President Trump Refuses To Answer Questions About Testing Kit Shortage As US Case Total Passes 200: Live Updates


  • 207 cases reported across the US
  • Santa Clara County total hits 20 as 6 new cases confirmed
  • San Francisco mayor reports first 2 cases in the city
  • SF closes a school after a student tests positive
  • First French lawmaker contracts the virus
  • New Jersey Lt. Gov confirms 2nd "presumptive" case
  • 2 more cases confirmed in Texas's Harris County
  • NYC asks travelers from 5 countries to 'self-quarantine'
  • Trump refuses to answer questions about testing kit shortage
  • NY state cases double to 22
  • Washington state reports another 20 cases
  • Palestinian territories confirm 7 cases
  • Seattle closes 26 schools
  • Pentagon tracking 12 possible COVID-19 cases
  • 35 passengers aboard 'Grand Princess' showing flu-like symptoms
  • Another senior Iranian figure dies
  • Illinois reports 5 more cases
  • NYC reports 2 more cases, raising total to 4
  • Italy postpones referendum vote; death toll hits 148
  • WHO's Tedros: "Now's the time to pull out the stops"
  • Tennessee confirms case
  • Nevada confirms first case
  • New Delhi closes primary schools
  • EU officials weigh pushing retired health-care workers back into service to combat virus
  • Italy to ask EU for permission to raise budget deficit as lawmakers approve €7.5 billion euros
  • Beijing tells residents not to share food
  • 30-year-old Chinese man dies in Wuhan 5 days after hospital discharge
  • Cali authorities tell 'Grand Princess' cruise ship not to return to port until everyone is tested
  • Global case total passes 95k
  • Lebanon sees cases double to 31
  • France deaths climb to 7, cases up 138 to 423
  • EY sends 1,500 Madrid employees home after staffer catches virus
  • Trump says he has a "hunch" true virus mortality rate is closer to 1%
  • Switzerland reports 1st death
  • South Africa confirms 1st case
  • UK chief medical officer confirms 'human-to-human' infections are happening in UK
  • UK case total hits 115
  • Google, Apple, Netflix cancel events
  • HSBC sends research department and part of London trading floor home
  • Facebook contract infected in Seattle
  • Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix cancel events and/or ask employees to work from home
  • Netherlands cases double to 82
  • Spain cases climb 40, 1 new death
  • Belgium reports 27 new cases bringing total to 50
  • Germany adds 87 cases bringing total to 349

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Update (1930ET): We neglected to mention this earlier, but in light of all the companies in the US sending employees home or asking them to WFH (an acronym that's starting cropping up with startling regularity), it's worth mentioning that Starbucks said earlier that it expects a revenue hit of up to $430 million due to the coronavirus's impact on its China business. At the same time, the company revealed Thursday during its after-hours earnings report that 90% of its 4,300 stores have reopened and have returned to business as usual, more or less.

Meanwhile, in what seems like a deliberate decision to slow the increase of the case count, the CDC reported earlier that the "confirmed" cases in the US had topped 149 - 100 cases across 19 states, plus another 49 who had been repatriated from either the Diamond Princess or Wuhan.

That's up from 129 on Wednesday.

Of course, given all the "presumptive" positives reported on Thursday, we suspect that number has already likely increased by at least 50. BNO News, which has been tracking cases across the world, put the US case total at 207 as of 7:30 pm ET.

In the latest sign of the media's frustration with President Trump's handling of the outbreak, ABC News and others have "fact checked" Trump's claim, made during a Wednesday evening press conference, that the slow rollout of new test cases is "Obama's fault."

In reality, the CDC's initial batch of test kits didn't work as designed, as the agency admitted, which left the administration flat-footed when the case numbers started climbing.

The truth is that neither the Obama administration nor the Trump administration really prioritized pandemic response. That, combined with the CDC's epic screwup, is the root of the current problem.

Still, the fact remains that more than 99% of people calling about getting tested are probably hypocondriacs or are unnecessarily paranoid given the news coverage and general hysteria that sent the Dow on another nearly four-figure drop on Thursday.

* * *

Update (1830ET): Following the disclosure of its first two cases, San Francisco has closed Lowell High School - a school that's located on the border of Parkside on the east side of town -  after a student there reportedly tested positive for Covid-19. Earlier, Mayor Breed said there were two cases in the city, and that both were "contained". Some 3,000 students attend the school/

However, it looks like this student - if these reports are accurate - might be SF's third case (or they  may have been counted in the roll of another nearby county depending on where they live). Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said the first patient was a man in his 90s with underlying health conditions. The patient's condition was described as serious. The second patient is a woman in her 40s and is in the hospital in fair condition. The patients aren't related, and neither traveled recently, meaning they likely picked up the virus in the city, or nearby. They're being kept at separate hospitals.

"We do not know how they were exposed," Colfax said during the press conference (video below). "This suggests that this is spreading in the community."

Breed asked that city residents now treat anybody poorly because of the outbreak, citing harmful examples of "xenophobia" (somehow, we suspect this might not be an issue in SF, unless things get really bad).

Here's a list of closures across the area, courtesy of KTVU.

Elsewhere in the US, Florida's Santa Rosa County has reported its first case of the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health.

As the number of cases soars in France (more than 400 cases reported), the French press reported that a lawmaker named Jean-Luc Reitzer has tested positive and is seriously ill, making him the first French lawmaker to be infected with the virus. Earlier, we reported that 23 Iranian parliamentarians had contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, a NorCal nurse who contracted the virus at work has some pretty harsh words for the CDC and the Trump Administration and the shortage of tests, as President Trump's flippant treatment of the issue seems to have inflamed public sentiment.

This week has been characterized by the explosion in cases and deaths outside China. As a reminder, here's what the trajectory of new cases is looking like ex-China.

* * *

Update (1720ET): Santa Clara County has confirmed another six cases, bringing the countywide total to 20. Seven of those cases are of "unknown origin," and it appears county health officials have no more insights on how those patients were infected.

The county is recommending that organizers postpone any large gatherings...

* * *

Update (1645ET): Two more cases have been confirmed by the CDC in Texas's Harris County, as a man and woman from the unincorporated area immediately northwest of the county have been confirmed to carry the virus, according to WFAA.

Two people in northwest Harris County have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Harris County Public Health.

The tests have been verified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These cases are travel-related and, at this time, there is no evidence of community spread. The man and woman live in the unincorporated area of northwest Harris County, outside the City of Houston.

Fort Bend County also reported a presumptive positive case on Wednesday.

“Since January, we have been at an elevated level of readiness to prepare for and respond to a positive case here in Harris County,” said Harris County Public Health Executive Director, Dr. Umair A Shah, MD, MPH. “We will continue to take action by identifying potential contacts and monitoring them closely."

HCPH officials said they understand residents will be concerned about local cases, but said 80-percent of people who have coronavirus experience mild to moderate symptoms and fully recover.

Meanwhile, in NYC, Mayor de Blasio said city officials would ask new yorkers returning from five countries to "self-quarantine" if they happen to be in NYC. Sounds like a great way to cap off an epic vacation.

Finally, President Trump caught some flak from reporters over VP Pence's admission that the administration doesn't have enough tests on hand to meet demand.



* * *

Update (1530ET): The government of the Palestinian territories confirmed Thursday that 7 cases of the coronavirus had been identified. In response, the government has banned all tourists for two weeks. The cases were all discovered in the Bethlehem area, a town south of Jerusalem that was, according to the New Testament, the town where Jesus was born.

As the death toll in Italy, the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe and the broader Mediterranean area, climbs to 148 and the outbreaks in both Germany and France worsen, Paris officials have cancelled the Paris Marathon, postponing it until October.

Oh, and here are some tweets from Dr. Tedros reiterating what he said earlier during Thursday's WHO presser.

* * *

Update (1510ET): During a live update of the coronavirus situation in New Jersey, Lieutenant Gov. Sheila Oliver reportedly said that the state had identified a second "prospective" case.

This brings the total cases in the county to 51, with one additional death.

* * *

Update (1450ET): VP Mike Pence said Thursday that the Coast Guard had delivered coronavirus tests to the 'Grand Princess' cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco. Pence also admitted during an update from the White House task force that the CDC doesn't have enough tests to meet anticipated demand going forward, while HHS Secretary Azar said earlier that 75,000 test kits would be shipped by the end of the week.

This is really not helping the administration deflect criticisms that it failed to adequately prepare for the virus.

Meanwhile, Washington's King County, part of suburban Seattle, has just reported another 20 cases of Covid-19, increasing the state of Washington's total by roughly 20%.

Iranian diplomat Hossein Sheikholeslam, a former member of parliament and Iran's former ambassador to Syria and current advisor to the foreign minister has died of coronavirus, becoming the latest senior government figure to die from the virus.

Though dozens of cases have already been reported across California, San Francisco hotels had already reported 150k cancellations tied to the outbreak - and that was before discovering evidence of a potential community outbreak.

* * *

Update (1450ET): This is extremely savage, even for Iran.

The Saudi government denounced Iran on Thursday for allowing several Saudi citizens to enter the country without stamping their passports, a move that was likely deliberately intended to spread the virus to Saudi Arabia, Iran's chief political and military rival in the region.


* * *

Update (1430ET): The $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus funding package has passed the Senate, following a tweet from President Trump last night urging lawmakers to pass it, claiming he would sign it once it hit his desk. Presumably, that's still the plan.

According to CNN, the agreement provides $7.8 billion in appropriations to address the outbreak of coronavirus as well as an authorization for $500 million in mandatory spending to finance a telehealth program intended to expand access to diagnostic services.

In other news: Mayor Breed has confirmed that the two cases in San Francisco are examples of community transmission, and are unrelated, suggesting that a larger outbreak is already underway in the city. The first patient is a man in his 90s who is in serious condition with underlying health conditions. The second person is a woman in her 40s who is in fair condition.

Gav. Newsom and the CDC, meanwhile, said they're still working to find "the best location" for the "Grand Princess" to dock as 35 passengers are reportedly exhibiting flu-like symptoms, though at least two said earlier that they were tested and cleared.

Oddly, in other news, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said Thursday that SARS drugs could be used to treat the coronavirus, before adding that the outbreak will have only a 'marginal' impact on oil demand.

Mr. Secretary, this is not the time to be talking your book.

* * *

Update (1415ET): San Francisco is already described by many as a dystopian nightmare city, a living testament to a future where wealth inequality has reached such exaggerated extremes that a clear caste system has emerged, dominated by an elite group of tech billionaires and multimillionaires.

And now, it also has the coronavirus.


Mayor London Breed is holding a press conference on the situation. Watch live below:

* * *

Update (1355ET): Now that Cuomo's latest update is over, we have some more information about the 9 new cases confirmed in New York State.

Eight of the new cases are in Westchester, connected to Lawrence Garbuz, the New Rochelle-based lawyer, while the ninth is on Long Island, Cuomo said. Garbuz's wife, son and daughter have all tested positive, as has a friend of Garbuz's, his wife and three of their four kids.

A neighbor who drove Garbuz to the hospital has also been infected. Because he's suffering from an underlying respiratory issue, Garbuz is being treated at a hospital in Upper Manhattan, while the rest of the patients are self-isolating. The patient on Long Island has also been hospitalized, though few details were given about that case.

Two students at Yeshiva University’s Washington Heights campus are being "evaluated" after possibly being exposed via Garbuz's son, along with seven of Garbuz's co-workers and an intern.

The governor told residents to stay calm, though according to reports the hysteria has already erupted in Westchester.

"Here the facts do not merit the level of anxiety that we are seeing...I believe it’s being generated because...people don’t know the truth, they don’t know the facts. I’m a little bit perturbed about the daily angst," Cuomo said.

Earlier, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed two new cases in the five boroughs: A man in his 40s, and a woman in her 80s, who are both in intensive care.

* * *

Update (1330ET): The Southeastern Nevada Health District has confirmed that Nevada has indeed recorded its first case of the coronavirus, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Judging by the description, the patient, who is a Clark County resident (most of the county, but not all, is in the city of Las Vegas), is a high-risk patient: He's in his mid-50s and has an underlying health condition. He also recently traveled to Washington State and Texas. Texas recently reported its first travel-associated case in Houston, and community spread is already believed to be happening in Washington State.

Here's more from the Sun:

The Health District was working with its health care partners and leading the effort to quickly identify close contacts of the patient, officials said. Those exposed to the patient were being asked to self-quarantine, officials said.

Test results are considered "presumptive positive" until confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said. It should take 24 to 48 hours for the CDC to confirm the results, officials said.

The patient was identified through the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, said Shelbie Bostedt, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford.

Horsford said in a statement that he was working the Gov. Steve Sisolak's office, the VA and the Health District to stay apprised of the situation. "I take the safety of all Nevadans seriously," he said.

The Health District said the immediate risk from the virus to the general public in Clark County is low at this time. No community spread has ben identified at this time, officials said.

In other news, France has confirmed its 423rd case, up 138 from late Wednesday, according to local health officials. In total, seven have died.

* * *

Update (1300ET): Bernie Sanders has cancelled an upcoming Mississippi rally. Interestingly enough, the coronavirus is only one reason. The Sanders campaign has apparently realized that any more effort campaigning in Mississppi would be wasted - Democrats in the state are mostly black and will back Biden by a massive margin.

Instead, he's going "all in" on the Midwest as his best shot at the nomination.

* * *

Update (1250ET): During yet another press conference (the fourth in roughly 36 hours), NY Governor Andrew Cuomo just announced that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in his state has nearly doubled to 22.

* * *

Update (1230ET): Illinois has confirmed 5 more cases of Covid-19, bringing the US case total to 159.

Over in the UK, the Telegraph reports that a patient has died from the virus, marking the first death in the UK as the number of confirmed cases nears 100.

In other news, the Ultra Music Festival in Miami has been postponed until next year.

As we noted earlier, Cali Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered the 'Grand Princess' cruise ship to remain offshore until all its passengers can be tested for the virus. We were one of the first media organizations to link the death of a 71-year-old man in California to the investigation into a previous voyage of the cruise ship and its connection to one of the patients.

Now, Fox 2 KTVU is reporting that several passengers aboard the ship are displaying flu-like symptoms.

In fact, two women have posted a YouTube video from their cabin, saying they are experiencing typical cold symptoms, but that they do not have a fever. They said in the video that they were tested for the virus, but told they didn't have it.

In other news, Hawaii has become the fourth state to declare a state of emergency over the virus, even though no cases have been confirmed in Hawaii yet, despite several scares. But Hawaii Gov. David Ige said the declaration would allow the state to better prepare.

Regarding the latest case confirmed in California, that of an LAX airport screener, officials reportedly can't tell if he contracted the virus at work, or "in the community" - which is extremely discouraging, if you ask us.

Cali has reported 53 cases so far.

The Grand Princess currently has 2,500 passengers. The number of crew is unclear.

In a statement, Princess Cruises said there are no confirmed cases and that only 100 individuals have been "identified for testing."

"There are fewer than 100 guests and crew identified for testing, including all in-transit guests… those guests and crew who have experienced influenza-like illness symptoms on this voyage, and guests currently under care for respiratory illness," the statement said.

So Newsom is going to let thousands de-board after testing a smattering of 100 people out of more than 3,000. Sounds like a great 'containment' plan.

We're also starting to wonder how Carnival Cruise, which owns Princess cruises, is going to deal with this latest crisis.

* * *

Update (1220ET): As more workers are being told to work from home and more schools, events and businesses close around the world, Seattle has just closed 26 schools - the entire school district - for two weeks.

* * *

Update (1215ET): Italy's national death toll has just taken another leap higher: Officials are now reported a new total of 148 deaths, following the disclosure of 25 deaths in Lombardy about an hour ago. Another couple of dozen deaths have apparently been recorded since.


Italy might want to consider taking a page out of Iran's playbook and lying about the numbers.

Speaking of Iran, neighboring Iraq has just reported another three cases, bringing its total confirmed to 38.

Before we go, we wanted to mention one final comment from Dr. Tedros from Thursday's Trump-shading, China-praising, WHO press conference.

After Dr. Tedros chided world leaders for not doing enough, while simultaneously claiming that the world is well-prepared for the virus, the good doctor claimed that while we're not quite at 'pandemic' level yet (a fact that's disputed by many experts, who believe we are indisputably in the midst of a pandemic) there are "very concerning signs".

* * *

Update (1120ET): Italian health officials have reported 25 more deaths on the Lombardy region of northern Italy - the worst-hit region. Deaths in this region alone have climbed to 98, bringing Italy's national total to 132.

* * *

Update (1100ET): The UK has reported that total coronavirus cases have risen to 115 from 85 earlier on Thursday, making the UK the latest European nation to see its total confirmed cases break above 100.

In the corporate sphere, accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young sent around 1,500 employees from its Madrid offices home on Thursday after a staffer was confirmed to have contracted the virus. Wal-Mart is restricting all cross-border travel to only "business-critical" trips.

As of March 5, the CDC has confirmed 100 cases in its lab, the agency said, meaning some cases reported by the states have yet to be 'officially' confirmed. It has also confirmed another death, bringing the total to 10 (meaning one reported death has yet to be officially confirmed). DHS said US has no plans at this time to lift China travel restrictions.

WHO's Dr. Tedros said Thursday during the NGOs daily presser that now is the time to "pull out all the stops" to combat the virus - which is ironic, considering the agency won't officially label the outbreak a 'pandemic', even though experts in the US have told the Washington Post and other media orgs that it is undoubtedly a pandemic. They also added that there's "no evidence" the virus has been spread from a human to a dog, despite earlier reports.

WHO added that heads of state must "take responsibility" for their virus response (obviously a snipe at President Trump, whom critics have accused of 'denying' the existence of the virus'.

Tedros also threatened to "name names" of governments that aren't doing enough to prepare for the outbreak during his next press conference.

The organization also has found no evidence the virus will behave differently in different climates, even as its spread across Africa has been notably slow.

EU officials are reportedly considering pressing retired health-care workers back into service as a 'response' to the virus. Hopefully, the elderly nurses and doctors aren't left to catch the virus and die.

* * *

Update (1035ET): Another Italy update...


Unsurprising given that lawmakers approved more than the recommended €5 billion.

* * *

Update (1025ET): Xinhua reports 16 new cases have been confirmed in Lebanon, more than doubling the case total to 31.

  • Xinhua: Lebanon's COVID-19 cases rise to 16

In other news, Italy has dedicated more money to its coronavirus response than it initially expected. .


 * * *

Update (1015ET): As we move closer to half of states having confirmed cases of their own, the Nevada Independent reported that Nevada officials had identified the first case of the virus in the state just minutes after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee confirmed the first case in his state.


17 states now have confirmed cases of Covid-19.

 * * *

Update (1010ET): Tennessee has confirmed is first case, according to media reports.


The reports were almost immediately confirmed by the governor.

* * *

Update (1000ET): The Pentagon is reportedly tracking 12 individuals who may be infected with the coronavirus.


* * *

Update (0930ET): France health officials have reported another 2 deaths, bringing the death toll in Europe's second-largest economy to at least six.

We also have some more details on the first case in South Africa, which we noted earlier on Thursday shortly after the news broke: SA's News 24 has some more information on the case: It's a 38-year-old man who had recently traveled to Italy.

Italy and Iran remain two of the most commonly-cited spreaders, as travelers around the world are bringing the virus home after trips to northern Italy.

The man and his wife were among a group of 10 who returned from Italy on March 1. 

Yet the government insists it doesn't expect more cases as South Africa's summer season is typically inhospital to viral outbreaks. Given the surprising lack of spread in Africa so far - which some fear might be a result of low testing rates - they might have a point.

* * *

Update (0920ET): Two Italian Red Crossvolunteers have tested positive while another 140 have been deemed "at risk" for infection. Trump "Iran whisperer" Brian Hook said Thursday that Iran had rejected the State Department's offer of assistance.

Meanwhile, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has shared some more details about the two new cases confirmed in New York, including confirming that investigators haven't been able to trace the source of the infection, suggesting that an uncontained outbreak is already underway in NYC.

Since they haven't traveled, the patients were almost certainly infected in the US, and possibly in NYC.

* * *

Update (0850ET): Yesterday, we pointed out that the first fatality reported in California appeared to be the same patient - a 71-year-old man - whom state officials had said recently traveled aboard a cruise ship called the "Grand Princess". The ship, which was ironically on its way to dock in San Francisco at the time, was ordered to remain offshore. According to USA Today, officials confirmed on Wednesday that the ship will not return to port until testing of everyone on board can be carried out.

And just like that, the US has its own cruise ship emergency, though it appears authorities are learning from the mistakes made by Japanese health officials during the 'Diamond Princess' fiasco (to be sure, the US clearly violated quarantine by transporting sick passengers back to the US).

Gov. Newsom said the state would scramble to test the passengers as quickly as possible.

"We will be able to test very quickly... to determine if these individuals that are symptomatic just have traditional colds or the flu or may have contracted the COVID-19 virus," Newsom said.

We'll keep an eye on that - we suspect we might have more cases to report soon.

Over the last hour or so, some more virus-linked headlines have hit the tape.

  • South Africa has reported its first case of the virus.
  • New Delhi has shut down primary schools as virus spreads in India.
  • Confirmed cases of the virus have doubled in the Netherlands to 82
  • US official 'concerned' about health of Iranian detainees.

We'll be back with more updates shortly.

* * *

Update (0840ET): Italy has postponed a referendum to reduce the number of lawmakers, a hot-button local issue that is at the crux of a government reform agenda pushed by the Five Star Movement. 


* * *

Update (0822ET): As China continues to roll out new restrictions on foreign travelers, all while gloating about the world's inability to contain the outbreak that China unleashed, Global Times editor Hu Xijin tweeted Thursday morning that he was "calling on" the Chinese government to impose 14-day quarantines for everybody traveling from the US.

China managed to stop the virus only by restricting the movements of roughly half its population. Democracies like the US unfortunately don't have that power.

* * *

Update (0720ET): NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has apparently just announced during an appearance on "Morning Joe" that NYC has confirmed 2 more cases, raising the citywide total to 4 and the state-wide total to 13, per the NYT.

The new cases include a man in his 40s and a woman in her 80s.

* * *

With stock futures once again pointing to a massive drop at the open, the brief respite provided by Joe Biden's political comeback has faded as Americans brace for the outbreak by, among other things, hoarding Purell, while California and others threaten to prosecute sellers caught gouging prices on essentials as people across the country stock up.

More US companies have cancelled events: Last night, Google said it would cancel its developer conference and Netflix has cancelled SXSW screenings. In London, HSBC has evacuated its entire research department and parts of its Canary Wharf trading floor, Financial News reports. A Facebook contractor has been infected in the company's Seattle office. Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook have all asked their Seattle employees to work from home.

Since midday on Wednesday, the virus death toll in the US has held steady at 11. But there's no denying the reality that coronavirus hysteria has arrived in America. Last night, California declared a state of emergency, joining Florida and Washington State.

And with cases confirmed in New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey, the virus has officially gone bi-coastal.

Globally, the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 95,000, and the global death toll is north of 3,000. China remains by far the worst hit, with 80,410 cases, while South Korea is No. 2 with 5,766. They're followed by Italy and Iran.

Courtesy of the FT

In addition to declaring the state of emergency, Cali Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered that a cruise ship - the 'Grand Princess' - preparing to dock in San Francisco be held off the coast of California after the one fatality in California was linked to a previous voyage on the ship.

Late yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that local health officials had discovered the first "presumptive" case of the virus in Bergen County, a suburb of New York City. The individual, a male in his 30s, has been hospitalized in the county since March 3. The "presumptive" case was initially tested at a local New Jersey lab

According to the CDC, 14 US states have reported either confirmed or "presumptive" cases of the virus.

Already, the number of confirmed cases in the US is north of 150 (including the 48 evacuees).

Yesterday, VP Pence and HHS Secretary Azar promised that new screening measures would be applied to travelers from South Korea and Italy. Australia on Thursday joined the list of countries restricting travel by barring visitors from South Korea. Meanwhile, in a glimpse of what's to come for the airline industry, which could be in for a $100 billion hit tied to the coronavirus, the UK regional airline Flybe collapsed.

As the outbreak appears to wane in China, President Xi has cancelled a state visit to Japan because of the rapidly circulating outbreak.

Though it wasn't all good news out of Beijing: Last night, the western press reported that a 36-year old man thought to have recovered from coronavirus had died from respiratory failure in Wuhan five days after being discharged. It's alarming because the man was young and otherwise healthy - characteristics that should have made him particularly resilient to the virus.

Also, Beijing has imposed a new rule on residents: Eat alone, keep away from co-workers, and under no circumstances should you share plates with others (popular in so called 'hot pot' dishes and other communal-type meals).

Much to the chagrin of his political allies, President Trump continued his campaign to minimize the severity of the outbreak during an appearance on Hannity Wednesday night when he said he had a "hunch" the real mortality rate for the virus is closer to 1% than the 3.4% estimate shared by Dr. Tedros during Wednesday's WHO Press conference.

In South Korea, mass testing has confirmed more than 6,000 cases as of the health officials' second update on Thursday, as well as more than 40 deaths. Italy has confirmed more than 3,000 cases, along with more than 100 deaths. Elsewhere in Asia, Malaysia has confirmed another 5 cases, bringing its national total to 55. Travelers who have recently visited any hot spots - northern Italy, Hokkaido (in Japan), Tehran and Daegu - will be temporarily banned from entering Malaysia, unless they are Malaysian citizens.

Officially, Iran has confirmed 92 deaths and 2,922 cases. But the Washington Post reported last night that data obtained from a string of hospitals in Tehran suggests that the epidemic has spread far more widely than the government has acknowledged.

CNN reports that the case total in India, the world's second most populous country, has climbed to 29 (three have already recovered). In response, India has started screening all passengers who arrive at its airports for the virus. The Indian government is also preparing to evacuate its citizens from Iran, becoming the first country to plan an evacuation from the epicenter of the virus in the Middle East.

Based on the data, which was given to WaPo by a UK-based activist, the true case count in Iran is probably closer to 30,000 than the 3,000 cases counted by the government. And the death toll is likely closer to 1,000 than 100 - after all, the BBC reported last week that the true death toll was already north of 200 days ago.

Whatever the real number, as more senior government officials catch the virus, the Islamic Republic has kicked off its "national mobilization" scheme in which 300,000 medical teams joined by voluntary members of the IRGC - the Revolutionary Guard - will monitor families across the country and take unexplained action to help limit the spread. The teams will be stationed in "medical facilities, schools and military bases" across Iran. The Iranian government has also started to limit travel within the country after suspending issuing visas for travelers from other hot spots.

With 15 cases confirmed in Israel, the West Bank city of Bethlehem has closed all mosques and churches, setting of a controversy in the town where Jesus was reportedly born, Middle East Eye reports.

Over in Europe, Switzerland reported its first death overnight; health officials have confirmed 80 cases across the small alpine state. In Italy, where the number of cases climbed above 3,000 (total: 3,089) and deaths surpassed 100 (total: 107), Deputy Economy Minister Laura Castelli said the government could increase the size of the package to €5 billion, according to the FT. In the UK, PM Boris Johnson said Thursday morning during an interview with ITV that the best thing Britons can do to prevent the spread of the virus is to "just wash our hands," Johnson said. He also stressed that for most people who catch the virus, this will be a "mild to moderate" illness. The number of confirmed cases in the UK climbed to 88 on Thursday. ITV also reported. Six of those were reported in Scotland, 2 in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.

In London, en employee in HSBC’s research department has reportedly tested positive for the virus, Reuters reported.

The latest increase in cases comes as the NHS warns that it doesn't have enough nurses, ITV reports. Despite efforts to fill positions, more than 43,000 vacancies remain across the UK.

Meanwhile, UK Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty confirmed that human-to-human transmission is ongoing in the UK, before adding that the UK is now "mainly in the second stage" of its plan to tackle coronavirus, which involves delaying the spread for as long as possible to stop the virus from overwhelming the country's hospital system.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain confirmed 40 new cases and 1 new death bringing its total to 248 and death toll to 3. Belgium reports 27 new cases raising total to 50.

After all, since western democracies simply can't undertake the same heavy handed response imposed by China (though the west has the advantage of jumping on the problem instead of choosing to ignore it for weeks), the west is going to need to accept the fact that the virus will likely become significantly more widespread.

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