March 11 coronavirus news

By Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III, Joshua Berlinger, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020
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2:30 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

A conference in Boston was ground zero for a coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts

From CNN's Madeline Holcombe

A Biogen building in Massachusetts is seen in this file photo from 2017.
A Biogen building in Massachusetts is seen in this file photo from 2017. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

Massachusetts' coronavirus cases have more than doubled and the state's governor declared a state of emergency after employees who attended a company meeting in Boston last month tested positive for the virus.

The state announced 51 new presumptive positive cases Tuesday that are awaiting confirmation by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The surge brings the total number of confirmed or presumptive positive cases in Massachusetts to 92.

Seventy of the cases are related to employees at Cambridge biotechnology company Biogen, state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said.

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in response to the outbreak.

"The purpose of moving forward with these measures now is to act before the numbers increase to the point where the virus spread is severely impacting the commonwealth," Baker told reporters Tuesday, adding that a spike in cases could overwhelm the state's systems.

Read more:

2:17 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Researchers in Seattle repurposed a flu test and found community spread of coronavirus

From CNN's Jen Christensen, Ben Tinker & Arman Azad

A doctor in Seattle studying influenza hypothesized that the coronavirus had been spreading in Washington for days before anyone realized it, according to a New York Times report yesterday.

For weeks, states have raised concerns that there are not enough tests available, as international agencies like the World Health Organization warned that early testing and contact testing is paramount to halting the virus' spread.

According to the Times, Dr. Helen Y. Chu and her team, without government approval, re-purposed tests for influenza to instead look for coronavirus. The study found a positive test from a teen with no travel history to any area where there had been an outbreak, showing the coronavirus was spreading in the community earlier than officials thought.

Early this morning, the Seattle Flu Study tweeted a statement by Lead Principal Investigator Dr. Jay Shendure:

“Our researchers are deeply dedicated to keeping our community safe. In the face of this unprecedented health threat, there are times when we have all felt the need to move fast in an effort to save lives. We are actively working and have had good cooperation with local, state, and national health authorities on the response to COVID-19.
Our team is productively collaborating with state regulators and has identified a path forward that will allow us to continue testing. This collaboration will be crucial to helping us overcome the current challenge and putting in place a strong foundation for the future.”
2:03 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

These 11 countries have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic

Paramedics talk in a ward dedicated for people infected with the new coronavirus, at a hospital in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, March 8.
Paramedics talk in a ward dedicated for people infected with the new coronavirus, at a hospital in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, March 8. AP Photo/Mohammad Ghadamali

The novel coronavirus has spread throughout the world since the first cases were detected in central China in December. 

More than 4,200 people have died globally and over 115,800 have been infected during the pandemic, according to CNN's tally. More than 61,400 patients in mainland China have recovered and been discharged, according to China’s National Health Commission.  

These 11 countries have reported the most infections:

  1. Mainland China: 80,778 cases; 3,158 deaths  
  2. Italy: 10,149 cases, 631 deaths
  3. Iran: 8,042 cases, 291 deaths
  4. South Korea: 7,755 cases, 60 deaths
  5. Germany: 1,296 cases, 2 deaths
  6. Japan: 1,264 cases, 19 deaths (includes 696 cases linked to Diamond Princess cruise ship)
  7. Spain: 1,204 cases, 28 deaths
  8. France: 1,116 cases, 30 deaths
  9. United States: 1,000 cases, 31 deaths
  10. United Kingdom: 382 cases, 6 deaths
  11. Netherlands: 382 cases, 4 deaths

See the full list of cases here:

1:47 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

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

Piazza Navona is seen completely deserted on March 10, in Rome, Italy.
Piazza Navona is seen completely deserted on March 10, in Rome, Italy. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing in the US and Europe, which are reporting exponential increases in the number of new cases daily. Meanwhile in Asia, a spike in Japan is causing concern as other parts of the region stabilize.

Here are the latest developments:

The US has reached 1,000 cases: Washington is still the hardest-hit state, but New York and California aren't too far behind, and Massachusetts is now nearing 100 cases. Many states have declared states of emergency, and universities nationwide are closing early or conducting online classes.

There has been an uptick in testing nationwide in recent days, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lack of available testing has led to frustration of state and local officials, and there has been confusion over the number of testing kits that have been mailed out.

Life under lockdown in Italy: Town squares are empty, schools are closed, public events canceled, and people are staying home, under lockdown measures implemented Monday across the entire country.

Experts say these measures may help slow the spread of the virus as Italy's healthcare system creaks under the weight of the outbreak -- but it has also led to desperation and tragedy, like the case of an Italian woman stuck at home with the body of her husband, who died of the virus, because of strict quarantine protocols.

Meanwhile in South Korea: The country had reported a drop in daily reported cases earlier this week, with health officials cautiously hopeful that it may indicate a slowdown in infection. But South Korea reported 242 new cases and 6 more deaths yesterday, and identified a new cluster in the capital Seoul -- a reminder that the outbreak is not by any means over.

Sporting events canceled: Matches and events worldwide are being played behind closed doors, suspended or postponed as the virus spreads. The English Premier League fixture between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed and players quarantined after potential exposure to a patient.

And there is still a question over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which organizers insist will continue as planned -- despite calls for cancellations and a rise in Japan's cases.

1:38 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Jamaica has confirmed its first coronavirus case

From CNN's Hira Humayun in Atlanta

Jamaica has confirmed its first case of coronavirus in the capital of Kingston, the Ministry of Health and Wellness announced Tuesday.

The patient is a Jamaican woman that was in the UK recently but arrived back on the island on March 4. She has been in isolation since Sunday.

Jamaica is taking several steps to prevent community spread of the virus, including contact tracing. The country has imposed travel restrictions on eight countries: China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Singapore, Spain, France and Germany.

1:31 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Uber may temporarily suspend accounts of riders and drivers with coronavirus

From CNN's Brian Rokus

Credit: Shutterstock
Credit: Shutterstock

Uber said it is considering suspending the accounts of riders and drivers who have contracted the novel coronavirus or have been "exposed" to it.

"We have a team available 24/7 to support public health authorities in their response to the epidemic. Working with them, we may temporarily suspend the accounts of riders or drivers confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19," the company said in a statement. "We’re also consulting with an epidemiologist to make sure our efforts as a company are grounded in medical advice."

Here are some of the other steps the company said it would take:

  • Drivers or delivery persons diagnosed with the virus or asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold. Uber said it has already offered assistance to drivers in some areas and is "working to quickly implement this worldwide."
  • Providing drivers with disinfectants
  • Allowing Uber Eats customers to ask delivery people to leave food at the door
1:16 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

“Extraordinary” demand is threatening availability of key coronavirus testing tool, manufacturer says

From CNN Health’s Arman Azad 

CDC
CDC

The maker of a critical tool required to run the coronavirus test kit used in US public health labs is facing a surge in demand that is challenging its capacity to deliver the product, according to the company.

Qiagen, whose tool helps extract viral genetic information from patient samples, said in a tweet Tuesday that it has established a “task force” to “evaluate incoming orders in this period of extraordinary demand.”

A shortage of its products could threaten to further delay coronavirus testing across the country, because Qiagen’s tools are required to run -- but not included in -- the coronavirus test kit distributed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

On Monday, the company said it had “not seen any near-term impacts from the coronavirus outbreak on supplies of materials and components,” but it said that increasing demand “may lead to backorders with delayed delivery or reduced allocation of affected product.”

The tool is a necessary step in testing for the novel coronavirus; it removes RNA, the genetic code of the virus, from a patient’s throat swab or cough sample. That RNA, extracted from a patient specimen, is then compared against snippets of the virus itself, determining whether a patient has been infected with the virus.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield acknowledged the potential shortage of the tool on Tuesday in an interview with Politico.

“The availability of those reagents is obviously being looked at,” Redfield said, referring to ingredients used in the tool. “I’m confident of the actual test that we have, but as people begin to operationalize the test, they realize there’s other things they need to do the test.”

The US Food and Drug Administration, which oversees laboratory tests in the US, said that a similar tool developed by another company, Roche, could be used in its place. But that could require labs to acquire auxiliary equipment for Roche’s platform and retrain staff who run the tests – leading to further delays.

12:44 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

Woman in Italy is stuck with the body of her husband who died from coronavirus

From CNN’s Helena de Moura in Atlanta

An Italian woman has been unable to leave her apartment where her husband’s dead body is being kept due to quarantine restrictions, Giancarlo Canepa, mayor of Borghetto Santo Spirito, told CNN Tuesday.

The husband, who had tested positive for coronavirus previously, died Monday at 2 a.m. local time. 

“Yes, it is true she is still there with the body and we won’t be able to remove it until Wednesday morning,“ the mayor said. Canepa said quarantine protocol states that no one is allowed to approach the body.
“Unfortunately, we have a security protocol we must follow,” he said. The mayor also said that the man refused to be taken to the local hospital for recovery, which led to this situation. “Otherwise, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

The story made headlines in Italy as stories emerged of the wife’s despair at remaining locked up with her husband’s dead body for hours on end.

Local television station IVG.IT posted video interviews with the woman’s neighbors who had just found out that their neighbor had died.

“Right now the most important thing is to think about this lady, alone with the body of her husband … No one can come close to help her nor comfort her. We hope this is quickly resolved. Our thoughts are with her and on what she is living through,” the neighbor said on video and whose name was not made public.

IVG.IT reported that the man’s family members are desperate and that his widow has been crying for help from her balcony.

12:33 a.m. ET, March 11, 2020

South Korea saw 242 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Six more people died

From CNN's Sophie Jeong and journalist Hyoungjoo Choi in Seoul, South Korea

Disinfection workers wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution against the coronavirus in a subway at Seoul metro railway base on March 11 in Seoul, South Korea.
Disinfection workers wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution against the coronavirus in a subway at Seoul metro railway base on March 11 in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea identified 242 coronavirus cases and reported six virus-related deaths Tuesday, according to the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

Among these new cases, 131 are from the city of Daegu, the epicenter of the outbreak that alone accounts for a total of 5,794 cases. North Gyeongsang province, which surrounds Daegu, reported a jump of 18 new cases on Tuesday.

Sixty people have now died in the country. A total of 7,755 cases have been identified. Daegu and North Gyeongsang account for about 89% of the nation's confirmed cases, the KCDC said.

A cluster in Seoul: The mayor of the South Korean capital, Park Won-soon, said 93 patients are linked to a call center, up from 50 yesterday. Park said that it's the biggest infection in the Seoul capital area so far.