South Africa confirms first case, US to order more masks

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All times below are in Eastern time.

  • Global cases: More than 95,700, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • Global deaths: At least 3,280, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • US cases: At least 159, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • US deaths: At least 11, according to the CDC and state health officials.

7:17 am: South Africa confirms its first case

South Africa’s health ministry confirmed its first case of coronavirus. “The National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed that a suspected case of COVID-19 has tested positive,” the country’s health ministry said. “The patient is a 38-year-old male who traveled to Italy with his wife. They were part of a group of 10 people and they arrived back in South Africa on March 1, 2020,” the health ministry said. —Reuters

7:09 am: US to purchase 500 million masks for health-care professionals

The Department of Health and Human Services said it plans to purchase 500 million N95 respirator masks for health-care workers over the next 18 months. HHS said the masks will be purchased as part of the Strategic National Stockpile. Private-sector orders will be filled first, HHS said in a statement, but these “guaranteed orders” will encourage manufacturers to increase production. HHS said earlier this week the U.S. has about 1% of the required respirator masks that would be needed for medical professionals if the coronavirus outbreak were to erupt into a pandemic here. —Feuer

6:49 am: HSBC employee in London reportedly tested positive for coronavirus

An employee in HSBC’s research department in London has tested positive for coronavirus, three sources told Reuters on Thursday. The employee informed the bank over the weekend and staff who came into contact with him have been told to work from home, a source familiar with the matter said. —Ellyatt

6:05 am: Iran reports 3,513 infections and 107 deaths

Iran has updated its latest coronavirus numbers, with 3,513 people infected with the virus and 107 deaths, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced on state TV on Thursday, Reuters reported. —Ellyatt

5:28 am: Iran sets up checkpoints between cities, and closes schools and universities

Iran’s health minister says authorities will begin manning checkpoints to limit travel between major cities amid the virus outbreak, the Associated Press reported, as it emerged that schools and universities are to be shut until March 20. —Ellyatt

5:18 am: Hit to airlines could reach $113 billion, trade group says

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