Health and Science

China warns of 'grim' job market for graduates, coronavirus death toll at 1,113

Key Points
  • China's National Health Commission said there were 2,015 confirmed new cases on the mainland and 97 additional deaths, most of them in Hubei province.
  • China's Hubei province reported an additional 94 deaths and 1,638 newly diagnosed, confirmed cases related to the deadly pneumonia-like coronavirus as of the end of Tuesday.
  • The disease outbreak in China could affect Beijing's commitments to buying U.S. agricultural produce this year, White House national security advisor Robert O'Brien said at an Atlantic Council event.
  • DBS Group said that one of its employees had been infected with the pneumonia-like coronavirus after being tested on Feb. 11.
Coronavirus update; the nightmare at sea continues

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All times below are in Beijing time.

9:15 pm: OPEC cuts oil demand outlook for 2020 as coronavirus outbreak stifles China

OPEC has slashed its forecast for oil demand growth this year, citing China's coronavirus outbreak as the "major factor" behind its decision.

In a closely-watched monthly report published Wednesday, the Middle East-dominated producer group downwardly revised its outlook for global oil demand growth to 0.99 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020. That's down by 0.23 million bpd from the previous month's estimate.

The amended forecast is likely to reinforce the case for OPEC and allied non-OPEC producers, including Russia, to impose additional output cuts sooner rather than later.

8:30 pm: Chinese Grand Prix postponed over coronavirus concerns

The Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the organizers said on Wednesday.The FIA, the sport's governing body, announced it had taken the decision because of "continued health concerns and with the WHO (World Health Organization) declaring the coronavirus as a global health emergency."

The Formula One (F1) race had initially been scheduled to be held in Shanghai on April 19.

On Feb. 5, sports authorities in Shanghai had recommended the suspension of all sporting events in the city.

8:10 pm: Cruise ship stranded at sea reportedly allowed to dock in Cambodia

A cruise ship that had been turned away from a number of different countries over fears someone on board might be infected with the coronavirus has received permission to dock in Cambodia, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing the Holland America Line.

The MS Westerdam cruise ship, which is reported to have 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members on board, will dock in Cambodia to allow passengers disembark.

The ship, which has said it does not have any sick passengers, had been turned away from Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and the island territory of Guam.

7:30 pm: Singapore's United Overseas Bank keeps $2.2 billion aside for firms hit by coronavirus

Singapore's United Overseas Bank (UOB) has allocated 3 billion Singapore dollars ($2.2 billion) to provide businesses in the city-state with relief assistance as China's coronavirus continues to spread internationally.

"In the face of the likely economic fallout and its impact on industries and businesses, UOB sees the need to help its corporate clients, in particular the SMEs (small-and-medium enterprises), in addressing their near-term liquidity needs," the bank said in a statement, Reuters reported Wednesday.

As of Tuesday evening, China's National Health Commission reported that a total of 44,653 cases had been confirmed, with 1,113 deaths. (See 10:09 a.m. update).

5 pm: China warns graduates of a 'more complex and grim' employment situation over coming months

China's Ministry of Education has cautioned graduates to expect challenging job market conditions over the coming months, citing an economic downturn and escalating fears over the fast-spreading coronavirus.

"Taking into consideration the downward pressure on the economy and the additional impact of the (virus), (we) expect higher education graduates in the first half of this year will face a more complex and grim employment situation," Wang Hui, director of the higher education department at China's Ministry of Education, said at a press conference Wednesday, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks.

The class of 2020 is set to increase by 400,000 from last year to 8.74 million graduates, Wang said.

He added the ministry has a four-point plan for helping these students find jobs, including increasing online recruitment and allowing schools to hold necessary residential paperwork for two years. — Cheng.

Coronavirus being contained but 'the house is still on fire,' strategist says

3:19 pm: Singapore's DBS confirms an employee has been infected, others evacuated from premises

DBS Group said that one of its employees had been infected with the pneumonia-like coronavirus after being tested on Feb. 11.

The bank said it was informed Wednesday morning and at 12 p.m. evacuated employees on the affected floor at DBS' main Marina Bay Financial Centre office. DBS said in a statement that contact tracing was being conducted and that the affected office space will be disinfected.

According to an internal memo obtained by CNBC, 300 employees had been evacuated. DBS did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

The bank, one of Asia's largest lenders, is due to release fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, Feb. 13.

1:35 pm: State Department official at Singapore Airshow says US monitoring situation rationally

The virus outbreak that has killed more than a thousand people, mostly in China, should be monitored using professional medical guidance instead of relying on rumors and emotions, R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary for political-military affairs at the U.S. Department of State, told CNBC.

Explaining the U.S. delegation's presence at the Singapore Airshow, despite more than 70 companies pulling out at the last minute including defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin, Cooper said, "(What) actually fed into our calculus of being here is the actual facts and science."

"We have more people back home in the United States dying of influenza right now, and so being very realistic and pragmatic about what the conditions are and how that relates relative to everything else," he said. On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the 13th case of infection in the country, detected in California. — Huileng Tan

12:34 pm: More central banks sound the alarm over near-term economic impact of the coronavirus

Malaysia's central bank said Wednesday that first-quarter growth will be affected by the outbreak that spurred shutdowns in China in efforts to contain the virus' spread. "The overall impact of the virus on the Malaysian economy will, however, depend on the duration and spread of the outbreak as well as policy responses by the authorities," Bank Negara Malaysia said in a statement. For its part, Malaysia has agreed to set up a joint working group with neighbor Singapore to coordinate responses to the virus outbreak. (see 7:42 a.m. update)

New Zealand's central bank, which kept its official cash rate unchanged at 1%, said it assumed the overall economic impact in the country will be short and mostly concentrated in the first half of 2020. Governor Adrian Orr predicted around six weeks of disruption, with the assumption that some normalization would happen over March and that travel restrictions to China are lifted, Reuters reported.

Last week, the Philippine central bank warned of an "adverse impact" on economic activity and market sentiment in the near-term due to the outbreak.

10:09 am: China reports additional 97 deaths and 2,015 confirmed new cases

China's National Health Commission said there were 2,015 confirmed new cases on the mainland and 97 additional deaths related to the new, deadly strain of coronavirus, most of them occurring in Hubei province. (see 7:05 a.m. update) As of Tuesday night, the Chinese government said a total of 44,653 cases have been confirmed and 1,113 people have died in the country.

The NHC did not disclose if any confirmed cases were removed from the tally as of midnight Feb. 11. On Feb. 7, the Chinese government made a policy announcement that implied patients who did not exhibit symptoms of the virus would no longer be considered confirmed cases. — Cheng

9:55 am: Rakuten pulls out of Mobile World Congress Barcelona

Rakuten's mobile communications business, Rakuten Mobile, said Wednesday it will no longer participate in the Mobile World Congress Barcelona from Feb. 24 to Feb. 27 due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

A number of prominent tech names have pulled out of the international telecommunication conference in recent days including Facebook, Amazon, Sony, Intel, and Nvidia. Organizer GSMA will have a board meeting on Friday to discuss the possibility of canceling the event, Reuters reported, citing an industry source.

9:28 am: China virus updates due

As of 9:28 a.m., China's National Health Commission had not yet released the national-level infection and death numbers. In previous instances, those numbers had been released just before 8 a.m. Beijing time. Numbers published Tuesday showed the death toll in the country from the coronavirus outbreak topped 1,000.

8:50 am: Coronavirus crisis will speed up US-China 'decoupling' more than the trade war

The outbreak could help speed up the so-called "decoupling" between the United States and China, more so than the trade war did, Milken Institute Asia fellow Curtis Chin told CNBC. The ongoing crisis, which has killed more than a thousand people mostly on the Chinese mainland, will underscore to companies the importance of diversifying supply chains away from China. — Weizhen Tan

8:47 am: Virus outbreak could affect US-China phase one trade deal, official says

The disease outbreak in China looks like it could have an impact on Beijing's commitments to buying U.S. agricultural produce this year, White House national security advisor Robert O'Brien said at an Atlantic Council event.

U.S. agricultural purchases by China are part of a phase one trade deal both countries signed last month to ease trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. "We expect the phase one deal will allow China to import more food and open those markets to American farmers," O'Brien said. "As we watch this coronavirus outbreak unfold in China it could have an impact on how big, at least in this current year, the purchases are."

He also said that the United States has offered China the "opportunity" to have American doctors and health experts on the ground to help contain the virus' spread. "That offer has not been accepted at this point, but that's an outstanding offer," he said.

8:05 am: Another 39 cases reported on cruise ship docked in Japan

Another 39 people tested positive for the coronavirus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship currently quarantined at sea off the coast of Japan, ship operator Princess Cruises said Tuesday evening stateside. The company added it is following guidance from Japan's health ministry on plans for disembarkation protocols to provide medical care for the newly reported cases.

The Ministry of Health in Japan also said on its website one of the quarantine officers was infected with the virus.

Princess Cruises on Monday had confirmed 66 additional cases, which brought the total number of infections to 136. The ship, carrying more than 3,700 passengers and crew, had been quarantined since early February after a previous guest tested positive for the disease six days after disembarking.

7:42 am: Singapore and Malaysia to establish a joint working group to fight the coronavirus

Singapore said on Tuesday that together with Malaysia, it will establish a joint working group to strengthen cooperation on preventing the spread of the infectious disease, which the World Health Organization recently named COVID-19. Senior health officials from both countries would work together over the next few days to determine the composition and terms of references of the group, Singapore's health ministry said.

As of Tuesday noon, Singapore reported 47 confirmed cases — 25 of which were locally transmitted. Neighbor Malaysia reported 18 cases of infection.

7:05 am: Hubei province reports additional 94 deaths

China's Hubei province reported an additional 94 deaths and 1,638 newly diagnosed, confirmed cases related to the deadly pneumonia-like coronavirus as of the end of Tuesday.

According to the Hubei Provincial Health Committee, 1,068 people have died in the province from the disease and there have been a total of 33,366 confirmed cases thus far. Most of those cases and deaths occurred in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected.

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.
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All times below are in Eastern time.

5:08 pm: First American evacuees from Wuhan released from federal quarantine

The 195 Americans who were first evacuated from Wuhan last month were released from their 14-day quarantine on March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California earlier today. None of the evacuees tested positive for the new coronavirus, Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said at a news briefing, warning against discrimination. "They don't need additional tests, they don't need to be shunned, they don't have novel coronavirus," he said. One of the evacuees, Jarred Evans, told CNBC after the news briefing that he was on a bus to the airport. — Feuer

4:05 pm: Outbreak could affect Airbnb's IPO, WSJ reports

The company announced publicly last year that it "expects to become a publicly-traded company during 2020." The Wall Street Journal reported that Airbnb likely won't go public until the third quarter of this year. That timing could be affected by the coronavirus outbreak that has swept across China, one person cited in the report said. China is a key growth area for Airbnb. The company's co-founder, Nathan Blecharczyk, currently serves as chairman of Airbnb China. — Feuer

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight: Germany confirms two new cases, virus likely came from bats

— CNBC's Wendy Ye, Evelyn Cheng, Huileng Tan, Weizhen Tan and William Feuer contributed to this report.