March 12 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton, Sheena McKenzie and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT) March 13, 2020
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8:42 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Greta Thunberg calls to move climate strikes online because of the coronavirus

From CNN's Sugam Pokharel in Atlanta

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Youth Strike 4 Climate" protest march on March 6 in Brussels.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Youth Strike 4 Climate" protest march on March 6 in Brussels. John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg on Wednesday urged other activists to avoid public gatherings and move climate strikes online due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"I personally recommend that we do as the experts say," Thunberg tweeted. "We young people are the least affected by this virus but it’s essential that we act in solidarity with the most vulnerable and that we act in the best interest of our common society."

Thunberg added, "We’ll have to find new ways to create public awareness & advocate for change that don’t involve too big crowds ... So keep your numbers low but your spirits high and let’s take one week at the time."

The 17-year-old activist asked followers to join "#DigitalStrike" on Fridays by posting a photo of striking and using the hashtags #ClimateStrikeOnline #fridaysforfuture #climatestrike #schoolstrike4climate.

8:41 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

The NBA's decision to postpone its season was more than just shocking. It could force its peers to follow suit

Analysis from CNN's Joshua Berlinger

The National Basketball Association was considering several different scenarios to keep players and fans safe as the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States grew more severe.

But when one of its players came down with the virus, North America's most progressive sports league went with the nuclear option: they shut it all down.

The NBA chose to indefinitely postpone its regular season, a decision that will almost certainly cost the league millions of dollars in revenue in the short term.

The decision was unprecedented. It left league insiders shocked. Players appeared to have no idea it was coming. Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's jaw literally dropped when he saw the announcement.

Few are faulting league commissioner Adam Silver for taking such extreme measures to keep people safe, but the financial impact will be massive. The NBA and its teams have television contracts worth billions of dollars to air games that may no longer take place. Thousands of fans have purchased tickets to watch those games.

Those revenues don’t just help pay the multimillion dollar salaries for NBA players, coaches and executives – they help pay for janitors to clean arenas, the staff who sell food and concessions, and the security guards who keep fans and players safe.

But perhaps even more importantly is what this decision means for the other big US sports leagues, and sports around the world. The NHL is in the middle of its regular season. Europe's soccer leagues are in full swing (save for Serie A in Italy, which is suspended while the country is on lockdown.) Major League Baseball kicks off later this month. Euro 2020 is this summer. The Tokyo Olympics kick off in July, and then the NFL will start up again in August.

The NBA has in recent years enjoyed a reputation as North America's most progressive sports league and has not shied away from sacrificing profits to stand behind its values.

Its decision to postpone games means the pressure is now on other sports leagues to follow suit, especially if the outbreak continues to increase unabated.

If they do not, they risk appearing as if they value profits over player and fan safety.

5:12 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Australia has 140 coronavirus cases, Prime Minister confirms

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks in Canberra, Australia, on Thursday, March 12.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks in Canberra, Australia, on Thursday, March 12. Australia Broadcasting Corporation

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country has 140 cases of the coronavirus in a statement earlier today. He didn't provide any breakdown of the numbers and their corresponding states.

It's a jump from just a few hours ago, when the country’s Ministry of Health released a statement reporting 126 cases nationwide.

Morrison also unveiled an $11.4 billion economic stimulus plan today, which will include wage subsidies and cash payments for small businesses, to counter the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

5:15 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

If you're just joining us, here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic

A lab technician prepares coronavirus patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, in Lake Success, New York.
A lab technician prepares coronavirus patient samples for semi-automatic testing at Northwell Health Labs, Wednesday, March 11, in Lake Success, New York. AP Photo/John Minchillo

Several hours after he spoke, shock waves are still reverberating globally following President Donald Trump's announcement of a travel ban for much of Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's what has happened since our last catch-up:

  • Global numbers: There are now 124,519 cases and 4,607 deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization.
  • The cost of the travel ban: The US Travel Association estimated that Trump's travel ban could cost the US more than $3 billion. Stock markets from Asia to Europe fell sharply following Trump's announcement.
  • Tom Hanks infected: After the announcement earlier that actor Tom Hanks and his wife actress Rita Wilson tested positive, the Australian TV show "Today Extra" -- where Wilson made an appearance -- has put staff under quarantine.
  • Beijing imposes quarantine: The Chinese capital will enforce a 14-day mandatory quarantine on all international travelers arriving in the city, after several new cases were imported from overseas this week.
  • European crisis: Greece reported its first coronavirus death today, as the virus continues to envelop the continent. Italy remains under lockdown, with Pope Francis urging Italian citizens to "support" the authorities.
  • South Korea cluster: A new cluster was identified earlier this week at a call center in Seoul. Some 80 employees -- all on the same floor -- and others on different floors of the same building tested positive, authorities said today.

Correction: This post was updated to correctly identify actor Tom Hanks as having contracted the novel coronavirus

8:10 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Wyoming reports its first coronavirus case -- making it the 44th US state with infections

Wyoming has confirmed its first coronavirus case, the state's Department of Health said in a news release.

“Lab testing at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory has identified the first known case of a state resident with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)," the release said.

The patient is a woman from Sheridan County who has recently traveled domestically.

The state health department said it is working “to learn more details about the person’s exposure risk and to identify and communicate with anyone who may have been in close contact with the patient.”

44 states infected: That means 44 out of 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have now reported coronavirus cases.

The number of patients in the United States has doubled since Sunday.

The new numbers bring the national total to 1,274 cases, including 70 cases of citizens repatriated from abroad.

8:41 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Tokyo governor: Canceling the Olympics would be "unthinkable"

From CNN's Kaori Enjoji in Tokyo and Akanksha Sharma in Hong Kong

Commuters walk along a sidewalk on Tuesday, March 3, in Tokyo.
Commuters walk along a sidewalk on Tuesday, March 3, in Tokyo. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Canceling the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would be "unthinkable," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said today.

Speaking to reporters about the World Health Organization's (WHO) official declaration of a pandemic, Koike said: "There will be an impact, but it is unthinkable that (the Olympics) would be canceled."

Olympic organizers have insisted for the past month that preparations for the Games are proceeding as planned. On Thursday, the organizers said they were monitoring the situation.

Here's their statement:

"The Organising Committee is aware of the World Health Organisation Director-General’s remarks.
As we have done thus far, the Organising Committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee will monitor the situation carefully while seeking the advice of the World Health Organisation.
We will continue to coordinate our response with the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other stakeholders as we prepare for a safe and secure delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games in July this year."

Cancelling or postponing the Games would be a massive and financially costly move -- but other major sporting events have been suspended amid the pandemic, including the NBA regular season.

Tokyo 2020 is due to officially begin on July 24.

8:11 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Pope urges Italians to support the government during pandemic

From CNN’s Mia Alberti in London

Pope Francis holds his general audience at the Vatican, on Wednesday, March 11.
Pope Francis holds his general audience at the Vatican, on Wednesday, March 11. Vatican News via AP

Pope Francis dedicated Thursday’s homily to Italian authorities, asking people to support the government during the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities often feel “alone” during times like these, but “it’s for everyone’s common good,” the Pope said.

“Let’s pray for our leaders that have to take these decisions over these measures, let them feel supported by the people,” he said.

Italy was placed under total lockdown on Monday -- meaning schools are closed, movement restricted, events canceled, public services suspended, and many public spaces are empty as people stay home.

Italy now has the most coronavirus cases outside of China.

8:33 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Stock markets plunge after Trump announces European travel ban

A display of the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, which closed down 4.41% after President Donald Trump announced a surprise travel ban.
A display of the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, which closed down 4.41% after President Donald Trump announced a surprise travel ban. Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

European shares have fallen sharply at the open, as investors react to new travel restrictions from the US.

President Trump announced late Wednesday night local time that the US was suspending travel from 26 European countries for the next 30 days, effective Friday midnight.

In the opening minutes of trade, Europe's main markets were all down. The FTSE 100 was down more than 2%, the German Dax was 5% lower and the French CAC 40 fell 3%.

Airline stocks were among the big fallers. IAG, owner of British Airways and Iberia, was down 7%, Lufthansa was down 9% and Ryanair was down nearly 10%.

Shockwaves were felt in Asia too. Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped into a bear market, defined as a drop of more than 20% from the most recent high. The benchmark index closed down 4.4%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index (HSI) was last down 3.6%, while South Korea's Kospi (KOSPI) closed down 3.9%. Both indexes are flirting with bear market territory.

These countries are affected: The 26 countries included in the ban are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. 

8:11 a.m. ET, March 12, 2020

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be tested for coronavirus

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Great Hall of the People in August 2019 in Beijing, China.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the Great Hall of the People in August 2019 in Beijing, China. Photo by How Hwee Young-Pool/Getty Images

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who turns 75 this month, will be tested for the coronavirus, according to a Facebook post by presidential aide Bong Go.

Go said that both he and Duterte are undergoing testing to “ensure that we are fit and healthy to engage the public and perform our duties."

The decision was taken after some cabinet members were exposed to confirmed cases of the virus and are now under self-quarantine, according to the post.

The Philippines confirmed 15 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the national total to 35.