First Deaths in Singapore, NYC to Close Businesses: Virus Update

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(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New York and ordered federal assistance to be given. New York City, which accounts for almost a third of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases, is closing non-essential businesses.

Singapore and Israel had their first virus deaths. More U.S. states followed New York and California in tightening restrictions on the public and business.

U.S. stocks fell, capping their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Goldman Sachs warned the U.S. economy may shrink 24% in the second quarter.

Key Developments:

Worldwide cases top 258,000, more than 10,000 deadU.S. infections exceed 17,000, fatalities top 220Spain, Iran cases rise to almost 20,000Target boosts pay, Walmart to hire 150,000 workersDelta says 13,000 workers are on unpaid leaveItaly had 627 deaths in one day, the most anywhereFour U.S. senators sold stock after virus briefings in January

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.

Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here. To see the impact on oil and commodities demand, click here.

India Extends Virus Testing (1:33 p.m. HK)

India expanded the criteria for people who should be tested for coronavirus, as the world’s second-most populous nation aims to limit the outbreak locally.

All patients with pneumonia symptoms or severe respiratory illnesses must be tested, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said Friday. Earlier, the bulk of India’s testing was aimed at individuals who have traveled internationally.

Jack Ma Sending 1.8 Million Masks to Asia (1:25 p.m. HK)

Jack Ma, Asia’s richest man, pledged 1.8 million face masks and 210,000 coronavirus test kits to some of the continent’s poorest nations, the latest step in an ongoing effort from his foundation to push back against what’s become a global pandemic.

Olympic Organizers Not at Stage to Make Decision (1:08 p.m. HK)

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee isn’t yet at the stage where it can make a decision on whether or not to cancel or postpone the Olympics, Kyodo News reported Saturday, citing an interview with Executive Board Vice President Toshiaki Endo.

Endo made the remarks in response to the Norwegian Olympic Committee’s release of a letter urging the International Olympic Committee not to hold the games in Tokyo until the coronavirus outbreak is “under firm control on a global scale,” according to Kyodo.

Thailand Confirms 89 More Cases (12:45 p.m. HK)

Thailand’s confirmed coronavirus count of 89 patients on Saturday is the highest daily figure so far in the Southeast Asian nation, taking the total to 411 cases, according to the Health Ministry.

Google Coronavirus Website Launches (12 p.m. HK)

Google launched a website dedicated to information about Covid-19 a week after U.S. President Donald Trump touted the company’s help in the fight against the pandemic.

The internet giant said it worked with “relevant agencies and authorities” to roll out the site — google.com/covid19 — which went live on the web late Friday offering education, prevention and local resources related to the novel coronavirus.

Singapore Reports First Coronavirus Deaths (11:50 a.m. HK)

Two people died of the coronavirus in Singapore on Saturday morning, the first confirmed fatalities in the Southeast Asian nation.

The two were a 75-year-old female Singaporean, and a 64-year-old Indonesian man, the health ministry said.

Iran Calls for Removal of Sanctions (11:04 a.m. HK)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the U.S. public to call on their government to remove sanctions against the Islamic Republic amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“People of the United States, in the name of justice and humanity, I address your conscience and Godly souls, and call upon you to make your Administration and Congress see that the path of sanctions and pressure has never been successful and will never be so in the future,” Rouhani said in a message addressing U.S. citizens.

Senate’s Virus Stimulus Getting Larger (10:56 a.m. HK)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democrats are pushing to expand the Senate GOP’s economic rescue plan to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, continuing negotiations into the weekend on a package expected to exceed $1 trillion.

Republican and Democratic senators working out the details called it a night on Friday without a final deal. They promised to return Saturday to continue talks, with the goal to vote Monday.

Bondi Beach Closed After Australians Flout Advice (10:52 a.m. HK)

Australian authorities closed Sydney’s world-famous Bondi Beach, where thousands of people have flouted physical-distance guidelines designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The temporary measure, effective immediately, may also be enforced at other beaches.

NYC to Close All Non-Essential Businesses (10:21 a.m. HK)

New York City is closing all non-essential businesses from Sunday to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, internet providers, mass transit, banks and other financial institutions will still be permitted to operate, the mayor said in a statement. The new restrictions will take effect Sunday 8 p.m. local time.

Read story here

Trump Approves New York Declaration (10:01 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of New York and ordered federal assistance to be given to the state to aid local recovery efforts in areas impacted by the outbreak.

The move will unlock federal funding for New York state, the White House office of the press secretary said in a statement.

Read story here

North Korea Fires Missiles (9:16 a.m. HK)

North Korea appears to have fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea shared with Japan, hours after leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a military exercise.

The launches may be linked with the coronavirus pandemic, serving as a move by North Korea to tighten internal order and control, Japan’s Minister of Defense Taro Kono said.

Read story here

First Virus Death in Israel (8:53 a.m. HK)

Israel reported its first death from the coronavirus after an 88-year-old man died in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek hospital on Friday night, the Times of Israel reported.

Meanwhile, Mexico confirmed its second death and Peru reported its first fatalities as medical experts worry that Latin America is unprepared for a larger outbreak.

Washington State Urges Residents to Stay Home (8 a.m. HK)

Washington Governor Jay Inslee stopped short of issuing an order to keep people isolated, but encouraged residents to stay home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Inslee, whose state has reported the most deaths so far, said people aren’t treating the illness as a mortal threat.

U.S. Team Rescued From Honduras (7:55 a.m. HK)

An Air Force C-130 transport flew 89 Americans — including members of a U.S. women’s football team — out of Honduras to Charleston, South Carolina, the second mission to fetch citizens unable to leave the Central American country.

Earlier, a C-17 flew from Honduras’ Soto Cano Air Base with other passengers, including half of the team, the U.S. Southern Command said in a statement.

The 55-member team became trapped after Honduras closed its borders in response to the coronavirus. They were on a charity visit for a local homeless shelter, and to play in a tournament, CBS Sports said on its website.

Pence Aide Confirmed With Virus (6:30 a.m. HK)

An employee in the office of Vice President Mike Pence, leading the government’s response to the outbreak, has tested positive for the illness, according to a statement.

“Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual,” said Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary. “Further contact tracing is being conducted in accordance with CDC guidelines.”

NYC Leads U.S. in Cases (6:20 a.m. HK)

New York City accounts for almost a third of the U.S. cases of Covid-19, and half the infections in the state.

“We are now the epicenter of this crisis,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference.

De Blasio reported 5,151 infections as of Friday morning out of 17,041 nationwide and 7,102 in New York state. The virus has caused 29 deaths, the mayor said.

Three states have a majority of U.S. cases: New York, Washington and California.

Target, Walmart Aid Workers (6:15 a.m. HK)

Target Corp. is boosting hourly wages, expanding its paid-leave policy and delivering bonuses to thousands of store employees to reward rank-and-file staff for coping with the coronavirus.

The retailer is raising hourly pay by $2 until at least May 2, and offering paid sick leave of up to 30 days for staffers who are 65 or older, pregnant or have underlying medical conditions. It’s doling out bonuses from $250 to $1,500 for hourly workers who oversee departments like beauty or food and beverage.

The moves come just hours after rival Walmart Inc. said it would hire 150,000 additional staff and disperse bonuses of as much as $300 to its hourly associates.

United, Southwest Warn on Flights (5:40 p.m. NY)

United Airlines Holdings Inc. said it will lay off employees in less than two weeks unless Congress passes a package to help carriers amid a collapse in air travel. Southwest Airlines Co. said it will cut more flights.

United trimmed 60% of its typical schedule for April, cutting 85% of its international service and 42% of domestic flying. The schedule for May may be cut even further, Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby told employees in a memo.

Southwest, which carries the most passengers in U.S. markets, will cut 1,000 daily flights starting Sunday because of a plunge in demand. International service will end after Sunday until at least May 4 as more nations restrict cross-border travel.

Hospital Stockpile Potential Covid-19 Drug (5:30 p.m. NY)

Hospitals are stockpiling a decades-old antimalarial drug touted by President Donald Trump and others as a treatment for the new coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine is being snapped up at more than twice the typical pace as U.S. hospitals seek to build inventories in anticipation of the medication’s potential use in patients with Covid-19.

In the first 17 days of March, hospitals bought an average of 16,110 units of hydroxychloroquine, up from an average 8,800 units a month from January 2019 through February 2020, according to Premier Inc., which helps member hospitals buy and manage their supplies.

Read story here

D.C. Extends Limits to Late April (5 p.m. NY)

Washington, D.C., extended the prohibition on mass gatherings until April 25 and will keep district schools, which shuttered this week, closed until April 27.

Restaurants and bars in the nation’s capital will continue to offer carry-out food to customers or delivery services. All indoor dining or drinking is banned.

Delta Workers Take Unpaid Leave (4:40 p.m. NY)

Delta Air Lines Inc. said more than 13,000 employees accepted voluntary unpaid leaves as the carrier struggles with the coronavirus outbreak, which slowed travel and led to cutbacks in flights.

“While I’m grateful to the thousands that have volunteered, we could use more,” Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said in a message to employees.

Bastian said revenue in the June quarter will be down 80% from a year earlier and the company is burning through about $50 million in cash every day. Delta suspended its capital return program, including stock repurchases, and future dividend payments.

Illinois Issues Shelter-in-Place Order (4:20 p.m. NY)

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered residents to shelter in place starting Saturday, following California, New York and New Jersey in restricting the movement of residents to combat the coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Pritzker closed schools, dine-in service at bars and restaurants and banned gatherings of more than 50. Chicago earlier ordered sick residents to remain home.

Similar shelter-in-place actions were taken by governors in Connecticuty and Nevada.

Read story here

N.J. to Shut ‘Nonessential’ Businesses (4 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he will sign an executive order requiring all “nonessential” businesses closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Murphy said he would give more details when he signs the order Saturday.

“The only way we’re going to beat this darn virus is if we literally stay home and stay away from each other,” Murphy said at a news conference in Paramus.

Read story here.

World Needs 80-100 Times More Tests, WHO Says (2:30 p.m. NY)

The number of coronavirus tests needed in coming months is probably 80 to 100 times the 1.5 million that the World Health Organization supplied so far, said Mike Ryan, the agency’s head of health emergencies. Governments need to step up their commitments because there are more than 26 million health-care workers around the world who need to have protective gear, he said.

“The greatest tragedy for me among all the tragedies we’re seeing is the prospect of losing a part of our workforce, those doctors and nurses and hygienists and others who put themselves in the front line,” Ryan said.

Nigeria to Conduct Trials of Chloroquine (2:30 p.m. NY)

Nigeria’s Lagos State government plans to conduct a clinical trial on the effectiveness of the malaria drug chloroquine in the prevention and management of coronavirus infection, according to Health Commissioner Akin Abayomi.

The trial will be carried out against “the fast spreading news that chloroquine could be effective in preventing and managing Covid-19,” Abayomi said in emailed statement on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump touted the drug at a press briefing Thursday, urging regulators to approve its use for the coronavirus.

U.K. to Help Pay Workers Wages (1:30 p.m. NY)

The U.K. government said it will step in and help pay its citizen’s wages during the coronavirus pandemic “for the first time in the nation’s history.”

The state will cover 80% of the salary of workers that firms can’t afford to retain as a result of the crisis. That is up to a total of 2,500 pounds ($2,900) a month, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak told reporters on Friday.

Meanwhile, London’s pubs, restaurants, leisure centers, and cinemas will be told to close, a British official said.

Crowds Swarm New Jersey Test Site (1:23 p.m. NY)

New Jersey closed its first drive-through test site to people beyond the 1,000 already in line, and even they may not get swabbed today.

The line had grown too long less than four hours after its planned 8 a.m. opening at Bergen Community College in Paramus. The site was to get 2,500 new coronavirus test kits, with supplies replenished weekly.

Read full story here.

Brazilian Lawmakers Hold First Remote Voting (12:45 p.m. NY)

Brazil’s Congress held its first-ever remote voting session as part of efforts to proceed with crucial legislative work while restricting movement of people in Brasilia’s often-crowded parliament.

In a video conference broadcast on their official website, senators approved a calamity decree allowing President Jair Bolsonaro to increase anti-virus spending.

Cuomo Orders All Non-Essential Workers Home (12:20 p.m. NY)

Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered New Yorkers to stay at home for the foreseeable future, except for essential services like grocery stores and mass transit.

He said the new orders would go in place on Sunday. The state’s death toll has reached 35. New York has more than 7,100 coronavirus cases, the most in the U.S.

“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said.

Read full story here.

Social Distancing Will Last Several More Weeks (11:08 a.m. NY)

Americans will have to practice social distancing for at least several more weeks to mitigate U.S. cases of Covid-19, Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said Friday.

“If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks in other areas, it’s at least going to be several weeks. I cannot see that all of a sudden next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over. I don’t think there’s a chance of that. I think it’s going to be several weeks,” Fauci said on The Today Show.

IRS Moving Tax Day to July 15 (10:25 a.m. NY)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says people and businesses will have more time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.

(Corrects number of test kits donated in Jack Ma story item.)

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