March 4 coronavirus news

By Julia Hollingsworth, Adam Renton, Steve George, Emma Reynolds, Mike Hayes, Rachel Bowman and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:15 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020
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10:23 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

WHO says coronavirus is deadlier than the flu

From CNN Health’s Jacqueline Howard

Men wearing face masks stand next to a mannequin in protective suit displayed at a shop that sells medical supplies at market in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday, March 4.
Men wearing face masks stand next to a mannequin in protective suit displayed at a shop that sells medical supplies at market in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday, March 4. Dita Alangkara/AP

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the novel coronavirus is deadlier than seasonal flu strains. No one has built up immunity to the new virus, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He put the death rate for Covid-19 -- the disease caused by the coronavirus -- at around 3.4%, but experts urged caution around this figure.

Ghebreyesus said in a news conference on Tuesday:

“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity,” Adhanom said in a news conference on Tuesday. “That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease. Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

The new figure for the coronavirus is higher than the 2% mortality rate previously reported, but many experts say it remains variable.

Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said in a written statement on Tuesday that a significant number of mild cases could have been missed.

“Though there is disagreement about this, some studies have suggested that it is approximately 10 times too high,” he said. “This would bring the death rate in line with some strains of influenza.”

John Edmunds, professor in the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a written statement released by the Science Media Centre that “it is surprisingly difficult” to calculate the mortality rate during an active epidemic. 

This is because “the time between onset of disease and death is quite long,” he said, so the number of deaths should be divided by the number of cases there were two or three weeks earlier.

10:25 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

US stocks are soaring, but coronavirus fears haven't totally gone away

From CNN Business’ Paul R. La Monica

Traders gather at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, on Wednesday, March 4.
Traders gather at a post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, on Wednesday, March 4. Richard Drew/AP

Wall Street’s wild week continues, with stocks surging following Joe Biden's big Super Tuesday wins.

Here's how the US stock market opened today:

  • The Dow rose more than 700 points in early trading, or 2.8%
  • The S&P 500 shot up 2.3%
  • The Nasdaq Composite gained 2.1%

What is going on here: Biden is viewed by investors as potentially being a more market-friendly Democratic presidential candidate than Bernie Sanders. Health care stocks in particular were soaring.

Coronavirus worries haven't completely gone away though. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was back below 1%, one day after the Federal Reserve announced a surprise half-point rate cut.

10:03 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

New Hampshire's 1st coronavirus patient broke self-isolation order, officials say

As the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services was investigating the state’s second presumed-positive case of coronavirus, they learned that the state’s first patient violated their self-isolation order, a statement from the agency said.

“DHHS has determined that the first patient, despite having been directed to self-isolate, attended an invitation-only private event on Friday, February 28,” the statement said.

The state’s second patient, an adult male from Grafton County, also had close contact with the first patient, the agency said in the statement.

New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services didn't provide additional details or say exactly where the second patient came into contact with the first patient.

Both individuals are now isolated at home and the state’s health department is contacting everyone “who had close contact with the person during the event and notifying them to follow the recommended 14-day self-isolation,” the statement adds.

The first patient is a person who had recently traveled to Italy and is an employee of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

10:01 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

There are now 6 cases of coronavirus in New York

New York now has six confirmed coronavirus cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today. 

They are:

  • A female healthcare worker who traveled from Iran
  • A lawyer from Westchester County
  • The lawyer's wife
  • His son, a 20-year-old Yeshiva student
  • His 14-year-old daughter
  • A neighbor who drove him to the hospital 

The husband of the healthcare worker who traveled from Iran tested negative, Cuomo said. 

Several tests across the state also came back negative including from Buffalo where families were being monitored after Italy travel.


10:02 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Airlines offer to set up a website to collect passenger information to help combat coronavirus

From CNN's Greg Wallace

As airline CEOs prepare to meet today with Vice President Mike Pence about the coronavirus, they’re making an offer to the government, which wants them to collect and hand over more detailed contact information on international travelers.  

Airlines for America, a major industry association, said it is “offering to pay for the implementation of a website and mobile app” where travelers can submit contact information.  

CNN previously reported the government is asking that airlines collect contact information that would help health officials follow up with potential carriers of the coronavirus, or fellow travelers who may have come into contact with an infected person. The request is complicated for the travel industry, involving changes to airline and third-party vendor computer systems, including the popular travel search engine websites where many travelers buy tickets.   

The government has asked airlines to begin collecting and submitting each passenger’s “address while in the United States,” email address, and both a primary and secondary phone number, as well as other information it already collects.  

Airlines for America said it is “hopeful that the US government will move forward with more effective contact tracing.” 

9:55 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

32 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed in England

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

There have been 32 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed in England, the UK's Department of Health and Social Care said in a tweet today.  

In a statement, it said 29 cases had recently traveled from “recognised countries or recognised clusters which were under investigation.”

“Three additional patients contracted the virus in the UK and it is not yet clear whether they contracted it directly or indirectly from an individual who had recently returned from abroad. This is being investigated and contact tracing has begun.”

The total number of UK cases is 85.

9:32 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Italy considers closing schools across the country

Italy is considering a country wide closure of all schools and universities in an effort to stop a further spread of coronavirus.

Some international schools have already issued letters informing parents and guardians they will be closed as a preventative measure as of Thursday, with remote online teaching beginning Friday. 

The Italian cabinet is currently meeting to discuss the proposition to close schools and an official announcement is expected afterwards. 

"No decision on the closure of schools has been made, we asked the technical-scientific committee for further information. the decision will come in the next few hours," the Minister of Education Lucia Azzolina said in a statement to CNN sent from the Prime Minister’s office. 

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that the Italian cabinet is considering closing all schools.

9:50 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Lufthansa grounds 150 jets over coronavirus

From CNN’s Eoin McSweeney

Lufthansa planes are seen in Frankfurt, Germany on February 18.
Lufthansa planes are seen in Frankfurt, Germany on February 18. Credit: Boris Roessler/picture alliance/Getty Images

Lufthansa will ground 150 aircraft as it cancels flights over coronavirus. The German airline says it will ground 125 short-haul aircraft and 25 long-haul aircraft.

It comes after Lufthansa announced plans on Saturday to reduce the number of flights it was operating because of a fall in demand due to coronavirus. It has cut short-haul flights by 25% for the coming weeks.

9:21 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Singapore reaches 112 cases of novel coronavirus

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma

Singapore reported two new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus taking the total tally to 112, the nation's Ministry of Health (MOH) announced today.

One of the case involves a 43 year-old male Permanent Resident of Singapore who had been in Malaysia from February 18-21.

He's not known to have traveled to any of the other affected countries and regions recently, the MOH said.

The other confirmed case is of a 62 year-old female Singapore citizen.

She too has no travel recent travel history to any of the affected countries and regions but is linked to a previously confirmed case involving a 64 year-old female Singapore citizen.

Of the total 112 confirmed cases, 7 are in critical state, 26 are stable and 79 have fully recovered and have been discharged, the MOH said.