Health and Science

Britain and Vietnam confirm new coronavirus cases, death toll tops 500

Key Points
  • As of Wednesday night, China says a total of 28,018 cases have been confirmed and 563 people have died in the country.
  • China says 19 foreigners have been infected by the fast-spreading coronavirus.
  • Japan's health ministry said ten more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 20.
The latest coronavirus developments around the world
The latest coronavirus developments around the world

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All times below are in Beijing time.

9:30 pm: Britain confirms third case of the coronavirus

A third person in the U.K. has tested positive for the coronavirus, England's chief medical officer (CMO) said on Thursday.

The patient, who did not acquire the deadly pneumonia-like virus in the U.K., is being transferred to a specialist National Health Service (NHS) center, Chris Whitty of CMO England said in a statement.

"The NHS is well prepared to manage these cases and we are now working quickly to identify any contacts the patient has had," he added.

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9:20 pm: Vietnam confirms two new cases of the coronavirus, bringing total to 12

Vietnam confirmed two new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the country's total to 12.

The two new cases are both Vietnamese nationals from the northern province of Vinh Phuc, the health ministry said in a statement.

9:10 pm: Russia reportedly rejects OPEC's proposal to impose further output cuts

Russia is thought to be standing in the way of further OPEC-led production cuts, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing unnamed cartel delegates.

The Saudi-led producer group has been unable to reach a consensus over its response to China's coronavirus outbreak.

It comes after delegates representing OPEC and non-OPEC allies, sometimes referred to as OPEC+, met for three days to debate whether further output cuts would be necessary in order to offset falling demand for crude.

Earlier in the day, an OPEC+ technical panel recommended a provisional cut of 600,000 barrels per day, Reuters reported, citing two sources.

International benchmark Brent crude traded at $55.07 on Thursday, down around 0.4%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $50.85, around 0.2% higher.

One man's story: What it's like to be quarantined for coronavirus
One man's story: What it's like to be quarantined for coronavirus

7:30 pm: Tesla temporarily closes China stores amid coronavirus fears

Tesla has temporarily closed its stores in mainland China as of Sunday, Feb. 2, according to an online post from a company sales employee on that date.

The move comes as more than half of China has shut down in an effort to limit the spread of a new coronavirus that has killed more than 500 people in the country.

The electric automaker's China communications office did not respond to a CNBC request for comment during business hours on Thursday Beijing time.

7:20 pm: Organizers of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games set up task force to tackle coronavirus outbreak

The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have set up a task force in an attempt to counter intensifying fears about the coronavirus outbreak.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters gathered at a press briefing on Thursday that he had chaired the newly-created Novel Coronavirus Countermeasures Task Force, Reuters reported. The group held its first meeting on Tuesday, Muto said, and a second briefing could take place as soon as Friday.

The Olympic Games are set to take place from July 24 to August 9, with the Paralympic Games scheduled to run from August 25 through to September 6.

6:50 pm: Air France and KLM airlines extend a ban on flights to China

Air France announced on Thursday it has extended a suspension of flights to and from mainland China for much of March, citing worries about the coronavirus outbreak.

Dutch carrier KLM also confirmed it would extend a ban on flights to China as a result of the virus outbreak. In an online statement, KLM said it would prolong the suspension of its flights to Beijing and Shanghai "up to and including 15 March."

Earlier in the day, (see 12:55 p.m. update) Japan Airlines and ANA both announced reduced international flights to China.

6:10 pm: US urges WHO to 'engage directly' with Taiwan, prompting China to hit back

The U.S. pushed for the World Health Organization (WHO) to "engage directly" with Taiwan in the fight against the coronavirus on Thursday, prompting a swift rebuke from Beijing's ambassador to the United Nations health agency.

Andrew Bremberg, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said it is a "technical imperative that WHO present visible public health data on Taiwan as an affected area and engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities on actions," Reuters reported.

In response, China's delegation expressed "strong dissatisfaction" that some countries had raised the issue of Taiwan's participation at WHO.

A woman wearing a protective mask prays at the Lungshan temple during the fourth day of the Lunar New year of the Rat in Taipei in January 28, 2020.
Sam Yeh | AFP | Getty Images

Taiwan is not a member of the WHO due to China's objections. Beijing considers self-governing Taiwan a wayward province to be brought under its control.

Separately, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Joanne Ou, slammed China and the WHO for providing inaccurate information about the number of coronavirus cases in Taiwan. The WHO reported Tuesday that the island had 13 cases, when there were only 10 at that time.

Taiwan has temporarily suspended entry for all Chinese citizens who live in mainland China.

5:20 pm: Philippine central bank cuts rates, warns coronavirus could have an 'adverse impact' on economic activity

The Philippine central bank said Thursday that it had lowered the rate on its overnight reverse repurchase facility by 25 basis points to 3.75%, adding it was prepared to trim rates further if necessary to protect economic growth.

The interest rates on the overnight lending and deposit facilities were reduced to 4.25% and 3.25%, respectively, the central bank said.

In a statement published Thursday, the central bank said the spread of the coronavirus "could have an adverse impact on economic activity and market sentiment in the coming months."

4:08 pm: China confirms 19 foreign nationals have been infected

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that data from a "competent authority" confirmed, as of noon Thursday, 19 foreign nationals have contracted the new coronavirus. Two of them had been cured and discharged from the hospital while 17 are undergoing treatment in isolation, the ministry said.

"China attaches high importance to addressing the concerns and demands of foreign nationals in China, especially those in Wuhan, Hubei Province," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, according to an official translation.

She added that along with local governments, the ministry holds outbreak-related briefings for foreign embassies and consulates. Hua did not specify the nationalities of the infected foreign nationals. — Cheng

3:03 pm: Nintendo apologizes, says coronavirus outbreak may affect some game consoles

Japanese gamemaker Nintendo apologized on Thursday and said it expects an inevitable delay in production and shipment of some of its products. Those include the Nintendo Switch hybrid gaming console and the Joy-Con controllers that are manufactured in China for the Japanese market.

Nintendo said in its earnings report last month that by the end of 2019, it sold more than 52 million units of the Switch console since it was first released three years ago.

Character of Nintendo's franchise Mario is seen at a promotional booth for the video game "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020" during the Tokyo Game Show in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture on September 12, 2019.
Charly Triballeau | AFP | Getty Images

2:09 pm: Taiwan bans international cruise ships from calling at its ports

Taiwan's health ministry said Thursday it will prohibit all international cruise ships from its ports. Earlier in the day, Japan said a Taiwanese person onboard the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise in Yokohama was one of ten new people diagnosed with the virus.

Taiwan said Thursday there are currently 13 confirmed cases on the island.

1:40 pm: China may delay its annual meeting of parliament due to the coronavirus

China is considering delaying the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, made up of around 3,000 delegates, in March, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The meeting that is scheduled for Mar. 5 is used to pass laws and unveil China's economic targets for the year.

12:55 pm: Japan Airlines, ANA to reduce international flights to China

Japan Airlines said it would suspend some flights to Beijing and Shanghai routes starting Thursday until Feb. 16, 2020. From Feb. 17, more flights will be suspended until Mar. 28 (Mar. 29 for certain flights). Meanwhile, flight frequency on routes from Tokyo to Guangzhou and Dalian would be reduced.

The carrier said it had seen a decrease in travel demand as more countries are implementing travel restrictions on people who have visited China during specific periods.

Competitor ANA also said it will temporarily decrease or suspend operations to and from selected cities starting Feb. 10, including Beijing and Shanghai. Flights to and from Tokyo's Narita International Airport to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first detected, were suspended on Jan. 23. ANA's reductions and suspensions are slated to continue until Mar. 28.

11:54 am: Oil prices jump more than 1% during Asian hours

U.S. crude prices were up around 2.01% to $51.77 a barrel while global benchmark Brent rose 1.54% to $56.13. Overnight, energy was the top-performing sector on the S&P 500.

Oil prices have struggled in recent weeks, with U.S. crude down more than 16% for the year and Brent also lower by almost 16%. The worry from market participants is that the coronavirus outbreak could significantly curb demand for oil, especially from China. Some experts said that could lead to OPEC and its allies cutting production to bolster prices.

A technical committee comprising OPEC members and its partners extended a two-day meeting this week into Thursday to find a consensus on whether the oil producers need to make emergency production cuts. OPEC and its allies, which include Russia, are currently holding back 1.8 million barrels a day, with Saudi Arabia reducing its output the most.

10:35 am: Japan reveals more information about infected people on cruise ship

Japan's health ministry disclosed in a press briefing more details about the ten additional people it said tested positive for the virus on board a cruise ship. According to NBC News, Japan said the newly infected people came from:

  • Japan: 4 (one woman in her 60s, two women in their 70s, one man in his 70s)
  • U.S.: 2 (one woman in her 60s, another woman in her 70s)
  • Canada: 2 (one woman in her 60s, a man in his 70s)
  • New Zealand: 1 (a man in his 50s)
  • Taiwan: 1 (a woman in her 70s)

The ministry declined to comment on their conditions and said that they would like to wait for the diagnosis from the medical facilities.

10:21 am: Australia PM: Economic impact is going to be 'very significant'

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney's 2GB radio on Thursday that he expects the economic impact from the new coronavirus to be "very significant," owing to the country's increased exposure to China, in terms of the number of Chinese visitors and students it receives.

China is Australia's largest trading partner.

"We can't pretend there's no impact to a global virus like this, and we can't pretend that we can make it like the day it was before the virus struck," Morrison said, pointing out in previous instances of viral outbreaks, tourism in Australia dented in one quarter before bouncing back in the next.

As of Thursday morning, Australia's health ministry said there have been 14 confirmed cases in the country.

9:45 am: Beijing city bans group meals

The city of Beijing said on Wednesday that caterers and individuals are not allowed to organize group gatherings, and that previous arrangement should be canceled or postponed. Rural collectives are also prohibited from organizing banquets, whether for festivals, birthdays or school promotions.

As of Sunday night, Beijing had more than 200 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, with more than half due to group gatherings, according to state media. Hotels and catering services contributed 11.11 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) to Beijing's GDP in the first quarter of 2019, or 20% of the total for the year, according to official data accessed through Wind Information. — Cheng

Chinese men wear protective masks as they walk in a nearly empty shopping street on February 2, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

9:32 am: Qualcomm sees 'significant uncertainty' around the impact of coronavirus on supply chain

Chipmaker Qualcomm said the virus outbreak, which put most of China under an extended shutdown, could potentially affect the mobile phone industry.

"There is significant uncertainty around the impact from the coronavirus on handset demand and supply chain," CFO Akash Palkhiwala told investors on the company's latest earnings call. Qualcomm stock dropped about 4% in extended trading after it beat analysts' estimates on the top and bottom lines, reporting first-quarter earnings of 99 cents a share on revenue of $5.06 billion.

8:51 am: Millions of chickens in China could be wiped out

Hundreds of millions of chickens in China are at risk of being wiped out as the shutdowns have hit supply chains. Transport restrictions are preventing much-needed animal feed such as soybean meal from getting delivered to poultry farms, according to analysts and Chinese state media.

There are over 300 million chickens in the virus epicenter of Hubei alone putting farmers in a dire situation, a local poultry association said. — Tan

8:12 am: 10 more coronavirus cases aboard quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Japan's health ministry said ten more people on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 20. The ship is docked at Yokohama port.

Princess Cruises, the company that operates the ship, previously said it had placed 3,700 passengers and crew under mandatory quarantine for two weeks after 10 people on board tested positive for the infection. A previous guest, who did not have any symptoms while onboard, tested positive for the virus on Saturday, six days after leaving the cruise ship.

7:33 am: China reports 563 total deaths, and 28,018 confirmed cases

China's National Health Commission said that as of Wednesday night, a total of 28,018 cases have been confirmed and 563 people have died in the country. There were 3,694 new confirmed cases.

There were 73 additional deaths, with most of them in Hubei province.

7:04 am: Hubei reports an additional 70 deaths

China's Hubei province reported an additional 70 deaths and 2,987 new confirmed cases related to the fast-spreading coronavirus as of the end of Wednesday.

The Hubei Provincial Health Committee said that 549 people have died in the region and a total of 19,665 cases have been confirmed thus far. The province, where the pneumonia-like virus was first detected, has accounted for most of the deaths related to the new coronavirus.

The view of the Wuhan Keting in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province. Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province started converting three existing venues, including a gymnasium and an exhibition center, into hospitals to receive patients infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the headquarters for the epidemic control said late Monday.
Getty Images

All times below are in Eastern time.

5:10 pm: Yum China temporarily closes 30% of China stores, could see losses

Yum China Holdings, which operates Pizza Hut and KFC in China, has temporarily closed more than 30% of its stores there. Same-store sales for the locations that stayed open plunged by up to 50% since the Chinese New Year holiday, the company said, adding that it can't say when its locations may reopen or whether it will need to close more. "Looking into 2020, the coronavirus outbreak is a major public health situation in China," CEO Joey Wat said in a statement, adding that the safety of employees and customers was a priority. The outbreak will have a "material impact" on its 2020 sales and profit — possibly even see a quarterly or annual loss, depending on the course of the outbreak, the company said. — Rogers

4:07 pm: New York City tests 5 people for potential coronavirus

The New York City Department of Health said it now has five "patients under investigation" for the virus and is awaiting test results on four of them from the CDC. "This means they had recently been in China and presented with fever and cough or shortness of breath without another common cause, like influenza and other respiratory viruses, identified through testing," the agency said in a statement. The two new potential patients are both under 40. One has been hospitalized and the other is under isolation with daily monitoring by the health department. The specimen from the first suspected case sent to the CDC was negative, the department previously said.

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight: US can't keep virus 'out of our border,' NYC has 2 new 'patients under investigation'

— CNBC's Christine Wang, Evelyn Cheng, Weizhen Tan, Kate Rogers, Berkeley Lovelace Jr. and William Feuer contributed to this report.