Medical staff checking on a Covid-19 coronavirus patient at the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province.

March 8 coronavirus news

By Helen Regan, Jenni Marsh, Rob Picheta and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 11:07 p.m. ET, March 8, 2020
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3:09 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Grand Princess cruise ship to dock in Oakland on Monday

The Grand Princess cruise ship, with at least 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus onboard, will dock in the Port of Oakland on Monday, according to a tweet from the Princess Cruises. 

The ship has been waiting to learn its fate while remaining 50 miles off the coast of San Francisco due to concerns over the coronavirus.

In the message, the company says it will begin disembarking guests who require acute medical treatment and hospitalization at this time.

Those guests will be transported to medical facilities in California, but the exact timing for when this will happen is still being determined. 

1:57 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

More details on northern Italy lockdown

From Livia Borghese in Rome

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree early Sunday, which will put most of northern Italy under lockdown due to novel coronavirus.

It's the toughest measure taken to control the coronavirus outside of mainland China.

The entire Lombardy region is included as well as 14 other provinces.

"There will be an obligation to avoid any movement of people who are either entering or leaving these areas," Conte said. "And even within the areas moving around will occur only for essential work or health reasons."

Here's what we know:

The decree applies to: 

  • Lombardy (the whole region)

And the 14 provinces of: 

  • Modena
  • Parma 
  • Piacenza 
  • Reggio Emilia 
  • Rimini 
  • Pesaro e Urbino
  • Venezia 
  • Padova 
  • Treviso 
  • Asti  
  • Alessandria
  • Novara
  • Verbano-Cusio-Ossola
  • Vercelli

While most of northern Italy will be under the new lockdown decree, there are measures that will also apply to the entire country of Italy. 

These include:

• Suspension of theaters and cinema

• Suspension of congress and meetings that involve health care personnel and servants of essential public services

• Suspension of dance schools, pubs, disco and bingo

• Suspension of religious ceremonies, including funerals

• Suspension of sports events

• Suspension of schools and university classes

Conte said that cafes and restaurants can stay open between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. "on condition that business owners can ensure a safety distance between people of at least one meter. Businesses will be suspended if these conditions are violated."
1:50 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Death toll from China coronavirus quarantine hotel collapse rises to seven

From CNN's Steven Jiang in Beijing

The death toll from a hotel collapse in southeastern China on Saturday has risen to seven, with 28 people missing, according to China’s Ministry of Emergency Management. 

The hotel was being used as a coronavirus quarantine center. At the time of the collapse, 58 people were under quarantine in the hotel and all had tested negative for the coronavirus. There were also 16 hotel staff and six car dealership employees on site.

Rescuers worked through the night to search for survivors and of the 71 trapped in the building, 43 people have so far been pulled from the rubble.

Seven people have died, including one who died in hospital. Twenty-eight people are still unaccounted for.

1:23 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Australia now has 3 coronavirus deaths

From CNN’s Chermaine Lee in Hong Kong

Australia reported one additional death related to coronavirus and 11 new confirmed cases on Sunday, according to a statement from the country's Department of Health.

That brings the nationwide death toll to three and the total case tally to 74.

The most latest fatality did not have a reported history of overseas travel, though further details are pending.

 Of the 74 total cases, 22 have been discharged.

12:49 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak

The numbers: The global total of cases now stands at more than 105,000, with 3,599 deaths since the epidemic began.

China hotel collapse: Four people have died after a hotel that was being used as a coronavirus quarantine center collapsed in China's Quanzhou city. 80 people were in the hotel when it collapsed and 42 people have been rescued.

Italy on lockdown: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a new decree which will put most of the country's north under lockdown due to coronavirus. The entire Lombardy region is included as well as 14 other provinces.

South Korean cases rise above 7,100: Seoul announced over 367 new infections today, bringing the country's total to 7,134, including 50 deaths -- the worst outbreak outside of China.

US cases surpass 440: There are 444 cases of the coronavirus in the US, with 32 states announcing confirmed or presumptive positive cases. The US has recorded 19 deaths linked to the virus.

First coronavirus death in South America: A 64-year-old man diagnosed with the novel coronavirus after traveling to Europe died in Argentina on Saturday, according to the Argentine health ministry.

Other cases in Asia: Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam reported new cases on Sunday.

12:35 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Four dead after coronavirus quarantine hotel collapses in China

From CNN’s Steven Jiang in Beijing

Four people died after a hotel that was being used as a coronavirus quarantine center collapsed Saturday night in southeastern China, according to China’s Ministry of Emergency Management. 

There were 80 people in the hotel when it collapsed, and nine managed to escape, authorities said. 

Rescuers worked through the night to search for survivors and of the 71 trapped in the building, 42 people have so far been pulled from the rubble. Four people have died, one is in a critical condition and four are seriously injured. 

The Fujian Fire Department has deployed 848 fire fighters, 169 fire engines and seven search dogs to the site, and it worked through the night to find survivors.

"We are using life detection instruments to monitor signs of life and professional breaking-in tools to make forcible entries. We are trying our utmost to save trapped people," said Guo Yutuan, squadron leader of the Quanzhou armed police detachment's mobile unit.

The building’s owner is in police custody, according to state news agency Xinhua. Renovation work was under way when the building collapsed. 

Quanzhou is about 600 miles from Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak  in China, where more than 3,000 people have died from the virus.  

12:16 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Inside the religious group blamed for sparking South Korea's coronavirus epidemic

From CNN's Joshua Berlinger

Members of the Shincheonji religious group dress in identical white shirts, black pants and name tags when they gather to hear founder Lee Man-hee preach.

There are no chairs, except for those provided for the elderly or sick. They sit on the floor to listen to sermons to maximize space.

The religious practices of Shincheonji are in the public eye because the movement appears to be the source of South Korea's growing novel coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 6,700 people across the country.

Shincheonji, however, is not the only fringe faith in the country.

Today there are hundreds of similar minority religious groups in South Korea -- including Christian ones -- according to Tark Ji-il, a professor at Busan Presbyterian University and a respected expert on the country's religious movements.

And no one is really sure why South Korea has so many.

Read the full article here.

11:46 p.m. ET, March 7, 2020

Coronavirus mutations: Much ado about nothing

From Mary Petrone and Nathan Grubaugh

A recent scientific article suggested that the novel coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 epidemic has mutated into a more "aggressive" form.

Is this something we need to worry about? No, and here's why. 

Mutations are normal: The first claim that the coronavirus is mutating is true, and it's fine! The effects of mutation in real life are nuanced and generally innocuous. Using the idea of mutation to incite fear is harmful, especially in the midst of an epidemic like Covid-19.

A particularly fraught question during epidemics is whether the causative pathogen will mutate to become more dangerous. This is the wrong question. Mutation is a mundane aspect of existence for many viruses, and the novel coronavirus is no exception.

RNA and DNA: The genetic material of the virus is RNA, not DNA like in humans. Unlike with human DNA, when viruses copy their genetic material, it does not proofread its work. Because RNA viruses essentially operate without a spell-check, they often make mistakes. These "mistakes" are mutations, and viruses mutate rapidly compared to other organisms.

Instead of fearing unlikely outcomes, we should focus on developing an effective response to the Covid-19 epidemic. 

Read the full article here.

11:23 p.m. ET, March 7, 2020

Italian PM signs decree putting large chunk of northern Italy on coronavirus lockdown

From Livia Borghese in Rome 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree early Sunday, which will put most of northern Italy under lockdown due to novel coronavirus.

The entire Lombardy region is included as well as 14 other provinces.

CNN is verifying exactly when the lockdown will go into effect.

Draft text:

The text of the draft proposal – sent to CNN by the press office of the Lombardy regional authority – says that people in Lombardy and other 11 provinces should "absolutely avoid any movement into and out (of) ... as well as within the same territories ... except for travel motivated by unavoidable working needs or situations of emergency."

The draft says the police, the fire brigade and armed forces could be used to enforce these measures. 

The measures also could include:

  • Schools and universities being suspended until April 3.
  • All sporting events in those regions being suspended, with the exception of professional events. No spectators would be allowed at professional events.
  • People in places of prayer standing 1 meter away from each other. 
  • Bars and restaurants enforcing social distancing.
  • Medical staff not being allowed to take a leave of absence.

It's unclear if these measures are included in the prime minister's decree. It could impact more than 10 million people in Italy.