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Mar 10, 2020

Coronavirus Live Updates: Governments Struggle to Cope as Markets Teeter and Anxiety Rises

18-23 minutes - Source: NYT


Italy imposed a nationwide lockdown. A visit by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, to Wuhan, where the outbreak began, was meant to demonstrate success against the virus.
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Austria is restricting access at the border with Italy, and officials confirmed that the virus had reached every country in the European Union.
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Credit...Miguel Medina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
From the snowy peaks of the Alps to the sun-drenched shores of Sicily, Italians woke up on Tuesday to the stark new reality of a nationwide lockdown.
The sweeping order to impose severe travel limits across the whole country, announced on Monday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in a prime-time news conference, was the latest escalation in Italy’s fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is causing broad social and economic disruption around the globe.
With the announcement that Cyprus had confirmed two infections, every country in the European Union has now reported cases of the virus. But the approaches to slowing the spread varied widely from nation to nation — with some countries announcing
In the United States, Wall Street suffered its worst day in more than a decade on Monday, adding to losses in recent weeks that have evaporated some $5 trillion in stock market wealth. But European markets on Tuesday morning showed signs of stabilizing, and Wall Street futures were also pointing to a rebound.
President Trump is expected to unveil measures today intended to provide a stimulus to the economy, among them possibly a cut in payroll taxes to provide some form of relief to people who live paycheck to paycheck and for whom taking time off work because of illness — or to monitor possible exposure to the virus — could mean financial ruin.
Investors’ perceptions that the Trump administration was bungling efforts to combat the virus have fed fears that the American economy will tilt into recession, added to the deepening sense of anxiety worldwide.
More than 114,000 cases of infection have been reported globally, and more than 4,000 people have died. But the numbers tell only a slice of the story.
Fear and anxiety have outpaced the immediate danger.
The speed with which the virus is spreading has left public health officials rushing to catch up.
New York State announced its first cases only a week ago. Now, with more than 140 confirmed cases, thousands find themselves under “self-isolation orders” — often with little guidance as to what that means.
Hospitals across the United States have already reported shortages of a crucial type of respirator mask.
Nationally, there were over 700 confirmed cases, but officials cautioned that the number was likely to be higher, as delays in testing have slowed efforts to get a more complete picture.
In the scramble to take precautionary measures, cases of infection left offices empty — including NATO headquarters in Brussels and communal work spaces in Silicon Valley, Calif. — as workers were told to stay home. Central Seattle was a ghost town.
The list of events being canceled also grows daily, with the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin joining scores of concerts, book fairs and business conferences.
But the global count of at least 114,000 cases also includes more than 64,000 people who have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
In China, where the virus was first detected late last year, the number of new infections continued to dwindle.
President Xi Jinping sought to demonstrate how the country was recovering by visiting the hardest hit city, Wuhan.
But the real test will come when the travel restrictions are lifted in the region. Only then will it be clear whether China has managed to get control over the spread of the virus or simply earned a temporary reprieve.
Passengers aboard the Grand Princess, the cruise ship stranded for days off California and now docked at the Port of Oakland, were expected to start disembarking on Tuesday.
They will be met by workers in protective gear who have been preparing a large-scale quarantine operation for the 21 people infected with the coronavirus, along with the thousands of other passengers. The crew will remain onboard and the ship will head back to sea while they complete a 14-day quarantine.
The outbreak on the ship was just one of many fronts in the battle to slow the spread of virus across the United States.
Monday was the seventh consecutive day with more diagnoses than the previous day.
The national total of infections surpassed 700, contributing to the cancellation of mass gatherings like the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, the closing of school classrooms and self-quarantines by members of Congress and the commander of American forces in Europe.
But U.S. officials have not yet talked about locking down whole cities, as China and Italy have done.
“I don’t think you want to have folks shutting down cities like in northern Italy — we are not at that level,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading American expert on infectious diseases, said in an interview. “Social distancing like in Seattle is the way to go.”
On Tuesday, schools in Fulton County, which serve the Atlanta suburbs, will be closed because an employee tested positive. Elsewhere, Ohio State University; Amherst College; the University of California, Berkeley; and New York University have announced plans to suspend in-person classes and move to an online format, joining a growing list of colleges and universities that have taken similar steps.

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, toured Wuhan on Tuesday, visiting the center of the global coronavirus epidemic for the first time since the outbreak began and sending a powerful signal that the government believes the worst of the national emergency is over.
Wearing a blue mask, Mr. Xi stopped short of declaring victory, but his visit to Wuhan was clearly intended to send a powerful signal that the government believes the worst of the national emergency could soon be over in China — just as others countries are being struck by their own outbreaks.
As if to echo the message, some cities, even in surrounding province of Hubei, announced plans to loosen some of the most onerous limits imposed on millions of people.
Mr. Xi flew into Wuhan in the morning and raced through several sites in the deeply traumatized city of 11 million people who have remained largely under lockdown for nearly seven weeks. The city and surrounding province of Hubei have accounted for all but 112 of the 3,136 deaths in mainland China.
“Hubei and Wuhan have been the very most decisive battleground in this struggle to contain the epidemic,” Mr. Xi said, according to an account of his remarks from Xinhua, the official news agency. “Through arduous efforts, there’s been a promising turn in epidemic containment in Hubei and Wuhan, and we’ve achieved important interim results. But the tasks of containment remain arduous and heavy.”
Mr. Xi stopped at a community center, where he met with party volunteers on the sidewalk, and a hospital specially built in a matter of days in February to treat thousands of the epidemic’s victims, an achievement the government has repeatedly touted as evidence of its ability to marshal resources in a crisis.
His trip is sure to be seen as a sign that China’s leaders believe that a series of draconian restrictions, including the lockdown of hundreds of millions of people starting in late January, had brought the outbreak under control.

The grand piazzas are empty. The traffic circles are quiet. And people who would normally be sipping their morning espresso in cafes from Milan to Rome are notably absent.
Late Monday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered the most severe nationwide limits on travel in Europe, adopting the playbook used by China to contain the virus.
Such draconian measures will undoubtedly prove complicated in a society that prizes individual freedom. But with more than 9,000 cases of infection and nearly 50 deaths, drastic action was needed, Mr. Conte said.
Travel was allowed for work, for health reasons and for trips to buy food and other supplies. But the police can impose penalties if the rules are broken.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported on lines of up to an hour to enter supermarkets in Naples on Tuesday morning, with problems exacerbated by the mandate that people stand about three feet apart.
The Italian national health system geared for an upsurge in critical cases, and the national procurement agency moved to buy equipment for thousands of new intensive-care beds.
Laura Castelli, deputy economy minister, told a radio program that payments on mortgages “for individuals and households” would be suspended throughout Italy. The measure is likely to be part of a fiscal package to bolster the economy that the government is expected to discuss further on Wednesday.

Investors moved back into the markets on Tuesday, a day after the coronavirus and a battle among major oil producers shook the global financial scene.
European stocks opened higher, led by a rise of more than 2 percent in London. Asian markets finished higher as well.
Futures markets indicated that Wall Street would follow the trend.
The gains did not make up for the global plunge in markets on Monday. Wall Street posted its worst performance in over a decade. Some of the biggest financial exchanges in Asia and Europe flirted with, or crossed into, bear market territory.
Markets still showed signs of nervousness on Tuesday. Yields on U.S. government debt rose slightly but remained close to record lows. The price of gold fell slightly on futures markets.

The coronavirus is now present in every country in the European Union, health officials said on Tuesday.
France, Germany and Spain continued to see the biggest surge in new infections, with each country confirming more than 1,200 cases. But the measures taken by the bloc’s member states to contain the virus varied from country to country.
The Czech Republic announced that all schools aside from universities would close, starting on Wednesday.
“We may decide on additional emergency measures later,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is necessary to take active, exceptional measures at the start of an epidemic,” he added.
The Spanish government stepped up its efforts to contain further contagion by closing all education centers in the Madrid region, from nursery schools to universities.
The measure means that more than 1.25 million pupils and students will have to stay at home.
The school closings, which have also affected Vitoria, the capital of the Basque region, another epicenter of coronavirus, will most likely force parents to work from home to look after their children, a spokeswoman for the national government, María Jesús Montero, said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
“Families who need support or specific help will get it,” Ms. Montero said, without specifying how.
In Poland, schools in Poznan, a city in the west of the country, were ordered closed after a case of infection was discovered. Swimming pools and other public places were also to be shut for two weeks, starting on Wednesday,
Across the Continent, countries stepped up travel regulations and guidelines.
Austria on Tuesday barred travelers from Italy without a health certificate, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
Serbia has temporarily barred travelers from the worst-affected places, including Italy, while Croatian officials said that entering the country from highly infected areas would be put into a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The authorities in France, where 30 people had died and 1,412 had been infected by Tuesday, said that the country was not yet facing an epidemic and was resisting taking the kind of sweeping preventive measures seen in Italy or Japan.


President Trump has been promising the imminent arrival of a vaccine to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Federal health officials have repeatedly pointed out that his timetable is off — it will take at least a year — but Mr. Trump’s single-minded focus on warp-speed production of a new vaccine represents a striking philosophical shift.
For years, he was an extreme vaccine skeptic who not only blamed childhood immunizations for autism — a position that scientists have forcefully repudiated — but once boasted he had never had a flu shot.
At least a decade before Mr. Trump was elected president, with responsibilities that would include nominating experts to lead the nation’s health centers, the hotelier and commercial developer was holding forth with great confidence about medical topics. When an interviewer would note that physicians disagreed with the dim view he took of vaccines, Mr. Trump remained ever ebullient, impervious and dismissive of scientific authority.
While Mr. Trump was promising quick action on a vaccine, he also said on Monday that he would work with Congress on measures to bolster the economy following the steepest market drop in more than a decade, fueled by fear over the coronavirus outbreak.
Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House that he would meet with Senate leaders and House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and legislation intended to protect hourly wage earners who may have to miss work because of the virus. He also said he would ensure that the Small Business Administration extended more loans.
“This was something that we were thrown into, and we’re going to handle it, and we have been handling it very well,” Mr. Trump said.
Reporting and research was contributed by Elisabetta Povoledo, Iliana Magra, Raphael Minder, Constant Méheut, Joanna Berendt, Jason M. Bailey, Marc Santora, Jason Horowitz, Jorge Arangure, Jan Hoffman, Peter S. Goodman, Clifford Krauss, Claire Fu, Elsie Chen, Choe Sang-Hun, Maria Abi-Habib, Amber Wang and Zoe Mou.
  • Updated March 9, 2020
    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to lung lesions and pneumonia.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can travel through the air, enveloped in tiny respiratory droplets that are produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 113,700 in at least 97 countries and more than 4,000 have died. The spread has slowed in China, but is gaining speed in Europe and the United States.
    • What symptoms should I look out for?
      Symptoms, which can take between two to 14 days to appear, include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold, but people may be able to pass on the virus even before they develop symptoms.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea, China, Italy and Iran. And the agency has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan.The State Department has advised Americans against traveling on cruise ships.
    • How long will it take to develop a treatment or vaccine?
      Several drugs are being tested, and some initial findings are expected soon. A vaccine to stop the spread is still at least a year away.

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