemar docked at the Cuban port of Mariel, west of Havana, this morning.

Later today, Cuban health officials are expected to examine passengers, who will then be transported to charter flights to return to the United Kingdom.

The British company Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, which operates the Braemar, confirmed on Twitter that the cruise ship docked in Mariel. Four planes have also landed in Cuba.

By the numbers: The Braemar is carrying more than 600 passengers with at least five confirmed coronavirus cases on board. It had spent days searching for somewhere to dock after it was refused entry at multiple Caribbean ports.

8:29 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus impacting education for more than 849 million children around the world

From CNN's Chuck Johnston in Atlanta

A girl studies at her home in Eichenau, Germany, on March 17, as schools close due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
A girl studies at her home in Eichenau, Germany, on March 17, as schools close due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images

Governments in 113 countries have closed educational institutions, impacting children, youth and adults in an attempt to contain coronavirus, according to the latest report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

There are 102 countries implementing nationwide closures specifically impacting 849.4 million children and youth, according to UNESCO.

9:05 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Global coronavirus deaths top 8,000, cases reach 200,000, Johns Hopkins reports

The number of people who have died from the coronavirus globally has exceeded 8,000, while the number of infections has soared past 200,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The same university reported that 100,000 people were infected on March 6, meaning that the number of cases has doubled in just 12 days.

Remember: This number is slightly different to the latest count from the World Health Organization, which is reporting over 184,000 cases and more than 7,500 deaths. Johns Hopkins, based in Baltimore, Maryland, and WHO report tallies at different times of the day, so the counts often differ.

Medical personnel take samples at a "drive-thru" coronavirus testing lab in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 16.
Medical personnel take samples at a "drive-thru" coronavirus testing lab in West Palm Beach, Florida, on March 16. Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

These are the worst-affected countries by deaths, according to Johns Hopkins:

  • China (Hubei): 3,122  
  • Italy: 2,503 
  • Iran: 988 
  • Spain: 558
  • France: deaths 
  • South Korea, 84
  • UK: 71 deaths 
  • US: 55 deaths 
  • Netherlands: 43
  • Japan: 29

And these are the most affected by cases, according to Johns Hopkins:

  • China: 81,102 
  • Italy 31,506 
  • Iran 16,169 
  • Spain 13,716
  • German 9,877
  • South Korea 8,413 
  • France 7,696 
  • US 6,496
  • Switzerland 2,700 
  • UK 1,960 
7:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Iran coronavirus deaths top 1,000

From CNN's Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Funeral prayers are performed at Beheshte Masoumeh Cemetery for victims of the coronavirus outbreak in Qom, Iran on March 17.
Funeral prayers are performed at Beheshte Masoumeh Cemetery for victims of the coronavirus outbreak in Qom, Iran on March 17. Fatemah Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran has confirmed 147 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing the country’s total death toll to 1,135.

Iran has been the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, as countries including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait report cases linked to the Iranian city of Qom, which hosts many holy sites.

Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi advised people in Iran to stay at home for a two-week period in a bid to stem the spread of the disease.

Iran has canceled Friday prayers for a third week in a row. Many Iranians would have been celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, on Friday this week.

The country has struggled to slow the rapid spread of the virus, which has infected a number of lawmakers and killed advisers to senior government officials.

Authorities also confirmed an additional 1,192 cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 17,361.

7:42 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

Japan and IOC determined to hold 2020 Olympics despite growing dissent among leading athletes

From CNN's George Ramsay and Aleks Klosok

Olympic Rings are seen next to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 17.
Olympic Rings are seen next to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 17. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Dissent is growing among leading athletes as they voice concerns about preparing for the Olympics amid the novel coronavirus outbreak after organizers encouraged them to continue preparation as planned.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Tuesday that no "drastic decisions" will be made about the Games, which get underway in Tokyo in July, and that measures are being taken to guarantee the "safety and interests of athletes, coaches and support teams."

But athletes believe they have been forced into an impossible position given the virus, which has infected more that 198,000 people worldwide and killed at least 7,900.

In a statement to CNN, the IOC said: “This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions.”

“The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health."

On Tuesday, the UK's world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson expressed her frustration at the situation.

In a statement posted on social media she said: “The IOC and the Local Government are at odds with one another.”

“The IOC advice 'encourages athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympics Games as best as they can' with the Olympics only four months away but the government legislation is enforcing isolation at home, with tracks, gyms and public spaces closed.”