Singapore new record high, China numbers

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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.

  • Global cases: More than 2.15 million 
  • Global deaths: At least 144,243 
  • Most cases reported: United States (671,331), Spain (184,948), Italy (168,941), France (147,091), and Germany (137,698). 

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 12:10 p.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

12:11 pm: Brazilian president fired his health minister after they clashed over how to fight the coronavirus outbreak

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired his health minister after they clashed over how to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. 

Bolsonaro also called for states to end stay-at-home orders and said those measures were hurting the economy, according to the news wire. 

The leader previously played down the threat of the pandemic, describing the virus as “a little flu,” and criticized state governors for imposing restrictions that were supported by the outgoing health minister as well as other experts, Reuters said.

Brazil has more than 30,600 reported cases and at least 1,947 people have succumbed to the disease. — Saheli Roy Choudhury 

12:04 pm: Global cases more than 2.15 million, death toll over 144,000

Reported cases of coronavirus infection worldwide stood at more than 2.15 million and at least 144,243 people have died, data from Johns Hopkins University showed. 

The United States had the most number of reported cases at over 671,000.

Infections in Spain, Italy, France, and Germany trickled up, with each country reporting more than 135,000 cases⁠, according to Hopkins.

Total cases in the United Kingdom reached 104,147 infections and more than 13,700 people have died, the university’s data showed. ⁠— Saheli Roy Choudhury

11:44 am: New Zealand says it will decide on extending or easing current lockdown measures next week

Senior government ministers in the New Zealand cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss and decide if the country’s current restriction levels will be extended, or eased, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said at a press conference. 

New Zealand is currently at alert level 4, which means residents are required to stay indoors unless they’re providing essential services; all nonessential businesses and public gathering places, including bars and restaurants, are closed and social gatherings are not permitted. 

The country reported eight new confirmed and suspected cases of Covid-19 on Friday and two additional deaths. Speaking about the new deaths, Robertson said, “This also serves as a somber reminder that we need to continue to stay home to save lives and to break the chain of transmission.”

“We must make sure that we’re following the rules and guidance for level 4,” he added. 

There have been 1,409 cases in total and 11 people have died in the country. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

10:10 am: China says its economy shrank by 6.8% in the first quarter as the country battled coronavirus

A woman wears a medical mask during a snowfall in Beijing, China, February 2, 2020.

Artyom Ivanov | Tass | Getty Images

The contraction in the first quarter would also be the first decline since at least 1992, when official quarterly GDP records started, according to Reuters. The world’s second largest economy came to standstill earlier this year as Beijing implemented large-scale shutdowns and quarantines to limit human contact in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

In the first quarter, retail sales in China fell 19% from a year ago while industrial production fell 8.4% in the same period, data from the bureau showed. — Huileng Tan, Evelyn Cheng

9:30 am: Mainland China reports 26 new cases, no new deaths

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said there were 26 new confirmed cases as of April 16, of which 15 were attributed to travelers coming from overseas. That brings the country’s total to 82,367 cases, the NHC said.

No new deaths were reported, and the total number of fatalities remained at 3,342, according to the NHC.

Separately, there were 66 new asymptomatic cases, where people tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms. That brings its number of asymptomatic cases currently under medical observation to 1,038, the NHC said. — Weizhen Tan

9:05 am: Australia could keep coronavirus restrictions for another year, its prime minister says

Australia could keep imposing restrictions to curb the virus spread for another year, its Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, according to a Reuters report.

He said that some social distancing measures, such as requiring people to stand at least 1.5 meters apart, could be in place for several months more.

“Social distancing is something we should get very used to,” Morrison told radio station 3AW, according to the report. “It could be a year, but I’m not speculating about that.”

However, he pushed for the reopening of schools, citing medical advice that children are a low risk of transmission, said the report. — Weizhen Tan

8:35 am: Investors wait for China’s GDP data

China’s first-quarter GDP data, set to be released Friday morning, will be closely watched as economists assess the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Efforts to contain the virus have hit China’s key manufacturing sectors and other parts of the economy badly. 

A Reuters poll showed China’s economy is forecast to have shrunk 6.5% in the first quarter from a year ago. That would reverse a 6% expansion in the previous quarter and mark the first decline since at least 1992, according to Reuters. — Weizhen Tan

8:10 am: Singapore reports another record for daily new cases

Singapore reported 728 new cases as of noon on April 16, yet another daily record high this week and drastically higher than the previous high of 447 reported for Wednesday. This week, the Southeast Asian country has reported a spike in the number of infections after managing to keep numbers low earlier in the outbreak.

Most of the new cases were foreign workers who are housed in dormitories, at which several infection clusters have been found. The men, typically from other Asian countries, work mostly in the construction sector.

The number of fatalities overall in the city-state remained at 10, with the total number of cases now at 4,427. — Weizhen Tan

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:58 pm: Dr. Deborah Birx outlines the White House’s plan to reopen the US economy

6:22 pm: Dow futures rip 700 points higher amid report Gilead drug showing effectiveness treating coronavirus

5:14 pm: Gilead stock surges after report says drug trial shows encouraging early results

Gilead Sciences shares surged  by more than 10% in after-hours trading after an industry publication said Covid-19 patients being treated with the company’s antiviral drug Remdesivir appear to have “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms.” 

STAT News said a doctor running a Chicago-based hospital conducting a closely watched trial on the drug found that most of its patients had been discharged in less than a week. 

There are no proven therapies to treat Covid-19, which has infected more than 2 million worldwide as of Thursday night, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Some health authorities in the U.S. and China have been using  Remdesivir, which was tested as a possible treatment for the Ebola outbreak, in hopes that the drug can reduce the duration of the virus in patients. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

4:58 pm: Trump issues guidelines to open up parts of US where coronavirus cases are in decline, testing ramped up

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