Below are updates from March 11. For March 12 updates, click here.
Dow’s 1,400-Point Plunge Ends Its Longest Bull Market in History
The Dow Jones plunged over 1,400 points on the day the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus a global pandemic, with Wall Street’s iconic blue-chip index officially entering bear market territory and putting an end to its longest bull market run in history.
Washington Declares State of Emergency
The U.S. capital is declaring a state of emergency to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said the declaration will give her “more authority to implement and fund the measures that we need to monitor and respond to COVID-19 in our community.”
Specifically, it will allow the mayor’s office to mobilize people and resources to better prevent the spread of the virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. Mandatory curfews or quarantines could be implemented after the declaration, she said.
It came after health officials announced six new cases of coronavirus in the city.
NCAA Limits Games to Staff, Family Only
NCAA President Mark Emmert says NCAA Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in the arenas because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
Emmert said in a statement Wednesday he made the decision to conduct both the men’s and women’s tournaments, which begin next week, with only essential staff and limited family in attendance.
WHO Announces Pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) is characterizing the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.
“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It’s a word that if misused can cause unreasonable fear or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death,” he added.
The virus has spread to 113 countries outside China, where it originated late last year. There are approximately 118,000 cases worldwide, Tedros said.
US Official: China Covered Up Outbreak
Chinese officials covered up the outbreak of the new coronavirus, costing the world some two months to respond, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said, in some of the strongest remarks against China to date in regards to the virus.
Asked about Chinese officials recently trying to claim that the virus did not originate in the country, O’Brien said that just wasn’t true.
“It originated in Wuhan in Hubei province in China. It originated some time ago. Unfortunately, rather than using best practices, this outbreak in Wuhan was covered up. There’s lots of open-source reporting from China, from Chinese nationals, that the doctors involved were either silenced or put in isolation or that sort of thing, so that word of this virus could not get out,” O’Brien said during a talk at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
“It probably cost the world community two months to respond,” O’Brien said.
Health Official Recommends No Fans at NBA Games
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told a congressional committee Wednesday that he would recommend the NBA not allow fans at games in response to the coronavirus.
That answer by Dr. Anthony Fauci came hours before NBA owners are scheduled to meet to discuss the next steps in responding to growing concern about the virus.
Fauci was responding to a question from Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) during a meeting of the House Oversight Committee. Grothman asked, “Is the NBA underreacting or is the Ivy League overreacting?” He was referencing how the Ivy League recently canceled its basketball tournaments, instead of having them played without fans in attendance or keeping the status quo.
“We would recommend that there not be large crowds,” Fauci said. “If that means not having any people in the audience when the NBA plays, so be it. But as a public health official, anything that has crowds is something that would give a risk to spread.”
Lebanon Halts Flights From Countries Hit by Virus
Lebanon said on Wednesday it will halt all travel to and from Italy, South Korea, China, and Iran to curb coronavirus and gave nationals four days to return from other virus-hit countries before a more sweeping shutdown of flights would take effect.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab told a news conference that Lebanon was stepping up measures to curb the outbreak after a second death was recorded on Wednesday and the country’s total confirmed cases reached 68, according to Lebanese media.
Diab said Lebanon was also banning entry of passengers from France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Spain, Britain, and Germany.
He said that Lebanese nationals, diplomats accredited in Lebanon, residents, and NGO workers would have four days to return from these countries before flights to and from them would also be halted.
As part of heightened countermeasures, Lebanon will also ban public gatherings and shut public venues such as malls and restaurants, Diab said.
Olympics Organizing Committee Member Suggests Delaying Games
A member of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee’s executive board said he’s going to suggest potentially delaying the 2020 Olympics for a year or two.
“We need to deal accordingly with [the crisis] based on reality. Time is running out,” Haruyuki Takahashi told Kyodo News, a Japanese news agency.
Takahashi said that the Olympics won’t be canceled but said a two-year delay would be the easiest to arrange because the sports schedule for next year is already set in some countries.
Takahashi described his position as a personal opinion.
Yoshiro Mori, president of the organizing committee, told reporters in Tokyo that organizers aren’t currently “considering making changes in the direction or the schedule of the games.” He said he spoke with Takahashi and asked him to choose his words more carefully. Takahashi apologized, Mori said.
Up to 70 Percent of Germans Will Get Virus: Merkel
Up to 70 percent of the population is likely to be infected with the coronavirus that is currently spreading around the world, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, adding that since there is currently no cure the focus has to be on slowing its spread.
“When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected,” she told a news conference in Berlin.
“The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system by slowing the virus’s spread … It’s about winning time.”
Merkel spoke after daily tabloid Bild lambasted her for her handling of what it called ‘the corona chaos’: “No appearances, no speech, no leadership in the crisis,” it wrote.
Health Minister Jens Spahn has led the response, and said earlier that sealing Germany’s borders to prevent the virus spreading would not work, rejecting calls to follow neighbor Austria in denying entry to visitors from Italy.
Germany has reported 1,296 cases of the virus, and two deaths, the Robert Koch Institute said late on Tuesday.
The crisis has thrown into the spotlight Germany’s federal system of government, in which power is devolved to the 16 states and regional authorities to decide whether to take up Spahn’s advice to cancel events with over 1,000 participants.
Spahn, in a Wednesday morning interview with broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, said it was “astonishing” that no decision had been taken to call off a football match between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich scheduled in Berlin on Saturday.
The Berlin local authority concerned later said the match would take place behind closed doors—a decision Spahn then welcomed.
“The corona crisis shows that, without clear guidance, federalism in the fight against epidemics is reaching its limits,” Bild wrote.
Merkel said federalism did not mean anyone could evade responsibility, and that she would meet state premiers on Thursday to coordinate Germany’s coronavirus policy response.
Germany’s federal system was agreed by the Allies after World War II and enshrined in its constitution to avoid a repeat of the centralist control of power wielded by the Nazis.
Switzerland Tightens Border Controls With Italy
Swiss customs authorities have shut down nine border crossings with Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak, to channel border traffic through seven other sites.
The move announced Wednesday follows a decision by Italian authorities to continue to allow cross-border traffic with Switzerland despite adopting strong quarantine measures across Italy. Neighbors Austria and Slovenia have barred travelers from Italy without a medical certificate.
Swiss customs officials are advising tourists from Italy to refrain from traveling to Switzerland by rail or road “insofar as possible.”
Italy has been hardest hit in Europe, with over 10,100 cases and 631 deaths. The country’s virus death rate nationwide has been reported to be 5 percent because Italy has the world’s oldest population after Japan and the virus has been affecting the elderly and the sick the most.
Wife of New York Lawyer Speaks Out
The wife of a New York lawyer at the center of one of the largest coronavirus clusters in the nation has implored people to not let negative thinking rule and “to find the humor in the absurdity of it all.”
Lawrence Garbuz, 50, lives in New Rochelle in Westchester County and commutes to work in the Manhattan borough of New York City at the Lewis and Garbuz, P.C. firm. Officials say he started showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease the new virus causes, on Feb. 22. A neighbor drove him to the hospital five days later.
Garbuz was transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center in Manhattan in early March. He’s in severe condition.
Adina Lewis Garbuz, the lawyer’s wife, suggested on Facebook that her husband wasn’t aware of recent developments surrounding the virus and said that she hopes everyone reading the post “is safe and healthy.”
Australia Launches A$2.4 Billion Aid Package
The Australian government on Wednesday announced a A$2.4 billion ($1.6 billion) package to help tackle the new coronavirus outbreak.
Australia has recorded 106 cases of the virus and three deaths.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said up to 100 coronavirus fever clinics will be set up in areas of need across the country, as part of the health package.
“This package is about preventing and treating coronavirus in the coming weeks,” he told reporters. “Australia isn’t immune but with this $2.4 billion boost we’re as well prepared as any country in the world.”
The package also includes funding for bulk-billed video consults for people in self-isolation and quarantine.
According to The Australian, Morrison plans to announce Thursday a A$10 billion ($6.5 billion) stimulus package that could include subsidies for small businesses.
Australia also announced on Wednesday that Italy has been added to its travel ban list alongside China, Iran, and South Korea.
Indonesia Records 1st Death From Coronavirus
A 53-year-old woman has died from coronavirus in Indonesia, the first recorded death from the virus in the Southeast Asian country, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.
The woman, a foreign national, had already been in critical condition when she was admitted to a hospital, said Achmad Yurianto, the health ministry official.
Yurianto did not say where the woman was from or in what hospital or city she had died, but said her home country’s embassy was aware of her death and would arrange to have her body repatriated.
Indonesia has 26 other confirmed coronavirus patients.
Massachusetts Governor Declares State of Emergency
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency on March 10 to support the Commonwealth’s response to the coronavirus threat.
“Today, I have declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts to further support our response to Coronavirus,” Baker said.
The current administration has given guidance for Executive Branch employees to prevent further spreading of the virus.
“This includes discontinuing all out-of-state work-related travel, canceling or virtually holding conferences, seminars, and other discretionary gatherings, informing employees not to attend external work-related conferences, seminars, or events,” the statement read.
Officials advised any employees who felt any flu symptoms to self-quarantine and ask their supervisor for assignments they could work on remotely.
“We are also urging older adults and those with health issues to avoid large crowds and large events,” Baker said.
The guidance for the Executive Branch employees will be effective on March 11.
The local department of education is providing elementary and secondary schools the flexibility to decide whether temporary closures are necessary depending on their circumstances.
“The longest that any school district will be required to go is its scheduled 185th day. No schools will be required to be in session after June 30th,” the statement read.
The public is also reminded of the steps to take to limit the spread of COVID-19:
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel.
- Stay home if you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
UK’s Health Minister Becomes First MP to Contract Coronavirus
Nadine Dorries, the UK’s health minister, confirmed that she had contracted the coronavirus and has taken necessary precautions to prevent spreading.
“I can confirm I have tested positive for Coronavirus. As soon as I was informed I took all the advised precautions and have been self-isolating at home,” the 62-year-old MP said in a statement, the Telegraph reported.
“Public Health England has started detailed contact tracing and the department and my parliamentary office are closely following their advice.
“I would like to thank PHE and the wonderful NHS staff who have provided me with advice and support.”
Dorries reportedly attended a reception with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and met hundreds of people in parliament before she made her statement, The Times reported.
She fell ill last Friday and the diagnosis was confirmed on March 10.
Turkey’s First Coronavirus Patient Confirmed
A Turkish citizen with a high fever and a cough was diagnosed with the coronavirus following tests, making him the country’s first confirmed diagnosis, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said early on Wednesday.
The patient, a male, is in good health and his family and people who had close contact with him are under observation.
“This is the first case confirmed in our country. The diagnosis of coronavirus was made early and if the virus has spread it is limited. Our country is prepared for this, all measures to prevent spread are taken,” Koca said at a news conference.
Earlier, Koca said it was highly likely that there is a coronavirus outbreak in Turkey, but there had not yet been any confirmed cases.
British Airways Cancels All Italian Flights on Tuesday
British Airways canceled all flights to and from Italy on Tuesday after the country was put on lockdown until next month to tackle the coronavirus, it said.
“In light of the Italian government’s announcement and the UK government’s official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today (10 March),” the airline, owned by IAG, said.
For updates from March 10, click here.
Alan Cheung, Mimi Nguyen Ly, Zachary Stieber, Jack Phillips, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this live updates report.