Nations Increase Lockdowns; Olympics Near Delay: Virus Update

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Nations Increase Lockdowns; Olympics Near Delay: Virus Update

Countries from the U.K. to South Africa ramped up containment efforts, implementing strict stay-at-home policies even as China prepared to lift its lockdown on Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy can’t remain slowed for too long. Financial markets rebounded after the Federal Reserve unveiled unprecedented measures, taking action as Congress continued to argue over stimulus.

Infections continued to climb across Europe. Italy may have 10 times the number of cases officially reported, the emergency chief Angelo Borrelli told daily La Repubblica in an interview. The Olympics moved closer to postponement.

Ex-Finnish President Ahtisaari Has Coronavirus (3:53 p.m. HK)

Finland’s former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari, 82, has contracted the novel coronavirus. Ahtisaari “is well under the circumstances,” the Finnish president’s office said in an emailed statement. Ahtisaari received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 after resolving a number of international conflicts, including helping to bring independence to Namibia in 1989-90 and to ease tensions in Indonesia’s Aceh province in 2005. Aftisaari served one term as Finland’s president from 1994 to 2000.

Thai Premier to Impose State of Emergency (3:50 p.m. HK)

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said a state of emergency will be declared for a month from March 26 as the government steps up efforts to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The decree will give him broad powers to impose further curbs on every-day life. Confirmed cases have surged to more than 800 from the low 40s at the start of the month, and on Tuesday officials reported three more fatalities, taking the death toll to four. Much of the country, including the capital Bangkok, has been partially shut down already and people are being advised to stay at home.

Italy Cases Far Higher Than Reported: Repubblica (3:27 p.m. HK)

Italy may have 10 times the number of virus cases than officially reported, the emergency chief Angelo Borrelli told daily La Repubblica in an interview.

“It is credible to estimate that there are 10 positive cases for every one officially reported,” Borrelli told the newspaper. That would raise the total number to over 600,000, the newspaper reported.

Italy reported 601 new deaths from the coronavirus on Monday, posting a decline for a second day, as the country enters its third week of lockdown measures designed to keep the spread of the disease in check.

Australia Cases Climb Past 2,000 (3:19 p.m. HK)

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia has surged through the 2,000-mark, as authorities battle to stem the outbreak through travels bans and closing non-essential businesses.

There were 2,136 confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. in Sydney on Tuesday, up 427 from the same time Monday, according to the Department of Health.

AB InBev Pulls Outlook; Pernod Sees 20% Profit Drop (2:54 p.m. HK)

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV withdrew its earnings outlook for 2020 and Pernod Ricard SA forecast a 20% drop in profit as the coronavirus pandemic strikes makers of alcoholic drinks by preventing barhopping.

Although AB InBev gave its yearly forecast in February, the scale and magnitude of the coronavirus has changed significantly, the company said in a statement. Pernod said it gets a quarter of its revenue from on-trade, and it’s forecasting that business will be absent from mid-March through June as bars and restaurants close and won’t reorder.

Virus Explosion in Australia Exposes Cruise Ship Menace (2:03 p.m. HK)

Coronavirus cases in Australia from a single infected cruise ship exploded, highlighting again the dangers the vessels pose to governments fighting the spread of the virus.

The number of infections from the Ruby Princess, which docked in Sydney on March 19, has reached 133, Australian health authorities said. One woman in her 70s has died.

The Princess Cruises-operated vessel is just the latest cruiseliner to become a hotbed for the virus. More than 700 people were infected on another Princess Cruises-run vessel off Japan in the early days of the outbreak.

European Airports Face $15 Billion Revenue Loss (1:56 p.m. HK)

European airports will lose more than 700 million passengers in 2020, resulting in a 14 billion euro ($15 billion) hit to revenue for airport operators, according to industry groups.

The forecast is based on travel restrictions being lifted toward the end of April and demand gradually recovering, associations representing airports, caterers, retailers and ground handlers wrote in a joint letter to the European Commission. The financial hit is for airport operators alone, and doesn’t take into account “the massive losses that the other service providers at airports will inevitably incur.”

China to Lift Lockdown in Wuhan on April 8 (1:26 p.m. HK)

China’s Hubei province said it will allow transportation to resume for the city of Wuhan on April 8, effectively lifting a mass quarantine over the city where the coronavirus first emerged last December.

People in Wuhan will be allowed to leave the city and Hubei province, according to a statement on the provincial government’s website Tuesday.

The easing of restrictions comes as Hubei reported that new infections dropped to zero on March 19, a dramatic plunge from the height of an epidemic that’s infected more than 80,000 Chinese and killed over 3,200.

Southwest Air Cuts 1,500 Daily Flights (11:10 a.m. HK)

Southwest Airlines Co. will scrub 1,500 flights from its daily schedule, 500 more than planned just days ago, because it is only filling about 20% of seats on its planes as the coronavirus slams demand. Southwest’s rapid escalation reflects the severity of the drop in travel demand that has impacted airlines around the world. The four largest U.S. airlines had cut about 5,000 flights by midday Monday.

Intel Taps Emergency Supply to Donate Masks, Gear (10:20 a.m. HK)

Intel Corp. joined the ranks of global tech giants donating personal protective equipment, announcing it will donate more than a million items, including face masks, gloves and other gear to health-care workers. Facebook Inc. donated its emergency supply of 720,000 face masks this week, and Microsoft Corp. is supplying equipment to the hard-hit Seattle area.

NYC Region’s Infection Rate Far Exceeds Other Areas (9:25 a.m. HK)

The New York metropolitan area, the center of the outbreak in the U.S., has a higher infection rate than in the rest of the country and a greater share of tests that come out positive, said Deborah Birx, a member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force. The attack rate in the region is close to one in 1,000, five times what other areas are seeing, Birx said a Trump press briefing. About 28% of the submitted tests are positive, compared with less than 8% in the rest of the country, she said.

“Clearly the virus had been circulating there for a number of weeks to have this level of penetrance into the general community,” Birx said.

FDA Lifts Curbs on Maker of Drug Touted by Trump (9:22 a.m. HK)

U.S. regulators have lifted import restrictions on an Indian pharmaceutical company in an effort to increase supplies of a malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a potential coronavirus treatment.

Mumbai-based Ipca Laboratories Ltd. said in a March 21 securities filing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “has made exception to the import alert” for three of its facilities, allowing it to supply tablets as well as raw materials for making chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulphate.

The U.S. is facing possible shortages of both drugs, which are also widely prescribed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Hospitals have been stocking up on the treatments in recent weeks following reports from doctors outside the U.S. that they were effective against Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There have been no large-scale clinical trials to support those claims.

Washington State Shuts Down (8:52 a.m. HK)

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay-at-home order that begins in 48 hours and will be in force for at least two weeks. The order bans all gatherings and shutters non-essential businesses. Grocery and pharmacy shopping, doctor appointments and restaurant takeout will still be allowed.

The actions come on a day in which Seattle and King County announced 12 fatalities, the largest single-day death toll yet in that area, and Boeing shut down in-state production after a worker at its Everett plant died of Covid-19 yesterday. There are 2,221 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Washington State, according to the Department of Health, and 110 deaths.

The step follows similar actions by New York and California, but also by states that have fewer infections than Washington such as Oregon and West Virginia

China’s Imported Cases Almost Double (8:20 a.m. HK)

China reported 78 additional coronavirus cases for March 23, with 74 of them from abroad, according to statement from the country’s National Health Commission. The other four, including one from Wuhan, are locally reported cases.

While the number of local cases in China has been dwindling, reaching zero in recent days, the number of imported infections has been rising. The latest figure is almost double the number of imported cases reported a day earlier.

China now has 81,171 total confirmed coronavirus cases. The nation’s death toll rose by seven to 3,277. All the latest fatalities are from Hubei. Discharged patients rose by 456 to 73,159.

Trump Says First Lady Tested Negative for Virus (8:17 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said first lady Melania Trump had tested negative for the coronavirus. The president was asked if she was tested since both he and Vice President Mike Pence tested negative. Trump did not say whether the first lady had symptoms of the disease or had a known contact with someone who had the virus.

Amazon Suspends Seller Accounts Over Price Gouging (8:14 a.m. HK)

Amazon.com Inc. said it has suspended thousands of seller accounts for price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. The operator of the largest U.S. online marketplace said it has pulled well over half a million offers and suspended more than 3,900 selling accounts in the U.S. for violating its fair pricing policies.

Read Also:Nigeria confirms first Coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa

Trump Says Boeing Will Need Help (8:12 a.m. HK)

U.S. President Donald Trump said Boeing Co. will need government “help” amid the economic slowdown stemming from the coronavirus crisis that has hit the travel industry.

“Boeing’s going to need some help,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “Obviously the airlines are going to have a problem, but the airlines aren’t going to be buying from Boeing or anybody else right now because of this difficulty.”

The planemaker announced Monday that it is shutting its Seattle-area manufacturing hub for two weeks after a worker died of coronavirus complications, adding to a wave of plant closings sweeping the globe as the aviation industry navigates the biggest disruption in decades.

Trump Says U.S. to Reopen in Less Than 3 or 4 Months (6:38 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said the U.S. economy can’t remain slowed for long to fight the coronavirus, declaring the country “was not built to be shut down.”

“America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon,” Trump said at a news conference. “A lot sooner than three or four months.”

The president also said he was delaying the Oct. 1 deadline for Americans to get a REAL ID. The identification will eventually be required to board a domestic flight in the United States.

Florida Orders Self-Isolation for Travelers From N.Y., N.J. (5:34 p.m. NY)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he will issue an executive order making it mandatory for all arrivals from New York and New Jersey to self-isolate for two weeks upon entering the state.

Read Also:What are the Coronavirus symptoms and how do I protect myself?

Trump Administration May Reopen Obamacare Exchange (5:20 p.m. NY)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering reopening enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act in response to the outbreak. Americans who don’t currently have coverage may see if they qualify for “special enrollment periods” if they’ve lost their job or have been subject to other life-changing circumstances, a CMS spokesperson said.

CMS is working closely with the states and health plans to assess other necessary actions to ensure Americans have coverage and access to services during the pandemic, the spokesperson said.

Boris Johnson Puts U.K. on Three-Week Lockdown (4:38 p.m. NY

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved radical measures to ban all unnecessary movement of people for at least three weeks. Police will break up gatherings and have the power to fine individuals who break the tough new laws. Shops selling non-essential items, playgrounds, libraries and places of worship will be closed.