(Bloomberg) — American intelligence officials concluded that China concealed the extent of the outbreak there. The Pentagon aims to provide as many as 100,000 body bags for civilian use in the U.S.
New York and New Jersey said deaths have doubled in the past three days, while Florida ordered residents to stay home after weeks of rejecting calls to do so. President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing whether to halt flights from some of the hardest-hit cities.
France and Spain reported their deadliest days. Italy and Germany moved to extend lockdowns. In the U.K., some 1 million people have surged onto welfare. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan would ask all arrivals from overseas to go into quarantine. A cruise-ship standoff is intensifying off Australia.
Global cases top 932,000; almost 47,000 dead: Johns HopkinsYoung age of many N.Y. patients surprises doctorsLos Angeles mayor says entire city should wear masks: APPivotal climate conference is postponedLocked up, beaten and shamed: virus laws lead to abuseAmerica’s South, already unhealthy, falls prey to virus
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South Korea Adds 89 Cases in 24 Hours (9:24 a.m. HK)
South Korea reported 89 new infections in 24 hours, taking the country’s tally to 9,976.
The death toll has reached 169, the health ministry said in a statement.
Trump Seeks Walmart’s Help for Surgical Gowns (8:40 a.m. HK)
Walmart Inc. will help the U.S. government procure surgical gowns amid a shortage of personal protective equipment, after President Trump called Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon directly.
The world’s largest retailer will delve into its sprawling global supply chain to identify a company to make an undisclosed number of gowns, a Walmart spokesman said.
Thousands Stranded in Cruise-Ship Standoff (8:29 a.m. HK)
A cruise-ship operator with six vessels stranded off Australia is calling on the nation to help evacuate thousands of crew as the outbreak ravages the industry.
Carnival Plc said it needs Australia’s help to bring crew to shore so they can return to their home countries. The government had a duty to act on humanitarian grounds, Carnival said.
Global Times Slams Report of China Concealment (8:06 a.m. HK)
U.S. intelligence’s conclusion that China under-reported its infections is an attempt to divert attention from surging deaths in the U.S. and other Western nations, Global Times’s Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin said.
Hu, who made the remarks on his own Weibo account, said there was no way to seriously fabricate data in today’s China, especially about an incident that has drawn such widespread attention.
U.S. Car Sales Poised for Crash (7:49 a.m. HK)
Carmakers gave an early glimpse of the damage a global pandemic is doing to the U.S. auto market, with General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV falling short of estimates and the industry selling vehicles at the slowest pace in a decade.
Sales fell 7.1% for GM and more than 10% for Fiat Chrysler in the first three months of the year, both bigger declines than expected. While neither company provided a breakdown by month, demand collapsed midway through March.
U.K. Under Strain From Welfare Surge (7 a.m. HK)
Almost one million people have claimed “universal credit” welfare payments in the U.K. in the past two weeks, exposing the massive economic hit from Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown.
Between March 16 and March 31, 950,000 people successfully applied for universal credit payments, up from about 100,000 in a normal two-week period, according to government figures.
Trump Weighs Domestic Flight Restrictions (6:55 a.m. HK)
President Donald Trump said his administration is weighing whether to halt flights from some of the cities hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak — including New York and Miami — but is wary of further harming the airline industry.
“We’re certainly looking at it but once you do that you really are clamping down on an industry that is desperately needed,” Trump said at a White House press briefing. He didn’t specify what scale of flight restrictions he was considering, or which cities would be affected.
Trump Says China’s Virus Count Seems ‘Light’ (6:27 a.m. HK)
Trump said he hadn’t received an intelligence report about discrepancies in China’s total cases and deaths, but said “their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side.”
Pentagon Seeks 100,000 Body Bags (5:21 p.m. NY)
The Pentagon is seeking to provide as many as 100,000 military-style body bags for potential civilian use as the U.S. warns that deaths could soar in the coming weeks.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested 100,000 body bags, known as Human Remains Pouches, through an interagency group that directed it to the Defense Department. The Pentagon is looking into buying more bags and will draw some initially from a stockpile of 50,000 it maintains, according to two people familiar with the request.
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UN Climate Conference Postponed (4:36 p.m. NY)
A United Nations climate conference scheduled for November in Scotland has been postponed as the virus spreads and lockdowns make it difficult to hold talks leading up to the event. The summit, called COP26, had more than 26,000 expected attendees.
Putting off the conference is another setback for climate diplomacy after last year’s gathering in Madrid ended without an agreement on a framework for a global carbon market. This year, countries were due to present updated and more ambitious greenhouse-gas emission goals for the first time since the 2015 Paris Agreement.
N.Y., N.J. Deaths Double Since Sunday (3:45 p.m. NY)
The Covid-19 mortality rate in New York rose to 2.3% and 1.5% for New Jersey. Fatalities in New York reached almost 2,000 and passed 350 in New Jersey, where the numbers of infected are rapidly increasing.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy warned his state would need more space for the dead soon, and New York has begun moving patients from overtaxed New York City hospitals upstate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that even after the state passes the expected apex in April, deaths will continue to be high well into July.
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WHO Says Countries Need Strong Leadership (3:14 p.m. NY)
Countries must set comprehensive strategies to fight the coronavirus, communicate them clearly and stick to them, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said at a press briefing Wednesday in Geneva.
Medical workers and the population need consistency, which requires commitment and guidance from politicians, businesses and religious leaders, he said.
“We need to be very careful not to knee jerk,” he said. “We need to be very careful not to be changing policies every single day.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is deeply concerned about the rapid escalation of Covid-19 cases, as the death toll has doubled in a week. WHO is evaluating broadening the use of masks even among those who aren’t ill. It currently recommends masks be worn by sick people and their caretakers.
France Reports Deadliest Day, Continued Rise in Cases (2:45 p.m. NY)
France reported 4,032 hospital deaths from Covid-19 on Wednesday, up 509 from Tuesday and its biggest increase since the outbreak began. The country is working on a system to report both deaths in hospitals as well as those in other places like retirement and nursing homes. Confirmed cases rose 9.3% to 56,989.
Florida, Pennsylvania Issue Stay-at-Home Orders (1:38 p.m. NY)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he is signing a stay-at-home order for the state. DeSantis said the order would go into effect Thursday night, and that it would be similar to guidelines in Miami-Dade County.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf also expanded a stay-at-home order to cover the entire state. Separately, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice postponed the state’s Democratic primary to June 9 from May 12. Fifteen states and Puerto Rico have also delayed primaries due to the virus.
South Africa’s Restrictions Slow New Cases (1:20 p.m. NY)
South Africa’s early attempts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including travel restrictions, enforced quarantines and a ban on large gatherings, appear to be have paid off, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
The number of confirmed infections in the country rose to 1,380 on Wednesday, an increase of 27 from the day before. There have been an average of just 42 new cases a day over the past five days.
Mkhize warned that the country may not have a true picture of the size of the problem — it has conducted just 47,541 tests on the population of 59 million — which was not nearly enough. South Africa, which has instituted a 21-day lockdown, plans to ramp this up using 67 mobile testing units, he said.
China’s Jia County in Lockdown After New Cases Reported (12:40 p.m. NY)
Jia County in Henan province is under lockdown from April 1, with all residents required to wear masks and have temperatures checked when entering and leavind compounds. Henan had gone 30 days with no new cases of Covid-19 until three doctors in Pingdingshan, in Jia County, were diagnosed with the virus though they were asymptomatic.
China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Says (12:15 p.m. NY)
China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak there, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House, according to three U.S. officials.
China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete, they said. Two of the officials said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake.
Wimbledon Tournament Canceled (12 p.m. NY)
The Championships 2020 will be canceled due to public-health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic, according to a statement Wednesday by the All England Club and the Committee of Management of The Championships. It will instead be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.
After extensively considering all scenarios, the tennis tournament’s organizers “believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships.”
New York’s Coronavirus Patients Skew Young (11:55 a.m. NY)
Younger adults in New York City are being hospitalized with Covid-19 infections at surprisingly high rates, said doctors treating them, undermining assumptions about who’s most at risk from the coronavirus.
For months, the message from authorities had been that older people were at the highest risk. It was a belief so strongly held that health officials took to chastising people in their 20s and 30s to stay home — not to protect themselves, but to avoid transmitting the disease to older populations.
Germany Extends Lockdown By Two Weeks (11 a.m. NY)
Germany will extend the nationwide lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus for another two weeks until April 19.
A little over a week after banning gatherings of more than two people, the government continues to ask Germans to avoid contact with people outside their own households, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday.
“It’s far too early to now begin considering loosening contact restrictions – we’re still far from where we want to be,” Merkel said, adding that the government wants to revisit those measures after Easter.
Drugs Trump Touted Added to Shortage List (10 a.m. NY)
Drugs for malaria and certain autoimmune diseases that President Donald Trump touted as Covid-19 treatments have been added to the Food and Drug Administration’s shortage website.
Some patients who took the medications for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other disorders before the coronavirus pandemic are now unable to fill prescriptions. Demand surged after doctors overseas said they had seen some signs that the drugs could be used to treat Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
U.K. to ‘Significantly’ Increase Testing (9:25 a.m. NY)
The U.K. plans to “significantly” increase testing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters on Wednesday. The government has faced criticism over why the U.K. is lagging behind countries including Germany on testing.
“A clear instruction has been sent to all NHS hospital trusts that where there is capacity available, it should be used on frontline NHS staff,” Slack said. “It is our intention to significantly increase the number of tests that we’re carrying out.”
Meanwhile, the U.K.’s lockdown measures may have already reduced the spread of the coronavirus, according to a study. A survey of 1,300 people showed that the number of interactions they’d had with others in a single day was 70% lower than the average from a study done in 2005-2006, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said in the report.
Putin Holds Remote Meetings After Handshake With Doctor (8:05 a.m. NY)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun holding meetings remotely from his residence outside Moscow after being exposed to a doctor who was later diagnosed with coronavirus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday on a conference call. Peskov said on Tuesday that Putin is regularly tested and is fine.
Putin on March 24 shook hands and chatted with the doctor, Denis Protsenko, who is the chief of Moscow’s main coronavirus facility.
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