US says it’s ‘rapidly’ expanding testing capacity after delays, botched kits led the virus to circulate undetected.
The World Health Organization warned the world was in “uncharted territory” as coronavirus cases continued to spread in the West and Italy announced 27 more people died from the disease.
More than 92,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and the number of deaths from the virus has reached 3,110 globally, according to the WHO.
Protective gear – such as masks and goggles used by health workers fighting coronavirus – were running out and the WHO warned against “hoarding and misuse”.
Here are the latest updates:
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state rose to 27, including nine deaths, up from 18 cases and six deaths a day earlier, the state’s Department of Health reported.
The deaths – eight in King County and one in neighbouring Snohomish County – mark the first fatalities documented in the United States from the respiratory illness.
All 27 confirmed cases are clustered in those two counties in the greater Seattle area, making it the largest concentration detected to date by the US public health system.
The understanding of how the coronavirus spreads is rapidly increasing, the World Health Organization said.
With more data available, there is a growing insight of the virus and how it spreads, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, stressing it is “unique”.
While often compared with the flu, Tedros said coronavirus was far more deadly.
Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases died, while seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected, he said.
“To summarise, COVID-19 spreads less efficiently than flu, transmission does not appear to be driven by people who are not sick, it causes more severe illness than flu, there are not yet any vaccines or therapeutics, and it can be contained,” Tedros said.
The coronavirus crisis has shifted increasingly westward towards Europe and the United States with cases in China continuing to decline.
Virus clusters in the US led schools and subways to sanitise, quicken the search for a vaccine, and spread fears among nursing home residents who are especially vulnerable.
The US Food and Drug Administration gave healthcare workers the green light to use an industrial type of respirator mask often used to protect construction workers from dust and debris. The masks, which have a close fit and filter out 95 percent of particles, are also frequently used to stop the spread of bacteria in hospitals and operating rooms.
The mushrooming outbreaks in the West contrasted with optimism in China, where thousands of recovered patients were going home and the number of new infections dropped to the lowest level in several weeks.
US President Donald Trump says his administration may cut off travel from the United States to areas with high rates of coronavirus, but said officials were not weighing any restrictions on domestic travel.
Trump, speaking to reporters ahead of a visit with US health researchers to discuss the virus outbreak, says he was considering blocking travel to virus hot spots.
Washington state has reported a seventh death from coronavirus.
A spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said the patient died on February 26. She said the person had been a resident at a suburban Seattle care home that has reported multiple virus cases and deaths.
All the COVID-19 deaths in the United States have been in the Seattle area.
Algeria has confirmed three new cases of coronavirus, bringing to eight the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus, the health ministry said.
The eight cases include seven Algerians from the same family and an Italian man, the ministry said in a statement.
A man in the Spanish region of Valencia died from coronavirus, marking the country’s first death from the outbreak, a local health official said.
Tests showed the man, who died on February 13, was killed by the virus, regional health chief Ana Barcelo said at a press conference.
The death toll from the coronavirus in Italy has climbed to 79, the head of Italy’s civil protection agency announced.
Angelo Borelli said 27 more people died from the disease over the past 24 hours with the death toll now surpassing Iran, which has 77 recorded deaths.
The total number of cases in Europe’s worst-hit country rose to 2,502 from 2,036 on Monday.
The increase in deaths was the largest since the outbreak surfaced 12 days ago in the wealthy northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Pope Francis only has a cold and is “without any symptoms related to other pathologies,” the Vatican said.
The statement followed a report in an Italian newspaper that said the pope had tested negative for coronavirus. It did not say whether the pope had been given a test for the virus.
Nigeria’s House of Representatives voted to close for a two-week recess as a precaution in the face of the coronavirus outbreak after the West Africa country confirmed its first case.
Only a single case of coronavirus has been identified in the country. The patient, an Italian national, arrived in Lagos from Milan on February 25.
“As the people’s representatives, we believe that we can’t be here making laws when we are not sure of the safety of our constituents,” Unyime Idem, a member of the House of Representatives said.
United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday that schools and higher educational institutions will be closed for four weeks starting on Sunday to avoid the spreading of coronavirus.
The statement from the education ministry, posted by the state news agency WAM, added the spring holidays, which were due to start March 29 to April 12, will now start on Sunday.
Major concerts and sporting events have been cancelled or postponed. This month’s electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi’s 25,000-capacity Du arena and K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled.
Football clubs in Europe have begun asking players, staff and officials not to shake hands in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
English Premier League clubs Newcastle United banned handshakes at training sessions last week, a move that has since been mirrored by fellow clubs West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
German side Borussia Dortmund have also told players and staff not to sign autographs or pose for selfies and will no longer allow members of the public at training sessions.
Target Corp said it was seeing a surge in store traffic in the United States as people stockpile disinfectants and food amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’ve certainly seen a US consumer that’s starting to stock up on household essentials, disinfectants, food and beverage items, all those staple items that the CDC has recommended,” Target Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell said on a post-earnings call.
About 2,000 surgical masks have been stolen from a hospital in the southern French city of Marseille.
The Marseille hospitals authority said it “immediately launched an internal investigation to find the culprits”.
It assured the Conception hospital had enough masks to continue surgeries as normal, but it ordered more and took steps to secure its stocks of both masks and sanitising hand gels.
Virus-hit Italy was outraged over a mock advert shown on a French television channel for “corona pizza”, in which a coughing chef hacks green phlegm onto the country’s national dish.
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio slammed the 10-second gag on the satirical Groland programme on Canal , in which the red tomato base, white mozzarella and green mucus make up the colours of the national flag, as “bad taste and unacceptable”.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the Trump administration to “level with the American people and tell the truth” as the coronavirus spreads in the United States.
“This is a crisis, there is no substitute for credibility and honesty from our political leaders,” said Schumer Tuesday morning on the Senate floor.
“We need the president and his team to level with the American people and tell the truth more during a health crisis than ever before. Our public health professionals must tell the president the facts, and the president and his team must tell the American public the facts. Just the facts.”
Schumer went on to say Congress will soon announce a bipartisan supplemental appropriations package of around seven to eight billion dollars for coronavirus response.
The US Department of Homeland Security closed an office in Washington state amid fears one of its employees may have contracted the coronavirus.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told a hearing in Congress the employee reported feeling unwell after visiting a relative in the King County, Washington nursing home where four patients have died from the disease.
While the employee has not been diagnosed with the virus, the DHS office was shut for two weeks, Wolf said.
“Late last night the department was made aware of a situation involving a DHS employee,” he said. “The employee did not report to work when they felt ill.”
A man who lives in a New York suburb and works in Manhattan tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total confirmed cases in the state to two, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The 50-year-old man had an underlying respiratory illness and is hospitalised, Cuomo said at a news conference. He added the patient had not travelled to countries considered the epicentre of the outbreak but had visited Miami recently.
Six people in the United States have died from the disease, all in Washington state.
The World Health Organization stressed its concern about countries’ ability to respond to the coronavirus outbreak as protective gear such as masks and googles used by health workers is running out.
“We are concerned that countries’ abilities to respond are being compromised by the severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment … caused by rising demand, hoarding and misuse,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva.
He warned “supplies are rapidly depleting”.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 3, 2020
15:29 GMT – US Federal Reserve cuts interest rate amid virus outbreak
US stocks jumped after the Federal Reserve made an emergency rate cut to help shield the economy from the impact from the virus outbreak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172 points, or 0.6 percent as of 10:10am. It had been down as much as 356 points shortly before the announcement.
The Fed cut short-term rates by half a percentage point, the biggest cut in more than a decade.
A fourth person has died in France due to a coronavirus infection, the health ministry said.
It gave no detail on the person’s age or nationality.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iranians should follow the recommendations of authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Don’t violate the recommendations and instructions of the responsible authorities in terms of prevention, in terms of keeping hands, face and living environment clean and not infecting these and preventing the infection of these,” he said.
Khamenei also said the outbreak should not be overblown. “The issue is an issue that will pass. It’s not something extraordinary. I don’t want to minimise the issue but let’s not make it very big either.”
Kuwait’s civil aviation authority said passengers from 10 countries including Turkey, Lebanon, Georgia, Egypt and India – must produce certificates issued by the Kuwaiti embassy in their country saying they are coronavirus free.
Passengers who do not provide the certificates will not be allowed into Kuwait, the aviation authority said on Twitter.
Iran said Tuesday a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran is “in perfect health” after the dual national reportedly expressed fears of contracting the coronavirus behind bars.
On Saturday her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the 41-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, believed she had contracted the COVID-19 illness.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said on Tuesday she was “in perfect health”.
“Yesterday, she talked to her family by phone. There has been news about her recently that was fake news,” he said on state television.
Ratcliffe, who was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016, is serving a five-year term for sedition at Evin prison in the Iranian capital.
Oman’s ministry of health confirmed six new cases of the new coronavirus in the Gulf nation, raising the total number to 12, according to the ministry’s Twitter account.
All new cases were related to travel to Iran the ministry said, of which four are Iranian nationals and two Bahraini citizens.
G7 finance ministers and central bank governors said, and they would use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong and sustainable growth amid the coronavirus outbreak, which is fuel global recession fears.
In a joint statement issued after a conference call, they said Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers were ready to take actions, including fiscal measures where appropriate, while central banks would continue to work to support price stability and economic growth.
The head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Kolivand, has been infected with coronavirus, the ILNA news agency reported.
Kolivand’s “health is good and there is no need for concern”, the office said in a statement, according to ILNA.
The Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus epidemic closed its first makeshift hospital, one of 16 hurriedly built to handle the epidemic, after it discharged the last recovered patients, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
News of the closure coincided with a sharp decline in new cases in Hubei province and the provincial capital Wuhan, but the country remained on alert as Chinese nationals returning home are testing positive for the virus.
China’s central Hubei province, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reported fewer than 200 cases of new infections for the first time since January.
Ukrainian airline SkyUp said it was suspending flights to the northern Italian city of Turin due to the spread of the coronavirus.
“The airline suspends flights to Turin from March 5 to an estimated October 25,” it said in a statement.
An Italian national tested positive for coronavirus in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, a major tourist destination, a hospital official said.
This brings the number of people who have tested positive in the country to six.
Ali Reza Raisi, an Iranian health ministry official, said 77 people have died and 2,336 have been infected by coronavirus.
Raisi spoke at a news conference in the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei ordered the Islamic republic’s armed forces to assist its Health Ministry in combating the spread of the new coronavirus.
“Whatever helps public health and prevents the spread of the disease is good and what helps to spread it is sin,” Khamenei said.
Iranian authorities now say they have plans to potentially mobilise 300,000 soldiers and volunteers to confront the virus.
Concern over the outbreak now stretches to Iran’s leadership – some of whom have fallen ill from the virus.
Qatar has confirmed a new case of coronavirus, according to the health ministry’s Twitter account, bringing the total number of infections to eight.
The Qatari national was among others who were evacuated from Iran on February 27, it said.
French officials have closed about 120 schools in areas that have reported the largest numbers of coronavirus infections, and more could be closed in the coming days, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said.
Both primary and secondary schools have been shut in the Oise department north of the capital Paris, where the main cluster of French cases has emerged, and where two people who died of the virus lived.
Officials have reported 191 coronavirus cases in France and three deaths.
As the coronavirus continues to spread across the world, some have abandoned the most common form of greeting: the handshake.
People are changing habits to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading.
Read more here.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rose to 188 on Tuesday, up from 157 on Monday afternoon, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said.
Thirteen of Germany’s 16 federal states have now reported cases of the coronavirus, with the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia being most affected, according to the RKI.
Germany has not reported a fatal case of the virus.
Ukraine has reported its first case of coronavirus, according to the country’s prime minister.
A health official says the virus was found in a man who travelled from Italy to Ukraine via Romania, adding that the patient was hospitalised on Saturday in western Ukraine.
All travellers entering Beijing from the virus hotspots of South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy will have to be quarantined for 14 days, Deputy Secretary-General of the Beijing Municipal Government Chen Bei said.
Shanghai earlier said it would also compel visitors who had recently travelled to countries with “relatively serious virus conditions” to submit to 14 days of isolation.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported 374 new coronavirus cases in its midday update on Tuesday.
Earlier on Tuesday, the KCDC reported 600 confirmed cases from 24 hours prior.
This brings the total number of cases in the country to 5,186, making it the largest outbreak outside China.
Major international airline Emirates is asking staff to take unpaid leave for up to a month at a time due to the spreading coronavirus. The outbreak has led to flight cancellations around the world.
Emirates has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and to most of China because of the virus, and countries around the world have placed strict restrictions on the entry of non-nationals.
“Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” Chief Operating Officer Adel al-Redha said in a statement.
Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allows it to postpone the Games until the end of the year, Japan’s Olympics minister said on Friday, amid concern the coronavirus outbreak could force the IOC to cancel them.
“The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” Seiko Hashimoto said in response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament.
Under the hosting agreement, the right to cancel the Games is the IOC’s alone.
British Secretary of Health Matt Hancock said Britain is not planning to cancel mass gatherings or large sports events due to concerns about coronavirus but that legislation would be needed in case action is required in the future.
“Right now, we do not recommend the cancelling of mass events and schools as well should not be closing unless there is a positive case and the schools have the advice to close,” Hancock told BBC TV.
“There may be things we have to do down the line that we don’t want to, but we will need the powers to do that hence proposing emergency legislation.”
Concerts and sporting events in the United Arab Emirates, a tourism and business hub, have been cancelled or postponed as the coronavirus spreads in the Gulf.
The March 5-6 electronic music Ultra festival at Abu Dhabi’s 25,000-capacity Du arena and the March 21 K-pop concert Music Bank at Dubai’s 17,000-capacity Coca Cola Arena have been cancelled.
Organisers of Ultra, where electronic group Major Lazer and DJ Afrojack were to perform, cited travel restrictions imposed by some countries and airlines in the wake of the rapidly spreading virus.
The UAE, which has reported 21 cases, regularly hosts major conferences, concerts and sporting events.
Twitter staff across the world were asked to work from home starting Monday in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The social media platform’s decision to ask its staff to avoid the office follows similar requests by governments in virus hotspots.
“We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able,” Twitter human resources chief Jennifer Christie said in a Monday blog post.
“Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us – and the world around us.”
Working from home will be mandatory for employees at the company’s South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan offices, Christie said.
South Korea’s president declared “war” on the coronavirus, ordering additional hospital beds and more face masks to be made available.
President Moon Jae-in apologised for shortages of face masks and promised support for virus-hit small businesses in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy, which has now reported 4,812 cases of the disease and 34 deaths.
“The entire country has entered war against the infectious disease as the crisis in Daegu and Gyeongbuk province has reached the highest point,” he told a cabinet meeting, referring to the two hardest-hit parts of the country.
Pope Francis, who cancelled a Lent retreat for the first time in his papacy because he is suffering from a cold, has tested negative for coronavirus, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported.
The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader, who had part of one lung removed because of an illness decades ago, also cancelled most audiences last week.
Shanghai will require everyone entering the city from countries with “relatively serious virus conditions” to submit to 14 days of quarantine, an official said.
The rule will apply to all people regardless of nationality, said Xu Wei, an official with the city government’s news office, speaking to reporters at a briefing.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 3, 2020
Canada has asked travellers arriving from Iran – one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus – to self-isolate at home for 14 days even if they are not showing any symptoms.
Meanwhile, health authorities asked Canadians to avoid any non-essential travel to Iran and the northern region of Italy, which have both emerged as infection hotspots.
Many cases in Canada had been linked to the Iran outbreak, Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam told reporters.
Canada has 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.
The Group of Seven industrial powers are drafting a statement on countering the impact of the coronavirus. For now, it does not specifically call for new government spending or coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks, a G7 official with direct knowledge of the deliberations told Reuters on Tuesday.
In the statement, expected on Tuesday or Wednesday, the G7 countries will pledge to work together to mitigate the damage to their economies from the fast-spreading epidemic, the source said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Share prices have been rising on expectations of measures to boost the global economy.
China’s southern province of Guangdong says it will require travellers arriving from countries and regions with severe coronavirus outbreaks to quarantine themselves for 14 days, the government-backed Nanfang Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The report did not name specific countries.
It said that between February 27 and March 1, 1,496 people had entered Guangdong from overseas areas hit hard by the virus but, to date, tests had shown that none had been infected.
People in Jakarta rushed to supermarkets on Monday night to stock up on basic supplies shortly after President Joko Widodo announced the country had two confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Shoppers found queues were longer than usual for a weekday night and that basic supplies such as bottled water had sold out.
Lee Man-hee, the founder of the controversial Shincheonji Church of Jesus, has tested negative for the coronavirus He had been taken to a “drive-through” test site late on Monday.
The church is the at the centre of the outbreak in South Korea and has been heavily criticised over its response to the virus.
Lee apologised on Monday and called the epidemic a “great calamity” but refused to be tested by public authorities until a local governor threatened to drag him by force to be tested. Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride is in Seoul and you can watch his story below.
Australia’s attorney general has said the government will use its biosecurity to law to restrict the movements of people suspected of having the coronavirus.
Speaking to the country’s public broadcaster ABC, Christian Porter said the government would use the law to either designate some places out of bounds or place a patient in detention at home.
“Under the biosecurity act, you could have the prevention of movement from persons in and out of particular places,” Porter told the ABC.
“You might have a major sporting event where people would be in very, very close proximity to each other and… it might be determined that the risk of transmission at a venue like that was too high.”
Australia passed the biosecurity law in 2015, replacing the Quarantine Act, which had been in force for more than 100 years. You can find out more about the act in this report by two academics at the Australian National University.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has been holding her regular weekly press briefing.
She says Hong Kong has chartered four planes to bring back 533 Hong Kongers from Wuhan. The flights will be on Wednesday and Thursday and the passengers will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival.
There has been lots of talk about vaccines for COVID-19, but they will take a long time to become available.
In the meantime, beyond avoiding infection (washing your hands more and touching your face less), doctors are looking for ways to treat the illness more effectively.
My colleague Shawn Yuan has been speaking to medics in China about the difficulties they’ve encountered in treating the new virus. Read his story here.
Pakistan has reported a new case of coronavirus.
“We have now 5th confirmed case of COVID19 in federal areas,” Zafar Mirza, the country’s health minister said in a tweet early on Tuesday morning.
The patient is stable and being managed well, the minister added.
WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesushas said the world is in “uncharted territory” with the new coronavirus because, while the infection can spread through a community, it can also be contained.
He is urging countries around the world to focus on containing the virus, calling for “early, aggressive measures”.
"But containment of #COVID19 is feasible and must remain the top priority for all countries.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 2, 2020
South Korea has reported 600 new coronavirus cases in its first daily update on Tuesday. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) also says three more people died overnight.
Total cases in the country now stand at 4,812, making it the largest outbreak outside China.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just issued a directive to all insurers to waive cost-sharing associated with virus testing.
“We can’t let cost be a barrier to access to COVID-19 testing,” he wrote on Twitter.
New Yorkers receiving Medicaid coverage will not have to pay a co-pay for any testing related to #coronavirus.
Currently all COVID-19 tests being conducted at the State's Wadsworth Lab are fully covered.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 3, 2020
Figures just released by China’s National Health Commission suggest the outbreak there might be slowing.
Mainland China had 125 new confirmed cases on Monday, compared with 202 the day before. That is the lowest since the country started publishing national data in January.
In Wuhan, the number of new cases was 111, compared with 193.
The commission said 31 people died from the infection.
A recap of Monday’s major developments:
The death toll in the United States has risen to six with mounting concern that the virus has been spreading undetected in the northwestern state of Washington for weeks.
Deaths in Italy rose to 52, while Iran’s toll rose to 66. Italy is the hardest-hit country in Europe, while Iran has reported the most deaths outside China.
Countries including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Tunisia announced their first cases of the disease.
China reported more cases but the rate of infection appeared to be slowing.
Click here to read updates from Monday, March 2.