UK plans $39b stimulus, more NY cases: Virus update
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UK plans $39b stimulus, more NY cases: Virus update

A general view of the almost empty departure hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Tuesday, as visitor numbers have plummeted in the region over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. (AFP photo)
A general view of the almost empty departure hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Tuesday, as visitor numbers have plummeted in the region over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. (AFP photo)

Coronavirus cases hit 59 in Thailand, including workers at Suvarnabhumi airport. US cases climbed past 1,000 according to a Johns Hopkins tally that includes cruise ships, as a top health official said some parts of the country are now beyond containment efforts.

Regions from Italy to New York amped up containment efforts as the global death toll rose above 4,000. Infections in Italy topped 10,000 as the country attempted a nationwide lockdown. A UK health minister became the first British member of parliament to test positive for the virus.

US equity futures retreated as investors awaited details on stimulus measures to counter the coronavirus impact. US President Donald Trump didn’t appear at a briefing after promising a day earlier he would announce a “major” economic package.

UK unveils stimulus

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak says announced a total fiscal stimulus package valued at 30 billion pounds ($39 billion) to support jobs and businesses. That came hours after the Bank of England cut interest rates.

The government will fund statutory sick pay for employees of small and medium-sized companies who are off work because of coronavirus, Sunak said.

Toronto mining conference attendee tests positive 

A man in his 50s who attended a mining conference in Toronto, one of the industry’s biggest, has tested positive for Covid-19. The man went to the hospital in Sudbury, Ontario, on March 7. He was discharged home and remains in self-isolation.

More than 23,100 people attended the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto March 1 to 4, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford. The man attended the conference March 2 and 3.

Coronavirus threatens Brexit talks 

Speaking to a panel of lawmakers in London on Wednesday, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said whether the talks will go ahead as planned is now a “live question.” “We have had indications today from Belgium that there may be public health concerns,” he said.

BOJ likely to ease policy next week

The Bank of Japan is likely to ease monetary policy next week, Reuters reported, citing what it says are people familiar with the central bank’s thinking. There is no consensus on how the BOJ will ease, but increasing the size of the bank’s ETF purchases is seen as among the most likely options, the sources told Reuters.

UK Treasury considering extending tax deadline

The UK Treasury Department is considering extending the 2019 tax-filing deadline beyond April 15 to provide relief from economic disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Treasury officials have been discussing the idea of extending the Internal Revenue Service’s payment deadline as the Trump administration considers measures to relieve economic pressure on citizens, businesses and government agencies dealing with the impact of the virus, according to the people.

Two Bangkok airport workers have Covid-19

Thailand's Public Health Ministry on Wednesday reported six new local cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infection, five Thais and one Singaporean, lifting the total number of cases to 59.

Of the six new cases, two work at Suvarnabhumi airport, including an immigration officer.

Adidas says virus may slice $1 billion off revenue 

Adidas AG forecast first-quarter sales in China will fall by 800 million euros to 1 billion euros ($908 million to $1.1 billion) because of the coronavirus and business is slowing in Japan and South Korea. Adidas said sales in China were 80% below 2019 levels from Jan. 25 through end of February, but since then stores and warehouses have gradually reopened and consumer traffic is slowly picking up.

Tokyo Disney extends shutdown 

Oriental Land Co delayed the re-opening of the Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea resorts until at least early April, following a call by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to extend cancellations of large events for another 10 days as Japan battles the spread of coronavirus. Oriental Land, which operates the resorts, had initially planned to keep the parks shut until March 15, having closed them on Feb. 29.

China’s Hubei Province allows some work resumption 

Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, will allow some work resumption after the region was locked down in January. Companies in sectors including utilities, daily necessities and agriculture necessities in Wuhan city and Hubei province can restart production, the provincial government said in a statement.

E3 games show slated for June called off 

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, a massive video-game conference scheduled to take over the Los Angeles Convention Center in June, is being cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.

The cancellation is planned to be announced at 9.30am Los Angeles time on March 11 by the Entertainment Software Association, according to a person familiar with the matter.

E3 is the biggest event on the gaming industry calendar, serving as a focal point for new hardware and software announcements.

Three TSA agents in California test positive 

Three Transportation Security Administration agents at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California have tested positive for coronavirus, the agency said. All TSA employees they came in contact with in the past 14 days have been quarantined at home. Santa Clara County, which has reported 45 cases, has banned large gatherings of more than 1,000 people effective midnight Wednesday.

Minister says Olympics postponement ‘inconceivable’ 

A postponement or delay to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is “inconceivable”, the Japanese minister responsible for the games said, responding to comments made by a member of the organizing committee which suggested a possible delay of up to two years as the coronavirus continues to spread.

Cathay projects ‘substantial’ loss on virus 

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd forecast its first loss in two years as the coronavirus hurts travel demand and aggravates the challenges facing a carrier that battled through the Hong Kong protests last year.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier is expecting a “substantial loss” in the first half of 2020, it said in a statement. That would be the first time the company lost money since the first half of 2018.

The airline has slashed capacity to mainland China by 90% and reduced its entire international network by about 40% because of the coronavirus. Cathay, which is particularly exposed to the virus because close to half of its revenue comes from Hong Kong and mainland China, also asked employees to take unpaid leave as it tries to weather the latest crisis.

US cases top 1,000 in Johns Hopkins tally 

The US has 1,001 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, which also shows 28 deaths in the country. The list includes cruise ship cases, with 46 from the Diamond Princess and 21 from the Grand Princess.

The US has shifted into a new phase of its coronavirus response after efforts to stamp out sparks of an outbreak have failed. Authorities now are focusing on limiting damage.

For weeks, the biggest effect of the smattering of identified cases had been a mild sense of worry. That changed this week, with universities cancelling classes, patients popping up in offices and nursing homes, and local authorities limited some public gatherings.

Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday that America had lost valuable time tracking the virus; some regions now can merely try to cope with its spread rather than stop it.

Cathay crew member tests preliminary positive 

A Cathay Pacific crew member who had travelled to Madrid tested preliminary positive for the coronavirus in Hong Kong, local broadcaster Cable TV reported, citing unidentified people. The 22-year-old female served a confirmed patient on a flight from Madrid to Hong Kong on March 8, according to Cable TV.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection is tracing the contacts of a case involving a female patient in Dongguan, Guangdong, who took a Cathay flight from Madrid to Hong Kong on March 8, according to a government statement late Tuesday.

White House to meet Google, Facebook 

US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios will host a meeting Wednesday with Google, Inc, Facebook Inc and other technology companies to coordinate responses to the outbreak.

Social media companies have been attempting to prevent the spread of misinformation, while companies such as Amazon have tried to manage panic selling of goods.

South Korea reports 242 new cases 

South Korea reported 242 additional infections in the previous 24 hours. The increase took total cases in the country to 7,755, according to a statement from the health ministry.

China reports just 24 new infections 

China reported only 24 additional cases on March 10, of which 13 came from Hubei province, the country’s National Health Commission said. All the latest 22 deaths were also in Hubei. China added 19 cases a day earlier.

The nation has 80,778 total confirmed coronavirus infections and the death toll stands at 3,158.

Canada to announce financial measures 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to announce financial measures to help mitigate the effects of the widening outbreak.

Trudeau is scheduled to provide details at a 9am Wednesday press conference in Ottawa. The plan would include providing faster unemployment insurance benefits to people who self-isolate, more funding for coronavirus research and financial assistance to provinces for procurement of medical supplies, according to CTV News.

US eases rules as campuses closes: NYT 

The US Department of Education is letting colleges and universities change course schedules to accommodate students who can’t meet enrollment requirements or complete internships, the New York Times reported.

The department has given broad approval to schools seeking relief from federal standards as they activate distance-learning programs, the newspaper said, citing a guidance document from the department.

Coachella organisers confirm festival is delayed

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival organisers confirmed that the California mega-concert will be delayed for six months after local officials declared a state of emergency over coronavirus. The festival -- originally slated for April 10-12 and April 17-19 -- will now take place Oct 9-11 and Oct 16-18, according to Goldenvoice, which organises Coachella. Bloomberg reported on Monday that the event was being pushed back.

Trump’s a no-show after promising briefing 

US President Donald Trump didn’t appear at a White House briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, after promising a day earlier he’d hold a news conference to announce a “major” economic stimulus package.

After deciding to pursue an economic stimulus plan following the steepest drop in US stocks since 2011, Trump told reporters Monday: “I will be here tomorrow afternoon to let you know about some of the economic steps we’re taking, which will be major,” he said. But that didn’t happen. The president made brief remarks and took a handful of questions after meeting with Republican senators earlier in the day, but did not detail a stimulus plan.

The coronavirus briefing was the last event on the White House’s public schedule for Tuesday. During the briefing, Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said that Trump would like a payroll tax holiday to extend to the end of the year.

San Francisco Archdiocese shutting schools 

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is shutting its 90 schools in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo Counties for two weeks starting Thursday after a student tested positive for coronavirus, according to a letter to families from Superintendent of Schools Pamela Lyons. The school buildings will be closed and all classes and student-related activities will be closed through March 25, the letter said.

UK health minister tests positive 

Nadine Dorries, a UK health minister, has become the first British member of parliament to test positive for coronavirus. The Times reported she had fallen ill on Friday and her diagnosis was confirmed Monday evening. The newspaper said she’d attended a reception in 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday and met hundreds of people in parliament. Dorries, one of four health ministers for the UK, said in a statement that she had been isolating herself at home since her diagnosis, and that officials were working to trace her contacts.

Lagarde asks EU leaders for rapid action 

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde demanded rapid fiscal action from EU leaders during an emergency call on the coronavirus outbreak, according to an official with knowledge of the discussion.

She repeated her pleas over the past months for governments to step up and help prop up growth. The call is becoming more urgent now as the viral outbreak deals a blow to the bloc’s economies.

But during the call, which was arranged to discuss the EU’s coordinated response to the virus, Germany and the Netherlands didn’t seem keen on having a discussion on stimulus, a separate official said.

FDA suspends inspections of foreign factories 

The US Food and Drug Administration is halting most inspections of foreign manufacturing facilities that make drugs and medical devices through April as a novel coronavirus spreads around the world.

The agency quit evaluating factories in China earlier in the outbreak. Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement that the decision to expand the suspension is based on several factors, including federal restrictions prohibiting travel for government employees.

Many pharmaceuticals are produced overseas, and the FDA has come under scrutiny for failing to identify contaminants in some generic drug products.

UN closes New York headquarters to visitors 

The United Nations said on Tuesday it will close its headquarters in New York to the general public, suspending all guided tours until further notice. There are no confirmed cases among staff. It follows the decision to reduce the number of staff present in the UN building.

St Peter’s Square, Basilica closed to tourists 

St Peter’s Square and Basilica are closed to tourists until April 3, according to Agence France-Presse.

Pope Francis had delivered his weekly blessing via video on Sunday to avoid attracting crowds to the square. Vatican City is home to about 600 people, including the pontiff. The Vatican has also closed its museums until April 3.

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