February 21 coronavirus news

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12:32 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Over 200 infected in coronavirus outbreaks at Chinese prisons

From Nectar Gan in Hong Kong and Shanshan Wang in Beijing

A prison in China’s eastern Shandong province has reported a large outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 2,000 people across the country, according to local officials.

Health, prison and government officials announced at a joint news conference on Friday that 2,077 staff and prisoners at Rencheng prison had been tested for the coronavirus, with seven staff and 200 prisoners testing positive.

Xi Yan, director of Shandong's provincial health commission said “the cases of seven police officers were included in previous daily updates of confirmed cases in Jining city".

As of February 20, there were 545 confirmed cases and four deaths in Shandong province.

How the virus spread: Authorities said the outbreak started with two of the prison's police officers. On February 12, an on-duty officer was admitted to hospital for coughing, and tested positive for the coronavirus the next day. On February 13, another police officer at the prison also tested positive, leading authorities to lock down the area.

A handful of officials have been dismissed over the incident, including Shandong's Justice Department chief and its senior prison authority officials.

At Shilifeng prison in Zhejiang province, 34 prisoners have tested positive for novel coronavirus, and the prison warden was dismissed, according to the Zheijiang government.

1:25 a.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Novel coronavirus cases outside mainland China have passed 1,200

From CNN's Eric Cheung

An employee works in the pop-up Huoyan Laboratory in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, February 6.
An employee works in the pop-up Huoyan Laboratory in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province on Thursday, February 6.

The novel coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December.

More than 1,200 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from the virus have been recorded in 29 countries and territories outside mainland China:

  • Australia (at least 17 cases)
  • Belgium (at least 1 case)
  • Cambodia (at least 1 case)
  • Canada (at least 9 cases)
  • Egypt (at least 1 case)
  • Finland (at least 1 case)
  • France (at least 12 cases, 1 death)
  • Germany (at least 16 cases)
  • Hong Kong (at least 68 cases, 2 deaths)
  • India (at least 3 cases)
  • Iran (at least 5 cases, 2 deaths)
  • Italy (at least 3 cases)
  • Japan (at least 704 cases, including 624 linked to cruise ship; 3 deaths)
  • Macao (at least 10 cases)
  • Malaysia (at least 22 cases)
  • Nepal (at least 1 case)
  • Philippines (at least 3 cases, 1 death)
  • Russia (at least 2 cases)
  • Singapore (at least 85 cases)
  • South Korea (at least 156 cases, 1 death)
  • Spain (at least 2 cases)
  • Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
  • Sweden (at least 1 case)
  • Taiwan (at least 23 cases, 1 death)
  • Thailand (at least 35 cases)
  • United Arab Emirates (at least 9 cases)
  • United Kingdom (at least 9 cases)
  • United States (at least 26 cases)
  • Vietnam (at least 16 cases)

Read more about the patients in each place.

11:36 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

New British Columbia coronavirus case brings total infections in Canada to nine

A woman in her 30s has become the sixth case of novel coronavirus in British Columbia and the ninth for Canada overall.

According to a joint statement issued by British Columbia's Ministry of Health, the woman is presumed positive based on local testing, while samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) for final confirmation. 

The woman had recently returned from Iran, the statement said.

The patient is in isolation at home, the statement said, and her close contacts will be identified and contacted by public health officials.

“This brings the total number of cases in British Columbia to six. (They) will remain in self-isolation and under care by public-health teams. The first case has recovered, as indicated by the resolution of symptoms, followed by two successive negative test results 24 hours apart,” the statement said.

Cruise passengers test positive: The largest group of Canadians confirmed infected with the coronavirus are linked to the stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Out of 256 Canadian passengers, 47 have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, the government said.

Even those who have tested negative face a long journey home. Canada's foreign minister said Wednesday that all Diamond Princess passengers will be put into quarantine in Ontario for 14 days on their arrival.

11:22 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

A Hong Kong riot police officer has been infected with the virus. Another 59 officers are in quarantine

From Isaac Yee in Hong Kong

The Chinese financial hub of Hong Kong has announced three new cases of the coronavirus -- with a 48-year-old police officer among them.

A total of 68 cases of the virus have now been confirmed in Hong Kong, including two deaths.

In a statement released today, Hong Kong Police said the officer felt unwell on February 18 and sought medical treatment on the same day. He then tested positive for the coronavirus on February 20.

The officer had not traveled overseas within the past 14 days.

59 police officers quarantined: According to the police statement, the infected officer was the leader of the North Point anti-riot police squad. He had dinner with 59 other police officers at a restaurant on February 18. The Department of Health has defined all 59 people the officer dined with as close contacts.

According to police, some of the 59 officers that the confirmed case dined with were still reporting for work as recently as Thursday night. They have now all been placed in quarantine.

One of the other cases, a 58-year-old man, worked as a taxi driver and the Center for Health Protection is currently conducting relevant contact tracing

11:05 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Hubei province accounts for the vast majority of coronavirus cases and deaths in mainland China

Medical staff work at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan on February 17.
Medical staff work at an exhibition center converted into a hospital in Wuhan on February 17. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Two months after the novel coronavirus outbreak began, there are now at least 75,465 cases across mainland China. The country's death toll stands at 2,236.

By far the vast majority of cases are in Hubei province -- its capital Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak.

According to Hubei's health authority, 62,422 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the province alone, with 2,144 deaths.

There are just over 13,000 cases of the virus in mainland China outside Hubei and 92 deaths.

Here are the other worst hit provinces as of February 20:

Guangdong: 1,332 cases, 5 deaths

Henan: 1,265 cases, 19 deaths

Zhejiang: 1,175 cases, 0 deaths

Hunan: 1,010 cases, 4 deaths

Anhui: 987 cases, 6 deaths

10:50 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

South Korea reports 3 military members infected with coronavirus

From CNN's Sophie Jeong in Seoul

Three members of the South Korean military, including an officer each from the army, the navy and the air force, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

All three had a connection to the Daegu region, one of the epicenters of the growing South Korean virus outbreak.

There are now 156 infections from the virus in South Korea, and one death.

  • According to South Korean government statements, a 22-year-old navy sailor on Jeju Island was diagnosed with the virus today, after showing symptoms on Wednesday. He had been to Daegu on vacation on February 13.
  • An army officer in North Chungcheong Province who tested positive for the virus had also been to Daegu on vacation where he met up with his girlfriend who goes to Shincheonji Church of Jesus. A large number of the congregation have since been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
  • An air force officer in South Chungcheong Province also tested positive today, after being dispatched from Daegu as an examiner on February 17. On Wednesday he was running a high fever.
10:29 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Japanese government defends its cruise ship quarantine strategy

By CNN’s Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

As international criticism mounts of its handling of the Diamond Princess cruise ship crisis, the Japanese government has released data to back up its quarantine strategy.

In a report from the government-funded National Institute of Infectious Disease (NIID), newly-released data claims widespread transmission between passengers and crew had dropped after quarantine was put in place.

"Transmission toward the end of the quarantine period, which is scheduled to end for most passengers on 19 Feb, appears to have occurred mostly among crew or within passenger cabins," the report said.

The report showed that the onset of confirmed cases of Covid-19 peaked on February 7 before sinking to zero by February 15. The report said cases among crew peaked on February 13.

“The decline in the number of confirmed cases, based on reported onset dates, implies that the quarantine intervention was effective in reducing transmission among passengers," it said.

At least 626 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the ship, including the deaths of two Japanese passengers in their 80s.

'Ongoing risk': The report comes after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Japan’s quarantine measures might not be sufficient to prevent transmission among individuals on the ship.

"The CDC believes the rate of new infections on board, especially among those without symptoms, represents an ongoing risk," the organization said in a statement released Tuesday.

The CDC said that all US passengers and crew of the ship have been placed under travel restrictions, preventing them from returning to the US for at least 14 days after they have left the Diamond Princess.

10:17 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

Global death toll from coronavirus rises

From CNN’s Shanshan Wang in Beijing

Another 115 people died of the coronavirus in Hubei province on Thursday, the Hubei health authority announced today, raising the death toll in the province to 2,144.

Hubei is the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak and has seen the vast majority of infections and deaths since the epidemic began.

Hubei authorities confirmed an additional 411 cases of the virus in the province on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 62,442. 

By the numbers: The Hubei report brings the total number of deaths in mainland China to at least 2,236. The global death toll is at least 2,247, with 11 deaths outside of mainland China.

Japan has reported three deaths from the coronavirus, while Hong Kong and Iran have each reported two. Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea and France have each reported one death. 

The global number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 76,691 with the vast majority of cases in mainland China.

10:01 p.m. ET, February 20, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's what you need to know

A laboratory technician holds virus samples at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province, on February 19.
A laboratory technician holds virus samples at a laboratory in Hengyang in China's central Henan province, on February 19. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Hubei, the Chinese province at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak, announced 411 new cases today, after authorities changed the definition of a "confirmed case."

Only patients who have tested positive for the virus are now counted in the official figures, Chinese authorities said on Thursday.

Here's the latest:

Cases increase: The confirmed number of cases in mainland China have increased by 889, according to the country's National Health Commission. The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China is now 75,465, bringing the global total to 76,691.

Death toll rises: The number of people killed by the virus continues to rise, with 118 more deaths announced in mainland China today -- 115 of them in Hubei. In total, the global death toll is now 2,247.

South Korea cases spike: 52 new cases of the coronavirus have been reported in one day in South Korea, bringing the total in the country to 156. One person in South Korea has died from the virus.

A large number of patients are members of a church in the country's southeast.

South Korea and Japan now have the largest number of cases outside of mainland China.

Evacuees test positive: Several passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the United States and Australia have tested positive for the coronavirus, local health authorities say.

In the US, 11 out of 13 Diamond Princess evacuees who were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for testing have been confirmed to be infected.

Two Australian evacuees who have been infected are being housed in a special isolation unit at the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility.

In total, 626 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to the stricken ship, including two deaths.

Passengers disembark: More passengers who have tested negative for the virus are expected to leave the Diamond Princess today, the third day of departures from the formerly quarantined ship.

Travel warning: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new travel advisory for Japan due to the coronavirus outbreak. The CDC advises travelers to “practice usual precautions,” in accordance with a “Watch - Level 1” notice out of three possible levels. Yesterday, the agency listed the first travel notice outside of mainland China -- for Hong Kong, which also carries the “Level 1” advisory.