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Singapore cases top 6,000 with 596 new infections

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 2.39 million
  • Global deaths: More than 164,900 
  • Most cases reported: United States (755,533), Spain (196,664), Italy (178,972), France (154,097), and Germany (145,184). 

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 7:41 a.m. Beijing time. 

All times below are in Beijing time.

12:30pm: Southeast Asia could be the next coronavirus hot spot

The number of coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia has risen quickly in recent weeks, with mounting worries among experts that the region could turn into a hot spot for the fast-spreading disease.

The region as a whole has reported more than 28,000 cases as of Sunday, according to data by Johns Hopkins University. Collectively, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore account for 87.9% of total cases reported in Southeast Asia, the data showed.

While the region’s tally is still far off the hundreds of thousands seen in the U.S. and some European nations, several studies suggest that tens of thousands more infections could be undetected due to the low testing rate in countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

Meanwhile in Singapore, cases have spiked dramatically in the last two weeks, with new clusters of infections found among migrant workers living in packed dormitories.

11.45am: South Korea reports fewer than 20 cases for the third straight day

South Korea on Monday reported 13 new cases of the coronavirus — the third straight day the country posted fewer than 20 cases of new infections.

That brings the country’s total infections to 10,674, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Sunday, South Korea reported eight new cases of the coronavirus — the first time in two months that the country reported single-digit figures.

South Korea is one of the hardest hit Asian countries in the pandemic, but has been 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

10:40am: Jobs lost to coronavirus could be slow to return, says S&P

Unemployment rates in Asia-Pacific could surge by well over 3 percentage points — more than twice in an average recession — as social distancing measures hit job creation, says S&P Global Ratings in a report published on Monday.

“Surging unemployment in Asia-Pacific would mean a shallower recovery once the pandemic is contained and, in some economies, credit stress for leveraged households,” said Shaun Roache, Asia-Pacific chief economist at S&P Global Ratings. “Historical data show that jobs lost are not easily won back.”

The service sector is the most important employer in Asia-Pacific, accounting for 55 in 100 jobs, according to S&P. Many of the new service sector jobs have been created by small- and mid-sized enterprises and they usually have fewer resources to draw on to weather a sudden economic stop, said S&P. Access to finance in particular, is a constant challenge and likely to worsen due to economic uncertainty.

“As revenues collapse, to stay alive, these firms will be forced to cut whatever expenses they can. In many cases, their largest expense will be the wage bill,” said S&P. 

Even if workers do hang onto their jobs, they may suffer a cut in their hours and wages, added the ratings agency. — Huileng Tan

10:15am: Farmers could be winners as coffee prices spike and countries hoard during the pandemic

Fears over disruptions to supply chains amid the pandemic have led to some degree of hoarding among countries and consumers — that’s given coffee prices a much-needed boost.

It’s good news for farmers in key coffee-producing regions, who have been struggling as coffee prices have been slumping in recent years. Since 2016, prices have dropped 30% below the average for the past decade, according to the International Coffee Organization.

But prices of Arabica, the world’s most commonly produced coffee, rose last month due to concerns over its availability, said the ICO. — Weizhen Tan

9:29 am: European CDC says continent has more than 1 million cases

9:03 am: French prime minister warns people need to ‘learn to live with the virus’

France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Sunday that people will need to “learn to live with the virus” after the country lifts its lockdown on May 11, the Associated Press reported.

People would likely be required to wear face masks when taking public transport, while those who can work from home should continue to do so, according to Philippe, the AP said, adding that the prime minister warned the economic crisis “will be brutal.” 

France is one of several European countries that has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the total number of cases at more than 154,000 and over 19,700 people have died, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:39 am: China reports 12 new cases, says no additional deaths

China’s National Health Commission said there were 12 new cases of infection, with eight of them attributed to travelers from overseas. No new deaths were reported but there were 49 additional cases of asymptomatic infection, where a person tested positive for the virus but did not show any of the usual symptoms associated with the illness. 

There were at least 82,747 cases of infection on the Chinese mainland since the outbreak was first reported in the Hubei province late last year. While China says most of them have been cured, around 4,632 people have died. The death toll climbed last week after Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, revised its figures that raised the death toll by 50%. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:30 am: Singapore reports 596 new cases, pushing total numbers to over 6,000

Singapore reported 596 new cases of Covid-19 as of noon local time on April 19. Most of them are linked to infection clusters in dormitories that house foreign workers — typically men from other Asian countries who carry out labor-intensive construction jobs to support their families back home. 

General view of the Toh Guan Dormitory, a purpose-built migrant workers dormitory that has been gazetted as an isolation area on April 19, 2020 in Singapore.

Ore Huiying | Getty Images

Sunday’s numbers brought the total cases in the city-state to 6,588, a sharp spike in infections from early March as more people, particularly those living in dormitories, have been tested in recent weeks. Almost all nonessential services in Singapore are temporarily closed while residents have been told to venture outside only for essential tasks, such as buying groceries. 

The health ministry said 768 people have fully recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals and community isolation facilities while 11 patients have died to-date. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:24 am: Global reported cases over 2.39 million, death toll rises to more than 164,000

The total number of infections worldwide has risen to 2,394,291 and at least 164,938 people have died from the disease, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The United States has most number of reported infections, with 755,533 cases in the country, Hopkins data showed.

Spain, Italy, France, and Germany have each reported more than 145,000 cases each. Cases in the United Kingdom climbed to over 121,000 according to Hopkins, and more than 16,000 people there have died. 

India, which is in an extended period of lockdown until May 3, has reported more than 17,600 cases and 559 deaths, Hopkins data showed. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:31 pm: US tops more than 750,000 cases as Trump says he will use DPA to increase medical swabs

The total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is currently at 755,533, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The virus has now killed more than 40,000 people in the U.S., nearly a quarter of all deaths from Covid-19 across the globe, according to JHU data.

New York, the current epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., is recording over 500 deaths a day. President Donald Trump said at a press conference that his administration is looking at helping rural hospitals which have been hurt very badly. He also said he was going to use the Defense Production Act to increase swab production at one facility amid coronavirus testing shortage. The president’s announcement comes after governors demanded federal help to ramp up testing across the U.S. — Riya Bhattacharjee, Noah Higgins-Dunn

4:24 pm: United selling and leasing back 22 planes in bid to conserve cash during coronavirus pandemic

United Airlines has struck a deal with an Asian aircraft leasing firm to sell and then lease back 22 aircraft. Neither United nor the Bank of China Aviation revealed the financial terms of the deal announced Sunday morning.

The move will help United conserve cash and give its balance sheet greater flexibility as it faces mounting losses due to coronavirus causing a global plunge in airline travel.

Earlier this week, United CEO Oscar Munoz said business has essentially dropped to zero. “We expect to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than we did on a single day in May 2019,” Munoz wrote in a note to employees outlining plans to cut its schedule by 90% in May. — Phil LeBeau

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: US death toll surpasses 40,000 as cases hit 750,000

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