Coronavirus: Live Coverage and Updates

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Read updates in Chinese: 新冠病毒疫情最新消息汇总

A second person in Northern California has been infected with the coronavirus without having any known risk factors, such as travel to China or exposure to somebody known to be infected.

The findings hints that the coronavirus may already circulating locally in California, passing from person to person.

Earlier this week, a person who had no known risk factors tested positive for the virus in Solano County, between San Francisco and Sacramento. The new infection is in Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, which includes the city of San Jose; it was confirmed by Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health director.

Hundreds of Americans who were potentially exposed to the virus in Asia have been quarantined at military bases in California, including Travis Air Force Base in Solano County.

From eastern Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa, a steady stream of new cases on Friday fueled fears that the new coronavirus epidemic may be turning into a global pandemic, with some health officials saying it may be inevitable.

In South Korea, Italy and Iran — the countries with the biggest outbreaks outside China — the governments reported more than 3,500 infections on Friday, about twice as many as two days earlier. South Korean officials were rushing to test thousands of members of a church at the center of that country’s outbreak.

In Europe, caseloads soared as Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, Wales and Northern Ireland reported their first confirmed infections.

More than 83,000 people in at least 56 countries have been infected, and more than 2,800 have died.

“China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic,” the report said, noting that new, confirmed infections had fallen from more than 2,000 per day to a few hundred.

China’s strategy “has averted or at least delayed hundreds of thousands” of cases, and “played a significant role in protecting the global community.”

  • Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak.

President Trump could use a Korean War-era law to require manufacturers to speed up production of emergency supplies needed to fight the new coronavirus, Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary said on Friday.

The Defense Production Act, enacted in 1950, allows the president to exert control over parts of the civilian economy when it is necessary for national defense — forcing industries to step up production, reallocating basic resources and imposing price controls.

Mr. Azar, at a White House press briefing, said there was no need to invoke the law so far, but it could be used, for instance, to help stockpile face masks and other supplies.

“I don’t have any procurements I need it for now, but if I need it, we’ll use it,” Mr. Azar told reporters.

President Harry Truman made extensive use of the law during the Korean War, and it has been invoked occasionally in the decades since then.

As the coronavirus spreads, early research is drawing a clearer picture of how the pathogen behaves and the key factors that will determine how it can be contained.

Here are the considerations: The virus spreads easily, making it hard to contain. The fatality rate may be more than 1 percent, much higher than the flu. The incubation period is between two and 14 days, allowing the illness to go undetected. And the virus has spread rapidly because it started in a transportation hub.

In terms of response, the World Health Organization has praised China’s efforts, but critics fear a pandemic. A few drugs are being tested in clinical trials, but a vaccine is still at least year away.

The U.S. Navy on Friday ordered all ships that have made stops in the Pacific, about 30 to 40 vessels holding several thousand sailors and Marines, to self-quarantine at sea for 14 days and said that all sailors who had traveled to high-risk areas should be closely monitored.

“At this time, there are no indications that any U.S. Navy personnel have contracted coronavirus,” the Navy said in a statement. “The health and welfare of our sailors, civilians and their families is paramount, and our efforts are directed at detection and, if required, prevention of the spread of this illness.”

“Operational impact is minimal, if at all,” said a senior Navy officer with experience in the Pacific. “Most deployed ships in 7th Fleet already stay out to sea for that long, if not longer, and there is no better place for a ship operationally than at sea. I would expect some schedule impact to ships that do have port visits within two weeks, but no cancellations.”

The American military has already confirmed one coronavirus case: A 23-year-old soldier based near Daegu, South Korea, has tested positive for the virus, the military said on Wednesday. He has been quarantined in his off-base residence, the military said.

South Korea is experiencing the largest coronavirus outbreak outside China.

The United States and South Korea have also postponed their joint military drills.

Two men in Mexico who had recently visited Italy have tested positive for the coronavirus, Mexican officials said on Friday, confirming the first known cases in the nation.

The discovery makes Mexico the second country in Latin America, after Brazil, to confirm the presence of the virus.

One of the patients, a 35-year-old man, was being treated at a hospital in Mexico City, the authorities said. The other, a 41-year-old man from the state of Hidalgo, was being kept in isolation in a hotel in the state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico, officials said.

Both men had direct contact with an infected man in Italy and with each other during a conference this month in Bergamo, Italy, they said.

In addition to the two infected people in Mexico, two other men who had been in direct contact with those patients are under observation, the deputy health minister for prevention and health promotion, Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, said at a news conference.

Italy, with the worst outbreak in Europe, continued to pose problems for the rest of the continent on Friday. Cases in 14 other countries can be traced back to Italy, the W.H.O. said, including the first infections in Northern Ireland and Wales, diagnosed on Friday.

Nations that only had a handful of cases at the start of the week reported dozens on Friday. Germany had nearly 60 cases by Friday afternoon, the government said — twice as many as a day earlier.

France reported 57 infections on Friday, more than triple the number it had counted on Wednesday.

“A new stage of the epidemic has been reached and we are now moving on to stage two,” said Olivier Véran, the health minister.

In Italy, officials extended the quarantine of ten towns in the Lombardy region by a week and warned that hospitals in the area were stretched to their limits.

All non-emergency surgery and routine medical exams have been postponed in the “Red Zone” encompassing the quarantined towns, but if the caseload continues to rise at the same rate, hospitals “will go into grave crisis,” the Lombardy government said in a statement.

Italy reported more than 800 infections on Friday — 531 of them in Lombardy, which includes the city of Milan. Eighty-five patients in Lombardy are in intensive care.

Nurses and doctors are getting ill, protective supplies are in short supply and treatment for other serious conditions may be compromised, officials said.

Switzerland reported nine new cases, bringing its total to 15, and said it was banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people until March 15. The Geneva International Motor Show, an important annual automotive trade event, was among the gatherings that were abruptly canceled.

England reported two additional cases on Friday, both contracted in Iran, bringing the total in Britain to 19, health officials said.

Three countries in Eastern Europe — Belarus, Estonia and Lithuania — reported their first cases, all apparently linked to travel to either Iran or Italy.

On Thursday, the hotel staff were told they could enter and leave the hotel if they adopted “necessary protection measures.”

But guests who remained confined to the resort have been allowed to wander its common areas, use its pools and restaurants, and health experts have warned that the loose policy could enable the virus to circulated among the guests or the staff.

“The risk is not large, but it is real,” said William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “It looks like they are taking a chance.”

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