Health and Science

Iran sets up checkpoints between cities; closes schools and universities

Key Points
  • China's National Health Commission said there were 139 additional cases and 31 new deaths as of Wednesday — all of the fatalities occurred in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. 
  • China's finance ministries allocated $16 billion for virus prevention.
  • South Korea reports 760 new cases and 3 additional deaths, bringing the nationwide total number of infections to  6,088.
  • California declared a state of emergency after a coronavirus-related death in the state, where there are at least 53 confirmed cases.
Employees produce medical masks at Madaran Medical Manufacturing Company in Robat Karim district of Tehran, Iran on March 4, 2020. Factories in Iran work 24 hours a day to fulfill masks need due to coronavirus.
Anadolu Agency
  • Global cases: More than 95,200 according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization
  • Global deaths: More than 3,270 according to the latest figures from the WHO

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.

8:00 pm: Italy extends measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus

As well as closing schools and universities, Italy has introduced a wider range of measures to counter the spread of the coronavirus. These include the suspension of public and private events that entail any public crowding, as the government advises that people keep a meter's distance from eachother.

The government has also said that Serie A football championship and competitive sporting events will take place behind closed doors until April 3; it also advised that the elderly or those with underlying health conditions should stay at home. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's plan also envisages a 50% increase in intensive care beds, and a 100% increase in respiratory and infectious disease wards, newspaper La Repubblica reported— Ellyatt

7:49 pm: HSBC employee in London has tested positive for coronavirus

An employee in HSBC's research department in London has tested positive for coronavirus, the bank confirmed Thursday.

The employee informed the bank at the weekend and staff who came into contact with him have been told to work from home. — Ellyatt

7:05 pm: Iran reports 3,513 infections and 107 deaths and coronavirus

Iran has updated its latest coronavirus numbers, with 3,513 people infected with the virus and 107 deaths, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced on state TV on Thursday, Reuters reported. — Ellyatt

6:28 pm: Iran sets up checkpoints between cities; closes schools and universities

Iran's health minister says authorities will begin manning checkpoints to limit travel between major cities amid the virus outbreak, the Associated Press reported, as it emerged that schools and universities are to be shut until March 20. — Ellyatt

6:18 pm: Hit to airlines from coronavirus could reach $113 billion, industry body says

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that the financial impact of the coronavirus on the global air transport industry could be over $100 billion.

The IATA now sees 2020 global revenue losses for the passenger business of between $63 billion and $113 billion, depending on how far the virus spreads. British carrier Flybe announced early Thursday that it was going into administration. — Ellyatt

5:48 pm: Italy may seek suspension of EU budget rules with 5 billion euro ($5.6 billion) virus package

Italy may ask for a temporary suspension of European Union budget rules as it struggles to contain a coronavirus epidemic, the deputy economy minister said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Laura Castelli told Il Messaggero newspaper that the government was considering increasing the amount of money it planned to spend mitigating the crisis to 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) from a previously announced 3.6 billion.

She said Europe needed to be more flexible with its strict stability pact budget deficit rules. — Ellyatt

5:27 pm: Makeshift hospital in Wuhan reportedly warns of increasing relapses in discharged coronavirus patients

Jiang'an hospital in Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the coronavirus' spread, warned Wednesday of increased cases in which discharged patients were subsequently re-diagnosed with the disease, according to a report in The Paper, a state-funded online news platform.

The hospital is one of at least 17 makeshift, or "cabin," hospitals built to ease the pressure on the city's severely inadequate medical facilities. — Wu

5:18 pm: England's chief medical officer strikes pessimistic tone over UK outbreak

England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has said the country is now trying to delay the spread of the virus rather than trying to contain it.

Speaking to the government's Health and Social Care Committee on Thursday, Whitty said trying to contain the spread of the virus was "pretty optimistic" now and that there was community transmission taking place in Britain. — Ellyatt

5:08 pm: Germany says total number of cases rises to 349

The total number of coronavirus cases has risen in Germany to 349, according to the Robert Koch health institute. North Rhine-Westphalia remains the worst affected region with 175 cases. — Ellyatt

4:45 pm:  South Korea reports an additional 322 cases of coronavirus

South Korea reported 322 more cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, Reuters reported, taking the total tally to 6,088 after 438 new cases were reported earlier in the day. — Ellyatt

3:57 pm: China's commerce ministry says difficult for Q1 imports, exports to avoid volatility

The work rate for important foreign trade enterprises in China has resumed at various levels, according to Li Xinggan, director of the department of foreign trade at the Ministry of Commerce. In Zhejiang and Tianjin, the work rate is 100%; for Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Shandong and Chongqing the rate has topped 70%, Li said, according to a CNBC translation of his Chinese remarks. 

First-quarter trade data is always affected by the Lunar New Year, he said, but this year, due to the additional impact of the virus, "it will be difficult for imports and exports to avoid volatility." Li added the Commerce Ministry has noted international cuts to global growth forecasts, but still believes the global market demand structure is relatively stable. — Cheng

2:38 pm: China's finance ministries allocated $16 billion for virus prevention

As of Wednesday, all levels of finance ministries in China have allocated 110.48 billion yuan ($16 billion) for virus prevention and control, Vice Finance Minister Xu Hongcai said at a press conference. China reported 139 new confirmed cases on Thursday. (see 8:28 am update)  Cheng

2:27 pm: UAE could ask returning travelers to home quarantine

United Arab Emirates' health ministry said travelers returning to the country may be asked to stay at home as a preventive measure, in case they became infected during their travels, according to the government news agency. If a person does get sick, they would be taken into isolation at health facilities. As of Mar. 4, the UAE had 27 confirmed cases, including instances of local transmission, according to the WHO. — Roy Choudhury

2:18 pm: Travelers to Thailand are getting mixed messages on restrictions

Thai authorities have been sending conflicting messages as they attempt to contain the outbreak — Thailand has at least 43 confirmed cases. Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Facebook post that all visitors from "high-risk zones" would be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days, according to a Bangkok Post report. The post, which was quickly deleted "without explanation," reportedly mentioned Singapore, Japan, China, and South Korea.

A day later, the Singapore branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said in a Facebook post that it has "not received any official government announcement on the quarantine/restriction for visitors from Singapore traveling to Thailand." — Huang

1:42 pm: 96 countries and territories have banned travelers from South Korea

As many as 96 countries and territories have imposed entry restrictions or tougher quarantine measures on travelers coming from South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported citing the foreign ministry. As of 9 a.m. local time, 36 countries and territories, including Singapore and Hong Kong, imposed entry bans on those who had traveled to South Korea in the last 14 days, Yonhap said. The number of cases in the country surpassed 5,000 in a very short period of time, prompting worries over Seoul's ability to contain the outbreak. (see 9:29 a.m. update)  Roy Choudhury

1:33 pm: Japan's AnGes teams up with Osaka University for vaccine development

Japanese biopharmaceutical company AnGes said it is working with Osaka University to jointly develop a coronavirus vaccine. Anges shares jumped more than 18% in afternoon trade. There have been at least 317 domestic cases, including 30 patients who tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms, according to a Wednesday update from Japan's health ministry. — Roy Choudhury

12:21 pm: China considers donation to WHO

China is considering donating money to the World Health Organization, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu said Thursday.

He also said China is pushing ahead with necessary assistance for countries with urgent needs, such as South Korea, Iraq, Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. — Cheng

12:00 pm: Facebook confirms a contractor in Seattle tested positive

A contractor based in Facebook's Stadium East office in Seattle has been diagnosed with the virus, the company confirmed. "We've notified our employees and are following the advice of public health officials to prioritize everyone's health and safety," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said. 

The person was last in the office on Feb. 21. Facebook closed the office immediately until Mar. 9 and, following updated guidance from authorities, it has encouraged employees in Seattle to work from home till the end of the month.  — Roy Choudhury

11:35 am: Another Princess Cruises ship may have been affected

Princess Cruises said it had been notified by the U.S. CDC that the agency is investigating a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in Northern California among guests who sailed on its completed Grand Princess Mexican voyage roundtrip to San Francisco from Feb. 11 to Feb. 21. That followed after one of the guests died almost two weeks after disembarking.  

The ship, on a current voyage to Hawaii with a stopover at Ensenada, Mexico, has been ordered to return to San Francisco. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press briefing that the ship is currently off the coast and its arrival ashore will be delayed to "provide ample opportunity for the CDC, partnership with Coast Guard and with state health officials, to conduct tests because we have a number of passengers and crew members that have developed symptoms on this cruise ship." 

Earlier, Newsom declared a state of emergency in California. (see 8:10 am update) — Roy Choudhury

11:26 am: CoinDesk says it is moving forward with a major cryptocurrency event of the year in May

CoinDesk said it is moving forward as planned with Consensus 2020 and Blockchain Week NYC due to happen in May, and that it will monitor the situation on a daily basis until then. If the event is canceled due to guidance from health authorities and governments, attendees would receive a full refund on their ticket purchase. If an international participant is unable to attend due to travel restrictions, their tickets would also be refunded. — Roy Choudhury

People walk through Manhattan with surgical masks as fears of the coronavirus spreading through the U.S. increase on March 04, 2020.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

10:09 am: Microsoft tells Bay Area and Puget Sound employees to work from home

The tech giant is encouraging employees in California's Bay Area and the Puget Sound area in Washington to work from home for the next few weeks. More than a third of Microsoft's 151,163 employees work in the Puget Sound area as of Dec. 31. Earlier this week, Microsoft canceled a conference it had planned to hold in the region later this month. — Roy Choudhury

10:03 am: Apple joins other big tech names and drops out of SXSW

Apple confirmed it will no longer attend the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, as companies continue to implement measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus on their operations. It had planned to premiere new shows for its Apple TV+ service and host a panel. Apple joins other companies including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Intel that have already pulled out of the conference. — Leswing

9:29 am: South Korea reports 438 new cases, 3 additional deaths

The total number of confirmed cases in South Korea is now 5,766, including 35 deaths, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak jumped in recent weeks, with most cases reported in the city of Daegu and surrounding areas. Many of the infected are affiliated with a secretive religious group, which is being sued by the mayor of Seoul for "murder, injury and violation of prevention and management of infectious diseases." — Roy Choudhury

9:07 am: US airlines cut flights, reduce spending amid falling air travel demand

JetBlue Airways said it is reducing capacity by approximately 5% in the near term to "address the fall in demand," and will be monitoring booking trends to determine if further reductions need to be made. The airline also announced other measures aimed at preserving cash: They include reducing hiring for frontline and support center positions, limiting non-essential spending and considering voluntary time-off programs. 

United Airlines also said it will reduce the number of April flights and suspend hiring and salary increases. — Roy Choudhury

8:54 am: Australia reports second death

A 95-year-old woman at an elderly care home in Sydney died on Tuesday. Her passing marked the second virus-related fatality in Australia, where there are at least 41 confirmed cases of infection, according to the health ministry. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt told local media on Thursday that three other people at the same elderly care home were diagnosed with the infection. "The Chief Medical Officer is preparing additional advice today for sharing with aged care facilities," Hunt said, according to a transcript of an interview on the health ministry's website. — Roy Choudhury

8:28 am: China reports 139 new confirmed cases, 31 additional deaths

China's National Health Commission said there were 139 additional cases and 31 new deaths as of Wednesday. All of those fatalities occurred in Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. To date, there have been a total of 80,409 confirmed cases on the mainland, with 52,045 people discharged and 3,012 dead. — Roy Choudhury

8:10 am: California declares state of emergency after coronavirus-related death

California declared a state of emergency after a coronavirus-related death in the state. There are currently at least 53 confirmed cases in California. Earlier on Wednesday, local health officials in California announced the state's first COVID-19 death in Placer County, bringing U.S. fatalities to at least 11.

"The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus," said Governor Gavin Newsom. The emergency proclamation includes provisions to protect people against price gouging, particularly for medical supplies. — Bhattacharjee

7:56 am: Moody's says challenges ahead for Chinese regional and local governments 

China's regional and local governments (RLG) will face significant funding shortfalls this year as the virus outbreak is set to further pressure already slowing revenue growth, Moody's Investors Service said in a new report.

"We expect the coronavirus outbreak will result in lower RLG revenue growth, although policy measures by the central government should support RLGs through higher transfers and bond quotas," Jack Yuan, an assistant vice president and analyst at the firm said.

Most Chinese provinces have lowered their GDP growth targets for 2020, the ratings agency said. — Roy Choudhury

7:31 am: Australia expects a 0.5 percentage point hit to Q1 GDP

Australia's Treasury Department predicted the virus outbreak will shave at least 0.5 percentage point off economic growth in the three months ending in March, Reuters reported. The preliminary estimate took into account the impact on tourism, international education exports, and some exchange-rate effects, but did not account for any supply-chain disruptions or broad impacts, the news wire said. 

That appeared to be in line with the central bank's prediction for a noticeably weaker Q1 growth. Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed its cash rate to 0.5% and Governor Philip Lowe said the coronavirus outbreak "is having a significant effect on the Australian economy at present, particularly in the education and travel sectors." — Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

5:15 pm: DHS employee tests positive for coronavirus

A Department of Homeland Security employee has tested positive for the coronavirus, DHS press secretary Heather Swift said in a statement Wednesday. "Late last night, DHS headquarters was alerted to a situation where one of our contracted medical professionals conducting screenings at LAX international airport had tested positive for COVID-19," the statement said. "This individual is currently under self-quarantine at home with mild symptoms and under medical supervision. Their immediate family is also under home quarantine." — Bhattacharjee

5 pm: NIH official questioned about WHO mortality rate

NIH official Dr. Anthony Fauci told lawmakers the mortality rate for COVID-19 could change depending on how many people ultimately fall ill and die from the virus. World health officials said Tuesday that the current mortality rate was around 3.4%, significantly higher than previous estimates. "As a group, it's going to depend completely on what the factor of asymptomatic cases are," he said, adding the more asympotmatic cases, the lower the mortality rate. "What we're hearing right now on a recent call from the WHO this morning is that there aren't as many asymptomatic cases as we think, which made them elevate, I think, what their mortality is," he said. "I'm torn. If we get enough data to have a big [numerator] it's gonna be bad news for us." — Hirsch, Higgins

4:53 pm: House passes $8.3 billion emergency spending plan

The House passed a sweeping bill allocating more than $8 billion in emergency funds to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The funding package, which provides more than $3 billion in vaccine research and $2.2 billion in prevention and preparedness efforts, was unveiled hours earlier following days of negotiations on Capitol Hill.

The emergency coronavirus bill will head to the Senate, where leaders there hope they can quickly bring it to a vote. If the bill passes that chamber, it will move to the Oval Office desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. — Breuninger 

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight: House passes emergency spending, United slashes flights

— CNBC's Eustance Huang, Evelyn Cheng, Kif LeswingRiya Bhattacharjee, Kevin Breuninger, Lauren Hirsch, and Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.