February 24 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Jenni Marsh and Tara John, CNN

Updated 0247 GMT (1047 HKT) February 25, 2020
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1:22 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

North Korea quarantines foreign diplomats

From CNN's Will Ripley in Tokyo

Foreign diplomats in Pyongyang, North Korea, are in isolation due to an ongoing novel coronavirus quarantine, a source inside the country tells CNN’s Will Ripley.

The source agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, due to what they describe as "paranoia" by North Korean government officials.

Diplomatic staff are not allowed to leave their compounds, the source says. All flights in and out of the country are suspended until further notice.

“We are basically caught in here,” the source says. “It’s dull and nobody knows how long this will go on for.”

Embassies in Pyongyang have been told the quarantine measures, which began in early February, will continue until March 1, the source adds.

“Nobody really believes that, given how paranoid the authorities are,” the source says.

Diplomats in North Korea: The exact number of foreign diplomats stationed inside North Korea is unknown, but is estimated to be a few hundred.

North Korea has already canceled a major tourist event, the annual Pyongyang marathon.

The country previously announced that all foreigners would be quarantined for 30 days, after quickly closing its borders at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.

No cases yet: North Korea has not confirmed a case of the virus, but health experts have warned it is highly susceptible to an outbreak given its close proximity to China and limited medical capabilities.

North Korean authorities have yet to respond to CNN’s request for comment.

1:14 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

These are the countries where novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed worldwide

From CNN's Eric Cheung

The coronavirus has reached more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China. The global death toll is 2,619, with 27 of those deaths outside mainland China.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Australia (at least 22 cases, including 7 evacuees from cruise ship)
  • Belgium (at least 1 case)
  • Cambodia (at least 1 case)
  • Canada (at least 10 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 74 cases, 2 deaths)
  • India (at least 3 cases)
  • Iran (at least 43 cases, 8 deaths)
  • Israel (at least 1 case, an evacuee from cruise ship)
  • Italy (at least 152 cases, 3 deaths)
  • Japan (at least 838 cases, including 691 on cruise ship, 4 deaths)
  • Lebanon (at least 1 case)
  • 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 89 cases)
  • South Korea (at least 763 cases, 7 deaths)
  • Spain (at least 2 cases)
  • Sri Lanka (at least 1 case)
  • Sweden (at least 1 case)
  • Taiwan (at least 28 cases, 1 death)
  • Thailand (at least 35 cases)
  • United Arab Emirates (at least 9 cases)
  • United Kingdom (at least 13 cases)
  • United States (at least 35 cases, including 21 who have been repatriated from abroad)
  • Vietnam (at least 16 cases)

Read more about the patients in each place.

1:06 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Stranded lobsters and missing wedding dresses: The coronavirus is a daily reminder of China's global reach

From CNN's Angela Dewan

The Mon Cheri Bridals warehouse in New Jersey on February 14.
The Mon Cheri Bridals warehouse in New Jersey on February 14. Kelly Burns

The novel coronavirus that has devastated the Chinese economy is having a ripple effect across the globe. The food we eat, the work we do and the clothes we wear -- many are daily reminders of the vital role China plays in the global economy.

Stranded lobsters: In Western Australia, the fishing season had only just begun when the Geraldton Fishermen's Co-operative was forced to stop buying its members' rock lobsters, which would have been exported to China for the busy Lunar New Year period. The co-operative usually exports more than 90% of its catch to China.

The co-operative was forced to cut its buying price to $0, to stop fishermen from bringing in lobsters than it couldn't sell on. The price has since crept back up; as for the backlog, some stocks will be frozen, while other sellers are looking for other international buyers.

Out of hair: In London, Jay Sylla-Johnson sells extensions, wigs and weaves made of human hair, through her online company Tresse de Luxe Hair. Around 90% of her products come from China.

A worker assembles hair extensions at a factory in Taihe, in China's eastern Anhui province.
A worker assembles hair extensions at a factory in Taihe, in China's eastern Anhui province. Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images

She hasn't been able to source new products for nearly a month, as her suppliers have been unable to commute to their factories, many of which were closed. Entire cities and transport links came to a standstill for weeks as the Chinese authorities scrambled to try to contain the virus. Some factories she buys from are only now slowly getting back to work. Many others are still shut.

Wedding dresses halted: In New Jersey, the CEO of Mon Cheri Bridals, Steven Lang, says he has struggled to make good on several orders. His business sells bridal gowns and dresses for high school proms. Out of 45 of the company's China factories, only half are in operation. The others are waiting to be inspected and disinfected.

"But it isn't just the factories, it's the entire supply chains. So you have fabric mills, you have trucking, you have air freight -- all of these issues are impacted in the entire supply chains," he told CNN.

Read more here.

12:53 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

More than half the cases in South Korea are linked to a religious group. What is it?

From CNN's James Griffiths

A man walks in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji group in the South Korea city of Daegu on February 21.
A man walks in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji group in the South Korea city of Daegu on February 21. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

In the South Korean city of Daegu, the outbreak has been centered around the Shincheonji religious group.

Some 300 members of the group have tested positive for the virus, and more than 9,000 practitioners have been put into self-isolation while they are tested by health authorities. The infection is believed to have spread rapidly because of the mass worship sessions the group holds, which puts them in close contact with one another for long periods of time.

What is Shincheonji? The group is a Christian-inspired religious movement centered around the personality of its founder and chairman, Lee Man-hee.

Of South Koreans who identify as religious, more than 60% belong to a mainstream Christian denomination.

Kim So-il, a project director at Shincheonji, compared the recent criticism of the group to a "19th century witch-hunt."

"It's unfair that all people rebuke Shincheonji," he told CNN, adding that the group was in "great difficulty" right now."

Speaking Sunday, a Shincheonji representative told reporters that practitioners are the "biggest victims" of the virus, and urged people to "refrain from hate and groundless attack."

Shincheonji members missing: Police in Daegu said Sunday that they had deployed about 600 officers to locate 670 members of the Shincheonji religious group whose whereabouts were 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.

The virus has spread beyond the Shincheonji members, however, with separate outbreaks in a hospital near Daegu, as well as among the country's military. As of Monday, more than 760 cases had been confirmed nationwide, and seven deaths.

Read more here.

12:32 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

Coronavirus epidemic will have a "great impact" on China's economy, President Xi says

From CNN's Lily Lee in Beijing


China's economy is expected to be severely impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has killed at least 2,400 people, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday.

In a speech during a top meeting of political leaders, which was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, Xi said the epidemic had been a "major public health emergency" for China.

Xi emphasized that while there would be short-term challenges from the epidemic, "the fundamentals of China's long-term economic improvement have not changed."

"The impact of the epidemic is short-term and generally controllable."

Praise for Party efforts: Xi said that the work to control the virus was at a "critical stage" and called on all government officials to work hard to avoid further outbreaks.

He also praised the political leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

"The effectiveness of the prevention and control work has once again demonstrated the significant advantages of the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics," he said.

1:06 a.m. ET, February 24, 2020

South Korean airlines to suspend Daegu city flights

By CNN's Sophie Jeong

File photo of Korean Air planes at Incheon International Airport in 2012.
File photo of Korean Air planes at Incheon International Airport in 2012. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korean airlines has suspended flights to and from the southern city of Daegu, where hundreds of coronavirus cases have been reported. 

  • Korean Air will suspend flights for the Incheon-Daegu and Jeu-Daegu routes from February 25 to March 28, a spokesperson told CNN.
  • Asiana Airlines will suspend flights for the Daegu-Jeju route from February 25 to March 9, according to a statement on its website.
  • Air Busan will suspend flights for the Daegu-Jeju route from March 1 to March 28, according to a statement on its website. It also temporarily suspended flights between Daegu and Taipei.
11:56 p.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Armani held its Milan Fashion Week show in an empty theater due to coronavirus

From CNN's Oscar Holland

Fashion giant Armani held its hotly anticipated Milan Fashion Week show behind closed doors Sunday, as cases of the novel coronavirus climbed in Italy.

Describing the decision as a “preventative measure … to support national efforts in safeguarding public health,” the Italian label sent models down a runway to an empty theater, as the number of confirmed cases in the country jumped from three to over 150 between Friday and Sunday.

The event was live-streamed and founder Giorgio Armani emerged after the 16-minute show to take a bow for his online audience. Italian brand Laura Biagiotti also held its Milan showcase behind closed doors.

China's absence in fashion world: Earlier this month, organizers of Shanghai Fashion Week announced that it was postponing its March event. Seoul and Tokyo fashion weeks are scheduled to begin on March 16.

The absence of Chinese attendees is being felt across the fashion week calendar, with buyers, designers and labels notably absent from events in New York and London earlier this month.

11:28 p.m. ET, February 23, 2020

"All clear" given to train from Italy that was stopped at the Austrian border over virus fears

From CNN's Kay Guerrero in Atlanta.

People stand on the platform next to the train stopped by authorities on the Italian side of Brenner Pass, Sunday.
People stand on the platform next to the train stopped by authorities on the Italian side of Brenner Pass, Sunday. Matthais Schrader/AP

A train from Italy that was stopped at the Austrian border on Sunday was given the green light, after two passengers suspected to have coronavirus were given a clean bill of health. 

The all-clear came after the two German women tested negative, Austrian authorities said. 

According to public broadcaster ORF, the train left Venice on Sunday afternoon and was heading to Munich. Once on board, however, the two German women reported fever symptoms and a severe cough.

"The two women were screened for the coronavirus in a Verona hospital, but the test result was negative," ORF said. 

The test results weren't immediately shared with Austrian authorities, which might have caused the delay, according to ORF.

Spike in Italy: Italy is now fighting a rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases. Three people have died and 152 others are infected in the country.

The northern region of Lombardy has 110 cases - the highest number in the country.

Fears in Europe: With rising cases in Italy, nearby European countries are getting nervous. Austrian authorities said they will meet today to study the situation and analyze if border controls with Italy are necessary. 

11:12 p.m. ET, February 23, 2020

Australia and Taiwan raise travel advisories for Japan and South Korea

From CNN's Eric Cheung in Hong Kong and Hilary Whiteman in Melbourne

Australia has raised its travel advisory for Japan and South Korea to Level Two, meaning travelers should “exercise a high degree of caution.” The move came after both countries reported a spike in novel coronavirus cases this weekend.

The advisory, which was updated on Sunday, advises travelers to monitor their health closely and follow the advice of local authorities.

Taiwan has also raised its travel advisory for both countries to Level Two and urged its citizens to take personal infection prevention measures when traveling to either place. 

Meanwhile, Singapore has advised against non-essential travel to the South Korean regions of Daegu and Cheongdo -- where spikes have been reported -- and asked the public to exercise caution when visiting other parts of South Korea.