Coronavirus updates: Officials find earliest known US COVID-19 deaths

narvikk/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A global pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed more than 177,000 people worldwide.

Over 2.5 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected nation, with more than 825,000 diagnosed cases and at least 45,075 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Wednesday. All times Eastern:

6:28 a.m.: Eight babies test positive for COVID-19 at Japanese children’s home

At least eight babies at a Tokyo care home for infants have contracted the novel coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

After a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on April 16, tests were subsequently conducted on all infants at the facility in Japan’s capital, which is run by Saiseikai Central Hospital. Eight of those tests returned positive results, according to a statement from the hospital.

The infected children have been hospitalized as staff continue to monitor the health of those who tested negative. The facility has been disinfected and strict infection control measures have been put in place, the hospital said.

Staff members who have shown symptoms have already been sent home, though the hospital didn’t specify how many.

The children’s care home is a separate building from the main hospital, which will continue inpatient and outpatient treatment as usual.

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expanded a state of emergency, which was initially limited to Tokyo and six other prefectures, to all of Japan as the virus continues to spread. The country has recorded more than 11,500 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and at least 281 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

5:50 a.m.: Singapore surpasses 10,000 cases

Singapore now has more than 10,000 diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus.

The island city-state’s health ministry on Wednesday confirmed another 1,016 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 as of 12 p.m. local time, bringing the total number to 10,141.

The vast majority of the new cases are work permit holders who live in dormitories for foreign workers. Just 15 of those newly diagnosed are Singaporean nations or permanent residents, according to the health ministry.

5:21 a.m.: Man who claimed to have COVID-19 jailed for spitting at London police

A 21-year-old man in London was sentenced to six months behind bars for domestic assault and spitting at officers while claiming he was infected with the novel coronavirus, U.K. police said Wednesday.

The man was arrested in East London on Monday on suspicion of domestic assault on a woman and criminal damage to her property. The suspect also told authorities that he had COVID-19 and, while being put into a police van, he spat at two officers. He was further charged for assault on emergency workers, according to a statement from London’s Metropolitan Police Service.

While in custody, police said the man told them he did not have COVID-19 nor any related symptoms. He appeared in custody at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to prison.

“I hope he spends his period in prison to reflect on his behavior, and that his prison sentence sends a message to others who are willing to commit domestic offenses and to target police officers whose job it is to protect Londoners,” police inspector Alexis Manley said in a statement Wednesday.

3:30 a.m.: California officials find earliest known US deaths from virus

California officials have confirmed what are now the earliest known deaths from the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Santa Clara County announced late Tuesday that new autopsy results show two individuals who died at home on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 were positive for COVID-19. The individuals were not tested for the virus because they died when very limited testing was available only through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a statement from the county in Northern California.

“Testing criteria set by the CDC at the time restricted testing to only individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms,” Santa Clara County said in a statement.

The United States previously recorded its first official fatality from COVID-19 on Feb. 28 — an individual in Washington state’s King County.

However, health officials later discovered that two people at a Seattle-area nursing home had also died from the disease on Feb. 26.

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