Coronavirus live updates: China says six health workers have died, Singapore warns of recession

FAN Editor

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

All times below are in Beijing time.

5:50 pm: China says 1,716 health workers infected by coronavirus, six deaths

China’s National Health Commission said on Friday that 1,716 health workers in the country had been infected with the coronavirus and six of them have died.

It is the first time China has published figures specifically relating to infected medical personnel.

Chinese health officials have previously warned of medical equipment shortages as hospitals in the country come under heavy strain and face resource constraints.

5:15 pm: ‘Beware of scammers’: Singapore warns of crooks trying to take advantage of coronavirus fears

The Singapore government is warning of scams made under the pretext of investigations linked to confirmed cases of coronavirus, as the city-state seeks to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

Scammers have reportedly been calling people to ask for financial details under the pretext of “contact tracing” — the process of identifying those with close contact with infected patients. People who have been identified are closely monitored for symptoms and tests for signs of infection. — Huileng Tan.

4:30 pm: Cruise industry plans to avoid Asia, warns coronavirus outbreak will hamper full-year earnings

The cruise industry is canceling or re-routing planned journeys through Asia as a result of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Industry leader Carnival Corp warned on Thursday that the flu-like virus would have a “material impact on its financial results,” with travel restrictions necessitating the suspension of cruise operations from ports in China.

In addition, Royal Caribbean Cruises has had to cancel a total of 18 sailings in Southeast Asia, while also modifying several itineraries. The company cautioned that full-year financial results would be weaker-than-expected if travel restrictions and concerns over the outbreak persist.

The profit warnings come shortly after one cruise ship off the coast of Japan announced it has more than 200 coronavirus infections onboard, while another cruise ship was reportedly shunned from docking by five Asian ports despite no known cases of the virus.

3:30 pm: Alibaba warns virus-related disruptions may hit revenue growth in March quarter

The new coronavirus caused more than half of China to shut down for at least a week, and as the country slowly gets back up to speed, e-commerce and technology giant Alibaba said Thursday some of its businesses are getting hit.

“For our e-commerce business, the delay in employees returning to work following the Spring Festival holiday is preventing merchants and the logistic companies from resuming operations,” CEO Daniel Zhang said, according to a transcript seen by CNBC. He added that a “significant number of packages” were not able to be delivered on time.

Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said it was too early to quantify the impact of the coronavirus on the company, she noted the disruptions from the disease would likely negatively hit overall revenue growth for the March quarter, especially in its businesses which rely on physical production — such as the retail marketplace and consumer services in China.

The company reported a 38% year-on-year increase in revenue to 161.5 billion yuan ($23.2 billion) in the quarter ended Dec. 31. That’s slightly slower than the 41% revenue growth between the December quarter of 2017 and 2018.

Alibaba shares closed 1.76% lower in U.S. trading, while its Hong Kong-listed stocks were down around 0.8% on Friday.

3:15 pm: China allocates more funding for virus control efforts

China’s finance ministries have allocated 80.55 billion yuan ($11.5 billion) for virus prevention and control efforts as of Thursday, Ou Wenhan, assistant finance minister, said Friday at a press conference in Beijing, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks. He added that 41 million yuan has already been paid out.

The total allocation is an increase of about $2 billion from the 66.74 billion yuan the ministry disclosed last week.

3:00 pm: Singapore’s leader flags risk of recession due to virus

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Friday that the coronavirus’ economic impact on the island nation’s economy has already exceeded that of SARS in 2003, according to a report by local publication The Straits Times.

Lee said it’s possible that the city-state could go into recession.

Singapore has one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases outside of China. (see 11.22 a.m. update) — Huang

2:40 pm: Global airline revenue set to plummet

Global airline revenues could drop by between $4 billion and $5 billion in the first quarter of this year, as flights got cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a forecast by the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization.

Some 70 airlines have cancelled all international flights to and from mainland China, and another 50 airlines have curtailed related air operations, it said. That has resulted in an 80% decrease in foreign airline capacity for mainland China.

In terms of impact to tourism in the first quarter, due to fewer Chinese travelers, Japan could be hurt the most by losses worth $1.29 billion in tourism revenue, followed by Thailand at $1.15 billion, according to the organization.

2:15 pm: China’s industrial power demand set to drop as shutdown continues

Industrial power demand in China may drop by as much as 73 billion kilowatt hours — representing 1.5% of industrial power consumption in the country, according to Reuters citing IHS Markit estimates. Many of China’s factories are not yet functioning at full capacity, or are under an extended shutdown.

Last year, industrial power consumption accounted for 67% of the country’s total, according to the report.

Meanwhile, weaving machines at textile plants are operating at the lowest in five years — below 10% of capacity, the report says, citing ICIS data. The country is the largest textile and garment exporter in the world.

1:15 pm: China writes off 108 deaths in Hubei, citing double-counting error in province

China’s health commission said Friday it removed 108 deaths from the total figure due to a double-count in Hubei province, the epicenter of the global coronavirus outbreak. The pneumonia-causing virus has killed a total of 1,380 people in mainland China as of the end of Thursday, the commission said in its Chinese-language daily online report.

In parentheses after the death count, the statement added, per a CNBC translation: “Because of duplicated Hubei province statistics, 108 are written off.”

Friday’s report is the second day in a row the province’s data has caused major changes to a nationwide figure. And it adds to doubts many have about the accuracy of the data.

On Thursday, a senior administration official told CNBC the White House does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China” regarding the count of coronavirus cases.

12:30 pm: Chinese officials recommend using tech, localized approach to tackle outbreak

As the virus spreads outside the city of Wuhan, Chinese officials said at a meeting Wednesday that regions that are hardest hit by the disease must take immediate measures in screening, quarantine and medical treatment modeled after the response in Wuhan. That’s according to an English-language press release from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting of the national-level virus response group, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, also ordered local governments to use targeted response measures, rather than blanket, one-size-fits-all policies. The meeting did recommend local authorities use big data technology for tracing the transmission of the disease through contact, and monitoring those at risk for contracting it.

Some places in China have already been asking locals to enter some personal identification information into an app before taking public transit, or entering shopping centers.

11:22 am: Singapore must be prepared for cases to climb, minister says

Singapore must be prepared that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country could continue to climb in the coming weeks, said Janil Puthucheary, senior minister of state at Singapore’s Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Communications and Information.

As of Thursday noon, Singapore has 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 15 of which have recovered and discharged, according to the country’s Ministry of Health. The Southeast Asian nation with a population of 5.7 million has one of the highest numbers of cases outside China.

Singapore has not recorded any deaths, but that too is something people must be “psychologically prepared” for as the number of cases continue to rise, said Puthucheary. — Lee

10:40 am: China confirms 121 more deaths, 5,090 new cases

China’s National Health Commission reported an additional 121 deaths nationwide, as well as 5,090 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 13.

10:05 am: Supply chain disruptions have hit businesses, says American Chamber of Commerce

Gregory Gilligan, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China said supply chain disruptions have hit members and that the organization is helping companies navigate different regulations in various parts of China.

“We’ve basically been working with folks to work around to get through the temporary regulations that are in place to try to slow down the virus. Many places have put up measures that impact logistics, transportation — so delivery of materials, getting materials that are once produced out, etc,” he said. — Huileng Tan

9:30 am: Guangzhou bans people from dining out in restaurants

In a bid to curb the spread of the virus, China’s Guangzhou city has banned people from going out to eat at restaurants. That ban was effective Feb. 12, as people came back to work this week after the extended Lunar New Year break.

Guangzhou is the capital of the manufacturing hub of Guangdong province, and is one of the largest cities in China.

9:10 am: Bank of Japan warns coronavirus could hurt the country’s economy

Japan’s central bank said the impact of the outbreak on production and tourism must be monitored.

The country’s economy may already have contracted sharply in the October to December quarter due to slowing overseas demand and consumption taking a hit due to natural disasters, it said, according to Reuters.

Japan has 33 confirmed cases so far, and it reported its first death of a coronavirus patient on Thursday, although it was unclear if it was directly linked to the disease. That would be the third coronavirus death outside of China.

8:45 am: Chickens meant for China are being rerouted due to outbreak

Shipments of chicken from the U.S. to China are being diverted to ports in Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam due to the virus outbreak, according to Reuters, citing a U.S. poultry export trade group.

This is due to the outbreak keeping people from coming back to work in China, leading to a slowdown in the unloading of products at Chinese ports, which have run out of space for refrigerated containers. Such containers must be plugged into power once offloaded, to keep frozen meat cold, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council told Reuters.

An estimated 300 to 400 refrigerated containers with poultry are being diverted, the council said, according to the report.

7:55 am: Hubei reports 4,823 new cases

China’s Hubei province reported an additional 116 deaths and 4,823 new confirmed cases as of the end of Feb. 13. Of the new cases, the government said that 3,095 were “clinically diagnosed.”

That term refers to a new method for tabulating case totals which now count toward the “confirmed case” count. The change was made so a broader set of patients can receive the same treatment a confirmed case does, according to a CNBC translation of the official announcement’s Chinese text.

In total, Hubei authorities said that 51,986 people have been infected in the province.

A woman wears a protective mask as she rides a bicycle on February 11.2020 in Wuhan. Hubei province, China. Flights, trains and public transport including buses, subway and ferry services have been suspended.

Getty Images

All times below are in Eastern time.

5:55 pm: Royal Caribbean warns cruise cancellations in Asia to shave 2020 profit by 65 cents

Royal Caribbean has had to cancel 18 sailings in Southeast Asia and modify itineraries for several other cruises. The result: a big blow the bottom line. The company expects 65 cents will be shaved off its 2020 earnings per share. If the outbreak continues and it’s forced to cancel all of its trips in the region through the end of April, profits would take an additional hit of 55 cents per share.

The company added it’s in regular conversation with the CDC, the WHO and other health authorities and has put in place measures to protect passengers and crew. Among those steps is denying the boarding of people who have travelled to and from mainland China or Hong Kong in the past 15 days.

“It is important that every organization acts responsibly, and we have already taken aggressive steps to minimize risk through boarding restrictions and itinerary changes,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO.

Royal Caribbean shares were down more than 1% in extended trading. Shares have fallen nearly 15% since the start of the year. — Cheddar Berk

12:07 pm: White House does not have ‘high confidence’ in China’s coronavirus data

The United States does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China” regarding the count of coronavirus cases, a senior administration official told CNBC’s Eamon Javers. The official also noted that China “continues to rebuff American offers of assistance.” The New York Times reported last week that Chinese authorities had shown little interest in accepting help from the U.S. — Lovelace

10:25 am: CDC confirms 15th US case in evacuee under quarantine at Texas military base

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a 15th case in the U.S., a recent evacuee from Wuhan who was quarantined at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas. The U.S. evacuated roughly 800 Americans from Wuhan, more than 600 of which remain under quarantine at military facilities across the nation.

Two other evacuees at a Marine Corps base near San Diego, California also have COVID-19, the CDC said Wednesday. “There will likely be additional cases in the coming days and weeks, including among other people recently returned from Wuhan,” the CDC said. — Feuer

9:36 am: China’s Huanggang to seal apartments as it tightens virus control measures

China’s city of Huanggang, near the epicentre of the outbreak of the coronavirus, said that starting from Friday it would tighten epidemic control measures including sealing residential complexes and only allowing essential vehicles on roads. Food and the delivery of other essential goods will be arranged by designated personnel, the city said in a statement. — Reuters

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: The United States confirms 15th case as global cases soar above 60,300

— CNBC’s Yennee Lee, Eustance Huang, Huileng Tan, Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr., and William Feuer contributed to this report.

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