Workers transport a corpse from the mortuary of the Severo Ochoa Hospital on March 28, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.

Global COVID-19 update: 666,000 cases; 30,864 dead

Workers transport a corpse from the mortuary of the Severo Ochoa Hospital on March 28, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.

Spain recorded a record number of deaths as the toll rose 15 per cent to 6,528. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a domestic travel advisory, urging New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents to avoid non-essential travel.

South Korean soldier wearing protective suits spray a street in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, March 5, 2020. S

The CDC’s move came after President Donald Trump decided against putting those hard-hit areas under quarantine to stop the spread of COVID-19. Australia’s government limited outdoor public gatherings to two people and told everyone to stay at home with few exceptions.

Key Developments:

  • Cases top 666,000; 30,864 dead, 141,789 recovered: Johns Hopkins
  • No quarantine of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
  • Australia limits outdoor public gatherings to two people
  • South Korea unveils 105 more cases, total 9,583
  • Singapore reports third coronavirus death
  • Passengers on “death ship” plea for rescue as virus strikes
  • Europe’s virus carnage has Italy, Spain grasping for answers

Spain reports record number of deaths (5:30 pm HK)

Spain registered 838 deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours as the government tightened restrictions on movement to slow the spread of a pandemic that’s proving hard to contain. That’s the third day in a row of record deaths.

Spain’s health-care system is at breaking point after the number of people sent to intensive care on Saturday surpassed the official capacity of 4,404 beds. Madrid, the epicentre of the outbreak, has created a temporary hospital in the city’s main conference center to handle the overflow.

Germany warns of possible ICU shortage (4:45 p.m. HK)

The head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute warned the country might run into a capacity shortage of intensive care units. “We can’t rule out Germany will get more patients in need than ventilators,” Lothar Wieler told the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Germany’s number of COVID-19-related deaths has been relatively low compared to other countries.

Australia unveils wage subsidy (3:43 p.m. HK)

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison limited outdoor public gatherings to two — excluding families — and told people to stay at home except for essential shopping, work, education and medical care. He also said people aged 70 and over should self-isolate at home.

Earlier Sunday, Morrison said the government was set to provide further income support for workers who lose their jobs as the coronavirus outbreak savages the economy. He also announced a A$1.1 billion ($678 million) package to boost spending on health services and combating domestic violence.

Australia had 3,966 confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. Sunday, an increase of 331 in the previous 24 hours. The nation’s death toll stood at 16.

South Africa may approach IMF (3:10 p.m. HK)

South Africa may approach the International Monetary Fund for the first time ever to help with funding to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Johannesburg’s Sunday Times reported, citing Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

Africa weeks away from height of storm (2 p.m. HK)

Africa is two to three weeks away from the worst of the coronavirus storm and needs an emergency economic stimulus of $100 billion to bolster preventative measures and support its fragile healthcare systems, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Tokyo Olympics 2021 date (1:49 p.m. HK)

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organisers are planning to set the opening date on July 23, 2021, and the closing date on Aug. 8, NHK said Sunday, citing sources it didn’t identify.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC President Thomas Bach agreed to put off the Tokyo Games for about a year, the first postponement since the modern games began in the 19th century.

Separately, Tokyo had 68 more coronavirus cases, the biggest daily increase, NHK reported, citing a local government official it didn’t identify. Tokyo now has at least 430 infections.

Philippine Central Bank ready with more measures (12:08 p.m. HK)

The Philippine central bank is ready to support the economy with more interest rate cuts and purchases of government securities, Governor Benjamin Diokno said, as the country tries to contain fallout from the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

“We’ve done a lot on the monetary side, but we can do much more if needed,” Diokno said. “There’s ample room for more policy easing” although any action will remain data-dependent, he said.

New York Knicks owner tests positive (10:41 a.m. HK)

Dolan, who is also chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden Co., is in self-isolation and “is experiencing little to no symptoms,” the Knicks said in a tweet.

The 64-year-old executive joins a number of NBA players in testing positive for COVID-19. The league suspended its season earlier this month when it disclosed that a Utah Jazz player had been diagnosed.

Domestic travel curbs for New York Area (10:12 a.m. HK)

The CDC urged residents in the tri-state area to refrain from non-essential travel for 14 days, effective immediately. The advisory excludes Department of Homeland Security employees as well people working in “critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply.”

Trump had floated the idea on isolating those hard-hit areas earlier in the day. But in an announcement on Twitter, he avoided the harshest outcome. “A quarantine will not be necessary,” Trump said.

New York’s Andrew Cuomo said on CNN that the move would amount to a “federal declaration of war” against the states — one that’s apparently been forestalled for now.

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News said the virus taskforce will soon deliver recommendations on whether to re-open the U.S. economy.

China’s new cases mostly imported (8:24 a.m. HK)

China’s National Health Commission said all but one of the new cases reported on March 28 are imported as a policy to block almost all foreigners from entering the industry took effect Saturday.

China has a total of 81,439 confirmed cases, with 693 of those imported, the NHC said. The death toll rose by five to 3,300, with all new deaths reported in Hubei province. Discharged patients rose by 477 to 75,448.

Gilead expands access to drug (6:37 a.m. HK)

Gilead Sciences Inc. will expand access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to accelerate its emergency use for multiple severely ill patients. The drugmaker said it’s switching to “expanded access” from a “compassionate use” program under which remdesivir was given to more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients.

The company said it’s on track to have initial data in coming weeks.

Pentagon to buy 8,000 ventilators (4:25 p.m. NY)

The Pentagon’s logistics agency will spend $84.4 million to buy 8,000 ventilators from four vendors, with an initial 1,400 delivered by early May. The announcement didn’t name the companies involved.