US Navy self-quarantines, Tokyo Disney closed, events canceled

The death toll attributed to the 2019 novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, continues to rise, with tens of thousands of people sickened and thousands of others killed by the virus, mostly in China.

Stocks open lower to finish week

Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 800 points shortly after the opening bell to start the final day of trading this week, CNBC reported.

The Dow isn’t the only index to feel the effects of the coronavirus. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both open down.

Events canceled, virus spreads to sub-Saharan Africa

Update 6:30 a.m. EST Feb 28: South Korea’s number of infected has jumped. Now officials say an additional 571 people have tested positive for Coronavirus, CNN reported. A total of 2,337 cases have been diagnosed, the most outside of mainland China, CNN reported.

Events are being canceled as the virus continues to have a hold on most of the world.

One of the world’s biggest car shows, the Geneva Motor Show, has been canceled because of coronavirus. More than 600,000 people were supposed to attend the event starting on March 2, CNN reported.

The Swiss government has banned any events that have more than 1,000 expected to attend. The ban is in effect until March 15.

Tokyo Disneyland has closed because of the virus. The gates will remain closed for two weeks. Both of Tokyo’s Disney parks, Disneyland and DisneySea, are planned to reopen on March 15, but it could be closed longer, NBC News reported.

Lithuania now has its first confirmed case. The woman, who has mild symptoms, is in isolation at a hospital and her three family members are being monitored, CNN reported.

France has two new infections, bringing its total to 40.

Sub-Saharan Africa has had its first case with a person in Nigeria has tested positive. The person, who is an Italian citizen, traveled from Milan to Lagos earlier this week. Nigeria is Africa’s largest populated country with more than 200 million. Officials are trying to determine who came in contact with the person and are taking measures to make sure it doesn’t spread, The New York Times reported.

US Navy quarantine

Update 12 a.m. EST Feb. 28: The US Navy has ordered the self-quarantine of all ships that have been to countries in the Pacific and to monitor for any symptoms, CNN reported.

But as of the order, there were no signs that anyone on the ships has become infected.

The ships are to remain at sea for 14 days. The quarantine comes after a planned exercise with South Korea was suspended because of the outbreak, CNN reported.

Suburban high school closed over new virus concerns

Update 10 p.m. EST, Feb. 27: A suburban Seattle high school was closed Thursday after a staffer’s family member was placed in quarantine for showing symptoms of possibly contracting the new virus that started in China - an action health officials say is unnecessary.

Bothell High school, about 20 miles northeast of Seattle, will be cleaned and disinfected on Thursday while students stay home, Northshore School District superintendent Michelle Reid said in an email to families Wednesday night.

“These steps are being taken out of an abundance of caution,” Reid said.

The risk to the school’s students and other staff members is minimal, the Washington Department of Health said in a letter. And the local health department, Public Health Seattle & King County, said in a statement that the closure wasn’t needed.

Reid said the school staffer is not sick, but is in self-quarantine at home.

Stock market rout deepens on virus worries

Update 4:20 p.m. EST, Feb. 27: The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank nearly 1,200 points Thursday, deepening a weeklong global market rout caused by worries that the coronavirus outbreak will wreak havoc on the global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 960 points in morning trading, then erased much of the loss by midday before giving way to another round of selling in the afternoon.

Earlier assumptions that the impact would largely be contained in China and would temporarily disrupt manufacturing supply chains have been overtaken by concerns that as the virus spreads, more people in numerous countries will stay home, either voluntarily or under quarantine. Vacations could be canceled, restaurant meals skipped, and fewer shopping trips taken.

“A global recession is likely if COVID-19 becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

650 cases in Italy, first case in Northern Ireland

Update 2:40 p.m. EST, Feb. 27: The first case in Northern Ireland has been reported. There are no details as to the person’s nationally or how the person became infected, CNN reported.

The number of positive results from coronavirus tests has increased to 650 in Italy. A bookkeeping issue is being blamed for the jump, with the Head of Italian Civil Protection Angelo Borelli saying officials in the Lombardy region didn’t file it’s number of cases correctly, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, the number of cases in Spain has climbed to 24.

Vice President’s role explained

Update 11:50 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Now that Vice President Mike Pence has been put in charge of the country’s response to coronavirus, what does that actually mean?

According to US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Pence is “able to clear barriers, get alignment across cabinet departments and agencies, and frankly deal with and coordinate areas that are outside of the health care expertise, broader economic questions, trade issues, etcetera," CNN reported.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says lawmakers are “close to a bipartisan agreement in the Congress” for funding. She said they are not sure how much they will need, but that the country needs to be ready, CNN reported.

Dow and Nasdaq open down again

Update 9:50 a.m. EST Feb. 27: The US Stock Market is feeling the effects of the fears over coronavirus with another selloff.

The Dow opened 1.9 % lower and lost about 515 points. The Nasdaq opened 2.5% down and the S&P 500 fell 1.9%, CNN reported.

Japan’s number of cases jumps to 907, China to pay for reporting symptoms

Update 9:31 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Japanese officials say the total number of cases of coronavirus is 907 with 705 cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and 186 cases on land. Eight people in the country have died, CNN reported.

Chinese officials in Qianjiang are paying residents who report symptoms that are related to the virus. If it is confirmed that they do have the illness, the government will pay them about $1,426 for reporting it early. Suspected cases will get about $285 while those who come up negative at first testing will get about $142, CNN reported.

And while China has been the focus of the fight against the illness, the World Health Organization is shifting its focus, saying the rest of the world is “our greatest concern.” For the second day, the number of new cases outside of China outpaced the number inside the country, CNN reported.

Of those new cases, there has been another positive result in Canada, which now has 13 patients who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Another new case is that of an Iranian Vice President. Masoumeh Ebtekar, the Vice President of Women and Family Affairs, has tested positive. Officials say she is at home and recovering. Ebtekar was at a cabinet meeting feet away from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Those in attendance at the meeting have been tested with results expected to be released Saturday, CNN reported.

Italy reports 2 additional virus-related deaths

Update 7:51 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Officials in Italy confirmed on Thursday that two more deaths related to the coronavirus have brought the nationwide total to 14, The New York Times reported.

There are now a total of 528 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Italy.

Iran’s confirmed cases spike to 245, causing 26 total deaths

Update 6:51 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Iran’s Health Ministry on Thursday reported more than 100 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the nationwide number of infections to 245.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said 26 people have died from the virus.

According to The Washington Post, several Iranian officials – including lawmakers and the head of Iran’s counter-coronavirus task force – have tested positive for the virus.

Japan shuttering all schools to contain virus spread

Update 6:13 a.m. EST Feb. 27: In a bid to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Japan’s prime minister said Thursday the government will ask the nation’s schools to close from Monday until the end of spring break, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of cabinet ministers there is zero time to waste.

“Efforts have been made to prevent the spread of infection among children in each region, and these one or two weeks will be an extremely critical period,” said Abe, adding that the government "attaches top priority to the health and safety of children, among others.”

To date, Japan has confirmed 186 “domestic” cases of the virus – separate from the more than 700 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship – resulting in eight deaths.

Japan reports eighth novel coronavirus death, first of unknown origin

Update 4:46 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Government officials in Hokkaido, Japan, confirmed on Thursday the country’s eighth coronavirus-related death but have been unable to establish the source of the patient’s exposure to the illness, CNN reported.

The octogenarian tested positive for the virus on Feb. 22 and died Thursday from pneumonia, but he has not traveled outside the country recently and had no known links to the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The news comes hours after the United States confirmed its first case – in Northern California – of unknown origin, sparking global concerns that community transmissions of the virus have begun.

South Korea reports largest spike in new cases to date

Update 4:44 a.m. EST Feb. 27: South Korea confirmed another 171 cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the nation’s total to 505 in the past 24 hours.

The virus has killed a total of 13 in South Korea, and 1,766 cases have been confirmed nationwide since the outbreak began.

Top Chinese pulmonologist: Epidemic to be ‘basically under control’ by April 30

Update 4:42 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Zhong Nanshan, the director of China’s National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Disease, said during a Thursday news conference that he expects the novel coronavirus epidemic will be “basically under control at the end of April.”

“We previously predicted that the peak should be in mid or late February. It turned out the number of new cases began to drop after Feb. 15. We predicted the number would be 60-70 thousand, and now it is 78-79 thousand in China," Zhong said.

First possible case of novel coronavirus recurrence documented in Japan

Update 4:40 a.m. EST Feb. 27: A Japanese woman declared cured of the novel coronavirus has now tested positive for the illness a second time, The Washington Post reported.

The woman – one of the country’s first documented cases of the virus – was declared cured four weeks ago and released from the hospital treating her. Because she was not retested at the time of her release, however, health officials have been unable to determine if the virus lay dormant in her system or if her current condition is the result of reinfection, the Post reported.

Global infections near 82,000, death toll surpasses 2,800

Update 2:30 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Progression of the novel coronavirus hit a new milestone early Thursday with the latest data confirming global deaths from the rapidly spreading illness have reached 2,801.

The lion’s share of confirmed cases and deaths remain in mainland China and specifically within the virus’ Hubei province epicenter, but infection rates elsewhere continue to climb.

Of the total 81,722 confirmed cases, 78,497 are in China where 2,744 patients have died. A total of 57 deaths have been confirmed in eight other countries:

Iran: 19

South Korea: 13

Italy: 12

Japan: 7

Hong Kong and France: 2 each

The Philippines and Taiwan: 1 each

7 additional European countries confirm first cases

Update 2:28 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Denmark and Estonia became the latest European nations to report their first confirmed novel coronavirus cases early Thursday.

CNN affiliate Berlingske Media reported a journalist at a TV channel in Denmark is the country’s first confirmed case.

Greece, Norway, Romania, Georgia and North Macedonia each confirmed their first cases Wednesday.

Pence sets first task force meeting

Update 2:26 a.m. EST Feb. 27: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will lead a coronavirus task force meeting on Thursday afternoon at the Department of Health and Human Services, CNN reported.

The meeting will take place less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump placed Pence at the helm of the nation’s outbreak response.

“Mike will be working with the professionals, doctors and everybody else that is working. The team is brilliant. I spent a lot of time with the team the last couple weeks,” Trump said, according to CNN.

“But they are brilliant, and we’re doing really well, and Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me. But he has a certain talent for this,” he said.

Rampant infection reports continue; deaths outside mainland China mount

Update 2:24 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Italy has now confirmed 400 cases, meaning the nation now hosts the largest known cluster of cases outside of Asia and making it the epicenter of the European outbreak.

South Korea reported 344 new cases and one death Wednesday, bringing its national total to 1,596 cases and 13 deaths.

Japan’s defense minister confirmed early Thursday that 22 additional patients have tested positive for novel coronavirus and a seventh patient has died. The newest figures bring that country’s total number of “domestic” infections to 186 in addition to the 693 cases linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship, moored off Japan’s coast awaiting deep cleaning.

Hong Kong confirmed two new cases on Wednesday, raising its citywide total to 91.

US companies fear major losses

Update 2:22 a.m. EST Feb. 27: Some American companies stand to lose as much as half of their annual revenue from China if the novel coronavirus outbreak extends through the summer months, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a survey conducted between Feb. 17 and Feb. 20 by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, nearly half of U.S. companies in China expect revenue losses if disruptions to business continue past April 30. Meanwhile, 20 percent of the 169 responding companies indicated their 2020 revenue from China could decline more than 50 percent if the epidemic is left unchecked through Aug. 30, the Journal reported.

Read more here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms first case of unknown origin in Northern California

Update 8:15 p.m. EST Feb. 26: The CDC told The Sacramento Bee Wednesday that a confirmed case in Northern California is of an unknown origin. The person is resident of Solano County and is being treated in Sacramento, according to KRON.

The CDC told KRON that the patient has not travelled to a foreign country and has not been in contact with a confirmed case. It is possible that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected the CDC said in a release. The CDC said that it is possible that this is an instance of community spread of COVID-19, which would be the first time this has happened in the United States.

Community spread means spread of an illness for which the source of infection is unknown.

Trump appoints Pence to lead US response

Update 7 p.m. EST Feb. 26: President Donald Trump put his vice president in charge of overseeing the nation’s response. He will be working with the government’s top health authorities and Trump’s earlier-appointed coronavirus task force, to oversee the response.

California: Orange County to declare local health emergency

Update 4:45 p.m. EST Feb. 26: Officials in Orange County, California, are expected to declare a local health emergency later Wednesday in response to increasing cases of the coronavirus in the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported. County supervisors Michelle Steel and Andrew Do called a news conference in Santa Ana to discuss the declaration, the newspaper reported.

Orange County has one confirmed case of the coronavirus, a man in his 50s who has since recovered, according to the county’s Health Care Agency website.

Norway has first case

Update 3:45 p.m. EST Feb. 26: Norway has its first positive test for coronavirus, CNN reported.

The person had no symptoms but had recently returned from an area of China that is a hotbed for the virus.

The result was weak, officials with Norway’s Institute for Public Health said.

More new cases outside of China than in

Update 2:57 p.m. EST Feb. 26: For the first time since the outbreak started, there are more new cases of coronavirus in a single day outside of China than inside the country.

The World Health Organization says China had only 412 newly confirmed cases Wednesday. There were 459 new cases over the rest of the world, CNN reported.

As for the US, there are a total of 60 cases with 15 of them coming from travel or close contact with travelers, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Wednesday, according to CNN.

President Donald Trump to hold press conference with CDC Wednesday

Update 8:39 a.m. EST Feb. 26: President Donald Trump says he will be holding a joint press conference with the CDC Wednesday at 6 p.m. EST.

Trump and his supporters have been saying that virus is not as bad as it seems, saying via Twitter that news outlets “are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action, USA in great shape!” The Washington Post reported.

Earlier this year, Trump said that the coronavirus was under control in the US saying “It’s going to be just fine.” That statement was made during January’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January. At the time there was one person confirmed to have had coronavirus in Washington state. Now there are more than 50 people in the country who have tested positive, and the CDC has warned Americans to brace and prepare for a crisis, NBC News reported Tuesday.

The CDC advised that the U.S. should prepare for disruptions to their daily lives like closing schools, working from home and delaying elective medical procedures, NBC News reported.

Greece reports first confirmed case; Italy struggles to contain outbreak

Update 7:49 a.m. EST Feb. 26: Greece has confirmed its first novel coronavirus case in a 38-year-old Thessaloniki woman.

A health ministry spokeswoman told CNN the woman returned recently from an affected area in northern Italy. She is hospitalized, but is listed in good condition.

Northern Italy – specifically the Lombardi region – has emerged as the European epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak. To date, more than 320 cases have been confirmed nationwide, resulting in 12 deaths, CNN reported.

Cases in Greece, Croatia, Austria, Switzerland and France have also been linked to the Italian cluster.

Brazil confirms first novel coronavirus case

Update 7 a.m. EST Feb. 26: South America has confirmed its first novel coronavirus case, making Antarctica the only continent remaining untouched by the fast-spreading contagion, Reuters reported.

The patient is a 61-year-old being treated at a Sao Paulo hospital in Brazil after visiting Italy.

Iran confirms 19th death

Update 6:58 a.m. EST Feb. 26: Iran’s health ministry spokesman confirmed that the country’s 19th citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus.

Kianush Jahanpur told state television on Wednesday the nationwide number of confirmed cases has reached 139 and Iran has the highest number of deaths attributed to the outbreak outside of mainland China.

Jahanpur also told Iranians to cancel all nonessential travel and urged all residents to avoid Gilan and Qom, the two areas of the country with the highest concentration of confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

Spain confirms 8 new cases

Update 6:56 a.m. EST Feb. 26: In the 24 hours since a hotel in Tenerife was placed on lockdown, Spain has confirmed eight new cases of the novel coronavirus, according to The Washington Post.

At least two of the newest cases were confirmed in Madrid, while a third was diagnosed in Barcelona.

UK launches mass testing

Update 6:54 a.m. EST Feb. 26: The United Kingdom began mass testing of its population Wednesday to determine if the spread of the novel coronavirus is more rampant than originally believed, The Washington Post reported.

Public Health England Medical Director Prof Paul Cosford said people with flu-like symptoms will be tested in 11 hospitals and 100 private practices across the country.

“We are heightening our vigilance,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Wednesday, adding, “There is random testing of those people…that’s to check we have any transmission that we are not aware of.”

As of Tuesday, 6,795 people had been tested for the virus, yielding 13 confirmed cases and zero deaths, the Post reported.

First French national dies from novel coronavirus

Update 5:25 a.m. EST Feb. 26: A 60-year-old man in Paris has become the first French national to die from the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the director general of the French health authority.

Jerome Salomon told reporters on Wednesday the man died at the Pitie Salpetriere hospital in the French capital.

Meanwhile, two additional novel coronavirus cases were reported in the country, including a 55-year-old French man being treated in a hospital in Amiens and a 36-year-old French man in Strasbourg.

Hong Kong confirms 4 new infections

Update 5:23 a.m. EST Feb. 26: Four additional novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed by health officials in Hong Kong, bringing the city’s total number of cases to 89.

According to CNN, the new cases include two passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a man linked with a previously confirmed case and a domestic helper who was linked to a previous case.

To date, 24 people have been discharged from medical facilities following recovery, while one patient remains in critical condition and another 64 continue receiving treatment in hospitals.

San Francisco declares local emergency over coronavirus

Update 5:21 a.m. EST Feb. 26: Despite having confirmed zero cases of the novel coronavirus, San Francisco authorities declared a local emergency Tuesday as the fourth-largest California city prepares for the infection’s spread within its tight-knit communities, Reuters reported.

“Although there are still zero confirmed cases in San Francisco residents, the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

Rate of new mainland China cases decreases, infections elsewhere on the rise

Update 4:01 a.m. EST Feb. 26: The rate of new novel coronavirus cases continued its decline in China Wednesday, but health experts cautioned against underestimating the virus’ staying power, The Washington Post reported.

The Chinese government confirmed 406 new cases diagnosed on Wednesday and an additional 52 deaths. The latest figures bring mainland China’s total infections to 78,064, resulting in 2,715 deaths. Meanwhile, CNN reported:

South Korea confirmed an additional 115 cases and another death, bringing the nationwide total to 1,261 cases and 12 deaths. The latest figures mean 184 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday alone.

Kuwait’s newest case brings that nation’s total confirmed infections to 12.

Bahrain confirmed three new cases Tuesday, bringing its nationwide total to 26.

• More than 90 total cases have been confirmed in Iran, resulting in 15 deaths.

Taiwan reported its 32nd novel coronavirus case on Wednesday.

Thailand confirmed three additional novel coronavirus infections on Wednesday, brining its nationwide total to 40.

China asks banks to disinfect, hold cash

Update 3:58 a.m. EST Feb. 26: Beijing is asking all banks in the region to disinfect paper cash and keep the notes in a dry place for at least seven days before returning them to circulation, The Washington Post reported.

Beijing’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Bureau made the request Wednesday while also imploring financial institutions to “intensify disinfection” protocols at counters and public facilities in all “customer-facing banking and insurance establishments,” the Post reported.

Read more here.

European outbreaks mirroring those in Asia, the Middle East

Update 2:20 a.m. EST Feb. 26: Despite its Chinese origins, an outbreak in Italy has given the novel coronavirus a foothold in Europe that has now spread to five additional countries.

According to The New York Times, Spain, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland and France all reported cases linked to Italy’s Lombardy region on Tuesday.

On Wednesday in Innsbruck, the Austrian ski town in the Alps, authorities sealed off the 108-room Grand Hotel after a hotel employee, who had recently visited Lombardy, tested positive for the virus. The move came less than 24 hours after Spain cordoned off the H10 Costa Adeje Palace on the resort island of Tinorefe after a guest tested positive, the Times reported.

According to CNN, a total of 212 infections have been confirmed in the Lombardy region, alone, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was forced to admit on Monday that a hospital in the northern town of Codogno had mishandled the region’s first coronavirus case, known as Patient 1, by not following protocol. Patient Zero, or the individual responsible for importing the virus to the country, has not yet been identified by Italian authorities.

The virus’ spread to date in Europe has mirrored outbreaks in the Middle East and Asia, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, a new case was confirmed in southern Germany late Tuesday, and the patient had just returned from a trip to Milan in northern Italy, The Wall Street Journal reported.

U.S. soldier stationed in South Korea tests positive for virus

Update 9:30 p.m. EST Feb. 25: A U.S. military statement said a 23-year-old soldier who tested positive was in self quarantine at his off-base residence. He had been based in Camp Caroll in a town near Daegu, and visited Camp Walker in Daegu earlier this week.

The military said South Korean authorities and U.S. military health professionals tracing his contacts to determine if other people may have been exposed.

South Korean virus cases jump, total now 1,146

Update 8:30 p.m. EST Feb. 25: South Korea has reported 169 more cases of the new coronavirus, mostly in the southeast city of Daegu and nearby areas, bringing its total number of infections to 1,146.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 134 of the new cases were confirmed in Daegu, where the government has been mobilizing public health tools to contain the virus. Another 19 cases came from the neighboring North Gyeongsang Province towns.

Chinese officials have reported a slowing in the number of new cases in recent days but it still has most of the world’s 80,000 cases and 2,700 deaths.

Stock market falls 879 points

Update 4:12 p.m. EST Feb. 25: The stock market plunged for the second consecutive day Tuesday, as concerns about the coronavirus caused investors to dump stocks, according to The New York Times.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 897.44 points Tuesday, its worst two-day stretch of selling in two years, according to The Wall Street Journal. The market closed at 27,081.96 a drop of 3.15%, The S&P 500 fell 3.03%, losing 97.68 points to close at 3,128.21. The Nasdaq Composite lost 2.77%, falling 255,67 points to 8,965.61.

The Dow Jones dropped by as much as 900 points Tuesday afternoon after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the inevitability of the virus spreading to communities in the United States, The Washington Post reported.

CDC: Americans should brace for virus spreading in US

Update 1:41 p.m. EST Feb. 25: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans should brace for the inevitability the coronavirus will spread to communities in the United States, The New York Times reported.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in the United States, Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Tuesday. “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country anymore but a question of when this will happen.”

Messonnier said public health officials have no idea whether the spread of the coronavirus to the United States would be mild or severe. However, she added that Americans should be ready for significant disruption to their daily lives.

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” Messonnier told reporters.

Alex Azar II, the secretary of health and human services told a Senate committee, “This is an unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally,” the Times reported.

National Institutes of Health could start vaccine clinical trials in three months

Update 12:15 p.m. EST Feb. 25: The Health and Human Services Secretary says the National Institutes of Health will have a coronavirus vaccine clinical trial in three months, Fox News reported.

Sec. Alex Azar says the country is preparing for an outbreak, with 30 million respirator masks already stockpiled, but they do need 10 times that for healthcare workers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expecting the virus to spread through communities. Dr. Nancy Messonnier said during a call with the media, it’s “more a question exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness," Congressional Quarterly reported.

Another death linked to Diamond Princess

Update 10:31 a.m. EST Feb. 25: Another passenger who had been on the ship Diamond Princess has died. That brings the number of deaths connected to the quarantined cruise ship to four, CNN reported.

His death brings the death toll in Japan to five.

As for a vaccine, despite China’s claims that one is in development, U.S. Senators were told during a briefing that one is at least 12 to 18 months away, CNN reported.

China claims to have developed vaccine, US lawmakers briefed on outbreak

Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 25: Researchers at China’s Tianjin University say they have created an oral vaccine, NBC News and China’s Global Times have reported.

The lead on the project says he has taken four doses and has not had any side effects. The university now needs to start clinical trials. The vaccine is only in its first steps and still has to be tested through animal and human trials, NBC News reported.

Meanwhile, US Senators were briefed Tuesday morning, CNN reported. The briefing, which was classified, spurred a question, according to Democrat Whip Dick Durbin, “whether or not [countries] will be aggressive in quarantine cases and reduce the spread beyond their borders. We still have to wait to see.”

To help stop the spread, one diocese in Northern Italy has canceled Ash Wednesday mass. Instead the faithful are being told to stay home and pray with the help of a live stream, CNN reported. There will be prayers for the sick included in this year’s service. Churches will still be open for private worship.

Iran Deputy Health Minister tests positive

Update 7:05 a.m. EST Feb. 25: Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has tested positive for the coronavirus, Bloomberg and other media outlets reported.

He is now under quarantine, Reuters reported.

Harirchi’s diagnosis comes after accusations that the government of Iran is lying about how big the outbreak is in the country. A member of parliament in Qom said there have been 50 deaths in the city attributed to the virus. Harirchi said that number was too high, and said that if even half that number of people died in the city because of coronavirus, he would resign, the BBC reported.

977 cases, 10 deaths reported in South Korea

Update 3:53 a.m. EST Feb. 25: Health officials in South Korea announced Tuesday afternoon that 84 more cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country, raising the total number of cases there to 977, CNN is reporting. Ten people have died.

More cases of Coronavirus in China and South Korea reported

Update 9:30 p.m. EST Feb. 24: China and South Korea reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is creating worrisome, increasing clusters in the Middle East and Europe.

China reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan. The updates bring mainland China’s totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

South Korea now has the second-most cases with 60 reported, bringing its total to 893. South Korea has reported a near 15-fold increase in infections with the new coronavirus in a week, as health workers continue to find batches in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas, where panic has brought towns to an eerie standstill.

Dow drops more than 1,000 as outbreak threatens the economy

Update 4:30 p.m. EST Feb. 24: The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 1,000 points as the spread of the new coronavirus threatened wider damage to the global economy.

The drop was the worst for the index in two years and wiped out its gains so far in 2020. Nervous investors scrambled for safety, loading up on gold, U.S. government bonds and other safe-harbor assets.

The price of oil fell sharply on expectations that demand for energy would tumble. The Dow lost 1,031 points, or 3.6%, to 27,960. The S&P 500 fell 111, or 3.4%, to 3,225. The Nasdaq fell 355, or 3.7%, to 9,221.

More than 79,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus. China, where the virus originated, still has the majority of cases and deaths. The rapid spread to other countries is raising anxiety about the threat the outbreak poses to the global economy.

China outbreak under control while infection spreads in other parts of world

Update 3:25 p.m. EST Feb. 24: The World Health Organization is warning that while China may have control over the outbreak, the rest of the world may not be so well prepared.

Officials with the WHO found that cases peaked and plateaued between Jan. 23 and Feb. 2 then started to decline, The New York Times reported.

Locking down the areas of China where the virus was most prevalent helped curb its spread outside of those zones, the Times reported.

Meanwhile, the number of positive cases of coronavirus has climbed to 53, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Washington Post Reported.

Read the latest situation report from the WHO below.

Italy reports 219 coronavirus cases, 5 deaths

Update 7:29 a.m. EST Feb. 24: Italy is reporting at least 219 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, CNN is reporting. The virus has killed five people there, officials said.

Global death toll hits 2,619

Update 3:11 a.m. EST Feb. 24: At least 2,619 people worldwide have died from coronavirus, CNN is reporting. The vast majority of the deaths – 2,582 – occurred in China, while 27 others were reported in other countries, such as Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, the Philippines, France and Taiwan, officials said.

Plan to bring coronavirus patients to Alabama scuttled

Update 4:35 p.m. EST Feb. 23: A plan to quarantine some passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship at a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in Alabama was canceled Sunday.

Passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have symptoms were going to be taken to the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, under a plan announced Saturday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

However, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Gov. Kay Ivey pushed back.

"I just got off the phone with the President,” Shelby wrote Sunday on social media. “He told me that his administration will not be sending any victims of the Coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to Anniston, Alabama.”

Ivey also confirmed the change.

"President Trump called to assure me that this plan will not move forward,” Ivey said on social media. “I thanked him for his support of (Alabama)! We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted.”

Italy locks down more than 50,000 people

Update 2:05 p.m. EST Feb. 23: Italy locked down more than 50,000 people in 10 towns in the country’s northern region of Lombardy, according to The New York Times. Government officials said there are now 152 confirmed cases, several events across Italy were canceled Sunday, including the last two days Venice’s Carnival, The Washington Post reported.

Officials said Sunday, that 88 of the cases reported in Italy are from the Lombardy region, the Times reported. Three people have died, including a 77-year-old woman and a 78-year-old man, and at least 26 are in intensive care, according to officials.

In other news, the Chinese government reported 648 new cases across the country Sunday and 97 deaths, the Post reported. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 76,936; there have been 2,442 deaths.

China’s Xi calls virus ‘a crisis’ and ’big test’

Update 10:05 a.m. EST Feb. 23: China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told Communist Party officials at a meeting Sunday that the coronavirus epidemic was “a crisis and a big test” for the country.

Xi admitted “obvious shortcomings in the response to the epidemic,” but did not give details, according to The New York Times. Xi also said officials should “learn lessons” and improve China’s ability to respond to public health emergencies, the newspaper reported.

He said the outbreak in China presented “the fastest spread, the widest scope of infections and the greatest degree of difficulty in controlling infections” of any public health emergency since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Times reported, citing the official Xinhua News Agency.

132 coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy

Update 7:36 a.m. EST Feb. 23: At least 132 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, officials announced Sunday.

According to CNN, two people there have died, while another 26 are being treated in intensive care.

South Korea reports 46 more coronavirus cases; total there hits 602

Update 3:51 a.m. EST Feb. 23: South Korean health officials said they have confirmed a total 602 coronavirus cases in the country, CNN is reporting.

News of the new total came Sunday after the country’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 46 more cases of the virus, according to CNN.

Five patients in South Korea have died from the illness, the outlet reported.

6th person dead from coronavirus in Iran

Update 5:36 p.m. EST Feb. 22: A sixth person in Iran has died from the deadly coronavirus that originated in China.

The person also had a heart condition, The Associated Press reported.

A fifth fatality in Iran was reported earlier Saturday.

There have been 28 reported cases of coronavirus in Iran. People are being treated in Tehran, Qom, Arak and Rasht.

Officials will use center in Alabama as quarantine facility

Update 2:36 p.m. EST Feb. 22: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that the FEMA Center in Anniston, Alabama will be used to quarantine some passengers from the Diamond Princess.

According to WBRC, passengers who tested positive for the coronavirus but did not have symptoms will be quarantined at the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness. If an evacuee becomes seriously ill, that person will be taken to a predetermined hospital, WBMA reported.

Israel prohibits South Korean tourists from entering country

Update 2:06 p.m. EST Feb. 22: Concern is growing in Israel, where health officials said a woman who was a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for the virus after returning home, The New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, after nine South Korean who visited Israel tested positive for the coronavirus after returning home, the Israeli government began closing the country to South Korean travelers, the newspaper reported.

Passengers flying on a Korean Air flight scheduled to land at Ben Gurion Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday were expected to be barred entry into the country, the Times reported, citing Ynet, an Israeli news organization. Government officials were expected to decide Sunday whether other inbound flights from South Korea would be allowed, the newspaper reported.

Japan waited 72 hours before imposing quarantine on cruise ship

Update 10:56 a.m. EST Feb. 22: More than 72 hours elapsed before Japanese officials imposed a quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, The New York Times reported.

Early on the morning of Feb. 2, before the ship had docked in Yokohama, Hong Kong officials informed the Japanese health ministry about an infected passenger, the newspaper reported. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the company received “formal verification” of the infection from Hong Kong on Feb. 3, the Times reported. The announcement was made to passengers that night, and they were advised around 11 p.m. to remain in their rooms, the Times reported.

On Feb. 5, the captain of the Diamond Princess confirmed there were 10 cases of the coronavirus on the ship, and passengers were told they needed to return to their rooms, where they were quarantined for 14 days, according to the newspaper.

University of Memphis graduate Luke Hefner, a singer who was aboard the Princess Diamond, was one of the 10 people on board confirmed with the virus, WHBQ reported.

After Hefner tested positive for the virus, crews rushed him off the ship and into a Japanese hospital Feb. 18, the television station reported.

WHO experts heading to China; African nations warned

Update 9:25 a.m. EST Feb. 22: A team of experts from the World Health Organization was heading to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, the agency’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told The New York Times.

Tedros confirmed the trip during an address Saturday morning to African officials from Geneva, the newspaper reported.

“We have to take advantage of the window of opportunity we have, to attack the virus outbreak with a sense of urgency,” Tedros told the leaders during an emergency meeting on the response to the coronavirus in the continent.

There has been only one confirmed case of coronavirus in Africa, but officials are concerned because several countries have strained health systems, the Times reported. The WHO has identified 13 priority countries in Africa because of their direct links to China, the newspaper reported.

Italy confirms 2nd coronavirus death

Update 6:45 a.m. EST Feb. 22: A second novel coronavirus patient in Italy has died.

A spokesperson for the country’s department of civil protection, or Protezione Civile, confirmed the death to CNN on Saturday.

According to a health ministry spokesman, the woman who previously tested positive for the virus died in the northern region of Lombardy.

South Korea reports 229 new cases in 24 hours

Update 6:17 a.m. EST Feb. 22: An additional 87 novel coronavirus cases reported Saturday brings South Korea’s 24-hour total to 229 and the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 433.

According to a statement issued by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62 of the 87 new cases are linked with the Shincheonji religious group, and three cases are linked with Cheongdo Daenam hospital, in North Gyeongsang province.

Iran confirms 10 new cases, 5th death

Update 6:15 a.m. EST Feb. 22: The numbers might sound low, but the surge in diagnosed novel coronavirus cases in Iran is boosting concerns among global health officials the outbreak could soon reach pandemic levels.

Iran’s health ministry confirmed 10 new cases of the virus – bringing the country’s total to 28 – and a fifth fatality.

The ripple effect among travelers, however, is sounding alarm bells among infectious disease experts.

According to the New York Times, cases confirmed in both Canada and Lebanon have been traced to travel to and from Iran.

“The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it’s very worrisome,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said Friday at a news conference at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. “These dots are actually very concerning.”

Kianoush Jahanpour, Iran’s health ministry spokesman, said that of the 10 latest reported cases, two were diagnosed in Tehran and eight are in Qom.

According to The Associated Press, two elderly patients died in Qom Wednesday and the two Tehran patients either visited or had links to Qom.

Novel coronavirus cases diagnosed outside mainland China surpass 1,500

Update 3:24 a.m. EST Feb. 22: With health officials monitoring the novel coronavirus’ spread beyond its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the number of confirmed cases diagnosed outside mainland China hit a new milestone early Saturday morning.

The latest figures indicate more than 1,500 cases and 15 deaths attributed to the virus have been recorded in more than 30 countries and territories outside mainland China since December, CNN reported.

The geographic breakdown of confirmed cases and deaths is as follows:

Australia: at least 21 cases

Belgium: at least 1 case

Cambodia: at least 1 case

Canada: at least 9 cases

Egypt: at least 1 case

Finland: at least 1 case

France: at least 12 cases, 1 death

Germany: at least 16 cases

Hong Kong: at least 68 cases, 2 deaths

India: at least 3 cases

Iran: at least 18 cases, 4 deaths

Israel: at least 1 case

Italy: at least 17 cases, 1 death

Japan: at least 738 cases, including 639 linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship; 3 deaths

Lebanon: at least 1 case

Macao: at least 10 cases

Malaysia: at least 22 cases

Nepal: at least 1 case

Philippines: at least 3 cases, 1 death

Russia: at least 2 cases

Singapore: at least 86 cases

South Korea: at least 347 cases, 1 death

Spain: at least 2 cases

Sri Lanka: at least 1 case

Sweden: at least 1 case

Taiwan: at least 26 cases, 1 death

Thailand: at least 35 cases

United Arab Emirates: at least 9 cases

United Kingdom: at least 9 cases

United States: at least 35 cases

Vietnam: at least 16 cases

Mainland China death toll reaches 2,345

Update 3:22 a.m. EST Feb. 22: China’s National Health Commission confirmed early Saturday the death toll from the novel coronavirus has increased by another 109 fatalities to 2,345.

According to CNN, all but three of the latest mainland deaths occurred in the outbreak’s Hubei province epicenter. The latest figures bring the global death toll to 2,360.

Meanwhile, confirmed cases in increased by 397 on Friday, bringing mainland China’s total number of recorded cases to 76,288. Health authorities contend a total of 20,659 patients have recovered from the virus and been discharged from medical facilities.

Australia confirms 6 new cases

Update 3:20 a.m. EST Feb. 22: Six people repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, boosting Australia’s total infection count to 21.

According to the Australian government’s Department of Health, 10 patients have recovered from the illness.

Diamond Princess cruise ship awaits scrub down

Update 3:18 a.m. EST Feb. 22: The Diamond Princess cruise ship will soon undergo a thorough deep cleaning to prepare the vessel to resume sailing on April 29.

Negin Kamali, Princess Cruises’ public relations director, told CNN Travel the company is working in tandem with the Japanese health ministry to hammer out sanitation specifics for the 116,000-ton ship.

The vessel will be “fully sanitized by a cleaning company with an expertise in this area following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization,” Kamali told CNN.

Only 31 passengers remained onboard the ship Saturday morning after 253 who tested negative for the novel coronavirus were allowed to disembark on Friday. The ship’s 924-member crew also remains aboard.

The ship has been moored in Yokohama Bay off the coast of Japan since early February. To date, the virus-stricken ship, which housed 3,600 crew and passengers upon arrival, is linked to at least 639 coronavirus infections, CNN reported.

Japan reports 12 new cases

Update 3:16 a.m. EST Feb. 22: Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed early Saturday the diagnoses of 12 new novel coronavirus cases, including three teenagers.

The latest report brings Japan’s total number of infections to 738, including 99 on land and 639 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Italy confirms first novel coronavirus death

Update 3:14 a.m. EST Feb. 22: Italian officials confirmed Saturday their first citizen has succumbed to the novel coronavirus.

The 78-year-old man died in a Padua hospital in northern Italy.

To date, the country has recorded a total of 17 infections.

Taiwan confirms 2 new cases

Update 3:12 a.m. EST Feb. 22: Taiwan’s novel coronavirus infection count now stands at 26 after two additional cases were confirmed on the island Saturday.

The most recent patients are the daughter and granddaughter of a previously diagnosed patient, and neither had traveled recently.

142 new cases of the virus reported in South Korea

Update 9 p.m. EST Feb. 21: South Korea reported a six-fold jump in viral infections in four days to 346, most of them linked to a church and a hospital in and around the fourth-largest city where schools were closed and worshipers and others told to avoid mass gatherings.

Of the 142 new cases in South Korea, 131 are from Daegu and nearby regions, which have emerged as the latest front in the widening global fight against COVID-19.

China the daily count of new virus cases there fell significantly to 397, with another 109 people dying of the disease, most in the epicenter of Hubei province.

The new figures bring the total number of cases in mainland China to 76,288 with 2,345 deaths, as strict quarantine measures and travel bans continue to contain the disease that emerged in China in December and has since spread world-wide. The daily figure is down from 889.

WHO’s latest situation report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization says that coronavirus has been found in 30 countries around the world.

Read the latest situation report from the WHO below.

Italy’s virus cases quadruples

Update 1:20 p.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in Italy are reporting that the number of people infected by coronavirus has quadrupled.

As of Friday, the country has seen 17 cases, with 14 of them new. They are being considered secondary contagion cases and are clustered in small towns around Lodi, in the Lombardy region, The Associated Press reported.

It was previously reported that a 38-year-old man, who is in critical condition due to coronavirus, passed the illness to his wife and a close friend after he picked it up from a person who had been in China, but not showing any symptoms.

The person who was in China is in isolation and may have antibodies to battle the illness.

Three patients at the hospital where the patient who is in critical condition visited when he was being treated for flu-like symptoms have tested positive. As do five nurses and doctors at the same facility.

Three people who went to the same cafe as the 38-year-old man who is sick also have tested positive.

Because of the cluster, the mayor of Codogno has closed schools, public buildings,s restaurants and coffee shops. And has ordered the 14-day quarantine of anyone who came in contact with the man and the two people first diagnosed, the AP reported.

1 new coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore

Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials with Singapore’s Ministry of Health have verified another case of coronavirus in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in Singapore to 86.

Authorities said the newest case involves a 24-year-old Singaporean man who was under isolation Friday at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. His illness was linked to one reported earlier this week involving a 57-year-old woman who had no history of recent travel to China.

Officials said 47 people who have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Singapore have since recovered and been released from hospitals.

Lebanon, Israel confirm 1st coronavirus cases

Update 10 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Health officials in Lebanon and Israel announced Friday the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the countries.

Lebanon’s health minister, Hamad Hassan, said Friday that a 45-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus after entering the country from Iran, Reuters reported. She was being quarantined Friday at a hospital in Beirut, according to Reuters.

The Jerusalem Post reported an Israeli who returned to the country Thursday after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has tested positive for the virus. The coronavirus case marked the first in Israel, though health officials noted the passenger had contracted virus while in Japan.

Earlier this month, thousands of people were quarantined on the Diamond Princess, docked off the coast of Japan, due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.

South Korea reports 2nd coronavirus death

Update 9 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Officials in South Korea reported the country’s second death due to coronavirus Friday, The Washington Post reported.

Citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post reported a woman in her 50s died after testing positive for the virus Friday at Daenam Hospital. She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Busan, where she died around 6 p.m., according to the newspaper.

The death marked the second related to COVID-19 in South Korea. On Wednesday, a 63-year-old patient died after suffering symptoms of pneumonia in what was suspected to be the country’s first coronavirus death, according to The New York Times.

Iran confirms 18 cases, 4 deaths

Update 7:50 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that 13 new cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed and two additional patients have died.

Friday’s figures bring Iran’s total number of infections to 18 and the death toll from the virus to four, CNN reported.

“According to the latest laboratory reports 13 more contractions of coronavirus have been confirmed, including 7 in Qom, 4 in Tehran, and two in Gilan. Unfortunately, out of these cases two have lost their lives," health ministry spokesman Kianoosh Jahanpour tweeted Friday

3 novel coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy

Update 7:32 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Italy confirmed its first novel coronavirus cases Friday, noting three people in a city near Milan have tested positive for the illness.

According to The Washington Post, the first patient to contract the virus was a 38-year-old man in the northern region of Lombardy, who fell ill after dining with a friend who had recently returned from China. The man then passed the illness on to his wife and a close friend.

All three patients have been hospitalized, the Post reported.

Confirmed novel coronavirus cases, fatalities continue to increase globally

Update 6:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Globally, more than 76,900 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, according to the latest figures released Friday morning by health officials in China.

Although the majority of cases – around 75,600 – remain clustered in mainland China, more than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in 29 countries, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, 118 additional deaths were confirmed in mainland China Friday, with the global death toll reaching 2,247, the network reported.

Vaccine nearing clinical trials in China

Update 6:44 a.m. EST Feb. 21: Xu Nanping, China’s vice minister of Science and Technology, told reporters Friday that Chinese researchers expect to submit the first COVID-19 vaccine for clinical trials around late April.

The status update comes roughly one month after Chinese officials established a coronavirus scientific research group, consisting of 14 experts led by renowned pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, The Washington Post reported.

“One month is a very short time for scientific research, but a very long time for patients struggling with the disease. The scientific and technological community nationwide will put the safety of people’s lives and health first and spare no effort to continue to produce tangible and effective scientific research results,” Xu told reporters during the briefing.

Protesters attack Wuhan evacuee bus in Ukraine; 9 police officers, 1 civilian injured

Update 6:42 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs said nine police officers and one civilian were injured Thursday when protesters attacked a bus carrying evacuees from Wuhan, China.

According to CNN, protesters had blocked roads in Noviy Sanzhari, the town where the evacuees are to be monitored for two weeks at a medical facility belonging to the Ukrainian National Guard.

“Those people who today threw stones at the evacuees of Ukrainians and law enforcement officers ... We will make a decision on their punishment,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, confirming one officer was seriously injured in the incident instigated by “aggressive citizens,” the network reported.

South Korean coronavirus infections nearly double in 24 hours to 204

Update 3:46 a.m. EST Feb. 21: The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in South Korea increased to 204 on Friday, nearly doubling in 24 hours and almost quadrupling in three days, the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in a statement issued early Friday.

Health officials believe the majority of the new cases are connected to a church in Daegu, a city of about two and half million people in the southeastern region of the country. Specifically, 42 of the newest cases reported Friday have been traced to the church called Shincheonji.

The country also reported on Thursday what officials believe could be South Korea’s first fatality from the virus. The 63-year-old woman exhibiting symptoms of pneumonia died Wednesday at the Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo, The New York Times reported.

Prison outbreaks boost novel coronavirus cases in mainland China

Update 3:43 a.m. EST Feb. 21: More than 500 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in prisons across China, including 271 cases – 51 of which had been counted in previous tallies – in Hubei province, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, officials announced in a joint news conference on Friday that of the 2,077 prisoners and staff at Rencheng prison in China’s eastern Shandong province tested for the virus, 200 prisoners and seven staff members tested positive.

Zhejiang province announced 34 prison cases on Friday, bringing the correctional total to 512, CNN reported.

Canada records its 9th confirmed novel coronavirus case, 6th in British Columbia

Update 3:41 a.m. EST Feb. 21: British Columbia’s Ministry of Health confirmed Friday a woman in her 30s has become the province’s sixth diagnosed case of novel coronavirus and the ninth for Canada.

According to the statement, the woman had recently returned from Iran and is being isolated at home while public health officials identify and contact those people with whom she had contact upon returning

Meanwhile, 47 of the 256 Canadian passengers aboard the beleaguered Diamond Princess cruise ship – moored off the coast of Japan – have tested positive for the virus. All 256 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine in Ontario once their evacuations are complete, CNN reported.

11 of 13 people evacuated to Omaha test positive for COVID-19

Update 11 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Federal experts confirmed that 11 of 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, Nebraska officials announced Thursday night.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had verified test results completed Monday by the Nebraska Public Health Lab.

Ten of those people are being cared for at the National Quarantine Unit while three are in the nearby Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. The medical center said only a few of the patients were showing symptoms of the disease.

All 13 people were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated to the U.S. on Feb. 17.

China reports fall in new virus cases, 118 deaths

Update 10 p.m. EST Feb. 20: China reported a further fall in new virus cases to 889 as health officials expressed optimism over containment of the outbreak that has caused more than 2,200 deaths and is spreading elsewhere.

New infections in China have been falling for days, although changes in how it counts cases have caused doubts about the true trajectory of the epidemic.

China’s figures for the previous 24 hours brought the total number of cases to 75,465. The 118 newly reported deaths raised the total to 2,236. More than 1,000 cases and 11 deaths have been confirmed outside the mainland.

4 Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 sent to hospital in Spokane, Washington

Update 7:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said Thursday.

The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said.

Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday in satisfactory condition with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases.

“The risk to the community from this particular process is zero,” said Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing Thursday at the hospital.

WHO: ‘This is no time for complacency’

Update 2:25 p.m. EST Feb. 20: World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday that recent declines in the number of new coronavirus cases being reported in China were encouraging, but he warned, “this is no time for complacency.”

As pf 6 a.m. Geneva time Thursday, 74,675 people in China and 1,076 people in order parts of the world had been sickened by coronavirus, according to WHO. Officials said 2,121 people in China and seven people outside of the country have died thus far of the viral infection.

"This is the time to attack the virus while it is manageable,” Tedros said, according to The Washington Post. “You will get sick of me saying that the window of opportunity remains open for us to contain this COVID-19 outbreak.”

CDC warns travels to take precautions for travel to Japan, Hong Kong

Update 12:20 p.m. EST Feb. 20: The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new coronavirus-related travel advisories Thursday for Americans visiting Japan or Hong Kong.

The advisories warned travelers to avoid contact with sick people, avoid touching their eyes, noses or mouths with their unwashed hands and recommended using soap and water often to wash hands for at least 20 seconds.

Officials said Thursday that it remained unnecessary to postpone or cancel trips to Japan or Hong Kong due to the virus. However, the CDC advisories noted “multiple instances of community spread" in both locales, meaning people “have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.”

Officials with the CDC previously issued an advisory warning travelers to avoid non-essential travel to China.

According to Japanese health officials, authorities have seen 73 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. One person in Japan has died of the viral infection.

Health official in Hong Kong have confirmed 65 cases of coronavirus.

Japan reports 12 new coronavirus cases, Singapore confirms 1 more

Update 11 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Officials in Japan have reported a dozen new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, CNN reported, citing the Japanese health ministry.

The new cases include two government officials who worked on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, according to CNN. Thousands of people were quarantined on the ship for two weeks as it was docked off the coast of Japan due to coronavirus fears. Hundreds of people on the ship ended up testing positive for the viral infection.

Officials with the Singapore Ministry of Health said Thursday that a new case of coronavirus had been confirmed in the country. The case, involving a 36-year-old Chinese national who was in Singapore on a work pass, is the 85th reported in Singapore.

Global death toll hits 2,126

Update 7:40 a.m. EST Feb. 20: More than 2,120 people have died globally and thousands of others have fallen ill due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, according to multiple reports.

At least 2,126 people globally have died from coronavirus, CNN reported Thursday. A majority of the deaths have been reported in China, where health officials announced 114 more deaths and 394 more confirmed cases of the illness.

Overall, 75,730 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, including 74,576 in China, according to CNN.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.