February 28 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Angela Dewan, Mike Hayes, Meg Wagner and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT) February 29, 2020
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12:37 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

New Zealand reports its first case of coronavirus

From Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

New Zealand's Ministry of Health announced its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus on Friday.

The patient is "a person in their 60s, recently returned from Iran," the ministry said in a statement.

The patient arrived in the city of Auckland on February 26.

The infected person's close contacts are in isolation and are due to be tested for the disease, the ministry said.

12:28 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Chinese search giant Baidu warns coronavirus outbreak will hit its earnings

From CNN's Michelle Toh in Hong Kong

Baidu's booth at the Light of Internet Expo in Wuzhen, China in 2018.
Baidu's booth at the Light of Internet Expo in Wuzhen, China in 2018. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese search giant Baidu (BIDUwarned Friday that its revenue could drop as much as 13% this quarter compared to the same time last year.

Revenue for its core business, which includes digital marketing and advertising, could plunge as much as 18% year-over-year, according to the company's guidance.

The online ad industry is expected to be one of the biggest "losers" of the outbreak, noted Chelsey Tam, an equity analyst at Morningstar.

"Baidu and Weibo are likely to lose out because of their large advertising exposure, which is likely to be sensitive to overall economic weakness," she wrote in a research note last week.

The outbreak comes at a particularly vulnerable time for Baidu. Over the past year, its main business has already been squeezed by increased regulation of online content in China, as well as the country's broader economic slowdown.

The firm has been trying to turn things around, and its fourth-quarter earnings on Friday beat expectations. But it's still not clear how much the coronavirus will take a toll.

"The coronavirus situation in China is evolving," Baidu said in a statement. "Business visibility is very limited."

10:05 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Daegu mayor to report religious group at center of South Korea's outbreak to police

From Journalist Hyoungjoo Choi and CNN's Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji religious group in the southeastern city of Daegu.
South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji religious group in the southeastern city of Daegu. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

The mayor of Daegu said he plans to report an official with the Shincheonji religious group's Daegu branch to local police over a lack of cooperation in fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Mayor Kwon Young-jin told reporters on Friday that the group failed to include some members on its list submitted to the city and he would be reporting the group’s Daegu branch official to police for “hampering the city’s measures to contain the virus.”
Daegu city authorities discovered that “the group omitted the information of 1,762 Shincheonji trainees” when comparing the list provided by the group to the one separately obtained by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Shincheonji religious group said that the trainees are not official members.

However, some of those trainees omitted from the Shincheonji list have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the Daegu city government.

Kwon added that most of the infected patients in Daegu were from the Shincheonji religious group.

On Friday, South Korea reported 256 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the national total to 2,022, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Among the 256 new cases, 182 are from Daegu, the epicenter of the outbreak in South Korea. A total of 1,314 cases since the beginning of the outbreak have come from Daegu, according to the KCDC.

Read more on the Shincheonji religious group here.

10:05 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Korean Air to strengthen disinfection and check passengers' temperatures on US flights

From Yoonjung Seo in Seoul

Workers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at Korean Air's Incheon Operation Center at Yeongjong Island, South Korea, Tuesday, February 25.
Workers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at Korean Air's Incheon Operation Center at Yeongjong Island, South Korea, Tuesday, February 25. Choe Jae-koo/Yonhap via AP

Korean Air will conduct temperature checks for passengers on its flights and strengthen cabin disinfection as the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea shows no signs of slowing.

In a news statement released on Friday, the airline said the measures will start with a flight to Los Angeles on February 28.

All flights that are departing and arriving from the United States will require passengers to have their temperatures checked before boarding the flight. If the passenger is found to have a body temperature over 37.5 degrees they will be denied boarding. 

Korean Air also said that it will strengthen cabin disinfections in order to curb the spread of the virus. The airline adds it will be expanding these measures to all of its other routes.

12:38 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

The impact of the coronavirus is being felt around the world

From CNN's James Griffiths

A pedestrian walk past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Nikkei 225 Index and New York Dow in Tokyo.
A pedestrian walk past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Nikkei 225 Index and New York Dow in Tokyo. Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to spread across the globe, with cases reported in every continent except Antarctica. Here's how its impact is being felt:

Market losses: The Dow dropped 1,191 points on Thursday, in its worst one-day point drop in history, while the S&P 500 posted its worst day since 2011. Stocks are on track for their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Markets in Asia and elsewhere have also suffered, as fears of a global pandemic have continued to grow.

New cases: Reported cases of the virus were confirmed in Spain, France, Nigeria, and the UAE overnight, as outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran continued to worsen.

US Vice President's role: In the US, opposition lawmakers criticized President Donald Trump's handling of the crisis and raised concerns over his placing of Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the response, pointing to Pence's track record as Indiana governor during an HIV epidemic.

Trump on coronavirus in US: Trump expressed optimism that the novel coronavirus would eventually be contained and eliminated in the US.

Trump said the virus is "going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better. Could maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows."

Questions over Tokyo 2020 Olympics: While the Games themselves aren't until July, events such as the torch relay are due to begin next month.  Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, said, "we are working extremely closely with the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, and are providing them with risk assessment and risk management advice."

Schools close: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced that all schools will be closed from Monday, while the country will ramp up production of face masks, with the aim to have 500 million made in a month. 

Read the full story here.

10:06 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

China reports just 9 new cases outside of coronavirus epicenter amid global spread

A worker disinfects journalists visiting the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday, February 27.
A worker disinfects journalists visiting the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday, February 27. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

China reported only nine new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday outside of Hubei province, the outbreak's epicenter.

Overall, cases in mainland China increased by 327 on Thursday, bringing its total to 78,824.

World Health Organization (WHO) officials said on Wednesday that for the first time, the number of daily cases reported outside China had exceeded the number of those reported within the country where the outbreak began.

That trend appeared to continue on Thursday as cases climbed around the globe.

South Korea, for example, reported more than 500 new cases in 24 hours on Thursday -- and a further 256 cases on Friday morning.

Other countries are also reporting an increase in cases.

At least 650 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy, officials said. Across Europe, at least 11 countries now have confirmed cases of the virus, with many of the patients having visited the Lombardy region at the center of Italy's outbreak.

Iran, which is at the forefront of the crisis in the Middle East, has reported 245 cases in total, and 26 deaths.

As the number of deaths and infections in China continues to ease, authorities are now looking to prevent new outbreaks.

Health officials in Beijing announced that they will be tightening health restrictions on international arrivals. Travelers arriving in the Chinese capital from countries with "severe epidemic situations" will have to undergo 14 days in self-quarantine, Beijing Health Commission spokesman Gao Xiaojun said.

Gao did not name the specific countries these new measures apply to.

11:19 p.m. ET, February 27, 2020

Asian markets fall as coronavirus continues to spread

From CNN's Laura He

Asia Pacific markets are falling Friday as fears about the novel coronavirus continue to spur a global sell-off. 

Japan's Nikkei 225 fell more than 3% in early trading. South Korea's Kospi and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 each lost more than 2%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng and China's Shanghai Composite also dropped nearly 2% each.

The declines in Asia followed a historic plunge in the United States. All three major US indexes fell into correction territory on Thursday, and the S&P 500 posted its worst day since 2011. The Dow dropped 1,191 points, or 4.4% — its worst one-day point drop in history.

Read more on this here.

10:06 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

Hyundai suspends plant in South Korea after worker tests positive for coronavirus

By Yoonjung Seo and Jill Disis

Rows of Hyundai Motor cars parked for shipping in the southeastern port of Ulsan.
Rows of Hyundai Motor cars parked for shipping in the southeastern port of Ulsan. Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

Hyundai Motor is suspending the operation of a plant in South Korea after one of its employees tested positive for novel coronavirus.

The company said Friday that it is also “thoroughly disinfecting” the plant in Ulsan, adding that it is asking workers who came into close contact with the person to self-quarantine and test for possible infection.

South Korea now has 2,022 confirmed cases of coronavirus -- the most outside of mainland China. The country has reported 13 deaths.

Hyundai, meanwhile, is among many companies that is in a vulnerable position as the coronavirus spreads. The company had earlier been forced to stop production at plants in South Korea because of parts shortages as the outbreak spread in China, forcing factory closures there.

10:06 a.m. ET, February 28, 2020

China wants to get back to normal as its coronavirus case numbers ease. That could be dangerous

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

A worker monitors the production line at the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday, February 27.
A worker monitors the production line at the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday, February 27. AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Even as new outbreaks of novel coronavirus are reported around the world and we edge towards pandemic levels, the situation is stabilizing in some areas where infections were first detected and people are starting to return to normality.

In China, there has been a major drop in the number of new cases reported in the past week, particularly outside of Hubei, the province where the outbreak began. This has led some areas to lower travel restrictions and begin the slow process of getting back to work.

Downgrading the virus: Liaoning, a province in northeastern China that borders North Korea, was the first to downgrade the coronavirus emergency response level from the highest level -- Level 1 -- to Level 3 on Saturday, according to a statement by the provincial government. This was followed by Shanxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, Gansu and Guizhou, accounting for some 305 million people.

In Hong Kong too, where actions taken by the semiautonomous Chinese city appear to have avoided an outbreak on the scale of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis, there is a sense of very gradual relaxation. Some are even dispensing with face masks, previously a rare sight.

Danger may be far from over: While a desire to return to normal after weeks of paranoia and quarantine is understandable, the danger may be far from over, particularly in mainland China. Since the outbreak began in December last year, more than 78,000 cases have been confirmed inside of Mainland China, with the death toll rising to more than 2,700.

Question over data: Serious questions remain over the accuracy of the country's data on the virus, however, with multiple shifts in how cases are reported or categorized. Outside of Hubei itself, where a huge amount of resources and emergency staff have been deployed, there are fears that cases may be missed or go undiagnosed.

Even if the data is accurate, and the number of cases is stabilizing, it may be weeks before it is safe for people to be moving around freely again or gathering in large numbers. We know that the virus can lie dormant and there is strong evidence that it is spread while people are asymptomatic.

Read more here.