Coronavirus latest: Philippines’ Cebu Air defers jet purchases

Linda J. Dodson

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 4,534,731, according to the World Health Organization.

The worldwide death toll has hit 307,537.

To see how the disease has spread, view our virus tracker charts:

(Source photo by AP) 

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):


11:50 a.m. Thailand’s economy contracted at its sharpest pace in eight years in the first quarter but by less than expected. The country’s GDP shrank 1.8% in January-March from a year earlier, data shows, versus a 4% decline forecast in a Reuters poll.

11:20 a.m. China’s new home prices rose at a slightly faster pace in April, the latest data shows, adding to signs the country’s property market is slowly recovering as coronavirus lockdowns are eased. The average new home price in China’s 70 major cities rose 0.5% in April from the prior month, following a 0.1% increase in March, Reuters calculated based on official data.

11:00 a.m. South Korea confirms 15 new cases, up from 13 a day ago. Total infections reach 11,065 with 263 deaths. The Seoul nightclub cluster is dissipating.

10:40 a.m. China reports seven new confirmed cases for May 17, up from five a day earlier. Two of the seven are in the northeastern province of Jilin, currently in a partial lockdown, taking the total number of new infections in Jilin to 33 since the first case of the current wave was reported on May 7.

A child reacts while undergoing nucleic acid testing in Wuhan.

  © Reuters

10:00 a.m. The Philippines’ Cebu Air says it will defer planned aircraft purchases and is in talks with the government for financial support as the pandemic decimates travel demand. Last year, the country’s largest budget carrier finalized the purchase of about 30 Airbus SE aircraft, worth $6.8 billion at list price.

8:52 a.m. Japan’s economy contracted 0.9% in January-March, or at an annualized pace of 3.4%, the Cabinet Office said Monday, showing that the world’s third-largest economy was in a technical recession even before a state of national emergency was declared over the coronavirus outbreak.

2:40 a.m. India extends the national lockdown for a third time to May 31, as the country struggles to contain the viral spread despite almost two months of business and travel restrictions.

1:40 a.m. The U.K. reports the number deaths from people testing positive for COVID-19 rising on Sunday by 170 to 34,636 — the lowest increase since March 24.

Sunday, May 17

10:50 p.m. Spain’s death toll fell below 100 for the first time in two month, as parts of the country prepared to ease lockdowns. Cases rose to 231,350 from 230,698 while deaths rose 87 to 27,650.

9:30 p.m. Wuhan conducted 222,675 nucleic acid tests on May 16, a near twofold increase from the day before. The Chinese city began looking for asymptomatic carriers after confirming last weekend its first cluster of COVID-19 infections since lifting the lockdown on April 8.

5:38 p.m. Malaysia reports 22 new cases, bringing the country total to 6,894 with no new deaths, which stand at 113.

5:11 p.m. The Philippines reports 208 new cases and seven more deaths, bringing the country totals to 12,513 and 824, respectively. Most new cases were reported in Manila.

3:28 p.m. China reports five cases, down from eight the day before, bringing the country total to 82,947. Three were locally transmitted in the northern city of Jilin.

3:26 p.m. Japanese athletes who had been training for this year’s Olympics are now weighing whether to continue their quests for medals or move on with their lives — a choice that likely became evident after the Games were postponed.

2:28 p.m. Mongolia’s cashmere industry is suffering from the pandemic. Goat herders had been expanding for years to meet growing global demand for soft cashmere.

1:52 p.m. Thailand reports three new cases, bringing the country total to 3,028 as the country eases restrictions on economic activities. Thailand had reported zero cases on Wednesday.

1:24 p.m. China’s coronavirus aid has earned mixed reviews in Europe, but the assistance appears to be working in Belarus. China has sent 82 tons of rapid testing kits, masks, protective suits, respirators and other medical equipment over the past month.

11:29 a.m. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces mounting pressure to prove he has the support of parliament’s lower house. Hanging over Muhyiddin is a no-confidence motion submitted by Mahathir Mohamad, his former mentor.

9:56 a.m. Brazil reports the total cases at 233,142, surpassing those of Spain and Italy. Brazil’s number is increasing rapidly, making it the fourth-largest in the world.

5:13 a.m. Data indicates that the European variant of the novel coronavirus is spreading globally to regions as diverse as New York, Brazil and Africa.

12:10 a.m. Pharma company Takara Bio will offer Japan’s first saliva-based PCR test for the novel coronavirus as early as this month, a method that will make mass testing much easier to implement.

Saturday, May 16

4:29 p.m. Singapore reports 465 new cases, bringing the country total to 27,356. The vast majority of new cases are from migrant workers living in dormitories, government says.

3:59 p.m. Cambodia reports that the last of 122 infected people in the country have recovered and been discharged from medical treatment.

1:51 p.m. India reports its total number of cases hitting 85,940, taking it past China, though a strict lockdown since late March has reduced the rate of contagion.

11:10 a.m. China reports eight new confirmed COVID-19 cases for May 15, up from four the previous day. Six of the eight cases are so-called imported infections, while two are locally transmitted in northeastern Jilin province. The number of new asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus rose to 13 from 11.

9:30 a.m. Italy’s government on Saturday approves a decree which will allow travel to and from abroad from June 3, as it moves to loosen one of Europe’s most rigid coronavirus lockdowns.

7:50 a.m. J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy protection on Friday, the latest among traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to crumble as prolonged store closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic deliver the final blow to troubled businesses.

7:30 a.m. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said on Friday it has sold much of its stake in Goldman Sachs Group, despite the billionaire’s assurance that the banking sector was not a “primary worry” for him during the coronavirus pandemic.

4:50 a.m. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state would join New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware in reopening beaches for the Memorial Day weekend, in a move designed to prevent people from crossing state borders for a respite from the coronavirus lockdown.

4:40 a.m. China’s economy shows signs of a resurgence thanks to Beijing stimulus efforts amid the pandemic, with industrial production growing 3.9% on the year in April.

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

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