Coronavirus live updates: Xi leads national day of mourning in China; Tesla dismissing contractors

Chinese police officers wear protective masks as they stand in formation next to a national flag at half staff just before three minutes of silence to mark the country’s national day of mourning for COVID-19 at Beijing Railway Station on April 4, 2020 in Beijing, China. Across the country people paused, and sirens and horns wailed for three minutes to remember medical personnel and patients who died during the coronavirus outbreak.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 1,099,000. 
  • Global deaths: At least 58,000.
  • Top 5 countries: United States (277,953), Italy (119,827), Spain (119,199), Germany (91,159), and China (82,518). 

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 12:33 p.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

2:32 pm: Xi leads national day of mourning as China honors those killed during pandemic

Chinese President Xi Jinping led his country and its leaders in mourning on Saturday, as the nation observed three minutes of silence in honor of those killed during the pandemic, according to states news agency Xinhua. 

Xi stood with leaders of the country, including Premier Li Keqiang and members of the Communist Party of China, at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing at 10 a.m. local time, Xinhua reported.

State-owned Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, posted footage of Xi and the leaders standing together with their heads bowed in silence. Each wore a white flower pinned to their chest pockets and were facing the Chinese flag that flew at half-mast. Across the nation, people could be seen standing in public squares, while air defense sirens blared and horns on cars, trains and ships were sounded.

The new coronavirus that has spread to more than 180 countries and territories in the world, was first reported in China in December last year. The death toll in the mainland now stands at 3,326 and more than 81,000 cases have been confirmed, according to the latest report by the National Health Commission of China. —Joanna Tan

1:55 pm: India may extend lockdown, officials tell Reuters

India may extend its lockdown as the number of coronavirus cases climb, Reuters reported, citing officials in the South Asian nation. More than 1 billion people in the country are currently on a 21-day lockdown.

According to Reuters, three senior officials have said the restrictions — due to end on April 14 — could be extended depending on the assessment of the situation in each state.

“If people don’t obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown,” health minister of Maharashtra state in India, Rajesh Tope, told Reuters. “It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks.”

India has 2,650 active cases as of Saturday, according to the country’s health ministry. The death toll stands at 68 and 183 people have been discharged, the ministry’s website showed. Nearly 6,000 people in South Asia have contracted COVID-19, according to a Reuters report. —Joanna Tan

A woman on a phone walks past a graffiti depicting world map affected with coronavirus. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ordered a nationwide lockdown of 21 days to curb further spread of COVID-19 in the country.

Ashish Vaishnav | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

1:05 pm: Thailand reports 89 new cases, bans passenger flights from landing

Thailand reported an additional fatality and 89 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, Reuters said citing the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration. That brings the Southeast Asian nation’s death toll to 29 and total confirmed cases to 2,067, the news agency said.

It comes as the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand temporarily banned all passenger flights from landing in the country, effective from Saturday through to the end of Monday, as authorities seek to limit the coronavirus outbreak. —Joanna Tan

12:41 pm: South Korea adds 3 more deaths and 94 new cases

South Korea reported 3 additional deaths on Saturday, bringing the total number of those killed by the coronavirus to 177. According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are now 10,156 confirmed cases of COVID-19, after 94 new cases were reported.

The country announced on Saturday that social distancing measures will be extended by another two weeks as it strives to cut the rate of infections to about 50 cases a day, Reuters reported. The social distancing campaign was initially set to end on Monday. While South Korea has mostly succeeded in capping the number of infections at around 100 or so each day, some clusters of infections have continued to emerge in churches, hospitals and among those coming from overseas. —Joanna Tan

12:28 pm: Beijing strives for global leadership in the coronavirus crisis

China is bolstering its soft power and taking the lead in a global response to the coronavirus health crisis. It comes as the mainland’s daily number of new infections decline, while those in the U.S. continue to rise.

In the last few weeks, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been busy calling leaders across the world and rallying for global coordination in managing the coronavirus outbreak. Chinese health experts have also hosted video conferences with those from other countries to share experiences.

“This is the first international crisis where China is actively taking a global leadership role and it stands in particular contrast to the US, which has disdained international cooperation and invested more political capital in criticizing China for its role in allowing the outbreak to spread,” said analysts from the Eurasia Group in a report this week. —Huileng Tan

11:36 am: US Attorney General calls for home confinement for eligible inmates held at federal prisons

U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Friday called for the release of vulnerable inmates into home confinement, especially those held at federal prisons who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. 

According to NBC News, Barr sent a memo to the director of Bureau of Prisons (BOP) ordering him to increase the use of home confinement for eligible inmates. “While the BOP has taken extensive precautions to prevent COVID-19 from entering its facilities and infecting our inmates, those precautions, like any precautions, have not been perfectly successful at all institutions,” Barr wrote, according to NBC News.

“I am therefore directing you to immediately review ALL inmates incarcerated at FCI Oakdale, FCI Danbury, FCI Elkton, and similarly situated facilities where you determine that COVID-19 is materially affecting operations,” read the memo, according to NBC News. Those institutions have shown significant levels of infection.

The memo also acknowledged the sensitivity of releasing inmates to the streets and emphasized that care should be taken to protect the public as well as law enforcement from dangerous criminals, NBC said. —Joanna Tan

10:52 am: Tesla dismissing contractors from California and Nevada, sources say

Tesla is letting go of contractors from its U.S. car and battery plants, according to three workers and correspondence shared with CNBC.

The company is cutting contractors from its workforce, both in its vehicle factory in Fremont, California, and at the Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nevada, where Tesla makes the signature battery packs that power its electric vehicles and energy storage products. The cuts affect hundreds, according to estimates from the people familiar with the move, who asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to press about internal matters. 

Temps — many of whom worked at Tesla for years, some hoping to jump into full-time roles — were notified by their staffing agencies about the cuts late this week. A memo from Balance Staffing to dismissed workers said: “It is with my deepest regret that I must inform you that the Tesla factory shutdown has been extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, Tesla has requested to end all contract assignments effective immediately.”
Lora Kolodny

9:33 am: China set to hold a national day of mourning

China will be mourning the thousands of people killed by COVID-19 on Saturday, the state council announced earlier. The national day of mourning will see people across the country observe 3 minutes of silence at 10 a.m. Beijing time. Flags will be at half-mast and entertainment activities will be suspended. —Joanna Tan

The daughters of Zhu Bojin, a medical team member supporting Hubei Province, waiting for their father to return to Haian City, Jiangsu Province, China, April 3, 2020. The last group of four members returned to Haian after 14 days’ isolation and recuperation, and were welcomed by the people of their hometown.

Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

9:21 am: China reports 4 more deaths and 19 new cases

China reported an additional 19 new cases, of which 18 were from people arriving from overseas. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in the mainland to 81,639, according to the China National Health Commission.

Additionally, there were 64 new cases of asymptomatic infections, or people who showed no symptoms but tested positive for COVID-19.

There were four additional deaths from the coronavirus and all of them came from the central province of Hubei, the epicenter of the mainland’s outbreak. That’s brings the death toll in China to 3,326 as of Friday, the NHC said. —Joanna Tan

All times below are in Eastern time.

8 pm: White House advisor says another coronavirus epidemic like NYC could change US mortality rate

Another big coronavirus outbreak like the one New York City is bracing for could “dramatically change” the death rate of COVID-19 in the U.S., White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said Friday.

White House officials earlier this week projected between 100,000 and 240,000 people will die from the coronavirus in the U.S. Birx said the mortality models are updated every night to take into account new data, which generally include how the disease is progressing in other countries, social distancing restrictions imposed by states and the rise in new infections.

The estimates currently project between 40,000 and 178,000 deaths, according to the data cited by Birx, who added that the average number of deaths is expected to be around 93,000. —William Feur

6:53 pm: Trump to ban export of coronavirus protection gear, says he’s ‘not happy with 3M’

President Donald Trump said Friday that he will invoke the Defense Production Act to ban “unscrupulous actors and profiteers” from exporting critical medical gear used to protect wearers from the coronavirus.

The president unveiled the new order amid a dispute with U.S. manufacturing giant 3M, which had warned the Trump administration that halting its exports of respirator masks could make them even less available in the United States.

“We’re not happy with 3M. We’re not at all happy with 3M. And the people who dealt with it directly are not happy with 3M,” Trump said at a White House press briefing. — Kevin Breuninger, Christina Wilkie

11:16 am: Dr. Anthony Fauci warns we shouldn’t assume hydroxychloroquine is a ‘knockout drug’

Americans shouldn’t assume hydroxychloroquine is a “knockout drug” in preventing or treating COVID-19, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned.

“We still need to do the definitive studies to determine whether any intervention, not just this one, is truly safe and effective,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Fox News. “But when you don’t have that information, it’s understandable why people might want to take something anyway even with the slightest hint of being effective.”

New York state last week began the first large-scale clinical trial looking at hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for the coronavirus after the Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked the approval process. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: US deaths top 7,000, Fauci warns about ‘knockout drug’

— Correction: This article has been updated to reflect accurately that there are now 10,156 confirmed cases in South Korea, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An earlier version misstated the number of cases.

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