February 22 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and Tara John, CNN

Updated 9:02 p.m. ET, February 22, 2020
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8:50 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

A controversial religious group is at the center of South Korea's coronavirus outbreak

From CNN's Luke McGee

Workers from a disinfection service company sanitize a street in front of a branch of the Shincheonji religious group in Daegu, South Korea, on February 19.
Workers from a disinfection service company sanitize a street in front of a branch of the Shincheonji religious group in Daegu, South Korea, on February 19.

More than half of South Korea's novel coronavirus cases are linked to a branch of a controversial religious group in the southern city of Daegu.

At least 231 of the country's 433 confirmed cases are associated with the Shincheonji religious group, according to South Korea's Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (KCDC).

The total number of cases reported in South Korea in the past 24 hours stands at 229, after 142 new cases were confirmed overnight.

Around 9,300 Shincheonji members are being put into self-isolation and will be tested, the country's Ministry of Health and Welfare said Saturday.

The Shincheonji is centered around the personality of its founder and chairman, Lee Man-hee. On a website believed to be the group's official homepage, the group heavily suggests that Lee is the "Promised Pastor" mentioned in the Bible. The passage it highlights suggests that the Promised Pastor is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Members of the group congregate in a way that puts them in close contact with one another for long periods of time.

KCDC Director Jung Eun-Kyeong said at a press briefing on Friday: "(We are) seeing that there is a possibility that the characteristics of many people sitting close together in a very confined space and holding service for more than an hour ... (could have led to) a few who were exposed infecting many (other) infectees."

The group said it "deeply regrets" the outbreak which occurred in their Daegu branch, in a statement released online Friday.

It said its "services, gatherings, and mission activity" have been stopped and all its buildings are being sanitized.

Read the full story here

7:51 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Evacuation flight for Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers lands in UK

From CNN's Sarah Dean in London

A plane carrying 32 British and European passengers, as well as government and medical staff, landed in the UK on Saturday morning.

It landed at Boscombe Down Ministry of Defence base near Salisbury in southwest England.

On Friday, 253 people who tested negative for novel coronavirus onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship disembarked the vessel after 14 days of quarantine in Yokohama port.

There are 31 passengers left onboard the ship.

7:32 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Samsung Electronics shuts South Korean smartphone plant after confirmed virus case

From CNN's Sophie Jeong

Samsung Electronics said on Saturday that one coronavirus case had been confirmed at its smartphone factory complex in the South Korean city of Gumi.

The plant has been shut down until Monday morning, while the floor where the infected employee worked will be closed until February 25, Samsung said in a statement.  

"On Feb. 22, an employee working at Samsung Electronics' Gumi Complex was tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” Samsung said.

“The company plans to implement all necessary measures for disinfection and containment promptly."

The company has also identified colleagues who came in contact with the infected employee, and has taken measures to place them in isolation and get them tested.

6:53 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

WHO concerned about increase in international coronavirus cases

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, seen here speaking on January 28 in Beijing, reiterated on Saturday that the window of opportunity to contain the virus is narrowing.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, seen here speaking on January 28 in Beijing, reiterated on Saturday that the window of opportunity to contain the virus is narrowing. Naohiko Hatta/Pool/Getty Images

The increase in confirmed cases beyond China has become a cause for concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Saturday.

"Although the total number of cases outside China remains relatively small, we are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case," he said.

The increase in cases in Iran, South Korea and Italy "is also a matter of concern and how the virus is now spreading to other parts of the world," he added.

The director general reiterated that while there is still a chance to contain the virus, "the window of opportunity is narrowing."

"Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for (the virus) to spread in countries with weaker health systems."

While 80% of patients exhibiting mild symptoms will recover, 20% of patients with "severe or critical disease, ranging from shortness of breath to septic shock and multi-organ failure," require "respiratory support machines that are, as you know, in short supply in many African countries," he added.

The WHO has supplied laboratory test kits and 30,000 sets of protective equipment to a number of priority countries in Africa, many of which have "direct links to China or their high volume of travel with China."

"We’ve also published a Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, with a call for $675 million to support countries, especially those which are most vulnerable," he said.

There are over 77,700 cases globally, and at least 17 deaths outside mainland China.

5:22 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Italy has its second coronavirus related death

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London and Livia Borghese in Rome 

A woman who tested positive for the novel coronavirus has died in Italy, a spokesperson for the Protezione Civile (Department of Civil Protection) told CNN Saturday, marking the second death related to the virus in the country.

The woman died in the northern region of Lombardy, according to a health ministry spokesman.

A press conference about the situation will be held at 6.30 a.m. ET.

5:32 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Iran confirms 10 more coronavirus cases

From CNN's Sara Mazloumsaki

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

The novel coronavirus continues to spread in the Middle East with 10 new cases in Iran, state news agency IRNA said Saturday, citing the the country's health ministry.

Eight of the cases are from the city of Qom and two from the capital Tehran.

That brings the total to 28 cases with five deaths.

4:19 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Evacuation flight from Japan to arrive in UK

From CNN's Sarah Dean in London.

A bus carrying passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leaves Daikoku Pier on Friday.
A bus carrying passengers from the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship leaves Daikoku Pier on Friday. Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

An evacuation flight from Japan carrying 32 British and European passengers, as well as government and medical staff, will arrive in the UK on Saturday morning, the country's Foreign Office announced late Friday night.

On Friday, 253 people who tested negative for novel coronavirus onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship disembarked the vessel after 14 days of quarantine docked in Yokohama port.

There are 31 passengers left onboard the ship.

On Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said an evacuation flight for British nationals on board the cruise ship would depart Tokyo on Friday.

“Details have been sent to those who have registered for the flight. We urge other British nationals still seeking to leave to contact us. We will continue to support British nationals who wish to stay in Japan,” Raab said.

Britons returning from Japan after being onboard the Diamond Princess will be isolated at Arrowe Park Hospital, on the Wirral in northwest England, for a 14-day quarantine period, the government said.

3:56 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

Just joining us? Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

Doctors look at a lung CT image at a hospital in Yunmeng county, Xiaogan city, in China's central Hubei province.
Doctors look at a lung CT image at a hospital in Yunmeng county, Xiaogan city, in China's central Hubei province. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Concerns are growing over the global 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 430 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 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.

Global cases and fatalities: More than 1,500 confirmed cases and 15 deaths from the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China. Italy reported its first death and Iran and South Korea reported new fatalities on Friday.

9,000 in self-isolation in South Korea: Cases in the East Asian country have surged to 430 after more than 220 new infections were reported in 24 hours. 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.

Officials are testing and self-isolating 9,300 members of the religious group to try and contain the outbreak. Authorities are also taking measures including shutting down public places in the capital Seoul and designating "special care zones." Meanwhile, a fourth military member has been infected with coronavirus.

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. Canada's chief public health officer suggested further investigation was needed after a Canadian tested positive for the virus after returning from Iran. Theresa Tam suggested there could be "more widespread transmission than we know about."

Meanwhile, Lebanon and Israel have reported their first cases.

New cases in Asia Pacific: Apart from China and South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Australia all reported new cases on Saturday.

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: 35 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 14 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.

3:40 a.m. ET, February 22, 2020

BREAKING: South Korea just reported another 87 new cases. That makes 229 in 24 hours

From CNN's Sophie Jeong

A disinfection worker wears protective gear and prepares to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul.
A disinfection worker wears protective gear and prepares to disinfect against the coronavirus at a subway station in Seoul. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea reported an additional 87 coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the country's total to 433, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The total number of cases reported in the past 24 hours stands at 229, after 142 new cases were confirmed overnight.

Here's a breakdown of the 87 new cases:

  • Daegu city: 55
  • North Gyeongsang province (which surrounds Daegu): 14
  • Gangwon province: 5
  • Gyeonggi province: 4
  • Seoul: 3
  • Gwangju: 2
  • Daejon: 1
  • Busan: 1
  • Ulsan: 1
  • South Jeolla: 1

The statement added that among the 87 new cases, 62 are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province.