Coronavirus latest: Ube to produce intermediate chemicals for Avigan

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 2,402,250, according to the World Health Organization.

The worldwide death toll has hit 163,097.

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

Here are the latest developments (Tokyo time):

Wednesday, April 22

4:27 p.m. Thailand reports 15 new confirmed cases, down from the 19 it reported on Tuesday. Total confirmed cases now stand at 2,826. The country has suffered 49 deaths.

3:38 p.m. Japan Airlines announces that its consolidated net profit for the year ending March 31 was down 65% from the previous fiscal year, at 53 billion yen. JAL had forcast a 38% fall. Passenger demand was decimatd by the spread of the new coronavirus.

2:39 p.m. The government of Pakistan has ordered the resumption of all infrastructure and energy projects that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but experts believe the move is a matter of face-saving.

1:41 p.m. India confirms 1,383 new coronavirus cases, up from 1,336 reported Tuesday morning, bringing the total to 19,984. The number of deaths jumped to 640, an increase of 50 in the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

12:17 p.m. Ube Industries announces it will begin making intermediate chemicals for the influenza drug Avigan, which is seen as a promising treatment for the new coronavirus. Production will begin in July at a pharmaceutical plant in Ube, in western Japan. In 2009, the factory made intermediate chemicals for Avigan. Ube’s decision to restart production follows a request from Fujifilm Toyama Chemical, the developer of the drug.

11:43 a.m. Canon partially closes two offices in Ibaraki and Shizuoka prefectures in line with the expaded national emergency declaration.

11:16 a.m. Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture reports 33 new cases on the Italian cruise ship “Costa Atlantica,” currently docked for repairs. One case was reported yesterday. The ship is carrying 623 crew members and no passengers, according to media reports.

11:02 a.m. The Dutch Football Association announces the cancellation of its remaining league matches, which had alrady been suspended, after the government extended a ban on large gatherings until Sept. 1, due to the spread of the new coronavirus.

10:23 a.m. South Korea reports 11 new cases, as the number stays below 20 for the fifth consecutive day. This brings the country total to 10,694 with 238 deaths.

10:05 a.m. Netflix reports a record spike in subscriptions in the first quarter this year, with 15.8 million new users signing up for its paid membership. The U.S. streaming service provider attributes the uptick partly to the coronavirus pandemic.

10:03 a.m. China reports 30 new coronavirus cases, up from 11 a day earlier, bringing the country total to 82,788 with 4,632 deaths.

9:07 a.m. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock index falls below 19,000 yen for the first time in two weeks, following U.S. markets and sliding crude oil futures.

9:00 a.m. Nissan Motor expects global sales to stay flat at 5 million vehicles through fiscal 2022, Nikkei has learned, as the coronavirus dashes the automaker’s hopes of regaining momentum in the key North American market.

8:41 a.m. A Johns Hopkins University survey shows the number cases exceeds 2.5 million worldwide. The U.S. has the most at 810,000, followed by Spain with 200,000 and Italy with 180,000. Iran, with 85,000 cases, is one of eight countries with more infections than China, which has 84,000. The global death toll has topped 175,000.


A member of a medical team stands at the airport after travel restrictions are lifted for Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak.

  © Reuters

7:59 a.m. Consumer products maker Iris Ohyama is set to become the first Japanese company to receive a government subsidy to shift production out of China as part of efforts to build more resilient supply chains. The company plans to produce 150 million face masks a month by August.

7:10 a.m. The U.S. Senate passes a $484 billion bill to mitigate the health and economic impact of the coronavirus. The package includes $75 billion for hospitals, $25 billion to expand testing, as well as an additional $310 billion in loans to support small businesses to follow on the first $350 billion, which has since ran out.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks sell off again, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.7% and the S&P 500 down 3.1%

3:47 a.m. In India, part of the president’s estate has been declared under quarantine after a family member of a presidential secretariat employee was found to have come in contact with a COVID-19 victim.

3:23 a.m. Missouri becomes the first U.S. state to file a lawsuit against the Chinese government over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, saying that China’s response resulted in economic losses, Reuters reports.

2:15 a.m. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will be tested for coronavirus after coming into contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, Reuters reports.


Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a session at the World Economic Forum on January 22 in Davos, Switzerland.

  © Reuters

2:12 a.m. Japan will decide during the upcoming Golden Week holidays whether to extend the country’s state of emergency beyond May 6.

1:27 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the White House as the hard-hit state seeks a road to recovery via extensive antibody testing.

Tuesday, April 21

11:00 p.m. American opinion toward China and its leadership has hit a historic low as the two countries wrestle to shape the coronavirus narrative, new data from the Pew Research Center shows.

10:46 p.m. Japan confirms 388 new cases of COVID-19 as of 10 p.m., bringing the total to 11,383.

10:30 p.m. U.S. stocks fall at the open, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 2.1% as near-term U.S. crude oil futures remain in negative territory.

8:35 p.m. Vietnam recorded no new COVID-19 cases for the 6th day, the English-language Vietnam News reports. The civil aviation authority is reportedly seeking government approval to resume all domestic routes from Thursday. Vietnam has reported a total of 268 cases of infection so far.

8:20 p.m. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha wrote to the kingdom’s multibillionaires, asking them to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic through assistance projects, but added he would not encourage cash donations, the English-language daily Bangkok Post reported.

7:30 p.m. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the city state would extend a partial lockdown until June 1 to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in the country.

7:25 p.m. Thailand reported 19 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing its total to 2,811 with 48 fatalities.

6:10 p.m. Taiwan central bank Governor Yang Chin-long said the government was planning to double financing for small- and medium-sized companies to $13 billion to help them cope with the impact of the conoravirus, Reuters reported.

6:08 p.m. Philippines reported 140 new infections on Tuesday, down from the 200 it recorded on Monday, bringing the total to 6,599 with 437 deaths.

5:53 p.m. Indonesia said that new cases of coronavirus roughly doubled to 375 on Tuesday from Monday, bringing the total to 7,135 with 616 deaths.


Indonesian Muslims perform morning prayers to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, near Ampera bridge in Palembang, South Sumatra province, Indonesia in 2019.

  © Reuters

4:37 p.m.: Singapore confirms 1,111 new cases, with the vast majority foreign workers residing in densely packed dormitories. Total cases stand at 9,125.

4:00 p.m. Italy will announce before the end of this week plans for a gradual reopening starting May 4 from the lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus emergency, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday. The lockdown, which has closed most Italian businesses and prevented people from leaving their homes for all but essential needs, has been in place since March 9.

2:30 p.m. Indonesia will ban the Ramadan mass exodus tradition in May to help curb the spread of coronavirus. “I have made the decision to ban mudik,” President Joko Widodo said, referring to the practice observed at the end of the fasting month.The mudik ban will come into effect on Friday and apply to Jakarta and satellite cities. Passenger vehicles will not be allowed into and out of greater Jakarta areas except for essential work.

2:00 p.m. U.S. President Donald Trump will suspend immigration to protect jobs. “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” Trump tweeted.

1:51 p.m. India reports 1,336 new cases, down from 1,553 on Monday morning, bringing the country total to 18,601 with 590 deaths.

12:23 p.m. Hong Kong’s social distancing rules are set to be extended for another 14 days to May 7 despite a significant drop in new coronavirus cases in recent days. Hong Kong has banned gatherings of more than four people since early April.

11:30 a.m. Nissan Motor says it will suspend operations at its global headquarters in Yokohama and at other facilities in Japan from April 27 through May 1 to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown will affect a total of 15,000 employees, the company said, while employees at its factories will continue essential work, with health and safety measures in place.

10:20 a.m. South Korea confirms nine new cases, the fourth straight day it has reported fewer than 20 new infections. Its total reported cases reached 10,683, with 237 deaths.

9:32 a.m Yoshio Tateishi, a member of the founding family of Japanese electronics maker Omron, has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 at a hospital in Kyoto. The 80-year-old was a former president of the company and had also served as head of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

8:46 a.m. Virgin Australia Holdings says it entered voluntary administration to recapitalize due to the coronavirus crisis and high debt load. The airline said it could not secure a 1.4 billion Australian dollar ($887.6 million) government loan. Deloitte has been appointed as the administrator.

7:45 a.m. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will visit the White House on Tuesday to discuss coronavirus response. New York has been an epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.

5:00 a.m. U.S. stocks follow the oil price lower, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing 2.4% lower and the S&P 500 falling around 1.8%.

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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