[size=47]Live updates: Panic grips world markets as coronavirus fear unleashes oil-price war[/size]
Adam Taylor, Teo Armus
27 mins ago
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Slide 1 of 49: South Korean soldiers from a chemical corps prepare to carry out quarantine works at an apartment complex which is under cohort isolation after mass infection of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reported in Daegu, South Korea, March 9, 2020.
1/49 SLIDES :copyright: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
South Korean soldiers from a chemical corps prepare to carry out quarantine works at an apartment complex which is under cohort isolation after mass infection of coronavirus reported on March 9 in Daegu, South Korea.
Slideshow by photo services
A new oil price war
sparked by the coronavirus sent shock waves through financial markets, with stocks tumbling around the world as more countries implemented measures to contain the outbreak and the United States’ tally of infections passed 500.
U.S. futures pointed to heavy losses on Wall Street on Monday. Overseas, London’s FTSE 100 fell more than 8 percent initially to its lowest in three years; Japan’s Nikkei index slumped more than 5 percent and Australia’s benchmark shed more than 7 percent. Oil prices suffered the sharpest plunge since the 1991 Gulf War, while 10-year U.S. bond yields dropped to a record low as investors sought safety.
The moves underscored increasing alarm about the economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic. Investors were jolted by Saudi Arabia’s decision to flood the market with cheap oil and cut prices — a risky move for producers — after Russia and other producers resisted calls to slash output in response to weakening demand caused by the coronavirus epidemic. The Saudi retaliation heralded a new battle over market share that could spell trouble for U.S. shale producers and crater government budgets. France’s finance minister on Monday called for a “massive” economic stimulus to shore up the economy.
Late Sunday, the United States confirmed it had over 500 cases of the novel coronavirus, with three states reporting more than 100 patients each. Italy on Sunday implemented a plan to restrict the movement of about 16 million people
, as its confirmed cases topped 7,300 and deaths neared 400.
Here are the latest developments:
- Global markets tanked after Saudi Arabia said it would increase oil production and cut prices. Crude oil dropped to around $30 a barrel, while U.S. stock futures were down almost 5 percent.
- European leaders called for emergency stimulus measures to limit the economic shock from coronavirus-related lockdowns and quarantines.
- Governments around the world intensified their efforts to control the virus over the weekend, with Saudi Arabia and Italy enacting restrictions on travel, Iran suspending flights to Europe, and the United States formally warning against cruise ship travel.
- Confirmed cases in the United States topped 500, with more than 30 states announcing infections, as well as the District of Columbia, where a church rector had the city’s first confirmed infection. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that they would be self-quarantining after meeting an attendee at last month’s Conservative Political Action Conference who has tested positive.
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What we know about the coronavirus: Symptoms, transmission and response
7:00 AM: China’s Foreign Ministry tells Pompeo to stop calling it the ‘Wuhan virus’
:copyright: Yuri Gripas/Reuters Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks to the media at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
HONG KONG — China’s Foreign Ministry criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday for describing the novel coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus,” a name that refers to the Chinese city where it first appeared.
Noting that the World Health Organization had said that the virus should be referred to as the novel coronavirus and not by a geographic name, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused America’s top diplomat of trying to slander China.
“We condemn the despicable practice of individual U.S. politicians eagerly stigmatizing China and Wuhan by association with the novel coronavirus, disrespecting science and WHO,” Geng said at a daily news conference.
“The international society has a fair judgment, and Pompeo’s attempts of slandering China’s efforts in combating the epidemic is doomed to fail,” Geng said, arguing that China had been open with information about the outbreak, sharing it with the United States and other countries.
Pompeo used the term “Wuhan virus” or “Wuhan coronavirus” to refer to the novel coronavirus at least twice last week: once during a news conference last Thursday and then the next day during a CNBC interview. Separately, on Sunday night, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) announced that he would self-quarantine
due to possible exposure to the “Wuhan virus,” sparking criticism from users on Twitter, where he announced the measures.
In guidelines issued in February, the WHO had said that the name “Wuhan virus” and other geographic references should be avoided as they could stigmatize people of Chinese origin. Instead, the organization formally named the disease that the coronavirus causes “covid-19” — co for corona, vi for virus and d for disease, along with the date it first emerged.
Wang Yuan contributed from Beijing.
By: Adam Taylor
6:38 AM: European leaders urge emergency stimulus package
:copyright: Claudio Furlan/AP A passenger leaving from Milan Central railway station signs a release form as two soldiers stand by, in Milan, Monday, March 9, 2020. (Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP)
PARIS — European leaders called Monday for emergency stimulus packages to ease the potential economic fallout from coronavirus-related lockdowns and quarantines.
The affected areas, which include the cities of Milan and Venice, are both the epicenter of the largest coronavirus outbreak in Europe and the economic motor of Italy.
On Monday, the Italian government called on the E.U. to pass an emergency package that would limit the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on Italy and other countries in the E.U.
As of late Sunday, Italy has currently confirmed 7,375 cases of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It has also recorded 366 deaths.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte vowed Monday that Italy would vamp up spending as a form of “massive shock therapy” to avoid the worst economic consequences.
Those calls were echoed by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who likewise urged the E.U. on Monday to draw up a “massive” stimulus plan. Speaking on France Inter radio, Le Maire said that the full impact of the coronavirus epidemic could slash French economic growth in 2020 from an estimated 1.3 percent to below one percent.
Le Maire said that the details of a stimulus plan would be discussed March 16 at a meeting with other European finance ministers.
France has recorded 1,209 cases and 19 deaths.
Meanwhile, the German coalition government agreed to additional investments and the removal of obstacles for companies to shorten employees’ work schedules, to mitigate the economic fallout of the crisis.
Rick Noack contributed from Berlin.
By: James McAuley
5:59 AM: GOP congressman’s self-quarantine tweet sparks racism accusations
:copyright: Matt York/AP In this Dec. 2013, file photo, U.S. Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Ariz., speaks during a congressional field hearing on the Affordable Care Act in Apache Junction, (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
On Sunday night, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) announced
that he would self-quarantine after having “sustained contact” with a Conservative Political Action Conference attendee who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Many praised the controversial Arizona congressman
, who along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is one of two members of Congress in isolation, for taking precautionary measures despite not showing any symptoms. But many more objected to his choice of words: On his personal Twitter account,
Gosar called covid-19 “the Wuhan Virus."
“While I appreciate you self-quarantining and making a responsible decision, you don’t need to throw out dogwhistle racist terms while you do it,” said one typical response.
After the disease caused by coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December, many media outlets, including The Washington Post, referred to it as the “Wuhan virus.”
Then, in February, the World Health Organization named the illness covid-19
, an appellation that was deliberately chosen so that it wouldn’t stigmatize a specific place or group of people.
Though the virus has spread far beyond Wuhan, some U.S. officials are still clinging to the old nickname. Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised eyebrows
by referring to the “Wuhan virus” after China’s Foreign Ministry called it “highly irresponsible”
to do so. And when Gosar followed suit on Sunday night, he was quickly labeled racist
“I will pray for you, your staff & the person hospitalized,” responded
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) “Also, calling #COVIDー19 the Wuhan Virus is an example of the myopia that allowed it to spread in the US. The virus is not constrained by country or race. Be just as stupid to call it the Milan Virus.”
By: Antonia Noori Farzan
5:56 AM: Princess cruise in Caribbean cut short to test crew members for coronavirus
:copyright: Joe Cavaretta/AP Passengers from the Caribbean Princess wait for ground transportation at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this month.
One Princess Cruises ship with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus spent weeks docked at a Japanese port. Another has been floating aimlessly off the coast of California, as dozens aboard tested positive and officials debated what to do with the vessel.
Now, the virus has derailed multiple cruises a continent away, as authorities warned that crew members on two of the company’s ships in the Caribbean may have brought the illness there from boats in the Pacific.
The Caribbean Princess — a 3,600-passenger vessel based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — will return early from Costa Rica to test some of its crew members for the virus, following a “no-sail” order Sunday from federal officials, the Miami Herald reported
Princess Cruises did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
Two crew members aboard the ship had been transferred from the Grand Princess in California between one and two weeks ago, according to the Herald. More than 20 people currently aboard the ship, which is expected to dock in Oakland on Monday, have tested positive for covid-19.
The two Caribbean crew members were not showing any symptoms of the virus and were being isolated in individual cabins, according to a letter to passengers reviewed by the Herald. The vessel will stop in Grand Cayman to collect test kits and then head to the coast of Florida while awaiting test results.
Still, the situation underscores yet another way the epidemic may be challenging the cruise industry. As companies struggle to contain and manage outbreaks aboard individual ships, they must also contend with an expansive network of employees who occasionally switch from one vessel to another.
Earlier this weekend, another one of the company’s ships spent an extra day at sea following a similar situation: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered the 3,560-passenger Regal Princess not to dock until two crew members could be tested for covid-19.
Both employees had also previously worked on the Grand Princess in California, according to
the South Florida Sun Sentinel. But both tested negative, and the Regal Princess docked in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
By: Teo Armus
5:31 AM: Philippines closes schools to curb coronavirus spread as national cases double
:copyright: Aaron Favila/AP A worker disinfects a classroom at a school that has suspended classes as a precautionary measure against the new coronavirus in San Juan city in Manila March 9, 2020.
MANILA — School around Manila’s metro area on Monday suspended classes for the next week, as officials declared a health emergency and announced that total coronavirus cases in the Philippines had doubled to 20.
Information about the new patients’ links to previously reported cases was not immediately available, but some had a history of travel
abroad. Over 100 people who came in contact with some of the infected patients have been quarantined at home, officials said.
The sudden increase is sparking concern on whether hospitals in the Philippines, which struggle with overcrowding, are equipped to contain the virus. President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency earlier in the day.
Schools are already adjusting to the announcement, with De La Salle University announcing classes to be conducted online. Ateneo de Manila University suspended all university-related international travel — such as academic conferences, competition, and student exchange programs — until December.
The Department of Education also canceled all national and regional events, save for two nationwide student gatherings this week. Off-campus activities were also canceled.
In a memo, the department listed heightened precautions for those attending the nationwide events that are going ahead. Apart from hand and respiratory hygiene, participants would be screened for symptoms and will be required to provide a detailed documentation of their day-to-day activities.
By: Regine Cabato
4:41 AM: European stocks plunge as global rout intensifies amid coronavirus, oil war
:copyright: Asif Hassan/Afp Via Getty Images Stockbrokers monitor the latest share prices during a trading session at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on Monday.
European markets plunged on Monday morning, giving more momentum to a global rout that saw investors flee to safety amid coronavirus and a related oil price-war.
London’s FTSE 100 dived 8.5 percent shortly after opening, hitting a three year low, while the pan-European index Stoxx suffered a loss of 6 percent.
There were signs ahead for a rude awakening for Wall Street, with Dow Jones futures were down almost five percent with roughly five hours to go before trading opened.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond dropped below 0.5 percent, at one point hitting a record low of 0.318 percent, suggesting investors were fleeing stocks and looking for safer investments.
Global prices for crude oil had dropped below $30, a fall of more than a quarter, as Saudi Arabia upped production in a bid to increase market share. The move, which startled markets and present a major risk for oil producers, came as Russia and other producers resisted calls to slash output in response to weakening demand caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Goldman Sachs warned in a note released Sunday that brent crude oil prices might go as low as $20 a barrel, the lowest prices in 20 years.
The moves in Europe followed a day of losses across Asian markets, with Japan’s Nikkei closing down 5 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 7.3 percent at the end of trading.
By: Adam Taylor
4:20 AM: Saudi Arabia and Qatar cut travel links with host of virus-affected countries
:copyright: Amr Nabil/AP Muslim worshipers wear masks after the noon prayers outside the Grand Mosque, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, March 7, 2020. Few worshipers were allowed to circumambulate the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, over fears of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
BEIRUT — Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Monday suspended flights to and from a new list of countries, including Italy, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iraq, in an attempt to curb the outbreak of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia also suspended flights to and from the neighboring United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain — only people traveling by land are allowed from the neighbors, a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA said on Monday. The kingdom also halted travel between itself and South Korea.
Travelers from those countries to Saudi Arabia are banned as well or to anyone who has been in those countries within the last 14 days. Exceptions have been made for shipping and trade.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia quarantined Qatif in its Eastern Province, saying that all 11 cases that had been discovered in the kingdom were residents of the area, the state news agency reported. It halted anyone from entering or leaving the province, with exceptions made for residents to return home, and suspended work in public and private sectors, except for necessary businesses such as gas stations and pharmacies.
Starting Monday, all schools and universities in Saudi Arabia, both public and private, will also be closed until further notice. Last week, it halted off season pilgrimage to Mecca by both its citizens and foreigners — a decision that, if extended, is likely to impact plans of millions of Muslims planning to do the main pilgrimage in late July.
On Monday, four more cases were announced in the kingdom — a citizen from Qatif, two Bahrainis who had been to Iraq, and an American resident who was in the Philippines, raising the countries total to 15.
Qatar announced 3 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, also bringing its total number of cases to 15.
By: Sarah Dadouch
3:54 AM: Philippines declares health emergency over virus outbreak
:copyright: Mark R Cristino/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Women wearing masks walk past the entrance of a prayer hall in Greenhills district in San Juan, Manila, on March 6.
MANILA — The Philippines declared a state of public health emergency on Monday after confirmed local transmissions of the coronavirus, as the outbreak continues to spread globally.
The order, signed Monday
by President Rodrigo Duterte, is expected to fast-track government responses to the epidemic by mobilizing resources and easing procurement processes for supplies, health officials said in an earlier statement.
The order also stated that the health chief can call on law enforcement agencies, such as the police, to “provide assistance.”
Critics of Duterte’s government have expressed skepticism about the country’s capacity to detect and contain the virus, especially after cuts to the health budget.
The Philippines has listed at least 10 cases — three of which involve patients with no recent international travel history. About 90 Filipinos around the world, mostly overseas workers, have also tested positive for the virus.
By: Regine Cabato
3:21 AM: Germany and France temporarily close North Korea missions
:copyright: Ahn Young-Joon/AP People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Germany and France have closed their diplomatic missions in North Korea, Britain’s ambassador to the country said in a tweet on Monday, amid ongoing concerns about the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Colin Crooks, who has been Britain’s representative in Pyongyang since December 2018, wrote on Twitter that the British Embassy would stay open.
Germany has an embassy in North Korea, but France runs a limited office as it does not have formal diplomatic relations with North Korea.
NK News, a Seoul-based publication that focuses on tracking developments in the closed state
, reported that diplomats from the French and German missions were among 60 people who departed Pyongyang on a flight to the Russian city of Vladivostok on Monday morning.
Foreign diplomats had previously been under quarantine in North Korea. The measures were reported to be strict: Russian ambassador Alexander Matsegora told Tass news agency that all diplomatic work had been curtailed and that even the mail had been canceled, meaning the embassies have not received certain medicines.
“I must say that the situation is extraordinary,” Matsegora said in his Feb. 20 interview
. “These may seem like trifles but everyday life is made up of them.”
Last week, Sweden’s ambassador to the country, Joachim Bergstrom, had posted a picture on Twitter of himself in Pyongyang and said he was glad to finally be outside of the embassy. “I have never been happier standing on Kim ll Sung Square," Bergstrom tweeted.
North Korea has no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, but public health experts have expressed concern
about the impact that an outbreak would have on it due to its limited resources and opaque political system.
Despite the threat posed by a potential outbreak, North Korea’s government has resumed weapons testing over recent weeks.
According to state media, North Korean leader has Kim Jong Un supervised two rounds of live-fire artillery exercises in the past 10 days — its first weapons tests since late November. South Korea’s military said Monday that the country had fired three short-range projectiles off its east coast earlier in the day.
By: Adam Taylor
3:01 AM: Cruise line says it will refund passengers on Grand Princess, which is set to disembark in 'multiple day process’
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As the virus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship prepares to dock in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, the cruise line has reportedly told passengers aboard the vessel it will refund them for all costs related to their voyage.
The ship, which was linked to California’s first death from the novel coronavirus, had been held in waters off San Francisco for days as officials debated whether to let approximately 3,500 people ashore, including at least 21 who later tested positive for the virus.
In a letter to passengers on Sunday, Princess Cruises said it would offer a full refund for all expenses related to their time aboard the vessel, including costs for any travel or accommodations before and after the cruise itself. They will also receive a full credit for another cruise.
:copyright: John G Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock The Grand Princess cruise ship floats off the coast of Pacifica, Calif., on Sunday. The ship, where more than 20 people have tested positive for covid-19, is due to dock in Oakland on Monday.
“It is our sincere hope that the refund and credit will help ease at least a small bit of the stress you may be feeling right now,” Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz said in a letter to passengers, according to
Even as Princess Cruises confirmed that passengers would disembark Monday, the exact plan for that “multiple day process” remained mired in uncertainty overnight.
It is unclear at precisely what time the Grand Princess would arrive at the Port of Oakland, the cruise line said
late on Sunday, though the process is expected to involve the U.S. Coast Guard and California’s health department.
Any guests who need to be hospitalized will be allowed off the ship first and sent to medical facilities, according to Princess Cruises. At least two passengers aboard the Grand Princess had tested positive for the rapidly spreading virus.
Of other American passengers on board, nearly 1,000 who live in California will go into a 14-day quarantine at military bases near Oakland and in San Diego. Residents of all other states will be transported for isolation at bases in San Antonio and Marietta, Ga.
The ship’s crew members, 19 of whom have tested positive for the virus, will remain on board.
Federal officials were working with home countries to repatriate international passengers, the Department of Health and Human Services said Sunday, although it is unclear how many are aboard the ship. On Sunday, Canada said it would be chartering a plane to evacuate more than 200 of its citizens, who would be quarantined at a Canadian military base in Ontario.
By: Teo Armus
2:42 AM: Indian Wells tennis tournament called off because of coronavirus concerns
:copyright: Mark J. Terrill/AP In this Monday, March 11, 2019, file photo, Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, walks off the court during a rain break in his match against Philipp Kohlschreiber, of Germany, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The prestigious tennis tournament held annually in Indian Wells, Calif., has been called off just before it was set to begin, because of concerns over coronavirus.
“We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance,” Tommy Haas, tournament director for the BNP Paribas Open, said in a statement released Sunday evening. “We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options.”
The BNP Paribas is the largest sports event in the United States so far to be canceled or postponed as a result of the spread of covid-19
, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Earlier Sunday, Riverside County (Calif.) Health Officer Cameron Kaiser declared a state of emergency
after the first locally acquired case of the illness was discovered in Coachella Valley, in which Indian Wells is located.
By: Des Bieler
2:36 AM: Philippines says members of the public are not allowed to touch Duterte
:copyright: Rey Baniquet/AP In this Feb. 25, 2020 handout photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, salutes during the Presidential Security Group Change of Command ceremony at the PSG Compound in Malacañang Park, Manila.
MANILA — Nobody can touch Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte — literally, his security office announced on Monday.
The Presidential Security Group said it would implement a no-touch policy between Duterte and the public as a preventive measure “to ensure the safety of [the president] and the first family” amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"Personalities who are expected to get near [the president] during meetings and events will be thoroughly screened and tested for any illness or symptom related to COVID-19,” the group commander, Jesus Durante III, said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “These include Presidential Security Group personnel, politicians, and other dignitaries.”
The group also said that gatherings expecting to draw large crowds will be assessed and possibly canceled.
The tough-talking Duterte gained international recognition for his bloody war on drugs, which has left thousands dead.
The state of the 74-year-old president’s health is the subject of public scrutiny. He has previously said he has various ailments, including Buerger’s disease and an autoimmune condition called myasthenia gravis, among others. A newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer
, reported Duterte was absent from at least eight events last year due to various health reasons.
The Philippines has 10 recorded cases of the coronavirus.
By: Regine Cabato
12:59 AM: Thailand aviation body suggests quarantine, health certificates needed for travelers, adding to confusion for tourists
:copyright: Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock A tourist seated next to empty chairs takes photos on a usually busy beach in Pattaya city, Chonburi province, Thailand, on Saturday (DIEGO AZUBEL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Compounding days of mixed messages, Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority on Monday released an advisory that said any visitors from countries known to have novel coronavirus outbreaks would be subject to quarantine and advised airlines that passenger from these countries need a certificate from a medical official to board a flight.
“The passengers need to present a health certificate certifying that they have no risk of coronavirus disease (covid–19). If any passenger is unable to present such certificate, boarding shall be denied and the boarding pass shall not be issued,” the agency said in a statement
Separately, the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Hong Kong office announced a 14-day quarantine in a Facebook message, suggesting that the restrictions would apply to China (including Hong Kong and Macao), South Korea, Italy and Iran and that they would last 14 days.
The announcements added further confusion for tourists. Last Tuesday, Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the government had implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for new arrivals, before subsequently deleting the announcement only hours later
On Friday, Thailand’s health ministry said no such quarantine was yet in place. “We haven’t yet enforced the law to quarantine everyone except for the Thai workers returning from South Korea,” Disease Control Department deputy director Thanarak Phaliphat said
Thailand is a major southeast Asian tourist destination, bringing around 40 million tourists a year, but last week the Tourist Authority of Thailand announced that the number of visitors could drop by 6 million this year to its lowest number in four years. The country has confirmed 50 cases of the novel coronavirus so far, along with one death.
By: Adam Taylor
12:51 AM: Death toll from virus in South Korea reaches 51
:copyright: Jeon Heon-Kyun/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock People watch TV news for information on the coronavirus epidemic in Seoul on Monday.
The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in South Korea surpassed 50 over the weekend, according to new official figures released Monday.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said
there had been 248 new cases of the virus in the previous 24 hours, along with one new death. The announcement brings the total number of confirmed cases to 7,382, with 51 fatalities.
The number of new cases found in South Korea has been steadily increasing, adding to a count that was already the highest outside China. Still, officials there have administered tests far more widely than in many other countries, and far fewer deaths have been reported than in Iran or Italy.
Last week, the South Korean government proposed
a $10 billion stimulus package as President Moon Jae-in declared
“war” on the virus, with authorities placed on 24-hour alert.
Some countries have imposed travel restrictions on travelers arriving from South Korea.
By: Teo Armus
12:14 AM: Hubei, epicenter of China’s outbreak, making tentative plans for return to normalcy
:copyright: Noel Celis/Afp Via Getty Images A general view shows an empty street in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on Sunday.
HONG KONG — There were tentative signs that Hubei, the Chinese province at the heart of China’s novel coronavirus outbreak, could return to normalcy, as public anger simmers toward the government for the prolonged restrictions on normal life.
Local outlet Hubei Daily reported Sunday
that at least three counties in the province had allowed some businesses to reopen and removed some restrictions on road traffic. Wuhan’s international airport, shut down since Jan. 23, also confirmed on Sunday that some staff workers were asked to prepare for reopening
, though the airport said no concrete dates have been decided.
There are still scores of new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus announced in Hubei each day, while the death toll in the province continues to climb. But the numbers have declined dramatically; on Monday, China’s National Health Commission announced 21 new cases in Hubei, but a week ago on March 2 they had announced 196. A week before, there had been 398 new cases in Hubei.
In Wuhan, some of the hastily built hospitals designed to treat coronavirus patients are now being shut down. Fourteen temporary quarantine facilities for mild cases of the virus are expected to be closed by Thursday, Chinese state television reported
The moves comes after signs of anger in Hubei, and in particular Wuhan, where many residents have been living under lockdown since late January. Last week, footage on social media showed the residents shouting
“fake!” as China’s vice premier toured a housing community. Wuhan top official, party secretary Wang Zhonglin, drew an angry response
for comments over the weekend that suggested residents should be grateful to the Chinese government.
Lyric Li in Beijing contributed to this report
By: Adam Taylor
12:13 AM: Federal agencies and employees receive new coronavirus-focused guidance
:copyright: Sarah Silbiger/For The Washington Post The United States Office of Personnel Management is shown in this file photo in Washington, D.C. last year.
Federal agencies and employees received new coronavirus-focused guidance on Saturday, after pressure from Senate Democrats
The Office of Personnel Management declared the virus to be a “quarantinable communicable disease”
that warrants federal agencies reviewing and updating their emergency telework plans.
Each federal agency has the option to determine the type of leave allowed to employees who become ill or find themselves taking care of a sick loved one.
Should school systems close because of coronavirus, some federal agencies will have to update their policies regarding who will be able to complete tasks from home, especially those that do not allow children or elder case circumstances to be present during telework. If such organizations choose not to budge on this policy, employees will have to show up to their office, request annual leave or other paid time off if they can’t make it to their office.
The closure of schools and federal offices also give offices the option to authorize weather and safety leave to employees who can’t work from home because of agency policies that ban work under care situations. Federal agencies have the discretion to give advanced sick leave to an ill employee who has run out of sick leave due to the virus or has used sick leave to care for a family member, according to the memo.
If the World Health Organization were to declare the virus to be an pandemic, agencies can choose whether to evacuate employees from a worksite for remote work. Employees who do not have a telework agreement before a pandemic can still be ordered to work from home.
By: Lateshia Beachum
12:13 AM: China announces 40 new infections, 22 deaths, from coronavirus
:copyright: Noel Celis/Afp Via Getty Images Passengers wearing face masks arrive at Changsha railway station in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province on Sunday.
HONG KONG — China confirmed 22 deaths and 40 new infections from the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the National Health Commission said on Monday, as the outbreak slows in the first-hit country while cases rise elsewhere.
China’s accumulated infections are now 80,735 and its total death count to 3,119, both by far the highest in the world. But there new cases remained largely confined to Hubei, while all but four of the deaths announced were in Hubei’s capital, Wuhan.
Hubei has been under strict lockdown since late January, which Chinese officials have suggested has largely stopped the virus from causing the same scale of problems in other provinces.
There is still a long way to go, but the commission said that there had been roughly 58,600 patients reported to have recovered from the outbreak since it began. There are roughly 19,016 patients still in hospital, the commission said, with 5,111 critical cases.
In a separate count, China on Sunday reported 4 new cases “imported” from other countries, all of which were in Gansu, a landlocked province in northwest China. There are 67 imported cases in total, with known cases from other hotspots like South Korea, Iran and Italy.
Li reported from Beijing
By: Adam Taylor and Lyric Li