Coronavirus live updates: Northern Italy reports more cases, only 3 US states can test for virus

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All times below are in Eastern time.

  • Total confirmed cases: More than 76,700
  • Total deaths: At least 2,249

California, Nebraska and Illinois are the only U.S. states that can currently test for coronavirus, the Association of Public Health Laboratories told Reuters. The CDC last week said some of the testing kits sent to U.S. states and at least 30 countries produced “inconclusive” results due to a flawed component, and the CDC planned to send replacement materials to make the kits work. The CDC has increased testing capacity until new testing kits become available, said Scott Becker, the executive director of APHL, which represents public health laboratories in the United States. —Reuters

An outbreak of coronavirus in northern Italy worsened, with officials announcing 14 confirmed cases in the wealthy region of Lombardy, while two cases were reported in the adjacent region of Veneto. Just hours after revealing that six people had come down with the virus in the first known cases of local transmission in Italy, officials said a further eight had tested positive for the disease, including five health workers. Separately, ANSA news agency said two people had been diagnosed as suffering from the highly contagious illness in Veneto, although it was not immediately clear if the cases were connected. —Reuters

U.S. health officials are preparing for the COVID-19 coronavirus to become a pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. “We’re not seeing community spread here in the United States, yet, but it’s very possible, even likely, that it may eventually happen,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a conference call. “Our goal continues to be to slowing the introduction of the virus into the U.S. This buys us more time to prepare communities for more cases and possibly sustained spread.” Messonnier pointed to China where schools and businesses have been shuttered for weeks to contain the outbreak there, saying the U.S. may eventually need to do the same. “The day may come where we may need to implement such measures in this country,” she said. — Lovelace, Feuer

Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, has begun testing individuals at local social welfare institutions, the municipal government said in an online statement. The investigation is a response to a Chinese citizens’ complaints on social media that 11 elderly people died from fever and respiratory failure since the quarantine for the new coronavirus began on Jan. 21. Wuhan’s Civil Affairs Bureau reported that at a welfare institute for more than 600 elderly people, there were 12 cases – one worker and 11 among the elderly, including one death. Data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found the sick and elderly most at risk. — Wu


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