Most New Infections Now Outside China, WHO Says: Virus Update

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More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China in the past 24 hours for the first time, the World Health Organization said, a significant development as new cases spread around the globe.

New infections were diagnosed in countries from Pakistan to Brazil, which reported the first case in Latin America, while Italy and Iran confirmed additional patients with the disease. Germany said it was likely at the start of an epidemic, and 700 people remained confined in a hotel in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump and federal health officials plan to brief the public Wednesday. Follow the TOPLive coverage here. A top American health official said that the increase in outbreaks outside China will make it harder to keep the virus outside the U.S.

Key Developments

  • Globally 2,771 have died and 81,276 people have been infected
  • U.S. confirms 15th case, not including ship evacuees

Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus andhere for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, clickhere.

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Iraq Envoy Sounds Alarm on Iran Cases (7:22 a.m. HK)

The Iraqi government is “really concerned” about the spread of the coronavirus from neighboring Iran, Fareed Yasseen, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., said during an event in Washington.

The movement of people between the two countries is “quite intense” and communal because of religious activities, which could help transmit the virus “more readily,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why they’ve put a stop to travel between Iraq and Iran.”

The Iraqi government has shut all schools and universities for 10 days, closed public venues, tea houses, cinemas and banned citizens from traveling to nine countries, including Iran, Sumaria News reported. Iraq has reported five cases so far, the country’s health ministry reported on Tuesday.

Rejected by Two Ports, Cruise Heads to Mexico (7:09 a.m. HK)

A ship operated by MSC Cruises issailing for Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday after authorities in two Caribbean ports effectively refused to let passengers disembark over coronavirus fears.

The company said it has received “formal and final authorization” to call in Cozumel, despite an earlier report to the contrary, and expects to arrive Wednesday evening local time.

MSC Cruises says it doesn’t have any evidence of coronavirus on the ship. The company said its medical records show one case of seasonal flu in a crew member.

Coronavirus has already prompted the industry to dial back exposure in Asia. But the latest incident appeared to signal the potential for a broader disruption in bigger markets, exacerbating the hit to cruise stocks.

U.S. Airlines Cut Flights to South Korea (5 p.m. NY)

U.S. airlines, having already suspended flights to China, are starting to pull back from South Korea.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said Wednesday it would temporarily reduce service starting Feb. 29, citing health concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The Atlanta-based carrier also will postpone the start of new service between South Korea’s Incheon airport and Manila.

Hawaiian Airlines is temporarily halting flights connecting Honolulu with Incheon because of the increase in cases in South Korea and the impact the illness has had on demand for leisure travel.

WHO: Most New Cases Now Outside China (3:43 p.m.)

More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China in the past 24 hours for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8, the World Health Organization said.

The agencysaid in its daily situation report that there were 459 confirmed cases outside of China in the past 24 hours, compared with 412 new ones in China, where the outbreak began.

Azar Says 15th Case Confirmed in U.S. (2 p.m. NY)

Azar said the U.S. has a 15th confirmed case of the coronavirus. His count doesn’t include the 42 passengers who were evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship or three who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Nassau County Monitoring 83 People (1:40 p.m. NY)

Health officials in Nassau County on New York’s Long Island are monitoring 83 people who have visited mainland China or may have come in contact with the new coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

Radio station 1010 WINS, citing County Executive Laura Curran, said six people have been tested so far and that five have been confirmed not to have it. Results of the sixth test aren’t in yet.

Health officials around the U.S. have been testing hundreds of travelers who had visited China, where the coronavirus originated.

Spahn: Germany at Beginning of Epidemic (12:45 p.m. NY)

New cases of the virus in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg are a sign that Germany is “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in Berlin on Wednesday.

“It is questionable whether out current strategy of isolating the infection and capping infection chains will work further,” Spahn said. “The probability that this virus will circumvent Germany won’t be fulfilled”

Pakistan Confirms First Coronavirus Cases (12:05 p.m. NY)

Pakistan’s health minister said the country had identified two cases of coronavirus, the first in the country.

Both cases are being treated and are stable, Pakistan health minister Zafar Mirza said on Twitter. “No need to panic, things are under control,” Mirza said.

Europe Health Official Predicts Wider Outbreak (11:46 a.m. NY)

“It is likely that Europe will see similar developments like in Italy, varying from country to country,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in an update Wednesday. “The risk of the occurrence of similar clusters, similar to the ones in Italy, associated with Covid-19 in other countries in the EU/EEA and the U.K. is currently considered to be moderate to high,” ECDC said in its risk-assessment report.

Even though “we are still in the containment phase,” European Union member states should review their “pandemic plans,” the bloc’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides, said in Rome earlier today.

“All Member States need to inform us about their preparedness plans and how they propose to implement them,” Kyriakides said in a press conference, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “This is the kind of crucial information that we all need to have if the virus spreads further and I urge Member States to share this with us and each other, as this is important for our mutual security.”

— With assistance by Michelle Cortez

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