Mar 04, 2020 03:21 AM

Coronavirus Live Updates (Tuesday): Fed Cuts Rate in Emergency Response; Iran on War Footing Against Virus



Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus

Tuesday, March 3, 11:59 p.m.

Shockwaves from the coronavirus epidemic continued spreading around the globe. The U.S. Federal Reserve made an emergency rate cut of half a percentage point Tuesday morning to shore up the economy as the threat widens.

The move followed a volatile week in which U.S. stocks suffered their worst losses since the 2008 crash. The market rebounded Monday amid rising expectations of a move by the central bank. The emergency rate cut was the first such step since December 2008.

The coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity,” the Fed said in a statement. “In light of these risks and in support of achieving its maximum employment and price stability goals, the Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower the target range for the federal funds rate.”

The outbreak sickened 102 people in the U.S. and killed six as of Monday. Concerns mounted that the spread of the disease could cause broader disruptions to social and economic activities. A rising number of cases reported among people without recent overseas travel history further sparked fears of community spread in the U.S.

In Iran, one of the hotspots of the outbreak outside China, leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put the country on a war footing against the epidemic by ordering the armed forces to assist health officials in combating the outbreak.

The country’s total of Covid-19 infections reached 2,336 as of noon Tuesday, up 835 from the previous day. The death toll rose to 77, the second-highest number after China.

Iranian media reported that at least 23 of the country’s 290-member parliament might have been infected because of contact with constituents across the country. The head of Iran's emergency medical services, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, was also infected with virus, local media reported.

South Korea is also grappling with explosive growth of infections. Total cases rose to 5,186 as of Tuesday afternoon, adding 851 in 24 hours. Deaths totaled 29 and recoveries, 34.

The dramatic rise in the country’s cases centered on the city of Daegu and a secretive religious group called Shincheonji. About 2,698 infected patients of the total had links to the religious group, according to South Korea authorities.

As of Tuesday, South Korea put about 9,000 Shincheonji members under quarantine or medical monitoring.

In other coronavirus-related news:

• Despite signs of the epidemic ebbing in China, officials at the epicenter Hubei said strict disease control measures will remain in place. Yang Yunyan, a deputy governor, said Tuesday that the central China province still faces a tough challenge to take care for the more than 20,000 hospitalized patients while preventing new infections. There are still “uncertainties” in the province’s disease control efforts, Yang said.

• Singapore will bar visitors who traveled to Iran, northern Italy or the Republic of Korea in the last 14 days, including transits. The measures will take effect March 4.

Compiled by Han Wei

Tuesday, March 3, 6 p.m.

While the coronavirus epidemic continues to grow rapidly in Europe and the Middle East, China has seen growth in its caseload slow.

On Monday, China confirmed 128 new infections, the first time the daily figure has been below 200 since Jan. 22, according to data (link in Chinese) from the National Health Commission. The country reported 31 new deaths on Monday, marking the sixth consecutive day that it has recorded fewer than 50 daily fatalities.

The situation, however, has continued to deteriorate outside China. Head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Monday: “We are in unchartered territory. We have never before seen a respiratory pathogen that is capable of community transmission, but which can also be contained with the right measures.”

The WHO head also said Monday that “in the last 24 hours there were almost 9 times more COVID-19 cases reported outside China than inside” and that “the epidemics in the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan are our greatest concern.”

Outside China, 73 countries had reported at least 11,896 confirmed cases as of Tuesday afternoon, including 184 deaths.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has declared a war against the highly contagious virus, as the country’s caseload surpassed 5,000 on Tuesday, according to the official Yonhap News Agency.

Iran, another hard-hit country, said that it is accelerating measures in the fight against the virus, the semi-official news agency Fars reported. The country’s face-mask production capacity is expected to increase to 300,000 by the end of this week, Fars reported, citing the country’s vice president for science and technology. The agency reported that production lines used to produce military uniforms will be refitted to produce masks.

In other coronavirus-related news:

• Local governments in China sold more than 1.2 trillion yuan ($171 billion) of bonds in the first two months of the year, up 56.4% from the same period last year, in a bid to step up infrastructure investment to support the virus-hit economy.

• Tesla Inc. has “downgraded” the hardware (link in Chinese) for some of its Model 3 vehicles made in China due to issues with its supply chain, the automaker said (link in Chinese) Tuesday. It has promised to offer free upgrades when the supply chain returns normal.

• Mei Zhongming, an ophthalmologist who worked at the same Wuhan hospital as deceased whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, died Tuesday (link in Chinese) from the disease, according to the hospital. Mei is the third doctor working at the Central Hospital of Wuhan to die from Covid-19. Li died on Feb. 7 and another doctor Jiang Xueqing died Sunday (link in Chinese). Over 200 of the hospital’s staff are currently infected, Caixin has learned.

• Beijing has tightened its quarantine rules. If their destination is Beijing, visitors who enter the Chinese capital from South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan are required to carry out a 14-day quarantine, regardless of nationality, the Beijing municipal government said (link in Chinese) on Tuesday.

Compiled by Timmy Shen

Tuesday, March 3, 10 a.m.

As the coronavirus continues to spread globally, many countries are preparing for a global pandemic. The total number of global infections has grown to nearly 91,000, with more than 10,600 cases reported outside China. The death toll outside China has reached 171.

A number of countries — including Portugal, Latvia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal — reported their first infections on Monday and Tuesday.

Internationally the worst hit countries are South Korea and Italy. The total number of infections in South Korea has reached 4,812, including 600 new cases reported on Monday. South Korea’s death toll reached 29.

As of Monday evening, Italy had reported 2,036 infections, including 52 deaths.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund released a joint statement on Monday, saying that they were ready to help member countries “address the human tragedy and economic challenge posed by the Covid-19 virus.”

“We will use our available instruments to the fullest extent possible, including emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance,” said the two organizations in the statement.

Representatives of the Group of Seven industrialized nations will hold a conference call on Tuesday to discuss and coordinate financial and economic responses to the deadly virus, multiple media outlets reported.

The European Central Bank said in a Monday statement that it is ready to take appropriate and targeted measures as it is closely monitoring developments of the coronavirus outbreak and their implications for the economy, medium-term inflation and the transmission of its monetary policy.

In other coronavirus-related news:

• China has started to see cases imported from abroad. On Monday, the eastern province of Zhejiang reported seven such cases all imported from Italy, according to data (link in Chinese) from the provincial health authority.

• As of the end of Monday, the total number of infections in China reached 80,302 with death toll amounting to more than 2,940.

• The U.S. has also been taking actions to fight the deadly virus. Nearly 1 million tests could be carried out for the virus by the end of this week, the Trump administration said Monday at a briefing.

As of Monday, the U.S. had reported 102 infections and six deaths, according to CNN.

Compiled by Timmy Shen

 Read more
Coronavirus Live Updates (Monday): China Finds ‘a Bad Sign’ in 6 Imported Cases Linked to Italy, Iran, U.K.

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