As the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19 — the respiratory disease caused by the virus — spread, the daily barrage of information about the emerging global pandemic dominates the news.
The emergence of the virus has brought reports — which can be both confusing and contradictory — about how the epidemic affects communities beyond the spread of the virus itself. For example, theme parks are closed, soccer games are being played in empty stadiums, cruise ships are docked with thousands of passengers stranded on board, and a nursing home in Washington state became the epicenter of the virus in the United States.
Here is a daily update of the latest news regarding the virus.
3,600 Deaths Have Been Reported As Of March 9
According to MarketWatch, 3,892 people have died from the virus globally, and 111,356 people have been sickened. Approximately 62,000 people are believed to have contracted the virus and recovered.
The disease has wreaked the most havoc on China, where it originated. As the World Health Organization notes, the lion’s share of worldwide coronavirus cases — over 80,000 of them — were reported in China. Similarly, China has seen 3,100 of the known coronavirus deaths.
Outside of China, the hardest hit country is Italy, with 7,375 cases and 366 deaths. The Italian Prime Minister has quarantined 16 million people in the northern part of the country. In particular, he quarantined the Lombardy region, which includes Milan as well as 14 additional provinces, such as Venice and Modena, according to the BBC. Some Italians have panicked and fled the quarantine zone, increasing the likelihood of person-to-person virus contraction.
In recent days, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Maldives, Malta, Martinique, and the Republic of Moldova have all reported new cases of COVID-19 within their borders.
564 Cases In The U.S. Have Been Confirmed With More Suspected
A Washington nursing home was the epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S. The Life Care Center in Kirkland reported its first case of COVID-19 on February 19. Since that time, 26 residents have died, with about half of those deaths being attributed to COVID-19, according to ABC News.
However, the virus is not limited to Washington and has been spreading to multiple states. Missouri confirmed its first case — that of a 20-year-old woman who had been in Italy — this weekend. There are 142 suspected COVID-19 cases in New York; California and Florida are also dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of the disease.
The governors of Washington, New York, and California have all declared states of emergency. According to the L.A. Times, a state of emergency in California means that, among other things, state officials will be able to “more easily procure equipment and services, share information on patients and alleviate restrictions on the use of state-owned properties and facilities.”
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that if a school student shows signs of COVID-19, his or her school will be closed for 24 hours to assess the situation, if not longer. Schools in New Rochelle, the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, are already shut down, according to ABC 7 New York.
Across the U.S., 22 people have died of COVID-19.
The Federal Government Warns Against Traveling On Cruise Ships
It almost goes without saying that a cruise ship is a breeding ground for disease, what with hundreds (if not thousands) of people stuck in tight quarters, with no easy means of escape when the vessel is at sea. In at least once case — that of the Diamond Princess cruise ship — passengers have been stranded and left under quarantine after one or more passengers showed signs of being infected with the coronavirus.
“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department wrote in a clear statement.
For its part, the cruise industry is reeling from the virus and is trying valiantly to accommodate passengers who want to cancel, while at the same time discouraging would-be passengers from putting off their travel.
Disney Cruise Line, for example, noted that passengers and crew on all of its vessels will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently, and that extra care is being taken to sanitize areas that passengers might touch with their hands, such as elevator buttons. Meanwhile, the cruise line is screening passengers for fever and is not allowing passengers on their ships who have been to certain parts of the world. Those who wish to cancel will find that the cruise line’s cancellation policies have been made a bit more flexible for the time being.
Similarly, Carnival Cruise Line touted its screening procedures and its commitment to onboard sanitizing procedures in a statement on its website. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have instituted similar procedures and announced them on their respective websites as well.
Shanghai Disneyland Has Partially Reopened And There Are No Plans To Close Walt Disney World Or Disneyland
Theme parks, like cruise ships, bring thousands of people into a single area who all touch the same things, use the same toilets, and eat food prepared in the same kitchens. As such, they can be areas where the risk of spreading a contagious pathogen, such as coronavirus, is high.
To that end, at one point all three Disney parks in Asia — Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo Disney Sea — were all closed.
As The Sun reports, Shanghai Disneyland has partially reopened, even as Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland remain closed.
Outside of Asia, Disney theme parks remain open, with no plans to close, including Disneyland Paris, even though a cast member there tested positive for COVID-19.
In the U.S. there are currently no plans to close either Disneyland in Anaheim, California, or Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. A statement on the Disney Parks website notes that, like the Disney Cruise Line, Disney parks are training employees on preventing the spread of the virus and are sanitizing objects that guests will touch with their hands, among other preventative measures.