Coronavirus live updates: UK’s Prince Charles tests positive; US agrees $2 trillion stimulus to aid economy

Pallbearers unload the coffin of a deceased person for a funeral ceremony at the cemetery of Grassobbio, Lombardy, on March 23, 2020, during the COVID-19 new coronavirus pandemic.

PIERO CRUCIATTI

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  • Global cases: At least 375,498, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization
  • Global deaths: At least 16,362, according to the latest figures from the WHO
  • Top six countries with the highest number of reported cases: China (81,767), Italy (63,927), U.S. (42,164), Spain (33,089), Germany (29,212), Iran (24,811).

All times below are in Beijing time.

6:44 pm: Surge of coronavirus cases in Africa prompted decision to cancel Olympics, IOC says

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that a surge in coronavirus cases in Africa had prompted the decision to postpone the world’s biggest sporting event.

Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday that the Olympic Games, which was due to start in Tokyo on July 24, would be postponed until no later than the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. — Elliot Smith.

6:37 pm: Zambia’s coronavirus cases increase to 12

Zambia’s number of coronavirus cases has risen to 12 from three, President Edgar Lungu said in a televised address on Wednesday. The previous figure had not been updated since March 22, Reuters reported. — Holly Ellyatt

6:30 pm: Tokyo governor to ask residents to stay indoors at weekend as virus cases rise, NHK reports

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike will soon hold a news conference, where she is expected to call on residents to refrain from non-essential outings this weekend to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, public broadcaster NHK said Wednesday

Japan has 1,193 confirmed cases of the virus, and has recorded 43 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. — Holly Ellyatt

6:06 pm: Coronavirus death toll rises again in Italy

The daily death toll from the coronavirus has increased once again in Italy, after two days of smaller rises, suggesting the worst may not yet be over for the embattled country.

In Italy, 743 people died from the virus on Tuesday, according to government data — the highest daily increase since Sunday. As of Wednesday morning, a total of 6,820 people have died in Italy due to the pandemic.

However, the number of new confirmed cases of coronavirus slowed down for a third consecutive day, according to the Emergency Commissioner and Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli. The total number of infections in the country now stands at 69,176. — Silvia Amaro.

5:33 pm: German business sentiment has become ‘extraordinarily dire,’ Ifo Institute says

Sentiment among German managers has become “extraordinarily dire,” Germany’s closely watched Ifo index of business sentiment shows, as its business climate index falls from 96.0 points in February to 86.1 points in March.

This is the steepest fall ever recorded since German reunification and the lowest value since July 2009, Ifo said. “Companies’ expectations in particular have darkened as never before. Assessments of the current situation have also worsened considerably. The German economy is in shock,” Ifo said in a statement Wednesday. — Holly Ellyatt

5:15 pm:  Indonesia reports 105 new coronavirus cases, three more deaths

Indonesia has confirmed 105 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the Southeast Asian country’s total to 790, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Three more people had died, taking the total number of deaths to 58, he said, adding 31 people had recovered from the virus. — Holly Ellyatt

4:39 pm: Over 170,000 Brits sign up as volunteers to help health service

More than 170,000 people in Britain have reportedly signed up to become volunteers to help the country’s National Health Service (NHS). It comes less than a day after the U.K. government appealed for 250,000 “people in good health” to help the NHS cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

Appealing to the public Tuesday evening, Health Minister Matt Hancock said the network of volunteers will help around 1.5 million people deemed vulnerable to the coronavirus due to pre-existing health conditions, and who have been told to “shield” themselves for 12 weeks. — Holly Ellyatt

4:18 pm: Global deaths from coronavirus near 19,000

The total number of deaths from the coronavirus has reached 18,923, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Italy has the highest number of deaths from the virus, at 6,820, followed by China with 3,163 deaths, and Spain with 2,991 fatalities. — Holly Ellyatt

3:45 pm: Sweden’s economy expected to contract 4% in 2020, Swedbank says

Sweden’s economy is forecast to contract 4% this year,  banking group Swedbank said in its latest economic outlook, as the coronavirus hits growth in the Scandinavian country.

“The downturn in the Swedish economy is broader and faster than during the financial crisis. Unemployment will reach 10% already by summer, despite unprecedented fiscal stimulus,” Swedbank said in its report released Wednesday.

“Most sectors in the Swedish economy are bleeding. In the services sector, several companies are completely without demand, abandoned as cautious households have gone home. Manufacturing is struggling with broken supply chains and falling demand.” — Holly Ellyatt

3:10 pm: Singapore says it will make its contact tracing tech freely available to developers

Less than a week after launching an app to track potential exposure to the coronavirus, Singapore is making the technology freely available to developers worldwide. 

The city-state rolled out an app called TraceTogether on March 20 and described it as a supplementary tool for its contact tracing efforts that relied on the recall and memory of infected individuals. — Saheli Roy Choudhury 

3:00 pm: Asian economies may ride out the virus crisis better than the West, analysts say

Investors hunting for safe spots to park their money should look to Asia now amid the current pandemic, analysts said, highlighting that the region is much more prepared economically to ride out the current crisis compared to the West.

Additionally, the virus appears to be more contained in Asia now, while it’s still running its course in the West, according to Morgan Stanley.

“It does make sense to tilt your portfolio towards China or towards Asia generally because the virus is moving from that region … to the West where it is unfortunately not yet contained,” said Andrew Harmstone, a senior portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley. — Weizhen Tan

2:40 pm: Confirmed cases in South Africa tops 700

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa has risen from 554 to 709, reported Reuters, citing local news channel SABC. 

The country hasn’t reported any deaths, according to World Health Organization data. — Yen Nee Lee

1:55 pm: White House and Senate strike a deal on stimulus

The White House and Senate leaders reached a deal on a massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to combat the economic impact of the outbreak.

On Tuesday, leaders in both parties had said that they were closing in on an agreement. Multiple people familiar with the situation told CNBC that they were still close to a deal, although talks continued as they worked through the text and hashed out final details. Two of the people had cautioned that talks could spill into Wednesday morning. — Lauren Hirsch, Leslie Josephs

1:40 pm: Malaysia reports 172 new cases, extends movement curbs

Malaysia has reported another 172 cases of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address. 

That brings the country’s total confirmed cases to 1,796, the highest in Southeast Asia so far. Malaysia also reported another death from COVID-19, taking the total fatalities to 17 since the outbreak.

In his address, Muhyiddin announced that the movement control order currently in place will be extended until Apr. 14 — two weeks longer than initially planned. Under the order, Malaysia has closed its borders to foreign visitors, shut down non-essential businesses and restrict the movement of its people. 

The prime minister also said he will announce additional stimulus measures on Friday. — Yen Nee Lee

12:35 pm: Thailand reports 107 new cases 

Thailand has confirmed another 107 cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the country’s total cases to 934, reported Reuters.

The Southeast Asian country has recorded four deaths since the outbreak, and 70 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, according to the report.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to declare an emergency on Thursday, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The state of emergency is expected to last for one month, the report said. — Yen Nee Lee

12:05 pm: Libya confirms its first case

Libya has confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, reported Reuters, citing a statement from the country’s National Centre for Disease Control. 

The statement didn’t give further details on the case, but doctors said the patient was in a hospital in Tripoli, said the report. Local media The Libya Observer, citing medical sources, said the patient is a 73-old man who arrived back in the country from Saudi Arabia via Tunisia around two weeks ago. — Yen Nee Lee

11:30 am: Lockdowns are not a sustainable way to keep virus out, says expert

An increasing number of countries around the world are closing borders and locking down cities to stem the spread of the coronavirus — but such measures are not “sustainable,” said an expert on infectious disease epidemiology.

Countries that implemented lockdowns — both full and partial — include the U.K., Italy and China. Others such as Singapore chose stricter social distancing measures such as shutting entertainment outlets, but kept schools open. (See 9:00 am update)

“The idea of a lockdown is really an emergency measure to bring the numbers down as quickly as possible, the number of new cases, but it’s not a sustainable way to keep the coronavirus out,” said Ben Cowling, a professor at The University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health.

“I think they’ll be in place for a few weeks and then once the numbers come down, they can switch to a more sustainable approach: Maybe doing more testing, and then when we find cases, isolating them, and also having some social distancing but not too extreme,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.”

In the case of China, where economic activity is gradually resuming, Cowling said cases of the coronavirus could still rebound now that the number of imported cases has risen. — Yen Nee Lee

11:00 am: New Zealand set for complete lockdown for a month, Australia warns surging cases could overwhelm its hospitals

New Zealand declared a state of emergency and prepared to go into complete lockdown starting at midnight for a month, according to Reuters. People are encouraged to self-isolate as all non-essential services close.

Over in neighboring Australia, officials warned that the surging number of cases could start overwhelming the country’s intensive care units, according to Reuters. Australia announced new restrictions late Tuesday which limit the number of people at weddings to five and capped funeral attendance at 10. More non-essential businesses will also be shut. — Weizhen Tan

10:00 am: Google gives temps 60-day contract extensions

Google’s temporary staff whose contracts were supposed to end during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, will now be extended an additional 60 days, CNBC has learned.

The company said contractors who had assignments scheduled to end during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic will be automatically extended two months, according to an internal document viewed by CNBC. This also includes assignments that have reached their maximum length, “where legally allowed,” the document stated. — Jennifer Elias

9:45 am: South Korea reports 100 new cases, 6 deaths

The number of new cases in South Korea jumped by 100 as of Wednesday morning, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It reported six new deaths.

That brings the country’s total to 9,137 confirmed cases, and 126 fatalities. — Weizhen Tan

9:00 am: Singapore shuts bars and entertainment venues, orders malls to reduce crowds

Singapore announced more lockdown measures on Tuesday night — its most stringent so far. Bars, clubs, cinemas and other entertainment outlets will be shut from Thursday till Apr. 30. The government also ordered malls and restaurants to reduce crowds if they were to stay open. 

The city-state also suspended all religious services. Despite being one of the earliest countries to report the outbreak, Singapore has not imposed a full shutdown, with schools, offices and shops staying open.

The number of cases in the city-state started climbing last week as compared to earlier in March and February — most of the new cases were imported. It had 558 cases as of Tuesday. — Weizhen Tan

8:45 am: California receives personal protective equipment from Asia

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Virgin Atlantic Founder Sir Richard Branson brought a significant amount of personal protective equipment from Asia aboard a Boeing 747 aircraft to Oakland, California. 

“It’s another example and indication of people who are stepping up in significant ways,” Newsom said. Newsom has ordered a lockdown for the state’s 40 million residents, asking them to stay at home. Cases in the US now total 53,660, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. 

Newsom also announced that the U.S.S. Mercy hospital ship is set to arrive in Los Angeles on Friday and will be available to begin taking on patients as soon as this weekend. — Salvador Rodriguez 

8:05 am: China reports 47 new cases, 4 additional deaths

China’s National Health Commission reported 47 new confirmed cases as of March 24. It said all new cases were all imported, meaning they traveled from overseas. There were also four more deaths.

The NHC reported that there were no new cases in Hubei province — the epicenter of the outbreak, but three of the deaths were in the province.

That brings China’s total to 81,218 confirmed cases, and 3,281 fatalities. The total number of imported cases was 474, according to the NHC.  — Weizhen Tan

7:50 am: Asia markets set to jump as US shares soar

Stocks in Australia surged 6% in early trade, while Japan markets were also set to jump. That followed giant gains on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged more than 11% to its best one-day percentage gain in 87 years, and the S&P 500 rallied 9.4% to 2,447.33 for its best day since October 2008.

Investor optimism has risen with U.S. lawmakers closing in on a massive fiscal stimulus bill worth $2 trillion to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. — Weizhen Tan

All times below are in Eastern time.

7:02 pm: Trump approval rating rises as he responds to the coronavirus outbreak

Crises are often the ticket to higher approval ratings for politicians, and President Donald Trump, it appears, is no exception.

During an election year, any bump could have significant ramifications.

In the latest Gallup poll, released Tuesday, Trump’s approval rating hit 49%, matching his best performance in the poll.

Earlier this month, Trump’s approval rating was at 44%, according to Gallup. The 5-point boost comes amid the president’s near-daily participation in coronavirus task force briefings and series of moves to combat the pandemic in the United States. —Yelena Dzhanova

6:23 pm: White House official tells anyone who has left NYC that they should self-quarantine

Members of the White House coronavirus task force urged those leaving New York City to self-quarantine for 14-days in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 during a press briefing on Tuesday. 

Deborah Birx, the task force coordinator, and Anthony Fauci, another task force member and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the precaution was necessary given the high rate of infections in the nation’s most populous city. —Tucker Higgins

5:15 pm: Los Angeles health officials say a child under 18 has died from the coronavirus

A child under 18 has died from the coronavirus in California, Los Angeles County health officials announced Tuesday.

“Tragically, one of the people who died was a person under the age of 18, a devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department, said at a news briefing.

The patient was from Lancaster, California, the county’s health department said in a press release. Ferrer did not provide more details such as the precise age of the patient or whether they had underlying health conditions. Representatives from the health department weren’t immediately available for further comment. —Will Feuer

2:50 pm: US cases surged tenfold in a week to 50,000

In the U.S., the virus has infected more than 50,206 people as of 2:15 p.m. EDT and killed at least 600 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York state, which has 25,665 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accounts for nearly half of all cases in the U.S. 

Confirmed U.S. cases passed 5,000 just one week ago. On March 1, there were roughly 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. —Will Feuer

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: US coronavirus cases top 53,000, Universal Resort extends closure.

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