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CDC to Test More People; Evacuation Whistleblower: Virus Update
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Korea Cases Top 2,000; WHO Sees ‘Decisive’ Stage: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a “decisive” stage, the head of the World Health Organization told reporters in Geneva.In Asia, attention continues to focus on countries outside China as new cases slow at the epicenter of the outbreak. Japan will close all schools, while South Korean infections now top 2,000. The virus also is also spreading in Europe and the Middle East, with countries including Italy, Iran and Kuwait reporting more cases. In Africa, Nigeria confirmed its first infection.U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested, adding travelers from several new countries and people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses. California is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia. Stocks tumbled.Key DevelopmentsConfirmed cases worldwide at 83,048; global deaths 2,858China death toll at 2,788, up 44; cases climb to 78,824, up 327South Korea confirms 256 more cases, bringing total to 2,022Limited virus testing in Japan masks true scale of infectionHong Kong dog found to have ‘low level’ of virusClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.China to Resume Road Traffic in Lower-Risk Regions (9:16 a.m. HK)China will resume buses, subways and taxis in urban and rural areas with lower coronavirus risk, the transport ministry said in a statement. The move is aimed at supporting factory resumptions and stabilizing the economy.Nigeria Confirms First Case (9:10 a.m. HK)The first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Nigeria, the West African country’s health ministry said on its verified Twitter account.South Korea Cases Top 2,000 (9:01 a.m. HK)South Korea confirmed 256 more infections, bringing the total in the country to 2,022, the health ministry said in a statement. Among the 256, 182 cases are from Daegu, at the center of the outbreak, and 49 are from the neighboring North Gyeongsang province.Hong Kong Dog Found to Have ‘Low Level’ of Virus (8:49 a.m. HK)The pet dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has been found to have a “low level” of the virus, the Hong Kong government said.The dog tested “weak positive,” the city’s agricultural and fisheries department said in a statement, without giving further details. Officials will carry out further tests to confirm whether the dog has really been infected, or if it was a result of environmental contamination of its mouth and nose.Japan Children’s Day-Care Centers to Stay Open (8:06 a.m. HK)Japan’s children’s day-care centers and after-school clubs will stay open, even as schools nationwide close for at least a month in a bid to control the outbreak, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said. Japan wants to make it easy for people to take time off work, Kato said. This is an important time for controlling the domestic spread of the virus, he said.Plague Inc. Removed From Apple’s Chinese Store (8:04 a.m. HK)Plague Inc. -- the mobile simulation of a global pandemic that topped download charts in February after the outbreak -- has been removed from Apple Inc.’s Chinese app store. The eight-year-old game’s developers said on their website Chinese regulators determined it contained “illegal” content. The developers say they’re trying to contact the Cyberspace Administration of China to get the game back online.Plague Inc. became the most downloaded paid game on iPhones in at least 80 countries early this month, according to research firm App Annie.China Death Toll Rises to 2,788, Up 44 (7:53 a.m. HK)China’s death toll rose to 2,788 by the end of Thursday as it reported 44 new fatalities, according to a statement from the country’s National Health Commission. The number of cases climbed to 78,824 as 327 additional infections were reported. Discharged patients increased by 3,622 to 36,117.Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, had 318 additional cases and 41 new deaths.Trump Says He’s Doing ‘Incredible Job’ (7:13 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his administration has done an “incredible job” preventing the spread of coronavirus after California’s governor said the state is monitoring 8,400 for signs of exposure.Limited Testing in Japan Masks Scale of Infection (6:57 a.m. HK)Japan is becoming a center of concern, with the country’s official infection tally suspected to be the tip of the iceberg of a much wider outbreak.“For every one who tests positive there are probably hundreds with mild symptoms,” said Masahiro Kami, chair of the Medical Governance Research Institute in Tokyo, and a practicing doctor. “Those with mild symptoms are not being tested.”Read more here.U.S. Workers Didn’t Get Protective Gear: Report (5:05 p.m. NY)Federal employees who helped evacuate people from the center of the coronavirus outbreak in China didn’t get protective gear or training, the Washington Post said, citing a whistleblower’s complaint.Trump administration officials disputed the report.“Every precaution has been taken,” said William Walters, a health official with the U.S. State Department. “I can say unequivocally that everyone involved with those evacuations was appropriately equipped and trained.”One member of Congress called the situation deeply concerning. “Finding out that the U.S. government might have put its own personnel in harm’s way is deeply concerning to me,” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia.Mask Prices and Interest Spike on Amazon (4:52 p.m. NY)Prices for face masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc. in early February, with many items sold out, according to a firm that tracks traffic on the website.Searches over the past 30 days for N95 masks, which are tighter fitting and filter out smaller particles than surgical masks, surged to 1.3 million on Feb. 10, up from 23,000 on Jan. 10, according to Helium 10, the monitoring company.Daily sales of a 20-pack of popular N95 masks from 3M jumped to more than 1,000 in February, from roughly 25 in December, according to Helium. Prices for the product, which typically sells for $29.99, climbed as high as $99.“Many third-party sellers appear to be outright price-gouging, likely due to low stock and high demand,” Lee said. “Even Amazon, which has kept pricing mostly stable across products, has had to increase prices on some products.”Amazon’s pricing policies suggest the company monitors for gouging and can punish merchants with irregular prices, but the policies lack specifics. “Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon” is a potential violation, the company says on its policy page.“Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively,” Amazon said in an emailed statement. “We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”CDC Expands Coronavirus Testing to More Patients (4:38 p.m. NY)U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.People showing respiratory symptoms and who have been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened for the virus under the new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC is also calling for testing of patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization, but no other history of potential exposure to coronavirus. The expansion comes after a patient in California, who had no known ties to an infected area, was confirmed to have the virus after a long delay to get tested.Pence Says He’s In Charge, Not Azar (3:36 p.m. NY)U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he’s now leading the government’s coronavirus task force instead of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.“I’m leading the task force,” Pence said Thursday at a meeting on the virus at HHS headquarters. “We’ll continue to rely on the secretary’s role as chairman of the task force.”Trump initially appointed Azar to lead the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, but on Wednesday, he named Pence to the role at a news conference. The Washington Post reported that Azar was blindsided by the decision, though Azar told lawmakers that he thought Pence’s appointment was “genius.”Trump Mulls Special Powers on Mask Production: Reuters (1:58 p.m. NY)President Trump’s administration is considering invoking special powers through the 1950 Defense Production Act to quickly boost domestic manufacturing of protective masks and outfits in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing two officials it doesn’t name.California Monitoring 8,400 Travelers and Contacts (2:16 p.m.)California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.Those people are scattered across 49 local jurisdictions, he said. There have been 33 people confirmed to be infected with the virus in California.Earlier, health officials said a woman from Northern California has the virus and hadn’t traveled to China. She also didn’t have any close contact with anyone who did and appears to be the first case of community transmission in the U.S.Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.\--With assistance from Isabel Reynolds, Emi Nobuhiro, Dominic Lau, Edwin Chan, Zheping Huang, Josh Wingrove and Shiho Takezawa.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jeff Sutherland in Tokyo at jsutherlan13@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Tom Redmond, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Goldman Sees No Profit Growth for U.S. Companies: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slashed its outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero. Germany is examining potential stimulus measures to stem the economic impact of the coronavirus. Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that draw millions.More new cases were reported outside China than within the country for the first time, highlighting the spread of the epidemic. Britain added two cases, Switzerland three and South Korea reported 505 new infections. Equities fell and bond yields reached record lows.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Goldman Sees Zero Profit Growth for U.S. Companies (9:45 a.m. NY)The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made equity strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slash their outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero this year, as the epidemic erodes revenue and slows global economic growth.“Our reduced forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, supply chain disruption, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated uncertainty,” the strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Thursday.Iran VP for Women and Family Affairs Tests Positive (9:15 a.m. NY)Iran’s vice president of women and family affairs has tested positive for the new coronavirus, state-run IRNA reported.Masoumeh Ebetakar is the first female cabinet member in the Islamic Republic. She rose to public prominence as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the 1979 crisis with the U.S.IMF, World Bank Weigh Fate of Spring Meetings Amid Outbreak (8:39 a.m. NY)The International Monetary Fund and World Bank signaled they may reconsider meetings scheduled for mid-April in Washington amid the coronavirus’s spread.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The country earlier said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.UN Human Rights Commissioner Warns of Virus-Related Prejudice (7 a.m. NY)“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and east Asian ethnicity,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “I call on member states to do their most to combat this and other forms of discrimination.”China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen, Alisa Odenheimer, Thomas Mulier and Yasna Haghdoost.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, Paul Sillitoe, Chris KayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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CDC to Test More People; Amazon Mask Prices Rise: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.California is currently monitoring 8,400 people for signs of exposure to the coronavirus after they traveled to Asia, Governor Gavin Newsom said. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month. Searches and prices for facial masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc.The Trump administration may invoke special powers to boost domestic production of masks, Reuters reported. In Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the U.S. government must be financially accessible.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Mask Prices and Interest Spike on Amazon (4:52 p.m. NY)Prices for face masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc. in early February, with many items sold out, according to a firm that tracks traffic on the website.Searches over the past 30 days for N95 masks, which are tighter fitting and filter out smaller particles than surgical masks, surged to 1.3 million on Feb. 10, up from 23,000 on Jan. 10, according to Helium 10, the monitoring company.Daily sales of a 20-pack of popular N95 masks from 3M jumped to more than 1,000 in February, from roughly 25 in December, according to Helium. Prices for the product, which typically sells for $29.99, climbed as high as $99.“Many third-party sellers appear to be outright price-gouging, likely due to low stock and high demand,” Lee said. “Even Amazon, which has kept pricing mostly stable across products, has had to increase prices on some products.”Amazon’s pricing policies suggest the company monitors for gouging and can punish merchants with irregular prices, but the policies lack specifics. “Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon” is a potential violation, the company says on its policy page.“Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively,” Amazon said in an emailed statement. “We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”CDC Expands Coronavirus Testing to More Patients (4:38 p.m. NY)U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.People showing respiratory symptoms and who have been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened for the virus under the new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC is also calling for testing of patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization, but no other history of potential exposure to coronavirus. The expansion comes after a patient in California, who had no known ties to an infected area, was confirmed to have the virus after a long delay to get tested.Pence Says He’s In Charge, Not Azar (3:36 p.m. NY)U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he’s now leading the government’s coronavirus task force instead of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.“I’m leading the task force,” Pence said Thursday at a meeting on the virus at HHS headquarters. “We’ll continue to rely on the secretary’s role as chairman of the task force.”Trump initially appointed Azar to lead the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, but on Wednesday, he named Pence to the role at a news conference. The Washington Post reported that Azar was blindsided by the decision, though Azar told lawmakers that he thought Pence’s appointment was “genius.”NYC Says Testing Kits Are Unavailable (3:15 p.m. NY)Testing kits for the new coronavirus aren’t yet available in the U.S.’s most populous city.Stephanie Buhle, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t reliable enough to use.“The kits that were sent to us have demonstrated performance issues and cannot be relied upon to provide an accurate result,” she said.U.S. health officials are letting state and local health labs modify a test for the coronavirus that has been plagued by weeks of delays and problems with validation of the results.Trump Mulls Special Powers on Mask Production: Reuters (1:58 p.m. NY)President Trump’s administration is considering invoking special powers through the 1950 Defense Production Act to quickly boost domestic manufacturing of protective masks and outfits in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing two officials it doesn’t name.California Monitoring 8,400 Travelers and Contacts (2:16 p.m.)California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.Those people are scattered across 49 local jurisdictions, he said. There have been 33 people confirmed to be infected with the virus in California.Earlier, health officials said a woman from Northern California has the virus and hadn’t traveled to China. She also didn’t have any close contact with anyone who did and appears to be the first case of community transmission in the U.S.Azar Says U.S.-Funded Drug, Vaccine Must Be Accessible (12:30 p.m. NY)Any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the government must be financially accessible for people, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress Thursday.“I have directed my teams that if we do any joint venture with a private enterprise that we’re cofunding the research and development program that we would ensure there’s access to the fruits of that, whether vaccine or therapeutics,” Azar said at a congressional hearing. The U.S. government is collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to develop vaccines and drugs for the coronavirus.Azar’s comments are a shift from remarks Wednesday, when he said, “we would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.”Azar’s new comments came after he was criticized Wednesday evening by Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Twitter, Sanders called Azar’s remarks “outrageous.”Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Goldman Sees Zero Profit Growth for U.S. Companies (9:45 a.m. NY)The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made equity strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slash their outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero this year, as the epidemic erodes revenue and slows global economic growth.“Our reduced forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, supply chain disruption, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated uncertainty,” the strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Thursday.Iran VP for Women and Family Affairs Tests Positive (9:15 a.m. NY)Iran’s vice president of women and family affairs has tested positive for the new coronavirus, state-run IRNA reported.Masoumeh Ebetakar is the first female cabinet member in the Islamic Republic. She rose to public prominence as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the 1979 crisis with the U.S.IMF, World Bank Weigh Fate of Spring Meetings Amid Outbreak (8:39 a.m. NY)The International Monetary Fund and World Bank signaled they may reconsider meetings scheduled for mid-April in Washington amid the coronavirus’s spread.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The country earlier said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.UN Human Rights Commissioner Warns of Virus-Related Prejudice (7 a.m. NY)“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and east Asian ethnicity,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “I call on member states to do their most to combat this and other forms of discrimination.”China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen, Alisa Odenheimer, Thomas Mulier, Yasna Haghdoost, Hugo Miller, Corinne Gretler, Katerina Petroff, Shira Stein, Ryan Beene and Henry Goldman.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Mark Schoifet, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Cases Outside China Climb; Trump Downplays Risks: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- More coronavirus cases were reported in other countries than in China for the first time, the World Health Organization said, a significant development highlighting the spread of the epidemic around the globe.U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, raising worries despite President Donald Trump’s assurances that Americans face little risk from the epidemic. Asia stocks retreated with U.S. equity futures.The U.S. urged travelers to reconsider trips to South Korea as the country’s number of cases rose to more than 1,500. New infections were diagnosed from Pakistan to Brazil. Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths at 2,802, with cases over 82,000China death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433U.S. raises travel alert on South Korea as cases there rise to 1,595CDC confirms first U.S. case of unknown originTrump puts Pence in charge of coronavirus responseAsia stocks, U.S. equity futures fallSaudi Arabia halts religious visitsClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.WHO Says Italy Errors May Have Inflated Cases: Corriere (3 p.m. HK)Testing of people without any virus symptoms was wrong and didn’t follow World Health Organization guidelines, said Walter Ricciardi, a member of WHO’s board, according to a report by Corriere della Sera.The result was “general confusion and alarm” as the tests may have inflated positive results, Ricciardi said in an interview with the newspaper. The testing strategy in the Veneto region ignored scientific evidence, he said.Australia Launches Emergency Plan for Likely Pandemic (2:30 p.m. HK)The Australian government activated an emergency plan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, saying it had to prepare for a likely pandemic.Prime Minister Scott Morrison also extended a travel ban on people entering the country from mainland China for a further week.“We believe the risk of global pandemic is very much upon us and as a result, as a government, we need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic,” he told the media, without providing further details of emergency measures.Budweiser APAC Sees Sales Drop From Coronavirus (1:23 p.m. HK)The Asia-Pacific beer unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV said it would see revenue drop by approximately $285 million in the first two months of this year as the coronavirus outbreak devastates China, its biggest market.Budweiser APAC said it saw “almost no activity” in nightlife and restaurants in the first two months, but that e-commerce “accelerated its growth significantly.” The company said it’s resuming production and now has permission to re-open all of its breweries except the one in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pathogen emerged.“We do see some encouraging signs, in some provinces we do see our customers are opening their businesses again, consumers are starting to get out of their homes again,” Jan Craps, the brewer’s chief executive officer, said in an interview.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak.The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015. The decision contrasts with the more aggressive response taken by Asian central banks from Indonesia to Thailand.Lee said the board judged micro policy measures targeted at vulnerable sectors to be more effective than adjusting policy rates at this stage. The BOK announced an increase in the cap for cheap loans available to companies affected.The bank also downgraded its growth forecast for the year, and Lee said it was also possible the economy would contract in the first quarter as it took a hit from the outbreak.AmCham China Members See Impact From Outbreak (11:11 a.m. HK)The coronavirus epidemic is causing a significant challenge to U.S. businesses in China due to travel disruptions and reduced staff productivity, according to the results of a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce.Nearly one-third of 169 respondents say they are facing increased costs and significantly reduced revenue, according to the survey released Thursday. Almost half of respondents expect 2020 revenue to decrease if business cannot return to usual before April 30, while close to one-fifth say this year’s revenue will decline more than 50% if the epidemic extends through the end of August, the survey showed.Respondents in the survey, which was conducted between Feb. 17 and 20, represent large, medium and small sized enterprises, including many with global operations and some with operations in Hubei province and adjacent provinces in China.China Leaders Donate Own Money to Virus Fight (11:06 a.m. HK)Chinese President Xi Jinping and six of his top officials have donated money from their own pockets to fight the coronavirus, as the government scrambles to mobilize public support that has wavered over its response to the outbreak.The personal donations were reported by the official Xinhua news agency, which said the officials sat on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, the ruling Communist Party’s top echelon. Xinhua didn’t say how much they donated.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.U.S. Raises Travel Alert on South Korea (9:22 a.m. HK)The U.S government is asking Americans to “reconsider” travel to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads in that country.The State Department issued a Level 3 advisory -- 4 being the most severe. “The South Korean government has reported cases of the Covid-19 in the country and has upgraded its response level to ‘grave,’ its highest response level,” the department said in the advisory, using the medical abbreviation for the virus.The warning came as South Korea’s Health Ministry said 334 more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed overnight, bringing the total number of cases to 1,595. The ministry said 307 of the new cases are from Daegu, where the bulk of infections have originated. Daegu confirmed a 13th death in South Korea, and said the city doesn’t have enough hospital beds to treat patients.Korean authorities thought they had largely contained the illness until they learned that a woman who had been infected attended two services of a secretive religious sect with at least 1,000 other people. Within 24 hours, the nation’s number of confirmed cases started multiplying exponentially.South Korea said it’s testing between 7,000-10,000 people a day for the coronavirus.U.S. Identifies First Case of Unknown Origin (8:52 a.m. HK)U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, a worrying signal that the virus is already circulating despite reassurances from the Trump administration that it’s been contained.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient doesn’t appear to have traveled to China or been exposed to another known case of the coronavirus. Health authorities have been increasingly concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of quarantines or known contacts with other patients.The CDC said the case was picked up by doctors in California, and that the patient may have been infected by a traveler who brought the disease in. It didn’t give more information on the patient’s status. The new case brings the total of known infections in the U.S. to 15, not counting repatriated Americans.IMF to Decide on Spring Meetings in Coming Days (8:45 a.m. HK)Senior leaders at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and will decide on the “scale and scope” of the spring meetings in the days ahead, according to an emailed statement.The annual IMF and World Bank spring meetings that bring together central bank governors, finance ministers and policy makers from around the world are due to take place April 13-19 in Washington, D.C.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.Trump Puts Pence in Charge of Coronavirus Response (7:50 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence will take control of the administration’s coronavirus response, putting the White House in charge of a collection of federal agencies dealing with the situation in the U.S.“Mike is going to be in charge and Mike will report back to me, but he’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump says.Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the coronavirus outbreak, seeking to ease public concern after lawmakers raised alarm the U.S. is unprepared. Trump appeared with U.S. health officials to discuss the government’s coronavirus response.Asked whether the government has envisioned measures such as imposing quarantines on entire cities, the president said that there are plans on “a much larger scale” but that “we don’t think we’re going to need it.”Yellen Says Virus Could Throw U.S. Economy Into RecessionFormer Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said depending on how widely the coronavirus spreads, the economic impact could have a significant impact on Europe and veer the U.S. toward a recession.“We could see a significant impact on Europe, which has been weak to start with, and it’s just conceivable that it could throw the United States into a recession,” Yellen said at an event in Michigan. “If it doesn’t hit in a substantial way in the United States, that’s less likely. We had a pretty solid outlook before this happened -- and there is some risk, but basically I think the U.S. outlook looks pretty good.”The global economy was weak but starting to recover before the virus hit, Yellen said.Iraq Envoy Sounds Alarm on Iran Cases (7:22 a.m. HK)The Iraqi government is “really concerned” about the spread of the coronavirus from neighboring Iran, Fareed Yasseen, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., said during an event in Washington.The movement of people between the two countries is “quite intense” and communal because of religious activities, which could help transmit the virus “more readily,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why they’ve put a stop to travel between Iraq and Iran.”The Iraqi government has shut all schools and universities for 10 days, closed public venues, tea houses, cinemas and banned citizens from traveling to nine countries, including Iran, Sumaria News reported. Iraq has reported five cases so far, the country’s health ministry reported on Tuesday.Rejected by Two Ports, Cruise Heads to Mexico (7:09 a.m. HK)A ship operated by MSC Cruises is sailing for Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday after authorities in two Caribbean ports effectively refused to let passengers disembark over coronavirus fears.The company said it has received “formal and final authorization” to call in Cozumel, despite an earlier report to the contrary, and expects to arrive Wednesday evening local time.MSC Cruises says it doesn’t have any evidence of coronavirus on the ship. The company said its medical records show one case of seasonal flu in a crew member.Coronavirus has already prompted the industry to dial back exposure in Asia. But the latest incident appeared to signal the potential for a broader disruption in bigger markets, exacerbating the hit to cruise stocks.U.S. Airlines Cut Flights to South Korea (5 p.m. NY)U.S. airlines, having already suspended flights to China, are starting to pull back from South Korea.Delta Air Lines Inc. said Wednesday it would temporarily reduce service starting Feb. 29, citing health concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The Atlanta-based carrier also will postpone the start of new service between South Korea’s Incheon airport and Manila.Hawaiian Airlines is temporarily halting flights connecting Honolulu with Incheon because of the increase in cases in South Korea and the impact the illness has had on demand for leisure travel.WHO: Most New Cases Now Outside China (3:43 p.m.)More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China in the past 24 hours for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8, the World Health Organization said.The agency said in its daily situation report that there were 459 confirmed cases outside of China in the past 24 hours, compared with 412 new ones in China, where the outbreak began.Spahn: Germany at Beginning of Epidemic (12:45 p.m. NY)New cases of the virus in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg are a sign that Germany is “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in Berlin on Wednesday.“It is questionable whether out current strategy of isolating the infection and capping infection chains will work further,” Spahn said. “The probability that this virus will circumvent Germany won’t be fulfilled”Pakistan Confirms First Coronavirus Cases (12:05 p.m. NY)Pakistan’s health minister said the country had identified two cases of coronavirus, the first in the country.Both cases are being treated and are stable, Pakistan health minister Zafar Mirza said on Twitter. “No need to panic, things are under control,” Mirza said.Europe Health Official Predicts Wider Outbreak (11:46 a.m. NY)“It is likely that Europe will see similar developments like in Italy, varying from country to country,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in an update Wednesday. “The risk of the occurrence of similar clusters, similar to the ones in Italy, associated with Covid-19 in other countries in the EU/EEA and the U.K. is currently considered to be moderate to high,” ECDC said in its risk-assessment report.Even though “we are still in the containment phase,” European Union member states should review their “pandemic plans,” the bloc’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides, said in Rome earlier today.“All Member States need to inform us about their preparedness plans and how they propose to implement them,” Kyriakides said in a press conference, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “This is the kind of crucial information that we all need to have if the virus spreads further and I urge Member States to share this with us and each other, as this is important for our mutual security.”\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen and Ross Larsen.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at wchang98@bloomberg.net, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Saudi Arabia Halts Mecca Trips; Trump Taps Pence: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time, the World Health Organization said, a significant development as new cases spread around the globe.U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak. The news came after President Donald Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the outbreak. Asia stocks retreated with U.S. equity futures.The U.S. urged travelers to reconsider trips to South Korea as the country’s number of cases rose to more than 1,500. New infections were diagnosed in countries from Pakistan to Brazil. Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths at 2,771, with 81,316 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433U.S. raises travel alert on South Korea as cases there rise to 1,595CDC confirms first U.S. case of unknown originTrump puts Pence in charge of coronavirus responseAsia stocks, U.S. equity futures fallSaudi Arabia halts religious visitsClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak.The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015. The decision contrasts with the more aggressive response taken by Asian central banks from Indonesia to Thailand.Lee said the board judged micro policy measures targeted at vulnerable sectors to be more effective than adjusting policy rates at this stage. The BOK announced an increase in the cap for cheap loans available to companies affected.The bank also downgraded its growth forecast for the year, and Lee said it was also possible the economy would contract in the first quarter as it took a hit from the outbreak.AmCham China Members See Impact From Outbreak (11:11 a.m. HK)The coronavirus epidemic is causing a significant challenge to U.S. businesses in China due to travel disruptions and reduced staff productivity, according to the results of a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce.Nearly one-third of 169 respondents say they are facing increased costs and significantly reduced revenue, according to the survey released Thursday. Almost half of respondents expect 2020 revenue to decrease if business cannot return to usual before April 30, while close to one-fifth say this year’s revenue will decline more than 50% if the epidemic extends through the end of August, the survey showed.Respondents in the survey, which was conducted between Feb. 17 and 20, represent large, medium and small sized enterprises, including many with global operations and some with operations in Hubei province and adjacent provinces in China.China Leaders Donate Own Money to Virus Fight (11:06 a.m. HK)Chinese President Xi Jinping and six of his top officials have donated money from their own pockets to fight the coronavirus, as the government scrambles to mobilize public support that has wavered over its response to the outbreak.The personal donations were reported by the official Xinhua news agency, which said the officials sat on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, the ruling Communist Party’s top echelon. Xinhua didn’t say how much they donated.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.U.S. Raises Travel Alert on South Korea (9:22 a.m. HK)The U.S government is asking Americans to “reconsider” travel to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads in that country.The State Department issued a Level 3 advisory -- 4 being the most severe. “The South Korean government has reported cases of the Covid-19 in the country and has upgraded its response level to ‘grave,’ its highest response level,” the department said in the advisory, using the medical abbreviation for the virus.The warning came as South Korea’s Health Ministry said 334 more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed overnight, bringing the total number of cases to 1,595. The ministry said 307 of the new cases are from Daegu, where the bulk of infections have originated. Daegu confirmed a 13th death in South Korea, and said the city doesn’t have enough hospital beds to treat patients.Korean authorities thought they had largely contained the illness until they learned that a woman who had been infected attended two services of a secretive religious sect with at least 1,000 other people. Within 24 hours, the nation’s number of confirmed cases started multiplying exponentially.South Korea said it’s testing between 7,000-10,000 people a day for the coronavirus.U.S. Identifies First Case of Unknown Origin (8:52 a.m. HK)U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, a worrying signal that the virus is already circulating despite reassurances from the Trump administration that it’s been contained.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient doesn’t appear to have traveled to China or been exposed to another known case of the coronavirus. Health authorities have been increasingly concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of quarantines or known contacts with other patients.The CDC said the case was picked up by doctors in California, and that the patient may have been infected by a traveler who brought the disease in. It didn’t give more information on the patient’s status. The new case brings the total of known infections in the U.S. to 15, not counting repatriated Americans.IMF to Decide on Spring Meetings in Coming Days (8:45 a.m. HK)Senior leaders at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and will decide on the “scale and scope” of the spring meetings in the days ahead, according to an emailed statement.The annual IMF and World Bank spring meetings that bring together central bank governors, finance ministers and policy makers from around the world are due to take place April 13-19 in Washington, D.C.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.Trump Puts Pence in Charge of Coronavirus Response (7:50 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence will take control of the administration’s coronavirus response, putting the White House in charge of a collection of federal agencies dealing with the situation in the U.S.“Mike is going to be in charge and Mike will report back to me, but he’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump says.Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the coronavirus outbreak, seeking to ease public concern after lawmakers raised alarm the U.S. is unprepared. Trump appeared with U.S. health officials to discuss the government’s coronavirus response.Asked whether the government has envisioned measures such as imposing quarantines on entire cities, the president said that there are plans on “a much larger scale” but that “we don’t think we’re going to need it.”Yellen Says Virus Could Throw U.S. Economy Into RecessionFormer Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said depending on how widely the coronavirus spreads, the economic impact could have a significant impact on Europe and veer the U.S. toward a recession.“We could see a significant impact on Europe, which has been weak to start with, and it’s just conceivable that it could throw the United States into a recession,” Yellen said at an event in Michigan. “If it doesn’t hit in a substantial way in the United States, that’s less likely. We had a pretty solid outlook before this happened -- and there is some risk, but basically I think the U.S. outlook looks pretty good.”The global economy was weak but starting to recover before the virus hit, Yellen said.Iraq Envoy Sounds Alarm on Iran Cases (7:22 a.m. HK)The Iraqi government is “really concerned” about the spread of the coronavirus from neighboring Iran, Fareed Yasseen, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., said during an event in Washington.The movement of people between the two countries is “quite intense” and communal because of religious activities, which could help transmit the virus “more readily,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why they’ve put a stop to travel between Iraq and Iran.”The Iraqi government has shut all schools and universities for 10 days, closed public venues, tea houses, cinemas and banned citizens from traveling to nine countries, including Iran, Sumaria News reported. Iraq has reported five cases so far, the country’s health ministry reported on Tuesday.Rejected by Two Ports, Cruise Heads to Mexico (7:09 a.m. HK)A ship operated by MSC Cruises is sailing for Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday after authorities in two Caribbean ports effectively refused to let passengers disembark over coronavirus fears.The company said it has received “formal and final authorization” to call in Cozumel, despite an earlier report to the contrary, and expects to arrive Wednesday evening local time.MSC Cruises says it doesn’t have any evidence of coronavirus on the ship. The company said its medical records show one case of seasonal flu in a crew member.Coronavirus has already prompted the industry to dial back exposure in Asia. But the latest incident appeared to signal the potential for a broader disruption in bigger markets, exacerbating the hit to cruise stocks.U.S. Airlines Cut Flights to South Korea (5 p.m. NY)U.S. airlines, having already suspended flights to China, are starting to pull back from South Korea.Delta Air Lines Inc. said Wednesday it would temporarily reduce service starting Feb. 29, citing health concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The Atlanta-based carrier also will postpone the start of new service between South Korea’s Incheon airport and Manila.Hawaiian Airlines is temporarily halting flights connecting Honolulu with Incheon because of the increase in cases in South Korea and the impact the illness has had on demand for leisure travel.WHO: Most New Cases Now Outside China (3:43 p.m.)More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China in the past 24 hours for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8, the World Health Organization said.The agency said in its daily situation report that there were 459 confirmed cases outside of China in the past 24 hours, compared with 412 new ones in China, where the outbreak began.Spahn: Germany at Beginning of Epidemic (12:45 p.m. NY)New cases of the virus in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg are a sign that Germany is “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in Berlin on Wednesday.“It is questionable whether out current strategy of isolating the infection and capping infection chains will work further,” Spahn said. “The probability that this virus will circumvent Germany won’t be fulfilled”Pakistan Confirms First Coronavirus Cases (12:05 p.m. NY)Pakistan’s health minister said the country had identified two cases of coronavirus, the first in the country.Both cases are being treated and are stable, Pakistan health minister Zafar Mirza said on Twitter. “No need to panic, things are under control,” Mirza said.Europe Health Official Predicts Wider Outbreak (11:46 a.m. NY)“It is likely that Europe will see similar developments like in Italy, varying from country to country,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in an update Wednesday. “The risk of the occurrence of similar clusters, similar to the ones in Italy, associated with Covid-19 in other countries in the EU/EEA and the U.K. is currently considered to be moderate to high,” ECDC said in its risk-assessment report.Even though “we are still in the containment phase,” European Union member states should review their “pandemic plans,” the bloc’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides, said in Rome earlier today.“All Member States need to inform us about their preparedness plans and how they propose to implement them,” Kyriakides said in a press conference, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “This is the kind of crucial information that we all need to have if the virus spreads further and I urge Member States to share this with us and each other, as this is important for our mutual security.”\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim and Miao Han.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at wchang98@bloomberg.net, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Saudi Pilgrimages Halted; Korea Adds 505 Cases: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that draw millions to cities including Mecca and Medina, while Japan asked for all schools to shut from March 2. More new cases were reported outside China than within the country for the first time, highlighting the spread of the epidemic.Britain added two cases, Switzerland three and South Korea reported 505 new infections. The U.S. identified the first coronavirus case that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, as President Donald Trump assured Americans they face little risk.China plans to suspend retail government bond sales and Malaysia unveiled a stimulus package valued at about $4.8 billion. Equities fell and bond yields reached record lows.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,300 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.SGX Gives Issuers an Extra Two Months to Hold AGMs (5:51 p.m. HK)Singapore Exchange said it will allow issuers to hold their annual general meetings up to June 30 to approve financial results. The waiver was granted because shareholders may be concerned about attending large-group meetings.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.Israel Asks Citizens to Reconsider Travel (3:51 p.m. HK)The Israeli government has asked citizens to reconsider plans to travel abroad, as the coronavirus spreads to more countries. The ministry added Italy to the list of destinations from which Israelis are required to enter into quarantine upon return. It’s the first non-Asian country on the list.Middle East Cases Rise (3:44 p.m. HK)Kuwait reported a jump in coronavirus cases to 43, from 26 previously, with all the cases linked to Iran, the hub of the outbreak in the Middle East. Iran has reported 158 cases, including 19 deaths. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.WHO Says Italy Errors May Have Inflated Cases: Corriere (3 p.m. HK)Testing of people without any virus symptoms was wrong and didn’t follow World Health Organization guidelines, said Walter Ricciardi, a member of WHO’s board, according to a report by Corriere della Sera.The result was “general confusion and alarm” as the tests may have inflated positive results, Ricciardi said in an interview with the newspaper. The testing strategy in the Veneto region ignored scientific evidence, he said.Australia Launches Emergency Plan for Likely Pandemic (2:30 p.m. HK)The Australian government activated an emergency plan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, saying it had to prepare for a likely pandemic. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also extended a travel ban on people entering the country from mainland China for a further week.“We believe the risk of global pandemic is very much upon us and as a result, as a government, we need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic,” he told the media, without providing further details of emergency measures.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak.The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015. The decision contrasts with the more aggressive response taken by Asian central banks from Indonesia to Thailand. The bank also downgraded its growth forecast for the year, and Lee said it was also possible the economy would contract in the first quarter as it took a hit from the outbreak.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.U.S. Raises Travel Alert on South Korea (9:22 a.m. HK)The U.S government is asking Americans to “reconsider” travel to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads in that country. The State Department issued a Level 3 advisory -- 4 being the most severe.South Korea has confirmed 171 more cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,766. Korean authorities thought they had largely contained the illness until they learned that a woman who had been infected attended two services of a secretive religious sect with at least 1,000 other people. Within 24 hours, the nation’s number of confirmed cases started multiplying exponentially.U.S. Identifies First Case of Unknown Origin (8:52 a.m. HK)U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, a worrying signal that the virus is already circulating despite reassurances from the Trump administration that it’s been contained.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient doesn’t appear to have traveled to China or been exposed to another known case of the coronavirus. Health authorities have been increasingly concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of quarantines or known contacts with other patients.The CDC said the case was picked up by doctors in California, and that the patient may have been infected by a traveler who brought the disease in. It didn’t give more information on the patient’s status. The new case brings the total of known infections in the U.S. to 15, not counting repatriated Americans.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen and Alisa Odenheimer.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, Adveith NairFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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CDC to Test More People; WHO Sees ‘Decisive’ Stage: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a “decisive” stage, the head of the World Health Organization told reporters in Geneva.U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested, adding travelers from several new countries and people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses. California is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia. Stocks tumbled.In Asia, attention continues to focus on countries outside China as new cases slow at the epicenter of the outbreak. Japan will close all schools, while South Korean infections now top 1,700. The virus also is also spreading in Europe and the Middle East, with countries including Italy, Iran and Kuwait reporting more infections.Key DevelopmentsConfirmed cases worldwide at 83,048; global deaths 2,858China death toll at 2,788, up 44; cases climb to 78,824, up 327Limited virus testing in Japan masks true scale of infectionJapan to close all schools from MondayClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Japan Children’s Day-Care Centers to Stay Open (8:06 a.m. HK)Japan’s children’s day-care centers and after-school clubs will stay open, even as schools nationwide close for at least a month in a bid to control the outbreak, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said. Japan wants to make it easy for people to take time off work, Kato said. This is an important time for controlling the domestic spread of the virus, he said.Plague Inc. Removed From Apple’s Chinese Store (8:04 a.m. HK)Plague Inc. -- the mobile simulation of a global pandemic that topped download charts in February after the outbreak -- has been removed from Apple Inc.’s Chinese app store. The eight-year-old game’s developers said on their website Chinese regulators determined it contained “illegal” content. The developers say they’re trying to contact the Cyberspace Administration of China to get the game back online.Plague Inc. became the most downloaded paid game on iPhones in at least 80 countries early this month, according to research firm App Annie.China Death Toll Rises to 2,788, Up 44 (7:53 a.m. HK)China’s death toll rose to 2,788 by the end of Thursday as it reported 44 new fatalities, according to a statement from the country’s National Health Commission. The number of cases climbed to 78,824 as 327 additional infections were reported. Discharged patients increased by 3,622 to 36,117.Hubei, the province at the center of the outbreak, had 318 additional cases and 41 new deaths.Trump Says He’s Doing ‘Incredible Job’ (7:13 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his administration has done an “incredible job” preventing the spread of coronavirus after California’s governor said the state is monitoring 8,400 for signs of exposure.Limited Testing in Japan Masks Scale of Infection (6:57 a.m. HK)Japan is becoming a center of concern, with the country’s official infection tally suspected to be the tip of the iceberg of a much wider outbreak.“For every one who tests positive there are probably hundreds with mild symptoms,” said Masahiro Kami, chair of the Medical Governance Research Institute in Tokyo, and a practicing doctor. “Those with mild symptoms are not being tested.”Read more here.U.S. Workers Didn’t Get Protective Gear: Report (5:05 p.m. NY)Federal employees who helped evacuate people from the center of the coronavirus outbreak in China didn’t get protective gear or training, the Washington Post said, citing a whistleblower’s complaint.Trump administration officials disputed the report.“Every precaution has been taken,” said William Walters, a health official with the U.S. State Department. “I can say unequivocally that everyone involved with those evacuations was appropriately equipped and trained.”One member of Congress called the situation deeply concerning. “Finding out that the U.S. government might have put its own personnel in harm’s way is deeply concerning to me,” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia.Mask Prices and Interest Spike on Amazon (4:52 p.m. NY)Prices for face masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc. in early February, with many items sold out, according to a firm that tracks traffic on the website.Searches over the past 30 days for N95 masks, which are tighter fitting and filter out smaller particles than surgical masks, surged to 1.3 million on Feb. 10, up from 23,000 on Jan. 10, according to Helium 10, the monitoring company.Daily sales of a 20-pack of popular N95 masks from 3M jumped to more than 1,000 in February, from roughly 25 in December, according to Helium. Prices for the product, which typically sells for $29.99, climbed as high as $99.“Many third-party sellers appear to be outright price-gouging, likely due to low stock and high demand,” Lee said. “Even Amazon, which has kept pricing mostly stable across products, has had to increase prices on some products.”Amazon’s pricing policies suggest the company monitors for gouging and can punish merchants with irregular prices, but the policies lack specifics. “Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon” is a potential violation, the company says on its policy page.“Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively,” Amazon said in an emailed statement. “We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”CDC Expands Coronavirus Testing to More Patients (4:38 p.m. NY)U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.People showing respiratory symptoms and who have been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened for the virus under the new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC is also calling for testing of patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization, but no other history of potential exposure to coronavirus. The expansion comes after a patient in California, who had no known ties to an infected area, was confirmed to have the virus after a long delay to get tested.Pence Says He’s In Charge, Not Azar (3:36 p.m. NY)U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he’s now leading the government’s coronavirus task force instead of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.“I’m leading the task force,” Pence said Thursday at a meeting on the virus at HHS headquarters. “We’ll continue to rely on the secretary’s role as chairman of the task force.”Trump initially appointed Azar to lead the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, but on Wednesday, he named Pence to the role at a news conference. The Washington Post reported that Azar was blindsided by the decision, though Azar told lawmakers that he thought Pence’s appointment was “genius.”Trump Mulls Special Powers on Mask Production: Reuters (1:58 p.m. NY)President Trump’s administration is considering invoking special powers through the 1950 Defense Production Act to quickly boost domestic manufacturing of protective masks and outfits in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing two officials it doesn’t name.California Monitoring 8,400 Travelers and Contacts (2:16 p.m.)California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.Those people are scattered across 49 local jurisdictions, he said. There have been 33 people confirmed to be infected with the virus in California.Earlier, health officials said a woman from Northern California has the virus and hadn’t traveled to China. She also didn’t have any close contact with anyone who did and appears to be the first case of community transmission in the U.S.Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.\--With assistance from Isabel Reynolds, Emi Nobuhiro, Dominic Lau, Edwin Chan, Zheping Huang, Josh Wingrove and Shiho Takezawa.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jeff Sutherland in Tokyo at jsutherlan13@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Tom Redmond, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Azar Says U.S.-Funded Vaccine Must Be Accessible: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the U.S. government must be financially accessible, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slashed its outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero. Germany is examining potential stimulus measures to stem the economic impact of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization said the outbreak is at a decisive stage.More new cases were reported outside China than within the country for the first time, highlighting the spread of the epidemic. Britain added two cases, Switzerland three and South Korea reported 505 new infections. Equities fell and bond yields reached record lows.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Azar Says U.S.-Funded Drug, Vaccine Must Be Accessible (12:30 p.m. NY)Any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the government must be financially accessible for people, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress Thursday.“I have directed my teams that if we do any joint venture with a private enterprise that we’re cofunding the research and development program that we would ensure there’s access to the fruits of that, whether vaccine or therapeutics,” Azar said at a congressional hearing. The U.S. government is collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to develop vaccines and drugs for the coronavirus.Azar’s comments are a shift from remarks Wednesday, when he said, “we would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.”Azar’s new comments came after he was criticized Wednesday evening by Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Twitter, Sanders called Azar’s remarks “outrageous.”Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Goldman Sees Zero Profit Growth for U.S. Companies (9:45 a.m. NY)The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made equity strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slash their outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero this year, as the epidemic erodes revenue and slows global economic growth.“Our reduced forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, supply chain disruption, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated uncertainty,” the strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Thursday.Iran VP for Women and Family Affairs Tests Positive (9:15 a.m. NY)Iran’s vice president of women and family affairs has tested positive for the new coronavirus, state-run IRNA reported.Masoumeh Ebetakar is the first female cabinet member in the Islamic Republic. She rose to public prominence as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the 1979 crisis with the U.S.IMF, World Bank Weigh Fate of Spring Meetings Amid Outbreak (8:39 a.m. NY)The International Monetary Fund and World Bank signaled they may reconsider meetings scheduled for mid-April in Washington amid the coronavirus’s spread.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The country earlier said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.UN Human Rights Commissioner Warns of Virus-Related Prejudice (7 a.m. NY)“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and east Asian ethnicity,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “I call on member states to do their most to combat this and other forms of discrimination.”China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen, Alisa Odenheimer, Thomas Mulier, Yasna Haghdoost, Hugo Miller, Corinne Gretler, Katerina Petroff and Shira Stein.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Mark Schoifet, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Saudi Pilgrimages Halted; Trump Plays Down Risks: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that draw millions to cities including Mecca and Medina. U.S. authorities identified the first coronavirus case that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, as President Donald Trump assured Americans they face little risk.More cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time, highlighting the spread of the epidemic. Britain added two cases, Switzerland three and South Korea reported 505 new infections.China plans to suspend retail government bond sales and Malaysia unveiled a stimulus package valued at about $4.8 billion. Equities fell and bond yields hit record lows.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,000 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.Israel Asks Citizens to Reconsider Travel (3:51 p.m. HK)The Israeli government has asked citizens to reconsider plans to travel abroad, as the coronavirus spreads to more countries. The ministry added Italy to the list of destinations from which Israelis are required to enter into quarantine upon return. It’s the first non-Asian country on the list.Middle East Cases Rise (3:44 p.m. HK)Kuwait reported a jump in coronavirus cases to 43, from 26 previously, with all the cases linked to Iran, the hub of the outbreak in the Middle East. Iran has reported 158 cases, including 19 deaths. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.WHO Says Italy Errors May Have Inflated Cases: Corriere (3 p.m. HK)Testing of people without any virus symptoms was wrong and didn’t follow World Health Organization guidelines, said Walter Ricciardi, a member of WHO’s board, according to a report by Corriere della Sera.The result was “general confusion and alarm” as the tests may have inflated positive results, Ricciardi said in an interview with the newspaper. The testing strategy in the Veneto region ignored scientific evidence, he said.Australia Launches Emergency Plan for Likely Pandemic (2:30 p.m. HK)The Australian government activated an emergency plan to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, saying it had to prepare for a likely pandemic. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also extended a travel ban on people entering the country from mainland China for a further week.“We believe the risk of global pandemic is very much upon us and as a result, as a government, we need to take the steps necessary to prepare for such a pandemic,” he told the media, without providing further details of emergency measures.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak.The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015. The decision contrasts with the more aggressive response taken by Asian central banks from Indonesia to Thailand. The bank also downgraded its growth forecast for the year, and Lee said it was also possible the economy would contract in the first quarter as it took a hit from the outbreak.AmCham China Members See Impact From Outbreak (11:11 a.m. HK)The coronavirus epidemic is causing a significant challenge to U.S. businesses in China due to travel disruptions and reduced staff productivity, according to the results of a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce.China Leaders Donate Own Money to Virus Fight (11:06 a.m. HK)Chinese President Xi Jinping and six of his top officials have donated money from their own pockets to fight the coronavirus, as the government scrambles to mobilize public support that has wavered over its response to the outbreak.The personal donations were reported by the official Xinhua news agency, which said the officials sat on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, the ruling Communist Party’s top echelon. Xinhua didn’t say how much they donated.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.U.S. Raises Travel Alert on South Korea (9:22 a.m. HK)The U.S government is asking Americans to “reconsider” travel to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads in that country. The State Department issued a Level 3 advisory -- 4 being the most severe.South Korea has confirmed 171 more cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,766. Korean authorities thought they had largely contained the illness until they learned that a woman who had been infected attended two services of a secretive religious sect with at least 1,000 other people. Within 24 hours, the nation’s number of confirmed cases started multiplying exponentially.U.S. Identifies First Case of Unknown Origin (8:52 a.m. HK)U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, a worrying signal that the virus is already circulating despite reassurances from the Trump administration that it’s been contained.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient doesn’t appear to have traveled to China or been exposed to another known case of the coronavirus. Health authorities have been increasingly concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of quarantines or known contacts with other patients.The CDC said the case was picked up by doctors in California, and that the patient may have been infected by a traveler who brought the disease in. It didn’t give more information on the patient’s status. The new case brings the total of known infections in the U.S. to 15, not counting repatriated Americans.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.Trump Puts Pence in Charge of Coronavirus Response (7:50 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence will take control of the administration’s coronavirus response, putting the White House in charge of a collection of federal agencies dealing with the situation in the U.S.Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the coronavirus outbreak, seeking to ease public concern after lawmakers raised alarm the U.S. is unprepared. Trump appeared with U.S. health officials to discuss the government’s coronavirus response.Asked whether the government has envisioned measures such as imposing quarantines on entire cities, the president said that there are plans on “a much larger scale” but that “we don’t think we’re going to need it.”\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen and Alisa Odenheimer.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at wchang98@bloomberg.net, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Germany Examining Stimulus; Korea Adds 505 Cases: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Germany is examining potential stimulus measures to stem the economic impact of the coronavirus, Handelsblatt reported.Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that draw millions to cities including Mecca and Medina, while Japan asked for all schools to shut from March 2. More new cases were reported outside China than within the country for the first time, highlighting the spread of the epidemic.Britain added two cases, Switzerland three and South Korea reported 505 new infections. China plans to suspend retail government bond sales and Malaysia unveiled a stimulus package valued at about $4.8 billion. Equities fell and bond yields reached record lows.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Greece Confirms Two More Coronavirus Cases; Closes a School (6:04 a.m. NY)Greece said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.SGX Gives Issuers an Extra Two Months to Hold AGMs (5:51 p.m. HK)Singapore Exchange said it will allow issuers to hold their annual general meetings up to June 30 to approve financial results. The waiver was granted because shareholders may be concerned about attending large-group meetings.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.Israel Asks Citizens to Reconsider Travel (3:51 p.m. HK)The Israeli government has asked citizens to reconsider plans to travel abroad, as the coronavirus spreads to more countries. The ministry added Italy to the list of destinations from which Israelis are required to enter into quarantine upon return. It’s the first non-Asian country on the list.WHO Says Italy Errors May Have Inflated Cases: Corriere (3 p.m. HK)Testing of people without any virus symptoms was wrong and didn’t follow World Health Organization guidelines, said Walter Ricciardi, a member of WHO’s board, according to a report by Corriere della Sera.The result was “general confusion and alarm” as the tests may have inflated positive results, Ricciardi said in an interview with the newspaper. The testing strategy in the Veneto region ignored scientific evidence, he said.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak.The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015. The decision contrasts with the more aggressive response taken by Asian central banks from Indonesia to Thailand. The bank also downgraded its growth forecast for the year, and Lee said it was also possible the economy would contract in the first quarter as it took a hit from the outbreak.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.U.S. Raises Travel Alert on South Korea (9:22 a.m. HK)The U.S government is asking Americans to “reconsider” travel to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads in that country. The State Department issued a Level 3 advisory -- 4 being the most severe.South Korea has confirmed 171 more cases, bringing the total number of cases to 1,766. Korean authorities thought they had largely contained the illness until they learned that a woman who had been infected attended two services of a secretive religious sect with at least 1,000 other people. Within 24 hours, the nation’s number of confirmed cases started multiplying exponentially.U.S. Identifies First Case of Unknown Origin (8:52 a.m. HK)U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, a worrying signal that the virus is already circulating despite reassurances from the Trump administration that it’s been contained.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient doesn’t appear to have traveled to China or been exposed to another known case of the coronavirus. Health authorities have been increasingly concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of quarantines or known contacts with other patients.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen and Alisa Odenheimer.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, Paul Sillitoe, Chris KayFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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CDC to Test More People; Stocks Continue Slide: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a “decisive” stage, the head of the World Health Organization told reporters in Geneva.U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested, adding travelers from several new countries and people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses. California is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of the virus after they traveled to Asia. Stocks tumbled.In Asia, attention continues to focus on countries outside China as new cases slow at the epicenter of the outbreak. Japan will close all schools, while South Korean infections now top 1,700. The virus also is also spreading in Europe and the Middle East, with countries including Italy, Iran and Kuwait reporting more infections.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433Limited virus testing in Japan masks true scale of infectionJapan to close all schools from MondayClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Trump Says He’s Doing ‘Incredible Job’ (7:13 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said his administration has done an “incredible job” preventing the spread of coronavirus after California’s governor said the state is monitoring 8,400 for signs of exposure.Limited Testing in Japan Masks Scale of Infection (6:57 a.m. HK)Japan is becoming a center of concern, with the country’s official infection tally suspected to be the tip of the iceberg of a much wider outbreak.“For every one who tests positive there are probably hundreds with mild symptoms,” said Masahiro Kami, chair of the Medical Governance Research Institute in Tokyo, and a practicing doctor. “Those with mild symptoms are not being tested.”Read more here.U.S. Workers Didn’t Get Protective Gear: Report (5:05 p.m. NY)Federal employees who helped evacuate people from the center of the coronavirus outbreak in China didn’t get protective gear or training, the Washington Post said, citing a whistleblower’s complaint.Trump administration officials disputed the report.“Every precaution has been taken,” said William Walters, a health official with the U.S. State Department. “I can say unequivocally that everyone involved with those evacuations was appropriately equipped and trained.”One member of Congress called the situation deeply concerning. “Finding out that the U.S. government might have put its own personnel in harm’s way is deeply concerning to me,” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia.Mask Prices and Interest Spike on Amazon (4:52 p.m. NY)Prices for face masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc. in early February, with many items sold out, according to a firm that tracks traffic on the website.Searches over the past 30 days for N95 masks, which are tighter fitting and filter out smaller particles than surgical masks, surged to 1.3 million on Feb. 10, up from 23,000 on Jan. 10, according to Helium 10, the monitoring company.Daily sales of a 20-pack of popular N95 masks from 3M jumped to more than 1,000 in February, from roughly 25 in December, according to Helium. Prices for the product, which typically sells for $29.99, climbed as high as $99.“Many third-party sellers appear to be outright price-gouging, likely due to low stock and high demand,” Lee said. “Even Amazon, which has kept pricing mostly stable across products, has had to increase prices on some products.”Amazon’s pricing policies suggest the company monitors for gouging and can punish merchants with irregular prices, but the policies lack specifics. “Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon” is a potential violation, the company says on its policy page.“Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively,” Amazon said in an emailed statement. “We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”CDC Expands Coronavirus Testing to More Patients (4:38 p.m. NY)U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.People showing respiratory symptoms and who have been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened for the virus under the new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC is also calling for testing of patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization, but no other history of potential exposure to coronavirus. The expansion comes after a patient in California, who had no known ties to an infected area, was confirmed to have the virus after a long delay to get tested.Pence Says He’s In Charge, Not Azar (3:36 p.m. NY)U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he’s now leading the government’s coronavirus task force instead of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.“I’m leading the task force,” Pence said Thursday at a meeting on the virus at HHS headquarters. “We’ll continue to rely on the secretary’s role as chairman of the task force.”Trump initially appointed Azar to lead the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, but on Wednesday, he named Pence to the role at a news conference. The Washington Post reported that Azar was blindsided by the decision, though Azar told lawmakers that he thought Pence’s appointment was “genius.”NYC Says Testing Kits Are Unavailable (3:15 p.m. NY)Testing kits for the new coronavirus aren’t yet available in the U.S.’s most populous city.Stephanie Buhle, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t reliable enough to use.“The kits that were sent to us have demonstrated performance issues and cannot be relied upon to provide an accurate result,” she said.U.S. health officials are letting state and local health labs modify a test for the coronavirus that has been plagued by weeks of delays and problems with validation of the results.Trump Mulls Special Powers on Mask Production: Reuters (1:58 p.m. NY)President Trump’s administration is considering invoking special powers through the 1950 Defense Production Act to quickly boost domestic manufacturing of protective masks and outfits in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing two officials it doesn’t name.California Monitoring 8,400 Travelers and Contacts (2:16 p.m.)California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.Those people are scattered across 49 local jurisdictions, he said. There have been 33 people confirmed to be infected with the virus in California.Earlier, health officials said a woman from Northern California has the virus and hadn’t traveled to China. She also didn’t have any close contact with anyone who did and appears to be the first case of community transmission in the U.S.Azar Says U.S.-Funded Drug, Vaccine Must Be Accessible (12:30 p.m. NY)Any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the government must be financially accessible for people, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress Thursday.“I have directed my teams that if we do any joint venture with a private enterprise that we’re cofunding the research and development program that we would ensure there’s access to the fruits of that, whether vaccine or therapeutics,” Azar said at a congressional hearing. The U.S. government is collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to develop vaccines and drugs for the coronavirus.Azar’s comments are a shift from remarks Wednesday, when he said, “we would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.”Azar’s new comments came after he was criticized Wednesday evening by Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Twitter, Sanders called Azar’s remarks “outrageous.”Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Goldman Sees Zero Profit Growth for U.S. Companies (9:45 a.m. NY)The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made equity strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slash their outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero this year, as the epidemic erodes revenue and slows global economic growth.“Our reduced forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, supply chain disruption, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated uncertainty,” the strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Thursday.Iran VP for Women and Family Affairs Tests Positive (9:15 a.m. NY)Iran’s vice president of women and family affairs has tested positive for the new coronavirus, state-run IRNA reported.Masoumeh Ebetakar is the first female cabinet member in the Islamic Republic. She rose to public prominence as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the 1979 crisis with the U.S.IMF, World Bank Weigh Fate of Spring Meetings Amid Outbreak (8:39 a.m. NY)The International Monetary Fund and World Bank signaled they may reconsider meetings scheduled for mid-April in Washington amid the coronavirus’s spread.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The country earlier said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.UN Human Rights Commissioner Warns of Virus-Related Prejudice (7 a.m. NY)“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and east Asian ethnicity,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “I call on member states to do their most to combat this and other forms of discrimination.”China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen, Alisa Odenheimer, Thomas Mulier, Yasna Haghdoost, Hugo Miller, Corinne Gretler, Katerina Petroff, Shira Stein, Ryan Beene and Henry Goldman.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Tom Redmond, Jeff SutherlandFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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California Monitoring Travelers; Mask Production: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- California is currently monitoring 8,400 people for signs of exposure to the coronavirus after they traveled to Asia, Governor Gavin Newsom said. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.The Trump administration may invoke special powers to boost domestic production of masks, Reuters reported. In Washington, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the U.S. government must be financially accessible.Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slashed its outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero. Germany is examining potential stimulus measures to stem the economic impact of the coronavirus. The World Health Organization said the outbreak is at a decisive stage.More new cases were reported outside China than within the country for the first time, highlighting the spread of the epidemic. Britain added two cases, Switzerland three and South Korea reported 505 new infections. Equities fell and bond yields reached record lows.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.Trump Mulls Special Powers on Mask Production: Reuters (1:58 p.m. NY)President Trump’s administration is considering invoking special powers through the 1950 Defense Production Act to quickly boost domestic manufacturing of protective masks and outfits in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing two officials it doesn’t name.California Monitoring 8,400 Travelers and Contacts (2:16 p.m.)California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.Those people are scattered across 49 local jurisdictions, he said. There have been 33 people confirmed to be infected with the virus in California.Earlier, health officials said a woman from Northern California has the virus and hadn’t traveled to China. She also didn’t have any close contact with anyone who did and appears to be the first case of community transmission in the U.S.Azar Says U.S.-Funded Drug, Vaccine Must Be Accessible (12:30 p.m. NY)Any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the government must be financially accessible for people, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress Thursday.“I have directed my teams that if we do any joint venture with a private enterprise that we’re cofunding the research and development program that we would ensure there’s access to the fruits of that, whether vaccine or therapeutics,” Azar said at a congressional hearing. The U.S. government is collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to develop vaccines and drugs for the coronavirus.Azar’s comments are a shift from remarks Wednesday, when he said, “we would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.”Azar’s new comments came after he was criticized Wednesday evening by Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Twitter, Sanders called Azar’s remarks “outrageous.”Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Goldman Sees Zero Profit Growth for U.S. Companies (9:45 a.m. NY)The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made equity strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slash their outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero this year, as the epidemic erodes revenue and slows global economic growth.“Our reduced forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, supply chain disruption, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated uncertainty,” the strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Thursday.Iran VP for Women and Family Affairs Tests Positive (9:15 a.m. NY)Iran’s vice president of women and family affairs has tested positive for the new coronavirus, state-run IRNA reported.Masoumeh Ebetakar is the first female cabinet member in the Islamic Republic. She rose to public prominence as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the 1979 crisis with the U.S.IMF, World Bank Weigh Fate of Spring Meetings Amid Outbreak (8:39 a.m. NY)The International Monetary Fund and World Bank signaled they may reconsider meetings scheduled for mid-April in Washington amid the coronavirus’s spread.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The country earlier said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.UN Human Rights Commissioner Warns of Virus-Related Prejudice (7 a.m. NY)“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and east Asian ethnicity,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “I call on member states to do their most to combat this and other forms of discrimination.”China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen, Alisa Odenheimer, Thomas Mulier, Yasna Haghdoost, Hugo Miller, Corinne Gretler, Katerina Petroff and Shira Stein.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Mark Schoifet, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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U.S. Warns on Travel to Korea; Trump Taps Pence: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China in the past 24 hours for the first time, the World Health Organization said, a significant development as new cases spread around the globe.U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak. The news came after President Donald Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the outbreak. U.S. equity futures and Asian shares fell after the president’s comments.The U.S. urged travelers to reconsider trips to South Korea as the country’s number of cases rose to more than 1,500. New infections were diagnosed in countries from Pakistan to Brazil, which reported the first case in Latin America. Saudi Arabia halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca.Key DevelopmentsU.S. raises travel alert on South Korea, as cases there rise by 334 to 1,595China death toll at 2,744, up 29. China reports 433 more cases, bringing total to 78,497Hubei province adds 26 fatalities, 409 new casesCDC confirms first case of unknown originTrump puts Pence in charge of coronavirus responseU.S. stock futures fall after Trump remarksSaudi Arabia halts religious visitsClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.U.S. Raises Travel Alert on South Korea (9:22 a.m. HK)The U.S government is asking Americans to “reconsider” travel to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads in that country.The State Department issued a Level 3 advisory -- 4 being the most severe. “The South Korean government has reported cases of the Covid-19 in the country and has upgraded its response level to ‘grave,’ its highest response level,” the department said in the advisory, using the medical abbreviation for the virus.The warning came as South Korea’s Health Ministry said 334 more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed overnight, bringing the total number of cases to 1,595. The ministry said 307 of the new cases are from Daegu, where the bulk of infections have originated.Korean authorities thought they had largely contained the illness until they learned that a woman who had been infected attended two services of a secretive religious sect with at least 1,000 other people. Within 24 hours, the nation’s number of confirmed cases started multiplying exponentially.U.S. Identifies First Case of Unknown Origin (8:52 a.m. HK)U.S. health authorities said they’ve identified a first case of coronavirus that doesn’t have ties to a known outbreak, a worrying signal that the virus is already circulating despite reassurances from the Trump administration that it’s been contained.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient doesn’t appear to have traveled to China or been exposed to another known case of the coronavirus. Health authorities have been increasingly concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of quarantines or known contacts with other patients.The CDC said the case was picked up by doctors in California, and that the patient may have been infected by a traveler who brought the disease in. It didn’t give more information on the patient’s status. The new case brings the total of known infections in the U.S. to 15, not counting repatriated Americans.IMF to Decide on Spring Meetings in Coming Days (8:45 a.m. HK)Senior leaders at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus and will decide on the “scale and scope” of the spring meetings in the days ahead, according to an emailed statement.The annual IMF and World Bank spring meetings that bring together central bank governors, finance ministers and policy makers from around the world are due to take place April 13-19 in Washington, D.C.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)In an effort to protect against the spread of coronavirus, Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, the foreign ministry said in a statement.All foreigners with tourist visas from countries with confirmed coronavirus infections will be denied entry, it said.The kingdom is suspending entry to citizens from the Gulf States, as well as travel of Saudis to the Gulf States who are using the national IDs to travel, excluding Saudis abroad who want to return, and Gulf citizens in Saudi Arabia who wish to leave, the statement said.Trump Puts Pence in Charge of Coronavirus Response (7:50 a.m. HK)President Donald Trump said that Vice President Mike Pence will take control of the administration’s coronavirus response, putting the White House in charge of a collection of federal agencies dealing with the situation in the U.S.“Mike is going to be in charge and Mike will report back to me, but he’s got a certain talent for this,” Trump says.Trump assured Americans that they face little risk from the coronavirus outbreak, seeking to ease public concern after lawmakers raised alarm the U.S. is unprepared. Trump appeared with U.S. health officials to discuss the government’s coronavirus response.Asked whether the government has envisioned measures such as imposing quarantines on entire cities, the president said that there are plans on “a much larger scale” but that “we don’t think we’re going to need it.”Yellen Says Virus Could Throw U.S. Economy Into RecessionFormer Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said depending on how widely the coronavirus spreads, the economic impact could have a significant impact on Europe and veer the U.S. toward a recession.“We could see a significant impact on Europe, which has been weak to start with, and it’s just conceivable that it could throw the United States into a recession,” Yellen said at an event in Michigan. “If it doesn’t hit in a substantial way in the United States, that’s less likely. We had a pretty solid outlook before this happened -- and there is some risk, but basically I think the U.S. outlook looks pretty good.”The global economy was weak but starting to recover before the virus hit, Yellen said.Iraq Envoy Sounds Alarm on Iran Cases (7:22 a.m. HK)The Iraqi government is “really concerned” about the spread of the coronavirus from neighboring Iran, Fareed Yasseen, the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., said during an event in Washington.The movement of people between the two countries is “quite intense” and communal because of religious activities, which could help transmit the virus “more readily,” he said. “This is one of the reasons why they’ve put a stop to travel between Iraq and Iran.”The Iraqi government has shut all schools and universities for 10 days, closed public venues, tea houses, cinemas and banned citizens from traveling to nine countries, including Iran, Sumaria News reported. Iraq has reported five cases so far, the country’s health ministry reported on Tuesday.Rejected by Two Ports, Cruise Heads to Mexico (7:09 a.m. HK)A ship operated by MSC Cruises is sailing for Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday after authorities in two Caribbean ports effectively refused to let passengers disembark over coronavirus fears.The company said it has received “formal and final authorization” to call in Cozumel, despite an earlier report to the contrary, and expects to arrive Wednesday evening local time.MSC Cruises says it doesn’t have any evidence of coronavirus on the ship. The company said its medical records show one case of seasonal flu in a crew member.Coronavirus has already prompted the industry to dial back exposure in Asia. But the latest incident appeared to signal the potential for a broader disruption in bigger markets, exacerbating the hit to cruise stocks.U.S. Airlines Cut Flights to South Korea (5 p.m. NY)U.S. airlines, having already suspended flights to China, are starting to pull back from South Korea.Delta Air Lines Inc. said Wednesday it would temporarily reduce service starting Feb. 29, citing health concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The Atlanta-based carrier also will postpone the start of new service between South Korea’s Incheon airport and Manila.Hawaiian Airlines is temporarily halting flights connecting Honolulu with Incheon because of the increase in cases in South Korea and the impact the illness has had on demand for leisure travel.WHO: Most New Cases Now Outside China (3:43 p.m.)More coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China in the past 24 hours for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8, the World Health Organization said.The agency said in its daily situation report that there were 459 confirmed cases outside of China in the past 24 hours, compared with 412 new ones in China, where the outbreak began.Nassau County Monitoring 83 People (1:40 p.m. NY)Health officials in Nassau County on New York’s Long Island are monitoring 83 people who have visited mainland China or may have come in contact with the new coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.Radio station 1010 WINS, citing County Executive Laura Curran, said six people have been tested so far and that five have been confirmed not to have it. Results of the sixth test aren’t in yet.Health officials around the U.S. have been testing hundreds of travelers who had visited China, where the coronavirus originated.Spahn: Germany at Beginning of Epidemic (12:45 p.m. NY)New cases of the virus in the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wurttemberg are a sign that Germany is “at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in Berlin on Wednesday.“It is questionable whether out current strategy of isolating the infection and capping infection chains will work further,” Spahn said. “The probability that this virus will circumvent Germany won’t be fulfilled”Pakistan Confirms First Coronavirus Cases (12:05 p.m. NY)Pakistan’s health minister said the country had identified two cases of coronavirus, the first in the country.Both cases are being treated and are stable, Pakistan health minister Zafar Mirza said on Twitter. “No need to panic, things are under control,” Mirza said.Europe Health Official Predicts Wider Outbreak (11:46 a.m. NY)“It is likely that Europe will see similar developments like in Italy, varying from country to country,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in an update Wednesday. “The risk of the occurrence of similar clusters, similar to the ones in Italy, associated with Covid-19 in other countries in the EU/EEA and the U.K. is currently considered to be moderate to high,” ECDC said in its risk-assessment report.Even though “we are still in the containment phase,” European Union member states should review their “pandemic plans,” the bloc’s health chief, Stella Kyriakides, said in Rome earlier today.“All Member States need to inform us about their preparedness plans and how they propose to implement them,” Kyriakides said in a press conference, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. “This is the kind of crucial information that we all need to have if the virus spreads further and I urge Member States to share this with us and each other, as this is important for our mutual security.”To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in Minneapolis at mcortez@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Mark SchoifetFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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CDC to Test More People; Evacuation Whistleblower: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.Trump administration officials disputed a report in the Washington Post that federal workers were sent to receive evacuated Americans from China without proper training or protective gear.California is currently monitoring 8,400 people for signs of exposure to the coronavirus after they traveled to Asia, Governor Gavin Newsom said. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month. Searches and prices for facial masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc.Key DevelopmentsGlobal deaths surpass 2,800, with more than 82,400 casesChina death toll at 2,744, up 29; cases climb to 78,497, up 433First U.S. case of unknown origin; Pence in charge of responseSouth Korea cases rise, U.S. urges travelers to reconsider tripsAsk Health Experts Questions on Coronavirus in TOPLiveClick VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.U.S. Workers Didn’t Get Protective Gear: Report (5:05 p.m. NY)Federal employees who helped evacuate people from the center of the coronavirus outbreak in China didn’t get protective gear or training, the Washington Post said, citing a whistleblower’s complaint.Trump administration officials disputed the report.“Every precaution has been taken,” said William Walters, a health official with the U.S. State Department. “I can say unequivocally that everyone involved with those evacuations was appropriately equipped and trained.”One member of Congress called the situation deeply concerning. “Finding out that the U.S. government might have put its own personnel in harm’s way is deeply concerning to me,” said Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia.Mask Prices and Interest Spike on Amazon (4:52 p.m. NY)Prices for face masks spiked on Amazon.com Inc. in early February, with many items sold out, according to a firm that tracks traffic on the website.Searches over the past 30 days for N95 masks, which are tighter fitting and filter out smaller particles than surgical masks, surged to 1.3 million on Feb. 10, up from 23,000 on Jan. 10, according to Helium 10, the monitoring company.Daily sales of a 20-pack of popular N95 masks from 3M jumped to more than 1,000 in February, from roughly 25 in December, according to Helium. Prices for the product, which typically sells for $29.99, climbed as high as $99.“Many third-party sellers appear to be outright price-gouging, likely due to low stock and high demand,” Lee said. “Even Amazon, which has kept pricing mostly stable across products, has had to increase prices on some products.”Amazon’s pricing policies suggest the company monitors for gouging and can punish merchants with irregular prices, but the policies lack specifics. “Setting a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon” is a potential violation, the company says on its policy page.“Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively,” Amazon said in an emailed statement. “We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”CDC Expands Coronavirus Testing to More Patients (4:38 p.m. NY)U.S. health authorities moved to greatly expand the number of people who will be tested for the coronavirus, adding travelers from several new countries with outbreaks as well as people with unexplained, severe respiratory illnesses.People showing respiratory symptoms and who have been in China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea within the past 14 days will be screened for the virus under the new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC is also calling for testing of patients who have unexplained, severe lower-respiratory illnesses that require hospitalization, but no other history of potential exposure to coronavirus. The expansion comes after a patient in California, who had no known ties to an infected area, was confirmed to have the virus after a long delay to get tested.Pence Says He’s In Charge, Not Azar (3:36 p.m. NY)U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he’s now leading the government’s coronavirus task force instead of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.“I’m leading the task force,” Pence said Thursday at a meeting on the virus at HHS headquarters. “We’ll continue to rely on the secretary’s role as chairman of the task force.”Trump initially appointed Azar to lead the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, but on Wednesday, he named Pence to the role at a news conference. The Washington Post reported that Azar was blindsided by the decision, though Azar told lawmakers that he thought Pence’s appointment was “genius.”NYC Says Testing Kits Are Unavailable (3:15 p.m. NY)Testing kits for the new coronavirus aren’t yet available in the U.S.’s most populous city.Stephanie Buhle, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t reliable enough to use.“The kits that were sent to us have demonstrated performance issues and cannot be relied upon to provide an accurate result,” she said.U.S. health officials are letting state and local health labs modify a test for the coronavirus that has been plagued by weeks of delays and problems with validation of the results.Trump Mulls Special Powers on Mask Production: Reuters (1:58 p.m. NY)President Trump’s administration is considering invoking special powers through the 1950 Defense Production Act to quickly boost domestic manufacturing of protective masks and outfits in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing two officials it doesn’t name.California Monitoring 8,400 Travelers and Contacts (2:16 p.m.)California is monitoring 8,400 people who flew into its airports from Asia and their close contacts for possible infection from the novel coronavirus, Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. Thousands of people around the U.S. have been asked to self-isolate or check themselves for symptoms since the U.S. put new limits on travel earlier this month.Those people are scattered across 49 local jurisdictions, he said. There have been 33 people confirmed to be infected with the virus in California.Earlier, health officials said a woman from Northern California has the virus and hadn’t traveled to China. She also didn’t have any close contact with anyone who did and appears to be the first case of community transmission in the U.S.Azar Says U.S.-Funded Drug, Vaccine Must Be Accessible (12:30 p.m. NY)Any drug or vaccine developed by companies with help from the government must be financially accessible for people, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Congress Thursday.“I have directed my teams that if we do any joint venture with a private enterprise that we’re cofunding the research and development program that we would ensure there’s access to the fruits of that, whether vaccine or therapeutics,” Azar said at a congressional hearing. The U.S. government is collaborating with pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to develop vaccines and drugs for the coronavirus.Azar’s comments are a shift from remarks Wednesday, when he said, “we would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.”Azar’s new comments came after he was criticized Wednesday evening by Senator Bernie Sanders, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. On Twitter, Sanders called Azar’s remarks “outrageous.”Lagarde: ECB Response Not Required Yet (11:30 a.m. NY)European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the coronavirus outbreak carefully isn’t yet at the stage that would require a monetary-policy response, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.Lagarde said the ECB would have to determine whether the coronavirus could become a “long-lasting shock” that would affect inflation. “But we are certainly not at that point yet,” Lagarde told the FT.Outbreak Is At Decisive Stage, WHO Says (10:10 a.m. NY)The novel coronavirus has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday.“The outbreak can go in any direction based on how we handle it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during the group’s daily briefing in Geneva.China’s efforts show that containment can work, while clusters of infections in Iran, Italy and South Korea are cause for concern, he said. For a second day, there were fewer new cases in China than in the rest of the world.Several countries that have reported cases previously -- including India, Russia and Vietnam -- haven’t had any new infections in two weeks, Tedros said. However, Finland and Sweden, which had gone without infections for a prolonged period, reported cases Wednesday.Goldman Sees Zero Profit Growth for U.S. Companies (9:45 a.m. NY)The rapid spread of the coronavirus has made equity strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. slash their outlook for U.S. companies’ profit growth to zero this year, as the epidemic erodes revenue and slows global economic growth.“Our reduced forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, supply chain disruption, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated uncertainty,” the strategists led by David Kostin wrote in a note Thursday.Iran VP for Women and Family Affairs Tests Positive (9:15 a.m. NY)Iran’s vice president of women and family affairs has tested positive for the new coronavirus, state-run IRNA reported.Masoumeh Ebetakar is the first female cabinet member in the Islamic Republic. She rose to public prominence as a spokesperson for the hostage takers during the 1979 crisis with the U.S.IMF, World Bank Weigh Fate of Spring Meetings Amid Outbreak (8:39 a.m. NY)The International Monetary Fund and World Bank signaled they may reconsider meetings scheduled for mid-April in Washington amid the coronavirus’s spread.Germany Considering Stimulus to Limit Impact: HB (7:37 a.m. NY)Germany’s government is looking at stimulus measures that would mitigate any major economic impact of the outbreak on the economy, with tax cuts and help to individual companies being examined, Handelsblatt reported, citing unidentified government sources.Middle East Cases Rise (7:30 a.m. NY)Iran reported 87 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 245 including 26 deaths. The number of patients in Kuwait almost doubled to 43, with all the cases linked to Iran. The United Arab Emirates, which has 13 cases and hasn’t given an update since Saturday, said it’s setting up a medical facility to quarantine patients.Greece to Increase Controls at Borders as Anti-Virus Measure (7:14 a.m. NY)As part of measures to protect public health, Greece is increasing controls at all its land and sea borders with immediate effect, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. The country earlier said that the child of the 38-year-old woman hospitalized on Wednesday, who tested positive for coronavirus, also has been infected. Authorities closed the child’s school for 14 days as a precaution. A third person in an unrelated case, who had recently returned from Italy, also tested positive.Italy Coronavirus Cases Rise to 528, With 14 Possible Deaths (7:09 a.m. NY)Total cases increased from the 400 reported late Wednesday, civil protection head and emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said. Forty people have recovered. The number of possible virus-linked deaths reached 14.UN Human Rights Commissioner Warns of Virus-Related Prejudice (7 a.m. NY)“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and east Asian ethnicity,” Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in Geneva. “I call on member states to do their most to combat this and other forms of discrimination.”China to Extend School Closure, Premier Li Says: CCTV (6:37 a.m. NY)Premier Li Keqiang said China will extend its closure of schools because of the epidemic, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.Emirates to Limit Access to Its Biggest Mideast Market (6:17 p.m. HK)Emirates, which gets 60% of its Middle East revenue from Saudi Arabia, will stop flying tourists from more than 20 countries to the kingdom to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Japan’s Abe Tells All Schools to Shut (5:39 p.m.)Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all elementary, middle and high schools in the country to close from Monday though to the end of the spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.Malaysia Unveils Stimulus Package (5:20 p.m. HK)Malaysia announced a package of measures valued at 20 billion ringgit ($4.8 billion) to boost an economy battered by the coronavirus outbreak. The government will support businesses affected by the virus, particularly in the tourism industry.China Plans to Suspend Retail Govt Bond Sales (5:16 p.m. HK)China plans to suspend selling government bonds to retail customers via bank branches next month, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified for discussing a private matter. The halt is partly due to concerns over public gatherings during the outbreak.AB InBev, Aston Martin Warn (5:01 p.m. HK)Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer, slumped after forecasting the steepest decline in quarterly profit in at least a decade due to the coronavirus. Aston Martin said revenue will continue to slide as it marks time until an anticipated boost from its new DBX SUV and braces for the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese demand.Earlier, Microsoft became joined Apple and HP in cutting outlook, while Standard Chartered said it may take longer to hit a key target.South Korea Reports 505 More Cases, 1 Death (4:52 p.m. HK)South Korea’s health ministry announced an additional 171 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed as of 4pm local time on top of the 334 additional cases reported earlier in the day. The country’s daily tally of 505 today exceeded that of China’s 433 from yesterday.China Expert Sees Epidemic Contained by End of April (12:02 p.m. HK)Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory disease expert advising the Chinese government, is confident the coronavirus outbreak will be largely contained by the end of April, Nanfang Daily reported, citing a briefing on Thursday.Zhong, who led the research into a treatment for SARS, earlier expected the virus outbreak to peak by mid- to late February.BOK Puts Micro Response to Virus Before Rate Move (11:34 a.m. HK)Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol provided loan support for coronavirus-hit companies rather than a wider-reaching interest rate move on Thursday, saying it was still too early to gauge the overall economic impact of the outbreak. The central bank left interest rates unchanged, holding off from a repetition of the rate cut response it took during a virus outbreak in 2015.Trump Says CDC Budget Cuts Won’t Hurt Virus Response (9:45 a.m. HK)Trump said his proposed cuts to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the agency leading the government’s response to the coronavirus -- wouldn’t affect preparations for an outbreak.“We can get money and we can increase staff. We know all the good people. Some of the people we’ve cut they haven’t been used in many many years,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When you need them you can get them back very quickly. We can build up very very quickly. We already have done that.”China Reports 433 New Coronavirus Cases (9:30 a.m. HK)China reported 433 additional coronavirus cases, bringing the total case count to 78,497, according to a statement from the National Health Commission.China’s death toll increase by 29 to 2,744, as Hubei province, where the outbreak originated, reported 26 additional fatalities. Hubei had 409 new confirmed cases. Discharged patients in mainland China rose by 2,750 to 32,495.The number of cases in China is declining as those elsewhere are climbing. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that more coronavirus cases were reported in countries other than China for the first time since the initial patient was identified on Dec. 8.Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Visits (8:27 a.m. HK)Saudi Arabia temporarily halted religious visits that include stops in Mecca and Medina, which draw millions of people a year as the Islamic world’s holiest cities, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus into the country.Tourism visa-holders from countries with reported coronavirus infections will also be denied entry, the Saudi embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement, without naming any countries. The steps are temporary and subject to continuous evaluation, according to the statement.The government is acting to block the deadly virus as neighboring countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates have flagged dozens of cases. No infections had been reported by Saudi Arabian authorities as of Wednesday.\--With assistance from John Harney, Jonathan Levin, Glen Carey, Mario Parker, Jordan Fabian, Sarah McGregor, Zaid Sabah, Karen Leigh, Dandan Li, Stephen Tan, Sam Kim, Miao Han, Lulu Shen, Ross Larsen, Alisa Odenheimer, Thomas Mulier, Yasna Haghdoost, Hugo Miller, Corinne Gretler, Katerina Petroff, Shira Stein, Ryan Beene and Henry Goldman.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Adveith Nair in London at anair29@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stuart Wallace at swallace6@bloomberg.net, ;Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Mark Schoifet, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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