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Coronavirus: Free to read

Coronavirus: Week of Mar. 28 to Apr. 4, Indonesia now has more deaths than South Korea

Singapore to close most of its workplaces

Firefighters spray disinfectant to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease in Jakarta.   © Reuters

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Follow the latest updates.

Global cases have reached 976,249, according to the World Health Organization.

The worldwide death toll has hit 50,489.

To see how the disease has spread, click this interactive virus tracker:

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):



Saturday, April 4

2:48 p.m. India's confirmed coronavirus cases hit 2,902 in the morning, an increase of 601 since Friday morning, according to the latest Health and Family Welfare Ministry data. The ministry has also recorded 68 deaths, up 12 over the same period.

11:34 a.m. Far fewer people are on the streets of shopping areas in Tokyo and other cities in Japan on Saturday, after authorities issued stay-at-home requests to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.

10:41 a.m. South Korea says it will extend its intensive social distancing campaign, which had been scheduled to end Monday, as concerns about imported coronavirus cases and new outbreaks in small clusters persist, reports Reuters.

10:14 a.m. Mexico's health ministry says the number of people who have died of coronavirus in the country has risen to 60, up from 50 a day earlier. It has registered a total of 1,688 coronavirus cases, up from 1,510, reports Reuters.

5:00 a.m. The Dow finishes down 1.7% while the S&P 500 dips 1.5% as the stock market closes in New York.

4:29 a.m. Spain overtakes Italy for the first time in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, but the overnight death toll fell from the previous day, reports Reuters.

3:58 a.m. Anyone expected to be near President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a rapid COVID-19 test, the White House says.

3:51 a.m. Turkey imposed a partial curfew on citizens under the age of 20 effective midnight on Friday, says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It also decides to shut down the borders of 31 cities, including Istanbul, for all vehicles, excluding transit passage and essential supplies.

3:00 a.m. The volume of internet data used in Japan jumps 40% in roughly a month, prompting concerns about overwhelming the network.

1:35 a.m. The parent of All Nippon Airways seeks $2.79 billion in financing from a program run by the government-backed Development Bank of Japan.

1:00 a.m. New York reports the state's biggest 24-hour death toll, with 562 succumbing to COVID-19 since a day earlier. New York City ranks seventh in the world in total COVID-19 deaths, just ahead of the Netherlands, according to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Friday, April 3

11:35 p.m. Japan confirms 343 new COVID-19 cases as of 10 p.m., marking the first daily increase over 300. Tokyo sees a rise of 89 patients. Total cases reach 3,039.

Meanwhile, the government's top spokesman says the flu drug Avigan will be made available at no cost to countries that ask for it to treat COVD-19.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open slightly lower as uncertainty hangs over the American economy.

7:33 p.m. "Because Japan's law puts emphasis on protecting personal rights, a lockdown is impossible," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike tells the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview.

7:03 p.m. Vietnam's biggest private company, Vingroup, says it has signed a contract with U.S.-based Medtronic to produce ventilators and thermometers at Vietnamese auto and electronics factories.

5:58 p.m. "Positives such as low valuations, massive stimulus and low energy prices are all being completely ignored," the chief investment officer of an Indian mutual fund firm says of bargain-hunting in Asian stock markets.

5:46 p.m. Indonesia, which went for weeks without confirming a coronavirus case in the early stages of the epidemic, adds 196 new cases -- its biggest daily jump. This brings the total to 1,986, including 181 deaths and 134 people who have recovered. Indonesia now has more victims than South Korea, which had the most COVID-19 deaths in Asia outside of China.

5:35 p.m. Singapore will close most of its workplaces, except for essential services and key economic sectors, and will shut schools, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday, as part of tighter measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

5:18 p.m. Fujifilm Holdings plans to launch a coronavirus testing kit that the Japanese company said would speed up results by two hours, joining a string of global pharma groups that are responding to surging demand as the global pandemic widens.

3:31 p.m. The Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agrees to provide 300,000 yen ($2,800) in cash to each household suffering from loss of income due to the crisis.

Singapore is adopting more stringent measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Akira Kodaka)

2:53 p.m. Confirmed coronavirus cases in India increase to 2,301 in the morning, up 232 since Thursday night, according to the latest Health and Family Welfare Ministry data, which also shows 56 deaths.

2:29 p.m. Tokyo considers repurposing a 2020 Olympics facility to accommodate people mildly infected with the new coronavirus.

1:30 p.m. In a video message to the nation on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asks 1.3 billion Indians currently under a 3-week lockdown to demonstrate unity against the coronavirus by lighting candles or flashing mobile phone lights or flashlights at 9 p.m. local time on Sunday. He requested that people to do so for nine minutes while standing at their doorsteps or balconies after switching off home electric lights. "Amid the darkness spread by the coronavirus pandemic, we must continuously progress toward light and hope," he said.

10:33 a.m. Amid the widening COVID-19 crisis, three Japanese mobile network operators, including NTT Docomo, plan to offer discounts on data communication fees for students aged 25 and under.

10:31 a.m. Emerging Asian economies are expected to grow at their slowest pace this year in 22 years, due to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down business activity in large swathes of the world, the Asian Development Bank said in a report on Friday.

10:21 a.m. South Korea's total infections top 10,000 as the country confirms 86 new cases. The total number is 10,062 with 174 deaths.

8:30 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump tests negative for the new coronavirus for the second time, this time using a rapid diagnostic that produced a result in less than 15 minutes.

5:00 a.m. U.S. markets close slightly higher, with the Dow and S&P 500 up 2.2% and 2.3%, respectively.

4:41 a.m. Global coronavirus cases topped 1 million and more than 50,000 have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

4:00 a.m. Germany says it will purchase large amounts of the anti-influenza drug Avigan, developed by a unit of Fujifilm Holdings, to treat the new coronavirus, according to local media.

3:23 a.m. Japan will allow greater leniency on asset write-downs to spare companies from slashing the value of factories and stores idled by the coronavirus outbreak.

3:00 a.m. The World Bank approves an initial $1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response operations in 25 countries, and says it was moving quickly on projects in 40 additional countries, reports Reuters.

1:49 a.m. Toyota Motor is set to suspend production at five plants across Japan as Japanese automakers slam the brakes on output.

1:33 a.m. India's nationwide lockdown has one a silver lining: less air pollution.

Thursday, April 2

11:21 p.m. Japan confirms 227 new cases of COVID-19 as of 10 p.m., raising the total to 2,644.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open slightly lower, then recover, after a report of a 6.6 million increase in Americans applying for unemployment benefits.

10:25 p.m. Mumbai's Dharavi district, believed to be Asia's largest slum, sees its second COVID-19 case within 24 hours. Over 1 million people live in the 5 sq. km area. A 56-year-old man, the first person to test positive in the district, has died.

9:15 p.m. Thailand announces a 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew, effective tomorrow. Though some observers have questioned his harsh restrictions, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha says now is a time to put "health before freedom."

8:59 p.m. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Tokyo rise by 97 in one day -- the most to date.

6:41 p.m. Malaysia's latest figures are in: The Health Ministry reports 208 new cases, bringing the total to 3,116. Five more deaths bring the toll to 50, accounting for 1.6% of detected cases.

5:44 p.m. Indonesia reports 113 new cases, bringing the total to 1,790 with 170 deaths.

5:30 p.m. Tokyo has confirmed 97 new cases of coronavirus infection, sources tell Nikkei, marking the single biggest daily increase, following 66 and 78 the past two days.

Visitors wearing protective face masks view the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park in Tokyo.   © Reuters

3:50 p.m. Japan's Denka Co. announces that it will resume manufacturing a key component for Avigan, as the country seeks to ramp up production of the anti-influenza drug seen as having promise treating COVID-19.

1:10 p.m. Moody's downgrades its outlook for Australia's banking system to 'negative' from 'stable' on the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports. The rating agency says that banks' strong capital positioning and asset quality would help ward off credit losses for now, but prolonged economic disruptions could erode capital levels and lead to more impairments of home loans.

12:07 p.m. The Japanese government will send two sets of cloth face masks to slightly more than 50 million addresses nationwide, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tells reporters. Such masks can be washed, dried and used again. They could help slow continued high demand for protective face masks that have been in short supply at drugstores.

10:29 a.m. South Korea confirms 89 more cases, raising the whole number to 9,976 with 169 deaths.

7:00 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump says he is looking at a plan to halt domestic flights to coronavirus hot spots inside the country, which would likely shut down traffic at airports in hard-hit New York, New Orleans and Detroit and extend to major hubs across the country as infections spread. The U.S. has projected the pandemic could kill more than 100,000 people.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks close lower for another session, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 falling more than 4%.

A Manhattan street. Uncertainty over how long the U.S. economy will be laid low is weighing on the stock market.   © Reuters

4:13 a.m. Thai-owned luxury grocer and cafe Dean & DeLuca files for bankruptcy in the U.S., after the parent company's failed attempts to revive the chain.

4:00 a.m. Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent trip to Zhejiang sends a coded message to his closest aides. Read more in this week's China up close.

3:16 a.m. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rises by 437, the biggest one-day increase to date, to 1,834, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says.

3:05 a.m. A new study shows a wide gap in coronavirus testing between Germany and Japan.

3:00 a.m. Those who are bullish on China's prospects should enjoy the moment because it is already ceding ground to global realities, writes William Pesek.

1:46 a.m. A punishing first quarter for global stock markets leaves Japan's government pension fund with a record loss.

1:00 a.m. A number of U.S. lawsuits seek to pin the blame for the coronavirus pandemic on China.

12:15 a.m. The Wimbledon tennis championships in the U.K. are canceled for the first time since World War II.

Centre Court during the men's tennis final match at Wimbledon in 2019.   © Reuters

Wednesday, April 1

11:11 p.m. Japan confirms 257 new cases of COVID-19 as of 10 p.m. -- the biggest daily increase to date -- bringing the total to 2,412.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open sharply lower after President Donald Trump tells Americans the day before that America faces a "very painful" time ahead.

9:40 p.m. Japan will close its borders to foreign nationals traveling from 73 countries, including the U.S. and U.K., effective Friday at midnight. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says all other arrivals will have to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cited the need for stronger preventive measures at a meeting of his coronavirus task force.   © Kyodo

8:04 p.m. China is thinking about giving pandemic-hit automakers a break on clean vehicle regulations. Sources tell Reuters the country may ease quotas designed to boost electric car production and delay a new emissions rule, to help an industry that suffered a 79% sales decline in February.

7:44 p.m. Iran reports 138 new deaths over the past 24 hours. The official Iranian death toll has surpassed 3,000. Authorities were encouraging people to stay at home on the last day of Persian New Year celebrations, known as Nowruz.

7:30 p.m. Bangkok orders all shops including convenience stores, food stalls and street vendors to close from midnight to 5:00 a.m. every night, from April 2 to 30. The local government also orders the closure of all parks over the same period.

6:50 p.m. Hong Kong orders karaoke lounges, beauty salons, massage parlors, nightclubs and mahjong clubs to close temporarily. The enhanced measures follow a nearly fourfold increase in confirmed cases to 766 in two weeks.

5:45 p.m. Indonesia announces 149 new cases, bringing its total to 1,677, with 157 deaths.

3:45 p.m. Macao's monthly gross revenue from gambling drops 80% in March from a year earlier, after an 89% slide in February. The city closed all casinos for two weeks in February to combat the new coronavirus. While most casinos reopened in March, travel restrictions imposed by the local government have severely dented inbound tourism, casino operators' main source of revenue.

3:36 p.m. Tourist arrivals to Indonesia in February fell nearly 30%, year on year, in February, owing largely to the global spread of the coronavirus, data from the country's statistics bureau shows. Foreign tourists entering through Ngurah Rai airport in the popular tourist destination of Bali saw a 18% drop during the same period.

3:00 p.m. The Nikkei stock index closes at 18,065, down 851 points from the previous finish due to growing uncertainty over the global economy.

1:50 p.m. Health authorities in Liaoning Province are first out of the gate as China begins reporting asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, saying the province had 52 cases as of March 31. Hunan Province follows with a report of four such cases, saying all were "imported" infections.

11:45 a.m. Japan has not reached the point of declaring a state of emergency, but is on the brink of it, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga tells reporters. The number of infections in Japan spiked recently, with more than 200 on Tuesday, led by Tokyo.

10:19 a.m. South Korea confirms 101 new cases, raising the total number to 9,887 with 165 deaths.

8:52 a.m. The Bank of Japan's latest Tankan survey fell to minus 8 from zero in the October-December period, the .

7:00 a.m. President Donald Trump and his top health care advisers urge Americans to follow strict social distancing measures ahead of a "tough two weeks" that could lead to at least 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx displayed charts demonstrating data and modeling that show an enormous jump in deaths to a range of 100,000 to 240,000 people from the virus in coming months.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks end a grim first quarter on a down note, with the S&P 500 falling 1.6%. The January-March quarter goes down as the worst in history for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

4:01 a.m. With whole cities on de facto lockdown, Asia will have its borders, business and trade reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic. Read more in this week's Cover Story.

3:57 a.m. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says an emergency hospital at the U.S. Open tennis stadium in Queens will quickly reach full capacity after opening next week.

3:30 a.m. A metalworkers' union in hard-hit Italy says a delay in Fiat Chrysler's merger with French automaker PSA is "inevitable" given the current situation.

3:27 a.m. Australia is headed toward its first recession in 29 years as aggressive measures against the new coronavirus deal a heavy blow to the economy.

1:59 a.m. Young adults show severe symptoms related to the novel coronavirus at a higher rate than anticipated, a U.S. study shows.

12:00 a.m. A Taiwanese app that tracks face mask inventories is drawing praise -- as is one of the software's developers: Digital Minister Audrey Tang.

Tuesday, March 31

11:38 p.m. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surpass 3,000, exceeding the initial toll of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

10:59 p.m. Japan confirms 216 new cases of coronavirus infection as of 10 p.m., bringing the total to 2,135. Tokyo sees an increase of 78 cases.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open lower, with the S&P 500 down around 0.6%.

9:13 p.m. Japan Post says it will stop handling international mail from an additional 153 countries and regions as of April 2, adding India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain and other countries to the list. International flight reductions are partly to blame.

8:53 p.m. The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a much swifter blow to Asian stocks than past crises did.

8:39 p.m. Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang says the government was expected to boost its stimulus and bailout package to up to 1 trillion New Taiwan dollars ($33.3 billion) to counter the growing threats from the coronavirus outbreak -- a significant increase from a previous special budget of NT$60 billion that was approved by the Legislative Yuan.

8:00 p.m. Confirmed cases worldwide of the new coronavirus have surpassed 800,000, Johns Hopkins University said, with total deaths topping 38,700.

7:47 p.m. State Bank of Vietnam, the country's central bank, says commercial banks in the nation should consider cutting operational costs, bonuses and cash dividends to focus on reducing interest rates amid the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters reported.

7:02 p.m. The Maldives says it has held its first online parliamentary session "to ensure continuous functioning of Parliament as the country adapts to social-distancing measures." A proposed financial support program was debated as the archipelago prepares for the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

6:25 p.m. Indonesian President Joko Widodo unveils a budget of 405.1 trillion rupiah ($24.75 billion) aimed at mitigating the pandemic's economic impact. If passed, individual income taxes in labor intensive industries would be relaxed and the corporate income tax rate would be reduced to 22% from 25%. The announcement came as the country reported 114 new cases and 14 additional deaths, bringing the totals to 1,528 and 136.

6:20 p.m. Hong Kong data shows retail sales fell 44% in February compared with year-earlier numbers, the steepest drop ever recorded. However, supermarket sales grew 11% during the period as people hurried to stockpile household essentials.

5:58 p.m. The Philippines reports its biggest daily increase coronavirus infections with 538 new cases, bringing the total to 2,084, with 88 deaths and 48 recoveries.

4:55 p.m. Three Singaporean regulators say they will allow companies to livestream their shareholders meetings for the sake of mandatory social distancing. Companies that choose this option must provide opportunities for shareholders to ask questions and to vote by proxy.

4:44 p.m. King Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin of Malaysia consents to the government skipping his and the queen's royal emolument payments for six months as it combats the coronavirus outbreak. In 2018, the king alone was paid over $260,000 in emoluments and allowances.

4:11 p.m. Taiwan reports 16 new cases, bringing the total to 322 confirmed infections and five deaths. The government also unveils official social distancing guidelines that urge people to stay at least a meter away from one another outdoors and 1.5 meters away when indoors. The government also asks that everyone regardless of health wear surgical masks while using public transportation.

2:28 p.m. South Korea's Education Minister says the country will start online schooling for primary and secondary students on April 9. Kindergartens will remain closed indefinitely. Colleges are already providing online classes.

2:19 p.m. Hanoi mandates "social distancing" be practiced across Vietnam beginning Wednesday. The measures requires people to keep at least 2 meters away from others while in public. It also forbids gatherings of more than two people in public and allows localities to order self-isolation. Vietnam currently reports 200 confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 3,100 suspected cases.

2:17 p.m. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi says Indonesia will temporarily ban all foreign visitors from entering or stopping over in Indonesia except for permanent residents, those with work permits and diplomatic visa holders. When the order takes effect and other details are forthcoming.

1:20 p.m. China has postponed its annual national college entrance examination, known as gaokao, for a month to early July, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily reported on Tuesday. Millions of students in China are expected to be affected. Hubei province, the region worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, and the national capital Beijing are being given flexibility to propose separate examination times based on epidemic prevention needs.

1:03 p.m. Myanmar reports its first coronavirus death, after a 69-year-old man who also had cancer died in a hospital in the commercial capital of Yangon. The country has confirmed 14 cases of the virus, mostly people who have traveled overseas.

11:10 a.m. China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) unexpectedly rises to 52 in March after collapsing to a record low of 35.7 in February, the National Bureau of Statistics reports. Despite the surprise rebound, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to keep businesses and the overall economy under pressure as global demand slumps.

10:45 a.m. Shinjiro Koizumi, Japan's outspoken environment minister, says meetings of the government's new coronavirus response headquarters should be held online, if possible. That, he says, would prevent having numerous officials sitting shoulder to shoulder right behind Prime Minister Shizo Abe. The government has already decided that the prime minister and deputy prime minister will avoid attending any meetings together as a precaution against infection.

9:40 a.m. Mainland China reports on Tuesday a rise in new confirmed coronavirus cases, ending four days of declines, due to an uptick in infections involving travelers arriving from overseas. Mainland China had 48 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said in a statement, up from 31 new infections a day earlier. All 48 cases came from outside the country, bringing the total number of imported cases in China to 771 as of Monday.

A Chinese customs officer inspects passengers' documents on a Lao Airlines flight from Vientiane following a global outbreak of the coronavirus at Kunming Changshui International Airport.   © Reuters

8:30 a.m. Japan's jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 1.45 in February from 1.49 in January, labor ministry data shows. That is the and reflects companies' reluctance to hire due to uncertainty arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood at 2.4% in February, unchanged from January.

7:30 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he may toughen up current guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. "The guidelines will be very much as they are, maybe even toughened up a little bit," he told reporters at the White House. The president also noted that more than 1 million Americans had been tested for coronavirus.

5:00 a.m. The Dow closed 3.2% higher at 22,327,48, while the S&P 500 finished up 3.4% at 2,626.65.

4:11 a.m. COVID-19 hospitalizations in California have doubled over the past four days, and the number of ICU patients tripled during that time, says Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to Reuters.

2:21 a.m. A vaccine for the new coronavirus should be ready for emergency use in early 2021, says American drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.

U.S. drugmaker Johnson & Johnson says a vaccine for the new coronavirus should be ready for emergency use in early 2021.   © Reuters

12:24 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accuses China of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and urges transparent sharing of crucial data on case numbers and mortality rates.

Monday, March 30

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open slightly higher, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 44 points and the S&P 500 rising 18 points.

8:38 p.m. The Indian government on Monday said there was no plan to extend the 21-day nationwide lockdown when it expires on April 14. "There are rumors and media reports, claiming that the government will extend the [lockdown]," the Press Information Bureau said in a tweet. "The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless."

India has 1,071 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, including 29 deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said separately.

7:50 p.m. Some 12,298 health workers have tested positive for coronavirus in Spain, Reuters reported, citing Deputy Health Emergency Chief Maria Jose Sierra. That is equivalent to around 14% of the country's 85,195 confirmed cases, roughly the same proportion as last week.

7:40 p.m. Malaysia's Health Ministry announced 156 positive coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 2,626, while fatalities increased by three to 37.

7:09 p.m. The Tokyo Olympics will open on July 23, 2021, the International Olympic Committee, Japanese government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the organizing committee have decided. The Summer Games will finish up on Aug. 8. The games were originally set to start less than four months from now, on July 24, but were postponed last week.

7:05 p.m. Following Manila's request, China will send a team of medical experts to help Philippines deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, Beijing's Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian said in a press statement.

6:30 p.m. South Korea decides to make cash payments to all but the richest families. The money is to come from a second supplementary budget to be drafted next month in a bid to ease the drawn-out economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, President Moon Jae-in says.

5:46 p.m. Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party puts together a proposal that calls for 60 trillion yen ($557.8 billion) to fight the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. Of the total, 20 trillion yen is to be direct spending, more than half of which would come in the form of coupons and cash handouts to consumers. The party plans to present the proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday.

5:45 p.m. Indonesia added 129 new cases, bringing the total to 1,414 with 122 deaths and 75 who have recovered. As the cases continue to climb, the government on Monday banned civil servants from taking part in the annual exodus ahead of the Idul Fitri holiday late May. President Joko Widodo called for "more strict" restrictions on the movement of the people.

3:50 p.m. The U.K. places an order for over 10,000 ventilators from a consortium of companies that expects to go into production this week. The companies include Airbus, BAE Systems, Ford and seven Formula One teams. The ventilators' design is based on existing technologies. "This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world," consortium chief Dick Elsy says, adding the companies have "the skills and tools to make a difference and save lives."

2:30 p.m. Shigeru Ishiba, a heavyweight lawmaker in Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, attacks Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Ishiba, who has twice challenged Abe for the party leadership, tells foreign media in Tokyo, "Japan should have much earlier implemented stricter restrictions on people coming from China and other countries that had seen many infections. Not doing this has a very negative impact."

2:16 p.m. Hong Kong's legislative council cancels a meeting scheduled for Wednesday as the city deals with the coronavirus crisis and a fourfold increase in infections to 641 in two weeks, mostly due to imported cases. The executive council, Hong Kong's top advisory body, has also suspended meetings for a week.

2:05 p.m. Thailand reports 136 new coronavirus cases, raising the total number of its infections to 1,524.

11:30 a.m. China reports 31 new coronavirus cases on the mainland, including one locally transmitted infection. Four new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 3,304 as of the end of Sunday. Total infections rose to 81,470. Hubei Province, where the outbreak first emerged, reports no new cases for the sixth consecutive day.

A woman cleans the facade of a shopping mall before its opening in Wuhan, China on March 30. The city, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, has gone six straight days without reporting a new case.   © Reuters

11:20 a.m. Vietnam's prime minister asks cities to prepare for possible lockdowns as confirmed cases increase. "Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have to review and update plans to battle the virus, and have to stand ready for city lockdown scenarios," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement.

10:50 a.m. The Indonesia Stock Exchange halts trading for 30 minutes this morning after the index fell 5%. Trading resumes at 10:50 a.m.

10:42 a.m. South Korea confirms 78 more cases, raising the total number to 9,661 with 158 deaths.

10:12 a.m. Japanese comedian Ken Shimura died from pneumonia caused by the virus on Sunday night, becoming the first Japanese celebrity to succumb to the disease. The 70-year-old star had been hospitalized for ten days and had publicly said he had tested positive.

9:30 a.m. Tokyo stocks open lower following the sharp fall in New last week, with the Nikkei index falling more than 700 points from the previous day's finish at one point in early trade. Observers say that investor concerns over the prolonged economic slowdown due to the crisis are prompting the sell-off.

9:10 a.m. Singapore's central bank eases monetary policy to limit economic damage from the pandemic. The nation's monetary authority said it would adopt a 0% per annum appreciation rate of the policy band starting at the current S$NEER level.

5:53 a.m. India's decision to lock down all 1.3 billion residents for 21 days brings the nation's supply chains to a standstill, leaving certain areas short of food and other necessities.

5:08 a.m. Moscow authorities announce a partial lockdown as the number of official cases in the Russian capital tops 1,000. Residents are ordered to stay at home starting Monday, with exceptions such as buying food or medicine.

4:52 a.m. Deaths in the U.S. from the virus could reach 200,000, with millions of cases, warns the government's top expert on infectious diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated casualties from the pandemic of between 100,000 and 200,000 in a CNN interview.

4:00 a.m. Economic activity has frozen in cities around the world as the pandemic rages, leaving only an eerie silence. Yet signs of renewed activity have emerged in the flow of goods in China.

3:37 a.m. Japan is preparing to bar all foreigners arriving from the U.S., China and South Korea in a bid to contain the spread of pandemic.

2:17 a.m. As Japan confronts a surge in new cases, 83% of respondents to a weekend Nikkei/TV Tokyo poll said they were staying home more than usual.

Sunday, March 29

11:58 p.m. India's confirmed coronavirus cases climb to 1,024, including 27 deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says.

10:25 p.m. Myanmar closes its airports to international commercial flights for two weeks starting Tuesday to contain the outbreak. Cargo planes and aircraft carrying relief supplies are exempt.

6:20 p.m. The Philippines reports 343 new infections, bringing its total to 1,418, with 71 deaths and 42 recoveries.

6:20 p.m. Malaysia reports 150 new cases, lifting its total to 2,470, the highest in Southeast Asia. The number of deaths from the virus outbreak climbs by seven to 34, the Health Ministry says.

5:55 p.m. Indonesia confirms 130 new infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 1,285, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto says. Twelve more deaths from the virus bring the toll to 144, Yurianto says, while 64 people have recovered. The country has tested more than 6,500 people.

5:25 p.m. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says public gatherings should not exceed two people, while those older than 70 should self-isolate to protect themselves. Individuals "must stay home" except for essential shopping, exercise and medical appointments, he says, and also for work or education if it cannot be done remotely. A six-month moratorium on evicting people in financial distress will be enacted, Morrison says.

4:30 p.m. The growing number of imported coronavirus cases in China raises the threat of a second wave of infections in the country, National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng says. "China already has accumulated a total of 693 cases entering from overseas," the spokesman says. All but one of China's 45 new cases reported Saturday involve patients diagnosed after entering the country from overseas.

Saturday, March 28

7:30 p.m. The Indonesian capital of Jakarta announces a two-week extension of its state of emergency following the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, Gov. Anies Baswedan says. Indonesia confirms 109 new infections, raising the total in the country to 1,155, the Health Ministry says.

6:36 p.m. The Philippine Health Ministry reports 14 new deaths and 272 additional cases, the country's single largest daily increase in fatalities and infections.

6:25 p.m. Malaysia reports 159 new cases, boosting its total to 2,320, the highest in Southeast Asia. The number of deaths rises by one to 27.

4:35 p.m. Tokyo's spike in infections continues, with at least 60 new cases confirmed -- the most for a single day, the metropolitan government says.

2:00 p.m. India's confirmed cases reach 873, up by 149 from Friday. These include 19 deaths, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry says.

10:32 a.m. South Korea reports 146 new cases, raising the national tally to 9,478, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

9:11 a.m. This year's Shangri-La Dialogue Asia security summit set for June 5-7 in Singapore has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Institute for Strategic Studies says.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks tumble to end a three-day surge as investor anxiety grows over the prospect of long-term restrictions on economic activity. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes 915 points lower while the S&P 500 sheds 88 points.

4:45 a.m. Toyota Motor says it will start producing medical-use face shields in the U.S. as the number of American infections continues to rise. The Japanese automaker also will help producers of ventilators and respirators boost production capacity.

2:36 a.m. The U.S. House of Representatives passes a $2.2 trillion stimulus package by voice vote, sending it to President Donald Trump for his signature.

2:29 a.m. China will set a higher threshold for deficit spending and issue a special type of bond to boost fiscal efforts to aid the economy as it is buffeted by the pandemic.

2:10 a.m. The U.S. Navy's hospital ship Mercy, equipped with 1,000 beds, arrives in the Port of Los Angeles to aid the region in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak. The ship will provide a full range of medical care to let overextended local health facilities focus on treating COVID-19 patients.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week's latest updates.

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