Coronavirus briefing: Five updates for Friday, March 6

The number of people worldwide infected with the coronavirus reached 100,000 on Friday, a little more than two months after the virus was first reported in China.

The respiratory virus has swept across Asia and has sparked outbreaks in Europe and the United States.

More than 100,000 cases of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 3,300 deaths as of March 6, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 233 confirmed cases with 14 deaths in Washington state and California.

The World Health Organization has labeled the coronavirus outbreak a “very high” risk of spread and impact, but has so far stopped short of declaring it a global pandemic.

‘This is not a drill,’ WHO says

In his daily briefing Thursday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom said the outbreak in South Korea shows positive signs that government action can help control the coronavirus. The virus in Korea appears to be mostly contained to one cluster and the number of reported cases is declining, he said.

“This epidemic can be pushed back, but only with a collective, coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government,” Adhanom said.

But, he said, he worries that other countries are not taking the threat seriously.

“We are concerned that in some countries the level of political commitment and the actions that demonstrate that commitment do not match the level of the threat we all face,” he said.

“This is not a drill. This is not the time to give up. This is not a time for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops,” Adhanom said.

Maryland declares state of emergency

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday declared a state of emergency after three cases of the disease were confirmed in the state.

“While today’s news may seem overwhelming, this is not a reason to panic,” the governor said. “Marylanders should go to work or go to school tomorrow just as they normally would. At the same time, I want to continue to remind everyone to prepare themselves and continue to stay informed.”

“I am confident in our state’s ability to respond effectively to these three cases of coronavirus as well as to any future cases, and to be a national leader in responding to this situation and in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine,” Logan said.

The three cases are in Montgomery County, just outside Washington, D.C.

First case found at the Vatican

The Pope may have just been sick with the common cold last week, but now Vatican City is reporting the first case of COVID-19, according to Reuters.

Italy has seen the biggest outbreak in Europe, with more than 3,800 confirmed cases and 148 deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

‘Impossible’ to cancel 2020 Olympics

Yoshiro Mori, the Tokyo organizing committee chief, told the International Olympics Committee, that the 2020 Olympics will begin as planned July 24, according to Kyodo News.

“I want to again state clearly that cancellation or postponement of the Tokyo Games has not been considered,” Mori said, according to the news outlet.

Japan has had more than 350 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and six deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

When reporters asked Mori about the possibility of calling off the games, he replied, “Impossible,” Reuters reports.

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Tips to help protect yourself from coronavirus

There’s no vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, and experts say one may be months away from mass production.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, staying home when you are sick, covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The agency also advises washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

The CDC does not advise that healthy people wear face masks, but says they should be worn by coronavirus patients to help avoid spreading the illness.

This story was originally published March 6, 2020 5:52 AM.

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