U.K. Defends Strategy; Malaysia Cases Jump: Virus Update.

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U.K. Defends Strategy; Malaysia Cases Jump: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) --

Airlines are halting flights, and other business are grinding to a stop. People around the the world face more draconian restrictions on gatherings and travel.

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Europe now reports more daily coronavirus cases than China did at its peak in February. Cases jumped 20% in the U.K., which faced criticism for its approach to the virus.

Currencies seem headed for more volatile swings after a turbulent week, early trading shows. New Zealand’s central bank slashed its benchmark rate.

Key Developments:

Cases top 164,000 worldwide, as deaths exceed 6,400Italy adds 368 deaths in one day, raising total to 1,809The U.S. Totals 3,125 cases and 61 deathsIreland asks pubs to closeFrance tightens controls at German border

Subscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here.

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. To see the impact on oil and commodities demand, click here.

Ohio Shuts Bars, Restaurants (3:50 p.M. NY)

Ohio is closing all bars and restaurants indefinitely after reports of crowds still gathering as St. Patrick’s Day faces the limitations imposed by the spread of coronavirus. Carry-outs and delivery will still be allowed, Governor Mike DeWine announced at a press conference in Columbus.“This is a very, very crucial time,” DeWine said. “Delay means more people will die.”

Travel Limits Roil Airports (3:15 p.M. NY)

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was among facilities overwhelmed this weekend with passengers, including many coming from Europe, who faced new screening measures.

As pictures of lines and stories from travelers were shared on social media, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said the White House failed to prepare for the influx of returning passengers in response to President Donald Trump’s new travel restrictions.

New Zealand Cuts Rates (3 p.M. NY)

The New Zealand central bank slashed its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points as strict border controls look set to tip the economy into recession. In an emergency move, the Reserve Bank cut its cash rate to 0.25% from 1% and said it will remain there for at least the next 12 months.

Story continues

U.S. Airlines Slash Flights (2:50 p.M. NY)

American Airlines will slash long-haul international flights by 75% through early May as demand collapses and governments impose restrictions to slow the virus’s spread. Delta Air Lines further cut its international flights. United Airlines earlier said it would cut April domestic capacity 10% and international 20%, but warned additional reductions could follow.

D.C. Shuts Night Clubs (2:20 p.M. NY)

Washington, D.C., ordered nightclubs and multi-purpose facilities to close and told restaurants to remove bar seats and stop serving patrons who are standing. The district also limited indoor gatherings to 250 people. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said restaurants and bars must set tables and booths to ensure patrons are at least six feet apart.

South Africa Declares Disaster (2 p.M. NY)

South Africa declared a national state of disaster, closed 35 ports of entry, banned gatherings of more than 100 people and shut schools starting the middle of this week. Flights will be halted from Italy, Iran, the U.S., U.K. And South Korea, the government said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in a televised speech discouraged citizens from non-essential domestic travel.

N.Y. May Be ‘Overwhelmed’ (1:45 p.M. NY)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that the state’s health-care system is about to be “overwhelmed,” but he stopped short of ordering schools or businesses to close.

Instead, he asked companies to close voluntarily and let employees work from home. Schools will remain open, he said, because many families rely on them for food and child care.

New York has 729 cases -- the most in the U.S. -- with three deaths.

Ireland Asks Pubs to Close (1:40 p.M. NY)

The Irish government asked pubs to close for at least two weeks after video of bars jammed with drinkers in defiance of guidelines appeared on social media. Industry groups say it’s impossible to police social-distancing guidelines.

The government also pleaded with citizens not to replace pub visits with house parties.

Europe Outpacing China at Peak (1:30 p.M. NY)

Europe is reporting more new cases each day than China did when the disease peaked in that country, the head of the World Health Organization said. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said canceling sporting events can help slow the spread.

The situation will worsen in many countries before it improves, said Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist. While the situation is improving in Asia, countries where the disease has peaked could experience relapses, she said.

SAS Idles 90% of Staff (1:15 p.M. NY)

Scandinavian airline SAS AB is idling up to 10,000 employees, or 90% of staff, to cope with fallout from the coronavirus and related government measures that have restricted international air travel.

The airline will also cancel most flights staerting Monday, according to a statement. SAS said it will maintain certain routes in order to enable flights to return from various destinations.

Dutch Schools, Bars to Close (1:15 p.M. NY)

The Dutch government ordered schools, gyms, restaurants and bars to close until April 6. Suspending classes puts the Netherlands in line with most other European countries, though it’s a reversal from Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s insistence last week that schools will stay open.

Manhattan Project Approach Urged (12:20 p.M. NY)

U.S. Hospitals are preparing for a surge in patients as testing becomes more prevalent, revealing the extent of Covid-19’s spread, which led one administrator to urge more action.

“We need to think about this in almost like a war-like stance,” Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He urged the government to wage a Manhattan Project-type effort, as it did in World War II on the atomic bomb, to spur the health-care industry to make more surgical masks, eye protection gear and gowns.

Portugal Limits Crowds (12:10 p.M. NY)

Portugal is banning events with more than 100 people, Internal Administration Minister Eduardo Cabrita said in a broadcast on SIC Noticias. The government had already blocked events with more than 1,000 people.

U.K. Cases Rise 20% (11:43 a.M. NY)

The U.K. Said 1,372 people have tested positive for coronavirus, up from 1,140 a day earlier. An additional 14 deaths brings the total to 35. Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the government, which hasn’t closed schools or halted mass gatherings as have many other nations.

Hash tags including #CloseTheSchoolsNow and #lockusdown were trending on Twitter in the U.K. Sunday. People over age 70 will be asked to stay home in “the coming weeks,” Hancock told Sky News.

Health Insurers Drop Copays (11:20 a.M. NY)

U.S. Health insurers are dropping coronavirus testing copayments and requirements that treatments be approved in advance. The America’s Health Insurance Plans trade group posted details of the emergency steps taken related to Covid-19. Insurers include Aetna, Anthem, the 36 Blue Cross Blue Shield Association plans, Cigna, and Humana.

Kroger Offers Paid Time Off (10:55 a.M. NY)

The Kroger Co. Will allow paid time off for workers who have Covid-19 or are placed under mandatory quarantine, it said in a statement. Two employees -- in Colorado and Washington state -- tested positive. The grocer said it is seeking workers for immediate positions in stores, manufacturing plants and distribution centers.

Nike Shuts Stores for 2 Weeks (10:45 a.M. NY)

Nike Inc. Will close all U.S. And western Europe retail stores through March 27 to help slow the outbreak. The closures, which include Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will take effect Monday. Nike will continue to pay employees during the shutdown, the company said.

The company said Nike-owned stores in South Korea, Japan and most of China -- which were closed in February -- are currently open.

Europe Cases Surge (9:09 a.M. NY)

Spain’s diagnosed cases of the coronavirus jumped 35% to 7,753 on Sunday and the death toll more than doubled to 288, the Health Ministry said. In Switzerland, 2,200 cases marked a 62% increase. The number of deaths in the Netherlands rose by eight to 20, while confirmed cases increased by 176 to 1,135, according to a daily update from the RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment on Sunday. Several countries cautioned that fewer tests are being performed as more people fall ill.

Mnuchin Sees No Recession (9:03 a.M. NY)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he doesn’t expect the coronavirus pandemic to tip the U.S. Economy into recession, even though growth will slow. “Later in the year, obviously the economic activity will pick up as we confront this virus,” Mnuchin said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Goldman Confirms Cases (9 a.M. NY)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Has confirmed to staff its first two cases of coronavirus as the Wall Street bank steps up plans to split up teams and allow more employees to work from home.

In a memo seen by Bloomberg News, Goldman Sachs told staff that it had received confirmation that an employee from its London office who was off sick with suspected coronavirus had tested positive and was at home in isolation. The other case is in Sydney.

Ski Resorts Shut (7:50 a.M. NY)

Vail said it will halt all of its North American resorts from March 15-22 and “use that time to reassess our approach for the rest of the season,” the company said in a statement. Alterra Mountain Co., which operates resorts including Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Squaw Valley in California and Vermont’s Sugarbush, said it will suspend operations from today until further notice.

Iran Deaths Leap (7:45 a.M. NY)

Iran’s deaths from the virus rose to 724 over the past 24 hours, with 113 new fatalities reported since yesterday. Total confirmed cases now stand at 13,938, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV.

Singapore Says U.K. Cases to Surge (7:18 a.M. NY)

The U.K. And Switzerland are effectively not trying to combat the coronavirus and cases are likely to surge in the coming weeks, a Singapore minister said. “These countries have abandoned any measure to contain or restrain the virus,” Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said at a press briefing Sunday.

The city-state said Sunday it added 14 new cases, the biggest one-day jump.

France Limits Domestic Travel (7 a.M. NY)

France will gradually reduce domestic transport links by air, rail and bus in a bid to limit travel and fight the coronavirus epidemic. The move comes a day after the government closed restaurants, cafes and non-essential stores.

European Cases Climb (6:30 a.M. NY)

Belgium’s health ministry reported 197 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total of confirmed infections to 886. Finland, which has implemented tighter testing criteria, had 240 cases. Poland’s cases rose 63% from Friday to 111 cases of coronavirus and three deaths. The count is rising as the nation is now testing all those who are in quarantine. Full border controls are in place as of today, and cafes, restaurants and shopping malls are closed. Slovakia reported 54 cases, an increase of 10.

Austria Bans All Gatherings (6 a.M. NY)

Austria’s chancellor said the country is widening restrictions to ban all public gatherings of more than five people. “We’re aware those are massive restrictions but they are necessary,” Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter. Austrians are asked to isolate themselves and have no social contact outside their households. The number of confirmed cases jumped to 800 on Sunday, from 602 on Saturday. In neighboring Slovenia, public transportation has been temporarily shut down.

EU Medical Exports Eased (6 a.M. NY)

Germany and France will lift restrictions on the export of medical equipment, allowing for deliveries to Italy, the EU commissioner for the internal market said. Germany will send 1 million masks to Italy.

--With assistance from Boris Groendahl, Yudith Ho, Thomas Penny, Tara Patel, Golnar Motevalli, Harry Wilson, Macarena Munoz, Thomas Mulier, Joost Akkermans and Hanna Hoikkala.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Steve Geimann in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at [email protected], Ian Fisher, Linus Chua

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.Com

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