Coronavirus live updates: Los Angeles County becomes second to declare state of emergency

(NEW YORK) — Countries around the world are scrambling to stymie the spread of a deadly viral outbreak that began in China about two months ago and has now infected more than 90,000 people globally.

Here’s the latest on the developing situation. All times are Eastern:

12:10 p.m. Six new cases have been confirmed in LA County, state of emergency declared

Officials in Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency as six new cases of coronavirus were confirmed there in the last 24 hours.

Kathryn Barger, a supervisor on the county’s board, said in a press conference the declaration “is not a response routed in panic.”

Instead, it will allow local officials to better coordinate with state and federal partners to “enhance our preparedness,” she said.

Los Angeles County becomes the second county in the U.S. to declare a state of emergency. King County in Washington, which has reported eight deaths, declared a state of emergency on Monday.

11:51 a.m. Hospitals should be more proactive in testing, says member of president’s coronavirus task force

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the president’s coronavirus task force, said he feels “very strongly” that hospitals should be testing patients more proactively for coronavirus.

While testifying in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the NIH budget, Fauci said the reason hospitals haven’t done so yet is because there aren’t enough resources to test the virus in every emergency room and health center. However, he noted, the CDC is expanding testing beyond the six sentinel cities it started with.

Fauci also made a point to note that the WHO fatality rate — 3.4% — is incomplete because the denominator of asymptomatic cases is currently unknown.

“If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities in China and you just do the math, the math is about 2%. If you look at certain age groups, certain risk groups, the fatality is much higher, but as a group it’s going to depend completely on what the factor of asymptomatic cases are,” he said.

11:32 a.m. Italy has begun screening US-bound passengers at airports

At airports in Rome and Milan, passengers will have their temperatures taken before departing for the United States amid the coronavirus outbreak, sources told ABC News on Wednesday. The screenings began Tuesday at Rome-Fiumicino and Milan-Malpensa airport, the sources said.

If someone does have a fever, they will be taken aside and not allowed to travel before further tests are carried out. The tests are being administered by the Ministry of Health and the Italian Red Cross. They are similar to ones that have now begun in South Korea.

11:02 a.m. South Korea to start screening US-bound travelers

As part of efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak, all travelers flying from South Korea to the United States will now have their temperatures checked at their assigned gate at the airport prior to boarding their flight, the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced Wednesday.

Travelers who have a body temperature higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) will not be allowed to board their flight. Tickets will be refundable, the ministry said.

10:37 a.m. Case count in New York rises to six

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New York state climbed to six on Wednesday.

The four new cases confirmed Wednesday are tied to a 50-year-old patient from New Rochelle in New York’s Westchester County. The man’s wife, their two children and a neighbor who drove him to the hospital have all tested positive for the novel coronavirus, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference.

The man’s son is a 20-year-old student at Yeshiva University in New York City. His daughter is a 14-year-old student at Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy and High School, known as SAR, in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. Both schools announced closures Wednesday upon receiving word of their infections, according to Cuomo.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the son had not been on Yeshiva University’s campus since Feb. 27. Both the son and daughter, as well as their mother, remain at home in isolation.

“Yeshiva University is working closely with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to take every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of students and the community,” de Blasio said in a statement Wednesday. “City disease detectives are on campus to identify close contacts of the student and connect those individuals to testing immediately. As of this morning, two contacts have transferred to Bellevue Hospital for testing. We will continue working closely with our state partners to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Meanwhile, students from both the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) will be recalled from study abroad programs in China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea, according to Cuomo. They will be flown back to the United States on a chartered plane, which will land at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York. The students will then be quarantined for 14 days in dormitories.

9:50 a.m. Son of New York patient tests positive

A college student in New York has tested positive for the novel coronavirus after his father became infected, officials said.

Yeshiva University in New York City confirmed in a press release Wednesday that the student had tested positive for the newly discovered virus, known officially as COVID-19.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as well as to all those affected,” the school said in a statement.

As a precautionary measure, the school canceled all Wednesday classes on its Wilf Campus in the Washington Heights neighborhood. All classes and operations at the school’s other campuses will continue as normal.

“This precautionary step will allow us to work with city agencies and other professionals to best prepare our campus,” the school said, “and ensure the uncompromised safety of our students, faculty and staff.”

8:19 a.m. New Hampshire’s 1st patient told to stay isolated but went to event instead, officials say

The first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in New Hampshire is a hospital employee who went to an event, despite being told to stay isolated, officials said.

Through the course of an investigation, officials at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services learned that the patient had attended an invitation-only private event last Friday after being told to self-isolate. The department has issued an official order of isolation to the patient and is contacting attendees who had close contact with the individual during the event to notify them to follow the recommended 14-day self-isolation, according to a press release on Tuesday.

Now, there’s a second presumptive positive case involving a person who was in close contact with the state’s first patient. The second individual is a man from Grafton County who is currently isolated at home, and state officials have begun tracing his contacts. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is awaiting confirmation of two presumptive positive test results by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We expect additional cases may be identified that are related to this investigation,” officials said in the press release.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, confirmed that the state’s first patient is an employee.

7:48 a.m. 1st confirmed case at EU office

The first case of the novel coronavirus has been confirmed at a European Union office in Brussels, a spokesperson told ABC News.

The case is a male employee who works at the European Defense Agency and had recently traveled to Italy, where 2,236 people have been infected with the newly identified virus. The man tested positive Tuesday, according to EU press officer Claire Joawn.

6:50 a.m. Outbreak in South Korea shows little signs of slowing down

The South Korean city of Daegu reported another spike in new cases of the novel coronavirus overnight as the outbreak shows little signs of slowing down there.

South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded an additional 516 confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total to 5,328. Over 400 of the newly confirmed cases were in Daegu, where a secretive religious sect has been linked to a majority of the country’s infections.

South Korea has the second-highest national total of confirmed cases, behind China.

5:45 a.m. COVID-19 is deadlier than the flu, WHO says

The disease caused by the novel coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19, is more than three times as deadly than the season flu, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

“Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference in Geneva Tuesday. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”

Although the newly identified virus does not spread as easily as the flu, it causes more severe illness and there are currently no vaccines or therapeutics.

“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity,” Tedros said. “That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease.”

3:30 a.m. New presumptive positive case reported in Northern California

Public health officials in Northern California’s Placer County have reported a second case of the novel coronavirus after a hospitalized patient tested “presumptively positive,” pending confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a press release issued late Tuesday night, Placer County Public Health said the patient is an older adult whose exposure to the newly identified virus, known officially as COVID-19, likely occurred during their time on a Princess Cruises ship that traveled from San Francisco to Mexico last month. It’s the same cruise associated with a confirmed case announced previously in Sonoma County.

“As the case appears connected to travel, it most likely does not represent an instance of local community spread,” Placer County Public Health said in the press release.

The Placer County patient is critically ill and in isolation at a local hospital. Close contacts of the individual are being quarantined and monitored.

The county has declared a local health emergency as well as a local emergency.

“We expect to see additional cases in coming days, including cases of community spread, not linked to travel,” said Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “We are declaring these emergencies today so we will be able to activate and deploy resources to adequately respond to an increase in cases.”

As of Tuesday, the CDC counted 108 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the United States. That number includes 60 Americans whose cases were confirmed by the local U.S. health systems, 45 who were repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Japan and three who were repatriated from Wuhan, China, where the virus emerged back in December.

So far, nine people sickened with the virus in the United States have died.

More than 80,000 people have been infected with the virus in China, mostly in central Hubei province, which includes Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, and nearly 3,000 of them have died. Meanwhile, over 10,000 have tested positive for the virus in 72 other nations and 166 have died, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization, which has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

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