Coronavirus live updates: Outbreak is ‘grave concern’ as infections spread beyond China
This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.
All times below are in Eastern time.
11:51 am: Coronavirus concerns increase demand for Dow cleaning products
The coronavirus outbreak is driving up demand for some of Dow’s cleaning products that are used in household cleaning items, CEO Jim Fitterling told CNBC. Fitterling said Dow’s cleaning products are seeing increased demand due to the rapidly spreading virus. “We’ve seen some demand pull from coronavirus on things like cleaning materials for disinfectants, like you would use in household cleaners; non-wovens for masks and wipes and those kinds of things,” Fitterling said. “And I think as you see people stay at home and use more food from the grocery store, you’re going to see a pull on packaging as well.”
11:27 am: WHO officials say coronavirus spread outside of China is of ‘grave concern’
The spread of a fast-moving virus outside of China is of “grave concern” and is what’s prompted the World Health Organization to reconvene an emergency meeting this week to decide whether it’s a global health emergency. The coronavirus has spread to a handful of people through human-to-human contact outside of China, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said at a press conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters Wednesday.
11 am: WHO officials hold press conference on coronavirus as outbreak worsens
WHO is holding its third press briefing at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the flu-like coronavirus that has now killed at least 132 people and infected more than 6,150 people in more than a dozen countries around the world. WHO was expected last week to announce whether the new virus was a global health emergency but officials to gather more data. Executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program Dr. Michael Ryan and head of WHO’s Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis unit Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove are scheduled to speak. Watch the live press conference here.
10:45 am: WHO will reconvene emergency committee Thursday
Director-general of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he will reconvene the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee to discuss the coronavirus. The committee will help determine “whether the current outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern,” Tedros said in a tweet.
10:37 am: Starbucks could close more stores in China
Starbucks has closed more than half of its Chinese locations and won’t hesitate to close more to keep its employees safe, CEO Kevin Johnson told CNBC. It’s a “very dynamic situation,” he said, “when there’s a concern, we will close stores.”
10:30 am: Finland confirms first coronavirus case
Finland on Wednesday confirmed its first coronavirus case on a Chinese traveler from Wuhan, China, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said. The traveler is in isolation in Lapland’s central hospital in northern Finland, it said in a statement, adding some 15 other people may have been exposed.
9:00 am: GM extends manufacturing shutdown in China through Feb. 9
General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker in China, told employees there that it will keep its Chinese factories shut down through Feb. 9, a company spokesman said in an email to CNBC. China’s factories have been closed as part of a nationwide manufacturing break to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but were originally due to reopen this week. Chinese officials have extended the plant shutdown to Feb. 9 as the nation tries to contain the coronavirus outbreak. GM’s decision follows on Honda’s announcement late Tuesday that it was keep motorcycle factories in China closed to Feb. 9. Automakers across the globe have been evacuating employees and restricting travel to China.
Commuters wearing protective masks walk through Hong Kong Station, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.
Paul Yeung | Bloomberg | Getty Images
7:36 am: Death toll of coronavirus climbs to 132, China cases now exceed SARS epidemic
The total number of cases of the coronavirus reached more than 6,100 worldwide with 132 deaths in China, Chinese and international health authorities said Wednesday. Since the first patient was identified in Wuhan on Dec. 31, the number of coronavirus cases in China has mushroomed to more than 6,060, exceeding the total number of SARS cases in that country during the 2002-2003 epidemic. There were 5,327 SARS cases in China and 8,000 across the world between Nov. 1, 2002, and July 31, 2003, according to the World Health Organization.
6:36 am: International Ski Federation cancels first official Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 test event
FIS, the Chinese Ski Association and its Yanqing Local Organizing Committee, have canceled the men’s Audi FIS World Cup races scheduled for Feb. 15 to 16 in the northwestern part of Beijing. It would have been the federation’s first Alpine Ski World Cup in China and the first official test event for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, according to FIS President Gian-Franco Kasper. “Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of the athletes and all participants must take priority,” Kasper said in an online statement.
5:18 am: British Airways cancels all flights to and from mainland China
British Airways has stopped all direct flights to and from mainland China because of the coronavirus outbreak. The airline said the suspension would be implemented “with immediate effect” following the viral outbreak that has caused 132 deaths and infected more than 6,000 people.