U.S. cruise-line operators will work with the Trump administration to deal with the new coronavirus as and federal health officials sought to explain difficulties making a diagnostic tool to stem the disease.
Italy will limit movement in the region near Milan to fight the spreading virus as deaths reached 233, the most after China. New fatalities at a Seattle nursing home pushed the U.S. total to 19.
Argentina reported its first cases. U.S. pro sports leagues discussed plans to limit locker room access.
- Cases surpass 105,000 worldwide; deaths exceed 3,500
- Pence urges some senior citizens to avoid cruises
- U.S. tests fewer than 6,000 samples
- Hungary scraps main national holiday event
- Saudi Arabia closes schools in Qatif province
- Italy reports 233 virus deaths, 5,883 infections
- Egypt confirmed another 33 cases from Nile cruise
- Kuwait suspends parliament for two weeks
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Argentina Reports First Virus Death (7 a.m. HK)
A man in his 60s became the first fatality from coronavirus in Argentina and in Latin America, La Nacion reported.
The man had traveled to France before returning to Argentina, the newspaper said, adding that he died Saturday morning at the Cosme Argerich Hospital. His diagnosis was confirmed by health authorities, the newspaper said.
Pence Offers Cruise Advice for Seniors (5:20 p.m. NY)
Elderly individuals with serious underlying health issues should avoid certain activities such as taking a cruise, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said after meeting with the cruise-line industry as the coronavirus outbreak raises concerns for ship operators.
“If you have a family member or are yourself, a senior citizen with a serious underlying health condition, this would be a good time to practice common sense and to avoid activities, including traveling on a cruise line, that might unnecessarily expose one to the coronavirus,” Pence said in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Pence said the industry agreed to work on plans to quarantine passengers on land, rather than aboard ships that can turn into transmission vehicles for the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard have been directed to work with cruise industry over next 72 hours on a plan, Pence said.
U.S. Tests 6,000 Virus Samples (4 p.m. NY)
The U.S. has tested fewer than 6,000 samples of suspected coronavirus cases, the top drug regulator acknowledged, as health officials struggled to explain the government’s difficulty creating a diagnostic tool to contain the disease.
Food and Drug Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the government doesn’t know how many people have been tested. The number is less than the 5,861 specimens checked, because each patient needs from two and 20 tests to confirm a diagnosis, he told reporters at the White House on Saturday.
The U.S. response is set to ramp up substantially, Hahn and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, as deaths nationwide reached 19. About 1.1 million tests have been shipped in the past week and another 1 million are being prepared, Hahn said, allowing for more than 851,000 patients to be screened for the virus.
A U.S.-developed test was plagued for weeks, and has put health workers on the back foot in efforts at containing known clusters of infections. Hahn said 48 states now have labs able to test for the new coronavirus, including New York and California, which he said have “everything they’ve asked for in terms of diagnostics.”
4 Seattle Home Residents Die (3:45 p.m. NY)
Washington state confirmed the number of coronavirus cases jumped to 102 on Saturday, and deaths reached 16. King County, home to Seattle and its suburbs, added 13 cases and four more deaths to its tally.
Public health officials in King County, which includes Seattle, said the new fatalities included a man in his 70s and three women, two in their 80s and one in her 70s. All lived at the Life Care nursing home, which has the most deaths in the nation. Seattle accounts for 15 of the 19 U.S. deaths.
Lockdown Planned for Milan, North (3 p.m. NY)
Italy is set to ban entry and exit in the Milan region and several other northern areas to fight Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, according to adraft decree seen by Bloomberg.
The measures, in force until April 3, include shutting schools and suspending skiing and public events, and closing museums, swimming pools and theaters, according to the draft. Bars and restaurants will need to maintain a distance of at least a meter between people or must close. Work meetings have to be suspended.
More measures will apply across Italy, with nightclubs closed as well as pubs and betting halls, and bans on parties and public events. Newspaper Corriere della Sera reported earlier on the draft, which could be approved by the government late Saturday or on Sunday.
U.S. Sports Leagues Mull Steps (2:20 p.m. NY)
Major U.S. pro sports leagues are considering a ban on media and other non-necessary personnel from team locker rooms, according topeople familiar with the matter.
The leagues are discussing adopting the proposal as a unified front, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations aren’t public.
The move stops short of some of the more extreme measures that some leagues worldwide have imposed, such as canceling games or holding competitions with no spectators.
Most big U.S. sporting events are still going ahead as planned. The NCAA reaffirmed Friday that games shouldn’t be canceled, and Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia said this week the Masters tournament will be played next month.
France Virus Infections Near 1,000 (1:45 p.m. NY)
France’s coronavirus cases jumped by 233, bringing the total to 949, Jerome Salomon, director general of health said Saturday during a Paris news conference. The number of deaths linked to the virus rose to 16 from 11, he said.
Saudis Close Schools in Eastern Region: SPA (1:40 p.m. NY)
Saudi Arabia will shut all schools and higher education institutions in Qatif province in the eastern region for two weeks to avoid the spread of Covid-19, state-run SPA reports. Saudi education authorities will activate a remote education initiative, the news agency said.
Italian Cases Top Iran, Deaths Climb (1 p.m. NY)
Italy’s total fatalities from the new coronavirus climbed to 233, with total cases increasing to 5,883, the third-highest in the world after China and South Korea.
Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli on Saturday said the biggest one-day jump in infections included more than 300 cases from a Lombardy region laboratory in the town of Brescia that had not been counted previously.
Deaths in Italy rank second in the world, behind more than 3,000 in China, where the virus emerged more than two months ago.
N.Y. Cases Rise to 76: Cuomo (12:20 p.m. NY)
New York state reported a 38% jump in new coronavirus infections on Saturday, to 76, with most cases concentrated in the Westchester County suburbs north of New York City. The governor declared an emergency in the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said 57 infections are reported in Westchester. New York City has 11 total cases, he said. All the cases are in or near New York City, except for two infections in Saratoga County, near the capital in Albany. Cuomo reported 21 new cases.
Cuomo also criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calling the federal agency a “bottleneck” slowing down state efforts to find infected individuals.
In answer to a question, the governor advised elderly residents to avoid attending gatherings with large numbers of people.
Hungary’s National Day Rally Canceled (11:10 a.m. NY)
Hungary’s government canceled a rally planned for the March 15 national holiday in central Budapest. Prime Minister Viktor Orban usually speaks to the crowd at the event in front of thousands.
The number of confirmed coronavirus patients in Hungary has increased to five since the first infections were announced on Wednesday.
— With assistance by Steve Geimann
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