Wuhan Reopens; U.K., New York Have Deadliest Days: Virus Update

The U.K. and New York state reported their worst daily death tolls since the pandemic began, even as new infections slowed in the U.S. epicenter.

China’s Wuhan, where the outbreak started, lifted its lockdown after more than two months. Travel restrictions are easing, with trains leaving the city, flights resuming at the airport and cars now allowed to exit highways.

The Trump administration is developingplans to get the U.S. economy back in action based on widespread testing. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was moved to intensive care last night, is in stable condition.

Key Developments:

  • Globalcases top 1.41 million; deaths exceed 81,000: Johns Hopkins
  • Web ofrestrictions remain as Wuhan’s lockdown ends
  • U.S.labs lurch from one crisis to another
  • More countries are embracingmasks
  • India panel is said to recommend partiallifting of limits
  • Greed and fear collide: Wall Street calls tradersback to office

Trump Considering Hold on U.S. Funding for WHO (6:34 a.m. HK)

President Donald Trump said he’s considering putting a “hold” on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization after the agency “blew it” by failing to sound the alarm sooner about the coronavirus.

29,595 in U.S.Most new cases today

-21% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1.​02 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

“I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it,” the president said at a White House briefing.

He earlier called the organization “very China-centric” and said it was wrong to advise against travel restrictions he imposed. The organization has urged nations to avoid blanket travel bans to countries experiencing outbreaks because historically such moves have been ineffective.

White House Aims to Reopen Economy With Testing (5:37 p.m. NY)

The White House is developing plans to get the U.S. economy back in action that depend on testing far more Americans for coronavirus than has been possible to date, according to people familiar with the matter.

The effort would likely begin in smaller cities and towns in states that haven’t yet been heavily hit by the virus. Cities such as New York, Detroit, New Orleans and other places the president has described as “hot spots” would remain shuttered. The planning is in its early stages.

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U.S. Cases Rise at Slower Pace Than Past Week (4 p.m. NY)

The rise in U.S. coronavirus cases showed signs of leveling Tuesday, with new infections slowing in New York and New Jersey.

U.S. cases rose 8.7% from the day before to 383,256 as of Tuesday afternoon, according todata compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. Cases nationally had been climbing an average of 11% a day over the past week.

New York’s rate of new infections tapered for a third straight day, stoking optimism that the outbreak in the hardest-hit state may be approaching a peak. New cases in the state rose 6.2%, or by 5,489.

New Jersey, the state with the second-highest number of cases, reported a similar pattern, with cases increasing by 8%, the lowest rate in weeks and the third-straight day it was 10% or less.

The numbers belied grim statistics: Both states reported their biggest daily gain in coronavirus-related deaths. New York had 731 new deaths while New Jersey’s rose by 232. Illinois also had its deadliest day, with 73.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said he’s seen a 10.7% increase in confirmed cases in the state and only a 2.1% increase in intensive-care unit beds taken by virus patients from yesterday, a sign that the curve in the state is bending.

N.J. Mirrors N.Y. With Slowing Infection Rate (2 p.m. NY)

New Jersey’s pattern of coronavirus cases and deaths mirrored New York’s, with a tapering of new infections and the biggest one-day jump in fatalities.

Reported cases increased by 8%, the lowest rate in weeks and the third straight day it was 10% or less. There were 232 additional fatalities reported, after two days of increases of less than 100.

New Jersey has lost 1,232 people to Covid-19. More than 44,000 people in the Garden State have been infected.

Italy Reports Fewest New Infections Since March 13 (12:22 p.m. NY)

Italy reported its fewest new coronavirus infections since March 13, as the government considers easing some containment measures in the coming weeks.

New cases numbered 3,039 over the last 24 hours, compared with 3,599 a day earlier, civil protection officials said on Tuesday. The country reported 604 deaths linked to the virus, compared with 636 the day before.

N.Y. Shows Biggest Daily Gain In Deaths (11:43 a.m. NY)

New York state reported its single-largest daily increase in coronavirus deaths on Tuesday. Governor Andrew Cuomo said 5,489 people have died, up from 4,758 on Monday.

Despite the surge, there are signs that infection rates in New York may be plateauing. The 8,147 in new cases reported Tuesday is the third straight day below the peak of 10,841 hit on Friday. It’s also below the 8,658 announced Monday.

While the daily rate in deaths of about 15% was up slightly from yesterday, it is still almost half of what it was a week ago.

U.K. Reports Its Deadliest Day Yet (11:23 a.m. NY)

A record number of people in the U.K. were reported to have died from the coronavirus in 24 hours, daily figures from the Department of Health and Social Care show.

A further 786 people died from the virus, the department said. In total, 55,242 people have tested positive for the disease in the U.K.

Saudi Arabia Cases Could Hit 200,000 (10:40 a.m. NY)

The country of 34 million people has taken some of the earliest and strictest precautionary measures in the Middle East, including a 24-hour curfew imposed on all major cities indefinitely. So far the government has reported 2,795 cases and 41 deaths, but studies show the number of cases could rise in a few weeks to 10,000 at the lowest and 200,000 at the highest, Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said in a televised speech.

The government has struggled to find enough medical supplies on the global market to meet future needs and unless the growth rate in cases moderates, hospitals could be overwhelmed, he said.

White House Starts Planning to Reopen Economy: Kudlow (9:21 a.m. NY)

Trump’s top economic adviser said the White House has begun planning how the U.S. can reopen the economy once the outbreak abates, after indications the epicenter in New York may have reached a plateau.

“The president would like to reopen the economy as soon as he can, and we are planning internally,” Larry Kudlow told Fox News on Tuesday. He said the virus’s spread is the driving force in determining a timeline.

“I am hoping -- as I say, praying -- that we’re only a few weeks away from a reopening. We’ll see,” he said.

FDA Facilitates Imports of Potential Treatments (8:45 a.m. NY)

The Food and Drug Administration is “facilitating imports of drugs to potentially treat Covid-19,” the regulatory agency said inpost on its website Tuesday. The FDA said it is also working to protect Americans by monitoring the quality of drugs shipped to the U.S.

WHO’s Rigid Mask Stance Contrasts With Countries’ Advice (8:42 a.m. NY)

Global health officials still insist that medical masks should be reserved for health-care workers.

“There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask, whether medical or other types, by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including Covid-19,” areport released late Monday by the World Health Organization said.

U.K. PM Johnson Hasn’t Been Diagnosed With Pneumonia (7:55 a.m. NY)

Johnsonhasn’t been diagnosed with pneumonia but has received supplementary oxygen, his spokesman James Slack told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. Slack said Johnson was “stable” overnight and “remains in good spirits.”

“He is receiving standard oxygen treatment and is breathing without any other assistance. He has not received mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.”

Hong Kong to Keep Schools Closed Until End of May (7:30 a.m. NY)

Hong Kong will keep itsschools closed until at least the end of May, SCMP reported on Tuesday, citing an unidentified person familiar with the matter. The decision was made after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, had a meeting with senior council advisers earlier that day and agreed with medical experts that resuming classes later in April as planned was too risky.

The cityreported 21 new cases earlier, taking its total to 935.

Japan Cabinet Office Official Tests Positive (7:15 a.m. NY)

A Japanese Cabinet Office official was confirmed to have the coronavirus on Tuesday, the Cabinet Office said in a statement. The official has already started treatment at a hospital.

Spain Backs Creation of Crisis Fund (7:10 a.m. NY)

As European finance ministers prepare for a heated exchange over a call later on Tuesday, the Spanish government circulated its own proposal backing, and elaborating on, the French suggestion for the creation of a crisis fund to weather the looming recession.

Spain is distancing itself from the hardline approach taken by the Italian government on joint debt issuance, suggesting instead a special purpose vehicle to raise funds. The SPV would allow direct transfers to member states seeking financing equivalent to the economic damage as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a copy of the plan seen by Bloomberg News.

China Spokesman Defends Virus Tweets Criticized by Trump (6:30 a.m. NY)

An official in China’s foreign ministrydefended his tweets questioning whether American soldiers introduced the coronavirus to Wuhan, in his first comments on the controversy over responsibility for the pandemic.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said his posts were “a reaction to some U.S. politicians stigmatizing China a while ago.” In response to a question about whether the tweets represented the government’s official stance, Zhao said, “This also reflects the anger of many Chinese people about this stigma.” The briefing was Zhao’s first time at the lectern since China’s ambassador to the U.S. told “Axios on HBO” that such speculation about the origins of the virus was “very harmful.”

Indonesia Has Record Rise in Cases (6:18 a.m. NY)

The number of new coronavirus cases in Indonesiarose by more than 200 for a second consecutive day, according to the latest government data, signaling a widening outbreak. New infections rose by 247 on Tuesday, the biggest daily spike, taking the total to 2,738. The virus may infect as many as 95,000 people in Indonesia by May before easing, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Monday.

Malaysia Seeks to Raise Testing Capacity (6:20 a.m. NY)

Malaysia is seeking toincrease its testing capacity to 16,500 a day, from about 11,500 currently, as it relies on actively tracking down clusters of infections to contain the pandemic, said Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of health. While the country has the most cases in Southeast Asia at 3,963, daily increases have slowed. Noor Hisham said his team will consider in the next five days whether the lockdown needed to be extended beyond April 14.

— With assistance by Kara Wetzel

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