February 26 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Rachel Bowman, CNN

Updated 9:23 p.m. ET, February 26, 2020
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8:07 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Armenia closes Iranian border over contagion fears

From CNN's Stephanie Halasz

The Armenian government says it has closed its border with Iran, as several coronavirus cases spreading through the Middle East appear to have links with one Iranian province.

Armenia shares a 43-kilometer (27-mile) border with Iran, and has not yet reported any coronavirus cases.

Armenian government spokesperson Armen Khachatryan told CNN the border had been effectively shut since Monday and will be in effect for two weeks, but that some vehicles would be excepted.

“Of course, there will be some exceptions. No restrictions will be imposed on cargo transportations. Drivers shall be subject to special control, and a special procedure shall be applicable for the traffic of goods and commodities. There will be no restrictions on the repatriation of citizens on either side, that is, they can freely return to their homeland," he said, adding that some air traffic restrictions would also apply.

"During the next two weeks we will keep in close touch with Iran’s official representatives in order to have a more comprehensive idea of the situation, after which we will jointly decide what to do next.”

8:24 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Greece confirms first case as Italy struggles to contain viral outbreak

 From CNNs Chris Liakos

Greece has confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus, a 38-year-old woman in Thessaloniki.

The woman, currently being treated in hospital, recently returned from an affected area in northern Italy and is in good condition, a health ministry spokeswoman told CNN. Authorities are checking whom she has been in contact with.

Northern Italy has become the European epicenter of the virus, with more than 320 cases and 12 deaths. Cases in Greece, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland and France have been linked to the Italian cluster.

Read more here.

6:35 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Markets drop for third day on coronavirus fears

From CNN's Charles Riley

A pedestrian passes a board displaying share prices of Asian stock markets in Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday.
A pedestrian passes a board displaying share prices of Asian stock markets in Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday. Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

The shock from the novel coronavirus has rocked global markets for a third consecutive day.

The spread of the virus could cost China, the world's second biggest economy, tens of billions of dollars in lost growth this quarter alone. Major outbreaks in Japan, South Korea and Italy underscore the risk posed to other big economies from the coronavirus.

Investors are concerned about how the coronavirus is weighing on consumer demand, manufacturing supply chains and major economies around the world.

Here's what markets are doing today:

European markets were sharply lower in early trading on Wednesday as corporate profit warnings added to fears about the economic impact of the outbreak.

Germany's DAX dropped as much as 3% before recovering some losses, while the CAC 40 shed 1.2% in Paris and the FTSE 100 dipped 1.1% in London.

Losses were less dramatic in Asia, where Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.8%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gave up 0.7% and the Shanghai Composite lost 0.8%.

The declines follow a terrible day in the United States, where the Dow finished 879 points, or about 3.2% lower. The index has now lost more than 2,000 points in total over the past four trading days.

Read more here:

8:08 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Iran holds off on quarantining as questions raised over number of reported cases

From CNN's Hira Humayun and Mostafa Salem

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the government will not impose quarantines on Iranian cities to contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country, state news agency IRNA reports.

Iran has the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the Middle East, with 19 deaths and 139 cases recorded. In other parts of the world, the virus has had a death rate of around 1-2%, raising speculation over whether the number of cases in Iran might have been grossly underreported or if thousands of cases have possibly gone undetected.

Many cases in the Middle East appear to be linked to the Iranian province of Qom, where there are several religious sites frequently visited by Iranians and foreign tourists.

All cases reported in Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have a link to Qom.

In his comments on the virus, Rouhani criticized the United States, saying that the virus “should not become a weapon at the hand of our enemies,” the semi-official Mehrs news agency reported.

“Americans and our enemies have wanted to halt our production and economic activities in this two-year period now with their sanctions and propaganda.”

He said Iran cannot allow the US to stop the country’s social activities through the fear of the virus, adding, “Americans better take care of thousands of flu casualties in their own country,” according to Mehr.

8:21 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Long lines and extra health checks outside the US military base in South Korea

From CNN's Paula Hancocks and Isaac Yee

A long line of cars waiting hours to enter the military base Camp Humphreys in South Korea.
A long line of cars waiting hours to enter the military base Camp Humphreys in South Korea. Paula Hancocks/CNN

An infected American soldier stationed in South Korea is being isolated in Camp Humphreys, a military base near the city of Pyeongtaek.

When CNN drove to the base today, there was a long line of cars waiting to enter, snaking up the hill and around the corner out of view. 

Military personnel will be prohibited from participating in "non-essential activities for entertainment," which includes dining in restaurants, bars, clubs or movie theaters, said Garrison Commander Michael F. Tremblay earlier today.

Military personnel are also asked to "stay away from gatherings larger than 20 people."

A member of the United States Forces Korea told CNN she drove to the base at 6 a.m., waited for three hours, then gave up and went home. 

Only two of the six gates are open, so extra checks can take place. These measures include car screenings, with passengers having their temperatures taken and asked health-related questions. 

Only mission-essential staff will be on base tomorrow. 

The CNN team wasn't allowed into the base. When they went into the nearby side streets for lunch, many restaurants were closed or deserted. There was hardly anyone on the streets.

5:40 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

How the coronavirus went global in two months

The novel coronavirus began in December in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei province. Now, it's reached 40 other countries and territories, and is spreading in Europe and the Middle East. 

Take a look at how we got here:

  • December 8: First patient develops symptoms of coronavirus in Wuhan.
  • December 31: Earliest cases of virus reported to World Health Organization (WHO).
  • January 1: Seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan, where the outbreak is believed to have originated, is closed for disinfection.
  • January 7: Chinese authorities confirm they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus.
  • January 9: First person dies of the virus, though his death wasn't announced until January 11.
  • January 13: Thailand reports its first case -- a Chinese national who had arrived from Wuhan.
  • January 16: Japan confirms its first case.
  • January 21: The United States confirms its first case.
  • January 23: Wuhan and several other cities are placed on lockdown, and Lunar New Year celebrations are canceled across China. WHO says virus is not yet a public health emergency of international concern.
  • January 28: Death toll tops 100. The number of confirmed cases in mainland China overtakes the deadly 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.
  • January 30: WHO declares a public health emergency of international concern.
  • February 2: A Chinese man dies in the Philippines -- the first coronavirus death outside China.
  • February 4: The Diamond Princess cruise ship is docked under quarantine in Japan's Yokohama Bay with more than 3,700 people on board.
  • February 6: Death toll tops 500 globally.
  • February 7: Chinese whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who was targeted by Wuhan police, dies of the coronavirus. Chinese social media is flooded with grief, anger, and calls for freedom of speech.
  • February 8: The US Embassy in Beijing confirms that a US national died in Wuhan on February 6, marking the first confirmed death of a non-Chinese national.
  • February 11: Death toll tops 1,000 globally. The WHO names the coronavirus Covid-19.
  • February 15: The first coronavirus death in Europe is confirmed.
  • February 17: American passengers on the Diamond Princess are evacuated out of Japan.
  • February 20: Death toll tops 2,000 globally.
  • February 23: Cases in South Korea surge past 600 after several hundred new infections were reported in 48 hours, with more than half the cases linked to a branch of a religious group. Italy also sees a spike -- cases rise from three to 152 over the same weekend.
8:21 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

South Korea is using an app to track travelers entering the country

From CNN's Ivan Watson and Tom Booth

The South Korean government has also rolled out a new phone app, which requires travelers entering the country to self-diagnose themselves and report any possible symptoms.

Take a look:

8:21 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

BREAKING: First French national dies from coronavirus

From CNN's Antoine Crouin in Paris

A view of the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in Paris on February 5.
A view of the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in Paris on February 5. Oceane Colson/Panoramic/Reuters

A 60-year-old man in Paris has become the first French national to die from the coronavirus, director general of the French health authority, Jerome Salomon, told reporters Wednesday.

The man died at the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in the French capital, Salomon said.

Separately, two other new coronavirus cases were reported in the country, one of them a 55-year-old French man being treated in a hospital in Amiens. He is in a serious condition, Salomon said.

The other is a 36-year-old French man in Strasbourg. He had recently been in Lombardy, the Italian region where more than 250 cases of the virus has been confirmed.

8:21 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Hong Kong confirms four additional coronavirus cases, raising citywide total to 89

Workers wearing personal equipment carry cleaning supplies into a residential building at North Point district on February 23 in Hong Kong.
Workers wearing personal equipment carry cleaning supplies into a residential building at North Point district on February 23 in Hong Kong. Credit: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed four additional cases of the coronavirus, bringing the citywide total to 89.

The new cases include two passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a man linked with a previously confirmed case, and a domestic helper who was linked to a previous case.

One of the suspected cases is a 49-year-old woman, said Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection today. The woman volunteered at a Buddhist hall; since then, 202 people with links to the hall have been contacted by authorities, and 32 have been quarantined. The rest are still being monitored.

A total of 24 people have been discharged from hospital, said health officials today. One patient remains in critical condition, and another 64 are still being treated in hospital.