Coronavirus latest: Oil plunges to minus $37 a barrel

The Nikkei Asian Review is tracking the spread of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Global cases have reached 2,285,210, according to the World Health Organization.

The worldwide death toll has hit 155,124.

To see how the disease has spread, click this interactive virus tracker:

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):

Tuesday, April 21

4:35 a.m. U.S. crude oil futures end the day at a stunning minus $37.63 a barrel. The May U.S. WTI contract fell $55.9, or 306%, after touching an all-time low of -$40.32 a barrel. 

3:20 a.m. U.S. crude oil futures turn negative for the first time in history as storage space fills up.

2:55 a.m. South Korea and Taiwan have won praise and attention for fast and effective responses to the novel coronavirus that have so far allowed them to avoid the sort of damage seen elsewhere despite their proximity to the disease’s original epicenter.

1:24 a.m. Cash-strapped airline Virgin Australia is poised to enter voluntary administration, Reuters reports.

12:45 a.m. The World Health Organization plans to ship 180 million surgical masks to countries in April and May, Reuters quotes WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying. 

12:41 a.m. Vietnam has used travel bans aggressively to curb the spread of the coronavirus, yet it has made exceptions for employees of Samsung Electronics, a key source of local jobs.

Monday, April 20

11:00 p.m. Nintendo seeks to raise output of the Switch video game device this year in response to a jump in demand from homebound consumers, Nikkei has learned.

10:49 p.m. Japan confirms 343 new COVID-19 cases as of 10 p.m., bringing the total to 10,995. According to Johns Hopkins Unviversity’s Coronavirus Resource Center, Japan now has more COVID-19 cases than South Korea.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks open sharply lower after a sharp drop in oil prices, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling around 1.9%

9:02 p.m. Fitch Ratings downgrades Hong Kong’s credit rating to “AA-” from “AA,” citing “a second major shock” to the economy in Covid-19, which has “compounded negative rating trends already in place from the reputational damage” brought on by social strife in 2019. Fitch last downgraded Hong Kong’s rating in September.

9:01 p.m. China slams as “discriminatory” India’s toughening of its foreign investment rules to prevent opportunistic takeovers of Indian companies by neighbors amid the economic fallout from the pandemic. The barriers set by New Delhi for “investors from specific countries … go against the general trend of liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment,” Ji Rong, the spokesperson of China’s embassy in India, says in a statement.

7:24 p.m. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is extending a ban on alcohol sales until April 30. The ban started on April 10 and was scheduled to end on Monday.

7:08 p.m. The Taiwanese government has sent mobile phone messages to around 200,000 people who may have come into contact with 24 navy sailors who had tested positive for COVID-19. The sailors had disembarked from one of Taiwan’s largest navy ships over the past few days after having been on a goodwill mission to the Pacific island state of Palau. The sailors had returned to 10 Taiwanese cities, a government official said, but all 700 or so have now been recalled to be tested and quarantined.

Taiwan has 422 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

6:51 p.m. Macao is expected to record its first budget deficit since its handover to Chinese rule in 1999, after earmarking 50 billion pataca ($6.26 billion) in COVID-19 relief measures, Chief Executive Ho Iat-seng said in his first policy address on Monday.

6:20 p.m. Data from today — the first Monday after Japan’s state of emergency was extended beyond Tokyo and six other prefectures — shows that the Japanese government is far from achieving its goal of reducing commuter numbers by 70%.

6:09 p.m. Indonesia reports 185 new cases and eight additional deaths — the lowest daily counts for the past two weeks — bringing its totals to 6,760 cases and 590 deaths.

5:58 p.m. The Philippines reports 200 new infections, higher than 172 yesterday, bringing the total to 6,459 with 428 deaths.

5:19 p.m. For the first time in nearly two months, Hong Kong records no new coronavirus infections, after maintaining single-digit confirmed cases for a week.

5:05 p.m. Thailand reports 27 new cases, the fewest daily reported cases since March 14. This brought total confirmed cases to 2,792 with 47 fatalities.


Migrant workers are pictured in their dormitory at a construction site, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore.

  © Reuters

4:25 p.m. Singapore confirms a record 1,426 new cases, bringing its total to 8,014. The “vast majority” of the new infections are among migrant workers residing in dormitories, the health ministry says.

3:06 p.m. Japan’s ANA Holdings has revised down its earnings forecast for the year ended in March. The company now expects its net profit to have plunged by 76% from the same period a year ago, as the pandemic hit the airline hard in March.

2:10 p.m. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed “bilateral cooperation” in tackling the coronavirus crisis, Duterte’s spokesman told reporters.The 18-minute phone conversation, which was initiated by Washington, took place Sunday night, he said, declining to provide more details. Trump’s approach comes as Beijing is doubling down assistance for Manila to fight COVID-19 and takes place when Philippine-U.S. relations are at a crossroads after Duterte terminated a key military pact in February.

1:40 p.m. India confirms 1,553 more coronavirus cases, compared with 1,334 reported on Sunday morning, its biggest 24-hour spike so far. The total number of cases has climbed to 17,265, including 543 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

1:30 p.m. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that the country will extend the lockdown by a week, after which it will move to a lower level of restrictions. Ardern said the country will ease the current restrictions at the end of the day on April 27.


A doctor conducts a swab test on a man in a slum in Mumbai, India.

  © Reuters

11:15 a.m. China’s central bank cuts its benchmark lending rate to prop up the economy amid the pandemic. The People’s Bank of China lowered the one-year loan prime rate to 3.8% from 4.05%.

9:20 a.m. Japanese exports fell 11.7% in the year through March as the pandemic weighed on overseas demand, government data shows. The plunge followed a 1% fall in February and marked the biggest decline since July 2016.

8:30 a.m. The U.S. death toll climbs to 40,665 with more than 759,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York City, the hardest hit region, has reported 14,451 deaths, accounting for about one-third of the country total.

6:20 a.m. Health ministers of G-20 countries hold a teleconference where they agree to share information to counter the pandemic. Participants pointed out the weakness of medical systems and admitted that preparations were not adequate. Representatives from the World Bank and WHO, which has been questioned over its response by U.S. President Donald Trump, also attended.

2:50 a.m. Italy reports 433 new deaths on Sunday, the lowest daily tally in a week, while the number of new cases slowed to 3,047 from 3,491 a day earlier. The death toll hit 482 on Saturday, down from 575 on Friday.

Sunday, April 19

11:50 p.m. Britain reports 596 new deaths as a senior minister said the testing target remained at 100,000 per day. Hospital deaths stood at 16,060 as of 1600 GMT on Saturday after the smallest daily rise since data was first published on April 6.

5:55 p.m. Indonesia reports 327 new cases, bringing the country total to 6,575. There were 47 new deaths, brining the total to 582.

5:50 p.m. India confirms 1,334 new cases, up from 991 on Saturday morning, bringing the country total to 15,712 with 507 deaths.

3:33 p.m. Taiwan reports 22 new cases, almost all navy sailors who had been on a goodwill mission to the Pacific island state of Palau in March.

1:43 p.m. Thailand reports 32 new cases, bringing the country total to 2,765 with 47 deaths.

11:11 a.m. China reports 16 new cases — the lowest number since March 17 and down from 27 a day earlier — bringing the country total to 82,735 with 4,632 deaths.

10:25 a.m. South Korea reports single digit cases for the first time in two months with eight new cases, bringing the country total to 10,661 with 234 deaths.

8:15 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump warns China that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

Saturday, April 18

5:51 p.m. Indonesia reports 325 new cases, brining the country total to 6,248. There were 47 new deaths, bringing the total to 535.

5:07 p.m. Taiwan will quarantine 700 navy sailors after three cases were confirmed among sailors who had been on a goodwill mission to the Pacific island state of Palau.

5:00 p.m. The Philippines reports 209 new cases, down from 218 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 6,087 with 397 deaths.

4:35 p.m. Singapore reports 942 new cases, a daily record high, bringing the country total to 5,992.

4:09 p.m. Confirmed cases in Japan surpass 10,000, just days after a state of emergency was extended nationwide to slow the spread of the virus.

2:30 p.m. India reports 991 new cases, down from 1,007 reported on April 17, bringing the country total to 14,378 with 480 deaths.

12:10 p.m. China reports 27 new cases on April 17, up from 26 a day earlier.

To catch up on earlier developments, see last week’s latest updates.

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