February 26 coronavirus news

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8:12 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Number of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong rises to 85

Hong Kong confirmed one new case of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the city's tally to 85, according to a government statement. 

The patient is a 60-year-old woman who has no recent travel history. She developed a cough on February 12 and consulted a private doctor several times before she was admitted to hospital on February 24. She is currently isolated and in a stable condition.

"According to our preliminary epidemiological investigations, some of the confirmed cases are locally infected. The (Center for Health Protection) strongly urged the public to maintain at all times strict personal and environmental hygiene," a CHP spokesperson said.

9:43 p.m. ET, February 25, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

Tourists wearing face masks in Venice, Italy, on February 25.
Tourists wearing face masks in Venice, Italy, on February 25. Andrea Pattaro/AFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, with new clusters sparking emergency measures and travel restrictions in Europe and the Middle East.

Here's what you need to know:

  • South Korea cases pass 1,000: There are 1,146 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths in South Korea, with more than half of the infections linked to a branch of the Shincheonji religious group in the country's south. The group has agreed to hand over the list of its entire congregation in South Korea to health authorities.
  • US soldier infected: A 23-year-old US soldier stationed in South Korea has become the first US service member to test positive for the coronavirus, according to US Forces Korea.
  • Italy outbreak grows: Italy is the center of the largest outbreak outside Asia, with 322 cases and 10 deaths. Officials admitted that a hospital in a northern town had mishandled the region's first coronavirus case and had contributed to the virus' spread. Several cities and towns are under lockdown, effectively putting 100,000 people under quarantine.
  • Europe on edge: Several of Italy's neighbors, including Austria, Switzerland and Croatia have reported their first cases, while Spain and France recorded several more.
  • Iran faces travel restrictions: There are now 96 cases and 15 deaths in Iran, with the deputy health minister among the infected. Nearby countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey have halted travel to Iran and implemented restrictions on travelers from Iran. Other Middle Eastern countries have also reported their first cases of coronavirus in recent days, including Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon.
  • Markets plunge again: Early declines in Asia-Pacific stocks on Wednesday followed a terrible day in the United States, where the Dow finished 879 points, or about 3.2% lower -- its second straight day of massive declines. The index has lost more than 2,000 points in total over the past four days.
  • Closer to a pandemic: 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.
8:14 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

US soldier in South Korea tests positive for coronavirus 

An American soldier stationed in South Korea has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a US Forces Korea statement.

The soldier is a 23-year-old man stationed at Camp Carroll, and is the first US service member to test positive. He is currently self-quarantined at his off-base residence, said the statement.

“He visited Camp Walker on 24 Feb. and Camp Carroll 21-25 Feb. KCDC (Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and USFK (United States Forces Korea) health professionals are actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether any others may have been exposed,” the statement said.
8:13 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

South Korea confirms 1 new death and 169 more coronavirus cases

South Korea has confirmed one new death in the southern city of Daegu and 169 additional coronavirus cases across the country, bringing the national total to 12 deaths and 1,146 cases.

More than half of all South Korean cases are linked to a branch of the Shincheonji religious group in the south of the country.

The 12th death was a 73-year-old man who had previously suffered from diabetes and was a member of the Shincheonji group, according to Daegu's mayor. 

A total of 134 of the latest 169 cases were also found in Daegu, according to the Korean Centers for Disease Control. 

8:14 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Coronavirus fears are weighing on Asian markets again

A currency trader monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on February 21.
A currency trader monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul on February 21. Ahn Young-joon/AP

The coronavirus-related shock to US markets is once again carrying over to Asia Pacific.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.1% Wednesday, while South Korea's Kospi (KOSPI) and Japan's Nikkei 225 (N225) each dropped 1.5%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng (HSI) Index dropped 1.1%. China's Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) lost 1%.

The declines followed a terrible day in the United States, where the Dow (INDU) finished 879 points, or about 3.2% lower -- its second straight day of massive declines. The index has lost more than 2,000 points in total over the past four days.

The S&P 500 (DVS) closed down 3%, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fell 2.8%. Futures for all three major US indexes were up about 0.3% in after-hours trading.

Oil prices also tumbled again Tuesday. US oil settled 3% lower at $49.90 per barrel, while the global benchmark Brent crude settled 2.4% lower at $54.95 a barrel. Futures improved slightly during Asian hours.

8:13 a.m. ET, February 26, 2020

Algeria reports first case of coronavirus

Algeria confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Tuesday, according to an announcement by Algerian health minister Abdel-Rahman Bin Bouzid on state-run broadcaster al-Nahar.

The patient is an Italian citizen who entered the North African country on February 17, the minister said. The patient was placed in quarantine, and is under close supervision.