March 18 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Steve George, Angela Dewan and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:37 p.m. ET, March 18, 2020
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12:22 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

United Airlines slashes more flights as industry suffers

From CNN's Greg Wallace

A United Airlines plane lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 6 in California.
A United Airlines plane lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 6 in California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines said tonight that it's cutting even more domestic and international flights, following the US restrictions on travel from the UK and other European countries.

There will be a 60% schedule reduction in April. This includes cutting international flights by 85%, and flights across the US and Canada by 42%, said the airline.

United is making the cuts as it “continues to aggressively manage the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak on our employees, our customers and our business," the airline said in a statement.

The aviation industry has been slammed by coronavirus. The pandemic has seen airlines around the world hit hard, having to cut flights due to dropping demand and a long list of international travel restrictions.

Cebu Pacific, a Philippines carrier, announced yesterday that it was suspending all flights -- domestic and international -- one of the most drastic measures taken so far by an airline.

Many other airlines have, like United, slashed flights and routes. Virgin Atlantic said yesterday it is cutting 80% of its flights per day, and warned that “the aviation industry is facing unprecedented pressure."

12:07 a.m. ET, March 18, 2020

South Korea's Vice Health Minister is in self-quarantine, as cluster infections continue

South Korea's Vice Health Minister Kim Ganglip is in self-quarantine, after attending a government meeting last week with another participant who tested positive today.

The infected attendee is the president of Bundang Jesaeng Hospital in Seongnam City, Gyeonggi Province, where cluster transmissions have been reported at a church and a hospital.

Other government officials and participants at the meeting, which took place last Friday, are also in self-quarantine.

This comes as cluster transmissions continue in the country.

The country reported 93 new cases and 84 deaths on Wednesday -- still in keeping with. more general trend of decreasing infection rates, compared to hundreds of new cases a day just weeks ago. But the outbreak is far from over, with new clusters identified this week.

One major cluster is still in the southern city of Daegu, where the outbreak has been concentrated. In one hospital in Daegu, 74 cases have been confirmed.

11:47 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Just joining us? Here's the latest on the coronavirus pandemic

A medical worker tends to a patient arriving on a stretcher at the new coronavirus intensive care unit of the Brescia Poliambulanza hospital, in Lombardy, Italy on March 17.
A medical worker tends to a patient arriving on a stretcher at the new coronavirus intensive care unit of the Brescia Poliambulanza hospital, in Lombardy, Italy on March 17. Piero Cruciatti/AFP/Getty Images

The numbers: Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources, puts the total number of cases worldwide at more than 197,000, with at least 7,900 deaths.

Hotspots: China reported 13 new cases on Tuesday, all of which apart from one were imported, bringing the total there to 80,894 with 3,237 deaths. Italy announced 3,526 new cases, bringing the country's total to 31,506 and 2,503 deaths. And Iran reported 1,178 new cases, the biggest 24-hour increase the country has seen, bringing its total to 16,169.

Millions on lockdown: Belgium became the latest country to enforce restrictions on movement of people and require citizens to stay at home. France officially entered lockdown. Nearly 8 million Northern California residents have been asked to shelter in place. And more countries around the world are telling residents to stay at home.

Travel restrictions widen: European leaders have decided to ban non-essential travel to the EU for 30 days. US-Canada border crossing limits are expected. Macao has banned all travelers from overseas countries from entering. Shanghai has listed 12 countries from which arriving travelers would be quarantined for 14 days.

Unemployment: US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Republican senators that the coronavirus pandemic could drive up US unemployment to 20%. His comments came as he urged senators to act on economic stimulus measures totaling $1 trillion designed to avert that kind of worst case scenario.

US cases in all 50 states: Coronavirus is now reported to be in all 50 US states with at least 100 dying from the virus across the country. The number of cases stands at 5,359.

Hospital navy ships: The US Navy's hospital ships and mobile hospital facility could soon be deployed to support the coronavirus response, according to two defense officials.

11:35 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

CNN Philippines goes off air after coronavirus case confirmed

From CNN’s Karen Smith in Atlanta

CNN affiliate CNN Philippines is temporarily off-air for at least for 24 hours, after learning a confirmed coronavirus patient had visited a building within the office complex they occupy. 

CNN Philippines says the entire office complex in Metro Manila will be disinfected. The coronavirus patient had visited another tenant in the same building complex.

Several CNN Philippines staff members had been working from home already and they will continue to provide news through its website and social media platforms, said the network.

Philippines under lockdown: The Philippines now has 187 cases, and half the country -- about 50 million people -- are under an "enhanced community quarantine."

This means they are basically under lockdown -- in Luzon, the Philippines' largest and most populous island, all mass public transportation has been suspended, and residents told they can only leave their homes for essential items.

Offices have been shut and only supermarkets, convenience stores, hospitals, medical clinics, pharmacies, and banks, as well as food delivery services and water stations will be allowed to remain open.

11:28 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Nearly 8 million Northern California residents asked to shelter in place

From CNN's Jon Passantino

A man crosses a nearly empty street in San Francisco, on Tuesday.
A man crosses a nearly empty street in San Francisco, on Tuesday. Jeff Chiu/AP

Sonoma County joined nine other Northern California counties today, ordering residents to shelter in place to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, raising the total number of residents under the orders in the region to nearly 8 million.

Shelter in place means residents are required to stay at home except for essential needs, like going out to buy medication or groceries, or going to care for someone in another household.

The Sonoma County order goes into effect at midnight Wednesday local time and will be in place through April 7.

"The violation of any provision of this Order constitutes an imminent threat to public health and will be enforced by law enforcement," said the statement from Sonoma County health officials.

Other counties currently ordered to shelter in place include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz.

California's public schools are also closed. And they will likely stay closed for the rest of the school year, said Gov. Gavin Newsom today.

Nearly all school districts in the state, with a total student body of 6.1 million students, have been closed.

11:12 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tests negative for coronavirus a second time

From CNN’s Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo, and Helena DeMoura, Jackie Castillo and Larry Register in Atlanta

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with press at the Palacio do Alvorada on March 17 in Brasilia, Brazil.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with press at the Palacio do Alvorada on March 17 in Brasilia, Brazil. Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazilian President Jair Bolsnaro has tested negative for the novel coronavirus for a second time, according to a statement on his Twitter account.

The President’s health has been monitored closely since Bolsonaro’s press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for the virus last week.

Bolsonaro had previously been tested for coronavirus. His first test also came back negative, according to statements on his social media.

Bolsonaro, Wajngarten and other officials met with US President Donald Trump in Mar-a-Lago earlier this month.The group had dinner together with President Trump and his team.

It was after the delegation confirmed several infections that concerns were raised Trump may have been exposed to the virus at close contact. Trump tested negative days later.

10:55 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Dr. Sanjay Gupta's advice: Act as if you're already infected


CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has one piece of advice for Americans: Act as if you're already infected with the coronavirus.

This means not leaving the home for non-essential reasons, not having people over to socialize, and taking precautions to protect the people in close proximity with you.

"If you have to, you've got to act as if you might be carrying the virus," Gupta said. "There are all these things that are within our power and we're in this together."

He added that he had canceled his younger daughter's birthday party, and canceled a trip to visit his parents -- difficult decisions, but ultimately things one would and should do if they were sick -- and the kind of mentality that may now help protect people from the virus.

"The good news part of this is that it's within our control to totally change the fate here -- or at least, alter the fate of what's happening here," he said. "It's within all of us. How I behave affects your health. How you behave affects my health. Never have we been so dependent on each other -- at least not in my lifetime -- and we should rise to that occasion."

Watch it here:

10:44 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

US and Canada preparing joint statement that could suspend non-essential travel between the two countries 

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

The United States and Canada are preparing to issue a joint statement that could suspend non-essential travel between the two countries in the next 24 to 48 hours, a Trump administration official tells CNN.

The agreement is not yet finalized and officials are still working to define "non-essential travel," but the official stressed that the new restrictions will ensure that business and trade between the two countries can continue.

Part of the discussions involve what types of vehicles and individuals would still be allowed to travel between the two borders and for what purpose, the official said. The restrictions will likely allow for significant flexibility.

Unlike travel restrictions on Europe and China, this would be a mutual agreement between the two countries.

"The Canadians have been our friends throughout this and many other crises and they continue to be honest brokers," the official said.

When Trump was asked at the coronavirus task force briefing whether he was considering closing the US land borders on Tuesday, he said, "I don't want to say that, but we are discussing things with Canada and we're discussing things with Mexico, quite honestly, and again, the relationship is outstanding with both, outstanding. We just signed our deal, the USMCA, and the relationship is very strong." 

10:43 p.m. ET, March 17, 2020

Hawaii governor asks visitors to postpone their vacations

Gov. David Ige speaks to reporters at the state Department of Health's laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaii on March 3.
Gov. David Ige speaks to reporters at the state Department of Health's laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaii on March 3. Audrey McAvoy/AP

A US state heavily dependent on tourism dollars is making the extraordinary request for visitors to stay away due to the coronavirus. 

Speaking at a news conference in Honolulu on Tuesday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said, “I am strongly encouraging our guests to postpone their vacations for at least the next 30 days and reschedule it for a later date.”

Ige said additional steps are coming, as they will screen all passengers disembarking from cruise ships starting Friday. Physicians will check the temperature of each passenger and conduct interviews about their health. Ige said they intend to do the same screenings for airport arrivals as soon as possible.

The state is banning table service at restaurants, and the governor said all bars and clubs will be closed. Additionally, all gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, including worship services.