February 25 coronavirus news

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12:26 p.m. ET, February 25, 2020

US health official says coronavirus is moving closer to being a pandemic

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Dr. Nancy Messonnier speaks during a press conference at the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, January 28.
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Dr. Nancy Messonnier speaks during a press conference at the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, January 28. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said coronavirus has met some of the criteria for a pandemic — but not all of them.

“The fact that this virus has caused illness – including illness that has resulted in death – and sustained person-to-person spread is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria for a pandemic," she said.

The virus is "moving closer" toward meeting the third criteria, worldwide spread of the new virus, she said.

"As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer towards meeting the third criteria: worldwide spread of the new virus," Messonnier said.

She added that the US is implementing "an aggressive containment strategy" and issuing "extensive travel advisories" to help slow the introduction of coronavirus into the US.

However, she added: "But as more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder."

“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness. We will maintain, for as long as practical, a dual approach where we continue measures to contain this disease, but also employ strategies to minimize the impact on our communities,” Messonnier said.
12:06 p.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Woman accompanying Italian man with coronavirus has also tested positive

A Spanish police officer sets up a barrier blocking the access to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain, on Tuesday, February 25.
A Spanish police officer sets up a barrier blocking the access to the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Tenerife, Canary Island, Spain, on Tuesday, February 25. AP

A woman traveling to the Canary Island with the Italian citizen who has test positive for coronavirus has also tested positive to the virus, the Canary Islands' health department said in a statement.

The two are on the Spanish resort island Tenerife.

“These patients are in good condition. At the moment they are isolated in the University Hospital Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria, waiting for the result of the second analysis to be carried out by the National Center for Microbiology of the Carlos III Health Institute of Madrid," the statement said. “The General Directorate of Public Health has ordered health checks of all the guests of the same hotel in which the affected patients were staying."

Dozens of tourists are being asked to remain in their rooms at a hotel on the island on Tuesday, after the man tested positive in an initial test for the novel coronavirus overnight.

11:40 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Passengers on Turkish evacuation flight from Iran are being tested for coronavirus  

Medical staff enter the Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital where 17 passengers from a Turkish Airlines evacuation flight from Tehran, suspected of having coronavirus, are to be quarantined, in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday, February 25.
Medical staff enter the Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital where 17 passengers from a Turkish Airlines evacuation flight from Tehran, suspected of having coronavirus, are to be quarantined, in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday, February 25. Burhan Ozbilici/AP

Turkey Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca said today that the passengers aboard an evacuation flight from Iran that landed in Ankara, Turkey, are being tested for coronavirus.

“We decided to land this plane, a special flight carrying Turkish passengers from Tehran, to Ankara because it’s been learned that several passengers visited Qom and several passengers showed symptoms for cold. Even though our preparations in Istanbul was complete, we decided to divert it to Ankara because an experienced crew was ready at the quarantine centre in Ankara. To avoid risks, passengers and crew were put under quarantine in a hospital that had never been used before.” 

Koca added that no one aboard the flight has a fever or showed symptoms of coronavirus.

"Out of 140 people, 132 passengers and 8 crew, 4 patients had coughs and 2 patients had sore throats. But they don’t have fever and they’re in good condition. All samples are being processed now, I think the results will be ready in the following hours. We’ll share the results.”

Koca said that he plans to visit the quarantine hospital tonight and then share the results of the tests.

11:27 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Austria's 2 coronavirus cases are Italian citizens

A general view of the Infectiology Department of the University Hospital in Innsbruck, Austria on Tuesday, February 25, as two people are currently in isolation after being confirmed infected with the coronavirus.
A general view of the Infectiology Department of the University Hospital in Innsbruck, Austria on Tuesday, February 25, as two people are currently in isolation after being confirmed infected with the coronavirus. Johann Groder/AFP/Getty Images

The two people diagnosed with coronavirus in the Tyrol region of Austria are both Italian citizens, the regional government press office said in a statement.

The patients are a woman and a man, both 24-years old, originally from the Lombardy region close to Bergamo.

Both are being treated in hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, and are in good condition. They were in Lombardy until Friday, and then drove to Innsbruck, according to the statement. Both are no longer running fevers, and they will stay in quarantine until the weekend.  

11:19 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Dow falls more than 300 points

Stocks have turned sharply negative today as coronavirus fears continue to mount.

The Dow has lost more than 300 points.

11:17 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

World Health Organization says China has "changed the course of this outbreak" 

Dr. Bruce Aylward shows graphics related to the coronavirus during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday, February 25.
Dr. Bruce Aylward shows graphics related to the coronavirus during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday, February 25. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Bruce Aylward, team lead for the World Health Organization-China joint mission on coronavirus, addressed the possibility that the virus could become a pandemic at a news conference today.

“Folks, this is a rapidly escalating epidemic in different places that we’ve got to tackle super-fast to prevent a pandemic.” 

Aylward and a team of 25 people visited several areas in China, including Wuhan, to see how China was addressing the virus. Aylward said China is using basic public health tools and applying them with rigor and innovation on a scale never seen in history.

“It’s the unanimous assessment of the team that they have changed the course of this outbreak. What was a rapidly escalating outbreak has plateaued and then come down faster than one would have expected,” Aylward said, adding hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get this because of this response.

What is a pandemic? A disease outbreak is the occurrence of disease cases in excess of what's normally expected, according to WHO. An epidemic is more than a normal number cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior or other health-related events in a community or region.

A pandemic is defined as the "worldwide spread" of a new disease. The last pandemic reported was the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, which killed hundreds of thousand worldwide.

Although WHO has declared the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern," the outbreak has not met the criteria needed to be described as a pandemic when it comes to its geographical spread and impact, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during Monday.

11:34 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

Turkish evacuation flight from Iran lands in Ankara

Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images
Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

A special flight arranged to evacuate Turkish citizens from Iran due to the spread of coronavirus there landed in Ankara today. Passengers and crew will be quarantined for 14 days, according to a statement from Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. 

The “132 Turkish passengers and crew” onboard the Turkish Airlines flight “will be transferred to Dr Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital, which was previously evacuated and prepared as a quarantine hospital,” Koca said on Twitter. “After detailed health inspections, samples collected from passengers and crew will be sent to the National Virology Lab,” the statement added. 

The flight, which was scheduled to land in Istanbul from Tehran, landed in Ankara due to 17 suspected cases of coronavirus, state-run Anadolu said. “The 17 passengers are being treated as possible cases as they have higher-than-normal temperatures,” it added.  

More context: Iran reported 35 new confirmed cases and 1 new death from coronavirus on Tuesday alone, according to an Iranian health official and state media.

The overall number of confirmed cases across Iran is now 96. The total official number of deaths due to coronavirus in Iran stands at 15.

11:05 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

US stocks open higher a day after plunging on coronavirus fears

Richard Drew/AP
Richard Drew/AP

US stocks opened higher today, retracing some of their sharp losses from the start of the week.

The Dow fell more than 1,000 points yesterday, recording its worst day in two years, as coronavirus fears led global markets to plummet.

Here's how the US markets opened today:

  • The Dow opened up 120 points, or 0.4% before retreating into the single digits
  • The S&P 500 opened 0.4% higher.
  • The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.6%.
11:08 a.m. ET, February 25, 2020

A coronavirus vaccine is at least a year away, US senators are told

Administration officials told senators that a vaccine was at least 12 to 18 months away, according to three senators present at today's closed briefing on coronavirus. 

When asked if we are close to a vaccine, Sen. Roy Blunt said: “We will not have a vaccine in the next 12 or 18 months.” 

Sen. Joe Manchin said he asked National Institutes of Health’s Tony Fauci whether they were close to a vaccine and Faucci said “no,” according to Manchin. “I guess Tony should know... It’s very contagious.”

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander said: “The vaccine for the coronavirus is moving more rapidly than any vaccine we have already tried to approve — but it will take a year or 18 months. The way to stop (an outbreak) is quarantine and monitoring.”

“I believe it’s under control," he added. "Do I think it will spread in the United States? The advice we got today is inevitably it will spread.”

There were 40 senators present for the all-senators briefing, according to Alexander.

Senators also said there was concern that there have not been enough masks produced in the US to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile: Trump continues to publicly express confidence in his administration's handling of the crisis and optimism that it will be short-lived.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. A lot of talent, a lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said on Tuesday during a news conference in New Delhi, India.