IEA dismal energy outlook, China’s Didi resumes services in Wuhan

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks.

  • Global cases: More than 3.19 million
  • Global deaths: Over 227,700
  • Most cases reported: United States (over 1 million), Spain (236,899), Italy (203,591), France (166,543), and United Kingdom (166,441).

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 3:46 p.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

4:20 pm: The ‘R’ rate is the new coronavirus buzzword

3:34 pm: Singapore preliminarily confirms 528 new cases

Singapore’s health ministry preliminarily confirmed 528 new cases of infection, with most of them linked to clusters in foreign worker dormitories. The city-state has confirmed more than 16,000 cases so far, and 14 have died from Covid-19. 

Majority of those who have been infected are foreign workers who are typically men from other Asian countries working in the construction and other labor-intensive sectors.— Saheli Roy Choudhury

2:56 pm: Singapore minister says 5G rollout still on track despite economic challenges

Singapore remains on track to roll out nationwide 5G services by 2025 despite the current economic uncertainties posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s communications and information minister S. Iswaran said.

Iswaran told reporters at a briefing that 5G is an important investment in Singapore’s digital infrastructure for the future.

The country’s telecommunication industry regulator on Wednesday announced the two provisional winners who will build Singapore’s nationwide 5G networks: Singapore Telecommunications and a joint venture between telcos Starhub and M1.

Singapore’s economy is facing a recession this year due to the Covid-19 crisis and the central bank this week said there’s “significant uncertainty” over the depth and duration of the contraction. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

2.24 pm: California likely to shut down all beaches and state parks from May 1

California is likely to shut down all beaches and state parks from May 1, according to a letter sent to state police chiefs and acquired by NBC Los Angeles.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make the announcement on Thursday. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

12:29 pm: Germany adds 1,478 new cases and 173 additional deaths

Germany reported 1,478 new cases and 173 additional deaths, according to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute, the federal government agency responsible for disease control and prevention.

There are 159,119 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country as well as 6,288 deaths in total. The German death toll is far lower than those seen in other European nations. Around 123,500 people are said to have recovered from the illness.

Numbers reported by the RKI are slightly lower than data from Johns Hopkins University because the agency updates its figures every 24 hours.

Germany, like Spain, Italy and a handful of other European countries, has tentatively started to lift its lockdown measures by allowing smaller retail stores to re-open as long as hygiene and social-distancing measures are maintained. Larger car dealerships, bike shops and book shops have also been allowed to open their doors. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

12:13 pm: Energy demand set to fall the most on record this year amid coronavirus pandemic

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said Thursday that it expects global energy demand to plunge this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in what the Paris-based agency called the biggest shock since World War II.

With roughly 4.2 billion people around the world subject to some form of lockdown in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the IEA is forecasting a 6% drop in energy demand for the year. In absolute terms, this is the largest on record. Percentage-wise, it’s the steepest decline in 70 years.

The demand hit from the pandemic is expected to be seven times greater than the decline in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008.

“In absolute terms, the decline is unprecedented – the equivalent of losing the entire energy demand of India, the world’s third largest energy consumer,” the agency’s Global Energy Report said. — Pippa Stevens

11:40 am: Senior Chinese official challenges Trump over coronavirus response, says US wasted weeks

A senior Chinese government official challenged President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, accusing him of wasting weeks after the threat posed by the virus first became apparent.

In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News Executive Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng rejected claims that the country had covered up the initial outbreak or that it should be held financially liable for COVID-19. Instead, he termed the virus a “natural disaster” and called for greater cooperation and an end to accusations.

“On Jan. 23 when Wuhan went under lockdown, the United States reported only one confirmed case, but on March 13 when President Trump announced a national emergency, the United States reported over 1,600 confirmed cases,” Le said. “In this interval of 50 days, what was the U.S. government doing? Where have those 50 days gone?” — NBC News

10:45 am: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi resumes services in Wuhan

China’s Didi is resuming all ride-hailing services, including taxis and private cars, in Wuhan where the outbreak first started.

The firm said it will continue to carry out “rigorous” hygiene practices and other protective measures. “Nevertheless, this moment marks a new beginning as we turn to support the full discovery of urban life and transportation in the country,” it said in a statement.

Taxis line up for passengers outside the Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province Wednesday, April 08, 2020, after 76 days of lockdown due to Covid-19.

Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Didi added that it will also be stopping volunteer transportation services for healthcare workers, which it started after the lockdown in China began. — Weizhen Tan

10:00 am: South Korea reports no new domestic cases for first time since February peak

South Korea reported no locally transmitted cases for the first time since its Feb. 29 peak, according to Reuters. There were still four new infections, all attributed to travelers from overseas, according to the Korea Centers for Disease control and Prevention.

That took the country’s total to 10,765. The death toll rose by one, with the total number of fatalities at 247. South Korea has been widely praised for its efforts successfully containing the outbreak, after it instituted widespread testing and intensive contact tracing. — Weizhen Tan

9:25 am: China says its manufacturing activity expanded slightly in April as lockdowns ease

China said manufacturing activity in the country expanded slightly in April as lockdowns and movement restrictions to contain the coronavirus began to ease.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index came in at 50.8 for the month of April, as compared to 52.0 in March. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected official manufacturing PMI to come in at 51.0 in April. PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that level signal contraction.

In February, the official PMI hit a record low of 35.7 as China was hit by the coronavirus outbreak. — Huileng Tan

9:20 am: China reports 4 new cases, no deaths

China reported four new cases as of April 29, according to its National Health Commission (NHC). All 4 cases were attributed to travelers coming from overseas. That takes the country’s total to 82,862 cases, according to government data.

There were no new deaths, with total fatalities remaining at 4,633, according to the NHC.

Separately, there were 33 new asymptomatic cases, where people tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms. That brings its number of asymptomatic cases currently under medical observation to 998, the NHC said. — Weizhen Tan

9:05 am: Los Angeles becomes first major US city to offer free coronavirus testing for all residents

Los Angeles is the first city in the United States to offer coronavirus testing for anyone regardless of whether they have symptoms, Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference on Wednesday. But those with symptoms will have the first priority, he added. 

Los Angeles has the capacity to conduct roughly 9% of all tests in America, he told reporters. 

Across the country, states say that Covid-19 testing is increasing but there still aren’t sufficient tests available. As the United States starts to re-open, medical experts say that testing will need to pickup speed, alongside contact tracing and other efforts to quickly isolate those who might be contagious before they can spread the virus to others. — Christina Farr

8:19 am: Singapore’s DBS bank posts 29% fall in first-quarter net profit

Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS, said it set aside 1.09 billion Singapore dollars ($772.5 million) to cover potential losses from the coronavirus pandemic — which resulted in a 29% year-over-year fall in net profit in the first quarter.

DBS said two-thirds of the money it set aside — around 703 million Singapore dollars ($498.2 million) — were for “general allowances to anticipate a deeper and more prolonged economic impact from the pandemic.”

The remaining amount of 383 million Singapore dollars ($271.4 million) was mainly “for new exposures recognised as non-performing during the quarter.”

The Singaporean bank’s net profit fell to 1.17 billion Singapore dollars ($829.2 million) in January-March this year, down from 1.65 billion Singapore dollars ($1.17 billion) in the same period last year.  Yen Nee Lee

8:08 am: Australia says outbreak in Tasmania linked to cruise ship

Australia said a coronavirus outbreak in the state of Tasmania likely originated from the Ruby Princess cruise ship, according to a government report published Thursday, Reuters reported. 

The Ruby Princess cruise, which is owned by a unit of Carnival Corp, is Australia’s largest source of infections as some 2,700 people were allowed to leave the ship when in docked in Sydney last month, according to Reuters. That was despite some people showing symptoms of Covid-19. 

Tasmania recorded 12 deaths from the virus and all but two were linked to the cruise ship, Reuters reported. 

The health ministry said as of 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, there have been 6,746 confirmed cases and 90 people have died in Australia. Tasmania has 220 confirmed cases.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:40 am: US cases top 1 million, global death toll above 227,000

More than 3.1 million people have been infected by the coronavirus around the world and over 227,000 people have died from the respiratory disease Covid-19, data from Johns Hopkins University showed.

The United States reported the most number of cases, with over 1 million people infected and more than 60,800 have died, according to Hopkins data. 

Spain has more than 236,800 cases while Italy has over 203,500 cases. Both France and the United Kingdom reported more than 166,000 cases each and Germany had over 161,000 cases. 

The virus outbreak was reported in China’s Hubei province late last year before it spread rapidly to all parts of the world in just four months.  Saheli Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:17 pm: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg warns against reopening public spaces too soon

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned that reopening public spaces too soon “almost guarantees” continued coronavirus outbreaks and economic fallout.

“While there are massive societal costs from the current shelter-in-place restrictions, I worry that reopening certain places too quickly before inaction rates have been reduced to very minimal levels will almost guarantee future outbreaks and worsen longer-term health and economic outcomes,” Zuckerberg said on the company’s first quarter earnings call.

“The impact on our business has been significant, and I remain very concerned that this health emergency and therefore the economic fallout will last longer than people are currently anticipating,” Zuckerberg added.

Zuckerberg’s comments come as some states mull whether to reopen businesses that the Covid-19 pandemic forced shut. —Jessica Bursztynsky

5:54 pm: Trump wants FDA to move ‘as quickly as they can’ on remdesivir approval

President Donald Trump said he wants the Food and Drug Administration to move “as quickly as they can” to approve Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for the coronavirus.

“We would like to see very quick approvals, especially with things that work,” he said at a roundtable at the White House with business executives Wednesday evening.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on April 29, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

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