February 22 coronavirus news

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10:44 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

A woman in Canada tested positive after traveling to Iran. That has got health officials concerned

Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam has raised concerns over a woman who tested positive for coronavirus after recently returning from Iran.

"Any important cases linked to Iran could be an indicator that there is more widespread transmission than we know about," Tam said.

Iran only recently began reporting its first cases. On Friday, the Middle Eastern country confirmed a total of 18 patients with coronavirus and four deaths.

Tam said this is a reminder that the novel coronavirus is a global issue and that there is the possibility that the virus could be present in countries that may not have the capacity to detect or contain the virus. 

The Canadian woman, in her 30, is the sixth case of novel coronavirus in British Columbia and the ninth for Canada overall.

According to Tam, there was no indication that the patient had been to Qom, the city where the virus was first detected in Iran. “So this leads to the need for further investigation for the officials on the ground," in British Columbia, she said.

Iran outbreak: The novel coronavirus has spread to several Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran, according to the Iranian health ministry.

“The spread of the coronavirus started in Qom and has reached other cities in the country like Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht and other cities due to people traveling. There is a possibility that it exists in all cities across the country,” Minnou Mohraz, member of the National Committee for Infectious diseases at the Ministry of Health, said Friday.

“It’s clear that new coronavirus has circulated in the country and probably the source of this illness was Chinese workers who work in the city of Qom and had traveled to China,” Mohraz added.

9:58 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Investors are betting on a quick recovery from coronavirus. What if they're wrong?

Shipping containers sit aboard cargo ship at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminal in Hong Kong.
Shipping containers sit aboard cargo ship at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminal in Hong Kong. Paul Yeung/Bloomberg/Getty Images

A growing number of companies are warning that the coronavirus will prevent them from meeting sales or profit targets for the first three months of the year. Some are even getting specific, and putting a number on the financial damage. 

Situation is highly uncertain: Many of the financial projections assume the coronavirus will be contained in China over the coming weeks and months, and that there won't be a major outbreak in another country. If the Chinese economy doesn't come roaring back as quickly as expected, investors could be caught off guard.

"Investors have largely taken the view that the impact will be temporary, hopefully short-lived, and that most of the weakness should be reversed with a strong rebound in the quarters that follow," Peter Oppenheimer, chief global equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, wrote this week.

Coronavirus costing billions: The International Air Transport Association, which represents major airlines, warned this week that coronavirus could cost global carriers nearly $30 billion in lost revenue. Global demand would drop by 4.7%, the first overall decline since the financial crisis.

Read more here.

9:44 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Two new coronavirus cases confirmed in Taiwan

Two additional cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Taiwan, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

That brings the total number of cases on the island to 26.

The latest patients are the daughter, aged in her 40s, and granddaughter, 20, of a previous case. Both have no recent travel history.

The granddaughter developed a cough on January 28, while the daughter had gastroesophageal reflux on February 9, the ministry statement said.

They are currently in isolation. 

9:31 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

A member of a medical team takes the temperature of a traveler at a border crossing in Iraq, upon their return from Iran on February 21.
A member of a medical team takes the temperature of a traveler at a border crossing in Iraq, upon their return from Iran on February 21. Hussein Faleh/AFP via Getty Images

There is great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China, with Iran reporting a spike in numbers and deaths, and other Middle Eastern countries reporting their first cases.

South Korea has also seen a huge uptick in cases, with over 340 now confirmed nationwide.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization's director general has said the window of opportunity to control the outbreak is "narrowing."

What you need to know:

The numbers: Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288.

Another 109 deaths were recorded in China on Friday, bringing its total death toll to 2,345, according to China’s National Health Commission. The global death toll stands at 2,360. 

Changing the tally: Officials in Hubei province, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have banned the practice of reducing the number of already confirmed cases. It also mandated that all previously counted cases stand as part of the total confirmed tally. The vast majority of cases and deaths in China have been recorded in Hubei.

Crisis in South Korea: Cases in the Asian country have surged past 340 after more than 140 new infections were reported on Saturday. Around half of the total cases are associated with a religious group in the south of the country. Two patients have died of the virus in South Korea.

South Korean authorities are taking measures to contain the outbreak, including shutting down public places in the capital Seoul and designating "special care zones."

Middle East spread: Iran's health ministry has confirmed 18 cases of the virus, including four deaths, and said it has spread to several cities. Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have reported their first cases.

WHO warning: World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the window of opportunity to contain the virus is "narrowing" and called on countries to prepare for community transmission.

US cases rise: 34 people have tested positive for the virus in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes 21 cases among repatriated individuals, as well as 13 other US cases. The CDC said it will now track confirmed cases in two separate groups: people who have been repatriated, and those identified by the US public health network.

Prison outbreaks: 512 cases of the virus were confirmed from inside China's prisons on Friday -- 271 in Hubei , 207 in Shandong and 34 in Zhejiang.

9:02 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

BREAKING: South Korea reports 142 new coronavirus cases

Workers wearing protective gear prepare to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, on February 21, 2020.
Workers wearing protective gear prepare to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul, on February 21, 2020. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea reported a jump of 142 additional cases overnight, bringing the country's total to 346, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

New cases breakdown:

  • North Gyeongsang province (which surrounds southeastern city of Daegu): 103
  • Daegu city: 28
  • Busan: 2
  • Gyeonggi province: 2
  • North Chungcheong province: 2
  • Daejeon: 1
  • Gwangju: 1
  • North Jeolla province: 1
  • Sejong: 1
  • Jeju: 1

Clusters: Among the 142 new cases, 92 are linked to the Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province and 38 are linked with the Shincheonji religious group. South Korean authorities earlier this week were seeking to question more than 1,000 members of the group who attended a service with one of the recently confirmed cases.

Deaths: South Korea reported its second death from the virus on Friday.

Seoul tries to control spread: The South Korean government is taking a range of measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, including shutting down public places in the capital and designating "special care zones."

After three cases were detected in the country's armed forces, all South Korean military personnel have been restricted from leaving their bases and going on vacation.

8:53 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

Death toll from novel coronavirus rises to 2,360 globally

The death toll from the novel coronavirus in mainland China has increased by 109, according to the latest figures released by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) Saturday.

All but three of those deaths were in Hubei province, at the outbreak's epicenter.

Additional deaths across the mainland bring China's total death toll to 2,345, with 2,250 in Hubei.

That brings the global death toll to 2,360.

Breakdown of deaths globally: There have been 15 deaths reported outside of mainland China:

  • Iran: 4 deaths:
  • Japan: 3 deaths:
  • Hong Kong, South Korea: 2 deaths each
  • Taiwan, Philippines, France, Italy: 1 death each

China cases rise: Confirmed cases in mainland China increased by 397 on Friday to reach a total of 76,288. A total of 366 new confirmed cases were in Hubei province.

Recoveries: Chinese health authorities reported that a total of 20,659 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

8:24 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

"Window of opportunity is narrowing" to contain coronavirus, WHO warns

The University of Hong Kong
The University of Hong Kong

There’s great concern about the spread of the novel coronavirus in countries outside China and among people with no connection to China or Wuhan, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

There’s still a chance to contain the virus, Tedros said, “but the window of opportunity is narrowing.”

The WHO is calling on countries to continue containment measures while preparing for community transmission, he said. He said China’s containment measures in Wuhan and elsewhere are “hammering” the virus and can help contain it.

"We must not look back and regret that we failed to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have,” he said.

The outbreak can still go any direction, Tedros said, and countries need to prepare for any eventuality.

Dr. Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO's Infectious Hazards Management Department, said the agency is working to prepare countries’ health care workers with training and making sure they know how to protect themselves, and to make sure countries have enough workers to handle a number of cases.

7:53 p.m. ET, February 21, 2020

First coronavirus death reported in Italy

A 78-year-old man who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has died at a hospital in Padua, northern Italy.

It is Italy's first death from the coronavirus, that is quickly spreading around the world. The country has reported 14 new confirmed cases of the virus, all in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bringing the country's total to 17.

Italian news agency ANSA said the patient also suffered from “previous pathologies.”

The death was also reported by the president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, in a TV interview.

Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced severe restrictions in areas of the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, which have recorded most of Italy's coronavirus cases.

All public events have been canceled, schools, shops and local enterprises closed and sporting activities have been suspended.

Anyone who has come into contact with people who have tested positive for the virus must go into quarantine and those who live in villages where coronavirus cases have been reported must stay in isolation at home, according to ordnance issued by Italy’s health ministry.