A cruise ship with more than 2,500 passengers on board is being held off the coast of California after the state's first confirmed death in the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities say the 71-year-old man, who had underlying health issues, is one of three people who were on a round trip cruise on the Grand Princess from San Francisco to Mexico last month that have now tested positive for the virus the Guardian reports. After the man, who lived in Placer County, and thousands of other passengers disembarked on Feb. 21, the vessel began a round trip to Hawaii. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a statewide emergency Wednesday, says 10 crew members and 11 passengers have now reported flu-like symptoms.
Newsom says the ship, which was supposed to dock in San Francisco Wednesday night, is being held in international waters and testing kits will be flown out to it. He says the Grand Princess' previous voyage has been linked to a "small cluster" of coronavirus cases in California and authorities are trying to track down 2,500 former passengers who could be at risk. The passenger who died is the 11th person known to have died from the coronavirus in the US and the first outside Washington state.In other developments:
- More cases in New York. The number of coronavirus cases in New York has now reached 11, including a person whose source of infection is unclear, the New York Times reports. New Jersey also reported its first coronavirus case Wednesday.
- "Distancing measures" in Washington. In the Seattle area, which has the largest cluster of cases, authorities are trying to stop the spread of the virus by urging people over 60 to stay home and asking companies to let people work from home as much as possible, reports Reuters. "The distancing measures that we’re recommending are essential because we need to slow the spread of the disease to the point where we are able to continue to handle the load," says Patty Hayes, the public health director for Seattle and King County. Authorities have also closed schools in a district that serves 20,000 students.
- "Changes to society." In Britain, which has now reported 90 coronavirus cases, the country's chief medical officer warned lawmakers that it is very likely that "community transmission" is now happening, the BBC reports. Christ Whitty said the government is stepping up virus control efforts, which could involve "changes to society."
- Iran sets up checkpoints. In Iran, confirmed cases have now surged to 3,513, with 107 deaths, the most in any country outside China. The country says it is taking measures including setting up checkpoints between cities and discouraging the use of paper money, the AP reports. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Palestinian authorities said sites including the Nativity Church in Bethlehem will be closed due to coronavirus fears.
- Facebook worker tests positive. Bloomberg reports that Facebook has closed its Seattle office until March 9 because a contractor based there has tested positive. The company says Seattle employees will be encouraged to work from home until the end of the month.
- Xi cancels trip. In China—still the worst-hit country by far, with more than 3,000 deaths—President Xi Jinping has cancelled a state visit to Japan, which is also dealing with a major outbreak. Chinese authorities say the number of new infections is continuing to fall, with few new cases reported outside Hubei province.
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