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Coronavirus live updates: Italy’s death toll crosses 5,000, China reports 39 cases

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

  • Global cases: At least 294,110 according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization
  • Global deaths: At least 12,944, according to the latest figures from the WHO

All times below are in Beijing time.

12:10 pm: Trump tweets that the cure cannot be ‘worse’ than the problem

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF.” At the end of 15 days, a decision will be made as to which way to go, he said, without saying what he was referring to. — Weizhen Tan

US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 22, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Eric Baradat | AFP | Getty Images

12:00 pm: Japan’s Abe reportedly hints that Tokyo Olympics could be postponed

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hinted that the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed but ruled out the possibility of canceling the global sporting event, according to multiple local media reports on Monday.

The reports come a day after the International Olympic Committee announced that it will stepping up its scenario-planning for the event to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus and safeguard the health of those involved. — Eustance Huang

10:48 am: UAE tells people to stay at home unless absolutely necessary

The United Arab Emirates urged the public to stay at home and limit social contacts, unless when out purchasing necessary supplies like food and medicine or performing essential jobs, according to the government news agency. 

“The public are also urged to use their own family cars with a maximum of three individuals per vehicle. They are also advised not to visit public places and maintain social distancing protocols during family gatherings as part of the precautionary measures taken to ensure public health and safety,” the Ministry of Interior and the National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority said a joint statement.

People were also told to avoid visiting hospitals except for emergencies and to use face masks. Instructions on the use of public transport, taxis and other means of transportation are due to be issued later, the statement said. Violations are punishable, including fines and jail terms. 

Inbound and outbound passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the UAE are also set to be suspended for two weeks as part of precautionary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government news agency said. Cargo and emergency evacuation flights would be exempt. — Patrick Allen, Jonathan Stayton, Saheli Roy Choudhury

10:29 am: Fight against the pandemic is like ‘the fog of war,’ says Fauci

The battle against the coronavirus pandemic is “almost like the fog of war,” said renowned top U.S. health official Anthony Fauci in an interview with Science magazine.

“After the war is over, you then look back and say, wow, this plan, as great as it was, didn’t quite work once they started that throwing hand grenades at us,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Testing for the coronavirus across the U.S. has been criticized as unacceptably inadequate and slow. New York state now has more coronavirus cases than France or South Korea as the number of confirmed infections soared to 15,168, according to new data released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday.

“Why were we not able to mobilize on a broader scale? But I don’t think we can do that right now. I think it’s premature. We really need to look forward,” Fauci said in the interview, adding that testing is one issue that needs to be reexamined. — Weizhen Tan

10:24 am: Former Goldman CEO says people with lower risk should be allowed to return to work

Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said on Twitter that extreme measures to flatten the coronavirus “curve” temporarily to ease the strain on health infrastructure are sensible. But, he said, “crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue-and beyond.”

He also urged that “within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.” — Saheli Roy Choudhury

10:15 am: Canada says it will not send athletes to the Tokyo Olympics

Canada will not send teams to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, according to the country’s Olympic Committee. It urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee and the World Health Organization to postpone the events for a year.

“We offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring,” the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement, adding that “nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.”

The IOC on Sunday said it was assessing the situation alongside the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and Japanese authorities, and hinted that postponement could be an option. But cancellation is “not on the agenda,” it said. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

10:09 am: China aims to be a stabilizing force as global financial markets remain volatile

In face of the new coronavirus’ shock to global financial markets, China aims to be a stabilizing force — beginning with its own markets.

As calls from global leaders for more international cooperation grow, it’s still unclear to what extent it’s possible at this point for China to become a force of stability. And when it comes to the world’s second-largest economy, there are pressing domestic issues that authorities need to consider, such as high debt levels, need for foreign capital and slowing economic growth.

Still, China was the first to grapple with COVID-19 and in recent days have largely reported new imported cases while other countries grapple with fast-spreading epidemics within their own borders. — Evelyn Cheng

9:31 am: Singapore Airlines announces more capacity cuts due to growing border restrictions

Singapore Airlines said it will cut 96% of the capacity that had been originally scheduled through April, citing stricter border restrictions around the world. Countries have stepped up travel restrictions in recent weeks, with many of them barring non-resident foreigners from entering their borders.

As a result, Singapore’s national carrier will ground around 138 aircraft out of a total fleet of 147. Its low-cost unit, Scoot, will suspend most of its network and ground 47 of its 49 aircraft.

“It is unclear when the SIA Group can begin to resume normal services, given the uncertainty as to when the stringent border controls will be lifted,” the company said in a statement. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:22 am: South Korea says 64 new cases and 7 additional deaths

South Korea reported 64 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country’s total to 8,961, according to the latest data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another seven people have died, raising the total number of fatalities in the country to 111.

Still, South Korea has been praised globally for its efforts to contain the virus’ spread following an initial spike in new cases, most of which were reported in the city of Daegu. Mass testing of individuals and other rigorous measures undertaken by Seoul brought down the number of new cases reported daily in recent weeks. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:40 am: Luxury group Kering to donate 3 million surgical masks to France

Luxury group Kering said it will purchase 3 million surgical masks from China and donate them to the French health service. 

“Meanwhile, the French workshops of Kering’s Houses Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members, with production getting underway as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities,” the company said in a statement. 

France has at least 14,296 cases, according to the World Health Organization. It shut down nonessential stores and told people to stay indoors as part of its efforts to combat the virus’ spread. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:35 am: China reports 39 new cases, says all of them are imported

China’s National Health Commission said there were 39 new cases, all of them imported, and 9 additional deaths as of the end of March 22. The fatalities all happened in Hubei province, where the virus was first detected; for its part, Hubei did not report any new cases of COVID-19, China said. Altogether, the country has 81,093 reported cases, of which 72,703 have been cured and 3,270 people have died. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:05 am: Italy’s death toll crosses 5,000

The Italian health ministry said as of 6 p.m. local time on March 22, at least 5,476 people have died due to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. There are 59,138 reported cases in total, where about 7,024 people have recovered.

In an attempt to try and contain the virus, Rome has now ordered that all businesses that are not providing essential supplies or services must close until April 3, Reuters reported.

Italy is already under a heavy lockdown where public movement is restricted and many establishments are closed. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

Medical personnel transport the first patient affected by COVID-19 to an ICU tent a Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital on March 20, 2020 in Cremona, near Milan, Italy.

Emanuele Cremaschi | Getty Images

7:38 am: Asia Pacific stocks set for another day of declines

Stocks in Australia plummeted in early trade on Monday as fears over the economic impact of the global coronavirus outbreak continue to weigh heavily on investor sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 dropped 7.65% in early trade as the sectors mostly fell. The heavily weighted financial subindex dived more than 9%, with shares of the country’s so-called Big Four banks all selling off steeply: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 9.61%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia dropped 8.01%, Westpac declined 10.27% while National Australia Bank slipped 10.15%. — Eustance Huang

All times below are in Eastern time.

7 pm: UAE suspends all passenger and transit flights to and from the country, state news agency says

The United Arab Emirates suspended all passenger and transit flights to and from the country for two weeks over coronavirus fears, state news agency WAM said on Sunday citing National Emergency and Crisis and the Civil Aviation Authority.

WAM added the decision will take effect after 48 hours and will last for two weeks, subject to review and evaluation. –Reuters

6:45 pm: Coronavirus stimulus bill fails in key Senate procedural vote

A massive funding package to combat the impact of coronavirus did not get enough votes in a key Senate procedural vote Sunday evening.

The stalemate came hours after Democratic leaders warned that the bill was not to their liking because they said it did too much to bail out companies and not enough to help workers. Stock futures cratered as the two parties failed to agree on the terms of the package.

Still, President Donald Trump expressed optimism that lawmakers would eventually reach a deal. “I think you’ll get there,” Trump told reporters at the coronavirus task force press briefing shortly after the vote became final. –Lauren Hirsch, Leslie Josephs

6:30 pm: Airbus says plants will reopen at slower production rate

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