The Latest: Australia bans travel from S Korea over virus
BANGKOK (AP) — The Latest on the virus outbreak (all times local):
Australia has banned travel from South Korea and will more thoroughly screen travellers from Italy in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
The travel ban from late Thursday follows similar bans on travel from China and Iran.
Australian citizens and permanent residents are exempt from the ban. Those returning from Korea are asked to self-isolate for 14 days when they return home.
The new measures come as a 95-year-old nursing home resident became the second person in Australia to die with COVID-19 disease.
China’s deaths from the new COVID-19 illness have surpassed 3,000 though new cases have fallen steadily.
Authorities on Thursday reported 31 deaths over the previous 24 hours.
Another 139 cases of infection with the new coronavirus were reported, all but five of them in the hardest-hit province of Hubei.
While Hubei hospitals admitted another 134 patients, a further 1,923 were declared cured and released.
The update brings China’s totals to 80,409 cases and 3,012 deaths. It has the vast majority of cases and deaths though the virus has spread to more than 70 countries.
China’s numbers have fallen steadily. Though Thursday’s cases were up by 20 from Wednesday’s, deaths were seven lower.
U.S. officials say a medical screener at the Los Angeles International Airport has contracted the coronavirus.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it’s unclear if the person contracted the virus through their work as a medical screener or from community transmission. The agency said no travelers screened at LAX have tested positive for coronavirus.
The person, who is a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security, is being quarantined at home and has mild symptoms.
The patient last worked at the airport on Feb. 21 and began feeling cold-like symptoms on Feb. 29. The patient’s doctor tested them for coronavirus on March 1.
Officials say the screener wore protective equipment at the airport.
Korean Air has announced flight suspensions and schedule reductions from South Korea to Hawaii and 12 cities in the U.S., along with dozens of cities around the world due to the new coronavirus outbreak.
The airline on Tuesday posted a schedule on its website listing cancellations of service beginning this week between Incheon International Airport, near Seoul, and cities in Australia, Russia and Europe.
Korean Air suspended service last month from several airports in South Korea to Beijing and other cities in China, Japan and Asia.
According to the new schedule, direct flights will stop by next Monday to Boston, New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Seattle. It expects service to resume to many cities in late April.
Reductions in flights were announced for service to Honolulu, Chicago, Washington and Atlanta, as well as Vancouver and Toronto.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a “small cluster” of patients with the new coronavirus in Northern California who were passengers of a Grand Princess cruise ship that traveled from San Francisco to Mexico in February, including a patient who died at a hospital Wednesday.
The Grand Princess’ chief medical officer says the ship is at sea off the coast of Mexico and will skip a scheduled stop in Ensenada and return directly to San Francisco, where CDC and cruise officials will meet to determine the next course of action. He said guests who sailed on the Feb. 11-21 voyage and are currently on the ship need to remain in their rooms until they are cleared by medical staff.
The ship is expected to dock in San Francisco Thursday.
Health officials say a Placer County resident who was on the February trip died Wednesday in the first death from the COVID-19 virus in California.
Officials say a resident of Sonoma County who also went on the February voyage and tested positive for COVID-19 is in stable condition at a hospital.
The Italian government has announced that all sporting events in Italy will take place without fans present for at least the next month due to the virus outbreak.
That will likely see Italian soccer league resume in full this weekend after the calendar was pushed back a week.
Italy is the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak. More than 100 people have died and more than 3,000 have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
The Italian government issued a new decree on Wednesday evening, with measures it hopes will help contain the spread of the virus.
All sporting events throughout the country must take place behind closed doors until April 3. Schools and universities have been ordered to close until March 15.
That also calls into question Italy’s Six Nations rugby match against England in Rome on March 14. That match will either have to go ahead behind closed doors or be postponed. Italy’s match against Ireland, which was scheduled for March 7, had already been postponed. The Italian soccer league’s governing body has yet to release a revised schedule but reports say the six Serie A soccer matches that were postponed last week will now be played this weekend. That includes one of the biggest matches of the season — the Juventus-Inter game, known as the “Derby d’Italia” or Italy’s derby.
Washington state has reported a 10th death from the new coronavirus and California announced its first.
Health officials in Northern California say the elderly person who had other health conditions died Wednesday at a hospital in Roseville where they were in isolation.
The person was likely exposed to the virus while they traveled in February on a Princess cruise ship from San Francisco to Mexico, officials said in a statement
The Washington state Department of Health released updated figures Wednesday morning, showing that nine people had died in King County, the state’s most populous, and one person in Snohomish County. Washington state has now reported 39 COVID-19 cases, all in the greater Seattle area.
No other information about the newly reported Washington state death was immediately available.
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington on Sunday said they had evidence COVID-19 may have been circulating in the state for up to six weeks undetected. If true, that could mean that there are hundreds of undiagnosed cases in the area.
This section has been corrected to remove the reference to the gender of the person who died in California.
Officials in Los Angeles have signed proclamations of local emergencies after six new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in the county, where there was one previously.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county Department of Public Health, said Wednesday that all of the COVID-19 cases were due to a known exposure and not the result of so-called community transmission. She said one person was hospitalized and five others were in self-quarantine at home.
The emergency declarations in the county and city are aimed at aiding efforts to respond to the virus and free up resources. Authorities are also assisting shelters to prevent transmission of the virus in the homeless population.
President Donald Trump is putting a positive spin on the fallout from the coronavirus, saying a lot of people are staying in the United States and they’re shopping and staying in the hotels.
Trump spoke with leaders of the airline industry on Wednesday at the White House. The executive spoke of steps they’ve taken to confront the spread of the new virus.
Southwest Airlines CEO and board chairman Gary Kelly said employees have stepped up efforts to make sure airplanes are clean and disinfected.
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said workers are doing what he called the “corona bump,” where they bump elbows as part of their greeting.
Trump thanked the airlines and said they’ve “stepped up” to stem the spread of the virus.
Italy has ordered schools to close nationwide through March 15 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, saying the prudent suspension was taken after a careful analysis of how the epidemic was spreading.
Civil protection officials said Wednesday a total of 3,089 people have tested positive in Italy and 107 of them had died — the largest number of deaths outside of China.
Education Minister Lucia Azzolina announced the school suspensions, which start Thursday, saying she hoped schools would be able to continue with lessons via distance learning.
Italy has seen its virus caseload explode since the first homegrown positive test was registered in northern Lombardy on Feb. 19.
Italy had earlier closed schools in the hard-hit regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.
A U.S. health official says six new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Los Angeles County, where there was one previously.
Each case confirmed Tuesday night was due to a known exposure and not the result of community transmission, according to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health. She spoke at a press conference on Wednesday.
She says one person has been hospitalized and five others were in self-quarantine at home.
The county’s first case was in January, a person who lived in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. She says that person is no longer infectious.
A U.N. agency estimates that a shortage of industrial parts from China caused by the coronavirus outbreak has set off a “ripple effect” that caused exports from other countries around the world to drop $47 billion last month.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says figures from Chinese businesses suggest an annualized 2% decline in output in China. That has led to shrinking supplies for automotive, chemicals, communications and other industries in many countries, in turn reducing their export capacity.
The agency says Wednesday that the preliminary figures show industries outside of China that rely on components, parts and other inputs from the country aren’t able to export goods as much as they had before the virus erupted. The outbreak began late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, shutting down factories and quarantining workers at home.
The drop in Chinese output results in a “ripple effect throughout the global economy” that rises “to the tune of a $50 billion fall in exports across the world,” said said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, director of the UNCTAD international trade and commodities division.
Exports from the European Union alone made up about one-third of that, or nearly $15.6 billion. Exports of the United States were second, at nearly $5.8 billion, and Japan was third at almost $5.2 billion.
The International Air Transport Association says the virus outbreak hit passenger flight demand in January, slowing monthly growth to its lowest level since April 2010, when a volcano erupted in Iceland, causing massive airspace closures and days of travel chaos in Europe.
The group says year-on-year growth in December 2019 was 4.6%. In January 2020, growth in passenger traffic was only up 2.4% compared to a year ago.
IATA, which represents some 290 airlines making up most of the world’s air traffic, said that figures for January this year would only represent the “tip of the iceberg” as China only began imposing major travel restrictions toward the end of the month. Domestic air traffic in China fell 6.8% in January, year-on-year, as a result of the coronavirus restrictions.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the wife, two children and a neighbor of a New York lawyer who is hospitalized in critical condition with COVID-19 have also tested positive for the disease. That increases the number of confirmed cases in the state to six.
Yeshiva University, where one of the children is a student, said it’s canceling classes at the upper Manhattan campus where he is enrolled.
The positive test results for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 came one day after Cuomo announced that the student’s father had become the second coronavirus case in New York state. The family has been quarantined at home in suburban Westchester County. The neighbor is also self-quarantined at home.
Israeli health authorities have ordered everyone from a regional high school and dozens of soccer fans into home quarantine after their possible exposure to a teenage boy who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Health Ministry said it closed Brenner High School and told all students, teachers and staff members to quarantine at home until March 11. Some 1,000 students, including the boy, attend the school in central Israel.
The ministry also instructed dozens of people who sat in the vicinity of the boy at a Feb. 24 soccer game in Tel Avid to isolate themselves at home until March 8.
The boy apparently became infected while working at a toy store whose owner tested positive for the virus after returning from Italy.
Israel has confirmed 15 coronavirus cases in all and ordered several thousand people into home quarantine after possible exposure.
The Baltic nation of Lithuania has cancelled most of the indoor events planned for the 30th anniversary of its independence from the Soviet Union because of the coronavirus.
The speaker of the Lithuanian parliament said Wednesday authorities decided to call off the events since many of the people expected to attend the events are elderly and at higher risk of infection.
Parliament speaker Viktoras Pranckietis says most foreign leaders also cancelled scheduled trips to attend the anniversary events in Lithuania. He didn’t name names, but invitations had been sent to lawmakers in Ukraine, Poland and neighboring Baltic states Latvia and Estonia.
There will be several events in downtown Vilnius, including a flag-raising on Independence Square on March 11 and an evening concert.
Lithuania so far only has reported one virus case.
The Louvre Museum in France is open again after employees worried about catching the coronavirus agreed to return to work.
The Paris museum where Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting hangs had been closed since Sunday while employees fearing infection stayed off the job.
But Louvre staff members voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to resume work and the Louvre opened its doors in the afternoon.
Management presented a raft of new anti-virus measures to try to coax employees back to work. Among them: wider distributions of disinfectant gels and more frequent staff rotations so employees have time to wash their hands.
The London Book Fair has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The fair, which usually draws more than 25,000 writers, agents and publishers to one of the international publishing industry’s biggest gatherings, had been due to take place at London’s Olympia conference venue March 10-12.
Organizer Reed Exhibitions said Wednesday that it had decided “with reluctance” to cancel the event.
The decision came after several major publishers, including HarperCollins and Penguin Random House, pulled out of the fair because of the disease, citing the risk to staff.
Also Wednesday, organizers announced that Asia’s biggest casino industry trade show has been postponed because of the virus.
Global Gaming Expo Asia, originally scheduled to be held on May 19-21 in Macao, will be held at the end of July.
More than 13,000 people attended last year’s expo, jointly organized by the American Gaming Association and Reed Exhibitions.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the social network is stepping up its efforts to combat virus-related misinformation by giving the World Health Organization free advertising.
Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook account that the company is working with national health ministries and global organizations like the World Health Orgnization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF to get out timely and accurate information on the virus.
Zuckerberg said Facebook will also give “support and millions more in ad credits” to other unspecified organizations.
Facebook has previously taken other measures to fight virus hoaxes and misinformation, including removing false claims and conspiracy theories and showing users a pop-up directing them to the World Health Orgnization or their local health authority for the latest information.
Germany has joined several other countries in banning the export of medical equipment such as respiratory masks, gloves and protective suits in most cases.
Germany, like other nations, has faced a shortage of such equipment as concerns over the widening coronavirus outbreak have mounted. In Germany itself, 240 infections have been confirmed so far.
Germany’s interior ministry said Wednesday that exemptions from the export ban will be allowed only under strict conditions, such as for “concerted international aid actions.”
Russia’s government on Wednesday banned the export of masks, respirators and other protective gear along with anti-virus medicines until June 1. It also noted that the ban doesn’t cover humanitarian aid.
The Ministry for Industry and Trade said the move is intended to prevent an “artificial deficit” of protective goods, which are being increasingly sold abroad as global demand has soared.
The Czech government also said it is banning exports of respirators and will start regulating their sale at home, saying it needs them for health workers and others. The Czech Republic has five confirmed cases of the new virus.
The European Central Bank says it’s restricting all nonessential travel by members of its executive board and employees through April 20 as a precautionary measure amid the global coronavirus outbreak.
The central bank for the 19-nation eurozone said Wednesday that visits to its Frankfurt headquarters and its public visitor center are being suspended for the same period. It is postponing or cancelling conferences that were due to be held at the bank – but says that news conferences after regular policy-setting meetings of its governing council are unaffected, and that the next one will go ahead March 12 as planned.
The ECB stressed that the move was a precaution and there have been no recorded cases yet of bank employees being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
India says its number of confirmed coronavirus cases has jumped to 28, up from just five.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says an earlier COVID-19 patient who had traveled to Italy led to the confirmation of six other infections. Another cluster of cases that emerged centered around a large group of Italian tourists who had entered India on Feb. 21.
India also announced Wednesday that it has imposed universal screening of all passengers on international flights.
Meanwhile, South Korea reported 435 new cases, pushing its total to 5,621 — the second-highest total after China.