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Italy’s Deaths Rise 57%; France Bars Large Events: Virus Update

Bloomberg News
Italy’s Deaths Rise 57%; France Bars Large Events: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s death toll from the spreading coronavirus eclipsed South Korea while France banned large gatherings to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Apple is letting some employees work from home.

Seattle said two more nursing home residents died, pushing the local toll to 17. The Grand Princess cruise ship with ill passengers and crew will dock Monday in Oakland, California.

As of Sunday, about half of the world’s countries have cases of Covid-19. The death count beyond China is approaching 700.

Key Developments:

Cases surpass 108,000 worldwide; deaths exceed 3,700China fatalities rise to 3,097Americans told to brace for daily disruptions Saudi Arabia closes schools indefinitelyFrance tops 1,000 confirmed casesVirus gets dangerous when it reaches the lungsOutbreak tied to London-Hanoi flight rattles Vietnam

Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.

U.S. Advised on Daily Disruptions (5 p.m. NY)

U.S. officials went on Sunday talk shows to brace Americans for more changes to their daily routines as a result of Covid-19, from reduced travel to cancellations of large events.

Elderly people with health issues should immediately reconsider travel and large gatherings, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“You should start to distance yourself from the risk, crowds, getting on a plane, on a long plane trip, and, above all, don’t get on a cruise ship,” Fauci advised people with underlying health risks on “Fox News Sunday.”

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the effort to contain the virus bought time but suggested the epidemic was entering a new phase more disruptive to daily life.

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS: “The next two weeks are really going to change the complexion in this country. We’ll get through this, but it’s going to be a hard period.”

France Bans Some Large Gatherings (4 p.m. NY)

France has banned gatherings with more than 1,000 people, down from 5,000 previously, Health Minister Olivier Veran said in Paris. There will be some exceptions in cases that are in the interest of the nation, he said.

Total coronavirus cases rose to 1,126, with 19 fatalities.

Seattle Nursing Home Deaths Mount (3:55 p.m. NY)

The number of reported virus cases in King County, home to Seattle and its suburbs, jumped to 83, public health officials said in a statement. Among 12 new cases reported, two additional people have died -- one a woman in her 80s and the other a man in his 90s.

King County has been an epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., with 17 deaths. All but one of those has been linked to an elder care facility in Kirkland, Washington. The total state death toll is 18.

Washington state officials reported 21 new cases, raising the total to 123 from 102.

Cruise Ship to Dock in Oakland Monday (3:15 p.m. NY)

The Grand Princess cruise ship, with more than 20 passengers and crew confirmed with Covid-19, will dock in Oakland, California, on Monday, as authorities mobilize to get the acutely ill medical care at nearby hospitals.

Others are to be sent to quarantine or flown out of the state. The Port of Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, was selected because it is the easiest to seal off, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said in a press release.

Apple Workers Can Work at Home (3 p.m. NY)

Apple employees at most offices have been offered the ability to work from home by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, who called the virus outbreak an “unprecedented event” and a “challenging moment.”

Cook told workers that if their jobs allow it, they can work remotely March 9-13, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. That extends the company’s move on Friday to encourage employees in California and Seattle to work remotely.

This policy covers areas with the greatest density of infections, Cook said: the Santa Clara Valley and Elk Grove areas in California, Seattle, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and the U.K.

Saudi Arabia Closes Schools: SPA (2:45 p.m. NY)

The Saudi Higher Education Ministry temporarily shut all schools and colleges until further notice to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, the state-run SPA reported.The education ministry said it would begin remote visual schooling during the suspension, according to the report.Earlier Sunday, the kingdom suspended entry and exit from Al Qatif governorate in the oil-rich Eastern Province after 11 cases were reported. The province is home to a large number of Shiites, the sect of Islam followed by majority of Iranians.

Most cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East are linked to Iran.

Coronavirus Deaths Jump in Italy (1:25 p.m. NY)

Italy reported 7,375 coronavirus cases and 366 deaths, a significant jump from the 233 fatalities recorded on Saturday. The country now outpaces South Korea in cases and fatalities.

Portuguese President to Work From Home (1:30 p.m. NY)

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will work from his private residence for the next two weeks, according to a statement Sunday on the presidency’s website. The decision was taken after a student, from a school that had a class visit the presidential palace, was admitted to a hospital.

The class from Felgueiras, in northern Portugal, had attended an event Tuesday with 71-year-old Rebelo de Sousa in Lisbon. Neither the hospitalized student nor his class was on the visit.

While the president has no symptoms, he decided to cancel all his public activities and considers he set an example of “prevention.” Although he’s not involved in daily government business and has a mostly ceremonial role, Portugal’s president has the power to dissolve parliament and is directly elected.

France Tops 1,000 Cases (1:15 p.m. NY)

France’s confirmed cases rose to 1,126 from 949 a day earlier, while three additional deaths pushed the national total to 19, Sante Publique France said.

Separately, the director general of France’s elite university Ecole Normale Superieure and a member of the school’s management contracted coronavirus and are under quarantine, ENS said, adding that there were no plans to close the school for the time being.

First Death for Africa in Egypt (12:45 p.m. NY)

Egypt announced its first death from the coronavirus, becoming the first nation on the African continent to record a fatality from the illness. It reported 48 coronavirus cases, most of which have been linked to an outbreak on a Nile cruise ship.

Alitalia Suspends Milan Flights (11:50 a.m. NY)

Italian airline Alitalia suspended international service from Milan’s two airports, Linate and Malpensa, until April 3. The halt in service coincided with a government order that virtually shuts large sections of northern Italy affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Fauci: Virus Scope ‘Not Encouraging’ (10:55 a.m. NY)

“Social distancing” will become more prevalent in the U.S. over the next three months as the nation attempts to tamp down the spread of the virus, Anthony Fauci said.

“We’re getting a better sense as the days go by” of the scope of the outbreak in the U.S., Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Unfortunately, that better sense is not encouraging, because we’re seeing community spread.”

New York Wants to Avoid Mass Quarantines: Cuomo (10:28 a.m. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state wants to avoid mass quarantine actions, such as the steps taken in China and Italy, and officials currently have no plans to close the city’s subways. More schools may be closed, he said.

“What we do here is we calibrate to the facts that we know at the time,” Cuomo said on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

“We’re trying to protect the vulnerable population for whom this coronavirus might might really be dangerous,” he said.

German Minister Recommends Postponing Large Events (10:26 a.m. NY)

German Health Minister Jens Spahn recommended postponing events with more than 1,000 participants, which would affect professional soccer games and large concerts. In an interview with news agency DPA, he said the goal would be to slow the spread of the virus so the health-care system can cope better.

In response, the German soccer league says it will cooperate closely with local authorities as it evaluates whether to continue holding games, but vowed to finish the season.

Cases Rise in U.K., Netherlands, Greece (10:01 a.m. NY)

The number of positive cases in the U.K. has risen to 273, the Department of Health and Social Care said. That’s up from 206 cases on Saturday. The U.K. has reported two deaths of British citizens from the virus.

Two more died in the Netherlands, bringing the total to three, the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment reported. There were 77 new cases, for a total of 265. Of these, 131 had traveled to Italy.

Greece’s cases rose by seven to 73. The government has suspended all conference activity in the country and closed senior citizen centers for one month. For the next two weeks, sporting events can only take place without spectators.

Vatican Closes Museums: Ansa (9:53 a.m. NY)

The Vatican is closing its museums until April 3.

Pope Francis delivered his weekly blessing via video on Sunday to avoid attracting crowds to St. Peter’s Square. The Vatican temporarily closed its clinic on March 6 after a patient tested positive for coronavirus. Vatican City is home to about 600 people, including the pontiff. Italy extended quarantine measures.

Trump Says U.S. Has ‘Perfectly Coordinated’ Plan: (9:04 a.m. NY)

Saudi Arabia Puts City in Eastern Province Under Lockdown (8:42 a.m. NY)

Saudi Arabia suspended entry and exit from Al Qatif governorate in the oil-rich Eastern Province after 11 coronavirus cases in the kingdom originated there.

The province is home to a large number of Shiites, the sect of Islam followed by a majority of Iranians. Most cases of the coronavirus in the Middle East are linked to Iran. Iran reported hundreds more coronavirus cases on Sunday, but the pace of the increase slowed. The health ministry confirmed 743 new infections, taking the total to 6,566 with 194 deaths. It said 2,134 people have recovered.

100 Countries Affected by Coronavirus: WHO (7:52 a.m. NY)

As of Sunday, 100 countries have reported cases, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet. That’s about half of the world’s countries.

“While very serious, this should not discourage us,” he said. “There are many things everyone, everywhere can and should do now.”

EU Needs Coordinated Fiscal Response: Gentiloni (7:28 a.m. NY)

A coordinated fiscal response by the European Union is required to tackle the economic crisis caused by the outbreak, EU Commissioner for Economy and Financial Affairs Paolo Gentiloni told Spanish newspaper El Pais in an interview on Sunday.

“We cannot think about monetary policy as the only alternative as it has already reached its limit,” Gentiloni said.

Commissioner Thierry Breton said on French radio that the European Central Bank has little room for manueuver with interest rates.

Africa CDC Intensifies Virus Response in 43 Countries (7:24 a.m. NY)

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said it has trained laboratories from 43 countries to fight the spreading of Covid-19 across the continent. The virus has already been reported in nine African countries, including Nigeria and Egypt. South Africa confirmed its third case on Sunday.

Spanish Virus Cases Jump by a Third (6:40 p.m. HK)

The number of cases in Spain jumped by a third to 589 from 441.

The government is looking at ways of guaranteeing credit to small and medium-sized businesses affected by the outbreak, El Pais reported Saturday.

Regional Government Head in Italy Has Virus: Ansa (6:28 p.m. HK)

The head of the Piedmont regional government in Italy has the virus, Ansa reported, becoming the latest politician in the country to become infected. On Saturday, the head of Italy’s Democratic Party said he’d tested positive.

Lufthansa Mulls Seeking Aid; German Cases Rise (6:11 p.m. HK)

Deutsche Lufthansa AG is looking into government support amid the fallout from the coronavirus. The airline, which slashed capacity by as much as 50% to cope with plunging travel demand, is examining the implementation of short-time work programs, the company said. Short-time work -- “Kurzarbeit” in German -- involves the government offsetting wages lost when companies are forced to reduce staffing temporarily.

There are still no reports of deaths in Germany. The bulk of the cases are in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Governments Can’t Save Lives and the Economy: Lancet (5:34 p.m. HK)

Governments won’t be able to minimize both deaths from the coronavirus and the economic impact of a mass spread, according to an article published in the Lancet medical journal. Measures needed to slow the spread until a treatment or a vaccine is found are poised to hurt the economy the most, according to the authors of the article published on March 6.

“The warm months of summer in the northern hemisphere might not necessarily reduce transmission,” the Lancet said, adding that “broader-scale social distancing is likely to be needed.”

Iran Air Suspends Flights to Europe: Tasnim (5:20 p.m. HK)

Iran’s flag carrier, Iran Air, said on Sunday that all of its flights to European destinations have been suspended until further notice “due to restrictions imposed on Iran Air flights from Europe for unknown reasons,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, citing a company statement.

Israel to Draft Teens, Army to Fight Virus Spread (4:57 p.m. HK)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to mobilize the military and an army of teenagers to disinfect public spaces such as railway and bus stations with bleach. Netanyahu is putting them on the front line after concluding “the pandemic is not afflicting children or young people.”

He’s also weighing putting parts of the U.S. on a travel blacklist.

Bahrain Bans Spectators from F1 Race (4:16 p.m. HK)

Bahrain’s F1 Grand Prix motor race will be held without spectators later this month because of the spread of the virus, according to a statement from Bahrain International Circuit.

“Convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travelers and local fans to interact in close proximity would not be the right thing to do at the present time,” it said. “Safety has to remain our utmost priority.”

Virus-Hit Cruise Ship Off California Given Permission to Dock (3:43 p.m. HK)

The virus-hit cruise ship Grand Princess off the coast of California will be allowed to dock at the Port of Oakland on Monday, the operator said on Twitter. At least 19 passengers and two crew members on the Carnival Corp. vessel had tested positive for the virus, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said earlier.

Elderly individuals with serious underlying health issues should avoid certain activities such as taking a cruise, Pence said after meeting with the cruise-line industry in Florida. Pence said the industry agreed to work on plans to quarantine passengers on land, rather than aboard ships that can turn into transmission vehicles for the virus.

--With assistance from Arsalan Shahla, Angelina Rascouet, Zaid Sabah, Joao Lima and Noah Buhayar.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Steve Geimann in Washington at sgeimann@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net, Steve Geimann, Ian Fisher

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