Coronavirus live updates: China reports 34 new cases but none in epicenter Hubei

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This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

  • Global cases: At least 207,860, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization
  • Global deaths: At least 8,657, according to the latest figures from the WHO

All times below are in Beijing time.

11:50 am: Federal Reserve to shore up prime money market funds

The Federal Reserve took another page out of its 2008 crisis-era playbook late Wednesday evening, invoking its emergency authority to create a backstop for prime money market mutual funds.

The new Money Market Mutual Liquidity Fund will provide loans to financial institutions to buy assets from prime money market funds.

It was the second program in two days to use a $10 billion backstop from the Treasury Department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. And it was the second time in two days that the Fed invoked its emergency authority under section 13.3 of the Federal Reserve Act.

The move was another sign of turmoil inside the financial system created by the coronavirus, and it remained unclear if the constant barrage of programs from the Fed and the Treasury would be enough to restore order. — Steve Liesman

11:43 am: DBS Group predicts possible recession for Singapore

DBS Group, one of Asia’s largest lenders, said the Singapore economy is likely to sink into a recession following the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Economist Irvin Seah said in a note that the services sector — particularly tourism, aviation, retail and trade-related industries, will bear the brunt — but manufacturing will not be spared either.

“A recession in Singapore appears inevitable, and we have revised our full year GDP growth forecast for 2020 to -0.5% to reflect the recession scenario,” Seah wrote. The city-state has more than 300 confirmed cases, but 117 people have been cured and discharged to-date. (see 7:30 am update) — Saheli Roy Choudhury

11:10 am: South Korean reports 152 more confirmed cases 

South Korea reported 152 new cases, bringing the country’s cumulative cases to 8,565, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The country also reported another 7 deaths, taking the total to 91, said KCDC.

A new outbreak emerged in a nursing home in Daegu, the city hit hardest by the spread of the new coronavirus in South Korea, according to a report by Reuters. Of the new cases reported, 97 were in Daegu but KCDC didn’t specify how many of those came from the nursing home. — Yen Nee Lee

10:48 am: India’s response could include cash transfers to the informal economy

India is working on a set of policy measures to combat the economic impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus and that may include some cash transfers to workers in the informal sector, top economic adviser to the government, Krishnamurthy Subramanian said.

India has reported at least 151 cases, out of which 14 have recovered and three died, according to the health ministry. Subramanian said that tests found there is still no evidence of community spread of the virus in India. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

Indian People queue up at a COVID screening center at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital,(RML) after a case emerged in Delhi causing a panic situation in Delhi India, 04 March 2020.

Imtiyaz Khan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

9:50 am: New Zealand advises citizens to not travel overseas

New Zealand advised its citizens on Thursday to avoid traveling overseas due to heightened risks of contracting COVID-19.

“We are raising our travel advice to the highest level: do not travel,” Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said in a statement. “New Zealanders who travel overseas risk contracting COVID-19. At the same time, health care systems in many countries are under strain and do not have the capacity to support foreigners.”

Peters also urged New Zealanders who are currently traveling abroad to consider returning immediately. Earlier in the day, the country’s health ministry reported eight new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 28. All of the new cases are related to overseas travel, according to the ministry. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:21 am: China reports 34 new cases, 8 additional deaths

China’s National Health Commission said there were 34 new cases, which it attributed to travelers returning from abroad. All of the 8 additional deaths occurred in Hubei province, where the virus was first detected.

Still, Hubei did not report any new confirmed cases. As of the end of March 18, China’s total number of confirmed cases stands at 80,928, of which 70,420 have recovered and 3,245 died. Because of the infection’s exponential spread in other countries in recent weeks, China now accounts for less than 50% of the total number of cases worldwide. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:15 am: Chinese firm SF Express says delivery volume up 118.89% on-year in February

Major Chinese delivery company SF Express said order volume in February rose 118.89% to 475 million yuan from a year ago while operating revenue increased 77.3% to 8.64 billion yuan ($1.23 billion) during that time. The revenue per order fell 19% to 18.19 yuan, the company said. Operating revenues from supply chain-related operations rose nearly five-fold from a year ago to 369 million yuan.

The outbreak in China had forced many people to stay indoors and they turned to delivery companies and e-commerce firms for purchases. — Evelyn Cheng

8:40 am: New York state likely has ‘tens of thousands’ of coronavirus cases, Gov. Cuomo says

8:29 am: Italy death toll nears 3,000

At least 2,978 people in Italy have died as a result of COVID-19, as the total number of confirmed cases in the country stood at 35,713 as of 6 p.m. local time on March 18, according to the health ministry. Around 4,025 people have recovered so far. Italy remains under lockdown as shops, bars, restaurants, museums, and schools remain closed while movement is restricted; the stringent measures are already weighing on the economy. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:55 am: London underground to be partially shut on Thursday

London’s underground system will be partially shut down beginning Thursday in the city’s bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, Sky News reported, citing the Transport for London. 

Up to 40 tube stations that do not interchange with other lines will be closed until further notice from Thursday and starting Friday, the Waterloo and City line will shut completely, Sky News said. No tube or overground service will run overnight on Fridays and Saturdays, but bus services will still be available at those times, it added. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:37 am: Qantas will suspend international flights starting late March

The Australian carrier said in a regulatory filing that all regularly scheduled international flights from Australia, including ones from its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar, will be suspended from end March until at least end May 2020. “Some flights may continue in order to maintain key links, based on ongoing discussions with the Federal Government,” the company said.

Within Australia, there will be a 60% cut in domestic flights; Qantas also said two-thirds of employees are set to be temporarily stood down to preserve as many jobs as possible in the longer term. On Wednesday, Australia raised its advisory for all overseas travel to the highest level and told citizens not to travel at this time, regardless of destination, age, and health condition. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:30 am: Singapore sees record 47 new cases in a day

Most of the city-state’s 47 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection are imported, as residents returned from their trips abroad to places in Europe, North America and other parts of Asia, according to the health ministry. As of Wednesday at noon, the total number of cases stood at 313, with 117 people reported as recovered and no deaths recorded.

Infection numbers in Singapore rose in recent days, prompting authorities to step up efforts to contain the virus’ spread; on March 18, the government told residents to defer all travel abroad, superseding the previous advisory on only non-essential travel. Starting Friday at 11:59 p.m., everyone entering Singapore, including residents, will be required to complete a two-week self-quarantine. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

A man wearing a protective face mask walks past an indoor waterfall at Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore on February 27, 2020.

Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

All times below are in Eastern time.

7:17 pm: Google is still showing mask ads next to coronavirus stories after promising to take them down

Days after Google promised to remove ads for medical face masks, promotions are still appearing next to online content related to the coronavirus, much to the ire of U.S. lawmakers.

Senators Mark Warner, D-Va., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph J. Simons on Tuesday, criticizing Google for continuing to serve ads next to stories about COVID-19 on various sites. Federal health officials have repeatedly told the public to refrain from purchasing masks so they can be reserved for people who need them, like health-care workers responding to the crisis. —Megan Graham, Jennifer Elias

6:32 pm: Dow futures down 100 points as Wall Street’s equity rout continues

A man with a mask pushes a cart with a sign reading corpse cartte at Times Square in Manhattan on March 17, 2020 in New York City.

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

6:00 pm: NYC mayor pushes for ‘shelter-in-place’ order as coronavirus cases surge to almost 1,900

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve a “shelter-in-place” order for the city as coronavirus cases surge to almost 1,900 across the five boroughs.

De Blasio, speaking to NY1 local television station, said he had a “very good conversation” with Cuomo about an hour ago.

Earlier in the day, Cuomo said he wouldn’t approve a “shelter-in-place” order for New York City after de Blasio told residents to prepare for one. “That is not going to happen, shelter in place, for New York City,” Cuomo said on The Daily podcast by The New York Times. “For any city or county to take an emergency action, the state has to approve it. And I wouldn’t approve shelter in place.” —Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: NYC mayor wants ‘shelter-in-place’ order, US cases number over 7,500

Source: CNBC

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