Health and Science

Coronavirus: China's Hubei, where virus first emerged, to relax lockdown measures

Key Points
  • Over 3.2 million people have been infected worldwide by the coronavirus and more than 233,000 people have died from the respiratory disease Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 
  • The president of the European Commission backed calls for an investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus and said China should be involved in the process. 
  • Major carriers in the U.S. will start requiring passengers and employees who meet customers to wear cloth face coverings throughout the flight, announced trade group Airlines for America. This includes check-in, boarding, in-flight and deplaning, the statement said.

In this article

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  • Global cases: More than 3.27 million
  • Global deaths: More than 233,704

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 7:15 p.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

7:15 pm: China's Hubei province, where Covid-19 was first detected, set to relax lockdown measures

China's central province of Hubei, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, is reportedly poised to ease lockdown restrictions from Saturday.

Hubei's health commission posted on its official WeChat account on Friday that it would move to lower its emergency response level to the second-highest grade from May 2, according to Reuters.

It marks a major milestone in China's fight against the coronavirus outbreak. World health officials believe the coronavirus likely emerged from a seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei's provincial capital, in December.

To date, more than 3.27 million people have contracted Covid-19 worldwide, with 233,704 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. — Sam Meredith

Travelers walk to the exit of the Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Wednesday, April 08, 2020, after 76 days of lockdown of the city due to Covid-19.
Barcroft Media | Getty Images

6:45 pm: Iran reports 63 further deaths as a result of the coronavirus, death toll at 6,091

Iran reported the number of Covid-19 cases had reached 95,646 on Friday, a spokesperson for the health ministry said, according to Reuters. 

The health ministry also confirmed a further 63 deaths as a result of the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the country up to 6,091. 

The Islamic Republic is one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in the Middle East. — Sam Meredith

6 pm: Spain's virus death toll climbs to 24,824

Spain on Friday reported a further 281 fatalities as a result of the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said, taking the nationwide death toll up to 24,824.

The number of new coronavirus cases rose to 215,216 on Friday, up from 213,435 the day before. Spain has reported the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections worldwide. 

The U.S. has recorded the most coronavirus cases to date, accounting for roughly one-third the global total after surpassing the 1 million milestone earlier this week. — Sam Meredith

A woman wearing a sanitary mask as a preventive measure, leaving the train during the first day of work for non-essential sectors. Barcelona faces its 31st day of house confinement due to the contagion of Covid-19.
Paco Freire | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

5:20 pm: How the gas that gave the world Viagra could help treat coronavirus patients

A range of studies and clinical trials underway at Massachusetts General Hospital aims to find out whether inhaled nitric oxide could help treat patients with the coronavirus.

Nitric oxide is a colorless, tasteless and short-acting gas which widens blood vessels in the lungs when inhaled. 

Preliminary data has suggested that inhaled nitric oxide could have a virus-killing effect on the coronavirus, Massachusetts General Hospital says in an online statement. It is due to the genomic similarities between Covid-19 and those that caused the SARS and MERS outbreaks. Studies during the SARS outbreak in 2004 to 2005 demonstrated that nitric oxide was effective in killing that virus.

To be sure, the effectiveness of nitric oxide in treating the new coronavirus has not been studied before. There are no known vaccines or specific antiviral medicines against Covid-19. 

In the 90s, nitric oxide played a central role in the development of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. — Sam Meredith

A Cataldo EMS team transports a suspected Covid-19 patient from Chelsea to Massachusetts General Hospital on April 23, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts United States.
David Degner | Getty Images

4:55 pm: Russia reports record daily increase in Covid-19 cases

Russia's coronavirus crisis response center on Friday reported a record daily rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases.

The country recorded an additional 7,933 cases over the last 24 hours, taking the total number of reported coronavirus infections up to 114,431. The nationwide death toll rose to 1,169 on Friday, the crisis response center said, after 96 further fatalities since Thursday. — Sam Meredith

Physicians Tatyana Lesnykh (L) and Denis Medvedev put on protective gear ahead of entering the Red Zone of the COVID-19 treatment facility at Vinogradov City Clinical Hospital No 64.
Valery Sharifulin

3:50 pm: Singapore adds another 932 new cases in preliminary update

Singapore reported an additional 932 new cases as on May 1, the health ministry said in its preliminary update.

Most of the latest cases were foreign workers living in dormitories, and five of them were Singaporeans or permanent residents, official data showed.

The latest addition will take the country's total confirmed cases to more than 17,000. Singapore has the highest number of reported cases in Southeast Asia, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. — Joanna Tan

3:30 pm: Ryanair grounds nearly all of its planes until July

Low-cost airline Ryanair said Friday it will ground 99% of its planes until July due to the impact of the coronavirus.

It also stated it had begun talks with Boeing about cutting the number of product deliveries over the next two years, Reuters reported. —Matt Clinch

What's next for Europe's coronavirus lockdown

2:45 pm: Malaysia eases some restrictions, most businesses set to reopen next week

Malaysia will allow most businesses to restart operations from May 4, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address the country was ready to start a controlled and careful reopening of economic activity, according to the news wire.

Still, religious activities, large gatherings and businesses that involve close contacts – such as cinemas and night clubs – will not be allowed to reopen, Reuters said.

Schools and universities will also remain closed. – Saheli Roy Choudhury

2:15 pm: How traders are adapting to life off the trading floor

Traders have had to rapidly adjust their day-to-day routine as the pandemic forced many around the world to work from home.

Some are using software that lets them remotely log in to their work computers, while others have been given company PCs with specific programs installed. 

But it's not necessarily been a flawless transition, and wild volatility in the financial markets hasn't helped.

A big complaint from traders is having to adapt from as many as six computer screens to just one or two in their home setup. – Ryan Browne, Elliot Smith

2:08 pm: Restaurant owners in Britain call on Deliveroo to drop commission fees

Restaurant owners across the U.K. want Deliveroo to lower the amount of commission they take on each delivery as they struggle to stay afloat.

Deliveroo takes up to 35% commission plus VAT (a value-added tax which is like a goods and services tax) on some orders, leaving restaurant owners with relatively little to cover their costs.

Restaurants were told to close in March but were able to carry on offering takeouts. To increase their orders, they raced to sign up to Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat. – Sam Shead

1:25 pm: EU chief backs investigation into virus origin and says China should be involved

The president of the European Commission backed calls for an investigation into the origin of the new coronavirus and said China should be involved in the process. 

Speaking to CNBC, Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU's executive arm, said she would like to see China work together with her organization, and others, to get to the bottom of exactly how it emerged.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.
Philipp von Ditfurth | picture alliance | Getty Images

"I think this is for all of us important, I mean for the whole world it is important. You never know when the next virus is starting, so we all want for the next time, we have learned our lesson and we've established a system of early warning that really functions and the whole world has to contribute to that," she told Geoff Cutmore in an exclusive interview Thursday.

She called for more transparency in the future and said governments needed to learn lessons from the current crisis. – Silvia Amaro

12:39 pm: US report warns Afghanistan could face a 'health disaster'

The Covid-19 outbreak in Afghanistan could push the country to confront an approaching health crisis, a report sent to the U.S. Congress warned.

The report was released Thursday by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko.

"Afghanistan's numerous and, in some cases, unique vulnerabilities—a weak health-care system, widespread malnutrition, porous borders, massive internal displacement, contiguity with Iran, and ongoing conflict—make it likely the country will confront a health disaster in the coming months," the report said. 

It added that there were concerns the virus outbreak could complicate peace talks, warning "intra-Afghan negotiations could be significantly hindered if a large number of prisoners on either side contract or die of the virus while in captivity."

Afghanistan reported 2,171 cases of infection and 64 deaths so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

11:26 am: Meatpacking plant in Colorado sees uptick in cases as operations restart

The number of reported coronavirus cases more than doubled over a few days at a JBS meatpacking plant in Colorado after reopening nearly a week ago, Reuters reported citing a union official.

The plant in Greeley began operations again last Friday after two weeks of closure as the company sought to stem an outbreak among workers, Reuters reported. The number of confirmed cases at the plant spiked to 245 on Wednesday — from 120 on Sunday, a union spokesperson told Reuters.

"The uptick in cases in a matter of days shows how serious this crisis is and the dangers that workers are facing every day just trying to do their jobs," Kim Cordova, president of United Food and Commercial Workers, told Reuters.

It comes as President Donald Trump this week invoked the Defense Production Act to mandate that meatpacking plants should remain open, as "closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain."  Joanna Tan

10:23 am: Major US airlines to require face masks on flights

Major carriers in the U.S. will start requiring passengers and employees who meet customers to wear cloth face coverings throughout the flight, announced trade group Airlines for America. This includes check-in, boarding, in-flight and deplaning, the statement said.

"The requirement to wear a cloth face covering during air travel is just one of the ways carriers are working to protect passengers and employees throughout this crisis," said the trade group representing the largest U.S. airlines. "Carriers are working around the clock to sanitize cockpits, cabins and key touchpoints — like tray tables, arm rests, seatbelts, buttons, vents, handles and lavatories — with CDC-approved disinfectants."

Members of the trade group include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Joanna Tan

An art installation depicting dozens of pink aircraft is seen at a parking garage at the San Diego International Airport (SAN) in San Diego, California, U.S., on April 27, 2020.
Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

9:37 am: China reports 12 new cases, says half of them were 'imported'

China's National Health Commission said there were 12 new confirmed cases of infection and that six of them were attributed to travelers from overseas. No new deaths were reported but there were 25 additional asymptomatic cases. 

Cumulatively, there have been 82,874 confirmed cases of infection reported on the mainland and 4,633 people have died. 

On April 17, the cumulative death toll rose substantially after an investigation in the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first reported, added 1,290 deaths Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:14 am: California will allow marriage licenses to be obtained via video conferences

Adults in California would be able to obtain marriage licenses via videoconferencing for the next 60 days, Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted.

Tweet: NEW: CA will now allow adults to obtain marriage licenses via videoconferencing for the next 60 days.

The state has 48,917 confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 3,497 people are in hospitals, Newsom tweeted.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

Can the coronavirus outbreak be contained?

9:03 am: Walmart announced new delivery service under two hours

Walmart said its new express delivery service will deliver to customers in less than two hours.

The service is already available across 100 Walmart stores since mid-April. It will be expanded to almost 1,000 stores in early May, according to Walmart. In the weeks after, the service will be rolled out to nearly 2,000 total stores.

Customers can order across more than 160,000 items that Walmart carries, including food, groceries and everyday essentials.

The service will cost $10 on top of existing delivery charges, but Walmart's Delivery Unlimited customers will pay a flat fee of $10 per express delivery.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:47 am: Australia reportedly planning how to restart sporting activities again

The Australian government will meet on Friday to discuss how sporting activities can restart now that daily reported cases in the country dwindle, Reuters reported citing two sources familiar with the details.

"The agenda includes the principles for sport and other recreational activities," one source told the news agency.

Australia's National Rugby League said it will resume a 20-round competition on May 28 but it still requires government permission to restart, according to Reuters.

The health ministry said as of 6 a.m. local time Friday, there were 16 new cases. Australia has 6,762 total cases and 92 people have died.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:26 am: Smartphone shipments suffer largest on-year decline, IDC says

Global smartphone shipments fell 11.7% on-year in the first three months of 2020, preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed. Phone-makers shipped 275.8 million smartphones for the quarter.

IDC said that while the first quarter usually experiences a "sequential (quarter-over-quarter) decline in shipments," this is the largest year-over-year decline ever. 

China experienced the largest regional decline for the quarter as shipments dropped 20.3% compared to a year ago. Most of China was shut in February for an extended period as part of the country's efforts to contain the outbreak. "The global dependency on China for its smartphone supply chain also caused major issues as the quarter progressed," IDC said. 

Research firm Counterpoint said its analysis showed the global smartphone market declined 13% on-year in the quarter.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:42 am: Tons of fruit and flowers are at risk of spoiling as virus disrupts supply chains

Farmers globally are grappling with excess supplies of their products as their harvests cannot get to their intended customers due to disruptions from lockdowns and movement restrictions. 

Some have turned to creative ways to get rid of excess supplies. Belgians have been asked to eat more fries, as more than 750,000 tons of potatoes are at risk of being thrown away; Indian farmers are feeding their cows strawberries, which are normally meant for tourists and ice-cream producers; while companies in the Netherlands are buying up flowers to give away to employees. 

"The lockdowns that we are all experiencing across the globe are causing a disruption of labor, so we are not getting people into the fields to produce on farms," said Michael Strano, a lead principal investigator for disruptive and sustainable technology in agriculture at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.

"It's a disruption of worldwide transport and supply chains that is causing this unusual phenomenon of shortages in some areas and excess in others," he added.   Huileng Tan

7:30 am: Global cases exceed 3.2 million, death toll over 233,000

Over 3.2 million people have been infected worldwide by the coronavirus and more than 233,000 people have died from the respiratory disease Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

A man wearing a mask tries to catch a taxi at Times Square amid the Covid-19 pandemic on April 30, 2020 in New York City.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

The United States reported the most number of cases, with over 1 million infections and more than 62,000 people deaths, Hopkins data showed. Earlier this week, the death toll surpassed American fatalities from the Vietnam War

Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Germany remain some of the worst-affected countries after the U.S.

The virus outbreak was reported in China's Hubei province late last year before it spread rapidly to the rest of the world in just four months.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:39 pm: Ex-TARP watchdog says Washington is to blame for large companies receiving small business loans

Large companies that received money from the small business loan program are not to blame, according to former TARP watchdog Neil Barofsky.

"You have to go back to the design of the program itself," Barofsky told CNBC. 

"I mean, Congress went out of its way to carve out businesses that have more than 500 employees but are restaurants, chain restaurants," he said on "Closing Bell." "They wanted the money to go to chain restaurants." 

Barofsky, an attorney, previously served as the inspector general for the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Congress passed to stabilize the financial system amid the 2008 crisis. 

Publicly traded companies such as Shake ShackPotbelly and Ruth's Hospitality Group all received loans through the Paycheck Protection Program but have since announced they were returning the money

"They participated because they qualified and then there's this tremendous political backlash," Barofsky said, specifically referencing Shake Shack as an example. —Kevin Stankiewicz

6:23 pm: Trump suspects coronavirus outbreak came from China lab, doesn't cite evidence

Trump suspects coronavirus outbreak came from China lab, offers no evidence

President Donald Trump said — without offering any evidence — that he has reason to believe that the coronavirus outbreak originated from a laboratory in China.

"I can't tell you that. I'm not allowed to tell you that," Trump said when asked what evidence he has seen to make him believe the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.

Trump initially was asked by a reporter at a White House event on Thursday about the origins of the virus, and answered, "You have heard all different things. Three or four different concepts as to how it came out."

"We should have the answer to that in the not-so-distant future and that will determine a lot how I feel about China," the president said.

But he later was asked by a reporter if he had "seen anything that gives you a high degree of confidence, at this point, that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of this virus?"

Trump replied, "Yes, I have," and then repeated that assertion. —Dan Mangan

Read CNBC's coverage from the U.S. overnight: Trump fuels theory that virus came from China lab, Big Tech earnings take a hit