Wuhan eases lockdown, allows people to leave

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  • Global cases: More than 1,426,000
  • Global deaths: At least 81,865
  • Most cases reported: United States (396,223), Spain (141,942), Italy (135,586), France (110,065) and Germany (107,663). 

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 7 a.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

1:40 pm: Cases in Germany jump

The number of confirmed cases in Germany jumped by 4,003 in the past 24 hours to a total of 103,228, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.

The number of fatalities rose by 254 to a total of 1,861. — Weizhen Tan

1:05 pm: Australia’s parliament set to pass huge stimulus plan as S&P ratings agency lowers ‘AAA’ outlook

Ratings giant S&P lowered the outlook on Australia’s “AAA” sovereign rating to “negative” from “stable,” according to a Reuters report.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt Australia a severe economic and fiscal shock,” S&P said, according to the report. “We expect the Australian economy to plunge into recession for the first time in almost 30 years, causing a substantial deterioration of the government’s fiscal headroom at the ‘AAA’ rating level.” A triple-A credit rating is given to only countries with the strongest finances in the world.

The country’s parliament on Wednesday returned to pass an emergency stimulus package worth $130 billion Australian dollars ($80 billion), to boost the economy reeling from the impact of the pandemic. — Weizhen Tan

12:25 pm: Hong Kong extends ban on social distancing measures

Hong Kong said restrictions including a ban on public gatherings of more than four people, as well as closures of some bars, would be extended till April 23, according to a Reuters report.

It said the number of cases in the city spiked more than two-fold in the past two weeks to 936, making the extension necessary, the report said. It also extended indefinitely a two-week closure of its airport to foreign visitors. — Weizhen Tan

11:45 am: Rice prices surge to 7-year high as coronavirus sparks stockpiling

11:25 am: Tesla to slash employee pay, and furlough hourly workers until May 4

Tesla will cut pay for all of its employees and furlough all hourly workers until May 4, when it intends to resume production of electric cars, according to an internal e-mail that multiple employees shared with CNBC.

Health orders implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 have forced the electric vehicle maker to wind down new vehicle production at its main car plant in Fremont, California.

Last week, Tesla informed staffing agencies that it would be ceasing all contract work until further notice. Hundreds of temps were dismissed from their Tesla gigs as a result. – Lora Kolodny

10:45 am: The battle against coronavirus will last a ‘very long time,’ says Singapore minister

The coronavirus crisis encompasses several generations and its consequences will likely be far more serious than past financial crises, according to K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s home affairs minister.

“You’re looking at economic devastation. Businesses destroyed, people’s lives ruined, and in such a situation, you don’t talk contract. You talk equity, you talk justice, you talk about what is the right thing to do,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday.

A day earlier, Singapore’s parliament passed a new bill that provides temporary relief to businesses and individuals if they are unable to fulfill their contractual obligations due to the coronavirus outbreak such as paying rent. They would be shielded from legal action for six months.

The bill also tightened restrictions further, and banned all types of social gatherings in public and private spaces and restricted the movement of people. It also makes a provision for the requisition of land, property or services needed to ramp up Singapore’s health care capacity and public health capabilities. 

As of Tuesday noon, the city-state had at least 1,481 cases. Among them, six patients have died and 377 have been cured and discharged. – Saheli Roy Choudhury

10:40 am: Grammy-winning American folk and country singer John Prine dies from coronavirus complications

Grammy-winning American folk and country singer John Prine died on Tuesday from complications caused by the coronavirus, his publicist confirmed to NBC News. Prine was 73.

Prine was hospitalized in Nashville on March 26 after suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, Reuters reported, citing his wife and manager, Fiona Whelan Prine. — Huileng Tan

9:50 am: South Korea reports 53 new cases, 8 deaths

South Korea on Wednesday reported 53 new cases of infection. There were eight deaths.

On Monday and Tuesday, the country reported fewer than 50 cases on each day  the lowest daily reported numbers for the country since late February when the outbreak spread exponentially within its borders.

South Korea has altogether reported 10,384 cases of infection and 200 people have succumbed to the illness caused by the virus, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Korea is generally praised for its efforts to reduce the spread of infection by mass testing its people and adopting strict measures to quarantine and track those who affected. — Huileng Tan

8:20 am: China reports 62 new cases, 2 deaths

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported 62 new cases and two deaths as of April 7.

That brings the country’s total to 81,802 confirmed case and 3,333 deaths, according to the NHC.

Separately, there were 137 new asymptomatic cases, where people tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms.

China started including asymptomatic cases in its daily reports starting April 1. — Huileng Tan

8:10 am: Wuhan further eases lockdown, allows people to leave city

The central Chinese city of Wuhan — where the coronavirus was first reported — started allowing people to leave for the first time since it was locked down on Jan. 23 to contain the outbreak.

The first train carrying departing passengers left the city at 5 a.m. local time, Reuters reported, and outbound highways were opened to vehicles around the same time.

Based on ticket sales, 55,000 people will leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday, Chinese media reported.

Chinese authorities lifted a more than two-month ban on outbound travel from the city where the global pandemic first emerged.

Hecto Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

More than 50,000 people were infected with the virus in Wuhan and the death toll in the city has reached 2,572, about 80% of the total fatalities in China, according to official figures.

Chinese authorities gradually eased restrictions in Wuhan city as the epidemic situation improved. At one time, the industrial city’s 11 million people were confined to their homes. — Huileng Tan

All times below are in Eastern time.

8 pm: Trump blames WHO for getting coronavirus pandemic wrong, threatens to withhold funding

President Donald Trump blamed the World Health Organization for getting “every aspect” of the coronavirus pandemic wrong and threatened to withhold funding from the international organization.

“They did give us some pretty bad play calling … with regard to us, they’re taking a lot of heat because they didn’t want the borders closed, they called it wrong. They really called, I would say, every aspect of it wrong,” Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday.

WHO officials declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, when there were just 121,000 global cases. In the U.S., there are more than 380,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. —Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

7:04 pm: Jim Cramer predicts ‘U’ shape recovery, says economy ‘will bounce back gradually’

CNBC’s Jim Cramer suggested investors take advantage of the recent market upside to sell some stock and build up some cash for the next dip.

“Without a V-shaped recovery, you have to be skeptical of these big moves higher,” the “Mad Money” host said. “Because in a U-shaped recovery I’m expecting, the stock market will pull back again and that is when you can put some money to work.”

A V-shaped recovery happens when a quick decline in economic activity is met by an abrupt rebound in activity, while a U-shaped recovery is one where the economy gradually climbs out of a recession environment, which can take up to two years.

Based on Monday’s 7% market rally, investors are hoping that the economy has a V-shaped recovery, Cramer said, which is where business activity snaps back if the ongoing outbreak is quelled soon.

″’V’ is what justifies yesterday’s rally” but “I do not believe in the ‘V’ when it comes to this recovery,” he said. —Tyler Clifford

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: US cases top 387,000, Amazon testing disinfectant fog at New York warehouse after protests

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