Coronavirus Live Updates (Monday): China Finds ‘a Bad Sign’ in 6 Imported Cases Linked to Italy, Iran, U.K.
China is grappling with a new coronavirus epidemic that began in December and has since spread to countries around the world. While the country has made headway in controlling the virus’s spread, the picture abroad is less positive as hotspots emerge in a number of other nations, including Japan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
Caixin Global will continue covering this story as it develops. Please check back regularly for updates.
Monday, March 2, 11:59 p.m.
Even as new coronavirus infections have been declining in China, cases imported from abroad have been rising. The eastern province Zhejiang Monday reported the first such case in a patient who recently traveled to Italy. In recent days, Beijing, Ningxia and Shenzhen reported five confirmed cases that were related to Iran and London.
“This is a bad sign and very worrisome,” said Zhang Wenhong, director of the department of infectious diseases at Shanghai Huashan Hospital, affiliated with Fudan University. “It will bring difficulties to China’s outbreak control.”
• In the U.S., two dozen new cases were confirmed in Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington state, New York and Florida over the weekend, bringing the total to 89 as of Monday morning. The total includes 44 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three who were repatriated from China and 42 cases generated in the U.S.
The new cases prompted emergency declarations in at least two states and more school closures.
• The European Union raised the risk alert level for the novel coronavirus from moderate to high, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday at a news conference.
There have been more than 2,000 confirmed cases in the EU, with the bulk of them in Italy.
France announced the closure of more than 100 schools in the north central Oise region, affecting more than 28,000 students. The schools were closed until March 14 as part of precautionary measures.
• South Korea Monday sought murder charges against leaders of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, to which most of South Korea’s cases have been traced after some members visited China’s Wuhan city where the disease emerged.
The Seoul government asked prosecutors to launch a murder investigation into leaders of the church, including reclusive founder Lee Man-hee.
South Korea, where 26 have died in the epidemic, reported an additional 599 infections Monday, raising its tally to 4,335, the most outside China. Of the new cases, 377 were from the city of Daegu, home to a branch of the religious group.
Compiled by Denise Jia
Monday, March 2, 6 p.m.
A top Iranian official who counseled the country’s supreme leader died Monday after falling ill with the new coronavirus, the Associated Press reported, citing Iranian state radio.
Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, who sat on the Expediency Discernment Council that advises Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, died at a hospital in the capital, Tehran. A number of high-level officials have contracted Covid-19 in Iran, which has logged the most virus-related deaths of any country outside China.
Fears of a global pandemic deepened Monday as new cases continued to emerge in several countries. South Korea, which has the most confirmed cases of any country except China, logged 599 new infections as the day progressed, with the total standing at 4,335 as of Monday afternoon, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
In response, South Korea’s government postponed the start of the new school year until March 23, three weeks later than initially scheduled. The peninsular nation also expanded its network of “drive-through” screening stations in a bid to control the spread of the virus, according to Yonhap.
In the United States, where the virus is known to have sickened dozens of people, public health experts are warning that a significant outbreak is likely. Speaking Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said there are likely “hundreds or low thousands” of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. The country will have the capacity to screen 20,000 suspected cases each day within two weeks, although treatments and vaccines remain significantly farther off, he added.
In other international virus-related developments:
• Indonesia confirmed its first two Covid-19 cases, Reuters reported, after weeks of speculation that the pneumonia-like illness had already made its way to the world’s fourth most-populous country.
• Australia confirmed its first cases of human-to-human transmission after three people in New South Wales contracted the virus without leaving the country, the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at a Monday press conference reported by national broadcaster ABC.
• India said two more people had tested positive for the virus: one in the capital, New Delhi, and one in the southern state of Telangana. The patients recently traveled to Italy and the United Arab Emirates, respectively, a health ministry statement said.
In China, authorities are conducting legal proceedings against eight high-level officials in Central China’s Hubei province for their roles in allowing a recently released prisoner surnamed Huang to travel from the disease-stricken city of Wuhan to Beijing, where she tested positive for the new coronavirus.
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the eight are under investigation for dereliction of duty and potential violations of China’s civil servant law. They include Tan Xianzhen — the head of Hubei’s justice department — and Hao Aimin, the chief of the provincial prison management bureau. Hao, along with several other prison management officials and senior jailers at the facility where Huang was held, has also been dismissed from his position.
Here’s a roundup of the rest of China’s Covid-19 news:
• The eastern province of Zhejiang lowered its emergency response level (link in Chinese) from one to two, becoming the 19th province in China to dial down its official threat rating.
• Macao, the world’s biggest gambling hub, chalked up a record 87.8% year-on-year decline in gaming revenues (link in Chinese) in February after authorities in the semiautonomous territory shuttered casinos for 15 days from Feb. 5.
• A Caixin survey released Monday showed that China’s manufacturing activity shrank at its fastest pace in nearly 16 years due to declines in new orders, output, and employment, all of which have been severely hit by the outbreak.
Compiled by Matthew Walsh
Monday, March 2, 10 a.m.
The new coronavirus outbreak continued to spread across Europe Sunday even as China, where the deadly disease known as Covid-19 was first reported, logged a significant decline in the number of new cases.
In Italy, the number of cases soared 50% (link in Italian) between Saturday and Sunday bringing the total to 1,694, according to the country’s health ministry. Five more patients died of Covid-19 in the European nation, bringing the death toll there to 34. The United States warned its citizens not to travel to two regions of northern Italy hit hardest by the outbreak.
The number of cases in France rose to 130, the country’s health agency said Sunday, according to a report in Le Monde (link in French).
The U.K. added 13 more cases, bringing the total there to 36, according to a BBC report. One of the new cases, from the southeastern county of Essex, had “no relevant travel” to other affected countries, making it unclear how they contracted the virus, England’s chief medical officer said.
The U.S. confirmed Monday its second virus-related death when a man in his 70s with underlying health conditions passed away in King County in Washington state, according to CNN, citing a press release from the county’s public health authority.
The news comes after the governor of the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo, said in a Sunday evening tweet that a woman in her 30s had become the first person in the state confirmed to have Covid-19.
She contracted the virus while traveling in Iran, where the disease has spread rapidly, and is currently in quarantine at home, Cuomo said, according to Reuters. More than 70 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Covid-19 so far.
The Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic also recorded their first Covid-19 cases on Sunday, according to reports.
As public health concerns festered in Europe and the U.S., the situation on the Chinese mainland continued to move in a more positive direction. The country’s health ministry confirmed 202 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the lowest number since January, in the latest indication that the disease may have peaked in the East Asian nation. Most new cases were recorded in Hubei, the province worst affected by the outbreak.
The Chinese mainland logged 42 new deaths Sunday, all of which occurred in Hubei. Although that’s slightly higher than Saturday’s total of 35, it continues a now-weeklong trend of less than a 100 deaths per day, a marked improvement from the situation in mid-February.
Those new cases nudged China’s overall total past the 80,000 mark. Covid-19 has now officially sickened 80,174 people in the country, killing 2,915.
The Chinese mainland added a further 141 suspected cases and 2,837 recoveries on Sunday. Some 44,462 people have now recovered from the disease.
Compiled by Matthew Walsh
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