Global Cases Top 2 Million; United Braces for Cuts: Virus Update

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Bloomberg News

The coronavirus marked another grim milestone, reaching 2 million cases around the world. It took about four months for the virus to infect 1 million people and only 12 days for that number to double.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections, signaling to global leaders a strong response to the virus can translate into votes. China reported 46 new cases and no additional deaths during the Asia trading day, though finance hub Singapore reported its highest daily increase in infections amid a surge among low-wage foreign workers living in dormitories.

President Donald Trump said data suggested the U.S. has passed a peak in new cases, while the country reported bleak economic data and United Airlines warned employees of bleak times. In Europe, Italy reported its fewest new infections in four and a half weeks and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would allow some smaller shops to reopen next week.

Key Developments

  • Virus Tracker: Cases reach 2 million; deaths top 134,000
    • BREAKING: U.S. deaths have topped 30,000: Johns Hopkins
  • Australia unexpectedly adds jobs
  • China reports 46 new cases, 64 asymptomatic cases, no deaths
  • Trump has marathon day of calls with CEOs on how to reopen U.S.
  • India’s migrant workers may shun cities after lockdown
  • Fed says economy contracted sharply with virus sweeping U.S.
  • Trump’s WHO attack accelerates breakdown in global cooperation

 United is Bracing for ‘Essentially Zero’ Travel Demand Post-Aid (11:11 a.m. HK)

United Airlines Holdings Inc. is warning employees of bleak times and potential long-term payroll cuts despite billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance. It will make further cuts to its flight schedule in May — with similar cuts in store for June. “Travel demand is essentially zero and shows no sign of improving in the near term,” Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby wrote in a message to employees. Airlines face a crisis as the pandemic and government travel restrictions force would-be travelers to stay home.

FDA Shifts Its Covid-19 Stance on Vaping, Smoking Impact (10:22 a.m. HK)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration modified its stance on the virus and vaping, saying it had an unknown effect on the risk of the illness — while warning that smoking can create worse outcomes. “E-cigarette use can expose the lungs to toxic chemicals, but whether those exposures increase the risk of Covid-19 is not known,” it said, responding to a question from Bloomberg News. The agency had said late last month that vapers and smokers with underlying health conditions might be at a higher risk from complications.

Australia Unexpectedly Adds Jobs Amid Virus (9:39 a.m. HK)

The rise was likely bolstered by hiring at supermarkets and associated supply chains to assist with the spending surge ahead of the virus-induced lockdown — confounding the expectations of most economists. Australia saw its jobless rate edge up to 5.2% from 5.1% in February versus economists’ median estimate of 5.4%, data from the statistics bureau showed in Sydney. The participation rate held at 66%. It came as a surprise given companies ranging from Australia’s two major airlines to casino operator Star Entertainment Group Ltd. to department store chain Myer Holdings Ltd. furloughed or stood down tens of thousands of workers as demand collapsed amid forced shut downs.

N.J. Governor Pitches Borrowing to Plug Budget Holes From Virus (9:09 a.m. HK)

The state’s governor Phil Murphy is pitching a borrowing plan to help make up for billions of dollars of lost revenue in the current and next budget amid the virus lockdown. The New Jersey Covid-19 Emergency Bond Act, outlined in draft legislation seen by Bloomberg, would authorize the Murphy administration to issue general-obligation bonds and “emergency liquidity notes,” and apply for loans from the federal government “to maintain and preserve the fiscal integrity of the state.”

China Reports No Additional Deaths (8:41 a.m. HK)

China said it had 46 additional coronavirus cases on Wednesday, with 34 of them imported and no new deaths from the disease, according to statement from the country’s National Health Commission. It reported 64 so-called asymptomatic cases.

China had 1,032 asymptomatic coronavirus cases under medical observation as of April 15. In total, the country, where the virus first emerged late last year, has 82,341 confirmed cases. Its death toll stands at 3,342.

Dorm Infections Push Singapore Cases to Record (8:22 a.m. HK)

Singapore reported its highest daily increase of coronavirus cases on Wednesday as infections surge among low-wage foreign workers housed in dormitories.

Authorities said an additional 447 cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 3,699 in the country. Of the new cases, more than 400 infections — about 90% — are tied to facilities that house the migrant workers in close quarters, according to a government statement.

The city-state is grappling with a pace of infections that’s picking up among workers staying in the dormitories, at a time when it appears to be stabilizing elsewhere across the country.

IMF Sees Asia Pacific Growth at a Standstill in 2020 (8:02 a.m. HK)

Economic growth in the Asia Pacific region will likely slow to a standstill this year, something that hasn’t happened in the last 60 years, according to the International Monetary Fund. The economic blow from coronavirus is shaping up to be far worse than other crises, according to the IMF’s outlook.

Royal Caribbean Cuts More Than 1,300 U.S. Jobs (7:47 a.m. HK)

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is cutting more than 1,300 U.S. jobs after the coronavirus pandemic forced the industry to halt operations. The reductions amount to about 26% of the company’s more than 5,000 U.S. workers, Royal Caribbean said. Most of the cuts are permanent, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive labor decisions.

South Korea Leader’s Party Wins Big During Pandemic (7:42 a.m. HK)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections held in the throes of the pandemic, signaling to global leaders a strong response to the virus can translate into votes.

The country on Thursday unveiled a second extra budget worth 7.6 trillion won ($6.2 billion) to pay for emergency cash handouts to people as the virus threatens jobs and wages. It reported 22 new virus cases in 24 hours, for a total of 10,613.

Trump Says New Infections Hitting Plateau in Some Areas (6:45 a.m. HK)

Trump said he will announce Thursday guidelines to relax stay-at-home rules as he said the virus showed signs of plateauing in parts of the country. The data suggest the U.S. has “passed the peak” on new cases,” Trump said in a Rose Garden press conference. “These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country.”

Deborah Birx, a top public-health expert on the White House coronavirus task force, backed his claim that social-distancing practice have helped, but stressed caution.

L.A. Eyes Steps Toward Relaxing Rules in May (6:33 a.m. HK)

Los Angeles County may start taking steps toward relaxing restrictions next month, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the public health department. Ferrer said the county is working closely with the state.

Midwest Coalition Forming on Reopenings (6:20 a.m. HK)

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said she’s working with Missouri Governor Mike Parson and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, leaders of the state’s neighbors to the east and west, respectively, on ways to coordinate their plans to lift restrictions on social gatherings and businesses.

U.S. Confirmed Cases Rise 3.5% (4 p.m. NY)

U.S. cases rose 3.5% from the day before to 619,607 by Wednesday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was lower than the 6.2% average daily increase over the past week. Deaths increased 10% to 27,760.

New York’s cases rose about 0.5%, a sign that the outbreak is stabilizing in the hardest-hit state. Infections were climbing at a rate of 7.6% a week ago.

— With assistance by Karen Leigh, Kara Wetzel, Dominic Lau, Sam Kim, Jeff Sutherland, Elise Young, Michael Heath, Justin Bachman, and Derek Wallbank

 

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