Tyson shutters pork plants; South Korea to distribute cash

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This is CNBC’s live blog covering all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. All times below are in Eastern time. This blog will be updated throughout the day as the news breaks. 

  • Global cases: More than 2,645,092
  • Global deaths: At least 183,820
  • US cases: More than 842,624
  • US deaths: At least 46,785

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

6:59 am: Tyson Foods shutters two major pork plants, tightening US meat supply

Tyson Foods is shuttering two pork processing plants, including its largest in the United States, after employees tested positive for Covid-19, further tightening meat supplies after other major slaughterhouse shutdowns.

The closures are limiting the amount of meat the U.S. can produce during the outbreak and adding stress on farmers who are losing markets for their pigs.

Lockdowns that aim to stop the spread of the virus have also prevented farmers around the globe from delivering food products to consumers. Millions of laborers cannot get to fields for harvesting and planting, and there are too few truckers to keep goods moving.

Tyson Foods, the largest U.S. meat supplier, said it will indefinitely suspend operations at its largest pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after operating at reduced capacity. —Reuters

6:52 am: South Korea to provide cash handouts

A couple wearing face masks amid concerns over the COVID-19 novel coronavirus walks through a market in Seoul on April 22, 2020.

Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

South Korea’s ruling party and the government on Thursday agreed to provide cash handouts to every household, not just to families below the top 30 percentile of income as previously announced, the finance ministry said.

The ministry separately said the government will issue additional bonds to fund the cash handout. —Reuters

5:41 am: Australia will push for an investigation at the World Health Assembly

Australia will push for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic at next month’s annual meeting of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, its prime minister said, according to Reuters.

Australia wants a review into the WHO’s response to the pandemic and would like to see the organization strengthened. —Holly Ellyatt

5:21 am: Spain’s death toll rises to 22,157

Health workers at Hospital Clinic applaud at 8p.m. during the coronavirus pandemic on April 22, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.

Xavi Torrent

Spain has reported that 440 people have died from in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 22,157, its health ministry said.

The death toll has risen slightly from Wednesday, when 435 deaths were reported. The total number of cases has reached 213,024, up 4,635 from the previous day. —Holly Ellyatt

4:42 am: Merkel says ‘things will remain hard for a very long time’ as pandemic continues

BERLIN, GERMANY – APRIL 23: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) sits at the Bundestag on April 23, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Germany is still at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and will have to live with it for a long time, the Chancellor said.

Maja Hitij

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the end of the pandemic is not yet in sight and that we will have to live with the virus “for a long time.”

Speaking to Germany’s Parliament, the Bundestag, Merkel said, “We are not living in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning.”

“We have won time,” Merkel said, according to a Reuters translation, adding that this had been used to bolster Germany’s health-care system. —Holly Ellyatt

4:30 am: Euro zone business activity crashes to ‘shocking’ lows on pandemic

Euro zone business activity hit another record low during April in another sign that the coronavirus pandemic is causing severe economic damage across the region.

The IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures both the services industry and manufacturing, dropped to 13.5 in April, according to preliminary data. In March, the same index had already recorded its biggest ever single monthly drop to 29.7. A contraction in PMI numbers — a figure below 50 — indicates a likely fall in economic growth overall. 

“April saw unprecedented damage to the euro zone economy amid virus lockdown measures coupled with slumping global demand and shortages of both staff and inputs,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement. —Silvia Amaro

Read CNBC’s coverage from CNBC’s Asia-Pacific and Europe teams overnight here: Spain’s daily death toll steady; Australia pushes for pandemic investigation

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