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China is willing to offer help to the U.S. in controlling the coronavirus, President Xi Jinping told his counterpart Donald Trump after weeks of rising tensions. The World Health Organization told G-20 leaders to fight the virus, and that it could “tear us apart if we let it.”
The U.S. overtook China for the most virus cases worldwide, fueled by a large jump in infections in New York, while global deaths from the pandemic surpassed 24,000.
The Reserve Bank of India cut interest rates, joining central banks around the world in boosting stimulus to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. President Donald Trump offered a plan to restore normal business by ranking counties by their virus risk.
- Cases at 532,000; 24,000 dead, 122,000 recovered: Johns Hopkins
- U.S. fatalities top 1,100; confirmed cases in Canada surge 72%
- Trump and Xi had a phone call on virus
- Ventilators are top fear in New York as deaths mount
- Second shockwave is hitting China’s factories
- From Spain to Germany, farmers warn of fresh food shortages
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Singapore ‘Facing ‘Very Grave Situation,’ Premier Says (3:28 p.m. HK)
Singapore’s grave economic challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic may affect the timing of the nation’s election, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Lee said the tide “had not turned” with the outbreak. As more residents come home to Singapore, more virus enters the country, he said.
Malaysia Announces Massive Stimulus (3:13 p.m.)
Malaysia announced billions of dollars in fresh support for its economy. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Friday the government was unveiling 250 billion ringgit ($58 billion) in support for the economy. That figure includes a 20-billion ringgit package announced last month by the previous government, as well as other measures presented since then, Muhyiddin said.
Hungary Declares Limited Nationwide Lockdown (2:35 p.m. HK)
Hungary’s government will partially restrict movement for a two-week period ending April 11 to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. People can still leave their homes for work and for essential needs such grocery shopping and to get fresh air, but only when respecting social distancing recommendations.
WHO to World Leaders: “Fight Like Hell” (2:10 p.m. HK)
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told G-20 leaders to “fight like hell,” and said shutdowns are necessary to slow down the pandemic, but they won’t extinguish it, so countries need to test more and trace every contact. The WHO chief himself didn’t call the coronavirus a pandemic until mid-March.
“The price we end up paying depends on the choices we make now,” Tedros said in a speech to the world’s top politicians. “The actions we take now will have consequences for decades to come.”
“Fight like your lives depend on it,” he said. “Because they do.”
Sony Says Virus Disruptions May Hit Profit (2:04 p.m. HK)
Sony Corp. said fallout from the coronavirus may wipe out a previously projected increase in its profit. The Japanese company said two factories in China are returning to normal operation but continue to face component shortages, while facilities in Malaysia and U.K. will remain shut until middle of April because of government requests. Sony said it can’t dispatch employees to these locations to discuss assembly of new products.
Xi Tells Trump To Take Steps to Improve Ties: Xinhua (1:42 p.m. HK)
Relations between China and the U.S. are at an important juncture and cooperation is the only right choice, Xi told Trump, the official Xinhua news agency reports. China is willing to offer help to the U.S. in coronavirus control, and the two sides should enhance cooperation on the fight against the virus, the report said.
American Air Sees $12 Billion Share of Aid (1:35 p.m. HK)
American Airlines Group Inc. said it’s in line to receive $12 billion in a pending U.S. rescue program for an industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
With demand for air travel having tumbled “precipitously,” American will slash its flight schedule 60% in April and 80% in May, Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker said. To make up for lost sales, the company will have to rely on government assistance that’s still subject to a Friday vote in the House of Representatives.
India Central Bank Cuts Rates in Emergency Meeting (12:44 p.m. HK)
The Reserve Bank of India cut interest rates in an unscheduled move. The benchmark repurchase rate was lowered by 75 basis points to 4.40% from 5.15%, Governor Shaktikanta Das said after an emergency meeting of the rate-setting panel. The RBI had been on hold since December after five rate cuts in 2019.
Australia to Quarantine International Air Arrivals (11:50 a.m. HK)
Australian authorities will quarantine anyone arriving in the nation’s airports to slow the spread of the coronavirus, amid concern some residents returning home were failing to self-isolate.
The defense force will be deployed to enforce the measures, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters after a meeting of the National Cabinet.
The government has moved incrementally to shut down society, closing pubs and casinos, barring non-essential travel and closing its borders to non-residents. Yet still the number of infections has grown, reaching 2,985 on Friday and 13 deaths.
Trump Promises GOP Convention Will Be Held in August (10:42 a.m. HK)
U.S. President Donald Trump said the Republican National Convention would go forward as planned this August even as the coronavirus has caused the cancellation of large-scale events all across the U.S.
The Democrats are scheduled to hold their convention in Milwaukee from July 13 to 16. The Republican convention is to be held from Aug. 24 to 27. “We’re quite a bit later than them, which I think is good,” Trump told Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Chinese Industrial Firms See Profits Slump (10:06 a.m. HK)
Profits of Chinese industrial companies slumped the most on record as the virus outbreak hurt business activities. Industrial profits dropped by 38.3% in the first two months of this year compared to the same period in 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday. Profits at state-owned firms, private companies and foreign-invested business all dropped more than 30%.
The drop is due to the severe shock caused by the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus, according to a statement from NBS official Zhang Weihua. Both production and sales dropped, while profits were squeezed by rising costs and falling prices of industrial products.
Top K-Pop Group BTS Cancels North America Tour (9:15 a.m. HK)
The biggest K-pop band in the world, BTS, is canceling its North America tour over coronavirus concerns. The band was scheduled to perform in cities across the U.S. as well as Canada for its “BTS Map of the Soul Tour” from April 25 to June 6, with the first performance scheduled at Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium. The decision was made “in order to make sure that we put the safety of everyone involved first and foremost,” Big Hit Entertainment, the group’s agency, said in a statement.
Vietnam Finance Ministry Plans $3.4 Billion Stimulus (9:05 a.m. HK)
Vietnam’s Finance Ministry proposes a 80 trillion dong ($3.4 billion) stimulus plan that includes delaying tax payments and land lease fees to help struggling businesses amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
The ministry previously backed a 30 trillion dong stimulus plan, the statement said. The stimulus aims to help businesses in an array of sectors, including electronics, textiles, education and entertainment.
China Says 54 of 55 New Cases Imported (8:28 a.m. HK)
Zhejiang province reported one domestic infection March 26, China’s National Health Commission said. China now has 81,340 confirmed cases, of whom 595 are from overseas.
China’s death toll rose by 5 to 3,292. All the most recent deaths were reported in Hubei province. The number of discharged patients in the country reached 74,588.
North Korea Quarantines 2,280, KCNA Says (7:54 a.m. HK)
North Korea has about 2,280 people in quarantine for “medical observation” over coronavirus concerns, state media Korean Central News Agency reported. One foreigner was released from quarantine, while two remain in isolation. KCNA didn’t mention whether there were any infections. North Korea has so far reported no confirmed cases.
New Jersey to Discuss How to Ration Ventilators (7:33 a.m. HK)
State authorities will ask medical experts on a bioethics panel to set guidelines for which Covid-19 patients will get ventilators, wrenching decisions that could determine who lives and who dies.
“That is, I would have to say, one of the more difficult issues that we will be discussing,” State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli told reporters on Thursday. “What happens if we don’t have enough ventilators to take care of the patients that we have?”
U.S. Surpasses China to Lead the World in Cases (6:30 a.m. HK)
The U.S. surpassed China as having the most confirmed cases in the world, Johns Hopkins data show. Infections in America have topped 82,400, compared with 81,782 in the Asian country where the outbreak began three months ago.
The American tally was bolstered by a large jump in New York, which had 6,448 new cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 37,258. That accounts for almost half the outbreak nationwide, according to data collected by Bloomberg.
New Jersey and California also saw large increases in patients, and smaller hot spots in states like Michigan and Illinois began to grow more quickly.
Italian health officials reported 6,153 new cases Thursday, the most in five days, bringing the country’s total to 80,539. The outbreak in mainland China remains the largest globally
Trump Says G-20 Leaders Discussed Data-Sharing (5:48 p.m. NY)
U.S. President Donald Trump said leaders from the Group of 20 nations discussed the importance of sharing data and information on the pandemic during a video conference chaired by Saudi Arabia.
The G-20 leaders said earlier Thursday that they were injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy and committed to do “whatever it takes” to overcome the pandemic and its fallout.
Read the full story here
Washington’s New Cases Slow (3 p.m. NY)
Washington state has seen a drop in the rate of new cases being reported, Governor Jay Inslee said at a press conference, led by improvement in three counties in near Seattle where the outbreak began a month ago. Other counties aren’t seeing the pace of new cases slow, he said.
While hospitals are not yet full, the state — which ranks fourth in U.S. cases — needs to see a significant further reduction in cases in order to avoid running out of beds and equipment in the coming days, he said.
“We should not be within 10,000 miles of champagne corks on this,” Inslee said. Without further decreases to the case count “a lot of people in the state of Washington are going to die.”
U.K. Helps Self-Employed Workers (2:30 p.m. NY)
The U.K. government offered self-employed workers cash grants of as much as 2,500 pounds ($3,040) a month.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced the three-month plan, at a cost the Treasury estimates will be about 9 billion pounds, after his offer last week to pay a portion of citizens’ wages was widely criticized for omitting self-employed workers.
About 95% of self-employed workers, 3.8 million people, will be eligible for the grants, Sunak said.
Full story here.
Latin Bank Offers Aid (2:30 p.m. NY)
The Inter-American Development Bank will make $12 billion available to countries for responding to the crisis and its aftermath. That includes $8.8 billion for other purposes that the nations can redirect, and $3.2 billion added to the the 2020 lending program.
The Washington-based IDB provided loans and technical assistance in a region with chronic infrastructure and financial shortages.
Trump Considers Plan to Rank Counties by Risk (2:15 p.m. NY)
President Donald Trump said his administration is working on a plan that would rank U.S. counties into one of three categories as a step toward the relaxing the tight restrictions put in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
The administration, using criteria developed based on expanded testing capabilities and in consultation with health officials, proposes to designate counties as high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk. This ranking will help local officials decide on maintaining, increasing or relaxing social distancing and other measures, the president said in a letter to U.S. governors.
“Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social and religious lives,” Trump wrote in the letter released by the White House.
Read the full story here
Italy Virus Cases Rise, Fueled by Lombardy (1:11 p.m. NY)
Italy reported its biggest rise in coronavirus infections in the past five days, as the disease spread further in the northern Lombardy region, even after weeks of rigid lockdown rules.
The civil protection agency reported 6,153 new cases on Thursday, up from 5,210 a day earlier.
Fatalities from the outbreak over the past 24 hours totaled 662, down from 683 for the previous day, according to figures provided at the agency’s daily news conference on Thursday. Confirmed cases in the country now total 80,539.
Read the full store here
N.Y. Patients Staying on Ventilators (12:20 p.m.)
Some New Yorkers are staying on ventilators as long as 30 days, dimming hopes for their recovery and adding to the shortage of the lifesaving machines, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Cuomo reported 100 more fatalities, for a total of 385, as hospitals brace for more. The city is deploying refrigerated trailers for use as temporary morgues. Until the outbreak is under control, Cuomo said officials are focused on reducing the rate of increase, not the reducing the number of cases, so hospitals don’t run out of beds.
New York added almost 6,500 cases, for a total of more than 37,000.
China Blocks Foreigners (11:55 a.m. NY)
China will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners starting Saturday as cases worldwide surge, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Immigration Administration said on its website.
China has to take “necessary and temporary” measures in response to the current coronavirus situation, using practices of various countries as reference, the agencies said. Adjustments will be made according to the situation, they said.
The U.K. government gave police strengthened enforcement powers to ensure people stay at home unless their trip is essential. From Thursday, the police may issue a penalty of 60 pounds ($73), rising to 120 pounds for second-time offenders.
Those not paying the fine can be taken to court and police can arrest those who continuously refuse to comply.
U.S. Delays New ID Deadline by Year (11:40 a.m. NY)
The U.S. delayed by a year, until October 2021, the deadline for states to issue new identification documents that meet the federal Real ID standards. Chad Wolf, acting Homeland Security secretary, said states needed time because motor vehicle offices that issue driver’s licenses have been closed in response to Covid-19.
U.K. Warns on ‘Coughing’ as Harassment (11:26 a.m. NY)
The U.K. is ready to crack down on coughing as a way to threaten or intimidate police officers and shop workers. The nation’s prosecution office issued a statement after reports that emergency workers were coughed at by people claiming to be infected. That could lead to assault charges and two years in jail, the prosecution service said.
Iran Bans In-Country Travel (10:15 a.m. NY)
Iran banned travel between cities and ordered people to return to their hometowns or face fines after millions defied calls to stay indoors and went out to celebrate the Persian new year. President Hassan Rouhani warned of a second surge of the disease after new cases surged followed the holiday period.
Emergency services and cargo vehicles are exempt from the travel ban, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Iran’s police chief as saying.
Faster Virus Tests (8:30 a.m. NY)
Henry Schein said an antibody rapid blood test, known as Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test, is now available. The test is intended to be administered at the point of care and delivers results within 15 minutes from a pinprick with no instrumentation required.
Earlier, Robert Bosch GmbH said it developed a test that can diagnose Covid-19 in less than 2.5 hours. The new test uses the Vivalytic molecular diagnostics platform made by Bosch’s healthcare division, used in hospitals, laboratories and medical practices. Patients typically must wait one or two days before they get test results.
Separately, U.K.-based Mologic Ltd. has sent prototypes of a 10-minute coronavirus test to laboratories for validation before it can begin full-scale manufacturing. The company and its partner, the Senegalese research foundation Institut Pasteur de Dakar, have developed a finger-prick test to determine whether a person had the illness and the state of their immune system. The company is also working on a separate saliva test to detect the presence of the virus.
— With assistance by Jeff Sutherland, and Nic Querolo