China’s Xi Jinping calls for global policy coordination

China's Xi Jinping calls for global policy coordination

A medical worker takes a temperature reading as people seeking treatment wait in a queue to be screened at a fever clinic at the Huanggang Zhongxin Hospital in Huanggang, China’s central Hubei province on March 27, 2020.

Noel Celis | AFP | Getty Images

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  • Global cases: More than 531,800
  • Global deaths: At least 24,000
  • Top 5 countries: United States (85,653), China (81,782), Italy (80,589), Spain (57,786) and Germany (43,938)

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 11:02 a.m. HK/SIN time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

11:20 am: Use of surveillance to fight coronavirus raises concerns about government power after pandemic ends

From Israel to South Korea to China, governments around the world are using technology to track the coronavirus outbreak as they race to stem its spread. But how long will it last and is this an infringement of privacy, rights groups have asked.

In China, government-installed CCTV cameras point at the apartment door of those under a 14-day quarantine to ensure they don’t leave. Drones tell people to wear their masks. Digital barcodes on mobile apps highlight the health status of individuals. 

Other nations like Israel, Singapore and South Korea are also using a combination of location data, video camera footage and credit card information, to track COVID-19 in their countries. — Arjun Kharpal

10:30 am: China temporarily suspends entry for most foreigners

From Saturday, foreign nationals holding valid visas or residence permits for China will not be allowed to enter the country, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Thursday. 

Entry by foreign nationals with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards, port visas, and visa-free transit policies through some Chinese cities will also be suspended, it said. Foreign nationals coming to the country for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” can still apply for visas and enter China on them, if issued, according to the ministry.

As the coronavirus spread rapidly around the world, China has attributed most new confirmed cases of the disease in the country to travelers returning from overseas. Cities such as Beijing have announced strict 14-day quarantine policies for those arriving from other countries.  Evelyn Cheng

9:57 am: South Korea reports 91 new cases and 8 additional deaths

There were 91 new reported cases and eight people have died from exposure to the virus, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The total number of cases in the country stands at 9,332 and the infection rate had been flattening in recent weeks. In South Korea, 139 people to-date have died from COVID-19. At the peak of its epidemic, South Korea rigorously tested people for the virus, isolated suspected cases, monitored people under quarantine to ensure they did not step out into public places, and provided regular updates about the situation within its borders.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:44 am: Singapore will jail and fine people who don’t keep 1-meter physical distance in public

People in Singapore who do not observe physical distancing of one meter in “non-transient” interactions can be fined up to 10,000 Singapore dollars ($6,985) or jailed up to six months, or both, the Ministry of Health said in a press release on Thursday. The regulations kicked in on Friday and will run till April 30.

The stiff penalties also apply to patients with acute respiratory symptoms issued with five days of medical leave who depart from their homes during that period. Residents who breach 14-day stay home notices issued to them after their return from another country will also have to comply or face fines and jail.

Singapore on Tuesday announced stricter measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. These include limiting gatherings outside of work and school to a maximum of 10 persons. Physical distancing of at least one meter is also required in public settings such as restaurants and queues. — Huileng Tan

8:58 am: Los Angeles launches program to produce 5 million non-medical masks for essential workers

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday announced a new program that will aim to produce 5 million non-medical masks for workers in essential sectors and medical patients.

The program, L.A. Protects, is seeking the help of local manufacturers who can produce non-medical masks to protect people like grocery-store employees, non-medical staff in hospitals and medical patients. Kaiser Permanente has developed the design specifications of the masks, according to the program’s website. 

Organizations that can help or are in need of masks can sign up for the program online. — Salvador Rodriguez

8:26 am: China reports 55 new cases, most of them imported

China’s National Health Commission said that there were 55 new cases, of which 54 were imported and one local case was reported in Zhejiang. Five new deaths were also reported, all of them in Hubei province. Altogether, China says there have been 81,340 cases of infection since the start of the outbreak. More than 74,500 cases have been cured while 3,292 people have died. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

Staff members check the information of passengers entering China at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai on March 18, 2020.

Ding Ting | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

8:22 am: Italy’s death toll rises above 8,000

More people have died in Italy from exposure to the fast-spreading coronavirus than anywhere else in the world. As of March 26, 6 p.m. local time, at least 8,165 people have died, according to Italy’s health ministry. Total number of cases in the country is around 80,539, of which 10,361 people have recovered. Italy is in total lockdown where public movement is severely restricted; people are allowed outside for emergency purposes such as going to the hospital or buying groceries. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:09 am: China’s Xi calls for ‘international macro-economic policy coordination’

Chinese President Xi Jinping told world leaders that they need to coordinate their policy responses to counter the negative economic impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the global economy.

“We need to enhance international macro-economic policy coordination,” Xi said at an emergency virtual G-20 Leaders’ Summit, according to an English translation of his speech posted by state news agency Xinhua. 

“Countries need to leverage and coordinate their macro policies to counteract the negative impact and prevent the world economy from falling into recession,” Xi said, adding, that China will “increase its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients, daily necessities, and anti-epidemic and other supplies to the international market.”

The outbreak, which was first reported in China, has disrupted production around the world as companies shut down factories to reduce the risk of exposure for their workers and there are growing worries over falling consumer demand. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:03 am: India announced more than $22 billion in stimulus to help those affected by lockdown

India announced an economic stimulus package worth 1.7 trillion rupees ($22.5 billion) on Thursday, designed to help millions of low-income households cope with a 21-day lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The package will be disbursed through food security measures for poor households and through direct cash transfers, said India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. 

Most of the country’s 1.3 billion people have been told to stay indoors for three weeks starting Wednesday this week, as part of the government’s efforts to slow down the coronavirus outbreak before India’s health care system collapses from the strain. Essential services like grocery stores and gas stations would remain open. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

7:30 pm: De Blasio says New York has now hit 365 deaths from coronavirus

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city now has 23,112 cases of COVID-19 and 365 deaths.
“The next few months will be painful and stress our health care system like never before,” de Blasio said in a tweet. “To our health care workers: you are going above and beyond the call to save New Yorkers and we will remember your actions for the rest of New York history.”

Additionally, de Blasio said the Brooklyn Navy Yard has now begun manufacturing plastic face shields and will have 50,000 made by the end of this week alone. De Blasio said the city has received 1,500 ventilators from the federal government thus far, but he said that is a fraction of what will be needed. “Ventilators will mean the difference between life and death for thousands of New Yorkers,” he tweeted. “The federal government MUST help us close that gap.” — Salvador Rodriguez

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) lift a patient that was identified to have coronavirus disease (COVID-19) into an ambulance while wearing protective gear, as the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in New York City, New York, U.S., March 26, 2020.

Stefan Jeremiah | Reuters

6:13 pm: The US is now the epicenter of the outbreak

America now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than Italy and China, becoming the largest outbreak in the world.

The total number of cases in the U.S. reached 82,404, eclipsing China’s 81,782 confirmed infections and Italy at 80,589, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China, in December. It has since spread to more than half a million people in almost every country around the world and continues to pick up speed, the World Health Organization warned earlier this week. —Will Feuer

5:15 pm: GM temporarily cuts pay by 20% for 69,000 salaried workers

General Motors told about 69,000 salaried employees globally on Thursday that it will temporarily cut 20% of their salaries as the automaker attempts to save cash amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The deferment, which will begin April 1, will be repaid in a lump sum with interest no later than March 15, 2021, according to the company

About 6,500 U.S. employees also will be essentially temporary laid-off, which the company is calling a “salaried downtime paid absence.” The workers will receive 75% of their pay, keep seniority and retain health care benefits. — Mike Wayland

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: De Blasio says New York has now hit 365 deaths from coronavirus

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