Coronavirus updates: U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive as global toll rises
• U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive for COVID-19 as death toll in country reaches 12
• Jamaica bars cruise ship after crew member placed in isolation
• Tokyo Olympics considers scaling down torch relay amid coronavirus fears
• Lufthansa announces hiring freeze amid coronavirus outbreak
Iran death toll reaches 19
Oil giant Chevron asked about 300 British employees to work temporarily from home on Tuesday after an employee in its Canary Wharf office in London reported a flu-like illness.
Traders, exploration and refining unit staff were assigned to work remotely until test results can determine whether the worker has coronavirus, said a person familiar with the matter.
“Chevron continues to monitor the situation very closely, utilizing the guidance of international and local health authorities,” said a Chevron spokeswoman. — Reuters, 7:45 a.m. ET.
Iran death toll reaches 19
Iran’s coronavirus death toll reached 19 Wednesday amid questions over how the government is handling the crisis and whether ohas been fully transparent about the extent of the outbreak.
Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman, Kianoosh Jahanpour, said 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes, have been confirmed in the country, and 19 people have died.
Iranian officials have rejected any suggestion that they are playing down the epidemic.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference Tuesday that “the United States is deeply concerned by information indicating the Iranian regime may have suppressed vital details about the outbreak in that country.” — Yuliya Talmazan, Dan De Luce and Amin Khodadadi, 7:30 a.m. ET.
Tokyo Olympics officials are considering scaling down the torch relay due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, said Toshiro Muto, the organizing committee’s chief executive.
Japan has tried to quell fears that the Olympics might be cancelled after International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound was quoted as saying the Games would more likely be cancelled than postponed or moved if the virus forced any change in the schedule.
The country has registered more than 850 coronavirus cases, including 691 from a cruise ship that was quarantined off its shore earlier this month. — Reuters, 7:30 a.m. ET.
Lufthansa announces hiring freeze amid
Germany’s largest airline Lufthansa announced Wednesday it was suspending recruitment among other cost-cutting measures to counteract the economic impact of the coronavirus
The company has cancelled personnel training courses and is offering employees unpaid leave.
Lufthansa Group had already suspended all flights by Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines to and from mainland China until March 28. — Andy Eckardt, 7:30 a.m. ET.
Jamaica bars cruise ship after crew member shows symptoms
A cruise ship with more than 6,000 on board has been denied access to the port of Ocho Rios after a crew member displayed symptoms of the virus, Jamaica’s health ministry said in a statement issued late Tuesday.
“The crew member had a cough, fever and associated muscle pains with a travel history to a country of interest relating to the COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement.
The crew member was placed in isolation after inspection by health officials.
Following Jamaica’s announcement, officials in the Cayman Islands, where the ship is due to go next, announced they had barred the vessel from docking there. — Anthony Cusumano and Yuliya Talmazan, 6:10 a.m. ET.
More than 2,700 coronavirus deaths in China
Health officials in China said there were more than 2,700 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus in mainland China as of Tuesday. That’s up from 2663 deaths the day before.
Officials with the country’s National Health Commission recorded 406 new confirmed cases and 52 new deaths. There were more than 78,000 confirmed cases across mainland China, they said. — Salina Lee and Yuliya Talmazan, 6:10 a.m. ET.
U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive
A U.S. service member stationed in South Korea has tested positive for COVID-19, United States Forces Korea said in a statement Tuesday.
The 23-year-old soldier stationed at Camp Carroll, which is 135 miles southeast of Seoul, is the first U.S. service member to test positive for the virus. He is in self quarantine at his off-base residence, the military said.
U.S. Forces Korea said military health officials were tracing the soldier’s contacts to see who else could have been exposed to the virus.
South Korea has seen a rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since last week, with a total of 1,261 cases and 12 deaths reported Wednesday. — Phil Helsel and Ed Flanagan, 6:10 a.m. ET.
Americans should prepare for coronavirus crisis in U.S., CDC says
Top U.S. public health officials said Tuesday that Americans should prepare for the spread of the coronavirus in communities across the country.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a media briefing Tuesday. — Erika Edwards, 6:10 a.m. ET.