Medical workers outside Mechnikov North-Western State Medical University, where students have been place under quarantine, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

March 9 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Joshua Berlinger, Steve George, Tara John and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:14 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020
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1:59 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

New York City transit chief: "If you can get around without riding the subway, do it"

From CNN's Taylor Romine

The head of New York City's public transit system is advising anyone with health issues to avoid taking the subway, if they can.

Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye gave this advice to riders experiencing symptoms like fever or respiratory issues and those who have compromised immunity or other serious health issues:

"If you can get around without riding the subway, do it.”

At a news conference today, he insisted "the subways remain safe." 

"That being said, if you experience symptoms like fever or respiratory issues or have compromised immunity, or other serious health issues, it’s good advice always, to avoid large crowds," he added.

The authority's full fleet is being disinfected every 72 hours, Foye said. All stations and transit centers are being disinfected daily. 

1:48 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Italy suspends all sporting events until April 3

Italy is halting all sporting activities "at all levels" until April 3, the country's National Olympic Committee said in a statement on Monday.

The decision was made following a meeting with committee president Giovanni Malago and team representatives.

In a statement, the committee noted that international competitions, both for clubs and national teams, do not fall within its jurisdiction and therefore cannot be regulated by Monday's decision.

1:41 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

EU parliament shortens its week because of coronavirus concerns

From CNN's James Frater

The European Parliament has shortened its plenary session this week because of coronavirus fears. 

Parliament will sit in Brussels only today and tomorrow and will not hold any votes this week, the spokesperson for the European Parliament said. 

“Under the rules of the Parliament it is not possible to have a remote vote online or anything like that. For the time being it is not provided for unless of course in the medium term we will have to move towards that situation. For the time being there are no technical or regulatory possibilities to use it. In any case, this week there will be no votes, only debates. There are no votes or resolutions,” Jaume Duch told reporters.

The opening session of the European Parliament on Monday lasted just over eight minutes. Normally, it is a few hours long.

1:15 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Two more coronavirus deaths in Spain

From Laura Perez Maestro in Madrid

The Catalonian health department has confirmed “the death of a 97-year-old man and an 88-year-old woman," bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Spain to 28.

1:11 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Public health labs in all 50 states are now able to test for novel coronavirus

From CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht

Seventy-eight state and local public health labs in 50 states now have the capacity to test up to a cumulative 75,000 people for the illness caused by novel coronavirus, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Monday during a briefing.

According to an update to the CDC’s website, Washington, D.C., is also able to test for the virus. The CDC site lists Guam, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands as in process to test.

“The number of commercially available tests is much larger than that and our expectation within the next couple weeks, as more and more commercial entities come on board, is that the majority of the available testing will actually be from the commercial sector,” Messonnier said.

The CDC will have more information online this afternoon about testing for novel coronavirus in public health labs and commercial labs, Messonnier said.

“Different states will have different capacity for testing as well as different policies about who should be tested,” Messonnier said. 

1:10 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Recovering from coronavirus illness can take up to "six weeks," WHO official says

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

It can take several weeks to fully recover from illness caused by novel coronavirus, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of Health Emergencies Programme at the World Health Organization, said during a briefing on Monday.

"It takes anything up to six weeks to recover from this disease," Ryan said. "People who suffer very severe illness can take months to recover from the illness."

Ryan added that recovery is often measured by the patient no longer exhibiting symptoms and having two consecutive negative tests for the virus at least one day apart, but some countries may measure "recovery" differently.

To date, there is no specific medicine to treat coronavirus illness, but those infected can recover with appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms — and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care, according to WHO.

1:06 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Egypt suspends all large gatherings to deter spread of coronavirus

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta

Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly decided on Monday to suspend all crowded events or large gatherings until further notice.

The decision is part of the precautionary measures the government has adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement.

Egypt's Culture Ministry announced the suspension of artistic and cultural activities with large gatherings until further notice, state news said.


1:06 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Senate finance leader is considering "targeted tax relief measures" to respond to coronavirus

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Sen. Chuck Grassley’s communications director says he “is exploring the possibility of targeted tax relief measures” to respond to the COVID-19. 

Grassley is the Senate Finance Committee chair.

"While we continue to assess the economic impacts, Chairman Grassley is exploring the possibility of targeted tax relief measures that could provide a timely and effective response to the coronavirus," Michael Zona said in a statement.

"Several options within the committee’s jurisdiction are being considered as we learn more about the effects on specific industries and the overall economy," he added.

12:54 p.m. ET, March 9, 2020

"We are not at the mercy of this virus," WHO director says

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said the threat of a pandemic due to coronavirus "has become very real" as the virus continues to spread around the world.

"Now that the coronavirus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real. But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is: We are not at the mercy of this virus,” Tedros said Monday.

"This is an uneven epidemic at the global level. Different countries are in different scenarios, requiring a tailored response. It’s not about containment or mitigation – which is a false dichotomy. It’s about both,” Tedros added, all countries must take a “comprehensive blended strategy” for controlling their own epidemics. 

What each country does to control the spread of novel coronavirus, “can also affect what happens in other countries and globally,” Tedros said.

Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, addressed the issue of a pandemic, saying the principle definition is that the disease has reached a point where it cannot be controlled, adding “if this was influenza, we would have called it ages ago," Ryan said. 

One thing to note: CNN is already calling the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic because the virus has affected large numbers of people and spread to all but one continent, and because several places are experiencing sustained community transmission.