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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nasdaq  >  Amazon.com, Inc.    AMZN


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Coronavirus Spreads in Washington State as Amazon Worker Tests Positive -- 4th Update

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03/04/2020 | 12:34pm EDT

By Jennifer Calfas and Mike Cherney

New cases of the coronavirus emerged on both U.S. coasts Wednesday, with at least nine new diagnoses reported in California and four in New York State.

Los Angeles County announced six new cases, as local officials enacted emergency declarations, closed affected schools and warned residents to prepare for social and business disruptions. Elsewhere in California, Orange County announced two new cases and Contra Costa County announced its first.

The two patients in Orange County had a history of travel to affected countries, while the Contra Costa County patient didn't.

Now equipped with testing capabilities, officials in Orange County said they expect to find more cases. "The more you look for something, the more likely you are to find it," said Nichole Quick, Orange County's health officer.

New York, meanwhile, reported four additional cases Wednesday, all linked to an earlier case in Westchester County north of New York City, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. They included the patient's wife and children, and the neighbor who drove him to a hospital.

Overall, the U.S. has 128 cases of the virus, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University released before some of the latest cases were announced.

Washington state in particular has emerged as a hot spot for the virus, with at least 27 confirmed infections, according to its health department.

On Tuesday, Amazon.com Inc. said an employee who works at the company's headquarters in Seattle, where the tech giant has about 55,000 employees, tested positive for the virus. The company said it notified other workers who may have come into contact with the person.

Seattle is in King County, the same county as a nursing home where several elderly residents have contracted the virus and some have died. It isn't known if the Amazon case is connected to the nursing home. All nine U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus have been in Washington state.

Globally, the virus has infected 93,455 people, and 3,198 have died. Some 54% of those infected with the virus have recovered. More than 13,000 confirmed cases are outside of China, triple the number a week earlier.

China on Wednesday reported 119 new cases, with all but four in Hubei province, the epicenter of the epidemic. The number of new cases in the country is the lowest since Jan. 21.

Also Wednesday, Chinese authorities reported 38 new deaths from the virus, with 37 in Hubei and one in the Inner Mongolia region.

In Hong Kong, a spokesman for a government agency said a Pomeranian belonging to a coronavirus patient was infected by the virus. The dog was placed in quarantine last week after initial tests from its oral and nasal samples showed a weak positive result for the coronavirus. Further tests confirmed the dog had a "low-level" infection, according to a government statement on Wednesday. Veterinary experts in the city said it was likely a case of human-to-animal transmission.

In South Korea, the hardest-hit country outside of China, officials on Wednesday announced a $10 billion stimulus package to support the economy, the latest effort by global policy makers to contain the economic damage caused by the virus. As of 4 p.m. local time Wednesday, South Korea reported 435 new cases of the virus over the previous 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to 5,621.

South Korea's stimulus measures will help finance medical equipment and facilities to contain the virus, as well as provide financial assistance to businesses and households affected by the epidemic, according to the country's Ministry of Economy and Finance. The ministry plans to issue debt to finance the stimulus measures.

The move comes after the Federal Reserve and central banks in Australia and Malaysia cut interest rates in response to the virus. Hong Kong's Monetary Authority also followed the Fed by slashing a base lending rate by half a percentage point. A day earlier, a statement from the Group of Seven countries said they are ready to cooperate on actions, including fiscal stimulus measures, to guard against economic risks from Covid-19, the flulike disease caused by the virus.

In Europe, Polish authorities confirmed the first case of the virus in the country, a person who entered from Germany.

Germany banned exports of masks, gloves and other protective material to ensure enough supplies for medical professionals following complaints of shortages, the government's emergency task force said.

A senior minister said that the move exposed a fundamental dependence of Germany and other nations on Chinese manufacturing. China -- especially Hubei province, the center of the epidemic -- is the global hub for the manufacturing of masks and other protective equipment.

In Brussels, the European Union reported the first two cases at its offices. The European Defense Agency said Wednesday that a staff member had tested positive for the virus, having recently traveled to Milan, near Italy's most-affected area. An information technology official at the European Council was also diagnosed, said a spokesman for the body, which represents EU governments.

In France, the health ministry asked people who attended a February gathering of an evangelical church in the eastern town of Mulhouse to monitor themselves for symptoms after a cluster of infections cropped up in the area. The local prefecture also closed three schools.

French health authorities have identified 257 cases across the country, and four people infected with the virus have died, officials said.

Travel restrictions have prompted airlines all over the world to cancel flights, shops in hard-hit areas have closed, and some public events have been canceled, raising concerns that containment efforts could significantly slow the global economy.

In Australia, officials said a worker at a nursing home north of Sydney was diagnosed with the virus. Residents who were in contact with the worker are being isolated, officials said. A 95-year-old woman living at the facility who was in contact with the worker recently died after displaying respiratory symptoms, though it is still unclear whether her death was caused by the virus, officials said.

Australian authorities said there were 41 confirmed cases in the country as of midday Wednesday, including two who didn't have any recent travel history to high-risk countries, suggesting there could be community transmission of the virus.

"It is concerning when we have somebody present with coronavirus and we can't track the source," said Brad Hazzard, health minister for the Australian state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney. "In this case, this much-loved staff member had not traveled, she had not been overseas, she had not been to any of the hot spots around the world. So that raises the question, how did she end up with coronavirus?"

New Zealand officials on Wednesday confirmed their country's second case of the virus, a woman in her 30s who recently returned to Auckland from northern Italy, another center for the virus's spread. Her partner is also displaying symptoms and being tested, officials said. The woman flew on Air New Zealand Flight 283 from Singapore to Auckland on Feb. 25, authorities said, and also took two domestic flights about a week later.

In India, officials said they confirmed 22 new coronavirus cases, most of them part of a group of Italian tourists who had been traveling in the country for more than a week. Indian officials said about 28 people have tested positive for the virus in the country, but no deaths have been reported.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would skip next week's Holi celebrations -- a spring holiday known as the festival of colors -- to encourage people to avoid crowds.

--Bojan Pancevski contributed to this article.

Write to Jennifer Calfas at Jennifer.Calfas@wsj.com and Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com


Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AMAZON.COM, INC. -0.45% 2436.88 Delayed Quote.31.88%
BASE CO., LTD. -0.34% 11890 End-of-day quote.46.61%
INNER MONGOLIA YILI INDUSTRIAL GROUP CO., LTD. -2.41% 27.89 End-of-day quote.-9.86%
ORANGE SA 0.73% 10.355 Real-time Quote.-21.65%
WORLD CO., LTD. 1.38% 1327 End-of-day quote.-50.69%
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