Mar 12, 2020 06:16 AM

Coronavirus Live Updates (Wednesday): WHO Declares Pandemic; Countries Gear Up to Counter Economic Fallout


Thursday, March 12, 4 a.m.

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic as the pathogen continued spreading globally.

The number of Covid-19 cases outside China increased 13-fold over the past two weeks, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” Tedros said. But countries “can still change the course of this pandemic” if they step up efforts to detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilize their people in response, he said.

It was the first time the United Nations health organization declared a pandemic — the worldwide spread of a new disease — since the 2009 outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 influenza.

As of Wednesday, Covid-19 has sickened more than 121,000 people in 118 countries and regions, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.K. reported its biggest daily rise of 83 new cases Wednesday, increasing the country’s infection count to 456, according to the Department of Health. Cases also jumped other parts of Europe. The Netherlands confirmed an increase of 121 cases to a total of 503 as of Wednesday while cases in Sweden rose to 461 from 326.

Governments around the world are launching fiscal measures to encounter the economic fallout from the outbreak:

Britain announced a 30 billion pound ($39 billion) stimulus package to support businesses shortly after an emergency rate cut of half a percentage point. The rate cut marks the first such action to take place outside the British central bank’s normal schedule since the global financial crisis of 2008 and reduced the country’s main interest rate to a record low of 0.25%.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a C$1.1 billion ($800 million) fiscal package. The money will be used to provide better health-care coverage for people in self-isolation and to finance medical supplies and virus research. Trudeau said he’s prepared to use federal financing agencies to further stimulate the economy if needed.

Australia is mulling a multibillion-dollar fiscal stimulus plan as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to push the country into its first recession since 1991, Bloomberg reported.

The package will include A$1.3 billion ($845 million) in wage assistance to shore up the job market, A$6.7 billion over four years to support the cash flow of small and medium businesses and A$700 million in funding for a tax write-off program over four years, according to the report. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to announce the plan Thursday.

• The government of Italy, the hotspot of the outbreak in Europe, announced stimulus measures of as much as 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion).

In other coronavirus related news:

• The Hungarian government declared a state of emergency in response to the outbreak, taking steps to curb inbound travel, close universities and halt public gatherings.

Hungary will ban the entry of travelers from the hardest-hit countries — Italy, China, South Korea and Iran — effective immediately, government officials said Wednesday. The country also canceled public gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and more than 500 people outdoors.

• Poland decided to shut schools, museums, cinemas and cultural centers after the country reported 25 confirmed cases. About 6 million school and preschool children and 1.2 million university students will be affected.

• An infection case was confirmed among 23,100 attendees at an international mining conference in Toronto, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Regulators are in a race to track potential contacts of the patient, who was at the site of the gathering March 2 and 3.

Compiled by Han Wei

Wednesday, March 11, 6 p.m.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to shock countries and regions around the world, even as the situation in China stabilizes.

The number of global infections has risen to over 120,000, including more than 4,300 deaths. The total number of infections outside China has climbed to over 39,000, with the death toll passing 1,200.

Latest developments outside China:

• The U.S. caseload has surpassed 1,050, including 51 deaths.

• Indonesia confirmed its first death from Covid-19, according to the country’s state-run Antara news agency. A 53-year-old woman, who was a foreign national, tested positive for the disease in Indonesia and died on Wednesday, Antara reported.

• Belgium announced its first death from the virus on Wednesday, the Brussels Times reported. A 90-year-old patient has died, the local media reported, citing the country’s health minister.

The virus continues to spread across Europe. Of the 14 countries with the most confirmed infections outside China, 10 are in Europe — Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium and Norway.

Italy remained the worst hit country outside China, with more than 10,100 infections and over 630 deaths.

• The U.K. saw a second member of parliament (MP) enter self-isolation. York Central MP Rachael Maskell said that she has been advised to isolate herself after a meeting Thursday with fellow MP and junior health minister Nadine Dorries, who has been diagnosed with Covid-19. Maskell said she is asymptomatic.

In other coronavirus-related news:

• China’s property sector continues to see a shakeout amid the coronavirus epidemic. In the first two months of this year, around 105 real estate firms went bust, after nearly 500 collapsed in 2019, Bloomberg data show.

• A total of 24 of China’s provincial-level regions have lowered their public health emergency response levels as of Wednesday morning in light of an apparent sustained slowdown in the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, though neither the nation’s capital Beijing nor financial hub Shanghai were among them. Read Caixin’s coverage in chart form.

• Beijing municipality on Wednesday imposed even stricter travel restrictions (link in Chinese). While previously only visitors entering Beijing from areas with serious epidemics were required to undergo a 14-day home quarantine, this rule has now been extended to cover visitors from all places with outbreaks. Visitors with short business stays in Beijing need to stay at designated hotels and undergo nucleic acid testing, and are only allowed to leave once the test results are released.

Compiled by Timmy Shen


Caixin’s coverage of the new coronavirus

Wednesday, March 11, 10 a.m.

• As of Wednesday morning, at least 114 countries and regions outside China had reported a total of over 38,000 infections, including more than 1,130 deaths, according to government data and media reports compiled by Caixin.

• On Tuesday, China reported just 31 new confirmed cases, bringing its total to 80,955, according to the latest data (link in Chinese) from China’s top health body. The death toll stood at 3,162 at the end of Tuesday.

• At the end of Tuesday, the number of recovered cases on the Chinese mainland reached over 61,000, equal to 76% of all cases.

• Suspected cases on the mainland, which have declined for about a month from a peak of nearly 29,000 (link in Chinese) on Feb. 8, totaled 285 on Tuesday. The number of imported cases on the mainland stood at 79 at the end of Tuesday.

• On Tuesday night, the Chongqing municipality and Hunan province lowered (link in Chinese) their emergency alerts to the second-highest level from the top level. So far, a total of 24 provincial-level governments have adjusted down their alerts.

At the moment, the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and provinces of Hubei, Jiangxi, Hebei and Henan remain at the top alert level.

• Chinese officials are relaxing restrictions to allow business activities to recover in many places across Hubei province, epicenter of the outbreak that has been largely under lockdown for more than a month. Qianjiang, a city of 1 million people 180 kilometers from the provincial capital Wuhan, will resume all public transportation and business operations in the “near future,” the local government said Tuesday.

Officials in several other Hubei cities also confirmed to Caixin that local businesses will be encouraged to resume production starting March 10 if they meet certain criteria.

• Hong Kong is tightening travel restrictions. Visitors who have been to Italy, as well as parts of France, Germany, Japan and Spain in the past 14 days will be required to undergo quarantines at a special facility on their return.

In other coronavirus-related news:

• As of Tuesday evening, Italy reported a fatality rate of 6.2%, the highest so far around the world. The death toll in Italy on Tuesday surged to 631, according to the country’s health ministry (link in Italian). On Tuesday, the total number of confirmed cases rose to 10,149 from 9,172 a day before, according to the ministry.

Turkey reported its first coronavirus case, the country’s health minister said at an early Wednesday briefing, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

• U.K. health minister Nadine Dorries has become the first member of parliament to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, the Guardian reported. She was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care in July 2019.

Compiled by Timmy Shen

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Coronavirus Live Updates (Tuesday): Italy Cases Top 10,000; Part of U.S. Missed Containment Chance, CDC Chief Says

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