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Coronavirus live updates: Facebook confirms contractor tested positive, South Korea reported 438 new cases

Seoul National University Hospital medical team exercise for COVID19 mild virus case before patient arrives at Seoul National University Hospital Mild Virus care center in Mungyeong, Northern Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, on March 4, 2020.

Seung-il Ryu | NurPhoto | Getty Images

  • Global cases: At least 93,000, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization
  • Global deaths: At least 3,199, according to the latest figures from the WHO

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below are in Beijing time.

1:42 pm: 96 countries and territories have banned travelers from South Korea

As many as 96 countries and territories have imposed entry restrictions or tougher quarantine measures on travelers coming from South Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported citing the foreign ministry. As of 9 a.m. local time, 36 countries and territories, including Singapore and Hong Kong, imposed entry bans on those who had traveled to South Korea in the last 14 days, Yonhap said. The number of cases in the country surpassed 5,000 in a very short period of time, prompting worries over Seoul’s ability to contain the outbreak. (see 9:29 a.m. update)  Roy Choudhury

1:33 pm: Japan’s AnGes teams up with Osaka University for vaccine development

Japanese biopharmaceutical company AnGes said it is working with Osaka University to jointly develop a coronavirus vaccine. Anges shares jumped more than 18% in afternoon trade. There have been at least 317 domestic cases, including 30 patients who tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms, according to a Wednesday update from Japan’s health ministry. — Roy Choudhury

12:21 pm: China considers donation to WHO

China is considering donating money to the World Health Organization, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu said Thursday.

He also said China is pushing ahead with necessary assistance for countries with urgent needs, such as South Korea, Iraq, Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. — Cheng

12:00 pm: Facebook confirms a contractor in Seattle tested positive

A contractor based in Facebook’s Stadium East office in Seattle has been diagnosed with the virus, the company confirmed. “We’ve notified our employees and are following the advice of public health officials to prioritize everyone’s health and safety,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said. 

The person was last in the office on Feb. 21. Facebook closed the office immediately until Mar. 9 and, following updated guidance from authorities, it has encouraged employees in Seattle to work from home till the end of the month.  — Roy Choudhury

11:35 am: Another Princess Cruises ship may have been affected

Princess Cruises said it had been notified by the U.S. CDC that the agency is investigating a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in Northern California among guests who sailed on its completed Grand Princess Mexican voyage roundtrip to San Francisco from Feb. 11 to Feb. 21. That followed after one of the guests died almost two weeks after disembarking.  

The ship, on a current voyage to Hawaii with a stopover at Ensenada, Mexico, has been ordered to return to San Francisco. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a press briefing that the ship is currently off the coast and its arrival ashore will be delayed to “provide ample opportunity for the CDC, partnership with Coast Guard and with state health officials, to conduct tests because we have a number of passengers and crew members that have developed symptoms on this cruise ship.” 

Earlier, Newsom declared a state of emergency in California. (see 8:10 am update) — Roy Choudhury

11:26 am: CoinDesk says it is moving forward with a major cryptocurrency event of the year in May

CoinDesk said it is moving forward as planned with Consensus 2020 and Blockchain Week NYC due to happen in May, and that it will monitor the situation on a daily basis until then. If the event is canceled due to guidance from health authorities and governments, attendees would receive a full refund on their ticket purchase. If an international participant is unable to attend due to travel restrictions, their tickets would also be refunded. — Roy Choudhury

10:09 am: Microsoft tells Bay Area and Puget Sound employees to work from home

10:03 am: Apple joins other big tech names and drops out of SXSW

Apple confirmed it will no longer attend the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, as companies continue to implement measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus on their operations. It had planned to premiere new shows for its Apple TV+ service and host a panel. Apple joins other companies including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Intel that have already pulled out of the conference. — Leswing

9:29 am: South Korea reports 438 new cases, 3 additional deaths

The total number of confirmed cases in South Korea is now 5,766, including 35 deaths, according to the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreak jumped in recent weeks, with most cases reported in the city of Daegu and surrounding areas. Many of the infected are affiliated with a secretive religious group, which is being sued by the mayor of Seoul for “murder, injury and violation of prevention and management of infectious diseases.” — Roy Choudhury

9:07 am: US airlines cut flights, reduce spending amid falling air travel demand

JetBlue Airways said it is reducing capacity by approximately 5% in the near term to “address the fall in demand,” and will be monitoring booking trends to determine if further reductions need to be made. The airline also announced other measures aimed at preserving cash: They include reducing hiring for frontline and support center positions, limiting non-essential spending and considering voluntary time-off programs. 

United Airlines also said it will reduce the number of April flights and suspend hiring and salary increases. — Roy Choudhury

8:54 am: Australia reports second death

A 95-year-old woman at an elderly care home in Sydney died on Tuesday. Her passing marked the second virus-related fatality in Australia, where there are at least 41 confirmed cases of infection, according to the health ministry. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt told local media on Thursday that three other people at the same elderly care home were diagnosed with the infection. “The Chief Medical Officer is preparing additional advice today for sharing with aged care facilities,” Hunt said, according to a transcript of an interview on the health ministry’s website. — Roy Choudhury

8:28 am: China reports 139 new confirmed cases, 31 additional deaths

China’s National Health Commission said there were 139 additional cases and 31 new deaths as of Wednesday. All of those fatalities occurred in Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. To date, there have been a total of 80,409 confirmed cases on the mainland, with 52,045 people discharged and 3,012 dead. — Roy Choudhury

8:10 am: California declares state of emergency after coronavirus-related death

California declared a state of emergency after a coronavirus-related death in the state. There are currently at least 53 confirmed cases in California. Earlier on Wednesday, local health officials in California announced the state’s first COVID-19 death in Placer County, bringing U.S. fatalities to at least 11.

“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. The emergency proclamation includes provisions to protect people against price gouging, particularly for medical supplies. — Bhattacharjee

7:56 am: Moody’s says challenges ahead for Chinese regional and local governments 

China’s regional and local governments (RLG) will face significant funding shortfalls this year as the virus outbreak is set to further pressure already slowing revenue growth, Moody’s Investors Service said in a new report.

“We expect the coronavirus outbreak will result in lower RLG revenue growth, although policy measures by the central government should support RLGs through higher transfers and bond quotas,” Jack Yuan, an assistant vice president and analyst at the firm said.

Most Chinese provinces have lowered their GDP growth targets for 2020, the ratings agency said. — Roy Choudhury

7:31 am: Australia expects a 0.5 percentage point hit to Q1 GDP

Australia’s Treasury Department predicted the virus outbreak will shave at least 0.5 percentage point off economic growth in the three months ending in March, Reuters reported. The preliminary estimate took into account the impact on tourism, international education exports, and some exchange-rate effects, but did not account for any supply-chain disruptions or broad impacts, the news wire said. 

That appeared to be in line with the central bank’s prediction for a noticeably weaker Q1 growth. Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia slashed its cash rate to 0.5% and Governor Philip Lowe said the coronavirus outbreak “is having a significant effect on the Australian economy at present, particularly in the education and travel sectors.” — Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

5:15 pm: DHS employee tests positive for coronavirus

A Department of Homeland Security employee has tested positive for the coronavirus, DHS press secretary Heather Swift said in a statement Wednesday. “Late last night, DHS headquarters was alerted to a situation where one of our contracted medical professionals conducting screenings at LAX international airport had tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement said. “This individual is currently under self-quarantine at home with mild symptoms and under medical supervision. Their immediate family is also under home quarantine.” — Bhattacharjee

5 pm: NIH official questioned about WHO mortality rate

NIH official Dr. Anthony Fauci told lawmakers the mortality rate for COVID-19 could change depending on how many people ultimately fall ill and die from the virus. World health officials said Tuesday that the current mortality rate was around 3.4%, significantly higher than previous estimates. “As a group, it’s going to depend completely on what the factor of asymptomatic cases are,” he said, adding the more asympotmatic cases, the lower the mortality rate. “What we’re hearing right now on a recent call from the WHO this morning is that there aren’t as many asymptomatic cases as we think, which made them elevate, I think, what their mortality is,” he said. “I’m torn. If we get enough data to have a big [numerator] it’s gonna be bad news for us.” — Hirsch, Higgins

4:53 pm: House passes $8.3 billion emergency spending plan

The House passed a sweeping bill allocating more than $8 billion in emergency funds to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The funding package, which provides more than $3 billion in vaccine research and $2.2 billion in prevention and preparedness efforts, was unveiled hours earlier following days of negotiations on Capitol Hill.

The emergency coronavirus bill will head to the Senate, where leaders there hope they can quickly bring it to a vote. If the bill passes that chamber, it will move to the Oval Office desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it. — Breuninger 

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: House passes emergency spending, United slashes flights

— CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng, Kif LeswingRiya Bhattacharjee, Kevin Breuninger, Lauren Hirsch, and Tucker Higgins contributed to this report.