Health and Science

Global air travel set for decline, FBI orders masks and hand sanitizer in case of coronavirus pandemic

Be 'realistic' about China's economic recovery after virus outbreak: Economist
Be 'realistic' about China's economic recovery after virus outbreak: Economist

The coverage on this live blog has ended — but for up-to-the-minute coverage on the coronavirus, visit the live blog from CNBC's Asia-Pacific team.

All times below are in Eastern time.

  • Total confirmed cases: More than 75,700
  • Total deaths: At least 2,130

6:20 pm: Amazon tells sellers it will take down listings for products that claim to kill coronavirus

Amazon is removing listings from its online marketplace that claim to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The company notified third-party merchants this week that it was taking down listings claiming to be a treatment, cure or remedy for the coronavirus, according to an email obtained by CNBC. Last week, CNBC reported that Amazon was one of several tech giants that met with the World Health Organization at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif. offices to discuss how to stop misinformation about the coronavirus on their platforms. Bad actors have attempted to make money off of fears around the coronavirus. On Amazon, sellers have offered books that stoke fears about the virus, while vitamin C products have increasingly surfaced because of false reports it can cure the coronavirus. — Palmer

6:03 pm: 4 virus patients from cruise ship moving to Washington state

Four Americans who tested positive for the new virus that caused an outbreak China are being sent to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for treatment, officials said. The four were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were flown back to the U.S. over the weekend, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. They were being transferred from Travis Air Force Base in California, hospital officials said. Two patients arrived at the hospital Thursday with two more expected soon, said Christa Arguinchona, who manages a special isolation unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The hospital is one of 10 in the nation funded by Congress to treat new or highly infectious diseases. "The risk to the community from this particular process is zero," said Bob Lutz, of the Spokane Regional Health District at a briefing at the hospital. — Associated Press

Officers in protective gear enter the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where 10 more people were tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, to transfer a patient to the hospital after the ship arrived at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 7, 2020.
Kim Kyung-Hoon | Reuters

5 pm: IMF says it's too early for accurate figures on impact on global growth

It is premature to give precise projections of economic growth in China and the World in 2020 following the outbreak of coronavirus, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said. The IMF is still reviewing its projections for growth in China while looking at the impact of the epidemic on the global economy, Georgieva told a news conference in Morocco's capital Rabat, where she discussed preparations for IMF and World Bank Group meetings to be held in October 2021 in Marrakech. The IMF said last month global growth is projected to rise from an estimated 2.9% in 2019 to 3.3% in 2020 and 3.4% in 2021. "We are still hoping that the impact will be a V shaped curve" with a sharp decline in China and sharp rebound after the countainment of the virus, she said. "But we are not excluding that it might turn to be a different scenario like a U curve where the impact is somewhat longer." — Reuters

4:21 pm: Facebook pulls out of Game Developers Conference

Facebook is pulling out of next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco due to on-going concerns with the coronavirus outbreak. "GDC is always a highlight of our gaming event lineup, however the health of our employees and the wider games community comes before anything else," the company said in a blog post. "Due to the evolving health concerns surrounding COVID-19, Facebook's AR/VR and Gaming teams will not be attending GDC this year." Facebook typically uses the Game Developers Conference each year to make announcements for its Oculus virtual reality division and its other endeavors in gaming. A company spokesman said Facebook will still make its planned announcements, but it will do so in a digital format. — Rodriguez

3:52 pm: S&P Global says Chinese banks could see bad loans double

Chinese banks may face increasing pressure from a rise in bad loans, according to a new report from S&P Global Ratings. The coronavirus epidemic could nearly double the number of questionable loans on the books of Chinese banks. The Chinese government has much of the country under lockdown to try to contain the outbreak, pressuring the finances of companies and consumers alike. Most of that economic impact will likely be felt in the first quarter of this year, the report said, with a recovery firmly in place by the third quarter. Based on that slowdown, S&P Global estimates that the share of questionable loans could rise from 6.5% to 7.5% of all loans before the outbreak to a peak of about 10.5% to 11.5% in the aftermath of the epidemic. The rise in bad loans comes as Chinese bank regulators have been working to tighten accounting standards. S&P Global analysts said the coronavirus crisis will likely slow those reforms, as authorities focus instead on financial and social stability. — Schoen

People wearing face masks move packs of vegetables at a wholesale market for agricultural products, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing, China February 19, 2020.
Tingshu Wang | Reuters

3:24 pm: Kuwait Airways suspends flights to Iran amid fears from coronavirus outbreak

Kuwait Airways suspended all flights to Iran starting on the advice of the Kuwaiti health ministry and civil aviation authority amid fears about a coronavirus outbreak in the country. Kuwait Airways is the second flagship carrier in the region to suspend flights to Iran after Iraq Airways stopped flights earlier in the day. Two Iranians who tested positive for the coronavirus have died of respiratory illness, and three others tested positive, the Iranian health ministry said. — Reuters

2:43 pm: Coronavirus cases outside China remain low, but WHO chief warns 'that may not stay the same for long'

World health officials said that the new coronavirus has not yet spread widely around the world, but emphasized that the virus could break out globally at any time. "The number of cases in the rest of the world is very small compared to what we have in China, but that may not stay the same for long," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at the organization's headquarters in Geneva on Thursday. —Lovelace

2:16 pm: Ukrainians clash with police to block evacuees from China

Ukraine's effort to quarantine more than 70 people evacuated from China over the new virus outbreak plunged into chaos Thursday as local residents opposing the move engaged in violent clashes with police. Several hundred residents of the village of Novi Sanzhary in Ukraine's central Poltava region blocked the road to a sanitarium intended to host the evacuees. Demonstrators put up road blocks, burned tires and clashed with riot police who moved to clear access. More than 10 people were detained, and Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov personally visited the site of the protests to try to calm the crowd down. Avakov urged the protesters "not to fall for provocations and be understanding of the necessity for these temporary measures." — Associated Press

1:54 pm: WHO expects early trial results of potential coronavirus treatments in 3 weeks

Preliminary results from two clinical trials testing potential treatments for the COVID-19 coronavirus are expected in three weeks, the World Health Organization said Thursday. One trial combines HIV drugs Lopinavir and Ritonavir, while the other is testing U.S.-based biotech Gilead Sciences' antiviral Remdesivir, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday at a news conference at the agency's headquarters. — Lovelace

1:28 pm: Global air travel demand set to decline

Global air travel demand is set to decline for the first time since 2009 because of coronavirus, the International Air Transport Association said Thursday. Pauses in corporate travel and overall slumping demand due to warnings of the rapidly-spreading illness have prompted carriers to suspend service or drastically reduce China service. The outbreak will cost Chinese airlines $12.8 billion in revenue and nearly $29 billion for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, IATA estimated. The trade group, which represents most of the world's airlines, had forecast demand growth in 2020 of 4.1%, which it's now revised to a contraction of 0.6%. — Josephs

1 pm: FBI has ordered $40,000 in hand sanitizer and face masks

The FBI has ordered $40,000 of hand sanitizer and face masks "in case the coronavirus becomes a pandemic in the United States," according to the acquisition document. The FBI's "pandemic preparedness" supply order includes face masks from manufacturer 3M and disinfectants, including hand sanitizer, from PDI Healthcare, the document said. In its purchase order, the FBI said it needs to have those items on hand if the coronavirus, or COVID-19, spreads widely throughout the U.S. The masks and disinfectants "are to be stored throughout the country for distribution in the event of a declared pandemic," according to the document, which was signed Friday and gave the companies a week to fulfill the order. — Feuer

12:45 pm: Japan creates auto industry task force to monitor outbreak

Japan's government and auto industry are establishing a new task force to combat the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the country's automotive operations. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the immediate priorities for the "New Coronavirus Countermeasures Automobile Council" will be information sharing and understanding of the situation as well as studying countermeasures. "Automakers, component manufacturers, and the government work together to ensure rapid response to the information on the industry, with a view to ensuring that measures can be taken to prepare for the possible impact of the new coronavirus on the automotive supply chain in the future," the Japanese government said. — Wayland

11:30 am: Foxconn says it is cautiously resuming China output, warns of revenue hit

Apple iPhone maker Foxconn said it is cautiously restarting production at its main plants in China and warned revenue will be hurt this year by the outbreak. The statement comes just days after Apple rescinded its March quarter sales guidance, saying factories in China have been slower to get back to work than first anticipated after Lunar New Year holidays were extended amid the outbreak. Foxconn, the world No. 1 contract manufacturer, also said its plants in countries such as Vietnam, India, and Mexico continue to operate at full capacity with expansion plans underway as it seeks to minimize the impact of the virus. — Reuters

10:22 am: Norwegian Cruise Line cancels Asia voyages

Norwegian Cruise Line said it has canceled voyages in Asia through the third quarter and expects to take an earnings hit of 75 cents per share for the full year because of the outbreak. The news sent shares down by about 3% in morning trading. The cruise line said the virus had forced it to cancel, modify or redeploy 40 voyages across all three of its brands and compensate customers. The company said that 21 cancelled Asia voyages on its cruise ship, Norwegian Spirit, have been redeployed to the Eastern Mediterranean for summer 2020 with an "extremely condensed booking window." Any guest or crew who have traveled to China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past 30 days, regardless of nationality, are not allowed to board Norwegian's vessels. — Miller

10 am: World Health Organization holds press conference

WHO officials are holding a press conference at 10 am ET to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak. The United Nation's health agency declared the virus, named COVID-19, a global health emergency last month. On Thursday, China's National Health Commission reported an additional 114 deaths and 394 new confirmed cases, which is a drastic drop in daily additional cases. However, China revised its diagnostic guidelines to exclude "clinically diagnosed" cases from the count in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak — thereby lowering the count. Watch the live press conference here. — Feuer

9:36 am: P&G grapples with supply chain issues in China

Procter & Gamble, the maker of everyday household goods like Pampers diapers and Gillette razors, is continuing to grapple with problems getting materials from suppliers and its good delivered to customers in China, its second-largest market outside the U.S. The company's Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said at a conference in Boca Raton, Florida that store traffic in China has fallen "considerably." Although some demand has shifted to online sales, there are hurdles to fulfilling those orders, like the number of delivery people, Moeller said. P&G also relies on 387 Chinese suppliers, who provide materials for more than 17,000 finished products sold globally. Although the consumer giant expects to be "materially impacted" by the outbreak in its second-largest market, Moeller reaffirmed the company's forecasted ranges for its revenue and earnings for fiscal 2020. — Lucas

8:22 am: US hospitals prepare for virus to become global pandemic

The CDC has been working with the health-care sector to prepare for a possible pandemic outbreak in the United States. The coronavirus threat comes at an already busy time for most U.S. hospitals. Another serious respiratory illness, the seasonal flu, is at its peak, with more than 26 million cases and many hospitals stretched thin. A larger spread of the new virus across the U.S. could overwhelm emergency rooms and quickly cause supply shortages of some crucial medical supplies, according to half a dozen interviews with doctors, U.S. hospitals and health systems. — Lovelace

7:33 am: Maersk warns outbreak to hit 2020 earnings

Shipping giant Maersk warned that the coronavirus outbreak would weigh on earnings this year, compounding the woes of a container shipping industry already hit by trade wars and an economic slowdown. The Danish company on Thursday reported a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and forecast a weak start to the year because factories in China were closed for longer than usual after the Lunar New Year holiday. "Weekly container vessel calls at key Chinese ports were significantly down compared to last year during the last weeks of January and the first weeks of February," the world's biggest container shipping firm said in a statement. It reiterated, however, a forecast for growth in global container demand of 1% to 3% this year, saying Chief Executive Soren Skou remained optimistic about a rebound in the second quarter. Global container demand grew 1.4% in 2019 and 3.8% the year before. — Reuters

7 am: Air France says coronavirus impact could climb above $200 million

Air France-KLM warned of a 150 million to 200 million euro ($162 million to $216 million) hit to earnings by April as it contends with the epidemic's "brutal" impact on the airline industry. The Franco-Dutch group's shares fell sharply after its full-year results and 2020 outlook, which was in the spotlight as markets watch for economic effects well beyond the Asian center of the outbreak. Like many global airlines, Air France-KLM has canceled flights to mainland China until the end of March, basing its impact estimate on the assumption that flights will then gradually resume. "That's the hypothesis we're using for the moment, but we don't know how credible it is," Chief Financial Officer Frederic Gagey said. "Obviously if it lasts longer, the impact will be heavier." — Reuters

The Air France-KLM Group logo sits on revolving doors at airline's headquarters in Roissy, France, on Thursday, Feb. 20. 2020. Air France-KLM warned the coronavirus outbreak will wipe as much as 200 million euros ($216 million) from earnings, hammering home the financial impact of the crisis even thousands of miles from its epicenter in China.
Marlene Awaad| Bloomberg | Getty Images

6:06 am: Apple iPhone maker Foxconn says it will cautiously restart production in China

Foxconn, the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics and the biggest assembler of Apple products, said Thursday it is cautiously restarting production at its main plants in China, Reuters reported, but it warned revenue will be hurt this year by the coronavirus epidemic.

5:15 am: China's Hubei province asks firms not to resume work before March 11 due to coronavirus

China's Hubei province has asked firms not to resume work before March 11 due to the outbreak, although those involved in epidemic prevention and control and public utilities are exempt. The suspension of work for many firms was due to end on Wednesday. In a statement on its official Weibo account, the province said schools are not to reopen until further notice. — Ellyatt

3:22 am: South Korea reports first death from the coronavirus

South Korea reported its first death from the coronavirus. The country's Center for Disease Control on Thursday reported 22 new confirmed cases of the virus, with the deceased among that number. The cause of death is under investigation. — Ellyatt

Read CNBC's coverage from CNBC's Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: South Korea confirms first death; Hubei extends work suspension.

Reuters and CNBC's Salvador Rodriguez, John Schoen, Hannah Miller, William Feuer, Amelia Lucas, Berkeley Lovelace, Holly Ellyatt, Leslie Josephs and Annie Palmer contributed to this report.