Below are March 8 updates. For March 9 updates, click here.
US Cases Rise to More Than 500
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the United States has risen to over 500, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University.
More than half the states are reporting at least one case of the virus, according to reports. In recent days, Kansas, Missouri, and the District of Columbia announced their first cases of the viral infection.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus-linked deaths in the country grew to at least 21 on March 8 as authorities said the risk of Americans contracting the virus “remains low.”
Of the 21 deaths, the majority have occurred in Washington state, which reported a total of 18 fatalities; Florida has reported two deaths, while California has reported one, as of press time.
Chinese Funeral House Director: Hospitals Sent Bodies Marked Unidentified Pneumonia
A Chinese funeral house director complained that local hospitals kept on sending bodies to them, indicating that they died from unidentified pneumonia. He is worried that those bodies might carry coronavirus.
“My people only know how to burn the body. They have very little medical knowledge,” A Jining funeral house director told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on March 7. “The hospitals wrote the death reason is unidentified pneumonia. It scared my people.”
Ted Cruz Self-Quarantining After Coming Into Contact With Coronavirus Patient
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he would self-quarantine after interacting with a person at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) who was later found to have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Cruz, in a statement on Sunday night, wrote that he was informed over the weekend that he “briefly interacted” with the COVID-19 patient at the conference, which also featured a speech from President Donald Trump, in late February.
“I’m not experiencing any symptoms,” Cruz said, “and I feel fine and healthy.”
The senator from Texas noted that his interaction with the patient was brief, or “less than a minute.” Medical authorities told him that the odds of contracting the virus were “extremely low,” according to his statement.
Rep. Mark Walker on the Coronavirus Economic Fallout
Oregon Declares State of Emergency
Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a 60-day state of emergency on Sunday as coronavirus cases in the state doubled to 14.
“We will do everything in our power to keep Oregonians safe,” Brown said at a news conference.
Nebraska Reports First Case
Officials in Nebraska confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 coronavirus case and took the woman, who had recently traveled to the United Kingdom, to a biocontainment unit on March 6 night.
The 36-year-old woman is “very seriously ill” and was in the Methodist Hospital in Omaha before she was taken to the unit via an ambulance, officials told local news outlets. The unit is located at the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus, and Associated Press photos showed officials in biohazard suits and masks transporting the woman inside an isolation pod into the ambulance.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts and health officials announced the unnamed woman is the first COVID-19 patient in the state, reported the Omaha World-Herald. Between Feb. 18 and Feb. 27, the woman was traveling in the UK with her father before she contracted the virus, said a state infectious disease expert, Dr. Robert Penn, in the report.
Top US Health Official Warns Older Americans: ‘Don’t Get on a Cruise Ship’
The country’s top infectious disease expert on Sunday warned older Americans and those with underlying health problems to stay off cruise ships and limit air travel amid the worldwide COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
“If you’re a person with an underlying condition and you are particularly an elderly person with an underlying condition, you need to think twice about getting on a plane, on a long trip,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And not only think twice, just don’t get on a cruise ship.”
“This will be a recommendation,” he stressed.
Grand Princess to Dock in California on Monday
Princess Cruises has said on its Twitter page that its Grand Princess cruise ship currently quarantined offshore will be allowed to dock in the Port of Oakland, California, on Monday.
#GrandPrincess Update: The logistics plan went into further review by the state and federal authorities and the ship will not berth in Oakland on Sunday. It will now be Monday – time to be determined.
— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) March 8, 2020
The cruising company has been coordinating the docking of the ship with state and federal authorities after 21 people on board tested positive for COVID-19. Princess Cruises said 45 of the more than 3,500 people on board were tested in the first round.
Those infected will be transported to medical facilities in California for monitoring upon arrival in Oakland.
10 Dead at Collapsed Chinese Quarantine Hotel
Ten people have died and 23 remain trapped after the collapse of a hotel that was being used to quarantine people under observation for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Quanzhou, authorities said on Sunday.
More than 70 people were believed to have been initially trapped in the seven story building, which collapsed on March 7.
As of 16:00 Beijing time on Sunday, authorities had retrieved 48 individuals from the site of the collapse, with 38 of them sent to hospitals, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.
Of the 71 people inside the hotel at the time of the collapse, 58 had been under quarantine, they added.
Australia Confirms 3rd Death
A man in his 80s has died after contracting coronavirus in his Sydney aged care home, bringing Australia’s nationwide death toll to three.
The 82-year-old was on Wednesday confirmed to have COVID-19 after he picked up the virus from an infected aged care worker in her 50s at BaptistCare’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge in Macquarie Park.
He died overnight in hospital, chief health officer Dr. Kerry Chant said.
The man’s death follows that of a 95-year-old woman and fellow Dorothy Henderson Lodge resident and a 78-year-old man in Perth.
Some 74 Australians have tested positive to the coronavirus, and figures are expected to further climb.
Coronavirus Quarantine Hotel Collapses in China, At Least 6 Dead
Six people have died and 28 remain trapped after the collapse of a hotel that was being used to quarantine people under observation for the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Quanzhou, authorities told a media conference organized by Quanzhou authorities on Sunday.
They said that 71 people were believed to inside the seven storey Quanzhou Xinjia Hotel building at the time of collapse around 7:30 p.m. local time on Saturday evening.
Of the 71 people, 58 had been under quarantine, the authorities told the media.
A video stream posted by the communist regime-backed Beijing News showed rescue workers in orange overalls clambering over rubble and twisted steelwork carrying people toward ambulances.
“I was at a gas station and heard a loud noise. I looked up and the whole building collapsed. Dust was everywhere, and glass fragments were flying around,” a witness said in a video posted on the Miaopai streaming app.
“I was so terrified that my hands and legs were shivering.”
Italy Orders Lockdown of Northern Provinces
Italy imposed a virtual lockdown across a swathe of its wealthy north on Sunday, including the financial capital of Milan, in a drastic new attempt to try to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus.
The unprecedented restrictions, which will impact some 16 million people and stay in force until April 3, were signed into law overnight by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The new measures say people should not enter or leave Lombardy, Italy’s richest region, as well as 14 provinces in four other regions, including the cities of Venice, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Reggio Emilia and Rimini.
“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven, work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons,” Conte told a news conference in the middle of the night after hours of confusion over his plans.
Maldives Confirms First 2 cases, 2 Resort Islands Locked Down
The Maldives has curbed movement on several resort islands, authorities said on Sunday, after the country reported its first two cases of coronavirus.
The two infected people, who are both staff at the Kuredu Island Resort, tested positive late on Saturday. They are believed to have caught the disease from an Italian tourist who has returned to Italy and tested positive there.
There are more than 1,400 people on the island, split equally between guests and staff, according to the tourism ministry.
“These two cases which tested positive are from a resort. They are employees of the resort and are now quarantined,” said Ali Waheed, the tourism minister of the island nation, the economy of which is heavily dependent on foreign tourists.
“The period for the temporary restrictions will be decided by the medical teams. Right now, we have identified people who were in contact with the patients and they are in self-isolation along with secondary contacts. At this time we can say that these individuals will be monitored for fourteen days.”
Waheed said the country was still deciding whether tourists who were not in contact with the patients would be allowed to leave.
It has banned passengers originating from or who had transited through or spent any time in Italy in the preceding 14 days, effective from Sunday.
Officials at the Kuredu Island Resort were not immediately reachable for comment.
The Maldives Health Protection Agency (HPA) said on Sunday it had introduced “temporary restrictive measures” on a second island after an Italian national developed symptoms at the Sandies resort on Bathala island. It was unclear how many people were on the island.
It added two French nationals on a third island who showed symptoms of the disease had tested negative, and restrictions on travel there had been lifted.
Malaysia Bans Cruise Ships From Entering Country’s Ports
Malaysia’s Health Ministry and Transport Ministry have announced a ban on any docking of cruise ships in the country’s ports due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
The temporary restriction will go into effect immediately and will stay until further notice, according to the Penang Port Commission and Port Klang Authority.
There are currently two cruise ships, one American vessel off the coast of California and an Egyptian vessel on the Nile River, that have been placed under quarantine after passengers on board tested positive for COVID-19.
Last month, Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess vessel was quarantined multiple times in a Japanese port after the virus was detected on board. More than 700 of the 3,700 passengers and crew ended up contracting the virus, with six elderly passengers having died from the virus since.
Meanwhile, Malaysia has detected a total of 93 cases after 10 more were confirmed on Saturday, according to the health ministry.
First US Marine Tests Positive After Returning From Overseas
The first U.S. Marine has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after returning from official duties overseas, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman confirmed in a Twitter post on Saturday night.
The Marine, assigned to Fort Belvoir in Virginia, is “currently being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital,” Hoffman said after the test results came back positive earlier in the day.
“Secretary [Mark] Esper and the White House have been briefed,” he added.
Melanie Sun, AAP, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.