Malaysia border lockdown, Italy death toll

Malaysia border lockdown, Italy death toll


  • Global cases: At least 184,976, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization
  • Global deaths: At least 7,529, according to the latest figures from the WHO

This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

All times below are in Beijing time.

8:14 am: Australia raises travel restriction to the highest level, tells citizens not to travel overseas

Australia raised its advisory for all overseas travel to the highest level and told citizens not to travel at this time, regardless of their destination, age or health condition. The “Level 4: Do Not Travel” designation suggests that if people choose to travel, despite the advice, the Australian government may not be in a position to help them if they land in trouble abroad. 

The government also said Australians overseas who want to return to the country should do so immediately and that upon their arrival, they would be required to self-isolate for two weeks. Separately, Australia has banned non-essential indoor gathering of more than 100 people starting Wednesday. That could potentially affect cinemas, theaters, restaurants, clubs, and cafes. 

Australia has recorded at least 375 confirmed cases as of 6 a.m. local time on March 17; of them, 27 have recovered and five people died, according to the health ministry. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

8:05 am: NASA says all employees, contractors to move to mandatory telework until further notice

NASA said its leadership is monitoring developments regarding the coronavirus around the U.S. A limited number of employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new, rapidly spreading coronavirus. In a statement, the agency said: 

“This evening, NASA leadership has decided to elevate all centers and facilities to Stage 3 of NASA’s Response Framework. Effective immediately, all employees and contractors will move to mandatory telework until further notice. Mission-essential personnel will continue to be granted access onsite.” — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:30 am: Malaysians working in Singapore scramble to beat travel ban deadline

Malaysia announced it was banning its citizens from traveling abroad starting Wednesday as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Foreign travelers will also not be allowed into the country.

The decision potentially affects some 400,000 people who make the daily trip into Singapore for work. Local reports said there was a frantic rush on the causeway linking the two countries on Tuesday as people tried to beat the approaching deadline; that led to gridlock at the Singapore checkpoint and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the causeway.

A general view of the bumper to bumper traffic as vehicles are seen crossing into Singapore a day ahead before Malaysia closes its borders at the causeway bordering Malaysia’s southern state of Johor Bahru and Singapore on March 17, 2020 in Singapore.

Suhaimi Abdullah | Getty Images

The Straits Times reported many Malaysian workers scrambled to return home to collect their clothes before rushing back into Singapore to continue with their employment. For its part, Singapore said it was making available short-term accommodation options for affected workers who are unable to arrange for places to stay. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:08 am: Italy’s death toll passes 2,500

Italy had at least 2,503 virus-related deaths as of 6 p.m. local time on March 17, according to the country’s health ministry. Fatality numbers jumped by 345 from a day earlier where the death toll was at 2,158 people. Total cases in the country are now at 31,506 and among them, 2,941 people have recovered. Italy remains in complete lockdown where the government has ordered bars, restaurants and most shops to close. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:03 am: Virus spreads to all 50 states as US death toll crosses 100

The coronavirus has now infected more than 5,809 people across the United States and killed at least 100. At the beginning of the month, there were just 62 confirmed cases in the country, according to the World Health Organization. Almost half of all confirmed U.S. cases are in Washington state, California and New York, where major epidemics have erupted, prompting the governors to declare states of emergency to free up funding for communities battling outbreaks. — Will Feuer

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:48 pm: Even with $1 trillion stimulus, hit to economy and employment from virus will be big

The double-barreled approach of a $1 trillion proposed fiscal stimulus program and Federal Reserve policy could help soften the blow of an economic recession and head off a potential financial crisis.

The White House is seeking a stimulus package worth between $850 billion and $1 trillion that could result in emergency funds for individuals and assistance for small businesses and credit for industries hard hit by the reaction to the virus. 

But even with the proposed stimulus, the view of economic forecasters has become more dire in recent days as companies seeking cash strain credit markets and the shutdown of business activity sends shock waves across the economy. — Patti Domm

5:45 pm: Pentagon to free up 5 million respirator masks and 2,000 ventilators for coronavirus efforts

The Pentagon says it will give 5 million respirator masks and 2,000 ventilators to the Department of Health and Human Services from the military’s strategic reserve in order to support the coronavirus response.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Tuesday from the Pentagon press briefing room that 1 million respirator masks would be made available immediately. —Amanda Macias

5:30 pm: Travel industry pushes for $150 billion in aid as coronavirus cripples business

The U.S. travel and tourism industry is seeking $150 billion in relief to help grapple with coronavirus pandemic that has ground travel to a halt.

Lobbying groups representing the country’s travel and tourism industry met the White House on Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump and other officials to discuss the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. —Lauren Hirsch

Read CNBC’s coverage from the U.S. overnight: Four Nets players test positive for the coronavirus, US cases more than 5,800

— CNBC’s Will Feuer, Lauren Hirsch, Amanda Macias, and Patti Domm contributed to this report.


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