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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11:30 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Diamond Princess passengers to be transferred to military installations

From CNN’s Ross Levitt

Passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship will be transferred to federal military installations for medical screening, novel coronavirus testing and a 14-day quarantine, after the ship docks temporarily in a non-passenger port in San Francisco Bay tomorrow, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. 

Nearly 1,000 passengers who are California residents will complete the mandatory quarantine at Travis Air Force Base and Miramar Naval Air Station, and residents of other states will complete the mandatory quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland in Texas or Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia, the Department of Health and Human Services says. 

Additionally, the Department of State is working closely with the home countries of several hundred passengers to arrange for repatriation to their home countries.

11:26 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

At least 3 Americans on board Egypt cruise test positive for coronavirus

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

At least three US nationals tested positive for coronavirus after boarding an infected Nile cruise in Egypt, according to one infected passenger Matt Swider.

There were 26 other Americans on board the cruise traveling from Aswan to Luxor, Swider added. 

Swider, a tech journalist from New York City, is currently in quarantine in a hospital in the Egyptian coastal city of Marsa Matrouh after testing positive for coronavirus himself.

11:22 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

US surgeon general: Coronavirus response is "shifting into a mitigation phase"

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

As the novel coronavirus spreads in the United States, the nation's response to the outbreak has moved from a containment phase to a mitigation phase, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union” today.

"Initially, we had a posture of containment so that we could give people time to prepare for where we are right now. We’re shifting into a mitigation phase, which means that we’re helping communities understand you’re going to see more cases. Unfortunately, you’re going to see more deaths but that doesn’t mean that we should panic," Adams said.

When Tapper asked Adams about some top White House officials claiming the virus has been contained, Adams said, "Well, this is a novel virus. It’s a new situation and the messaging, quite frankly, is hard."

"The first thing you want to try to do is contain the virus — and some parts of the country have contained it, meaning they’re preventing spread into their communities in the first place," Adams said. "Once you know it’s in your community, you want to take the steps to prevent spread within the community and to keep those most at risk safe."

 

11:20 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Staff member of Washington assisted living home tests positive for coronavirus 

From CNN's Alta Spells

A member of the staff at Aegis Living Marymoor in Redmond, Washington, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the facility confirmed to CNN in a statement. 

The staff member was ill when they left to go home on Feb. 28 and has not returned to the facility, said the statement. It also noted that the staff member has not worked in any other Aegis Living communities.

After learning about the diagnosis, Aegis Living said, “we immediately initiated our company protocol for managing the coronavirus and began a community-wide isolation at Aegis Living Marymoor.”

The statement went on to say, “All residents and staff were evaluated today (Saturday) and continue to be closely watched. At this time, we have no other confirmed cases at Aegis Living Marymoor or any other communities.”

11:14 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Vatican Museums closed due to coronavirus

From Livia Borghese in Rome

The Vatican Museums will be closed until early April because of coronavirus concerns, the Vatican press office announced Sunday.

The museums house some of the world’s greatest art collections, including the Michelangelo-painted Sistine Chapel and a suite of rooms frescoed by Raphael.

The Vatican press office says the museums will be closed until April 3 to help contain the spread of the virus.

 

11:13 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Greece announces public gathering restrictions as coronavirus cases rise

From CNN’s Chris Liakos in Athens

The Greek Health Ministry announced Sunday that seven new coronavirus cases had been confirmed, taking the total to 73 in the country.

It also announced that all sports events will be held behind closed doors for two weeks, school trips are banned for two weeks, and that recreation centers for the elderly will be closed for four weeks.

The country’s Finance Ministry is working on the first wave of a support package to deal with the economic fallout from the outbreak. The details will be announced on Monday.

11:06 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

US surgeon general says 75,000 coronavirus tests are available right now for the public

From CNN Health's Jacqueline Howard

Currently, there are about 75,000 coronavirus tests available for the American public, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union” today.

"By early next week – tomorrow – we should have over 2 million tests available. By the end of the week, through partnerships with private industry, over 4 million tests available," Adams said. "But the most important number to the American people is one. They want to know if I go in, can I get a test? And the one thing that I’ve heard – I’ve been to Georgia, I’ve been to Georgia, I’ve been to Connecticut in the past week – is that no public health doctor who was asked for a test has not been able to get a test. So people should talk to their healthcare providers."

Yet when Tapper asked how many people have been tested, Adams said, "The numbers are tough because they're changing minute by minute." 

Tapper responded, "Just the rough numbers?" 

Adams later said, "I would refer you to the CDC for that because, again, the numbers change so rapidly."

11:04 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Uncertainty in northern Italy as locals avoid travel

From CNN's Jo Shelley in Milan

The lockdown in northern Italy has led to confusion among locals.

Michele De Marsico, 55, described his concern about being able to return to his home in southern Italy.

"I was worried so I came here to the train station to check out the situation," he said, adding that "the system is reacting pretty well" to the outbreak.

"I would like to go to my mother's but it’s not possible. I live here but my mother lives in another region," Alice Baldisserri, 38, told CNN.

"There's chatter that they won’t let people return, so getting out at the moment seems risky to me," she added. "If they won’t let me come back it would be complicated.

"I work in a hotel but it's closed, so also the job is at risk," Baldisserri added. "It’s unknown when we will be able to reopen."

10:59 a.m. ET, March 8, 2020

Saudi Arabia quarantines region after coronavirus cases

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

Saudi Arabia has announced the lockdown of the Qatif region in the Eastern Province on Sunday due to an increase in coronavirus cases, state news agency SPA said.

The quarantine comes after all of Saudi Arabia’s 11 coronavirus cases were found to be residents of Qatif, SPA said. 

All labor work inside the province will also be stopped in governmental institutions; however, commercial supplies will continue to be delivered to the region, the statement added. 

Qatif has a population of more than 500,000, according to government statistics.