March 5 coronavirus news

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5:03 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

At least 215 people in India interacted with infected Italian tourist group

From CNN's Vedika Sud in New Delhi, Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

At least 215 people came into contact with a group of Italian tourists in India, some of whom have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a Rajasthan government official said on Thursday.

According to Govind Pareek, the Joint Director of Public Relations, officials have identified the people the tourists came into contact with while in the region, including the cities of Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur and Jaipur. 

Ninety-three samples have been tested so far. Of these, 60 tested negative for the novel coronavirus. The Rajasthan government is in the process of testing the remaining 122 suspected cases across the state.

Hotel rooms where the Italians stayed have been closed for sanitation, which is still underway, Pareek added. 

India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced on Wednesday that 16 of the 22 Italians on the trip have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The group landed in New Delhi on February 21 and traveled to Rajasthan by bus. 

Two of the Italian citizens with the virus are being treated in Rajasthan and the remaining 14 are receiving treatment in the city of Gurugram just outside New Delhi.

The group’s driver, who is an Indian citizen, also tested positive.

5:24 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

UAE urges residents not to travel abroad

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

T United Arab Emirates urged its citizens and residents on Thursday against travel abroad, the Emirati health ministry said.

“Those who travel may face preventative measures upon their return to the UAE - at the discretion of competent authorities -- including undergoing medical checks at the airport, and a 14-day home quarantine,” the statement said.

The Dubai Health Authority also said that customers travelling to Dubai from Beijing, Beirut, Rome, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Bangkok and Phuket will have to a coronavirus test at the airport.

The UAE has 27 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to state media.

4:31 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

South Korea halts exports of face masks, sets new limits for pricing and purchasing

From CNN's Hyoungjoo Choi in Seoul

People buy face masks at a department store on February 28, in Seoul, South Korea.
People buy face masks at a department store on February 28, in Seoul, South Korea. Credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Face masks produced in South Korea will no longer be exported abroad as of tomorrow, the country's vice finance minister said today.

This move comes amid the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China, and after much public criticism of the government for severe shortages of face masks, resulting in citizens waiting long hours at designated locations to purchase them in limited numbers.

The government had previously restricted the export of face masks, allowing up to 10% of those produced to be exported until April 30.

South Korea has reported more than 5,700 cases of the virus and 35 deaths.

Face mask supply: South Korea is aiming to increase its daily mask output from 10 million to at least 13 million, authorities said.

Masks will be distributed mainly to pharmacies, post offices, and government locations for citizens to purchase.

Starting from Monday, each citizen can purchase up to two masks per week. The government will monitor sales through a computerized system, to prevent people from buying more than their share.

The government will also designate certain days of the week for citizens to purchase masks after presenting their identification cards, to avoid big crowds of shoppers.

Mask price: The finance ministry will also price all masks distributed by the government at $1.27 (1,500 Korean won), and it may set a maximum price limit for private sellers.

The government will reward anyone who reports on illegal business transactions of mask sales.

4:19 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Netflix pulls out of SXSW conference due to coronavirus fears

View of the Netflix offices in Los Angeles on May 29, 2019.
View of the Netflix offices in Los Angeles on May 29, 2019. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Netflix is pulling out of the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference over concerns about the coronavirus, a Netflix spokesperson confirmed to CNN.

The spokesperson said Netflix did not have a statement regarding the decision. The news was first reported by Variety.

SXSW is an annual conference combining technology, music, media, and film that takes place in Austin, Texas. It is set to take place from March 13-22.

Austin public health officials announced Wednesday that the conference would continue as planned despite concerns about the coronavirus.

"It's important for us to remember at this stage that we're actively evaluating mass gatherings on a daily basis," said the interim medical director and health authority for Austin Public Health.
"Right now there's no evidence that closing South by Southwest or other activities is going to make this community safer. We're constantly monitoring that situation."
4:08 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Iran is developing a coronavirus vaccine and is ready to start producing test kits

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Iran has begun work on developing a coronavirus vaccine and is ready to start producing test kits, the head of the Medical Sciences University of Iran told state news agency ILNA. 

“A number of universities, including the Medical Sciences University of Iran, have started activities needed for the production of test kits so that we can ultimately obtain complete indigenous production of the test kits,” said Dr. Jaleel Kouhpayezadeh.
“We have also started activities towards the production of a vaccine but it is an endeavor that is time consuming, though we hope to reach desired results as soon as possible,” he added.  

Kouhpayezadeh added that proper personal sanitation and home quarantines are among the most important ways to control the spread of the virus, and called on citizens to observe the safety protocols. 

Iran is one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus outbreak and has officially recorded 2,922 cases, including 92 deaths.

4:07 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Eurovision Song Contest is "proceeding with planning"

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite and Vasco Cotovio in London

The European Broadcast Union (EBU) says it is proceeding with planning this year’s edition of the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, scheduled for May.

This comes after reports suggested it was considering an online format due to the coronavirus threat.

In a statement to CNN, the EBU said:

“We will continue to follow developments across Europe; and are looking at various possible scenarios together with the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 host broadcasters NPO, NOS and AVROTROS. However, it is currently too early to comment on these scenarios as they depend on developments in the coming months.
The EBU is, of course, closely monitoring the situation concerning the spread of coronavirus and taking all necessary health and safety precautions in line with WHO and national authority guidelines."

The EBU had already imposed a travel ban after one of its staff in Geneva tested positive for the coronavirus.

What is Eurovision? The singing competition takes place once a year, and is hosted by the previous edition's winning country. There are two semi-finals, and a grand final.

Eurovision attracts hundreds of millions of viewers, and has given the world acts including Abba, Celine Dion and Olivia Newton-John.

4:08 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Spain confirms its second coronavirus death

From CNN’s Laura Perez-Maestro in Madrid

Health authorities in Spain have confirmed a second death from the coronavirus.

The patient was an 82-year-old man with preexisting chronic conditions, "who also had pneumonia," said the Basque Country Heath Department in a statement yesterday.

4:07 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Iran launches coronavirus self-assessment website 

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Iran’s Ministry of Health has launched a coronavirus self-assessment website that provides information about the virus, according to Iran’s state news agency ILNA.

After logging on and answering a number of questions, an individual suspected of being infected will receive a follow up from the health ministry, ILNA reported.

Citizens can access the questionnaire and enter their phone number at salamat.gov.ir, through which they will receive a text message about their current health condition. 

“I hereby request all my fellow citizens to visit the website and participate in the self-assessment process, as soon as possible,” said Ali Reza Reisy, director of health services at the Ministry of Health, in the ILNA report.

4:01 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

WHO: Iran will open special coronavirus hospitals in all provinces

From CNN’s Radina Gigova in Atlanta

Iranians walk under a coronavirus prevention poster on Wednesday in Tehran, Iran.
Iranians walk under a coronavirus prevention poster on Wednesday in Tehran, Iran. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iran’s Ministry of Health is planning to open specially equipped hospitals in all regions of the country to treat coronavirus patients, World Health Organization representative Richard Brennan told Iranian state media. 

“Announcing specially equipped hospitals, in all regions of Iran, that would admit Covid-19 patients is a strategic policy that the ministry of health is pursuing,” Brennan told state news agency IRNA.
“Even though the Iranian health system is a very strong and modern system, certain changes need to be implemented so as to better enable it to fight the spread of the coronavirus."
Iran is one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus outbreak and has officially recorded 2,922 cases, including 92 deaths.