Reports of a female flight attendant diagnosed with coronavirus having repeatedly travelling through Los Angeles International airport is sparking fears of an outbreak in the region, as officials confirm 59 cases of the mysterious illness.
The unidentified flight attendant reportedly serviced a flight from Tel Aviv to Seoul on 15 February, and had travelled through the LAX airport on multiple occaisions before receiving the diagnosis. A majority of cases in the US (39) are among Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Tokyo. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said that while the immediate risk of coronavirus to American citizens is low, the global situation suggested a pandemic is now likely.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is once again attacking the “fake news” media on Twitter over its coverage of the Wuhan coronavirus, a day after US health officials warned the deadly virus would inevitably spread across the country. The president suggested in a series of tweets that the latest developments surrounding the outbreak outbreak were simply the result of news outlets “dong everything possible to make the Coronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible”. The White House has since scheduled a public statement about the virus for 6:00pm EST.
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Hello and welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in America and beyond.
Here's what we know:
- American health officials warn that Covid-19 will spread across country
- US cases up to 57 (14 of these result of transmission within America); two recorded deaths
- San Francisco announces local emergency - despite having no cases
- US soldier in South Korea tests positive for virus
- S&P 500 index extended its steep slide this week by falling 3 percent on Tuesday
- Yield on 10-year Treasury note also fell to record low
Here are the latest figures reported by each government's health authority as of Wednesday in Beijing:
— Mainland China: 2,715 deaths among 78,064 cases, mostly in the central province of Hubei
— Hong Kong: 81 cases, 2 deaths
— Macao: 10 cases
— South Korea: 1,261 cases, 11 deaths
— Japan: 870 cases, 5 deaths
— Italy: 323 cases, 11 deaths
— Iran: 139 cases, 19 deaths
— Singapore: 91
— United States: 57
— Thailand: 40
— Taiwan: 32 cases, 1 death
— Bahrain: 26
— Australia: 23
— Malaysia: 22
— Kuwait: 18
— France: 17 cases, 2 deaths
— Germany: 17
— Vietnam: 16
— United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom: 13
— Canada: 11
— Spain: 10
— Iraq: 5
— Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death
— India: 3
— Russia, Israel, Oman, Croatia, Austria: 2
— Lebanon, Belgium, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Cambodia, Finland, Egypt, Algeria, Afghanistan, Switzerland: 1
'It's not a question of if. It's a question of when and how many people will be infected'
US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has alerted Americans to begin preparing for the spread of coronavirus in the United States after infections surfaced in several more countries.
The announcement signaled a change in tone for the health agency, which had largely been focused on efforts to stop the virus from entering the country and quarantining individuals traveling from China.
"The data over the past week about the spread in other countries has raised our level of concern and expectation that we are going to have community spread here," said Dr Nancy Messonnier, the CDC's head of respiratory diseases.
What is not known, she said, is when it will arrive and how severe a US outbreak might be. "Disruption to everyday life might be severe" and businesses, schools and families should begin having discussions about the possible impact from the spread of the virus, Messonnier cautioned.
Dr Anne Schuchat, the CDC's principal deputy director, said that while the immediate risk in the United States was low, the current global situation suggested a pandemic was likely.
"It's not a question of if. It's a question of when and how many people will be infected," Dr Schuchat said.
Countries outside China 'not ready' for pandemic
The World Health Organisation has warned that countries outside China are “simply not ready” for a pandemic as coronavirus continues to sweep across the globe.
In recent days, outbreaks have emerged in parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, with national health authorities struggling to contain the spread of the disease.
An alarming rate of infection has been recorded in countries such as Iran, South Korea and Italy, while the first case of Covid-19 was today announced in South America.
At the WHO headquarters in Geneva, assistant director general Bruce Aylward praised China for its 'aggressive' containment measures but warned that other nations were “simply not ready” to contain the outbreak.
“You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale … and it has to be done fast,” Dr Aylward said.
“Access the expertise of China,” said Aylward. “They have done this at speed and they know what they are doing. They are really, really good at it.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get Covid-19 because of this aggressive response,” he said.
US soldier infected in South Korea
South Korean virus cases of the coronavirus have jumped again, as the US military confirmed its first case among American soldiers based in the Asian country.
Most of the new cases are connected to the south-eastern city of Daegu, with a growing illness cluster.
South Korea's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said 216 of the 284 new cases were in Daegu, where the government has been mobilising public health services to contain the spread of the outbreak, and in neighbouring towns.
The US military said the 23-year-old soldier was in self-quarantine at his off-base residence. He had been based in Camp Carroll in a town near Daegu, and visited both Carroll and nearby Camp Walker in recent days.
South Korean authorities and US military health professionals are tracing his contacts to determine if other people may have been exposed.
Coronavirus ads that promise cures banned on Facebook
Facebook is banning ads that promise to cure coronavirus or incite panic around the outbreak in its latest attempt to prevent misinformation.
The tech giant said it now prohibits advertising that creates "a sense of urgency" about the Covid-19 illness, such as those that "imply a limited supply, or guarantee a cure or prevention".
This includes ads with claims such as face masks are 100 per cent guaranteed to prevent the spread of the virus.
The rules also extend to those trying to sell related items on the social network's Marketplace platform.
Facebook already began cracking down on posts that promote fake miracle cures for coronavirus, such as false suggestions that drinking bleach is a solution.
"While we allow people to buy and sell masks on Facebook, we are taking a closer look at this group," a Facebook spokesman said.
'Up to 80 per cent of UK population could get coronavirus in worst-case scenario'
Up to 80 per cent of the UK population could become infected with coronavirus in a "worst-case scenario", a new document suggests.
The paper, from the National Security Communications Team, which advises ministers, says the Government is planning for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst case.
"For the UK, this could involve up to 80 per cent of the population being infected; however, not all of these people will experience symptoms and the vast majority of cases will be mild disease," it says.
"This is based on the currently available scientific evidence."
Under this scenario, of those who do develop the symptoms, "2 per cent to 3 per cent will result in a fatality", the document goes on.
This could potentially mean millions of Britons infected and hundreds of thousands of people dying. The population of the UK is around 66.4 million.
WHO: Coronavirus spread 'deeply concerning' but not a pandemic
The sudden rise in novel coronavirus cases in Italy, Iran and South Korea is "deeply concerning", but the virus can still be contained and does not amount to a pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief said on Wednesday.
Infections linked to Iran have been confirmed in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, while cases tied to Italy have been found in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
But for the first time on Tuesday, the number of new cases officially reported outside China - 427, by 37 countries - has exceeded new cases reported by Beijing (411), according to Tedros and figures provided by the WHO.
"We should not be too eager to declare a pandemic without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts," Mr Tedros said.
"Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralysing systems. It may also signal that we can no longer contain the virus, which is not true," he added.
This infographic, created for The Independent by statistics agency Statista, shows the spread of the disease around the world.
China's economic recovery accelerating, Politburo says
China's economic recovery is accelerating but the coronavirus outbreak situation in the epicentre of Hubei province and its capital Wuhan is still dire, the ruling Communist Party's Politburo said on Wednesday according to a state television report.
China cannot ignore the risks of a coronavirus epidemic resurgence in certain regions, the report added.
The government would not let up on its push for stronger epidemic control, and would implement at a faster rate various works pertaining to economic and social development, the Politburo said.
The pace of the improvement of the epidemic control situation was expanding, it added.
China's central bank has taken steps to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity. It has also said it will provide special funds for banks to lend to businesses.
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