Health and Science

Coronavirus: South Korea reports record daily spike, Japan to close all schools

Key Points
  • China's National Health Commission said there were 433 new confirmed cases and 29 additional deaths as of Feb. 26.
  • South Korea confirmed 505 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 1,766.
  • A woman in Osaka is the first person in Japan to test positive again after recovering, Reuters reported citing the prefectural government.
  • Saudi Arabia will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners for pilgrimage and tourism purposes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced.
A boy wearing a mask walks on a road in the Asakusa district on February 02, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images

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 U.S. team.

All times below are in Beijing time.

7:35 pm: China's central bank 'very worried' about coronavirus' impact on global economy

"International organizations are worried about the negative impact of the (virus) to the global economy," Liu Guoqiang, a vice governor of the People's Bank of China, said Thursday, according to a CNBC translation of his Mandarin-language remarks.

"I'm also very worried," he said, "and this worry has become a reality."

Liu noted how China, the world's second-largest economy, is one of the few countries in the world that has not resorted to "unconventional monetary policy." As a result, he said, "China has relatively larger space for policy action, and has the ability to cope with various challenges, something which should be cherished and maintained."

He noted how domestic interest rates, as guided by the loan prime rate, have room to fall further. — Evelyn Cheng

7:25 pm: Japan's Abe to ask all elementary, junior and high schools to close from March 2 through to spring break

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly said on Thursday that the government would ask all elementary, junior high and high schools to close from March 2 through to spring break.

Abe's comments, according to Reuters, came at a meeting of the government's task force as part of efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Spring break in Japan typically ends around the end of March. — Sam Meredith

7:10 pm: Iran's health ministry confirms 245 coronavirus cases; death toll at 26

Iran's health ministry has confirmed 106 additional cases of the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections up to 245.

Iran's death toll as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has also been raised to 26, Kianoush Jahanpour, a spokesperson for the Islamic Republic's health ministry, said Thursday.

Iran is at the epicenter of the outbreak in the Middle East, having recorded the highest number of coronavirus fatalities outside China.

Health authorities from Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates have all reported cases of the coronavirus that stemmed from Iran.

Earlier on Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced it would temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners for pilgrimage and tourism purposes. (See 1:57 p.m. update). — Sam Meredith

A man wears a respiratory mask after deaths and new confirmed cases revealed from the coronavirus in Qom, Iran on February 25, 2020.
Stringer | Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

6:15 pm: European stocks slide 2% as coronavirus outbreak spreads to more countries

European stocks plummeted further on Thursday as the rapid spread of the coronavirus continues to dominate market sentiment.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 2% during European trading hours, with travel and leisure stocks plunging 3.6% to lead losses as almost all sectors and major bourses traded sharply in the red.

The spread of the coronavirus — which has now infected more than 81,000 people and killed over 2,700 — continues to rattle markets and policymakers around the world. — Elliot Smith & Holly Ellyatt

5:45 pm: South Korea confirms another record spike of coronavirus cases, outnumbers China for daily infections

South Korea confirmed 505 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 1,766.

It marks the sharpest daily spike yet in South Korea, outnumbering the 433 new cases in China.

Most of the country's new infections stemmed from the city of Daegu, Yonhap reported, citing the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health authorities began testing more than 210,000 members of a religious sect at the center of South Korea's epidemic for coronavirus on Thursday. — Sam Meredith

A South Korean health worker sprays disinfectant as part of preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at a residential area near the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu on February 27, 2020.
JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images

5:30 pm: Governor of Italy's virus-hit Lombardy region in isolation after staff member gets coronavirus

The governor of the region of Lombardy, which is at the epicenter of Italy's coronavirus outbreak, has placed himself in isolation after one of his staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

In a Facebook post published late Wednesday, Attilio Fontana said he would remain in quarantine for the next two weeks after an aide tested positive for the deadly flu-like virus. All members of the team were subsequently tested, with all results coming back negative for COVID-19, Fontana said.

Italy has reported more than 300 cases of the coronavirus in Lombardy, with 10 deaths in the region.

The country, which has recorded the worst contagion in Europe so far, has reported more than 400 cases of the coronavirus nationwide, with 12 deaths. — Sam Meredith.

Worried coronavirus will trigger psychological changes in US consumers, economist says
Worried coronavirus will trigger psychological changes in consumers: economist

5:15 pm: UK reports two further cases of coronavirus, brings total to 15

The U.K. has confirmed two further people have contracted the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 15.

The deadly flu-like virus was passed on in Italy and Tenerife, according to England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.

The patients have been transferred to specialist National Health Service infection centers in Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital, London, Whitty said Thursday. — Sam Meredith

4:22 pm: Man returning from Italy is first confirmed case in Denmark

Denmark has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus. The Danish Health Authority said a man returned with his family from a ski holiday in the Italian region of Lombardy on Monday, and was found to have flu-like symptoms such as cough and fever.

The man later tested positive, while the tests for his wife and son came back negative.

This is Denmark's first confirmed case of COVID-19, the health authority said, adding that it does not change the country's current low-risk assessment of the virus. — Joanna Tan

3:50 pm: Estonia confirms first case of coronavirus

The spread of the new coronavirus continues throughout Europe with Estonia reporting its first case. Authorities in the country said the infected man had recently returned from Iran. Estonia's Minister of Social Affairs, Tanel Kiik, told public broadcaster ETV that the person had been isolated, Reuters reported.

Iran, meanwhile, confirmed Thursday morning that 22 people had died from the virus — up from a total of 19 on Wednesday. The number of people with confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country has hit 141, the official news agency IRNA said, according to Reuters. — Katrina Bishop

1:57 pm: Saudi Arabia suspends visas for pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners for pilgrimage and tourism purposes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. The decision comes as health authorities take precautionary measures to prevent COVID-19 from reaching the kingdom, according to the ministry.

Saudi Arabia has not reported any cases of the new coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization's latest situation report. The kingdom urged its citizens to "exercise caution before traveling to countries experiencing Coronavirus outbreaks," the ministry said in a tweet. — Joanna Tan

Saudi Foreign Ministry tweet

1:35 pm: Australian prime minister warns world is entering a 'pandemic phase' of the coronavirus

"There is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus," Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said during a press conference in Canberra. "In the event of a pandemic, the challenge... the goal is to slow it's spread if it gets to Australia, but with the number of countries that are now affected, we have to be realistic about the likelihood of containment strategies into the weeks ahead."

As a result, he said, the country will be implementing its emergency response plan. Morrison also announced that the travel ban for China will be extended for an additional week and will be monitored on a weekly basis. The deadly virus has infected at least 23 people in Australia, according to the World Health Organization's latest report. — Joanna Tan

(This post was updated at 4:34 pm to reflect that Australia left open the possibility of extending its travel ban for China again)

1:15 pm: Standard Chartered says outbreak and slowing global growth could impact profit target

Standard Chartered bank said recent headwinds including the coronavirus outbreak, "will likely result in income growth in 2020 below our medium-term 5-7% target range." Other challenges the British lender cited included lower interest rates, slower global economic growth and Hong Kong's economy.

"These headwinds are expected to be transitory, but we now believe it will take longer to achieve our ROTE (return on tangible equity) target of 10% than we previously envisaged," the bank said in its outlook when reporting earnings for the year that ended Dec. 31, 2019. The bank's Hong Kong-listed shares rose more than 2% on Thursday, after the earnings release. — Joanna Tan

11:19 am: Woman in Japan tests positive for twice

A resident of Osaka has tested positive for the virus twice, Reuters reported citing the prefectural government. The woman, a tour-bus guide in her forties, is the first person in the country to test positive again after recovering, the news agency said citing a government statement.

She first tested positive in January, but was discharged on Feb. 1 after recovering, Reuters said. But the woman tested positive again on Wednesday, the news agency reported citing Osaka's prefectural government. As of Thursday, Japan has reported 186 confirmed cases, as authorities urged people to avoid gathering in large groups. — Joanna Tan

Correction: This blog post has been updated to correctly reflect that Japan is urging people not to gather in big groups.

11:09 am: AmCham China survey finds almost half of the respondents expect a decline in China revenue

The American Chamber of Commerce in China revealed results from a flash survey done between Feb. 17 and Feb. 20 with 169 member companies that included large, medium and small-sized enterprises, many of them with global operations. Nearly half of those respondents said they expect 2020 China revenues to decrease if businesses cannot return to the usual before the end of April.

Almost 20% of the respondents said they predicted 2020 revenues to decline more than 50% if the epidemic extended through August. While many said it is still too soon to determine the estimated cost of delays from quarantine measures undertaken by Beijing to contain the spread of the infection, about 10% said they were losing at least half-a-million yuan (about $71,000) per day. — Roy Choudhury

Chinese consumers react to coronavirus threat
Chinese consumers react to coronavirus threat

10:56 am: South Korea central bank says virus outbreak raises growth uncertainty

Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.25%, surprising markets. In its policy statement, the central bank said that "uncertainties regarding the future growth path are high" due to the impact of the outbreak. Infection cases have spiked in the country (see 9:05 am update), leaving authorities scrambling to ramp up measures to contain its spread.

Economists at ANZ Research said they were lowering their 2020 GDP growth forecast for South Korea from 2.3% to 1.9%. "Although the virus risks faced by South Korea were initially limited to sectors related to China and inbound tourists, the spike in local confirmed infections will now exacerbate the strain on the economy via the tourism, consumption, and production channels," the economists wrote. — Roy Choudhury

10:06 am: JetBlue scraps change and cancellation fees because of coronavirus in a US first

JetBlue Airways in a surprise move Wednesday became the first U.S. carrier to cut its change and cancellation fees for travelers concerned about the coronavirus.

The budget carrier's unusual measure, which could pressure other airlines to follow suit, comes during steep drop in airline stocks as investors fret over the spread of the virus. — Josephs

9:51 am: US raises travel alert level for South Korea

The U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for South Korea, from level 2 to level 3, which means "reconsider travel." It cited the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea.

That comes days after the U.S. CDC also raised its alert level for travel to South Korea, which means "avoid non-essential travel," as there's widespread community transmission.

Infections in South Korea have been surging in the past week. As of Thursday morning, it reported a jump of 334 cases. (see 9:05am update) — Weizhen Tan

9:30 am: CDC confirms first possible 'community spread' coronavirus case in US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday confirmed the first possible "community spread" of the coronavirus in the U.S., found in a patient in California.

The CDC doesn't know exactly how the patient contracted the virus. — Lovelace

9:25 am: China reports 433 more cases

China's National Health Commission said there were 433 new confirmed cases and 29 additional deaths as of Feb. 26.

Of the new cases, 409 were in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. 26 of the 29 deaths were in Hubei.

That brings the country's total to 78,497 cases, and 2,744 deaths. — Weizhen Tan

9:16 am: US and South Korea to postpone drills indefinitely

The U.S. and South Korea have postponed joint military drills until further notice, according to Reuters, citing defense officials in Seoul. The decision comes as the outbreak continues to spread in South Korea. (see 9:05 am update).

On Wednesday, the U.S. military said a soldier based in South Korea has been infected — the first American service member to test positive for the new coronavirus. — Weizhen Tan

9:05 am: South Korea reports 334 more cases

South Korea confirmed a surge of 334 more cases on Thursday morning, bringing the country's total to 1,595, according to its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were a total of 12 deaths as of Thursday morning, but no new fatalities.

More than half of coronavirus cases in the country have been traced back to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, the country's fourth-largest city. — Weizhen Tan

8:58 am: US colleges cancel study abroad programs

In the face of a global health emergency, thousands of U.S. college students studying abroad are scrambling.

As the coronavirus spreads through northern Italy, some schools, including Syracuse University and New York University, announced they were closing their campuses in Florence immediately. All Seton Hall University spring study abroad trips are also cancelled, according to a tweet by the university.

Italy is second only to the U.K. as the most popular destination to study abroad, according to data from the Institute of International Education, which has tracked the flow of international students since 1919. However, in recent years, China has also become a popular destination for American students, it said. — Jessica Dickler

8:18 am: Japan dives more than 1% as US markets continue to slide

Japan markets slid for the third day this week, as Wall Street also continued tumbling as virus fears continue to grow. The Nikkei 225 fell 1.31% in early trade, while the Topix declined 1.27%.

Dow futures traded fell 170 points and indicated a loss of nearly 200 points at Thursday's open. — Weizhen Tan

7:46 am: IMF, World Bank considering scaling back meetings or holding them remotely

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank could hold their April Spring Meetings remotely or even scale them back amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported, citing sources.

The Spring Meetings are scheduled for April 17 to 19, and 10,000 government officials and other delegates globally are set to gather in Washington D.C. — Weizhen Tan

All times below are in Eastern time.

7:20 pm: Trump says schools should prepare pandemic plans 'just in case'

President Donald Trump said schools should start preparing their pandemic plans as a precaution in case the COVID-19 outbreak that's rapidly spreading through Asia, Europe and the Middle East takes hold in the U.S. "Every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don't think it's going to come to that," Trump said. "I think schools should be preparing, get ready just in case. The words are just in case. We don't think we're going to be there. We don't think we're going to be anywhere close." Watch the press conference here. — Kopecki

6:50 pm: Trump says coronavirus risk to the American people 'remains very low'

President Donald Trump addressed the nation on the coronavirus outbreak, saying the risk to the American public "remains very low." Trump said Vice President Mike Pence will be heading up the U.S. response to any outbreak in the country. Trump announced the news conference in a tweet Wednesday morning, shortly after returning from a state visit to India where he downplayed the threat of the virus to the U.S. "We're really down to probably 10″ cases, Trump told reporters there.

The CDC has confirmed 60 cases in the U.S., 45 of which are patients who were repatriated from Wuhan, China or the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan and are excluded from its official count. Watch the press conference here. — Breuninger

5:47 pm: Germany says it can't trace cases and is heading for an epidemic

Germany is at the beginning of a coronavirus epidemic after new cases sprung up that can no longer be traced to the virus's original source in China, Health Minister Jens Spahn said. A total of five new cases of coronavirus in the west and south of Germany — taking the country's total to around 20 — meant the disease appeared to be moving to a new phase, Spahn told a news conference, urging health authorities and employers to review their pandemic planning.

4:40 pm: Booking Holdings warns coronavirus will hit Q1 revenue

Online travel giant Booking Holdings said the outbreak of coronavirus will damp travel demand and drive down sales in the first quarter. The company, which operates, airfare-search site and others said its revenue could fall by as much as 9% on the year in the first quarter. It expects travel bookings to drop by 10% to 15%. "The coronavirus has had a significant and negative impact across our business during the 1st quarter. It is not possible to predict where, and to what degree, outbreaks of the coronavirus will disrupt travel patterns," the company said in an earnings filing. The company said its forecast included wider ranges than usual because of the "high level of uncertainty in forecasting the coronavirus and its associated impact on the company and the travel industry generally." — Josephs

12:15 pm: CDC confirms 59 US cases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 59 cases in the U.S., a majority of which came from passengers repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan. The CDC updated its case count on its website late Tuesday. The data shows that 42 of the cases are attributed to the cruise ship, three patients were infected in Wuhan and later evacuated to the U.S. and the rest were largely infected while traveling overseas. Just two cases were contracted through person-to-person contact in the U.S., the CDC said. — Kopecki

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight: U.S. confirms new case, Germany says its at the beginning of an epidemic

— CNBC's Dawn Kopecki, Kevin Breuninger and Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.