February 27 coronavirus news

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8:30 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Expert predicts coronavirus in China will be under control by end of April

Zhong Nanshan speaks at a news conference in Beijing on January 20.
Zhong Nanshan speaks at a news conference in Beijing on January 20. Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

A top Chinese respiratory expert says he is confident “the epidemic (will) be basically under control at the end of April.”

Speaking a news conference on Thursday, Zhong Nanshan, the director of China’s National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease, said he had so far reasonably accurately projected the course of the virus.

“We previously predicted that the peak should be in mid or late February, it turned out the number of new cases began to drop after February 15. We predicted the number would be 60-70 thousand, and now it is 78-79 thousand in China," he said.

The Chinese expert said that his original global projections regarding the outbreak had needed to change due to the increased cases outside of China.

New job for Zhong: iPhone maker Foxconn announced this week that it had appointed Zhong as a chief consultant to the company as it continues to resume operations at facilities throughout China.

Zhong is seen as one of the heroes in China’s battle against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and is also currently leading the country’s national research team on the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

##Asia

8:30 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Japanese man infected with novel coronavirus dies in hospital 

A man in his 80s has become the eighth person in Japan to have died from the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began.

Local government officials in Hokkaido announced the death today, saying the patient had died from pneumonia. He tested positive for the virus on February 22.

The victim was from a town called Shiriuchi in Hokkaido and had no known links with the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

He also had not traveled abroad recently, making it unclear how he caught the virus.

Mask production stepped up: At least 186 cases of the coronavirus have been detected in Japan outside of the Diamond Princess.

Speaking at a news conference today, Japan's Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the government has asked manufacturers of masks nationwide to work around the clock to provide face masks for the public.

He said the government will attempt to increase production of masks from 100 million in January to 600 million in February.

The government spokesperson urged people to only buy the masks if they they need them, due to shortages.

An employee inspects disposable face masks on the production line of the Yokoi Co. Ltd. factory on February 06 in Nagoya, Japan.
An employee inspects disposable face masks on the production line of the Yokoi Co. Ltd. factory on February 06 in Nagoya, Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images
3:22 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Australian PM: "You can still go to the football, you can still go to the cricket"

Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison on February 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison on February 23, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said while the risk of a global pandemic is growing, there is no need yet for Australians to avoid large public events.

“As a government, we need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic," he said at a news conference today.

“(But) there is no need for us to be moving towards not having mass gatherings of people – you can still go to the football, you can still go to the cricket, you can still go and play with your friends down the street, you can go off to the concert and you can go out for a Chinese meal."

He said that this was all possible because Australia had "acted quickly" to avoid further infections.

Travel ban reinstated: As part of those precautions, Morrison said Australia would extend its travel ban on mainland China for another week. Australia has barred any travelers entering from or having transited in mainland China since early February.

Morrison added that “further travel bans are not recommended” and the bans are reviewed on a weekly basis. Australia has 22 cases of the novel coronavirus, 10 of whom have already recovered.

3:08 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

iPhone maker Foxconn is now making a million masks a day

People walking past a Foxconn sign in Taipei in January 2019. 
People walking past a Foxconn sign in Taipei in January 2019.  Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Foxconn, a major electronics maker and supplier to Apple, has started making surgical face masks for all of its factory workers.

The Taiwanese tech giant said in a statement today that it had ramped up production significantly to meet its internal requirements of making approximately a million masks per day for employees at its facilities.

“Having previously dealt with SARS, Foxconn has a good understanding of how to care for our employees’ health and how we will need to allocate resources in the manufacturing and production departments,” the company told CNN Business earlier this month. 

“We have measures in place to ensure that we can continue to meet all global manufacturing obligations.”

Foxconn also announced this week that it had appointed Zhong Nanshan, a renowned respiratory scientist, as a chief consultant to the company as it continues to resume operations at facilities throughout China.

Zhong is seen as one of the heroes in China’s battle against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and is also currently leading the country’s national research team on the novel coronavirus outbreak. 

2:53 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Top Japanese government adviser says Diamond Princess quarantine was flawed

Norio Ohmagari, an infectious disease specialist, on February 26 in Tokyo.
Norio Ohmagari, an infectious disease specialist, on February 26 in Tokyo. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

A top Japanese government adviser has admitted that the quarantine measures enacted on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama may have allowed additional infections to spread among the ship's crew and passengers.

At least 705 people contracted the virus during the quarantine, four of whom have died. For a time, the ship had the largest concentration of cases outside of mainland China, where the outbreak began. 

In an interview with CNN, government adviser Dr. Norio Ohmagari said that the quarantine of the cruise ship "may not have been perfect."

He said a "tough decision" had been made by the Japanese government to allow the cruise workers to keep working aboard the vessel, despite the risk of infection, to ensure the smooth running of the cruise ship.

But by failing to isolate the crew of the Diamond Princess from the beginning of the quarantine, he said infected workers may have passed on "secondary or tertiary" infections to their fellow crew members and passengers, thereby exacerbating the deadly outbreak. 

"We suspected some of the cruise staff may have already been infected, but ... they had to operate the cruise ship itself, they had to see the passengers, they had to deliver the meals," Ohmagari said.
"So that may have caused some close contact with the cruise ship workers and also the passengers."

Read the full story here.

7:55 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Iraq announces new coronavirus case, bringing its total to 6

Outside the quarantine zone at the hospital in central Najaf where the first case of coronavirus documented in Iraq is being treated on February 24.
Outside the quarantine zone at the hospital in central Najaf where the first case of coronavirus documented in Iraq is being treated on February 24. Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

A man in Iraq’s capital Baghdad tested positive for coronavirus after returning from Iran, the Iraqi health ministry said in a statement today.

It is the first case of the virus in Baghdad and brings the total number of cases in Iraq to six.

The man is currently under quarantine. He tested positive after he went to a medical facility in Baghdad.

Middle East outbreak: Iraq's neighbor Iran has the largest concentration of coronavirus patients in the Middle East.

Nearly 140 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Iran, and 19 deaths.

Several neighboring countries have cut off travel to Iran, while Qatar has ordered the evacuation of its citizens from the country, and will also help Kuwaitis to evacuate.

2:30 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

More than 3,500 coronavirus cases have been reported outside China

Workers spray antiseptic solution against the coronavirus in Seoul today.
Workers spray antiseptic solution against the coronavirus in Seoul today. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

For the first time on Wednesday, the number of daily cases of the coronavirus reported outside China exceeded the number of those reported within the country where the outbreak began, according to the World Health Organization.

With countries including Denmark and Estonia reporting first confirmed cases today, the virus has now reached nearly 50 countries and territories outside mainland China, with more than 3,500 infections recorded and at least 58 deaths.

The virus has also reached every continent except Antarctica.

These are the worst-hit countries in each region of the world:

  • Africa: Algeria, Egypt; 1 case each
  • Asia: China; 78,497 cases, 2,744 deaths
  • Asia (outside China): South Korea; 1,595 cases, 13 deaths
  • Australasia: Australia; 22 cases
  • Europe: Italy; 400 cases, 12 deaths
  • Middle East: Iran; 139 cases, 19 deaths
  • North America: United States; 60 cases
  • South America: Brazil; 1 case

Read more about the worldwide spread of the virus here.

2:03 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

South Korean coronavirus patients in Daegu will be transferred to Seoul

A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant at a railway station in Daegu, South Korea, on Wednesday.
A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant at a railway station in Daegu, South Korea, on Wednesday. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korean coronavirus patients in serious condition from Daegu city and North Gyeongsang province will be transferred to Seoul for continued treatment, said the Seoul mayor yesterday.

A spike in the country's southern region -- concentrated in Daegu around a branch of a religious group -- has resulted in a shortage in beds and negative pressure rooms.

"Some of (the patients) have been already transferred and are being treated in Seoul’s municipal hospitals, and a hotline has been established between the Seoul Metropolitan government and Daegu and North Gyeongsang province,” said the mayor.

Spike in South Korea: The country now has 1,595 cases and 13 deaths from the coronavirus. The spike in numbers has continued throughout the week; 334 new cases and one new death were reported today alone.

1:43 a.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Chinese leader's historic Japan visit set to go ahead despite coronavirus outbreak

Chinese President Xi Jinping has his temperature checked during an appearance in Beijing on February 10.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has his temperature checked during an appearance in Beijing on February 10. Pang Xinglei/Xinhua/AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping's first state visit to Japan as leader won't be cancelled over coronavirus fears, Japan's Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said today.

Xi is expected to travel to Japan in spring 2020, although the dates have yet to be confirmed.

"At this moment, he is coming to Japan as expected. With this in mind, we are making the preparations for his visit calmly," Suga said.
Tokyo "will cover all the bases to produce fruitful results from his visit to Japan," Suga said in a daily news conference today.

Coronavirus brings old rivals together: Despite their long, acrimonious history, Japan has proved to be something of an ally to China during the battle with the deadly coronavirus.

Earlier this month, China's foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang lauded Japan for supporting China.

Boxes filled with face masks and thermometers sent to China from the Japan Youth Development Association (JYDA) came with a message: "Even though we live in different places, we live under the same sky."