China reports 54 new cases, says they are ‘imported’

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. All times below are in Beijing time.

  • Global cases: More than 597,000
  • Global deaths: At least 27,300
  • Top 5 countries: United States (104,661), Italy (86,498), China (81,946), Spain (65,719) and Germany (50,871)

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 1:23 p.m. Beijing time. 

6:28 pm: Airbus aircraft returns to Spain with 4 million facemasks

An Airbus aircraft operated by Airbus crew touched down in Spain early Saturday morning local time with a cargo of four million facemasks, Reuters reported. Spain has more than 65,700 coronavirus cases and more than 5,000 deaths.

5:40 pm: Iran cases rise to 35,408, deaths pass 2,500

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran have risen to 35,408, according to an Iranian health official cited by Reuters Saturday. The official reported 139 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing Iran’s death toll to 2,517.

5:50 pm: Saudi Airlines will operate exceptional flights to London to allow UK nationals to return home

Saudi Airlines will operate exceptional flights from Damma, Riyadh and Jeddah this week to allow British nationals to return home, the British Embassy said Saturday. The first flight will depart Sunday and will go to London Heathrow airport, with additional flights to be scheduled if necessary

5:31 pm: Japan PM Abe says subsidies for companies will increase to protect jobs

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday announced economic measures to aid companies hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, including extending no-interest loans to private sector companies and raising subsidies for companies to protect jobs. Japan’s upcoming ‘unprecedented’ stimulus package, Abe said, takes into account the possibility that the government may declare a state of emergency, according to Reuters reporting.

“We will lay out a stimulus package of unprecedented size that will exceed the one compiled after the Lehman crisis,” Abe told media, according to a translation provided by Reuters.

The prime minister said he disagreed with claims that Japan was hiding its coronavirus cases. He also suggested cash handouts to those in need and warned that the disease’s spread could worsen if people did not take proper precautionary measures.

4:46 pm: U.S. working to repatriate Americans in Saudi Arabia

The American embassy in Riyadh said Saturday it was working with Saudi authorities to arrange a commercial flight to repatriate Americans in the kingdom.

“No flights or departure/arrival locations have been confirmed at this time,” the embassy said in a statement. “It is likely that flights will be scheduled with little advance notice.”

4:42 pm: Germany adds more than 6,000 cases, 55 deaths

Germany’s coronavirus cases jumped by 6,294 on Saturday to a total confirmed 48,582 cases and its death toll rose by 55 to reach 325, the numbers released by its national institute for infectious diseases revealed Saturday.

3:03 pm: Tokyo reports record daily case increase of 60

The Japanese capital of Tokyo announced 60 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a record daily increase for the city, Reuters reported. 

This aerial photo shows deserted roads during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in New Delhi on March 27, 2020.

Prakash Singh | AFP | Getty Images

1:12 pm: India cases top 800 as the country remains in lockdown

India reported new cases that brought the country’s total number of infections to 873, according to information on the health ministry’s website on Saturday. While that number is relatively low in comparison to other parts of the world, India has also tested far fewer people for the disease. 

There are 775 active cases at the moment and at least 19 people have died. 

Earlier this week, most of India’s 1.3 billion people went into a lockdown as part of the government’s efforts to contain the virus’ spread. The finance ministry announced more than $22 billion in stimulus to help low-income households and daily wage earners, who are said to be the most affected by the shutdown.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

11:53 am: Hundreds in Iran reportedly dead after ingesting methanol

According to Iranian media, nearly 300 people have died and more than 1,000 have fallen sick after ingesting methanol and mistakenly believing it would protect against the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported. Drinking alcohol is banned in the country. 

An Iranian doctor helping Iran’s health ministry told the news wire that the problem was greater than what had been reportedly locally; the doctor said around 480 people died and 2,850 people have fallen sick from alcohol poisoning, the AP said. Fake remedies spread across social media in the country as people remain suspicious of the government’s handling of the epidemic, the news wire added. 

Iran has more than 32,300 reported cases and over 2,300 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. To be clear, there are no known cures yet for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

11:30 am: Hyundai extends production suspension in US plant

Automaker Hyundai Motor said it was extending production suspension at its assembly and manufacturing plant in Alabama till April 10 to “to protect the health and well-being of our fellow team members and communities.” The plant is set to resume production on April 13. 

“In addition, we must adjust vehicle production to match the anticipated economic impact of the pandemic,” Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama said in a statement

The facility employs about 3,000 people, who would be compensated until April 3, the company said. During the shutdown, about 100 employees would be on-site each day to handle essential functions. Production was suspended on March 18, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19; the suspension was then extended till March 31 due to an anticipated decline in demand because of the pandemic.  Phil LeBeau, Saheli Roy Choudhury

10:20 am: Australia to step up quarantine measures for returning travelers 

By midnight on March 28, all travelers arriving in Australia will undergo mandatory 14-day self-isolation at designated facilities like hotels before they are allowed to go home. The military will be deployed to support states and territories in ensuring people comply, including those who have already returned and are self-isolating at home. 

Australia has more than 3,100 cases and 13 deaths; many of them are said to be “imported” as residents returned from abroad. 

Brendan Murphy, the country’s chief medical officer, said Friday that the biggest worry is about community transmission of the virus. He said there were pockets of community transmission observed in Sydney and also in other states.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:44 am: South Korea reports 146 new cases, five deaths

South Korea reported 146 new cases, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 9,478, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Five more people died, pushing the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in the country to 144 thus far.

Mass testing, strict quarantine measures, and social distancing efforts as well as keeping tabs on visitors entering the country helped to relatively slow down the infection rate in South Korea. Last month, it was one of the worst affected countries outside of China.

Authorities pleaded with the public on Friday to stay indoors and avoid large gatherings, Reuters reported Saheli Roy Choudhury

9:36 am: Abbott receives approval for test that can detect coronavirus in 5 minutes

Abbott on Friday announced it received approval for a test that is capable of delivering positive results of the coronavirus in as little as five minutes, and it will begin making those tests available to health care providers next week. 

The test can detect negative results in 13 minutes. The company said it plans to ramp up manufacturing so it can deliver 50,000 tests per day. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” Abbott Chief Operating Officer Robert Ford said in a statement.

This is the second Abbott test for the coronavirus to be launched. – Salvador Rodriguez

9:02 am: China reports 54 new cases of infection, all of them ‘imported’

China’s National Health Commission reported 54 new cases of infection, all of which were “imported” as residents returned from abroad. Three new deaths were announced and all of them occurred in Hubei, where the coronavirus was first reported. 

A worker wearing protective suit checks the body temperature of an employee at the entrance of OrbusNeich Medical (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 6, 2020 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province of China.

Chen Wen | China News Service via Getty Images

Starting Saturday, foreign nationals holding valid visas or residence permits for China will not be allowed to enter the country, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday

Altogether, China says it has had 81,394 confirmed cases thus far; among them, close to 75,000 patients have recovered and 3,295 died. Data from Johns Hopkins University showed both the United States and Italy have overtaken China in terms of the number of reported cases.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:20 pm: Gov. Cuomo, the National Guard and FEMA transform the Javits Center into a hospital

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that the construction of a temporary hospital at the Jacob K. Javits Center had been completed with the help of FEMA and the National Guard. The New York City convention center, which usually hosts events like New York Comic Con, is now home to 1,000 hospital beds that will be used to handle patient overflow caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The temporary hospital at the Javits Center in Manhattan is just the first of several that will be built in New York. Cuomo plans to have a temporary hospital in each of New York City’s five boroughs as well as in Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties. – Hannah Miller, Adam Jeffery

5:45 pm: US coronavirus cases top 100,000, doubling in three days

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 100,000 Friday, doubling in just three days as the pandemic accelerates and the U.S. rolls out broader testing measures.

Data from Johns Hopkins University showed the total number of coronavirus cases as 101,707 and the total number of deaths in the U.S. as 1,544.

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China, in December. It has since spread to more than half a million people in almost every country around the world and continues to pick up speed, the World Health Organization warned earlier this week.

A man in a surgical mask walks through Manhattan’s Broadway Theatre district after Broadway shows announced they will cancel performances due to the coronavirus outbreak in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., March 12, 2020.

Andrew Kelly | REUTERS

“The pandemic is accelerating,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday at a press briefing from the organization’s Geneva headquarters. “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.” – William Feuer

5 pm: Trump signs $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill as the US tries to prevent economic devastation

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