Health and Science

Cruise ships to house Wuhan medical workers; South Korea coronavirus cases spike

Key Points
  • China's National Health Commission said 2,345 people have died in the country from the new coronavirus, which has infected 76,288 people.
  • South Korea reported that two people have died as the country's total cases rose to 433.
  • Organizers for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics have postponed volunteer training that was scheduled to begin Saturday, citing efforts to limit the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19.

The coverage on this live blog has ended — but for up-to-the-minute coverage on the coronavirus, visit the live blog from CNBC's U.S. team.

All times below are in Beijing time.

4:40 pm: South Korea confirms another 87 cases

South Korean health officials confirmed another 87 cases, bringing the country's total to 433.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 62 of the 87 new cases stem from the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu. It also said three of the 87 new cases stemmed from another large cluster tied to the Cheongdo Daenam Hospital. —Wang

South Korean health officials spray disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu on February 21, 2020.
Jung Yeon-je | AFP | Getty Images

4:22 pm: South Korea says most confirmed cases stem from two clusters

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said that 277 of its 346 confirmed cases stem from two clusters — a church and a hospital.

Nearly half of South Korea's confirmed cases stem from the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in the southeastern city of Daegu. KCDC said the timing of symptom development "suggests the possibility of a limited but continuous transmission through Sunday services or gatherings every week."

The 108 cases stemming from the Cheongdo Daenam Hospital cluster are primarily from the psychiatric ward, KCDC said. The agency also said South Korea's second death was a woman who was a long-term patient at the hospital. —Wang

3:54 pm: Malaysia says American from Westerdam cruise now tests negative

Malaysia's Ministry of Health said in a statement that an 83-year-old U.S. citizen has now tested negative for the new coronavirus twice. It said that the woman's condition has remarkably improved, but that she's still being monitored for a small cough.

The ministry said it tests people confirmed with the disease twice within 24 hours if they have displayed good progress in symptoms, in an attempt to determine if the person has been cured.

A week ago, the woman had been identified as the 22nd case in Malaysia after she arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Sihanoukville, Cambodia. She had been a passenger on the MS Westerdam cruise ship, which had been turned away by five countries amid coronavirus fears. —Wang

3:36 pm: 7 river cruise ships to house medical workers in Wuhan

Chinese state media reported that seven ships brought into the city of Wuhan in Hubei province will be converted into temporary accommodations for medical staff in the city.

Thousands of medical workers from across the country have been brought into Hubei to help the province contain the outbreak.

Xinhua News reported that the ships normally operate as river cruises in the Three Gorges, a popular and scenic tourist area along the Yangtze River. The state news agency said, however, that the cruise ship business in the Three Gorges had been closed due to the outbreak.

The move comes amid heightened scrutiny after hundreds of passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship contracted the new coronavirus. —Wang

The Yangtze River luxury cruise ship "Blue Whale" set sail from Chongqing and arrived in Wuhan, providing comfortable temporary accommodation for medical workers.
Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

2:28 pm: South Korea confirms 4 soldiers infected with COVID-19

Four South Korean soldiers have been infected with the new coronavirus, a military official told NBC News.

The official said the military has suspended outdoor training and will instead conduct training indoors until further notice. He also told NBC that all holiday breaks and visitors have been suspended for soldiers in an effort to limit their contacts outside military facilities.

Earlier, South Korea reported a sharp uptick in confirmed cases. (See 9:09 a.m. update) —Wang

1:57 pm: Australia says high school students can apply for exemptions from travel restrictions

The Australian government said high school students in their final two years of study can apply for exemptions from the country's coronavirus travel restrictions. It said, however, these exemptions will be made on a "case-by-case basis does not apply to anyone from Hubei province."

Australia said these exemptions will be made in recognition of "strict school attendance requirements under state and territory regulations, which if not met would prevent [the students] from completing their senior secondary qualifications."

The government said there are about 760 students already enrolled in Australian schools who have not been able to enter the country because of the coronavirus travel restrictions.

Students who are granted exemptions would still be subject to the enhanced border screening measures for Australian citizens and residents returning from China. The government noted, however, that violating quarantine arrangements after returning to Australia could make their visas subject to cancellation. —Wang

12:55 pm: China's central bank to release more liquidity to support economy amid outbreak

Reuters reported, citing comments Vice Governor Liu Quoqiang made to the Financial News, that the People's Bank of China will keep supporting the economy through measures releasing more liquidity to help companies impacted by the outbreak. The news agency reported, however, that Liu said the central bank will not resort to "flood-like" stimulus. —Wang

People wearing masks walk at streets on February 11, 2020, in Tokyo, Japan.
David Mareuil | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

11:16 am: Volunteer training for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics postponed

Organizers for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics have postponed volunteer training that was scheduled to begin Saturday, citing efforts to limit the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19. In an online statement, organizers said the training sessions will be postponed until May or later. —Wang

10:47 am: Second flight of Hong Kong residents evacuated from cruise ship returns to city

The Hong Kong government said its second flight returning residents from the Diamond Princess cruise ship arrived early Saturday. It said the flight included 82 Hong Kong residents and two Macao residents.

The people will be transferred to a quarantine center where they will be under observation for 14 days, the city said.

As of Friday, the government said 66 of the 634 confirmed coronavirus cases stemming from the cruise ship were Hong Kong residents. Those people are receiving treatment in Japan, Hong Kong said. —Wang

9:22 am: China reports 109 additional deaths

China's National Health Commission reported an additional 109 deaths, almost all in Hubei province. That brings the country's death toll to 2,345 people, according to government data.

As of the end of Friday, the new coronavirus has infected another 397 people with China's total confirmed cases at 76,288, the commission said.

China also revised its figures for Wednesday and Thursday. For Feb. 19, it said newly confirmed cases were revised from 394 up to 820. As of Feb. 20, the commission said there were 75,891 cumulative confirmed cases, up from 75,465. —Christine Wang and Evelyn Cheng

A local resident and member of the neighborhood committee stands at the gate to control entry and exit from a residential area on February 21, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

9:09 am: South Korea's numbers spike again, now nearly 350 cases

South Korea confirmed another 142 news cases as of Feb. 22, 9:00 a.m. local time, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That brings the total number of cases in the country to 346, making it the largest number of infections outside China.

The agency also said that another person has died, bringing the death toll in South Korea to two. —Joanna Tan

Correction: This entry was updated to reflect that two people have died from the new coronavirus in South Korea.

All times below are in Eastern time.

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

VIDEO4:3604:36
Restaurants in China hit by coronavirus outbreak

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. team overnight: U.S. prepares for possible pandemic as WHO officials say outbreak in Iran is 'worrisome'

— CNBC's Joanna Tan, Seema Mody, Patrick Manning and Dawn Kopecki contributed to this report. NBC News also contributed to this report.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the U.S. broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through the year 2032.