The Latest: Panama confirms 1st case of coronavirus

ROME (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus epidemic sweeping the globe (all times local):

3 a.m.

Panama has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus.

The patient is a Panamanian woman who had returned Sunday from Madrid. While only a few dozen cases have been confirmed in Latin America, the epidemic is growing in Europe. Spain is among four European countries with more than 1,000 cases each.

Panama’s Health Minister Rosario Turner said Monday the 40-year-old woman’s positive test was confirmed at the Instituto Conmemorativo Gorgas.

The woman is isolated at home and will receive daily visits from health workers.

The virus that causes the COVID-19 illness has also been confirmed in the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina, where there has been one death.


2 a.m.

China recorded another new low in its coronavirus outbreak Tuesday.

Just 19 new cases of the new virus were recorded over the previous 24 hours, the lowest update since China began reporting national figures on Jan. 20. All but two of the cases were recorded in the epicenter of Wuhan, where the outbreak began in December. The city also accounted for 16 of the additional 17 deaths, bringing China’s national total to 3,136.

China has registered 80,754 cases in total, with almost 60,000 having been released from hospital and 17,721 still receiving treatment.

Tellingly, only 36 new suspected cases were reported, pointing to a further decline in future new cases.


1:40 a.m.

A spokesman for the Seattle-area nursing home that is the site of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the United States said Monday that 31 residents still in the facility have tested positive for the virus.

Authorities have said 19 coronavirus deaths have been linked to the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, including three made public earlier Monday.

Life Care Center spokesman Tim Killian said tests have been performed on the remaining residents. Besides the 31 positives, Killian said three tests were inconclusive and one was negative. Results are still pending on 20 other tests. Killian said residents who have tested positive will be treated at the Life Care Center, and those who test negative will be moved to a different area of the facility.

Before the outbreak there were 120 residents at Life Care. Now there are fewer than 60.


10:25 p.m.

Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church has rejected calls to stop communion that has been identified a risk for spreading the coronavirus, Instead, priests have been instructed nationwide to pray against the spread of the disease.

The Church of Greece’s governing body said Monday that the spoonful of wine inserted into believers’ mouths during communion “clearly cannot cause the spread of disease.”

It called communion is an “act of love” that conquers fear in a statement.

The statement says that the Church of Greece will print and distribute to its followers leaflets with precautions against the spread of the virus. It urged priests to conduct prayers during services on Sunday for the spread of the disease to stop.

The statement added that the Church of Greece would continue celebrating communion, “in the certainty that we (thus) commune with life and immortality.”


10:10 p.m.

Officials say the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe and several staff members may have been exposed to the new coronavirus.

The Army says in a statement Monday that Lt. Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli and the others are self-monitoring their health and working remotely.

Also Monday, French officials said that Culture Minister Franck Riester tested positive for the virus.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran says that Riester has shown “few symptoms” and is under self-quarantine at home.

Veran says Riester had spent time at the country’s National Assembly lower house of parliament where several lawmakers tested positive.


10 p.m.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says he is restricting travel nationwide to try to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Monday’s decree came the same day it was announced that the first COVID-19 patient in the northern Italy cluster is breathing on his own for the first time since he tested positive.

The 38-year-old named Mattia was moved out of intensive care Monday. He tested positive Feb. 21 and opened Italy’s health care crisis.

Italy has 9,172 cases of the new virus. With the latest numbers, Italy again overtook South Korea as the country with the most cases outside China. More than 460 with the virus have died in Italy.


8:50 p.m.

Officials in the United States are reporting four more deaths of people infected with the new coronavirus, bringing the total in the country to 26, most of them in Washington state.

Health officials in Washington on Monday reported three more coronavirus deaths, all residents of a Seattle-area nursing home that has been racked by COVID-19.

Washington state has now at least 22 deaths linked to the coronavirus. Authorities say 19 of those are associated with the Life Care Center of Kirkland.

In California, officials reported the second COVID-19 death in the state after a Santa Clara County woman in her 60s died Monday.

The other two U.S. virus-related deaths took place in Florida.

The virus has infected at least 600 people in the U.S.


8:30 p.m.

A cruise ship with a cluster of coronavirus cases has arrived at a port in the San Francisco Bay Area after it was forced to idle off the California coast for days.

The Grand Princess pulled into the Port of Oakland on Monday with more than 3,500 people aboard — 21 of them infected with the new virus. It’s unclear how many travelers would get off the ship Monday.

The ship is carrying people from 54 countries. Americans will be transported to military bases in California, Texas and Georgia to be tested for the COVID-19 virus and quarantined. The State Department was working with the home countries of other passengers to arrange their repatriation.

California’s governor says about 1,100 crew members, 19 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19, will be quarantined and treated aboard the ship, which will dock elsewhere.


7:50 p.m.

Canadian health officials say a man has died of the new virus at a seniors care home in North Vancouver in what is believed to be the first COVID-19 death in that country.

British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced on the weekend that two elderly residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre facility had been diagnosed with the virus.

Henry says the diagnoses followed an earlier diagnosis of a worker at the care home, making the cases especially concerning as examples of community transmission.

Health officials described the situation at the care center as an “outbreak.”

There are now 32 cases of the new coronavirus in British Columbia and more than 70 in Canada.


7:45 p.m.

Slovakia, the Roman Catholic stronghold in central Europe, is banning Mass and all other religious events for the next two weeks in an effort to contain the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini says that starting Tuesday all cultural, sports and social events are banned for at least two weeks. That includes the closure of movie theaters, and postponement of matches in the top Slovak soccer and hockey leagues.

Also, the Slovak nationals who return home from Italy, China, South Korea and Iran have to be quarantined for two weeks at home.

The authorities will also expand the preventive checks that are already carried out on the border with Austria to all other surrounding countries.

Slovakia has seven confirmed cases of COVID-19.


6:45 p.m.

Officials at the World Health Organization said Monday that of about 80,000 people who have been sickened by COVID-19 in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

Patients are typically released when they test negative twice for the virus within 24 hours, meaning they’re no longer carrying the virus, although some countries may be using a slightly different definition, that may include when people have no more respiratory symptoms or a clear CT scan.

The World Health Organization said it could take considerably longer for people to be “recovered,” depending on the severity of disease.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, said it can take up to six weeks for people to fully recover from COVID-19 infections, which could include pneumonia and other respiratory problems in serious cases. He said the numbers of reported patients have not always been systematically provided to World Health Organization although the U.N. health agency is asking every country with cases for further information.


6:40 p.m.

Ireland has canceled all St. Patrick’s Day parades across the country in an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the cancellation and said “further advice about mass public gatherings will be issued in the next few days.”

The annual March 17 parade in Dublin is one of Ireland’s biggest tourist events, and typically draws half a million people onto the city’s streets. Tens of thousands more flock to parades in Ireland’s second-largest city, Cork, and smaller communities.

Ireland has 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.


6:20 p.m.

A key U.N. trade organization is warning of looming recession in the world economy as countries respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Richard Kozul-Wright of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development predicts a global “hit” to the world economy of between $1 trillion and $2 trillion this year, and cautions it could be worse.

Even before oil markets plunged Monday, Kozul-Wright said countries whose economies are largely dependent on production of commodities will face pressures as an economic slowdown reduces demand for their products.

Kozul-Wright said the European Union, which faced poor economic prospects at the end of 2019, was “almost certain” to tumble into recession this year, pointing especially to pressures in Germany and Italy.

He was speaking at a release of a new UNCTAD report examining the possible impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and forecasting that annual global growth will fall below 2.5% this year.


6:15 p.m.

The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that runs the metropolitan area’s airports, tested positive and is isolated in his home, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo noted that director Rick Cotton had been at the facilities while travelers were returning from hotspots.

Meanwhile, the official who runs the Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports of Paris also confirmed positive.


6:05 p.m.

European financial markets have fallen into a bear market, closing the day with their heaviest losses since the darkest days of the 2008 global financial crisis.

The index in Italy, where the government shut down travel into and out of the country’s financial and industrial heartland, fell a massive 11.2%.

Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 7.3%, Germany’s DAX 7.9% and the CAC 40 in France dropped 8.4%.

The regional Stoxx 600 index fell 7.4%, more than 20% lower than its most recent peak and putting it in a bear market.

The drop comes amid widespread concerns about the mounting economic costs of containing the new coronavirus. A dramatic dive in the price of oil, which lost 20% overnight, has further shaken investors.


4:45 p.m.

Germany has reported the first two deaths in the country of people infected with the new coronavirus.

Heinsberg county in Germany’s far west reported the first death on Monday. The city of Essen then reported an 89-year-old woman’s death as the second.

The Heinsberg area has seen the highest concentration of infections in Germany so far.

The German state where both Heinsberg and Essen are located, North Rhine-Westphalia, accounted for 484 of the 1,112 infections in Germany confirmed as of Monday morning.

Earlier in the day, experts credited rapid testing as the outbreak spread for the absence of virus-related deaths in Germany. They said Germany caught many cases early on, including in younger patients who were less likely to develop serious complications.


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