March 3 coronavirus news

By Ben Westcott, Adam Renton, Tara John, Mike Hayes and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0249 GMT (1049 HKT) March 4, 2020
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7:51 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

UK will likely see jump in cases, but disease will be mild for the majority, Boris Johnson says

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at Downing Street in London on Tuesday, about the government's coronavirus action plan.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at Downing Street in London on Tuesday, about the government's coronavirus action plan. Credit: Frank Augstein/Pool/AP

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it is "highly likely" that the UK will see a growing number of coronavirus cases, but added that it will be a "mild disease" for the "overwhelming majority" of patients.

"For the overwhelming majority of people who contract the virus, this will be a mild disease from which they will speedily and fully recover as we’ve already seen. 
"But I fully understand public concern, your concern, about the global spread of this virus. And it is highly likely that we will see a growing number of UK cases."

His statement on Tuesday comes as the UK unveiled its action plan for a coronavirus outbreak, after confirmed cases in the country rose to 40 on Tuesday.

Johnson stressed that the country was prepared for an outbreak, imploring the public to "wash your hands with soap and hot water for the length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice."

So far there are 91,940 confirmed cases worldwide and 3,129 deaths -- many of which are in mainland China. In recent weeks, however, regions such as the Middle East and Europe have seen a dramatic jump in confirmed cases and deaths.

7:45 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Google tells Irish staff to work from home over coronavirus fears, reports public broadcaster

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac in London

A cyclist passes the European headquarters building of Google Inc. in Dublin, Ireland, on January 6.
A cyclist passes the European headquarters building of Google Inc. in Dublin, Ireland, on January 6. Credit: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The bulk of Google's staff at its European headquarters in Dublin have been told to work from home after a worker reported flu-like symptoms, Irish public broadcaster RTE reports. 

That person has not tested positive for coronavirus. 

"We continue to take precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce, and as part of that effort we have asked our Dublin teams to work from home tomorrow," a Google spokesperson told RTE. 

There are over 8,000 employees at the Dublin office according to Google.

7:42 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Soccer chief says "let's not talk about dark scenarios" on coronavirus threat to Euro 2020

From CNN’s Aleks Klosok in London

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin speaks during the 44th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Tuesday.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin speaks during the 44th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on Tuesday. Credit: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/ANP/AFP/Getty Images

The head of European football's governing body has insisted that the Euro 2020 soccer tournament will go ahead as planned

Speaking at a press conference in Amsterdam, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: “Let’s be optimistic and not talk about dark scenarios.”

“You don't know how many concerns we have when we organize a big competition […] We have security concerns, we have political instability concerns and one of those concerns is the virus. We are dealing with it and we are confident that we can deal with it," he said.

Čeferin added that UEFA is in constant close contact with the World Health Organization and European governments on public health advice.

Theodore Theodoridis, UEFA General Secretary, added that the governing body “didn’t want to overreact” when it came to speculation about moving games during this summer’s tournament.

He stated that the immediate priority for the organization was the UEFA Euro 2020 play-off semi-finals and finals which are due to be played on Thursday 27 and Tuesday 31 March.

UEFA also confirmed that it has set up a working group with the European Leagues association to handle any fixture congestion which may be caused by coronavirus postponements.

7:10 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

South Korea reports three new deaths as authorities investigate two Shincheonji members

From journalist Hyoungjoo Choi in Seoul and Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

South Korea has reported three new deaths from people who had the novel coronavirus --taking the national toll to 31.

This comes as health authorities announced that they are looking into two Shincheonji religious group members who traveled to South Korea in January from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak in China.

Kwon Joon-wook, vice-director of South Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a press briefing that one member tested negative while the other tested positive for the virus.

Lee Man-hee, leader of the Shincheonji group, speaks during a press conference in Gapyeong, South Korea, on Monday.
Lee Man-hee, leader of the Shincheonji group, speaks during a press conference in Gapyeong, South Korea, on Monday. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

However, the positive case was confirmed late February and it will be difficult to establish whether that second case influenced the massive transmission among Shincheonji members, Kwon added.

6:59 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Rise in cases and deaths in Iran: 2,336 confirmed cases and 77 deaths

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

A patient infected by the coronavirus receives treatment at a hospital in Tehran, Iran, on Monday.
A patient infected by the coronavirus receives treatment at a hospital in Tehran, Iran, on Monday. Credit: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Some 77 people with the coronavirus have died in Iran and there are now at least 2,336 confirmed cases in the country, Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi said on state TV on Tuesday.

Concern has been mounting about the situation in Iran, which is battling an outbreak amid an ongoing economic crisis.

The country reported its first cases on February 19. State radio reported Monday that an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died after contracting coronavirus. 

Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, was a member of the Expediency Council that advises Khamenei.

6:46 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Gibraltar confirms first case of coronavirus

From Laura Perez Maestro in Madrid

A person in Gibraltar has tested positive for coronavirus -- the first case to be identified in the British territory on Spain's southern coast.. 

The patient, along with their partner, had recently returned from northern Italy via Malaga airport in Spain, according to the Gibraltar heath authority. 

The couple are self-isolating and health officials are carrying out an extensive process of contact tracing, it said. The patient’s partner has not experienced any symptoms yet.

6:42 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Thailand imposes compulsory self-quarantine for passengers from 11 countries and territories

From CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok

Thai people are given hand sanitizing gel before receiving a free face mask at The Ministry of Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday.
Thai people are given hand sanitizing gel before receiving a free face mask at The Ministry of Public Health in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday. Credit: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

People arriving from multiple places in Asia, the Middle East and Europe will be forced to self-quarantine by Thai authorities, the country's Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Facebook post Tuesday.

The minister's post said Japan, Germany, South Korea, China "including its special territories Macao and Hong Kong," Taiwan, France, Singapore, Italy and Iran have been declared as "dangerous communicable disease areas."

Anyone traveling from those places will have to self-quarantine for 14 days "with no exceptions," Charnvirakul added.

The measures imposed by the Thai government include isolating or quarantining those with temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or with suspicious coronavirus symptoms. 

Travelers who have no fever and show no symptoms will still have to enter self-quarantine for 14 days. They will not be allowed to leave their premises unless special permits from Thai authorities are obtained.

6:15 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Up to fifth of UK workforce could be off sick due to virus outbreak, says government

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in north London, after more coronavirus patients were identified in the country on Sunday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a laboratory at the Public Health England National Infection Service in north London, after more coronavirus patients were identified in the country on Sunday. Credit: Henry Nicholls/Pool/AP

The British government has said that "it is possible that up to one fifth of employees may be absent from work" during the peak of a coronavirus epidemic in the UK.

According to its coronavirus action plan, published Tuesday, "police would concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order" in the case of a significant loss of officers and staff.

Other measures put in place in the event of the disease becoming "established in the UK," would be: "school closures, encouraging greater home working, (and) reducing the number of large scale gatherings."

The plan comes as the UK has seen a rise in cases, which has seen the government scale up testing measures in recent days.

As of Tuesday morning, there are 40 confirmed cases of the virus in the UK. According to the country's Department of Health, "a total of 13,525 people have been tested in the UK, of which 13,485 were confirmed negative and 40 positive."

5:27 a.m. ET, March 3, 2020

Up to 1 million people could be tested for coronavirus in the US by the end of the week

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Up to a million people could be tested for coronavirus by the end of week, the FDA said Monday, as cases across the US rose to more than 100 and health officials warned that the number will keep climbing.

Cases of the virus have now been reported in 12 states -- the majority of them in California and Washington state, where six people have died.

About a quarter of the current cases were likely transmitted through US communities, officials have said, meaning they were not travel-related.

"My concern is as the next week or two or three go by, we're going to see a lot more community-related cases," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a news conference Monday. "That's of great concern."

The number of cases has been climbing as new guidelines from health officials gave more labs the go-ahead to conduct tests. Faulty kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially led to delayed and inconclusive results.

Over the weekend, the US Food and Drug Administration further expanded who could test for the virus by allowing additional labs to develop their own tests for the virus. The move, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said, would enable academic centers and private companies to develop and use tests.

He said up to a million tests will likely be conducted by the end of this week.

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