March 5 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Adam Renton and Emma Reynolds, CNN

Updated 9:36 p.m. ET, March 5, 2020
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1:01 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

People are getting conflicting advice on face masks. Follow what applies to where you are

Analysis by CNN's James Griffiths

In the past couple of days, a tweet from the US Surgeon General admonishing people for panic-buying face masks has gone viral. The tweet echoes guidance issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that only people showing symptoms of the coronavirus should wear face masks, in part to ensure there is a sufficient supply for healthcare professionals.

But while the CDC and the surgeon general are performing an admirable task in trying to dampen panic about the virus and counter misinformation, some of their statements are being taken out of context and turned into just that. People who dislike or disapprove of wearing face masks have used it to argue against doing so, even in places that recommend wearing them.

Just because guidance is issued by US authorities for Americans (or in Italy for Italians, or in the UK for Britons, etc) doesn't mean it necessarily applies to the whole world.

In Asia, for example, where face masks have been a common sight for weeks, multiple health authorities and experts have recommended their use by people not showing symptoms. Here's the Hong Kong guidance:

Surgical mask can prevent transmission of respiratory viruses from ill persons. It is essential for persons who are symptomatic (even if having mild symptoms) to wear a surgical mask.

Wear a surgical mask when taking public transport or staying in crowded places. It is important to wear a mask properly, including hand hygiene before wearing and after removing a mask.

Asian metropolises like Hong Kong are far denser, and have far busier public transport, than most cities in the US. There is also evidence of community transmission in Hong Kong, and many neighboring countries, which raises the risks posed to otherwise healthy people of being coughed or sneezed upon by someone with the virus -- something a face mask can offer some protection from.

That doesn't mean the CDC guidance is wrong -- just that it applies to the US, not globally. We saw the same thing with early statements comparing the flu to the coronavirus -- you were much more likely to die of the flu in the US at the beginning of the outbreak when cases were focused in China, but that fact was twisted to suggest that this was true in China, or that the coronavirus was less deadly than the flu, when we now believe it might be considerably more so.

12:49 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

A truck in Australia carrying toilet paper burst into flames

A semi-truck carrying toilet paper caught fire and erupted into flames in Brisbane, Australia, late Wednesday night. 

A spokesperson for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services told CNN that the truck had been carrying toilet paper, and that firefighters were able to contain the fire upon arrival. 

Panic buying: Parts of Australia have seen panic buying as fears of shortages caused by the coronavirus outbreak continue to cause worried shoppers to stock up on basic necessities such as toilet paper. 

On Wednesday, major Australian supermarket chain Woolworths announced that customers would only be allowed to buy four packs of toilet paper per transaction in order to "ensure more customers have access to the product."

12:30 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

There are now more than 14,500 cases of the coronavirus outside mainland China

A worker wearing a protective suit disinfects a Vietnam Airlines plane at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Tuesday.
A worker wearing a protective suit disinfects a Vietnam Airlines plane at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on Tuesday. Credit: Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images

In mainland China, more than 80,400 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 3,000 deaths have been recorded -- the vast majority in Hubei province, ground zero for the outbreak.

But as new infections in China slow, the virus is rapidly spreading throughout the world. There are now more than 14,500 confirmed cases of the virus in 79 countries and territories outside mainland China, including at least 272 deaths.

Here's the full list, with places reporting deaths highlighted:

1. Afghanistan (1 case)

2. Algeria (2 cases)

3. Andorra (1 case)

4. Argentina (1 case)

5. Armenia (1 case)

6. Australia (52 cases, 2 deaths)

7. Austria (10 cases)

8. Bahrain (49 cases)

9. Belarus (6 cases)

10. Belgium (1 case)

11. Brazil (3 cases)

12. Chile (2 cases)

13. Cambodia (1 case)

14. Canada (34 cases)

15. Croatia (6 cases)

16. Czech Republic (5 cases)

17. Denmark (3 cases)

18. Dominican Republic (1 case)

19. Ecuador (10 cases)

20. Egypt (2 cases)

21. Estonia (1 case)

22. Finland (3 cases)

23. France (212 cases, 4 deaths)

24. Georgia (1 case)

25. Germany (158 cases)

26. Gibraltar (1 case)

27. Greece (9 cases)

28. Hong Kong (103 cases, 2 deaths)

29. Hungary (1 case)

30. Iceland (3 cases)

31. India (29 cases)

32. Indonesia (2 cases)

33. Iran (2,922 cases, 92 deaths)

34. Iraq (35 cases, 2 death)

35. Ireland (6 cases)

36. Israel (15 cases)

37. Italy (3,089 cases, 107 deaths)

38. Japan (1,023 cases, 12 deaths)

39. Jordan (1 case)

40. Kuwait (56 cases)

41. Latvia (1 case)

42. Lebanon (13 cases)

43. Lithuania (1 case)

44. Luxembourg (1 case)

45. Macao (10 cases)

46. Malaysia (50 cases)

47. Mexico (5 cases)

48. Monaco (1 case)

49. Nepal (1 case)

50. Netherlands (7 cases)

51. New Zealand (3 cases)

52. Nigeria (1 case)

53. North Macedonia (1 case)

54. Norway (15 cases)

55. Oman (12 cases)

56. Pakistan (5 cases)

57. Philippines (3 cases, 1 death)

58. Portugal (4 cases)

59. Qatar (7 cases)

60. Romania (3 cases)

61. Russia (6 cases)

62. San Marino (1 case)

63. Saudi Arabia (1 case)

64. Senegal (2 cases)

65. Singapore (112 cases)

66. Slovenia (1 case)

67. South Korea (5,766 cases, 35 deaths)

68. Spain (209 cases, 2 death)

69. Sri Lanka (1 case)

70. Sweden (13 cases)

71. Switzerland (18 cases)

72. Taiwan (41 cases, 1 death)

73. Thailand (47 cases, 1 death)

74. Tunisia (1 case)

75. Ukraine (1 case)

76. United Arab Emirates (27 cases)

77. United Kingdom (87 cases)

78. United States* (159 cases total, 11 deaths)

79. Vietnam (16 cases)

*Includes presumptive positive cases from public health labs pending confirmation from the US Centers for Disease Control.

12:29 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

Thailand confirms four more coronavirus cases, raising total to 47

From CNN’s Kocha Olarn in Bangkok and Isaac Yee in Hong Kong.

Thailand has reported four more coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 47.

The new cases include two Thai citizens, an Italian citizen, and one Chinese citizen, said Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai of the Disease Control Department today.

Two of the cases recently arrived from Iran, and the other two recently arrived from Italy.

Thailand has confirmed one death related to the virus.

12:11 a.m. ET, March 5, 2020

What actually happens during a coronavirus test?

From CNN's Arman Azad

US health officials originally restricted coronavirus testing to only the sickest patients -- but Vice President Mike Pence announced on Tuesday that any American with a doctor's order should soon be able to access the tests.

Here's what the testing process looks like:

  • First, you'll be swabbed. Doctors need to collect a specimen -- a sample that will be checked for the virus. Clinicians may swab your throat, going through both your mouth and your nose. People with "wet" coughs may also be asked to cough up sputum, a mixture of saliva and mucous. It's unlikely that other bodily fluids like urine or stool will be tested.
  • Your specimen will be sent to a qualified lab. The sample is sent to a lab that has access to a test kit. Most of these kits are provided by the US Centers for Disease Control, but New York has received emergency authorization for its own test. The process might look different for commercial tests that may be available soon.
  • Your sample will be tested: Technicians then use a procedure that allows them to see whether a certain genetic sequence is present in your sample. Essentially, the coronavirus test works by determining whether any given specimen contains the distinct coronavirus genome.
  • How long does the test take? Once a sample arrives at a state lab, test results can be available in as little as 24 hours, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
  • What can go wrong? Because the test looks for viral genetic material in a swab or sputum sample, the quality of a specimen is critical.

Read more here:

11:47 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Just joining us? Here are the latest developments

New York is racing to stop an outbreak: After 11 people across the New York metro area tested positive for coronavirus, the state government has asked some 1,000 people who had contact with them to self-quarantine. All schools in Mount Vernon, in the NYC suburbs, are closing until March 9. Elsewhere in the US, Facebook has closed an office in Seattle after an employee tested positive for the virus.

The US military is screening recruits: Multiple US military branches are screening new recruits for the coronavirus as part of a sweeping effort to prevent the virus from spreading among armed forces stationed in the US. Cases have previously been reported among US and South Korean forces on the Korean Peninsula.

Global cases are nearing 95,000: The number of people who have died from the coronavirus has risen to 3,283 as of Thursday, with 3,012 in mainland China. Outside of China, the most deaths have been reported in Italy, Iran and South Korea. Close to 95,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, again with the vast majority in mainland China.

Italy is shutting schools: Outside of China, one of the worst outbreaks has been in Italy, where more than 3,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed, and 107 deaths. The country announced Wednesday that it was closing all schools and universities until March 15, and a "red zone" has been declared in the north of the country.

Australia cases rise: Australia's Department of Health announced 10 new cases of the coronavirus today, bringing the national total to 52. The department also confirmed the death of a resident in a nursing home, bringing the country's death toll to two. 

11:31 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

10 lessons from Asia on how to live with a coronavirus outbreak

South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on the street to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Seoul today.
South Korean soldiers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant on the street to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Seoul today. Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in China last December, it has spread across the world. It now threatens to become a global pandemic, and countries are scrambling to contain the virus.

Here are 10 lessons -- good and bad -- from Asia on how to deal with a coronavirus outbreak.

  1. Be transparent with the public. Government transparency and publicly accessible information can help educate citizens on the risks and necessary precautionary measures, and avoid panic or misinformation.
  2. Conduct social distancing. The virus spreads when people are in close physical contact -- so one of the most important preventative measures is social distancing. Countries across Asia have suspended schools, canceled public gatherings, and closed public spaces like swimming pools or libraries.
  3. Be ahead of the game. In January, as it became clear that the virus was spreading rapidly across Asia, countries got ready by setting up quarantine centers, ordering more medical supplies in advance, and organizing cross-departmental government emergency response committees.
  4. Get tested early. Countries can encourage early testing, and make testing available across local districts, to quickly identify the arrival of the virus. In South Korea, a smartphone app asks citizens to do a daily check of their symptoms, and the country has pioneered drive-through testing for the virus.
  5. Spread good hygiene practices. Simple measures can go a long way -- like washing your hands properly and frequently, covering your nose or mouth when you cough or sneeze, and being conscious of the surfaces you touch.
  6. Offer employees flexible working arrangements. Millions of people in Asia have been working from home, or working more flexible hours, for several weeks -- made possible by modern technology. This reduces the risk of infection, and helps employees feel safer.
  7. Don't panic buy. Panic buying, as seen in Hong Kong and elsewhere, stokes unnecessary chaos and fear. It takes away critical supplies for frontliners and health care workers -- and often, the supply chains are just fine.
  8. Don't be afraid of your pets. There is no evidence pets can catch the virus and subsequently infect you. The virus can live on surfaces and objects -- so it could be present on the surface of a dog or cat, like how it might be present on an elevator button or door handle.
  9. Don't stigmatize patients. As the virus spreads, so does fear and discrimination. Experts have warned against stigmatizing patients; for instance, if quarantines aren't done properly, patients could potentially be treated with less dignity and respect.
  10. Finally -- don't panic. Based on current available data, the virus is thought to have a fatality rate of about 2% -- that's higher than influenza, which is about 0.1%, but much lower than severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) at 9.6%, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) at 35%. For many people, symptoms are just like those of a common cold, and may go away on their own.

Read the full story here.

11:18 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

Starbucks halts the use of personal cups at its stores

From CNN's Chauncey Alcorn

Interior of Starbucks Coffee with customers standing at the counter behind reusable cups sign.
Interior of Starbucks Coffee with customers standing at the counter behind reusable cups sign. Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Environmentally conscious coffee lovers who bring their own mugs to buy fresh java at Starbucks won't be able to do so for a while.

Starbucks announced yesterday that it is temporarily suspending the use of personal cups and tumblers at its stores to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

EVP Rossann Williams said the company will continue to honor its 10-cent discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup or tumbler for coffee, even though customers can't use them.

"We are optimistic this will be a temporary situation," Williams said in an open letter posted on the company's website.

Starbucks said it is also increasing the number of cleanings at all its company-operated stores and suspending business-related air travel, both domestic and international, for the rest of March, according to Williams.

Read more here.

11:04 p.m. ET, March 4, 2020

The US military is now screening recruits for coronavirus

From CNN's Paul LeBlanc

Multiple US military branches are screening new recruits for the coronavirus as part of a sweeping effort to prevent the virus from spreading among the armed forces.

While recruits are always screened for health issues, the coronavirus is now a particular concern for the US Navy, Air Force and Army, who have implemented new screening procedures as the virus spreads.

The military gets ready: The move underscores comments made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley earlier this week that the military is planning for all scenarios as it faces the coronavirus -- even a worst-case pandemic situation.

The Navy told CNN in a statement Wednesday that it began screening for the coronavirus in the initial processing of recruits in January. All incoming recruits are screened using medical and exposure risk criteria and any individuals identified as having potential risk would be further treated -- though none have met that criteria yet.

The screenings involve evaluation for related symptoms such as a fever or lower respiratory illness and questions about overseas travel history and whether they've had close contact with anyone with the virus.

Read the full story here: