March 4 coronavirus news

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4:11 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

South Korea plans to use a GPS-based app to monitor people quarantined at home

South Korea has come up with a new way to make sure people self-quarantined at home stay put: a GPS-based app.

The app will monitor people who are quarantined -- and if they leave their designated location, the system will set off an alarm.

The application will be implemented later this week in Daegu and surrounding North Gyeongsang province, where about 90% of national infections have been reported, according to the government. There are an estimated 2,300 people currently under quarantine in Daegu alone.

“The government discussed about a more efficient way to monitor people in quarantine and developed an application,” Park Jong-hyun, a public relations official of the Central Disaster Relief Headquarters, said at a briefing on Wednesday.

South Korean authorities say several people have broken quarantine and left their homes.

Currently, more than 2,000 confirmed patients in Daegu and North Gyeongsang province are waiting for beds.

The South Korean government began categorizing confirmed cases so that patients with more serious health conditions can be hospitalized, while people with milder symptoms can be monitored from home or government designated facilities.

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

There are now 6 coronavirus cases confirmed in Belarus

A car pulls into the entrance of the Minsk Clinical Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Minsk, Belarus on February 28.
A car pulls into the entrance of the Minsk Clinical Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Minsk, Belarus on February 28. Natalia Fedosenko/TASS/Getty Images

There are now six confirmed coronavirus cases in Belarus, the country’s Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. 

Previously, the country only had one confirmed case.

Four cases have been reported in the country’s capital Minsk, while another two are in the northeastern Vitebsk region. 

According to the ministry, all patients are experiencing mild symptoms.

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

Greece confirms new coronavirus case, bringing total to 8

A worker sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in a school in Thessaloniki, Greece on February 27.
A worker sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in a school in Thessaloniki, Greece on February 27. Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images

Greece’s Health Ministry has confirmed one new case of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to eight.

According to a statement released by the health ministry on Wednesday, the patient in question is a man based in Thessaloniki in northern Greece who had recently been in close contact with another person diagnosed with the virus.

3:53 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's what's been happening over the past few hours

Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul on March 4.
Army soldiers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a shopping street in Seoul on March 4. Ahn Young-joon/AP

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 92,000 people worldwide, killing at least 3,200. If you're just waking up now, here are the key developments in the battle to contain its spread.

Here's the latest:

Asia cases spike: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to grow in Asia, with South Korea reporting another spike today that leaves it with over 5,600 infections. Mainland China recorded 119 new cases as of the end of Tuesday, with 115 in Hubei province, ground zero for the outbreak. Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore all reported new cases today.

US cases rise: There are now 126 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States. Nine patients have died -- all in Washington state.

Medical equipment shortage: The WHO is warning of a global medical equipment shortage and estimates that about 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves and 1.6 million goggles will be required globally for health care workers to respond to the outbreak. 

Planes grounded: Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways announced they will reduce the number of domestic flights in Japan. Vietnam budget carrier Vietjet has suspended all flights between Vietnam and South Korea.

Iran rolls out new measures: Iran, which is one of the worst affected countries in the world, is activating a 300,000-strong team of health workers. People trying to leave the city of Qom will be quarantined if they have symptoms.

All clear for Chinese military: China has one of the biggest militaries in the world -- but none of its personnel have been infected with coronavirus, according to a senior member of the People's Liberation Army.

Bare shelves: Australia has only had 42 confirmed coronavirus cases, but that hasn't stopped worried shoppers buying up supplies, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

Avoiding crowds: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced today that he will be skipping a key event to mark the major Hindu festival of Holi. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has canceled his visits to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Turkey.

Hong Kong evacuees on way home: Two chartered flights will evacuate Hong Kong residents from Hubei province today.

3:45 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

South Korea now has more than 5,600 coronavirus cases

A medical staff member talks with a man with suspected symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus at a testing facility in Seoul on March 4.
A medical staff member talks with a man with suspected symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus at a testing facility in Seoul on March 4. Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

South Korea has confirmed an additional 293 coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 5,612, according to the country's Central Disaster Relief Headquarters.

A total of 32 patients have died from the virus.

South Korea has the most cases of any country outside of China.

According to Jung Eun-kyeong, the head of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about two thirds of those cases have been related to a cluster transmission, while the others have transmitted sporadically.

As of Wednesday, about 3,000 members of the Shincheonji religious group have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, accounting for 56% of cases nationwide. Among those confirmed cases within the religious group, some 2,900 cases are related to a branch in Daegu.

3:40 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Hong Kong confirms two new cases of novel coronavirus, bringing its total to 103

Pedestrians are seen wearing masks as they cross the street in Hong Kong on February 27.
Pedestrians are seen wearing masks as they cross the street in Hong Kong on February 27. Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Health officials in Hong Kong have confirmed two additional cases of coronavirus, bringing the citywide total to 103.

In a news conference Wednesday, Dr. Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection said that one of the new cases is a 43-year-old Buddhist monk from the Fook Wai Ching She Buddhist temple on Hong Kong Island.

The temple has been connected to several other confirmed cases in the city. 

According to Dr. Linda Yu of the Hospital Authority, 43 patients have fully recovered from coronavirus and been discharged from hospital. Another 55 patients remain in hospital, including two in critical condition and three in serious condition.

Two patients with the virus have died in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong residents evacuated: Hong Kong residents in China's Hubei province --ground zero for the outbreak -- will be flown back home today on two chartered flights.

During Wednesday's news conference, Professor Sophia Chan, the secretary for food and health, said the people on those charter flights will have to undergo a 14-day isolation period at a quarantine camp.

3:30 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Rugby Sevens Tokyo 2020 test event cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak

The Japanese Rugby Football Union (JRFU) announced on Wednesday that next month’s Asia Sevens Invitational, which doubles as a test event for Rugby Sevens at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has been cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The tournament, which was due to be held Saturday, April 25 to Sunday, April 26, is the latest Tokyo 2020 test event to be cancelled after this month’s wheelchair rugby test event was also cancelled.

Here's what the Tokyo 2020 Local Organizing Committee said in a statement:

“Tokyo 2020 has received notification from Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) that the Asia Sevens Invitational 2020 tournament, scheduled to take place between 25 and 26 April, has been cancelled due to concerns relating to novel coronavirus.”
“After confirming it is safe to do so, Tokyo 2020 nevertheless will carry out the tests in some form and will consult with the International Olympic Committee, World Rugby and other relevant organisations to determine the content of such tests."

The news comes after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach gave his unequivocal backing on Tuesday to the Games going ahead this summer, urging athletes to prepare “full steam” despite the coronavirus threat.

3:19 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

How and when you should be tested for the coronavirus

A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley, New Jersey. 
A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation in Nutley, New Jersey.  Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

If you're worried you have coronavirus, what should you do? Here's what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends ...

Before you get the test: Health officials urge anyone who believes they should be tested to call ahead, rather than showing up unannounced and potentially exposing others to an infectious disease.

When should you be tested? The CDC recommends calling a healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have coronavirus, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of the virus.

The CDC recommends these types of people should be tested:

  1. Those who have a fever OR lower respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and have had "close contact" with a confirmed coronavirus patient within 14 days of their first symptoms.
  2. Those who have fever AND lower respiratory symptoms, require hospitalization, and have traveled to areas impacted by the epidemic in the last 14 days.
  3. Patients with fever and severe acute lower respiratory symptoms who require hospitalization and for whom no other diagnosis has been found -- such as the flu. No travel or contact exposure is needed.

Read more here:

2:58 a.m. ET, March 4, 2020

WHO warns of global medical equipment shortage as world braces for coronavirus spread

Medical equipment and coronavirus testing kits provided by the World Health Organization are transported at the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on March 2.
Medical equipment and coronavirus testing kits provided by the World Health Organization are transported at the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai on March 2. Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

Countries worldwide are preparing for the possibility of public health emergencies related to the novel coronavirus, as the World Health Organization warned a shortage of protective equipment is hampering the response to the outbreak.

The virus has infected more than 92,800 people and killed at least 3,200 since it was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year. It has now spread to more than 75 countries and territories, with self-sustaining clusters forming in South Korea, Japan, parts of Europe, Iran and the United States. 

At a news briefing Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that each month, the organization estimates that about 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves and 1.6 million goggles will be required globally for health care workers to respond to the outbreak. 

"Shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other front line health care workers dangerously ill-equipped," said Ghebreyesus. "The WHO has shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 27 countries, but supplies are rapidly depleting."

The dire warning comes as China announced a further drop in new cases, raising hopes that the outbreak is beginning to level off in the hard-hit country. Though the vast majority of the total number of confirmed cases and deaths are inside of China, the number of new daily infections outside of the country now exceeds those inside.

Read more here: