‘There’s no reason to panic at all’: Trump discusses coronavirus threat; first US death reported

(AP/Gray News) - The U.S. is banning travel to Iran in response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus. And it’s elevating travel warnings to regions of Italy and South Korea.

A student in Washington is one of three patients with coronavirus infected by an unknown means. (Source: CNN)

President Donald Trump said 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus and more cases in the United States are “likely.”

Trump provided an update on the virus after the first reported U.S. death Saturday.

He described the victim as a woman who was a “medically high-risk patient in her late 50s.”

Trump added that he’s considering travel restrictions at the border with Mexico.

On the administration’s efforts to address the outbreak, the president said, “We’ve taken the most aggressive actions to confront the coronavirus."

Trump stressed that the overall risk for most Americans remains low.

“Healthy people, if you are healthy, you’ll probably go through a process and you’ll be fine,” he said. “There’s no reason to panic at all.”

Person in Washington state first in US to die from new virus

Officials in Washington state say a person has died of COVID-19, the first such death in the United States.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family and is a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

It can cause fever, coughing, wheezing and pneumonia.

Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

Washington governor declares state of emergency over virus

The governor of Washington state declared a state of emergency Saturday after a man died there of COVID-19, marking the first such reported death in the United States.

Gov. Jay Inslee directed state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.

The declaration also allows the use of the Washington National Guard, if necessary.

Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington state worried about the novel coronavirus spreading through West Coast communities after confirming at least three patients were infected by unknown means.

The patients had not visited an area where there was an outbreak, nor apparently been in contact with anyone who had.

Japan’s leader announces $2.5B package to help fight virus

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced a $2.5 billion emergency economic package to help fight the coronavirus as he seeks the public’s support for his government’s fight against the outbreak.

Abe said at a news conference Saturday that Japan is at a critical juncture to determine whether the country can keep the outbreak under control ahead of the Tokyo summer Olympics.

Abe, whose announcement this past week of a plan to close all schools for more than a month through the end of the Japanese academic year sparked public criticism, said the emergency package includes financial support for parents and their employers affected by the school closures.

France bans gatherings, frowns on kissing, to fight virus

France is banning all large indoor public gatherings and recommending that people refrain from giving kisses as greetings to slow the spread of coronavirus cases.

The measures were announced by Health Minister Olivier Veran after special government meetings on Saturday.

Veran said gatherings in confined spaces of more than 5,000 people will be cancelled.

Public gatherings are being banned completely in the Oise region north of Paris that has seen a cluster of cases and in a town in the Alps that has also seen infections.

As of Saturday, France had registered a total of 73 cases, up from 57 on Friday.

Among all the people infected, 59 remain hospitalized and two have died.

Italy hoteliers: US travel advisory ‘final blow’ to tourism

An Italian hotel federation says a U.S. government advisory urging Americans to reconsider travel to Italy due to the spread of a coronavirus is the “final blow” to the nation’s tourism industry.

More than 5.6 million Americans come to Italy every year, representing about 9% of all foreign tourists.

Hotel associations in Rome have said that cancellations for March have reached 90%.

Venice, which was nearing full recovery in the Carnival season following a tourist lull after record flooding in November, saw bookings drop immediately after regional officials canceled the final two days of celebrations this week, unprecedented in modern times.

North Korean leader calls for stronger anti-virus efforts

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for stronger anti-virus efforts to guard against COVID-19, saying there will be “serious consequences” if the illness spreads to the country.

The North has yet to report its first infection from the new coronavirus, but it has been pushing a tough campaign it has described as a matter of “national existence.”

The country has shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned tourists, intensified screening at entry points and mobilized tens of thousands of health workers to monitor residents and isolate those with symptoms.

In a separate report, state media said Kim supervised a military drill that simulated an attack on an island target.

Iran says 'tens of thousands' may get tested for coronavirus

An Iranian Health Ministry spokesman says the Islamic Republic is preparing for the possibility of “tens of thousands” of people coming to get tested for the new coronavirus.

That underscores the concern over the outbreak there.

The spokesman made the comment Saturday at a news conference where he said the illness the virus causes has killed 43 people amid 593 confirmed cases in the Islamic Republic.

He denied reports by the BBC’s Farsi service putting the death toll over four times as high, saying foreign media outlets had “political” biases and no access to Iran’s laboratories.

Iran has the highest death toll in the world outside of China, the epicenter of the virus.

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