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Germany’s Merkel says most people will get COVID-19, Italy hikes outbreak spending

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Via CNBC

This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern daylight time. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 119,476, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • Global deaths: At least 4,291, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • US cases: At least 1,039, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • US deaths: At least 29, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

9:11 am: Why people are panic buying and stockpiling toilet paper

Panic buying has been rife amid the global spread of the new coronavirus, with consumers around the world stockpiling goods like hand sanitizer, canned foods, and toilet paper.

The trend has seen stores ration products, with U.K. retailers limiting sales of hand hygiene products while Australian shoppers have seen restrictions on the amount of toilet paper they can buy.

According to Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London, the short answer can be found in the psychology of “retail therapy” — where we buy to manage our emotional state. “It’s about ‘taking back control’ in a world where you feel out of control,” he said. “More generally, panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychology needs.” —Chloe Taylor

9:06 am: Urban Outfitters store traffic hit by virus, including Milan and Seattle

Urban Outfitters said Wednesday that it has seen store traffic fall off in areas hit by the new coronavirus, including Milan and Seattle, and “a few additional locations.” “We have not seen a significant impact to stores in other locations or to our digital channel,” the company said in a statement. Because the situation is still so fluid in the U.S. and Europe, Urban said it is not yet forecasting how COVID-19 hit its first-quarter earnings. The company joins a list of retailers including Under Armour and Macy’s that are planning for a sales hit and supply chain disruption. —Thomas

8:48 am: New York state recalculates revenue forecasts

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Treasurer Tom DiNapoli to reexamine the state’s revenue forecasts given the stock market rout as well as the outbreak’s impact on local restaurants, hotels and other sectors of the economy. “As you know the world has changed in just the past few days and weeks. The world financial market volatility will no doubt impact our economic growth forecast for the next state fiscal year and revenue from the financial sector,” Cuomo said in a letter sent Tuesday to DiNapoli. Cuomo said the state’s recently completed revenue forecasts could be wrong, given the rapid spread of the virus and disruption to local businesses. —Kopecki

7:58 am: Germany’s Merkel says most people will get infected

Up to 70% of the population is likely to be infected with the coronavirus that is currently spreading around the world, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, adding that since there was currently no cure the focus had to be on slowing its spread.

“When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60% to 70% of the population will be infected,” she told a news conference in Berlin. “The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system by slowing the virus’s spread… It’s about winning time.”

Those remarks come as local authorities in Germany reported the third death in the country of a COVID-19 patient. Germany has at least 1,613 cases of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University. —Reuters

7:12 am: Iran reports 63 new deaths

Iran’s death toll reached 354, a rise of 63 in the past 24 hours, a health ministry spokesman said. COVID-19 has infected around 9,000 across the country, Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on people to avoid unnecessary trips and stay at home. —Reuters

7:08 am: US cases surpass 1,000, up ten-fold from a week ago

A woman visits Times Square as she wears a face mask on March 8, 2020 in New York City.

Kena Betancur | Getty Images

COVID-19 cases surpassed 1,000 in the United States overnight as the new flu-like coronavirus sweeps across the country. The virus is now present in at least 35 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost half of all U.S. cases are in Washington state, California and New York, where the governors have all declared states of emergency to free up funding for communities battling outbreaks. There were just over 100 confirmed cases in the U.S. on March 4, according to the World Health Organization. —Feuer

6:37 am: Italy hikes response spending to $28 billion, says further restrictions could come

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government will set even more money aside to tackle the outbreak, raising it to 25 billion euros ($28.3 billion) — up from 7.5 billion euros announced last week. More than 10,000 people have now been confirmed to have the coronavirus in Italy as a national lockdown remains in place, with even tougher measures being considered. Italy now has 10,149 confirmed cases of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University and Italy’s Civil Protection agency, and 631 deaths from the virus, up 168 from Monday.

6:14 am: Beijing city tightens travel restrictions for all inbound travelers

A Chinese woman slides steam buns down a ramp used to prevent touching and contact as the customer takes his order at a local take out on February 19, 2020 in Beijing, China.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

China’s capital city said all travelers from overseas must self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in a hotel, regardless of whether their country of origin has been hit seriously by COVID-19. Previously, the municipal authorities said the quarantine only applied to travelers from high-risk countries. The policy change came after the city reported Tuesday that all six new confirmed new coronavirus cases were from people returning from abroad, five from Italy and one from the U.S. —Wu

6:07 am: IHS Markit lowers global growth forecasts

Economic research firm IHS Markit estimates that global growth in 2020 will be 1.7%, compared with 2.5% in its February forecast, and 2.7% in 2021 compared with an earlier forecast of 2.8%.

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“While the U.S. economy will be hurt by the effects of the virus, we believe that the momentum of the economy is strong enough to avoid a recession,” its chief economists said Wednesday. “Europe is likely to be harder hit, with Germany and Italy in or near recession before the epidemic. This could well drag the rest of the euro zone into recession.” —Ellyatt


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