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
44 Posts
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7:10 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Evacuation flight for foreign diplomats in North Korea has landed in Russia

From CNN’s Will Ripley in Tokyo

An evacuation flight with foreign diplomats who were quarantined in North Korea has landed in Vladivostok with 103 people onboard, a source on the flight told CNN.  

The source agreed to speak to CNN on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the situation. 

French and German embassies in North Korea will be temporarily closed, according to the British Ambassador for North Korea, Colin Crooks. Crooks tweeted that the British Embassy would remain open. 

CNN previously reported foreign diplomats had been kept in complete isolation since early February, amid concerns about the potential spread of novel coronavirus inside North Korea. The exact number of foreign diplomats stationed inside the country is unknown, but is estimated to be just a few hundred. 

North Korea has not confirmed a single case of the virus inside the country, but global health experts have warned the country is highly susceptible to an outbreak given its close proximity to China and limited medical capabilities.

7:04 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

NATO staff member tests positive

From CNN’s Nic Robertson, Claudia Rebaza and Jomana Karadsheh

A NATO staff member working at its Brussels headquarters has tested positive for the virus, according to its press office.

“The staff member had come back from a holiday in northern Italy, felt unwell at the end of last week, and was tested due to the onset of fever-like symptoms," according to a statement from the alliance.

It added that the staff member has self-isolated and immediate work colleagues have been working from home since the results came in.

NATO said that it has taken preventative measures, based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidance, "these include the temporary suspension of certain staff travel, encouraging staff to work from home, and the temporary suspension of group visits to NATO HQ in Brussels."

Belgium tally: As of Monday morning, Belgium has 169 confirmed cases and no deaths.

6:52 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

French Central Bank downgrades growth forecast due to coronavirus uncertainties

From Pierre Bairin in Paris

The French Central Bank, or Banque de France, downgraded its growth forecast for the first quarter from +0.3% down to +0.1% -- a steep drop that suggests the coronavirus is now hitting European economies beyond Italy.

A statement from Francois Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the bank, cites "strong uncertainty about future production linked to coronavirus" for the revised forecast.

"This shock of uncertainty first affects the sectors exposed to China, either via their supplies or via their customers (tourism, luxury). But it also reaches services in France where demand has slowed down due to the measures taken to contain the epidemic: transport, accommodation and catering, events and temporary work," the statement said.
"This slowdown is potentially severe but temporary; its duration will depend on the sanitary measures necessary in China as in Europe."

The bank also urged calm: The statement asked the public to "have our eyes wide open but keep a cool head."

"Getting over this shock depends on us, together," it added.

6:42 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

United States Forces Korea employee tests positive for coronavirus

A construction worker contracted by the United States Forces Korea (USFK) has tested positive for the coronavirus, making this the eighth USFK-related patient.

The worker is a Korean citizen, and is currently in isolation at his off-base residence as directed by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), said a USFK press release.

"KCDC and USFK health professionals are actively conducting contact tracing to determine whether anyone else may have been exposed," said the release.

The other USFK cases include an American soldier, his spouse, and two other dependents of service members stationed in the southern city of Daegu.

6:32 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

An oil price crash and the coronavirus combined to create "complete pandemonium" in global markets

Global markets are plunging after the implosion of an alliance between OPEC and Russia caused the worst one-day crash in crude prices in nearly 30 years, fueling panic triggered by the escalation of the coronavirus epidemic.

A look at the markets' tumble:

  • S&P 500 (SPX) futures plunged as much as 5% Sunday evening, triggering a limit that prevents futures from trading below that mark. 
  • Dow (INDU) futures are down more than 1,200 points, or about 4.9%. 
  • Nasdaq Composite (COMP) futures were down 4.8%.
  • Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended 7.3% lower on Monday, the index's biggest plunge since October 2008.
  • Japan's Nikkei 225 (N225) sank 5.1%.
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng (HSI) lost 4.2%.
  • China's Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) shed 3%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, meanwhile, fell below 0.5%, hitting record lows.

What triggered this? The panic began after Saudi Arabia shocked oil markets by launching a price war. The kingdom is trying to retake global market share after Russia refused Friday to go along with OPEC's efforts to rescue the oil market from a plunge in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

What does this mean? Investors are waking up "shell shocked," wrote Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp, in a Monday research note. He described the panic as "complete pandemonium."

Global markets have also been battered in recent days. About $9 trillion was wiped off global stocks in nine days, Bank of America said in a research note after US markets closed deep in the red again on Thursday.

Read more about it here.

6:21 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

South Korea confirms 96 more cases, bringing national total to 7,478

South Korea has confirmed 96 more coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 7,478, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) today.

South Korea has the most coronavirus cases outside of China, with more than half of all nationwide cases linked to the Shincheonji religious group in the country's south.

The numbers appear to be slowing: The KCDC and other emergency agencies said the weekend's numbers appear to show a decrease in new cases per day.

This could be because of the aggressive, widespread testing the country has implemented, as well as other measures like GPS quarantine monitors and smartphone apps for daily symptom reports.

But it could also be other factors, like the possibility people just didn't go get tested as much this weekend because of bad weather -- leading to a drop in numbers.

6:13 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

A Japan Airlines flight attendant is infected with coronavirus

From CNN's Chie Kobayashi in Tokyo and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong

Japan Airlines confirmed today that one of its flight attendants has been infected with the coronavirus.

The patient is identified as a woman in her 50s who first showed symptoms on February 24, said the airline in a statement.

She was on board flight JL009 from Chicago to Tokyo's Narita airport the next day, before seeking medical help in Tokyo.

The airlines said 12 other flight attendants, who were in close contact with her, have been instructed to stay home until March 11. No passengers on board JL009 or other previous flights have been identified as close contacts with the flight attendant.

5:32 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

The head of Iran’s crisis management agency has the coronavirus

From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran

Esmaeel Najjar, the head of Iran’s Crisis Management Organization, has contracted coronavirus, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.

Najjar was discharged from the hospital and is self-quarantined at home, ISNA reported.

Other Iranian leaders have also tested positive: The country's deputy health minister was also confirmed to have coronavirus last month, just a day after he appeared on national television to warn the public of the virus.

5:31 a.m. ET, March 9, 2020

Shanghai Disney facilities begin phased reopening, but Disneyland park stays closed over coronavirus

From CNN’s Shanshan Wang in Beijing

Some shopping and dining attractions at Shanghai's Disney Resort are resuming operations today “as the first step of a phased reopening,” the company said in a press release -- although the park itself, Shanghai Disneyland, remains closed until further notice.

A limited number of shopping, dining and recreational outlets at Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel will operate under limited capacity and reduced hours.

Guests entering the facilities will have to undergo temperature screenings, wear a face mask, and present a Health QR Code when entering dining venues. Guests are also being asked to “maintain respectful social distances” while in the facilities.

Shanghai Disneyland has been shut since January 25.

Other Asian Disneylands are also closed: Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea closed from late last month until March 15, after the Japanese government requested cancelations of big gatherings and events, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

Hong Kong Disneyland, which welcomed 6.7 million guests in the 2018 fiscal year, also announced its temporary closure on January 26. The park said its affiliated resort hotels would remain open.