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Covid-19 Deaths In Italy On Track To Pass China As More Countries Close Borders; US Sees 50% Jump In Cases: Live Updates

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Summary:

  • Mnuchin says wants to get checks in Americans’ hands within 3 weeks
  • BoE cuts rates, launches QE after ‘emergency’ meeting
  • Confirmed cases in the US climbs ~50% as testing ramps up
  • Connecticut reports 2nd death as US death toll hits 137
  • NY reports ~600 new cases, bringing total to 2,959; death toll hits 21
  • Cuomo signs NY unemployment-benefit expansion benefit package, warns of ‘astronomical jump’ in cases
  • China reports zero new cases in Wuhan for first time in months.
  • Treasury weighing 50- and 25-year bonds to finance stimulus package
  • South Africa case total passes 150
  • India halts incoming international flights for a week
  • Hong Kong doctors find virus inside 2nd dog
  • Spain total cases climb 28% overnight
  • Italian death toll expected to pass China’s on Thursday
  • FedEx says drop in deliveries in China was smaller than expected
  • UK gov’t denies plans for London lockdown
  • Amazon closes warehouse for ‘deep clean’ after worker tests positive
  • Treatment trial in Wuhan yields disappointing results
  • Germany’s Bafin bans short selling
  • Russia reports first death
  • SPR to buy 30 million barrels immediately, will eventually buy 70 million
  • Wuhan police erase record of ‘admonition’ delivered to Dr. Li Wenliang
  • German gov plans to suspend debt brake on Monday
  • Netherlands reports another jump in cases after unveiling stimulus package outline
  • Switzerland warns situation rapidly deteriorating along the Italian border
  • Tiffany closes all US stores

*  *  *

Update: In keeping with the coordinated central bank response via Europe, the BoE held an emergency meeting on Thursday and has announced some unprecedented stimulus measures, including launching a £645 billion bond-buying program of government and corporate bonds “as soon as operationally possible.”

Meanwhile, the cut the target from a record low of 0.25% to a new record low of 0.1%

*  *  *

Update (0930ET): Just before the US open, health officials in the Netherlands reported a jump in cases to 2,460.

The Dutch government has announced a rescue package designed to shield companies from the impact of the coronavirus that Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said is unlimited but will likely cost tens of billions of euros. The government is working on eight measures, including a fund that makes it easier for firms to request compensation for lost revenues and helps them pay wages, Hoekstra said Tuesday at a news conference.

Swiss authorities warned Thursday that the situation in the southern canton of Ticino is rapidly unraveling as the government scrambles to secure more hospital beds. Ticino is situated along the Swiss border with Italy, and is the worst-hit region of the small Alpine nation.

Meanwhile, Tiffany said it would temporarily close all stores in the US.

*  *  *

(0920ET): With oil price benchmarks around the world sliding below $30 a barrel, the US, the strategic petroleum reserve will immediately buy 30 million barrels of oil, and eventually buy as much as 70 million.

In China, police in Wuhan on Thursday officially revoked the government admonition issued to Dr. Li Wenliang, the martyred doctor who was censored for trying to warn the government and the people about the outbreak.

*  *  *

Update (0835ET): It’s shaping up to be another busy day on Thursday as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his goal is to get checks into the hands of Americans within three weeks, up from two yesterday.

Some updates from Europe: the Swiss press is reporting that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 3,888.

Back in New York State, Cuomo reported another ~600 case jump to 2959 cases. The death toll in the state has climbed to 21, with at least 11 of those in NYC, as Gov. Cuomo warns that

After signing a paid sick leave law to guarantee pay for those under mandatory or precautionary quarantine into law, Cuomo appeared on “the Today Show” to discuss his response to the crisis, which has won him accolades from practically everyone, including President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and other conservatives like Candace Owens.

The NY governor repeated his claim that the ‘hysteria’ surrounding the outbreak is more damaging and dangerous than the virus itself during a Thursday appearance on the “Today Show.”

It’s a claim he’s made several times during press briefings and television appearances.

“We know what we have to do on the virus. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be disruptive but we know what we have to do there. The fear and the panic can actually get out of control more than the virus can,” he said in an interview on “TODAY” with Savannah Guthrie.

While he warned against increasing fear and panic, Cuomo said, “This is a war, Savannah. We have to treat it like a war.”

Cuomo appeared on the show one day after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. When asked about his spat with de Blasio over the ‘shelter in place’ order, Cuomo again rejected the idea, saying it would be unnecessary thanks to NY’s proactive efforts to quarantine clusters like New Rochelle.

“States don’t fight wars…they need the federal government…equipment, equipment, equipment is going to be key…the federal government has recognized and is acting  that responsibility…” Cuomo said, referring to the Defense Production Act invocation and the Army’s plan to send 2 Navy Hospital ships and millions of pieces of medical equipment across the US. Even Nancy Pelosi called on Trump to use his powers this morning.

New Yorkers should prepare to see an “astronomical” jump in cases as testing ramps up, Cuomo said. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing: the more cases exposed, the more quickly the government can act to stop the spread.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the country’s health minister declared that the government of PM Pedro Sanchez will pass a €210 billion stimulus package to help alleviate the crisis as the total number of cases in Spain has climbed 28% to 17,147. 169 new deaths were reported, raising the country’s death toll to 767, as we noted earlier.

At the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin and his staff are reportedly considering issuing a 50-year bond and 25-year bond to finance the $1.3 trillion stimulus, despite telling Congress during testimony earlier this year that demand for the 50-year bond was tepid.

As the number of cases explodes in India, PM Modi has halted arrivals of international flights for at least a week beginning on Sunday.

And as the virus spreads in Africa, South Africa said its total cases confirmed climbed to 158 on Thursday after reporting its first case of human-to-human transmission within the country.

In Hong Kong, researchers have apparently found samples of the novel coronavirus inside another dog, the second time the pet of a Covid-19 patient was also found to be carrying the virus.

However, pet owners needn’t worry – at least not yet. As CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports, there’s no evidence that these dogs can be the source of the virus for humans.

As more countries ramp up stimulus spending to calm shaky markets and nervous people, the German government is planning to eliminate the debt brake on Monday.

*  *  *

Following a barrage of easing measures by global central banks overnight, and more talk of German fiscal stimulus Thursday morning, stock futures have sunk back into the red as promising gains from overnight fizzled. 

It seems the world is finally waking up to some disappointing realities: In many places around the US, and around the world, millions of people simply aren’t heeding advisories – and, in some cases, emergency declarations – pertaining to avoiding.

In California, the backlash against Elon Musk and Tesla has intensified as the billionaire openly beckoned employees of his Fremont, Calif. factory back to work despite a ‘shelter in place’ order requiring everyone to stay home to avoid the virus. Now that testing is finally ramping up around the country, with New York State taking the lead with its aggressive drive-thru push, the total number of cases confirmed in the US climbed to 9,415 (according to Johns Hopkins data), an increase of roughly 50% overnight.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that President Trump’s decision to stop travel from China, although prescient, was clearly not enough to stop the virus’s spread in the US. Officials squandered the entire month of February, and the Trump Administration is finally beginning to realize just how far it has fallen behind.

The biggest news overnight was out of Italy, which has been reporting record numbers of newly confirmed cases and deaths, as well as a surprising number of young and healthy people hospitalized in serious condition. Italian PM Giuseppe Conte said Thursday that the government would extend the nation-wide lockdown beyond April 3 because too many Italians are disregarding the orders. The extension comes as Italy faces an alarming milestone: On Thursday, Italy is very likely to officially overtake China as the country with the largest number of deaths from the virus. 475 people lost their lives on Wednesday, the largest daily jump yet, taking the total in Italy to 2978. Officially, China’s death toll is 3,231, according to the WHO, though many suspect the real death toll is much, much higher.

As of Thursday morning in New York, Italy has recorded 35,713 cases, along with 2,978 deaths.

After pleading with Schengen Zone members to keep their borders open, the EU has closed its external borders to non-EU citizens as a growing number of countries close their borders. In the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, members of the British Commonwealth, have barred non-resident, non-citizens from entry. The closures will take effect on Friday, local time.

China again tightened its restrictions on foreign nationals traveling to the country by requiring airlines to “reduce” international flights.

In other news, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, announced on twitter Thursday that he had tested positive.

By now, we’ve heard dozens of dire predictions from Wall Street banks about the economic fallout from the crisis. At this point, a recession is virtually assured, and an all-out global depression – the likes of which haven’t been seen for nearly a century in the developed world – could arrive by the second quarter, according to JPM Morgan and Mohammed El-Erian.

Now, Germany’s Ifo Institute forecast a 1.5% contraction in the German economy after one of its preliminary gauges released on Monday showed a sharp drop in sentiment.

Yesterday, we saw some rumblings about Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the West, as Vladimir Putin seizes the opportunity to destabilize the West after taking steps to fortify Russia from the onslaught (by being one of the first major countries to close its border with China, among other measures).

A document sent to European lawmakers Monday by EU officials asserted that Russia is carrying out a “significant disinformation campaign” in an effort to sow discord and panic in Western nations over the coronavirus, according to a Reuters report. Reuters apparently got its hands on the 9-page memo, and now a handful of left-wing media organizations like Axios and the Daily Beast are spreading the news.

How much longer until the West blames the severity of the “Chinese Virus” outbreak on Vladimir Putin? At any rate, despite Russia’s lockdown measures, the country recorded its first virus-related death on Thursday. A 79-year-old woman died in a Moscow hospital, the country’s pandemic response agency said on Thursday.

Yesterday, we shared a report published by the Telegraph claiming that PM Boris Johnson had asked his cabinet heads to draw up plans for a total lockdown in London, with hefty criminal penalties for all those who disobey. Dozens of reports across social media showed how millions of Londoners appear to be ignoring the government’s advice, prompting the NHS to prepare to be overwhelmed by cases. Some have warned that tens of thousands could die in the UK thanks to Johnson’s perhaps misguided hope that he could shield the British economy from the worst of the fallout by simply focusing on containing the sick. Unfortunately, one of the themes of this outbreak has been millions of people putting their own petty wants and desires above protecting the public health.

Florida and Texas have finally shut down most of the beaches where thousands of undaunted spring breakers have continued to party.

It’s likely this crisis won’t truly be over until a vaccine is mass-produced. And looking forward, headlines pertaining to drug trials for treatments and vaccines might be some of the only positive news investors get. Unfortunately, the opposite happened on Thursday, when the first scientifically controlled clinical trial of existing antiviral drugs to treat Covid-19 has delivered disappointing results.

As the FT reminds us, the next important controlled clinical trial result to look out for involves remdesivir, a drug originally developed by Gilead Sciences of the US to treat Ebola. That trial is also taking place in Wuhan. Meanwhile, in the US, a vaccine trial is underway in the Pacific Northwest.

Though the trials are continuing in Wuhan, the epicenter of the crisis, which has been struggling against the virus since it first emerged in early December, finally saw a day where no new coronavirus cases were reported. While it’s important to take this news with a grain of salt, the city has pretty much reopened for business.

A few days ago, the NYT ran a story praising India’s response to Covid-19, which had kept the number of confirmed cases down. Unfortunately, the good times couldn’t last forever, and the Indian people are finally getting a taste of the hoarding and panic that has come to dominate life in the US. After Prime Minister Modi announced plans to deliver a televised address on Thursday, which prompted Indians to scramble to stock up on essentials as they feared a national lockdown order could be delivered during that speech.

In the US, Amazon announced that it had closed one of its warehouses in New York for deep cleaning after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.This is a major threat to the US, since Amazon has emerged as a last lifeline for US consumers. If its warehouses are sidelined by the virus, the gears of consumption could truly come to a screeching halt, per Bloomberg.

Bafin, the German financial regulator, joined Italy’s Consob and a handful of other European regulators by imposing restrictions on short-selling. Though the West has been reluctant to adopt the heavy handed measures imposed on China’s population, when it comes to markets, China style crackdowns on shortsellers are apparently more palatable. Handelsblatt reported Thursday morning that Germany could move ahead with suspending its constitutional ‘debt brake’ as soon as Monday.

After UK PM Boris Johnson announced earlier this week that he would close UK schools for all except the children of essential workers and those who wouldn’t have access to food otherwise, Gavin Williamson, his education secretary, said there are “certainly no plans” at this stage to force the closures of bars and restaurants, even as speculation about a possible London lockdown continues to grow. Another government spokesperson said Thursday that there is a “zero chance” of a London lockdown.

A few minutes ago, Spain reported another alarming jump in deaths and confirmed cases that was on par with the figures coming out of Italy. Spanish Covid-19 cases rose to 17,147 (prev. 13,716) and deaths climbed to 767 (prev. 558):

Back in the US, the state of Connecticut on Thursday confirmed its second virus-linked death as the US death toll nears 140, with 137 deaths confirmed so far.

Meanwhile, as millions of young people brush off the risks to their personal health due to the virus, Bloomberg has some disappointing news: New evidence from Europe and the US suggests that younger adults aren’t as impervious to the virus as they would like to think.

Before we go, we’d like to leave readers with a rare bit of positive corporate news, courtesy of last night’s FedEx earnings report:


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