February 23 coronavirus news

By James Griffiths, Jenni Marsh and Tara John, CNN

Updated 0308 GMT (1108 HKT) February 24, 2020
22 Posts
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4:58 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

South Korea extends school holiday for a week

From CNN’s Jake Kwon in Seoul.

The winter vacation for South Korean kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools has been extended for a week, the country's education ministry said Sunday, after coronavirus cases there surged past 600.

Instead of March 2, schools will now open on March 9.

4:41 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Judge blocks transfer of coronavirus patients to city in Southern California

From CNN's Faith Karimi in Atlanta

Travis Air Force Base
Travis Air Force Base Hector Amezcua/AP

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the transfer of people infected with the coronavirus to a city in Southern California until a hearing set for this week.

Costa Mesa city filed legal action late Friday against the state of California and various federal agencies after it discovered they were planning to use Fairview Development Center to quarantine patients who've tested positive for the coronavirus.

It said the center is close to residential areas and not suitable to house the patients, citing a risk to public health.

"We learned late Thursday that patients could begin arriving as early as Sunday," Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement. "Filing this injunction was the only way to halt the process to allow everyone in Costa Mesa and Orange County to understand the plans in place to protect the patients as well as our community and the region."

Read the rest of the article here

3:38 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

South Korea coronavirus cases rise to 602, five deaths

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Sunday that 46 additional coronavirus cases have been confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 602.

Of the total cases, 309 or about 55% have links to the Shincheonji religious group in the city of Daegu, according to authorities.

Five people in the country who had coronavirus have died, with the most recent death being confirmed Sunday afternoon.

About 5,000 to 6,000 people are being tested for coronavirus every day, authorities said.

3:05 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Another doctor dies from novel coronavirus in Wuhan

From CNN’s Lily Lee in Beijing

Another doctor in the Chinese city of Wuhan has died after being infected with coronavirus, according to the official WeChat account of Wuhan Xiehe Jiangbei Hospital, where the doctor worked in the gastroenterology department.

Xia Sisi, 29, was admitted to the hospital on January 19, and was then transferred to Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University as her conditioned worsened.

“At 6:30 in the early morning of February 23, 2020, she died at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University after all rescue measures were exhausted. We express our deep condolences to Doctor Xia Sisi's unfortunate passing and condolences to her family,” the hospital said in a statement.

On Thursday, another doctor in Wuhan, 29-year-old Peng Yinhua, also died from the virus. There was national outrage earlier this month when doctor Li Wenliang, who had attempted to raise the alarm about the virus in the early weeks of the outbreak only to be reprimanded by police, died of the disease.

Chinese officials have said that more than 3,000 hospital staff have been infected with the virus.

2:54 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

South Korea alert raised to highest level over coronavirus outbreak

From CNN’s Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

Workers spray disinfectant at a market in Busan, South Korea on Sunday.
Workers spray disinfectant at a market in Busan, South Korea on Sunday. Son Hyung-joo/Yonhap/AP

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said in a televised speech Sunday that he is raising the national alert to the highest possible level following the spike of coronavirus infections across the country.

South Korea has reported 556 coronavirus cases, 309 of them associated with the Shincheonji religious group in Daegu, and five deaths.

"We’re now at a watershed moment with the novel coronavirus and the next few days will be very critical," Moon said in a televised address. "We need to identify the infected people as soon as possible and prevent the virus from spreading further."

"The government will raise the country’s crisis alert level to the highest as recommended by infectious disease experts and will strengthen the national response system.
Most of the tests results for the people who are showing symptoms are expected to come out over the weekend, and after that, we expect the increase in new cases related to the Shincheonji group will slow down. 
These measures are taken to quickly screen and treat infected patients and to prevent the virus from spreading to the regional community by isolating and protecting the patients.
The decision to temporarily shut down the Shincheonji related facilities by the local governments and to conduct surveys on the whole congregation is an inevitable measure to ensure the safety of the local community. 
These are not measures to restrict freedom of religious activities but to protect lives and safety of local residents and citizens. It is also a measure to ensure safety of the Shincheonji members."
3:52 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Just joining us? Here's where we're at

Medical workers at a coronavirus detection lab in Wuhan, China on February 22.
Medical workers at a coronavirus detection lab in Wuhan, China on February 22. Cheng Min/Xinhua via AP

The novel coronavirus has continued to spread around the world, with concerns of growing infection clusters in South Korea, Singapore and Japan, even as the worst of the outbreak remains focused in mainland China.

  • Death toll rises: As of Sunday, the number of confirmed cases of the virus is nearing 80,000. The number of deaths stands at 2,462. Of those, 20 occurred outside mainland China.
  • South Korean outbreak: Authorities in the east Asian country confirmed an additional 123 cases Sunday, bringing the total to over 550. Five deaths have occurred in the country. The majority of cases are associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus religious group, in the southern city of Daegu.
  • Global spread: Elsewhere in Asia, both Japan and Singapore have reported dozens of cases. In Europe, an outbreak has been confirmed in Italy, where 79 cases and two deaths have been reported, while in the Middle East, Iranian authorities have confirmed 28 cases and five deaths from the virus.
  • WHO team in Wuhan: The World Health Organization-led joint mission working on coronavirus in China arrived in Wuhan on Saturday. The city at the center of the outbreak has been reporting less new cases in recent days, but tens of thousands of people remain hospitalized there.
  • Cruise ship passengers head home: People quarantined on board the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Yokohama, Japan, have continued arriving home. But there are concerns the quarantine failed, after numerous passengers tested positive on arrival in both the US and Australia.

Can outbreak be contained? "We are clearly at the brink" of a pandemic, Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN.

"Our fate is going to be determined by the ability of countries outside of China that have travel-related cases," he said Saturday. "And now they're starting to develop sustained transmission from person to person to person."

"So when you get countries like Japan and South Korea that have these cases that are person to person to person without any real ability to point to where it came from, that's the makings of a pandemic," Fauci added.

2:26 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Fifth person dies of coronavirus in South Korea

From CNN's Jake Kwon and Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

A fifth person has died from coronavirus in South Korea, authorities confirmed Sunday.

The woman was already in a serious condition when she arrived at Kyungpook National University Hospital in Daegu, where she was diagnosed, according to authorities. She died on Sunday.

South Korea has reported 556 coronavirus cases, 309 of them associated with the Shincheonji religious group in Daegu.

Police in Daegu said Sunday that they had deployed about 600 officers to locate the 670 members of the Shincheonji religious group whose whereabouts are unknown. Officers were visiting their registered addresses and using telecommunications service providers’ location tracking information, police said.

According to the South Korean law on the prevention of infectious diseases, health authorities are able to seek help from police and telecommunication service providers are obliged to provide information when requested by the police.

South Korea is experiencing one of the worst outbreaks outside of mainland China, where the majority of cases and deaths have been confirmed. The latest death puts South Korea on par with Iran for the most number of coronavirus deaths outside mainland China.

1:54 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Italy introduces strict coronavirus emergency measures as 79 people test positive

From CNN’s Helena De Moura in Atlanta

A municipal information sign reads "Coronavirus, the ordinance with the requirements of the Ministry of Health is available on the municipal website" is pictured in the village of Casalpusterlengo, on February 22.
A municipal information sign reads "Coronavirus, the ordinance with the requirements of the Ministry of Health is available on the municipal website" is pictured in the village of Casalpusterlengo, on February 22. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The Italian government has introduced strict emergency measures to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country as 79 people have tested positive, including two who have died.

Of those who tested positive, 54 are in the Lombardy region, 17 in Veneto, two in Emilia Romagna and one in Piemonte, according to authorities. In addition, two Chinese tourists have been hospitalized in Rome.

The emergency measures include a ban on all public events in ten municipalities, closure of public buildings, including museums, surveillance and quarantine of individuals who may have been exposed to the virus, as well as limited transport.

“We are asking basically that everyone who has come from areas stricken by the epidemic to remain under a mandatory house stay,” Italy’s Minister of Health Roberto Speranza said at a press conference on Saturday.
“This plan has clearly some urgent choices that we must comply with, they are choices that are forceful in nature,” he said. “Because the essential objective that we must reach in the next hours is to precisely circumscribe this area, to work so this virus can be isolated inside a specific geographic area.”
1:32 a.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Third flight carrying Diamond Princess passengers arrives in Hong Kong

Five Chinese nationals returned to Hong Kong Sunday on a chartered plane, after weeks of being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

It was the third chartered government flight evacuating passengers to Hong Kong. The first two returned 188 passengers to Hong Kong, according to the city's Security Bureau. Twenty additional people returned on their own.

Upon arrival, all passengers will be quarantined for two weeks at a housing estate in northeast Hong Kong, authorities said.