US confirms 53 cases, CDC outlines pandemic planning

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People wait in a line to buy face masks at a retail store in the southeastern city of Daegu, South Korea on February 25, 2020.

JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images

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  • Total confirmed cases: More than 80,200
  • Total deaths: At least 2,704

1:09 pm: Economic fallout from coronavirus appears ‘much worse’ than SARS

The economic drag from the new coronavirus will turn out to be larger than SARS, according to Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. Seroka was working in Shanghai during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak. “At that time, we were all grounded,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday. “This appears to be much worse because of the number of folks who were infected and the lack of productivity.” While estimates vary, economists believe SARS cost the global economy about $40 billion. — Belvedere

12:54 pm: Romania confirms first case as Italy reports more deaths

Romania confirmed its first case — a man who returned three weeks ago from Italy, television station Realitatea Plus said, quoting medical sector sources. In Italy, three more people infected with the coronavirus have died, bringing the death toll there to 10, the chief of the Civil Protection agency said. The number of cases in Italy more than doubled in the last day, topping 322 as of Tuesday morning, according to Italian health officials. The contagion was particularly strong in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, the country’s industrial and financial heartland. Italy’s neighboring countries have committed not to close their borders, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, as Rome’s government struggles to contain the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Europe. —Reuters with CNBC

A health worker screens the temperature of an airline passenger arriving from Italy at Debrecen International Airport in Debrecen, Hungary, on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.

Bloomberg

12:34 pm: US health secretary Azar says more cases likely, seeks more funding

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there will likely be more cases of coronavirus in the United States as he asked a Senate subcommittee to approve $2.5 billion in funding to fight the outbreak after proposing cuts to the department’s budget. Azar said the funding would help the U.S. expand surveillance systems for the fast-spreading virus, support state and local governments, help development of vaccines and therapies and expand stockpiles of protective equipment like surgical masks. He said the U.S. currently has a stockpile of 30 million surgical masks, but HHS estimates suggest the country needs 300 million masks. —Reuters

12:28 pm: Macy’s is planning for a coronavirus hit

Macy’s warned investors that the coronavirus outbreak, which has shuttered commerce across China and sent markets spiraling, could hit the department store chain, too. The virus could disrupt Macy’s operations in three ways, CEO and Chairman Jeff Gennette said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, if it affects employees, international tourism and supply chain. “While still too early to estimate, we anticipate that there could be a small impact on first-quarter sales from international tourism,” he said. “With respect to the supply chain, we are working with our vendor partners to minimize any possible disruption.” —Feuer

12:22 pm: Goldman steps up staff travel restrictions as coronavirus spreads

Goldman Sachs has restricted all business travel to, from and within South Korea and the Northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto in the wake of the coronavirus spread, a staff memo seen by Reuters shows. The Wall Street lender has also advised staff to postpone all non-essential travel to, from and within the rest of Italy, as well as other parts of Asia, excluding Australia, New Zealand and India, the memo said. Staff who have visited South Korea or the impacted regions of Italy have been asked to ‘self-isolate’ and stay away from the office for a minimum of 14 days. —Reuters

12:01 pm: CDC outlines what closing schools, businesses would look like in US pandemic

The CDC outlined what schools and businesses will likely need to do if the COVID-19 virus becomes an epidemic outbreak in the U.S. Schools should consider dividing students into smaller groups or close and use “internet-based tele-schooling,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a conference call. “For adults, businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options,” Messonnier said. She said local communities and cities may need to “modify, postpone or cancel mass gatherings.” Hospitals may need to triage patients differently, add more tele-health services and delay elective surgery, she said. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad,” she said. —Lovelace, Feuer

11:37 am: Bahrain reports 6 new cases of coronavirus coming from Iran

Bahrain has identified six more new cases of coronavirus all coming from Iran, taking the total number in the Gulf kingdom to 23, the state news agency BNA reported, citing the health ministry.In a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the virus, the education ministry said all public and private schools, including kindergartens, would be closed for two weeks from Wednesday, BNA added.

11:30 am: CDC confirms 53 US cases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 53 cases in the U.S., a majority of which came from passengers repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan. The CDC updated its case count on its website late Monday. The data shows that 36 of the cases are attributed to the cruise ship, three patients were infected in Wuhan and later evacuated to the U.S. and the rest were largely infected while traveling overseas. Just two cases were contracted through person-to-person contact in the U.S., the CDC said. —Kopecki

11:23 am: Trump sows confusion in discussing vaccine

President Donald Trump told reporters that “we’re very close to a vaccine” while answering questions about the COVID-19 outbreak during a state visit to India, prompting outlets from the Jerusalem Post to the New York Post to write that Trump said the U.S. was close to finding a vaccine for the deadly new coronavirus. The White House later said Trump was referring to the Ebola vaccine— not the coronavirus. —Breuninger

10:17 am: Switzerland confirms first case of coronavirus as franc climbs

Switzerland has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, the Federal Office of Public Health said. Further details will be provided at 11 a.m. ET, the health department said. The Swiss franc, meanwhile, climbed to its highest level since July 2015 against a struggling euro on Monday as concerns about the spread of the coronavirus drove investors into safe-haven assets. The franc, traditionally sought in times of uncertainty, rose to 1.0604 versus the euro, a 4-1/2 year peak and a higher value than it reached after Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union in June 2016. — Reuters

9:53 am: WHO holds press conference on outbreak

World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. ET to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak. WHO officials declared the virus a global health emergency last month, while urging the public against over-reacting to the virus. In the past week, the virus has spread substantially beyond China. The localized outbreaks in places such as Italy and Iran are fueling concerns among infectious disease experts and scientists that the virus is spreading too quickly and may be past the point of containment. Health officials are warning the public to prepare for a potential global pandemic. Watch the live press conference here.

9:33 am: Oman identifies two more cases of new coronavirus

Oman has identified two more cases of the new coronavirus, bringing the total number to four, its ministry of health said in a tweet on Tuesday. The two new cases are “linked to travel to Iran”, the ministry said. —Reuters

8:47 am: US plans trial of Gilead drug remdesivir

The U.S. is planning a clinical trial of Gilead’s experimental drug for the novel coronavirus, according to a posting on a government clinical trials database. The trial, run by the University of Nebraska Medical Center along with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will be conducted at up to 50 sites globally and will test the medicine, called remdesivir, against placebo, according to the protocol, which was posted Friday. —Tirrell

8:18 am: Austria confirms first two cases

Austria has confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, health officials in Tyrol province said. The patients are two Italians who live in Tyrol and were probably infected on a trip to Italy’s Lombardy region, Tyrol Gov. Guenther Platter was quoted as saying by local media. Tyrol and Carinthia are the two Austrian provinces that border northern Italy. TV station ORF said the two 24-year-olds had reported themselves to the authorities. They had a slight fever and were under isolation in an Innsbruck hospital. —Reuters

7:43 am: US airlines waive cancellation fees for South Korea flights after CDC issues travel warning

U.S. airlines said they would waive cancellation and change fees for travelers booked to South Korea as the coronavirus spreads beyond China, prompting a warning from government officials about travel there. Earlier on Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned travelers to avoid nonessential travel to South Korea, where the disease has sickened close to 1,000 people. Delta Air Lines’ travelers who booked tickets to Seoul through April 30 can change flights until May 31 or cancel their trips without paying a fee, the airline said. American Airlines’ customers booked to Seoul through April 24 can change their flights without paying a date-change fee, or they can cancel the trip altogether. Those travelers can also change the origin or destination of their trips to Tokyo, and take another plane to or from South Korea. United Airlines issued a similar waiver for Seoul. —Josephs

6:45 am: Iran’s deputy health minister tests positive for coronavirus

Iran’s deputy health minister has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a report from the semi-official ILNA news agency. It comes shortly after a spokesperson for the Islamic Republic’s health ministry said 95 people had been infected with the coronavirus, with 16 deaths nationwide. Iran has recorded the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus outside of China. —Meredith

6:30 am: Chinese city announces 14-day quarantine in free hotels for travelers from Japan, South Korea

The eastern city of Weihai has announced that all travelers returning from Japan and South Korea will need to stay in hotels for a 14-day quarantine. Accommodations will be free. The move comes amid intensifying concerns on China’s social media platform Weibo over a growing number of coronavirus cases in South Korea. The measures, effective Tuesday, are meant “to minimize the chance of cross-infection,” according to a CNBC translation of the Chinese-language announcement. Weihai, in Shandong province, is about a two-hour flight from Seoul. —Wu

5:55 am: WHO says countries must be prepared for coronavirus ‘literally knocking at the door’

The World Health Organization warned countries around the world they must be ready for the fast-spreading coronavirus to be “literally knocking at the door.” Speaking in Geneva, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said that while many countries had “pandemic plans” on standby, the United Nations health agency does not plan to make a “big announcement.” It comes amid intensifying concern about the coronavirus outbreak, with the deadly virus spreading to more than two dozen countries in recent weeks. As of Tuesday, China’s National Health Commission reported 77,658 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,663 deaths nationwide.

5:35 am: Iran urges people to stay at home as coronavirus death toll climbs to 16

Iran’s health ministry reportedly urged citizens to stay at home on Tuesday, following a sharp uptick of confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide. Kianoush Jahanpour, a spokesperson for the Islamic Republic’s health ministry, said via state television that 95 people had been infected with the coronavirus, with 16 deaths nationwide. Iran has recorded the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China. Several countries have suspended flights to Iran in a bid to prevent the outbreak, while some neighboring countries have closed their borders. —Meredith

A man wears a protective mask while riding a bus in the Iranian capital Tehran on February 24, 2020.

ATTA KENARE | AFP via Getty Images

4:40 am: Canary Islands hotel reportedly under lockdown after tourist tests positive

Hundreds of staff and tourists staying at a hotel in Spain’s Canary Islands were put under lockdown on Tuesday, El Pais newspaper reported. One person who had stayed at the establishment was later found to have tested positive for the coronavirus. A spokesperson for the Canary Island’s health department told Reuters on Tuesday that health checks were underway for those who had contact with the patient — thought to be Spain’s third case of COVID-19. As of Monday, the World Health Organization had identified two cases of the coronavirus in Spain. —Meredith

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Iran’s deputy health minister reportedly tests positive for virus

Reuters and CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn, Kevin Breuninger, Meg Tirrell, Leslie Josephs, Sam Meredith and Weizhen Tan contributed to this report.

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