People wear antivirus masks to protect themselves from Coronavirus infection in Rome, Italy. Italy has become the focal point of the outbreak in Europe. Matteo Nardone/LightRocket via Getty Images

 Updated on 
  •  WHO says no pandemic; U.S., Japan Warn on Italy, Korea Travel
  •  U.S., Australia, Thailand report deaths; Mideast markets slide
WHO Says Virus Outbreak Could Become Pandemic

Italy had a 50% surge in new coronavirus cases and 34 deaths as the outbreak reached more than 65 nations. The U.S. and Japan issued “do-not-travel” warnings for regions of Italy and South Korea.

A key energy industry gathering in Houston was canceled, the latest large-scale event scrapped over virus concerns. The Louvre in Paris was closed. The U.S., Australia and Thailand reported fatalities.

The U.S. will speed distribution of tests to help states diagnose the illness. Middle East markets slumped as more cases were announced.

Key Developments

  • Italian cases jump 50%, to almost 1,700
  • Iran infections nearly double; cases in Spain jump
  • South Korea infections climb 586 to 3,736 with 18 deaths
  • Washington State declares emergency after first death
  • China reported 35 new deaths — the lowest in three days
  • First cases in Czech Republic, Dominican Republic

Click VIRUS 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.

relates to Italy Cases Surge; Houston Energy Event Canceled: Virus Update

Seattle Area Finds Two New Cases (2 p.m. NY)

Two new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in the Seattle area, bringing the number of patients in Washington State’s biggest county to six and reinforcing fears of a more widespread community transmission.

The patients, men in their 60s with underlying health conditions, are being treated in hospitals. One is in critical condition, the other is critical but stable, King County Public Health said on its website.

The state began virus testing Feb. 28, and with greater availability of speedy tests, more cases have been found, leading to concerns the virus has been spreading undetected in the state, possibly for weeks.

France Adds 30 Cases (1:40 p.m. NY)

France reported an additional 30 coronavirus cases on Sunday, up from 100 a day earlier, mostly located in two clusters, Director General for Health Jerome Salomon said.

He reiterated recommendations that citizens reduce their social life, avoid fragile and old people, and check their temperatures twice a day while in affected clusters or returning from risky foreign areas.

Salomon said few children have developed serious infections, possibly because their respiratory systems are less mature and thus not allowing the virus to take hold.

Houston Energy Meeting Canceled (12:30 p.m. NY)

CERAWeek in Houston, one of the energy industry’s largest and most important gatherings, was canceled Sunday by IHS Markit Ltd, citing mounting concern about the spread of the coronavirus.

The organizer said the decision reflected an increase in company-imposed travel bans, more restrictive border health checks and concern about large meetings with people from different nations. CERAWeek was to have delegates from over 80 countries, according to a statement on Sunday.

IHS Markit said CERAWeek 2021 in Houston is set for March 1-5, 2021.

Italian Cases Increase 50% (12:20 p.m. NY)

Italy’s confirmed coronavirus infections jumped to 1,694 from 1,128 a day earlier, the nation’s emergency chief Angelo Borrelli said on Sunday.

There are 34 possible virus-linked deaths, the Italian Civil Protection official said Sunday at a Rome news conference, an increase of five from the previous day.

U.S. Plans ‘Radical’ Jump in Tests (11:45 a.m. NY)

The U.S. expects a significant jump in tests available to detect the spreading cornoavirus, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azarsaid.

“We now have 75,000 tests available out there,” Azar said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Over the next week, that will expand radically.”

The U.S. is ramping up testing to learn how the infection has spread to people who didn’t visit China, where the outbreak began, or other locations with multiple cases. The health agency is still investigating the death in Washington state, the first for the U.S., he said.

“At this point, we do not know how this gentleman contracted the illness,” Azar said on “Fox News Sunday.”

And, Azar addressed President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the onset of warm weather next month will help dissipate the virus.

“We don’t know that,” he said on Fox. “What the president has been saying is we hope” it will do so, like other viruses.

Iran to Go Door-to-Door on Virus (11:15 a.m. NY)

Iran will launch a “national mobilization” against the coronavirus on Tuesday by sending 300,000 medical teams for door-to-door screenings, the health minister said on state television.

Minister Saeed Namaki said “instead of sitting back to let the virus come to us, we are going to exterminate the virus.”

Rhode Island Has First Case (11 a.m. NY)

A person who visited Italy in mid February is Rhode Island’s first presumptive coronavirus case, the state Department of Health said Sunday. The person is in their 40s and is being treated in a hospital.

“We are not seeing widespread community transmission in Rhode Island, and the general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is still low,” department Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said in a statement.

The individual’s family has been in quarantine at home since it was determined that the person’s travel history and symptoms met the criteria to be evaluated for Covid-19, the state said. the person had limited travel in the state before being tested.

Czech Republic Reports First Cases (10:10 a.m. NY)

Czech Republic said it has first three cases of coronavirus in the country.

Three patients that tested positively for Covid-19 are hospitalized in infectious wards in hospitals in Prague and Usti Nad Labem town, northern part of the country, the health minister Adam Vojtech said in a televised press conference Sunday.

Samples will be sent to a Berlin laboratory to confirm the local tests and it is “very likely” that they will confirm the diagnosis, Vojtech said. All three patients, including one American student from Milan who is hospitalized in Prague, recently visited northern Italy.

Netherlands Adds 3 Cases (10:05 a.m. NY)

The Netherlands confirmed three new virus cases, taking the total number of people infected in the country to 10, the National institute for Public Health and Environment, or RIVM, reported Sunday.

U.S., Japan Issue ‘No-Travel’ Warning for Italy, South Korea regions (10 a.m. NY)

The U.S. State Department upgraded its advisory for the Italian regions that include Milan and Venice to “do not travel,” due to “the level of community transmission of the virus and imposition of local quarantine procedures.”

Those regions include the country’s finance hub, Milan, and Venice. The rest of Italy is still ranked “reconsider travel.” Italy has reported more than 1,100 confirmed cases of the infection.

The U.S. also issued a Level 4 “do-not-travel” warning for the Daegu region of southeastern South Korea.

Japan raised its travel advisory for Daegu city and Cheongdo county in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do to level 3, or do-not-travel. Ministry of Foreign Affairs also raised the alert for Italy’s Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna regions to level 2 from 1.

Louvre Stays Shut on Virus Fears (9:30 a.m. NY)

France’s Louvre Museum remained shut on Sunday amid concern about the coronavirus. The shutdown followed a government decision Saturday to ban indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.

U.K. Cases Jump to 35 (8:55 a.m. NY)

The number of cases in the U.K. increased to 35, with 33 of those in England, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. The government announced 12 new infections as of 9 a.m. local time. The cases are all being investigated and contact tracing has begun, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said in a tweet.

Middle Eastern Stocks Plunge as Virus Spreads (7:53 a.m. NY)

Equity markets across the Middle East slumped as more cases of the coronavirus were announced in the region. The number of infections soared in Iran, Qatar announced its first case and the United Arab Emirates shut down nurseries and canceled several events.

Carmaking in Hubei May Restart on March 11 (7:23 a.m. NY)

PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot cars, has been told by Chinese authorities that the company will be able to restart industrial activities in the Hubei province from March 11, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said on LCI television Sunday.

Norway Sees Challenging Situation (7:03 a.m. NY)

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg warned on Sunday of a potentially “challenging situation” in the weeks ahead in the Nordic country, which has so far had 17 confirmed cases according to local media, including three hospital employees in Oslo. Health services are “well prepared” and Norwegians should act as normally as possible to limit the impact of the outbreak, including on the economy, she said in a speech to the leadership of her Conservative Party.

Singapore Reports Four New Infections (7 a.m. NY)

Singapore confirmed on Sunday it has four more cases of the virus, bringing the total number to 106.

Japan Cruise Passengers Leave Ship (6:34 a.m. NY)

All the remaining passengers and workers on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Japan’s Yokohama harbor have disembarked, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters in Tokyo on Sunday. About 700 of some 3,700 passengers and crew who were on Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess were infected with the coronavirus and there were at least seven fatalities.

Malaysia Reports New Cases (6:09 a.m. NY)

An employee at Khazanah Nasional Bhd. was diagnosed with the coronavirus and is now at a government hospital, the Malaysian state investment fund said in a statement. The fund has canceled a Monday press briefing for its annual results. Malaysia has a total of 29 cases, with four new ones reported on Sunday, according to the health ministry.

Nigeria Traces Contacts of First Case (6:05 a.m. NY)

Nigerian health authorities have reached out to more than 100 people who had contact with the Italian man who tested positive for the coronavirus and asked them to remain in self-isolation for 14 days. Lafarge Africa Plc said it has quarantined 39 people who had been in contact with the man, who was a vendor for the company.

Iran Cases Almost Double (6 a.m. NY)

Iran, the epicenter of coronavirus in the Middle East, said the number of confirmed cases almost doubled to 978, with 54 deaths so far. In the capital Tehran alone, there were 170 new infections.

Spain Reports Jump in New Cases (6 a.m. NY)

The total number of cases in Spain rose to 73 from 46 on Saturday, Fernando Simon, the head of the the country’s health emergency center, said in a news conference.

There is no need to raise the country’s alert level for now, Simon said. About 90% of the cases have links to risk areas such as Italy, but health officials are also paying closer attention to areas with infections including Malaga and Marbella and the town of Torrejon near Madrid, he said.

Switzerland to Recommend Avoiding Kissing (6 a.m. NY)

Switzerland’s federal government will provide new recommendations on coronavirus in the coming days. It will advise people to avoid shaking hands and greeting each other with kisses and recommend that companies allow people to work from home, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.

Georgia Closes Schools; Armenia Gets First Case (5:30 p.m. HK)

Georgia ordered schools and universities to close until March 16 and urged its citizens to avoid traveling to countries with coronavirus outbreaks. Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the Caucasus nation’s disease control center, told reporters in the capital Tbilisi that more than 100 people are under observation in quarantine.

Armenia recorded its first coronavirus case on Sunday, a 29-year-old man who returned from Iran with his wife the previous day, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Facebook.

U.K. Defends Response, Won’t Rule Anything Out (5:20 p.m. HK)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the U.K. government wouldn’t rule out forcibly quarantining people or closing off entire cities, while defending the country’s response and saying that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is “all over this.”

“There’s clearly a huge economic and social downside to that, but we don’t take anything off the table at this stage,” Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr in an interview.

South Korea Asks U.S. for Restraint (5:03 p.m. HK)

South Korea urged the U.S. to “refrain from taking excessive measures” after the State Department raised its travel advisory on the Korean city of Daegu, where most of the nation’s novel coronavirus cases are centered.

Italy May Spend $4 Billion on Crisis (4:49 p.m. HK)

Italy plans to spend 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) on the coronavirus crisis, Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri told La Repubblica in an interview.

Separately, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wants to boost the nation’s budget deficit to pay for emergency measures to keep Italy’s economy afloat as it faces a coronavirus outbreak, he told the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano in an interview.

The higher deficit would require parliamentary approval and would be done “in accord with the European authorities,” he said. The proposed boost is part of a second round of measures Conte’s government is drafting to help businesses and mitigate the economic impact of the outbreak in which Italy has more than 1,000 confirmed infections.

South Africa to Quarantine Citizens (4:24 p.m. HK)

South Africa will quarantine dozens of citizens who’ve asked to be repatriated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said. About 150 of 201 South Africans living in the area have asked to return and will face a 21-day quarantine.

Emirates Offers Leave to Staff (3:59 p.m. HK)

What WHO’s Tedros Said in Riyadh (3:10 p.m. HK)

Europe and some developed countries may have some surprises like Italy, but at the same time they have strong institutions that can respond quickly, he said. Those panicking should calm down and try to see reality, he said.

There’s no need for fear and panic in markets, WHO General Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Riyadh Sunday. “We shouldn’t abandon the containment strategy because we see it’s working in some countries,” he said.

Macau Gaming Revenue Plunges by Record (2 p.m. HK)

Casinos in the Chinese territory — the world’s biggest gambling hub — reported an 88% drop in gaming revenue in February as they grappled with cost of closing down their businesses for 15 days to help contain the spread of the disease.

Deaths in Australia and Thailand (1:50 p.m. HK)

The elderly man who died in Australia was initially sent to the Howard Springs facility in northern Australia after becoming ill on the flight back home from Japan and was then moved to the hospital in Perth.

His 79-year-old wife, who also tested positive for the virus, remains isolated in the hospital in a stable condition, according to a local health official.

The retail worker in Bangkok had dengue fever as well as the new disease known as Covid-19, a government official said Sunday. The patient had been hospitalized for nearly a month and died on Feb. 29 after multiple organ failure. The health ministry is still looking into the case.


Daily Life in South Korea Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk past closed stores in Seoul.

Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

NYC Gets CDC OK for Virus Testing (8:10 a.m. HK)

New York City won U.S. approval to develop its own coronavirus test and the federal government also sent new kits that will let the city perform tests without sending samples to a federal lab, Mayor Bill De Blasio said Saturday.

The city had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “for weeks” for new test kits to speed the process of identifying virus cases.

Virus Test Kit CDC

Testing kits used to detect the novel coronavirus (nCoV).

Source: CDC

France Discourages ‘La Bise’ (4:40 p.m. NY)

In France, Health Minister Olivier Veran suggested that people refrain from the customary greeting of a peck on the cheek — known as “la bise” — to avoid spreading the coronavirus, apart from renewing an official advisory to avoid shaking hands.

Cases in France jumped to 100 on Saturday, almost double of the day before, Director General for Health Jerome Salomon said in a daily briefing earlier.

In Italy, the epicenter of the virus in Europe, two kisses — one on each cheek — are standard.

Virus France

People wear a face mask on the Trocadero esplanade in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on Feb. 29, 2020.

Photographer: Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Washington State Probes Health Facility (4:10 p.m. NY)

Two people at the Life Care Center health facility in Kirkland, Washington, were diagnosed with the virus: a health-care worker and a resident of the facility in her 70s. Neither has recently traveled outside the U.S., said Jeff Duchin, a public health officer for Seattle and King County. In addition, Duchin said there are reports that 27 residents have shown respiratory symptoms, as have 25 staff members. There are about 108 residents and 180 staff at the center.

Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in response to the nation’s first fatality from the coronavirus and the rising number of cases. He directed state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and respond to the outbreak.


— With assistance by Vivian Nereim, Vernon Silver, Felix Njini, Helena Bedwell, Lucy Meakin, Billy House, Francois De Beaupuy, Dina Bass, Tom Moroney, and Arsalan Shahla