Korean Air cabin crew worker tests positive for coronavirus, report says

A cabin crew worker from Korean Air tested positive for coronavirus the airline said Tuesday and details about what routes the employee flew were not immediately known, according to a report.

Reuters, citing an airline spokeswoman, reported that the company closed its office near the main South Korean airport.

The rapid surge of new coronavirus cases in South Korea has prompted the Centers for Disease Control to issue its highest travel warning level — level 3 — advising American travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the country.

South Korea now has 893 cases, compared to just 28 on Feb. 14.  The country now has the second-largest amount of cases in the world, with an increase of 130 infected in the past 24 hours.

“There is a widespread, ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person,” the CDC said. “There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.”

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People wearing masks, walk across a street in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. The COVID-19 viral illness has sickened thousands of people throughout China and other countries since December. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

People wearing masks, walk across a street in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. The COVID-19 viral illness has sickened thousands of people throughout China and other countries since December. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

The CDC also announced 18 more cases in the US on Monday, bringing the total infected to 53. Trump sent a letter to Congress on Monday requesting at least 2.5 billion dollars to fight the virus after saying back in early February that “we have pretty much shut it [the virus] down coming in from China.”

“But we can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus. We’re going to see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes,” he said on Feb. 3.

The cases in the U.S. include 39 evacuees from the severely infected Diamond Princess cruise ship and the Chinese city of Wuhan — the epicenter of the virus.

In the Middle East, Iran’s government disputed claims on Monday by a lawmaker from Qom who reported a death toll of 50 in the city. They now say only 12 people have died from the coronavirus.

The new outbreak in Italy has prompted Paramount Pictures on Monday to halt production of the new “Mission: Impossible” film starring Tom Cruise. Over 200 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the European country, the largest amount outside of Asia. Cases have been reported in Milan and Venice — where the movie was planning to shoot for three weeks.

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Asian stocks shared losses on Tuesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1,000 points due to fears over the virus.

A woman wearing face mask passes by posters about precautions against new coronavirus at a bus station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A woman wearing face mask passes by posters about precautions against new coronavirus at a bus station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. China and South Korea on Tuesday reported more cases of a new viral illness that has been concentrated in North Asia but is causing global worry as clusters grow in the Middle East and Europe. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

China has suffered the most from the virus, which is now known as COVID-19, with the country having 99 percent of the cases.

Asian stocks shared losses on Tuesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1,000 points due to fears over the virus.

CDC officials added there will “likely be additional cases in the coming days and weeks, including among other people recently returned from Wuhan.”

The U.S. had announced that Americans who traveled to China within the last 14 days would be sent to designated airports for enhanced screenings. Foreign nationals who recently went to China would be denied entry in the U.S., except for the immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents.

China’s Foreign Ministry had said the U.S. hasn’t given the country any substantive help in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak. They added the U.S. was contributing to the international panic surrounding the illness, Reuters reported.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global emergency as it spreads to countries outside of China and the number of infected patients continues to grow.

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Countries around the globe have increased travel restrictions to the infected mainland China and Hubei province — with the U.S. State Department increasing its advisory to level 4: “Do Not Travel.”

The CDC has issued an advisory to avoid all nonessential travel to the country.

Coronavirus has now killed about three times the amount of people around the world than were sickened during the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s. The SARS outbreak killed 349 people in mainland China in 2002-2003 — with 744 deaths and 8,096 infections globally, according to the CDC.

Here are the latest figures.

How many have been infected or have died?

The virus has claimed the lives of 2,663 people and infected 77,658 in mainland China. There are now 80,038 cases around the globe with 33 deaths officially reported outside of mainland China.

Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Taiwan, France, and the Philippines all recorded fatalities from the virus.

The WHO said the number of cases will keep growing as tests are pending on thousands of suspected cases.

Where is the virus?

Roughly 99 percent of new cases have appeared in China with the vast majority of the cases in Hubei province and its provincial capital, Wuhan — the epicenter of the virus.

Roughly 2,291 cases of the virus have been recorded in 33 countries around the globe

The United Kingdom has 13 cases in the country.

Japan — 838 cases (691 from a Diamond Princess cruise ship) (4 deaths)

South Korea — 833 cases (7 deaths)

Italy — 219 cases (5 deaths)

Singapore — 89 cases

Iran — 61 cases (12 deaths)

United States: 52 cases

Thailand: 35 cases

Taiwan: 28 cases (1 death)

Australia — 23 cases

Malaysia — 22

Germany — 16

Vietnam — 16 cases

France — 12 cases (1 death)

United Arab Emirates — 13 cases

Canada — 10

Philippines — 3 cases (1 death)

Kuwait — 3 cases

India — 3

Russia — 2

Spain — 2

Israel — 2

Oman — 2

Bahrain –1

Lebanon — 1

Belgium — 1

Nepal –1

Sri Lanka –1

Sweden –1

Cambodia –1

Finland –1

Egypt –1

Afghanistan –1

Hong Kong — 79 (2 deaths)

Macao — 10

Differences between coronavirus and the flu?

The flu has estimated to have killed roughly 10,000 to 25,000 people with nearly 19 to 26 million infected in the U.S. between October 1, 2019, and January 25, 2020, according to the CDC. Coronavirus has impacted a far lesser number, although it’s not yet clear how many have been infected or how widespread it is.

There have also been reports it can be spread without symptoms showing up. In respiratory illnesses, people with the most symptoms are the most contagious, the agency said. Children and those over 65 are the most likely to get sick from the flu, the CDC added.

Unlike the coronavirus, there’s a seasonal vaccine for the flu. People over six months out are advised by the agency to get it during annual vaccination, with certain rare exceptions, such as severe allergies to the shot.

No vaccine has been developed for coronavirus as of yet, which makes it dangerous in that respect.

How did it start?

It’s not entirely clear how it started, but Chinese scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats. The pangolin, a type of scaly anteater was reported to be a possible host, according to a Chinese University. A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology said that genome sequences from seven patients tested were identical to the bat coronavirus.

How does it transmit?

It’s believed the normal coronavirus can be transmitted most commonly through respiratory droplets in the air, as well as close contact with an infected person or touching areas contaminated with the virus before washing. The digestive tract may also transmit the disease, according to scientists from the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University and the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Science.

They recently discovered “virus genetic material” in feces samples and rectal swabs from some patients, Chinese state media reported.

What are the current travel restrictions?

The U.S. declared the coronavirus a public health emergency with Trump signing an order barring entry to foreign nationals who recently were in China, other than the immediate family of American citizens and permanent residents.

Officials at the CDC have advised travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. The U.S. State Department raised its China travel advisory to “Level 4: Do Not Travel.”

“Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means. The Department of State has requested that all non-essential U.S. government personnel defer travel to China in light of the novel coronavirus,” The advisory said.

Officials at the CDC have advised travelers to avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea and restrictions have also been placed by countries surrounding Iran.

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Israel, Bahrain, and Jordan temporarily banning people from traveling to South Korea

The United Kingdom requires self-quarantine from people who visited South Korea

UAE, Oman bans citizens fro traveling to Iran

Kiribati, Samoa, Brunei, Turkmenistan require quarantine or medical checks for people traveling from South Korea

Iraq closes border with Iran

Afghanistan, Armenia and Pakistan have imposed restrictions on border crossings

Turkey closed land border with Iran and Turkish airlines cease flights to and from the country

Vietnam stopped all flights to and from China.

Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia all have similar policies to the U.S. on restricting non-citizens.

Mongolia and Singapore have shut their borders.

Singapore said it would ban travelers from China’s Hubei province.

Pakistan says they’re halting all flights to and from China

The United Kingdom and New Zealand advised their people against nonessential travel to China.

Russia has signed an order to close the border between them and China. They also blocked tour groups from China.

China has cut off access to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, trapping more than 50 million people

Hong Kong quarantining visitors from mainland China

Japan bars foreign nationals who had been to Hubei province.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean denying boarding of people who travel to China within 14 days.

Italy suspended all flights to China.

South Korea urged an increase in its level of caution to “restraint” when traveling to China.

Hong Kong reduced half its flights and shut down rail service to mainland China.

Cathay Pacific Airways asks 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave.

Delta suspended all service to China.

United Airlines suspends all flights between China and the U.S.

United’s pilots, concerned for their safety, were able to drop trips to China without pay, a union memo said, according to Reuters.

American Airlines suspends all flights to China.

The Allied Pilots Association (APA), which represents 15,000 pilots for American Airlines filed a lawsuit to halt service with the airline, citing “serious, and in many ways still unknown, health threats posed by the coronavirus.”

“I am directing all APA pilots to cease flight operations between the United States and China,” said APA president Eric Ferguson. “Until further notice, if you are scheduled, assigned, or reassigned a pairing into China, decline the assignment by calling your Chief Pilot or IOC Duty Pilot. Inform them you are declining in accordance with the CDC and WHO declarations.”

British Airways suspended all flights to and from mainland China.

Virgin Atlantic suspending operations to Shanghai

Lufthansa suspending flights to and from China

Air India and Seoul Air halting all flights to the country.

Egypt Air suspended all fights

Air France suspending all flights

Finnair, Cathay Pacific, and Jetstar also stopping service.

Lion Air canceled 50 flights to China into February.

Air Canada suspending all direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

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Kenya Airways suspends all flights to China.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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