March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Sheena McKenzie and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT) March 13, 2020
24 Posts
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8:27 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

California cruise ship passengers arrive in Georgia to start their quarantine

Medical personnel help load passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes in Oakland, California, on Tuesday.
Medical personnel help load passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship onto airplanes in Oakland, California, on Tuesday. Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

American passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which was docked in California after infections were found onboard, landed early Thursday local time at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia.

The passengers had been screened by the Department of Health and Human Services and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before arriving. They will now begin a 14-day quarantine as a precaution, in case they were exposed to the coronavirus aboard the ship.

The CDC is responsible for all aspects of the quarantine operation, and Dobbins personnel will have no contact with these passengers 

The passengers who landed today are part of the second wave -- some passengers had been sent to Dobbins earlier this week, while others were sent to the Travis Air Force Base in California for their quarantine.

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

LA City Council committee meetings are canceled due to the coronavirus

All Los Angeles City Council committee meetings will be canceled throughout March due to coronavirus concerns, said Council President Nury Martinez in a letter to council members on Wednesday.

The city council will meet three times, but all other Wednesday and Friday meetings have been canceled in addition to all city council presentations.

This comes after two nearby counties, Ventura and Riverside, confirmed new cases today.

1:47 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are being treated in Australia's Queensland state

From CNN's Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Hollywood and Highland on February 9 in Hollywood, California.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Hollywood and Highland on February 9 in Hollywood, California. Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, are receiving treatment in Australia's Queensland state after testing positive for the coronavirus today, state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at a news conference.

"Our experts will work very closely with him, (and) with all of the cast and crew," she added, stating that contract tracing is ongoing and anyone classified as a close contact will be isolated and tested for the virus.

Quelling concerns over the couple’s recent exposure to fans, Palaszczuk said, "From what the chief health officer has told me it’s over 15 minutes of being in close proximity. A selfie wouldn’t count as that."

Palaszczuk didn't divulge details of where the couple has been quarantined, but said, "they will be getting the best treatment in our hospitals, just as we provide to everybody else".

She assured that their hospital is well equipped to handle their diagnosis, and that eight other coronavirus patients had been released from this hospital.

She also called for public vigilance: The latest development "clearly shows that coronavirus knows no boundaries," Palaszczuk warned, calling for the public to be prepared and informed. "So, everyone, let’s do the right thing, lets follow our health authorities."

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

US Health and Human Services warns employees of malware in fake coronavirus map 

From CNN’s Julia Jones in Seattle

US Health and Human Services employees were warned yesterday of malware in a fake coronavirus mapping website, an HHS employee not authorized to speak on the record told CNN. 

“A malicious website pretending to be a live map for coronavirus Covid-19 global cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the Internet waiting for unwitting Internet users to visit the website,” an email to employees read.

The warning came in a department-wide correspondence that detailed the malware as an "information stealing program which can exfiltrate a variety of sense of data,” adding that anyone searching for coronavirus information on the internet could unwittingly click on the fake map.

“Our cybersecurity team is working with numerous stakeholders to ensure this map is taken offline,” the email read. 

HHS did not respond to CNN's request for comment. 

8:14 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

California confirms two more coronavirus cases

California confirmed two new coronavirus cases on Wednesday -- one in Ventura County, and one in Riverside County, both close to Los Angeles.

That brings the state’s total to 138 cases and four deaths.

Ventura County case: The patient had traveled to Italy and was a presumptive positive case, meaning they had tested positive in public health labs. The patient remains under home quarantine in Ventura County. This is the county’s second case.

Riverside County case: There are no details available about the patient, except that this is the second locally-acquired case. The county has five cases in total.

1:31 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

The US is blaming China for the coronavirus just as Beijing wants everyone to forget where it emerged 

Analysis from CNN's James Griffiths

President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis on March 11, 2020 in Washington.
President Donald Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office about the widening coronavirus crisis on March 11, 2020 in Washington. Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

If United States officials are clear about one thing as they scramble to respond to the worsening coronavirus pandemic, it's where they feel the blame lies. 

Addressing the nation on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump emphasized that the "foreign virus" began "in China." His comments come after multiple US lawmakers and officials have criticized Beijing's initial handling of the outbreak, or pointedly referred to the coronavirus as the "Wuhan virus" or "China virus." 

Speaking earlier in the day, Trump's national security adviser Robert O'Brien said that "this virus did not originate in the United States, it originated in Wuhan in Hubei province in China."

"Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up," he added. "It probably cost the world community two months to respond ... had a WHO team been on the ground, had a CDC team been on the ground -- as we offered -- I think we could have dramatically curtailed what has happened in China and the world."

These statements couldn't have come at a worse time for Beijing, just as it is attempting to reframe the narrative around its response to the virus as one of success, and take something of a victory lap. New infections have slowed to a trickle, thanks largely to China's -- albeit often draconian, extreme -- response in recent weeks. 

Those moves however came as a rearguard action to a widely criticized initial response, including an apparent cover-up by officials in Wuhan, which may have cost precious time to rein in the virus before it spread through the country and the world. 

While there was a brief reckoning in China over these mistakes, particularly in the wake of the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, Beijing has begun pushing back hard against any criticism overseas and censoring discussion at home. State media has also started pushing the line that there is uncertainty where the virus originated, even though the first outbreak was undoubtedly in Wuhan. 

With US officials apparently determined to lay the blame at Beijing's door -- distracting from their own handling of the outbreak at home -- and their Chinese counterparts equally determined to avoid it, this argument will likely continue for some time. 

1:15 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Australia reports 126 confirmed cases of coronavirus

From CNN’s Karen Smith in Atlanta.

Australia now has a total of 126 coronavirus nationwide, the country’s Ministry of Health said today. 

The death toll remains at three.

 Here's how the cases break down across the states:

  • New South Wales: 64 cases
  • Queensland: 17 cases
  • South Australia: 8 cases
  • Tasmania: 2 cases
  • Victoria: 18 cases
  • Western Australia: 7 cases
  • Diamond Princess cruise ship: 10 cases
8:40 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Australia unveils $11.4 billion stimulus plan to cushion coronavirus impact

From Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

Australia has unveiled a 17.63 billion Australian dollars ($11.4 billion) economic stimulus plan, the country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a news release on Thursday.

The package includes wage subsidies and cash payments for small businesses, to counter the impact of the novel coronavirus.

“Our plan will back Australian households with a stimulus payment to boost growth, bolster domestic confidence and consumption, reduce cash flow pressures for businesses and support new investments to lift productivity”, Morrison said.

To achieve this the plan is split in four parts focusing on boosting business investment, providing cash flow for small and medium sized businesses, supporting affected communities and backing Australian households.

"Australia is not immune to the global coronavirus challenge but we have already taken steps to prepare for this looming international economic crisis," Morrison said in the news release.
"Both this financial year and in the next two financial years, the gross impact of that stimulus is $14.82 billion US dollars (A$22.9 billion). That's 1.2% of GDP".
8:40 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Japanese store puts a curse on its toilet rolls to prevent thefts

By CNN’s Emiko Jozuka

Mink Itachibe
Mink Itachibe

Panic buying has been rife amid the global spread of the coronavirus, with shoppers stockpiling goods like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and canned food. 

In Japan, those who couldn’t buy toilet paper have resorted to pilfering supplies from public restrooms. 

But one Japanese store has cursed its toilet rolls to prevent thefts. 

Mink Itachibe, who works at a convenience store in Niigata prefecture, noticed people stealing between three to five rolls of toilet paper each day. She sketched an image that shows three eyes and several kanji characters and stuck it up in front of the toilet rolls.

Some store owners use images of eyes to give the impression that they are watching out for potential thieves, Itachibe told CNN. The kanji below imply that if someone takes the toilet paper from the store, a hungry monster will hunt them down and gobble them up. 

“I did it as a joke, but it seems to have worked,” Itachibe told CNN. “As people were stealing toilet paper, I wanted this to shock them and think they might get hexed. People can be quite superstitious in Japan.”

Itachibe has reported no thefts of toilet paper from her store since she put up the sketches.