Health and Science

US prepares for possible coronavirus pandemic, WHO officials say Iran outbreak 'worrisome'

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Coronavirus cases in US and Europe confirmed

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All times below are in Eastern time.

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

6:07 pm: DuPont ramps up safety suit production as coronavirus causes shortages in China

Thousands of DuPont employees are working around the clock to increase production of protective garments that are in high demand by first responders and medical workers in high-impact regions like Wuhan, China. The protective suits are used by health professionals during the outbreaks to reduce the risk of infection. Reports from China show workers running low on safety supplies including garments and masks. —Mody and Manning

5:28 pm: Trip.com reschedules earnings

Online travel booking company Trip.com is pushing back its fourth-quarter earnings report from Feb. 26 to March 18 to tally the impact of the outbreak on its ticketing and tour business, the company said. "The revised date would give the company more time to observe business conditions and provide visibility for the first quarter of 2020," the company said. —Kopecki

4:21 pm: Restaurants in China hit by outbreak

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Restaurants in China hit by coronavirus outbreak

3:24 pm: Coronavirus fears spoil an otherwise solid earnings season

The coronavirus outbreak ruined for investors what was a solid earnings reporting season and is casting a pall on forecasts for this quarter and the rest of this year. And now with most of the earnings season in the books, look for the latest coronavirus headlines to fill the vacuum and weigh on stocks the rest of the month. Fourth-quarter profit growth for S&P 500 companies came in at 3.1%, and if the energy sector is excluded, the growth rate was 6.0%, according to Refinitiv. Just about four weeks ago, analysts expected a slight decline. However, the deluge of solid corporate results was largely overlooked by investors who are focusing on the spillover impact from the coronavirus on U.S. corporations. —Li

2:45 pm: South Korea now has the most coronavirus cases after China

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South Korea now has the most coronavirus cases after China

2:12 pm: Coronavirus flight cancellations top 200,000, driving down fuel prices

Airlines have canceled more than 200,000 flights as the coronavirus continues to spread to new countries, prompting travel restrictions and a sharp drop in demand for trips to and within China. Between Jan. 23 and Feb. 18, 99,254 scheduled flights didn't fly, close to 90% of them domestic trips, aviation consulting firm Cirium said. That's sending jet-fuel prices, generally airlines' second-biggest expense after labor, down sharply. While benchmark jet-fuel prices in the U.S. and Singapore have recovered some ground from hitting the lowest levels since mid-2017, they're each down 17% so far this year, according to data from S&P Global Platts. —Josephs

1:43 pm: Only three states can test for coronavirus because of flawed kits

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

1:15 pm: Northern Italy reports 16 coronavirus cases

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

1 pm: US health officials prepare for coronavirus outbreak to become pandemic

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

11:26 am: Wuhan to conduct virus tests in all state-run senior homes

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

11:05 am: WHO officials say coronavirus outbreak in Iran is 'very worrisome'

World health officials said the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Iran, where there are 18 confirmed cases and four deaths in just two days, is "very worrisome." Earlier in the day, Iran confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases. Seven people found to have contracted the flu-like virus were diagnosed in Qom, four people in Tehran and two in Gilan. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said a 45-year-old woman in Lebanon has been linked to the outbreak in Iran. "The cases that we see in the rest of the world, although the numbers are small, but not linked to Wuhan or China, it's very worrisome," he said. "These dots are actually very concerning." — Lovelace

10:52 am: China starts to get back to work as leaders worry about people's jobs

While Chinese authorities try to control the spread of the new virus, they are moving quickly to stall its impact on the economy, especially on people's jobs. This past Tuesday, the powerful State Council decided at a meeting to waive some business' contributions to social insurance plans through June, and emphasized that "stable employment" must be a priority. These policy moves also come as the country begins a gradual return to work in manufacturing, technology and other major industries. The coronavirus forced more than half of the country to shut down for at least a week longer than planned for Lunar New Year's celebrations. About a third of 1,000 Chinese companies surveyed in the last week by research firm China Beige Book remain closed, and roughly another third are operating remotely. — Cheng

An Iranian woman wears protective mask to prevent contracting a coronavirus, as she walks at Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran February 20, 2020.
Nazanin Tabatabaee | WANA | Reuters

10:12 am: Iran confirms 4 deaths as officials acknowledge outbreak

The coronavirus has spread to several Iranian cities, a Health Ministry official said Friday, as an outbreak that the authorities say began in the city of Qom caused two more deaths. Iran confirmed 13 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total in the country to 18, with four of the total having died. The majority of coronavirus cases in Iran have been in Qom, a Shiite Muslim holy city 75 miles south of the capital Tehran. The new cases comprised seven people diagnosed in Qom, four in the capital Tehran and two in Gilan province, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet. Health officials had called for the suspension of all religious gatherings in Qom. "It's clear that new coronavirus has circulated in the country and probably the source of this illness was Chinese workers who work in the city of Qom and had traveled to China," Health Ministry official Minou Mohrez said, according to the official IRNA news agency. — Reuters

9:51 am: WHO officials hold news conference

World Health Organization officials are holding a news conference at 10 a.m. ET Friday to update the public on the outbreak. WHO officials declared the virus a global health emergency last month, while urging the public against overreacting to the virus. However, the COVID-19 epidemic in China has not yet met world health officials' designation of a global pandemic that spreads far and wide throughout the world. While it has spread to more than two dozen countries, international health officials say there's little transmission on local levels outside of China right now. They have warned that could quickly change. Watch the live news conference here. — Feuer

9:22 am: Facebook is the latest to pull out of a major industry conference as fears batter travel industry

Organizers of the Mobile World Congress pulled the plug on the show — and the 100,000 visitors it normally draws — less than two weeks before it was set to start Monday in Barcelona, Spain, marking a turning point for companies in the global battle against a new virus that's killed more than 2,100 in China over the last seven weeks. Since the disease, named COVID-19, emerged from the city of Wuhan in late December, U.S. airlines have cut service to much of China and Hong Kong and dozens of trade exhibitions and conferences have been canceled or postponed. Major corporations have pulled their executives from attending conferences across the globe, including major trade shows in the U.S., as fears of a possible pandemic spread of the virus gripped the world meeting market. — Miller

8:50 am: Beirut hospital confirms first case of coronavirus in Lebanon

The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Lebanon on Friday after a woman arriving from Iran tested positive, a source at a Beirut hospital where the woman is being quarantined told Reuters. There were no further details immediately available on the case. Lebanon's health minister was expected to hold a news conference on Friday to address the case. — Reuters

7:45 am: Expectations for a rate cut will fade as coronavirus fear eases, Fed's James Bullard says

Markets that are expecting an interest rate cut are reacting to the coronavirus scare and likely will reverse once the fear starts to fade, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said. In an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box," Bullard pushed back on the likelihood of a cut, saying current policy seems right considering the pace of the record-breaking U.S. economic expansion. "There's a high probability that the coronavirus will blow over as other viruses have, be a temporary shock and everything will come back. But there's a low probability that this could get much worse," he said. "Markets have to price that in, and that drags down the center of gravity a little bit. But if this all goes away, I expect that pricing will come back out of the market and we'll be back to the on-hold scenario." — Cox

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Fed's Bullard: 'Coronavirus will blow over' after temporary shock

7:30 am: It is possible coronavirus exists in all Iranian cities, Health Ministry says

Iran's Health Ministry on Friday reportedly confirmed the coronavirus had spread to several cities nationwide, before adding the flu-like virus might exist in all of them. "Based on existing reports, the spread of the coronavirus started in Qom and with attention to people's travels has now reached several cities in the country, including Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht, and other cities. And it is possible that it exists in all cities in Iran," Health Ministry official Minou Mohrez said Friday, Reuters reported, citing the country's official IRNA news agency. It comes after the Islamic Republic confirmed 18 total cases on Friday, and four patients have died. — Meredith

A consumer is taking a Coca Cola bottle in a Beijing supermarket.
Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

7:25 am: Coca-Cola takes an earnings hit on virus

Coca-Cola is forecasting that the coronavirus will drag down its first-quarter earnings by a penny to 2 cents a share. The company also estimates that the outbreak will hit unit case volume by 2% to 3% and organic revenue by 1% to 2%.The beverage giant is still expecting to meet its full-year outlook. Coke's Chinese business accounts for about 10% of its global volume but less of its profit and revenue. — Lucas

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Coca-Cola: Virus will cut first-quarter EPS by up to $0.02

6:45 am: Israel confirms passenger has tested positive upon return from coronavirus-hit ship in Japan

Israel's Ministry of Health on Friday confirmed a passenger returning from a coronavirus-hit cruise ship in Japan has tested positive for COVID-19. The patient is in quarantine and under supervision, the Health Ministry said in a statement, adding the infection did not take place in Israel. The remaining passengers returning to Israel were reported to have tested negative for the coronavirus. — Meredith

6 am: Iran confirms 13 new cases of coronavirus, two deaths

Iran has confirmed two deaths among 13 new cases of the coronavirus, according to a statement from Health Ministry spokesperson Kinaush Jahanpur. Seven people found to have contracted the flu-like virus were diagnosed in Qom, four people in Tehran and two in Gilan, Jahanpur said Friday. The total number of confirmed cases in Iran has now climbed to 18, with four deaths. — Meredith

5:30 am: Chinese city says discharged virus patient tested positive after 10 days

A coronavirus patient who was discharged less than two weeks ago has tested positive for the virus, Chengdu Public Health and Medical Center said Friday in an online statement. The post said the patient was discharged on Feb. 10 after meeting requirements from China's virus diagnosis protocol, and went home for a 14-day quarantine. The hospital said it received the patient on Wednesday for further treatment. Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan province in southwestern China and located more than 1,100 kilometers (683 miles) away from Wuhan. — Wu

4:35 am: Confirmed cases in Hubei province cannot be removed, must now be added back, official says

Following several days of back-and-forth over how Hubei defines virus cases, an official for the province's health commission said confirmed infections cannot be removed from the province's official count, state news agency Xinhua reported Friday, citing a news conference. Cases that have been removed must all be added back, the official said, according to the report. The official cited a stringent demand from the province's party secretary, Ying Yong, a former Shanghai mayor who assumed the position last week. On Thursday, the Hubei Provincial Health Committee reported there were 349 new cases as of Feb. 19 — down from 1,693 newly confirmed cases the day before. The commission stated that 349 was the final tally after deducting 279 cases from 10 Hubei cities. — Cheng

Read CNBC's coverage from CNBC's Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Outbreak in Chinese prisons, South Korea cases exceed 200

Reuters and CNBC's Yun Li, Hannah Miller, Jeff Cox, Amelia Lucas, Sam Meredith, Evelyn Cheng, Lilian Wu, Seema Mody and Patrick Manning contributed to this report.