February 29 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Steve George and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 0204 GMT (1004 HKT) March 1, 2020
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2:27 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

King County, Washington, confirms first coronavirus death in US

One person with coronavirus residing in King County, Washington, has died, says state Health Department spokesperson Jamie Nixon.

No further details were provided. A news conference is set for 1 p.m. local time.

2:29 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Iraq announces 5 new coronavirus cases, total now 13

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Atlanta and Aqeel Najim in Baghdad

Iraq reports five new positive cases of coronavirus, the Health Ministry says. That brings the country's total to 13.

Four new cases were in Baghdad and one in Babil Province, south of the capital, according to a statement Friday from the Iraqi Health Ministry.

The five new patients are under quarantine. 

2:25 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Japan confirms 9 new cases of novel coronavirus, bringing total to 944

From CNN's Junko Ogura in Tokyo 

Nine new cases of novel coronavirus were confirmed Saturday by Japan's Health Ministry, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 944. 

One recent case includes a man in his 70s who was a Diamond Princess cruise ship passenger. He had disembarked the ship after confirming his virus test was negative on February 20.

Here's the breakdown: The cases include 239 people on land and 705 from the Diamond Princess, the health ministry says.

At least 11 deaths -- six from the Diamond Princess and five on land -- have been attributed to the virus, according Japanese health officials.

2:26 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

New policy will allow faster testing for novel coronavirus in US, FDA says

From CNN Health’s Jamie Gumbrecht 

The US Food and Drug Administration announced on Saturday a policy allowing certain US labs to test for the novel coronavirus using diagnostics the labs developed and validated, even before the agency has reviewed them.

The policy will enable more rapid testing capacity, the agency says.

“We believe this policy strikes the right balance during this public health emergency,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “We will continue to help to ensure sound science prior to clinical testing and follow-up with the critical independent review from the FDA, while quickly expanding testing capabilities in the US.”

The guidance goes into effect immediately: Once labs have validated a test, they must notify the FDA and should submit a request for an emergency use authorization within 15 business days. This policy applies only to labs certified to perform high-complexity testing.

Local and state labs’ ability to test for the novel coronavirus was delayed because test kits previously developed by the US Centers for Disease Control were flawed.

The CDC said Friday that US labs were able to start testing for coronavirus using revised instructions for kits previously sent out. CDC also has manufactured brand new test kits that are available for order.

The CDC said its goal was for every state and local health department testing for coronavirus by the end of next week.

12:11 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Globally, 2,932 people have died from coronavirus

The global death toll from coronavirus has reached 2,932.

In mainland China, more than 79,250 people have been confirmed to have the virus, and at least 2,835 people have died.

Outside of China, there are 6,285 cases of the virus:

1.           Afghanistan (1 case)    

2.           Algeria (1 case)     

3.           Australia (25 cases)

4.           Austria (2 cases)    

5.           Bahrain (38 cases)     

6.           Belarus (1 case)    

7.           Belgium (1 case)     

8.           Brazil (1 case)     

9.           Cambodia (1 case)    

10.         Canada (16 cases)     

11.         Croatia (1 case)     

12.         Denmark (1 case)    

13.         Egypt (1 case)     

14.         Estonia (1 case)    

15.         Finland (2 case)     

16.         France (40 cases, 2 deaths)    

17.         Georgia (1 case)      

18.         Germany (53 cases)     

19.         Greece (4 case)    

20.         Hong Kong (94 cases, 2 deaths)     

21.         Iceland (1 case)   

22.         India (3 cases)     

23.         Iran (593 cases, 43 deaths)     

24.         Iraq (8 cases)     

25.         Israel (7 cases)     

26.         Italy (821 cases, 21 deaths)    

27.         Japan (935 cases, 11 deaths)     

28.         Kuwait (43 cases)     

29.         Lebanon (3 cases)   

30.         Lithuania (1 case)   

31.         Macao (10 cases)    

32.         Malaysia (25 cases)     

33.         Mexico (3 cases)   

34.         Monaco (1 case)   

35.         Nepal (1 case)    

36.         Netherlands (1 case)   

37.         New Zealand (1 case)   

38.         Nigeria (1 case)   

39.         North Macedonia (1 case)     

40.         Norway (1 case)     

41.         Oman (5 cases)    

42.         Pakistan (4 case)     

43.         Philippines (3 cases, 1 death) 

44.         Qatar (1 case)     

45.         Romania (1 case)     

46.         Russia (5 cases)     

47. Singapore (102 cases)     

48.         South Korea (3,150 cases, 16 deaths)

49.         Spain (46 cases)     

50.         Sri Lanka (1 case)     

51.         Sweden (1 case)     

52.         Switzerland (15 cases)     

53.         Taiwan (39 cases, 1 dead)     

54.         Thailand (42 cases)    

55.         United Arab Emirates (19 cases)   

56.         United Kingdom (20 cases)    

57.         United States (67 cases)    

58.         Vietnam (16 cases)  

2:27 p.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Masks can't stop the coronavirus in the US, but hysteria has led to bulk-buying and price-gouging

From CNN's Scottie Andrew and Jessie Yeung

Amid fears of a growing coronavirus pandemic, signs for sold-out face masks are posted Wednesday in a New York pharmacy. 
Amid fears of a growing coronavirus pandemic, signs for sold-out face masks are posted Wednesday in a New York pharmacy.  Scott Heins/Getty Images

Panic over the novel coronavirus is hitting a fever pitch in the US. And despite repeated pleas from health officials not to purchase them, Americans can't stop snatching up masks and respirators.

The mask boom has prompted sellers to jack up prices and exploit demand. This has meant a shortage for medics who need them. And Chinese Americans are buying in bulk to send to their families overseas.

"We need to make sure those N95 masks are available for the doctors and nurses that are going to be taking care of individuals that have this illness," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said during a House Foreign Affairs hearing on Thursday.

"And it really does displease me, to find people going out, there is no role for these masks in the community."

Read full story

10:42 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Should you travel during the coronavirus outbreak?

From CNN's Marnie Hunter

With new cases of novel coronavirus reported daily in countries across the globe, many travelers are wondering if they should cancel or postpone existing plans and hold off on booking trips.

"Should I cancel my trip to Rome and Florence?" one CNN reader is wondering.

"What is the threshold for rethinking domestic travel plans?" another asks.

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

It's very much an individual calculation, experts say, taking a number of factors -- the traveler, their companions, the destination and more -- into consideration.

Read the full story here:

10:33 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

France identifies more cases of coronavirus, cancels public gatherings

From CNN’s Barbara Wojazer in Paris

France has identified new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of registered cases to 73.

Of those identified cases, 59 people remain in hospital, 12 people have recovered, and two have died, health minister Olivier Véran said Saturday during a press conference in Paris.

Véran identified two main transmission clusters in Oise and Haute-Savoie, adding that the government is now focused on “limiting the diffusion” of the virus.

Events and gatherings cancelled: According to the health ministry, all public gatherings of more than 5,000 people within confined spaces are to be cancelled; including the Paris Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, and the Annecy Carnival due to take place next week.

Despite these guidelines, the health minister asserted that “all essential activities must continue” and there are currently no plans to place restrictions on public transport networks or on the municipal elections, which are due to take place in mid-March.

10:50 a.m. ET, February 29, 2020

Iran's coronavirus death toll rises to 43, state news reports

From journalist Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

The death toll in Iran, one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, reached 43 on Saturday, according to health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour.

The total number of confirmed infected people in Iran is 593, Jahanpour said, Iran's state-run news agency IRNA reported.

Iranian officials are scrambling to contain the virus, and some suspect under-reporting of the nation's total number of cases.

A worker disinfects a public bus against coronavirus in Tehran, Iran, early on Wednesday, February 26.
A worker disinfects a public bus against coronavirus in Tehran, Iran, early on Wednesday, February 26. AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

Coronavirus in Iran: Iran has emerged as a regional breeding ground for the pathogen, with the most confirmed cases in the region and the vast majority of cases across the Middle East linked to the country.

Several government officials, including the deputy health minister, have tested positive for the virus.