Health and Science

Coronavirus updates: Global stock markets tumble as death toll climbs past 2,500

Key Points
  • China's National Health Commission reported an additional 150 deaths and 409 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 23.
  • China's largest province by exports, Guangdong, and the coal-producing province of Shanxi have lowered their emergency response level to two.
  • South Korea's government raised the coronavirus alert to its highest level after a recent explosion of confirmed infection cases, which took the country's tally from 31 on Feb. 18 to 763 on Monday morning.
  • Seven people have died in South Korea from the virus, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he walks by a propaganda banner on February 20, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer

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All times below are in Beijing time.

9:20 pm: Ireland warns citizens against traveling to virus-hit areas of Italy, Tunisia says it may suspend flights

Ireland's foreign ministry has said its citizens should avoid traveling to affected areas of northern Italy, following an increase in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Italy has reported more than 200 cases of the deadly flu-like virus in some northern regions of the country, with five deaths. It is the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia. (See 7:50 p.m. update).

Meanwhile, Tunisia's transport minister suggested the north African country could soon move to suspend flights to Italy in order to reduce its exposure to COVID-19, Reuters reported.

Elsewhere, passengers and crew aboard an Alitalia flight that landed in Mauritius on Monday were told they would have to go into quarantine because of local concerns about the coronavirus. — Meredith

7:50 pm: Italy confirms five people have died in the country due to coronavirus

Italian authorities on Monday confirmed a fifth person infected with the coronavirus has died.

The Civil Protection agency also said more than 200 cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in the north of the country since Friday, Reuters reported.

Italian stocks tumbled during European trading hours, as the euro zone's third-largest economy continues to grapple with the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia. (See 4:55 p.m. update). — Meredith

Coronavirus outbreak will likely tip Italy into a recession, economist says
Coronavirus outbreak will likely tip Italy into a recession, economist says

7:30 pm: Iraq reports its first case of coronavirus

Iran's health ministry reported its first case of the coronavirus on Monday, Reuters reported, saying the flu-like virus had been contracted by an Iranian theology student in the city of Najaf.

The patient was thought to have entered Iraq before the government closed border crossings and banned the entry of non-Iraqis coming from Iran.

The patient has been quarantined and medical staff is observing international health standards, Iraq's health ministry said in a statement, according to a Reuters report.

Iran, which neighbors Iraq to the west, had confirmed 61 cases of the coronavirus earlier on Monday, with 12 deaths. (See 5:50 pm update). — Meredith

7:15 pm: China warns citizens against travel to the US, says tourists have repeatedly been treated 'unfairly'

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has warned citizens against traveling to the U.S., saying Chinese tourists had repeatedly been treated "unfairly" stateside.

In an online statement published Monday, the ministry urged citizens to raise their awareness due to the U.S. security situation and "excessive" prevention measures.

The White House was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC on Monday.

China had urged its citizens against traveling to the U.S. in June 2019, at a time of heightened trade tensions between the world's two largest economies. — Meredith

Countries must be ready to respond to coronavirus outbreak: WHO spokesperson
Countries must be ready to respond to coronavirus outbreak: WHO spokesperson

6:40 pm: Wuhan abruptly cancels looser travel policy after just a few hours

The Wuhan Municipal government took its first step Monday towards loosening a city-wide lockdown that started on Jan. 23. A few hours later, however, city authorities canceled the policy change and said it was issued by a traffic control group and did not receive the approval of unnamed "primary leaders."

As a result, travel restrictions remain as Wuhan works to implement Chinese President Xi Jinping's directive for limiting the coronavirus from spreading through the movement of people, the latest announcement said.

The earlier online statement, now deleted, said people seeking treatment for special diseases or otherwise stranded in Wuhan could leave in batches during off-peak hours, as long as they followed certain procedures.

The initial announcement came shortly after Xi's comments on Sunday that local authorities should take a "precise" approach when controlling the virus and smoothing travel.

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province and accounts for the majority of deaths and confirmed cases of the coronavirus outbreak that began to emerge in December. — Wu

6:20 pm: Global stocks roiled as Italy and South Korea sound coronavirus alarm

Stock markets around the world are selling off on Monday morning as spiking coronavirus cases in Italy, South Korea, and the Middle East sparked fears of further spread beyond China.

South Korea's Kospi index closed down 3.9% while Italy's FTSE MIB plunged more than 900 points in early trade.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 benchmark tumbled 3.5%, with Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX all falling sharply.

Stateside, Dow futures were pointing to a loss of more than 700 points at Monday's open, with futures on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also falling. — Smith

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

5:50 pm: Iran confirms 61 coronavirus cases, with 12 deaths nationwide

Iran's deputy health minister has reportedly confirmed that up to 61 people have contracted the coronavirus, with 12 deaths nationwide.

Speaking during a news conference on state television on Monday, Iran's Iraj Harirchi said most of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been in the city of Qom.

Earlier on Monday, China's National Health Commission reported an additional 409 cases of the coronavirus, with 150 deaths. That brings the total number of confirmed infections to 77,150, with 2,592 deaths nationwide. (See 10:58 a.m. update). — Meredith

5:30 pm: China delays key economic meeting as coronavirus fears persist

Chinese leaders decided Monday to postpone the third session of the 13th National People's Congress, according to state media.

No future date was given. The congressional meeting was originally set to begin March 5 and is a key annual event in Beijing at which China releases its economic targets for the year, including GDP.

Since a new pneumonia-causing virus began spreading in the last several weeks, Chinese authorities have discouraged locals from traveling and gathering together.

The postponement marks the first time since China adopted the current March schedule in 1995 for the meeting of parliament, Reuters reported. — Cheng

Members of a local neighborhood committee wear protective masks as they check the temperature of a resident entering at a barricade placed to control people entering and exiting a local hutong as part of government efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus on February 19, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

5:20 pm: ING expects drop in tourism to cost Asia up to $115 billion in 2020

China's fast-spreading coronavirus could see Asia lose more than $100 billion in tourism receipts, ING said in a research note published Monday.

Robert Carnell, chief economist and head of research for Asia-Pacific at ING, said the Dutch financial group had assumed zero tourism receipts from Asian tourists visiting China and Chinese tourists flying to Asia.

This is a "gross simplification," Carnell said, but it fits a scenario where the outbreak lingers long after it peaks.

"Official travel restrictions may be slow to be removed, and travelers may remain wary long after it is safe for them to travel again," he said.

Tourism revenue contributed around 11% of China's GDP in 2018, according to Trading Economics. — Abigail Ng

4:55 pm: Italian stocks plunge 4% as coronavirus shuts down towns, schools, and soccer matches

Italian stocks plunged in early trade Monday morning, as the euro zone's third-largest economy grappled with the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia.

European markets screeched lower in early deals with the FTSE MIB index trading 990 points down at 23,808, or 4% lower. Shares of Italian banks fell sharply while the stock of Juventus soccer club was briefly halted after falling 11%.

There are widespread concerns over the spread of the virus in northern Italy; the country now has 152 confirmed cases and four deaths due to the virus as of Monday morning, with a sharp spike in cases over the weekend. — Ellyatt

4:45 pm: South Korea confirms 70 further cases of coronavirus, total exceeds 830

South Korea has confirmed an additional 70 cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 833.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that most of the new cases came from the southeastern city of Daegu.

An earlier briefing reported a further 161 people had contracted the deadly flu-like virus. (See 9:24 a.m. update).

It means the country has reportedly registered a record daily spike of the coronavirus, with 231 additional cases confirmed on Monday. — Meredith

4:05 pm: North Korea reportedly quarantines 380 foreigners in bid to prevent coronavirus outbreak

North Korea has reportedly quarantined 380 foreigners as part of efforts to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.

The majority of those quarantined are thought to be diplomats stationed in the capital city of Pyongyang, Yonhap news agency reported Monday, citing state media in North Korea.

It was not immediately clear how long the quarantine period would last, while the nationalities of those in isolation have not yet been revealed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said it has had no indication of COVID-19 having spread to North Korea. — Meredith

In this photo taken on February 6, 2020, a worker of the Songyo Knitwear Factory in Pyongyang produces masks for protection against the new coronavirus.
KIM WON-JIN | AFP via Getty Images

3:27 pm: China's largest industrial businesses resume work gradually

Work is picking up in China's top three exporting provinces, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

For industrial enterprises greater than a certain scale, the resumption of work has topped 90% in Zhejiang province, and more than 70% in Guangdong and Jiangsu, officials said. That refers to enterprises with annual revenue of at least 20 million yuan ($2.86 million) from their primary business operations. Nationwide, coal mine production is around 76%, food processing at 70%, and railcar load has recovered to about 95% to pre-Lunar New Year holiday levels, the commission said. Iron and steel production is about 67% and that of nonferrous metals has resumed at a rate of around 86%.

Some companies, especially medium and small businesses, have encountered great difficulties in their production and operations due to the impact of the virus, according to NDRC Party Secretary Cong Liang. He maintained that the virus's effect on China's economy is short-term. Due to these pressures on growth, Human Resources and Social Security Assistant Minister You Jun said the impact on employment is "not small," and that agriculture workers and college graduates will face greater difficulties. — Cheng

1:25 pm: Six Chinese provinces lower coronavirus emergency response level

China's largest province by exports, Guangdong, and the coal-producing province of Shanxi have lowered their emergency response level to two, while Gansu, Yunnan, Guizhou, and Liaoning each lowered theirs to level three.

The downgrade allows local authorities to respond to region-specific needs and follows a decrease in newly confirmed cases outside Hubei province, the epicenter of the disease. Out of 398 such cases reported for Sunday, 11 came from provinces other than Hubei, according to China's National Health Commission.

The lowered response level follows greater emphasis from the central government on maintaining economic growth. Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday that the virus is "the most difficult to contain in the country since the founding of the People's Republic of China" and "will inevitably deal a relatively big blow" to the country's economy. He also said each region should adopt measures to resume work and production based on the local level of health risks, according to an English-language report from state news agency Xinhua. — Wu

12:36 pm: South Korean airlines sell off

Shares of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines fell more than 5% each following a spike in the number of confirmed cases in South Korea. As the total number of reported infections in the country jumped to more than 700, both airlines took steps to cancel flights to the city of Daegu, where many of the new cases have been detected.

Asiana Airlines suspended flights between Daegu and Jeju until Mar. 9 (see 10:45 am update). Reuters reported that Korean Air also halted all flights to the city until Mar. 28. Low-cost carrier Air Busan sold off 3.89%. — Roy Choudhury

10:58 am: China reports 150 additional deaths

China's National Health Commission reported an additional 150 deaths and 409 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 23. Of the 409 new cases, 398 came from Hubei province, whereas only 11 were reported in the rest of mainland China. That brought the nationwide tally of total infections to 77,150 confirmed cases and 2,592 deaths.

The Hubei Provincial Health Committee reported 149 additional deaths in the province, including 131 in Wuhan, where the pneumonia-like virus was first detected. As of Feb. 23, Hubei province has reported a total of 64,287 confirmed cases, 2,495 deaths. The commission said 16,738 people have been discharged from the hospital. — Roy Choudhury

10:45 am: Asiana Airlines suspends flights between Daegu and Jeju

South Korea's second-largest carrier, Asiana Airlines, said it was suspending domestic flights between Daegu and Jeju from Feb. 25 until Mar. 9. Many of the new cases reported in the country came from the city of Daegu. (see 9:24 am and 7 am updates) — Roy Choudhury

9:24 am: South Korea cases surpass 760, fatalities rise to seven

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an additional 161 cases on Monday morning, bringing the total to 763 nationwide. Most of the new confirmed cases were reported in the city of Daegu.

An additional two people were said to have died, which brought the death toll to seven. — Roy Choudhury

8:47 am: South Korea stocks fall more than 2%

The benchmark Kospi index was down more than 2% in early trade while the Kosdaq fell 2.25%. The sudden spike in cases (see 7 am update) spooked investors as experts weigh on the economic impact the disease could have on the country.

"Economic difficulty is imminent," Citi economists said in a Monday morning note. "Fear of the virus is spreading throughout the country, at a much faster rate than the virus itself." Citi said it did not expect the economic fallout to be limited to certain regions and cities. "Consumption is declining as to minimize human contact, & stores & factories are shutting down for various reasons—exposure to virus; lack of supply inputs; or continuing loss." — Roy Choudhury

8:15 am: President Xi says the epidemic is a crisis and 'big test' for China

The coronavirus outbreak is a major public health emergency that has spread rapidly and has become difficult to contain, President Xi Jinping said at a meeting in Beijing on Sunday, state media Xinhua reported.

"This is both a crisis and a big test for us," Xi said, per Xinhua's translations of his remarks, adding that efforts are being made to cure people of the infection, reduce fatality rates, safeguard social stability, and strengthen China's emergency medical supplies and daily necessities.

The epidemic's impact on China's economic and social development is temporary and generally manageable, but it will deal a relatively big blow in the short term, Xi said, according to Xinhua. The president also stressed the importance of an orderly resumption of work and production. — Roy Choudhury

7:18 am: IMF chief says virus outbreak could put economic recovery at risk

The coronavirus outbreak that began in China and has since spread to more than 25 countries could put global economic recovery at risk, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement following a G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Saudi Arabia.

"This is a human tragedy, but it also has negative economic impact," Georgieva said. "I reported to the G20 that even in the case of rapid containment of the virus, growth in China and the rest of the world would be impacted. Of course, we all hope for a V-shaped, rapid recovery — but given the uncertainty, it would be prudent to prepare for more adverse scenarios." — Roy Choudhury

7 am: South Korea on high alert, total cases top 600

South Korea's government raised the COVID-19 alert to its highest level after a recent explosion of confirmed infection cases, which took the country's tally from 31 as of Feb. 18 to 602 on Sunday. Many of the new cases were from the city of Daegu and were related to a homegrown religious group, Yonhap reported. At least five people have died from the virus, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By comparison, the Diamond Princess cruise that had been quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, since early February had at least 634 confirmed cases, according to the Japanese health ministry and the World Health Organization. Many countries have started evacuating their citizens from the ship and some people have tested positive after leaving the ship. — Roy Choudhury

A nurse working in the isolation ward communicates with a co-worker on the talkie-walkie in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Monday, Feb. 17, 2020.
Feature China | Barcroft Media via Getty Images

All times below are in Eastern time.

4:18 pm: Israel may quarantine 200 South Korean visitors

Israel may quarantine some 200 visitors from South Korea at a military base in a Jewish settlement on the occupied West Bank over coronavirus fears, according to Israel's Ynet news site. Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said separately he had ordered South Korea and Japan to be added to a list of Asian countries to which travel to and from Israel was being barred. — Lovelace Jr.

3:48 pm: Austria halts train traffic with Italy

Austria has halted train traffic with its southern neighbor amid concern that two passengers on an in-bound train from Italy were infected with the coronavirus. Italy is grappling with the largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia, with more than 130 reported cases and three deaths. — Lovelace Jr.

1:08 pm: Four passengers test positive for coronavirus in England

Four passengers tested positive for the virus in England after being evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, according to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

"Four further patients in England have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to thirteen," the statement from the chief medical officer for England said. — Lovelace Jr.

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight: Austria halts train traffic with Italy, Turkey closes Iran border

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng, Lilian Wu, and Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.