- Iran reports 138 deaths on Wednesday
- UK death toll jumps 563 as more than 4k deaths confirmed globally overnight
- Germany has extended its national social distancing 'guidelines'
- New York State death toll nears 2k
- 6 week old infant dies in Conn.
- China reinstates travel bans as virus bounces back
- India reports new batch of cases as lockdown cuts down on harmful emissions
- Hong Kong closes bars, karaoke lounges, beauty salons and other public areas as new cases jump
- Japan closes borders to travelers from 73 countries, including UK and US
- FDA reports shortages of malaria drugs touted by Trump
- Russia sends planeload of medical products to US
- Saudi hints that annual Hajj pilgrimage will be banned this year
- UN says outbreak "most challenging crisis we have faced since WWII"
- Fla. Gov orders residents to stay home except for essential activities.
- US case total nears 200k
- Italian finance minister says government agrees with business lobby's projection for 6% GDP contraction
- Spanish cases top 100k
- CDC continues "review" of facemask recommendation
- France rolls out new stimulus package as 'coronabonds' proposal dies out
- 1000 sailors removed from USS Roosevelt
- UK pubs hatch plan to become grocers
- Thai government puts thousands at risk with botched hand-out program
- Chinese provinces report 56 'asymptomatic' cases
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Update (1624ET): In what appears to be the youngest confirmed death involving COVID-19, a 6 week old infant from the Hartford, Conn.-area has died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, Conn. Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday.
"This is absolutely heartbreaking," Lamont said. "We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19."
"This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy. This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people. Your life and the lives of others could literally depend on it. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time."
Lamont confirmed the news on Twitter:
It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID19. A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived. (1/3)— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) April 1, 2020
Testing confirmed last night that the newborn was COVID-19 positive. This is absolutely heartbreaking. We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19. (2/3)— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) April 1, 2020
This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy. This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people. Your life and the lives of others could literally depend on it. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time. (3/3)— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) April 1, 2020
There have been reports of infants dying from COVID-19 in Asia, as well as across the US, though not all have been confirmed.
At just 6 weeks old, this patient is likely the youngest in the world to die from complications due to COVID-19.
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Update (1420ET): Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has asked all Israelis to wear face masks in public as the military and Israeli police crack down on anyone who violates strict lockdown requirements.
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Update (1400ET): After its captain warned the Navy must take "decisive action" to save hundreds of sailors, the military reported Wednesday that more than 1,000 sailors had been removed from the Roosevelt Aircraft Carrier after some 70 sailors had tested positive.
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Update (1330ET): The global number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections has surpassed 900k, as Italy and New York report new cases.
Meanwhile, in a major reversal, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he will sign an executive order commanding the 21 million residents of Florida to stay home except for essential activities like buying food and seeking medical care. DeSantis said the order would take effect Thursday night, and would be similar to the guidelines in Miami Dade.
"I'm going to be doing an executive order today directing all Floridians to limit movements and all personal interactions outside the home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities," DeSantis said during a Wednesday press briefing.
He added that he made the decision following a morning phone call with the president.
The order will take effect at midnight and will remain in effect for 30 days. Like other statewide orders, it's unclear how it will be enforced. Trump said earlier that he doesn't see the need for a national order, saying these decisions should be left up to the states. But Trump said during Sunday's press briefing that he would extend the administration's social distancing 'guidance' for another 30 days.
DeSantis has faced pressure for weeks for refusing to issue 'social distancing' guidance as thousands of college spring breakers crowded on to beaches in his state. There were nearly 7k confirmed cases in the state as of Wednesday, with most of them in the southern part of the state.
We suppose this means no more 'covidiot' videos.
In China, officials are reviving movement restrictions on movement as the virus bounces back.
Across Italy, meanwhile, the number of new cases has climbed to 110,574 on Wednesday from 105,792 a day before. Italy’s death toll, meanwhile, climbed by 727 to 13,155.
Wednesday's numbers out of Italy are not down, but they're consistent with the "plateau" that the head of the country's Institute of Health described last night, as one reporter pointed out.
Meanwhile, an AFP tally just released counted more than 20k cases in Latin America.
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Update (1255ET): After trying to 'do the right thing' and let de Blasio handle it, Gov. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he would be closing all playgrounds in the city.
Cuomo said during Wednesday's press conference that New York's coronavirus death toll had climbed to 1,941, up from 1,550 on Tuesday. Cuomo added that 220,000 New Yorkers have now been tested, including 15,694 overnight.
Cuomo, revealed the number of coronavirus deaths jumped by 391 overnight to 1,941 statewide, as the state death toll nears 2k. Across New York state, 83,712 have tested positive, including 7,917 overnight.
"We're still looking for the curve to straighten...where we would see a plateau," Cuomo said.
Asked about cracking down on violations of New York's 'social distancing' rules, Cuomo said the "NYPD has to get more aggressive, period."
Cuomo believes the apex of the outbreak will come at the end of April "which means another month of this," he said.
Watch the rest of the governor's briefing below:
Turning his attention to the shortage of medical equipment, Cuomo said it is a "real cruel twist of fate" that China is now the main manufacturer of ventilators and other medical equipment that New York and other states are desperately trying to acquire. "It all comes back to China," he said.
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Update (1150ET): After last year's pilgrimmage created serious problems related to overcrowding that resulted in dozens of unnecessary deaths, the Saudi government is preparing to suspend the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage that must be undertaken by every believer if they're physically able to do it, for this year. They had already cancelled pilgrimages by suspending foreigners from the holy cities. But now that the pilgrimage season is only a few months away, the Royal Family, which has based its reputation in the Muslim world partly on its stewardship of the holy cities, has been forced to make a decision.
So it's not exactly surprising that a Saudi government minister on Wednesday cautioned Muslims from around the world to delay the pilgrimage due to the coronavirus outbreak. The comments by Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Banten, the minister responsible for the hajj, were the strongest indication yet that Saudi Arabia may be forced to cancel the pilgrimage. As we reported at the time, the kingdom has already suspended the umrah, or the year-around pilgrimage, and barred people from entering or leaving the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
More than 1,700 Saudis and foreigners (remember, the country harbors many guest workers) have tested positive in the kingdom, and 17 people have died, according to the Washington Post.
As it struggles to gain international credit for its diligent virus response, Taiwan has decided to hand out 10 million face masks to countries that have been hit by the novel coronavirus, including the US, said President Tsai Ing-wen in a speech on Wednesday.
"Over the past months, we have seen countless acts of bravery and sacrifice from medical workers around the world. It is our duty as global citizens to give them our full support," Tsai said. Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs announced Tuesday that the island was now producing 13 million masks each day, a 4x increase from a month ago.
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Update (1140ET): The surgeon general defended the White House’s reluctance to issue a nationwide stay-at-home order, saying "governors get to make the decisions." Many states have issued such orders, but more than a dozen governors, including Fla.'s Ron DeSantis, have declined to do so. Though the federal guidelines ask people to avoid leaving the house unless absolutely necessary.
China has continued to report a surge in new "asymptomatic" cases as a US intelligence report accusing Beijing of lying about its numbers has leaked on Wednesday morning.
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Update (1025ET): German Chancellor Angela Merkel just announced that it will extend its nationwide lockdown and social distancing until April 19, adding two more weeks, even as the country has emerged as a bright spot in Europe. Merkel said Germany is far behind in achieving its goals, and said she would reevaluate the government's plan after Easter.
Elsewhere, India reported 110 new coronavirus cases in Tamil Nadu, bringing that state's total to 234. A few hours ago, officials reported 4 new coronavirus cases in Assam, raising state's total to 5. India, which still has relatively few cases, has reported a painful lockdown that left many of the poorest in difficult situations. However, as CNN reports, the lockdown, which is hammering millions economically, has been great for the environment and dramatically cut down on harmful emissions.
Earlier, we noted that Russia has sent a planeload of masks and medical equipment to the US as governors, including New York's Andrew Cuomo, beg for more equipment.
Meanwhile, the global death toll has topped 44k.
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Update (1012ET): Despite promising to do "whatever it takes" to save the European economy and take the weaker countries along with the strong, the European Commission and the EU27 have yet to reach an agreement on a joint fiscal stimulus measure to help combat the outbreak, without straight-up monetizing the debts of the spendthrift European periphery, including badly hit Italy and Spain.
It makes little difference to us, at this point, any mutual rescue package is going to benefit those two countries more than any other, but the nuances of European politics operate in accordance to their own logic, and a big part of that involves placating the Germans, and, to a lesser extent, the Dutch, who are suspicious of generous economic support for the hapless Italians and Spanish.
As the talks continue, France, it was reported on Wednesday, is still pushing for a common EU fund, but has come up with what Emmanuel Macron and Bruno Le Maire apparently believe to be a suitable counterweight: a limit of five or 10 years and mandatory focus on economic recovery, according to the FT.
"We are thinking about a fund which would be limited in time with an indebtedness possibility for the long-term response to the crisis," French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told the Financial Times. "It’s absolutely crucial to keep the door open for long-term, broad instruments that would allow us to face a ‘postwar’ economic situation."
France's pivot to backing this rescue fund marks another milestone: Having failed to win the backing of the Germans, "coronabonds" is now officially dead. The rescue fund, which would be rolled out on top of the other stimulus packages, monetary and fiscal, implemented by other European institutions, would be the eurogroup's big solution, instead of the 'coronabonds', much to the bond market's chagrin.
Talk of the new bonds had excited a market hungry for new issuance (though the ECB would monetize most, if not all, of the bonds, pretty quickly). Though fortunately they'll soon have 20- and 50-year Treasuries to buy.
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Update (0945ET): The UK death toll just jumped 563 overnight, part of a 4,000 surge in deaths worldwide, with the total in the UK reaching 2,352 as of yesterday evening.
Confirmed coronavirus cases rose by more than 4,000 to 29,474 as of 9am on Wednesday, according to the Department for Health. In the US, total cases passed 190k, while the death toll in the US alone topped 4k. New York remains the hardest-hit state, with more than 75k confirmed cases.
Many experts rushed to label Trump a kook and a conspiracy theorist for touting malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which were emergency approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19. But some evidence has emerged that one of these drugs, combined with azythromicin, commonly known as a "Z Pak" in the US, is effective in stopping the illness's progression in vulnerable patients. Now, the two drugs are officially facing shortages according to the FDA.
The CDC is continuing its "review" of its recommendation not to wear facemasks, as continued shortages have left supplies low even for health care professionals working in hospitals.
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Update (0850ET): As the Treasury and state welfare departments prepare for the monumental task of handing out checks to most American adults, the Thai government has made a critical error while carrying out its own plan of cash handouts, as Nikkei reports.
Though America has the infrastructure to facilitate this process, it's just a lesson of how governments must always keep the peculiar dynamics of a viral outbreak in mind while battling COVID-19.
Confusion about how to receive a $150 handout led to crowds of people thronging outside state banks, potentially exposing thousands to the virus.
Poor communication by the government caused people to rush to state banks, which they believed were the only places dispensing the funds as with some past disbursements. Fearful of creating infection hot spots, some branches closed for the weekend. And on Monday and Tuesday, banks were not offering account-opening services at physical branches.
The Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers' Association, which has promised to keep as many branches open as possible to ensure businesses can continue operating, stepped in on Saturday to explain the aid could be transferred to state and commercial bank accounts.
The central bank and banking industry also explained that the handout could be received through domestic cashless transfer system PromptPay as long as accounts were linked to national IDs. But the announcements did not come early enough to prevent people from queuing.
Despite the risks they took, not all registrants are eligible, according to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana. "The applications will be vetted and screened thoroughly to ensure that they meet the criteria and those in need get it," Uttama said. "It takes seven days to process the applications at the earliest, but due to overwhelming demand, the process may take longer."
Reporters chalked it up to a vestige of six years' military rule.
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Just as the rate of new infections finally appears to have plateaued in Italy, Spain and France are reporting enough new cases to steal the spotlight. On Wednesday, the big story was Spain: Health Officials in Madrid reported.
Once again, health officials reported a "record" number of new deaths after 864 people died on Tuesday. It marked the fifth straight day of Spanish authorities reporting 800 or more deaths. So far, 9,053 people have died after contracting the virus.
According to the Spanish government, 102,136 Spaniards have contracted the coronavirus in Spain, after another 8% jump on Tuesday. OF the confirmed cases 22,647 people have reportedly recovered.
In the US, futures are in the red Wednesday morning after President Trump warned Americans to get ready for "2 painful weeks" (and possibly longer) while some 240k Americans are still expected to die even with social distancing). Meanwhile, global cases have reached 754,948 as of Wednesday morning, according to the WHO. The global death toll has hit 36,571.
Here's a quick breakdown of global hotspots:
- US total cases 188,639 (prev. 188,530), death toll 4,059 (prev. 4,053).
- ITALY total cases (prev. 105,792), death toll (prev. 12,428).
- SPAIN total cases 102,136 (prev. 95,923), death toll 9,053 (prev. 8,464).
- CHINA total cases 81,554 (prev. 81,518), death toll 3,312 (prev. 3,305).
- GERMANY total cases 72,383 (prev. 71,808), death toll 788 (prev. 775).
- FRANCE total cases (prev. 52,128), death toll (prev. 3,523).
- UK total cases (prev. 25,150), death toll (prev. 1,789).
- SWITZERLAND total cases (prev. 16,605), death toll (prev. 433).
- NETHERLANDS total cases (prev. 12,595), death toll (prev. 1,039).
- SOUTH KOREA total cases 9,887 (prev. 9,786), death toll 165 (prev. 162).
Boris Johnson has been granted what one critic described as "eye watering" new powers to lead his country through the pandemic. But the private sector also appears to be dreaming up impressive new initiatives, including providing pubs with the means to set up a click-and-collect service for foodstuffs like bread, eggs and milk, in effect transforming them into neighborhood grocers. Those living nearby can simply place an order online, then pop round the shop to pick up their goods.
Italian Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri said Wednesday that estimates of a fall in GDP of at least 6% by Confindustria, Italy’s business lobby, would likely be confirmed by Rome's own forecasts set to be published later this month. If this rate of growth comes to pass, it would exceed the 5.5 % contraction the country suffered in 2009.
As we noted yesterday, health officials in Beijing have ordered local officials to begin reporting 'asymptomatic' cases that apparently left out of China's numbers. Beijing announced ~1,500 such cases as of yesterday. On Wednesday, health officials in Liaoning Province were the first out the gate, reporting 52 such cases on Tuesday. Hunan Province followed by reporting 4 such infections, all of which were "imported", according to Nikkei.
Across China, 130 asymptomatic cases were confirmed on Wednesday so far. At the UN, Secretary General António Guterres said the outbreak is the "most challenging crisis we have faced" since World War II.
Japan announced that it will close its borders to foreigners from 73 different countries, including the US and UK, and require all other arrivals to isolate themselves for two weeks in its latest measures to control the coronavirus as several Asian countries and territories see a resurgence in cases. Similarly, Hong Kong on Wednesday ordered karaoke lounges, beauty salons, massage parlors, nightclubs and mahjong clubs to temporarily close after officials announced a nearly fourfold increase in cases to 766 over the past two weeks.
Authorities in Iran reported 138 new deaths on Wednesday as the official Iranian death toll surpassed 3,000. Authorities were encouraging people to stay at home on the last day of Persian New Year celebrations, known as Nowruz, on Wednesday while they look into using new technologies to track cases and help combat the outbreak.