More countries tightened international and domestic travel as the coronavirus spread showed little signs of easing, with the number of infections topped 300,000 globally.
Italy is shutting almost all industrial output after reporting the most coronavirus deaths in a day. The U.S. closed in on a deal for an aid package to boost the virus-battered economy by $2 trillion.
Infections surged in countries including U.K., France and Thailand. Spain’s leader said the outbreak will worsen this week. U.K. pubs closed, and New York will shut non-essential businesses on Sunday.
China’s Hubei province, which was the epicenter of the outbreak, had no new cases for a fourth day. Australia deployed an additional A$66 billion ($38.2 billion) in stimulus. Singapore will bar short-term visitors from entering or transiting through the city-state, while work-permit holders risk not being able to enter anytime soon.
Worldwide cases exceed 307,000, more than 13,000 deadItaly deaths jump 19% to 4,825; cases rise to 53,578U.S. cases top 26,000France fatalities rise to 562U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for Covid-19Italy rocked by deadliest day as virus prompts industry shutdownCovid-19 is becoming the disease that divides American societyBondi Beach crowds spur threat of “draconian” virus controls
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All Beijing International Flights Must Stop Elsewhere First (1:56 p.m. HK)
All international flights bound for Beijing will have to first stop in one of 12 designated cities for those on board to take coronavirus tests before arriving at the capital, which is seeing more imported infections.
The new rule is tighter than one announced on March 19, which only applied to some overseas flights to Beijing, the government said Sunday. The 12 cities include Shanghai, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Dalian and Xi’an.
Japan Urges Residents to Limit Non-Urgent U.S. Travel (1:49 p.m. HK)
Japan’s foreign ministry asked residents to refrain from making non-essential trips to the U.S. because of the increase in coronavirus cases there.
Trump Sends Letter to North Korea Offering Help Fighting Virus (1:35 p.m. HK)
U.S. President Donald Trump sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offering help fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
The letter also included a plan for advancing ties between the countries, according to a statement from Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, that was published by state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Read more here.
Thailand, India Report New Cases (12:53 p.m. HK)
Thailand reported 188 more coronavirus cases, the highest daily increase so far, bringing the total to 599.
Separately, India said cases in the country rose to 341. South Korea reported 98 new virus cases, bringing the total to 8,897. The number of deaths rose by two to 104.
Goldman Sachs HK Staffer Cleared After False Positive Virus Test (12:51 p.m. HK)
An employee at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s investment banking division in Hong Kong tested negative for the coronavirus after earlier being identified as a highly probable case, according to a statement from the bank. The investment bank said it will re-open its offices on the 60th and 67th floors of Cheung Kong Center in the city with immediate effect, and that some other employees are to be released from restrictions.
Prison Riots Break Out Across Colombia (12:30 p.m. HK)
Colombian authorities are trying to quell riots in several jails across the country amid fears that the coronavirus could spread in overcrowded conditions.
The nation’s prison service said in a post on Twitter that it is “dealing with disturbances” alongside the security forces in various jails. Earlier, it said in a statement there are currently no cases of the disease in the prison system.
Indonesia Restricts Public Gatherings (12:20 p.m. HK)
Indonesian police have called on the public to avoid public gatherings, including religious activities, as the government tries to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Police said in a statement on Sunday that they will take action against mass gatherings as well as individuals who hoard basic necessities.
Mumbai Stops Residents From Using Trains (11:57 a.m. HK)
Indian authorities barred Mumbai residents from using suburban train services that ferry 8 million people each day after thousands of poor migrants thronged the city’s railway stations Friday to flee to their native villages, afraid that a partial shutdown in the nation’s commercial hub would rob them of weeks of pay.
Singapore, Vietnam Bar Entry (11:31 a.m. HK)
Singapore said it will bar all short-term visitors from entering or transiting through the city-state to reduce the risk of imported cases of the coronavirus.
The government will also limit the entry of work permit holders to those in essential sectors such as health-care and transport, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a ministerial task force to tackle the virus. Holders of various visas or passes, which allow them to work and live in Singapore, risk not being allowed back in soon should they decide to leave the island now, Wong said.
Separately, Vietnam said it will temporarily suspend entry to all foreigners who already have travel visas to the country, except for those visiting the country for diplomat or official purposes. Foreigners who are deemed experts, business managers or highly skilled workers will still be allowed to enter the country but must have certificates indicating they have tested negative for the virus, must fill out health declarations and will be ordered into quarantine upon arrival, the government said in a statement on Sunday.
Australian State Shut Down Non-Essential Services (11:29 a.m. HK)
Australia’s two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, plan to close non-essential services over the next 48 hours to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. All non-essential travel such as holidays should be canceled, and a National Cabinet meeting of federal and state leaders has been brought forward to Sunday night to discuss local lockdowns in virus hotspots, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Canberra.
The government deployed an additional A$66 billion in stimulus, including cash payments of as much as A$100,000 to small businesses, in a second package aimed at averting recession and saving jobs.
Read more here.
Amazon’s Bezos Tells Workers Virus Will ‘Get Worse’ (11:09 a.m. HK)
Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos warned his company’s 800,000 employees that the coronavirus outbreak will likely “get worse before it gets better,” according to an open letter shared on his Instagram account.
“This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty,” Bezos wrote in his first public comments about the outbreak. “It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical.”
Uganda Confirms First Case (10:47 a.m. HK)
Uganda confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the country, the Ministry of Health said, adding that it involved a patient with recent travel history from the United Arab Emirates.
Trump, Congressional Leaders Say Deal on Virus Stimulus Close (10:19 a.m. HK)
U.S. President Donald Trump and congressional leaders said negotiators were closing in on an agreement for a coronavirus economic-relief plan that the top White House economic adviser said would provide a $2 trillion boost to the U.S. economy.
Read more here.
Japan to Help Low-Income Households: NHK (10:12 a.m. HK)
Japan will offer interest-free loans of 200,000 yen ($1,803) to low-income households whose breadwinners are freelancers and private-business owners suffering from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, NHK reported, citing the health ministry.
China’s Hubei Has No New Cases for Fourth Day (8:33 a.m. HK)
China’s Hubei province, which was the epicenter of the outbreak, had no new virus cases for a fourth day, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.
China reported 46 new cases, 45 of which were imported. The country confirmed six more deaths, five of which were from Hubei.
Venezuela Said to Close Gas Stations (8:06 a.m. HK)
Venezuela’s government is shutting fuel stations nationwide to ration dwindling gasoline inventories as a quarantine designed to stop the coronavirus paralyzes the country, seven people said.
Just a few dozen of Petroleos de Venezuela SA’s 1,800 gas stations across the country will remain open and operated by the nation’s armed forces to allow medical, food and utilities’ transportation to fill up, said the people, who asked not to be named as the plan is still private.
Italy Shuts Non-Essential Businesses (6:40 a.m. HK)
Italy will close almost all non-essential business activities for 15 days in a bid to arrest the spread of the coronavirus and allow the economy to restart as soon as possible.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised news conference that supermarkets and pharmacies would remain open along with banks and post offices.
Italy had a record 793 new deaths, raising the total to 4,825. In Lombardy, where Italy is hardest-hit, authorities clamped down further, even going so far as to ban jogging.
Washington State Cases Surge (6:30 a.m. HK)
Washington State reported 269 new cases of the disease, bringing the total case count to 1,793. So far, 94 people have died — the most for any U.S. states — in an increase of 11 since Friday, the state’s department of health said on its website.
The majority of the cases and deaths are in King County, which includes Seattle and its suburbs, where early nursing home deaths gripped the nation.
The state has imposed restrictions that have upended daily life. But Governor Jay Inslee has stopped short of issuing a mandate for people stay at home, saying residents should only go out when necessary.
Spain Cases to Mount, PM Says (5:40 pm. NY)
Spain’s outbreak, already among the harshest in the world, will continue to expand, with more cases and deaths in the next few days, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.
“We have to remain strong until the end of next week,” Sanchez said in a speech. Most Spaniards “have never had to face something as harsh this,” he said, while also commending Spaniards who are obeying a lockdown imposed under a week-long state of emergency.
Kuwait Imposes Partial Curfew (5:20 p.m. NY)
Kuwait imposed a partial curfew to contain the spread of the virus, state news agency KUNA reported. The nationwide ban will run from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., the agency said. The government also extended for two weeks a public holiday that was to end on March 26.
Bedside Covid-19 Tests Gets OK (4:10 p.m. NY)
A Covid-19 test that can deliver results in less than an hour has been approved under an U.S. emergency authorization, marking the first test that clinicians can use at the bedside.
Cepheid, a Silicon Valley diagnostics company, announced Food and Drug Administration approval to use the test, making it the 13th Covid-19 test allowed on the market as long as the public health emergency exists. It’s the first that can be used at the point of care, meaning providers don’t have to send samples to a separate lab to be processed and then come back to the hospital or provider’s office. Cepheid said it expects to start shipping tests next week.
Read full story here
N.Y. Races for Hospital Beds (1:25 p.m. NY)
New York is racing to add tens of thousands of hospital beds, buy thousands of ventilators and distribute millions of masks to medical workers, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The state is trying to increase its beds by 50,000 to 75,000 by ending elective surgeries, reconfiguring space and adding medical staff. The state is considering several sites to convert into temporary hospitals, including the Javits Center in New York, college campuses at Stony Brook and Westbury, and the Westbury Convention Center.
Read full story here.
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