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Thursday, April 2: Coronavirus global update

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

As of 18.00 today more than 975,835 people have been infected across the world and over 49,479 have died but at the same time 204,833 people have recovered.

The USA is now the country with the most infected cases (226,378) ahead of Italy (110,574) and Spain with 110,238, who overtook China (81,589) earlier this week.

Italy though has most deaths, 13,155, with Spain moving second with 10,003 deaths with USA overtaking China into third with 5,334.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN NUMBERS (updated continuously)

TRACKING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS

THE VIRUS IN THE USA


All the latest news in brief as it happens

18.27 Canada coronavirus cases rise above 10,000, death toll jumps by 21%

Canada now has more than 10,000 coronavirus cases and the death toll jumped 21% to 127 from Wednesday, according to data posted by the country’s public health agency on Thursday.

It said the number of cases had risen to 10,132 from 9,017 on Wednesday, at which point 105 people had died.

18.26 UK worst case is 50,000 coronavirus death toll but not on course for that – source

The British government’s worst case scenario envisages a coronavirus death toll of 50,000 people if self isolating is not adhered to but the United Kingdom is not right now on course for a toll of that scale, a source familiar with the government’s emergency discussions said.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, the worst day for deaths is projected to be April 12, which this year is Easter Sunday.

18.23 Portugal suspends rents, worries surface over post-pandemic housing crisis

Portugal’s parliament approved on Thursday the suspension of rents for vulnerable households and cash-strapped small firms during the coronavirus outbreak, but rights groups warned that the measure might only delay a looming housing crisis.

The measure suspends rents until a month after the state of emergency ends. After that, renters are expected to repay what they owe in monthly installments for up to a year.

Those eligible include people whose household income fell 20% or more from the previous month or the same period last year, or who put at least 35% of their income towards rent.

18.16 Pelosi forms bipartisan panel to oversee $2 trillion coronavirus relief

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she will form a bipartisan select committee on the coronavirus crisis to oversee the spending of $2 trillion Congress has approved to respond to the pandemic.

Pelosi told reporters that lawmakers have to make sure the money gets to working families who need it most and a committee was needed to ensure that the funds allocated to the response to the virus “are spent wisely and effectively.” She stressed there must be transparency and accountability in the process.

18.12 Facebook launches desktop version for Messenger as video calls surge

Facebook Inc on Thursday rolled out the desktop version of its Messenger app for Apple’s Mac and Microsoft’s Windows to make video chats available on computer screens for Facebook users.

The move comes as use of videoconferencing apps like Zoom have soared, with corporate offices, school districts, organizations and millions across the world working from home after lockdowns were enforced to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

18.02 Vietnam Airlines to lose $2.12 bln in revenue, cut staff this year

Vietnam Airlines will lose 50 trillion dong ($2.12 billion) in revenue as most of its 106-strong fleet has been grounded due to the coronavirus that has infected 227 people in the Southeast Asian country, state media reported on Thursday.

Up to 10,000 employees, or half the company’s staff, will have to stop working while others’ salaries have been cut, Tuoi Tre newspaper cited the chief executive officer Duong Chi Thanh as saying.

18.00 Potential COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in mouse study

Initial tests in mice of a potential COVID-19 vaccine delivered via a fingertip-sized patch have shown it can induce an immune response against the new coronavirus at levels that might prevent infection, U.S. scientists said on Thursday.

Researchers around the world are working to develop potential treatments or vaccines against the respiratory disease that has killed nearly 47,000 people and infected almost a million in just a few months.

17:39 Romanian doctors will get 500 euros a month bonus

Romanian doctors, nurses and other personnel dealing with coronavirus cases will receive a monthly bonus of about 500 euros ($543.10) a month, President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday.

“I demanded the government to reroute European (Union) funding, to give a monthly bonus of 500 euros to front line personnel dealing with Covid infected patients. I am prepared to deliver solutions,” Iohannis told a video briefing.

16:43 UK death toll rises to 2,921 – up 24% in a day

The United Kingdom’s coronoavirus death toll rose 24 percent to 2,921 as of April 1.

As of 0800 GMT on April 2, a total of 163,194 people had been tested of which 33,718 tested positive, the health ministry said.

16:00 Weekly US jobless claims top 6 million for first time

The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits last week shot to a record high for a second week in a row – topping 6 million – as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which economists say has pushed the economy into recession.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 6.65 million in the latest week from an unrevised 3.3 million the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday.

14:22 Greek PM warns: stay at home or ‘we will pay for it’

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned Greeks on Thursday that if they relaxed compliance with lockdown measures “we will pay for it”, saying April would be the most critical month in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are not at the beginning of the end, rather at the end of the beginning,” Mitsotakis told parliament, urging people to stay at home.

14:09 EU will avoid medicine shortage, industry chief says

European Union countries will have access to the medicines they need to care for coronavirus sufferers, the bloc’s industry chief Thierry Breton said on Thursday, adding pharmaceutical companies were doubling production to address shortages.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed a huge strain on hospitals in Italy, Spain, France, and elsewhere in Europe as intensive care units fill up with tens of thousands of patients suffering the same illness.

14:05 French region reports hundreds dead in nursing homes

Five hundred and seventy people have died in nursing homes in France’s eastern region during the coronavirus outbreak, raising the prospect of a much larger death toll linked to the illness across the country.

France became the fourth country to pass the 4,000 coronavirus deaths threshold on Wednesday, but that does not include deaths outside hospitals.

12.51 Irish coroanvirus restrictions may well go beyond April 12 – Deputy PM

The highly restrictive measures Ireland put in place last week to slow the spread of coronavirus may well be extended beyond the initial deadline of April 12, Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday.

Ireland’s prime minister significantly ramped up previous restrictions last Friday when he ordered citizens to stay home and only leave to shop for groceries, for brief individual physical exercise or make absolutely essential family visits.

12.48 Iran’s death toll from coronavirus rises to 3,160 – health official

Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 3,136, with 124 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV on Thursday, adding that the country had 50,468 cases of infection.

“We have 3,956 infected people in critical condition … There was 2,875 new cases of infected people in the past 24 hours… 16,711 people have recovered from the disease,” Jahanpur said.

12.47 Spain’s coronavirus death toll surpasses 10,000 after another record daily toll

Spain’s death toll from coronavirus surpassed the 10,000 threshold after a record 950 people died overnight, the country’s Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The country’s total death toll caused by the disease was 10,003 while the number of cases registered rose to 110,238 from 102,136 on Wednesday, the ministry said.

12.42 Greek PM calls on all to stay the course in fight against coronavirus

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday urged Greeks to continue to comply with lockdown measures and stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus and avoid the tragedy seen in other countries.

“April will be the most critical month, if we relax we will pay for it and we must not let this happen,” he told the country’s parliament.

Greece, which recorded its first coronavirus case at the end of February and took early measures to contain the outbreak, has reported 1,415 confirmed cases so far and 50 deaths.

12.06 Malaysia reports 208 new coronavirus cases, total over 3,000

Malaysia reported 208 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the total to 3,116, the highest in Southeast Asia.

The Ministry Of Health recorded a total of 50 deaths, with five reported on Thursday.

11.59 Philippines reports 11 new coronavirus deaths, 322 more infections

The Philippines’ health ministry on Thursday recorded 11 new deaths and 322 additional cases from the coronavirus outbreak.

The latest figures bring the total death toll to 107 and infections to 2,633, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told a regular news conference, reiterating that people should stay home while the country’s main island of Luzon is under a month-long strict quarantine.

11.52 Turkish minister expects flights back to normal by end of June

Turkey’s tourism minister said on Thursday he expects flights to return to normal by the end of June, after airlines canceled most flights to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told broadcaster CNN Turk that air traffic from Asia would likely be opened first, followed by Russia, then the Balkans and Europe. Domestic flights would also restart, he said.

11.44 More than a quarter of UK firms cut staff as coronavirus hits-ONS

More than a quarter of British companies are reducing staff levels over the short term as the coronavirus crisis hits the country’s economy, a survey published on Thursday showed.

“Over a quarter (27%) of responding businesses said they were reducing staff levels in the short term, while 5% reported recruiting staff in the short term,” the Office for National Statistics said.

11.36 Spain reports record unemployment rise in March

The rise in Spanish jobless numbers in March is the highest monthly increase ever recorded, Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz said at a news conference on Thursday.

The number of jobless jumped 9.3% from the previous month bringing the total number of unemployed people to around 3.5 million. That total number was still below record highs of 2013.

11.23 Coronavirus-hit German economy to contract by 10-15% in Q2 – KfW

The German economy is likely to shrink by 10-15% in the second quarter, the KfW state development bank said on Thursday, as Europe’s largest economy battles a coronavirus outbreak that has put it in virtual lockdown.

11.13 Thailand to announce nationwide curfew starting Friday

Thailand is to announce a nationwide curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. starting Friday to try to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the government said in a statement on Thursday.

The curfew will have some exceptions, including for the transport of medical supplies, movement of people into quarantine, patients and travel of medical personnel, according to the statement shown to reporters.

11.01 Italy PM vows not to nationalise firms as EU head demands unity

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Rome would not nationalise businesses during the coronavirus crisis on Thursday as the European Commission’s head promised affected countries up to 100 billion euros ($110 billion), starting with Italy.

Conte’s pledge in an interview with Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper reflects concerns in his ruling coalition government that investors could try to take advantage of collapsing share prices to snap up assets such as banks or insurers.

10.43 Russia’s coronavirus cases jump to more than 3,500 in record daily rise

Russia’s coronavirus case tally jumped to 3,548 on Thursday, a record daily increase of 771, Russia’s crisis response centre said.

Cases have been recorded in 76 of Russia’s more than 80 regions, but Moscow remains the epicentre of the outbreak with 595 cases, the centre said. Thirty people have died across the country, it said.

10.32 ‘Everybody is frustrated’ over UK testing, top health official says

One of Britain’s top health officials said on Thursday that everybody was frustrated that the United Kingdom was not testing enough people yet.

“Everybody involved is frustrated that we haven’t got to the position yet that we need to get to,” Paul Cosford, emeritus medical director of Public Health England, told BBC radio.

“We’ve got not as far as we’ve wanted to but we’ve got up to almost 13,000 tests a day being available,” he said.

10.24 Almost 900,000 Spanish workers lost their job

Spain’s social security data showed on Thursday that close to 900,000 workers lost their job since March 12 when the country went on coronavirus lockdown.

Some 898,822 workers lost their jobs since March 12 in Spain, social security data showed on Thursday, more than half of which are temporary workers.

10.17 Tokyo confirms over 90 more coronavirus infections – Kyodo

Tokyo on Thursday confirmed more than 90 additional coronavirus infections, marking the biggest single-day increase for the city since the pandemic began, Kyodo News reported, citing unidentified sources.

10.20 Energy stocks prop up European shares after coronavirus-led rout

European shares bounced on Thursday, driven by a recovery in energy stocks on rising hopes of a truce in the Saudi-Russia oil price war, but worries about the coronavirus pandemic lingered ahead of another expected surge in U.S. jobless claims data.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.6% at 0704 GMT, with Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA and BP jumping between 3.3% and 5.0%. The wider energy index surged 3.7%.

10.11 Cyprus extends flight ban for another two weeks

Cyprus extended a ban on commercial air links with 28 countries for another two weeks on Thursday to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The ban, introduced on March 21 for a 14 day period, would be in effect for a further 14 days, Cypriot transport minister Yiannis Karousos said in a tweet. He said the decision was dictated by the situation in Cyprus, and the “dramatic” situation in other European states.

09.51 EU will find room for convergence on new funding instruments-Breton

The European Union’s industry chief Thierry Breton said on Thursday he was convinced that the bloc’s states would be able to forge a consensus around how to find new funding instruments to help the EU fight the coronavirus crisis.

“I am convinced we will be able to converge,” Breton told France Inter radio.

In March, France, Italy, Spain and six other countries called for work on a common debt instrument issued by a European institution to cushion the effects of the pandemic, which is on course to trigger a global recession.

However, Germany and the Netherlands have voiced opposition to this.

09.34 Thailand reports 104 new coronavirus cases, three new deaths

Thailand reported 104 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 1,875 cases, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration said on Thursday.

There were three new deaths in the country, bringing the total fatalities to 15 deaths, spokesman Taweesin Wisanuyothin said.

The three new deaths, all Thai men, included a 57-year old who had pre-existing conditions of diabetes and high blood pressure.

09.31 China says new coronavirus deaths on April 1 steady at six

China reported on Thursday six new coronavirus deaths as of the end of Wednesday, the same number as on Tuesday.

China had 35 new coronavirus cases on April 1, all of which were imported, the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

09.23 British PM Johnson demands more testing

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to ramp up testing for coronavirus saying it was the key to defeating the outbreak after his government faced criticism for testing much fewer people than some of its European peers.

“We’re also massively increasing testing,” Johnson said in a video message from a flat in Downing Street where he is self-isolating after testing positive himself. “I want to say a special word about testing because it is so important.

09.01 Australia begins pre-clinical testing for coronavirus vaccine

Australia’s national science agency said on Thursday it has commenced the first stage of testing potential vaccines for COVID-19, as it joins a global race to halt the coronavirus pandemic.

Pre-clinical testing by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), comprising injecting ferrets with two potential vaccines, was underway at its high-containment biosecurity facility near Melbourne.

08.35 WHO expects Malaysia’s coronavirus cases to peak in mid-April

The number of coronavirus cases in Malaysia is expected to peak in mid-April, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday, adding that there are signs of a flattening of the infection curve.

“Based on available data, the WHO Country Office has projected that Malaysia will see a peak in hospitalized cases in mid-April,” Ying-Ru Lo, the WHO’s head of mission and representative to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore told Reuters in emailed comments.

08.27 Poland expects April peak in coronavirus infections

Poland may face a peak in coronavirus infections in April, government spokesman Piotr Muller told state radio on Thursday, adding that further curbs on people’s movements could not be ruled out.

By Wednesday, 2,554 people had been infected with the virus, with 43 dead in the country of 38 million people.

07.22 Boeing to offer voluntary layoffs to employees

Boeing Co was set to offer employee buyout and early retirement packages, two people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, a bid to mitigate the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun was expected to detail a voluntary layoff plan in a memo to employees as early as Thursday, one of the people said.

07.15 Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 73,522

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 73,522 while 872 people have died of the disease, statistics from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Thursday.

Cases rose by 6,156 compared with the previous day while the death toll climbed by 140

06.42 Israel’s health minister diagnosed with coronavirus

Israel’s health minister and his wife were diagnosed with coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Yaakov Litzman, 71, an ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has appeared regularly alongside the premier to provide updates on the spread of the pandemic and new measures to combat it.

04.29 British Airways could suspend 36,000 employees – BBC

IAG-owned British Airways is expected to announce a suspension of about 36,000 of its employees, BBC News reported on Wednesday.

The airline has reached a broad deal with Unite union that will include suspension of jobs of 80% of BA’s cabin crew, ground staff, engineers and those working at head office, the news agency reported , adding that no staff were expected to be made redundant.

04.13 Mexico’s coronavirus death toll rises to 37

Mexico’s health ministry on Wednesday said it had registered 37 deaths from coronavirus, up from 29 a day earlier. It also said that the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 1,378 from 1,215 the previous day.

04.02 Singapore suffers fourth death

Singapore suffered its fourth coronavirus-related death on Thursday, a day after the city-state reported a record number of new cases that took the island-state’s total infections to 1000.

The health ministry said the latest death was a 68-year-old Indonesian who had a history of diabetes and hypertension. Singapore’s other deaths have also been elderly persons with underlying conditions.

02.56 Panama reports 1,317 coronavirus cases, 32 deaths

Panama’s health ministry reported on Wednesday 1,317 coronavirus cases, an increase of 136 cases, and 32 deaths in the Central American country.

01.40 Trump says considering canceling domestic flights to coronavirus hot spots

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is considering a plan to halt flights to coronavirus hot zones in the United States as he struggles to contain a pandemic that is projected to kill at least 100,000 people.

“We’re certainly looking at it, but once you do that you really are clamping down an industry that is desperately needed,” Trump told a White House news briefing.

00.24 Turkish Airlines extends flight cancellations until May 1

Turkish Airlines has extended the cancellation of its flights from April 17 to May 1 over the coronavirus outbreak, its CEO Bilal Eksi said on Wednesday, adding that limited domestic flights would continue.

Turkish Airlines said on Saturday it had halted all international and domestic flights due to the virus, apart from 14 domestic flights to certain cities, as Turkey ramped up measures to contain the outbreak that has killed 277 people.


What happened yesterday

EUROPE

  • Italy will extend lockdown restrictions to April 13, as data from this week suggests a slowdown of growth in total cases, though its national health institute says official death toll could be underestimated.
  • Cases in Spain topped 100,000 on Wednesday, and two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock an overloaded public health system.
  • France became the fourth country to pass the 4,000 coronavirus deaths threshold.
  • Britain said it would ramp up the number of tests amid widespread criticism that it was doing far too few.
  • Switzerland no longer faces shortages in coronavirus testing, its top health official dealing with the pandemic said on Wednesday.
  • Measures to limit the outbreak in the Netherlands appear to have halved the rate of infection but need to be continued to be really effective, a top health official said.
  • Germany will extend social distancing measures introduced last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus to April 19 and the government will re-evaluate the situation after the Easter holiday.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking precautions to protect himself, as Moscow launched a smartphone app designed to track people who have been ordered to stay home.
  • Russia sent the United States medical equipment on Wednesday to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, a public relations coup for Putin.
  • Turkey will step up measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak if it keeps spreading and people ignore “voluntary” quarantine rules, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
  • European scientists and engineers will launch an initiative to support the use of digital contact tracing applications.

AMERICAS

  • U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants to virus-proof the November election by including funding to boost voting by mail in the next pandemic response plan, as confirmed cases in the country climbed to 186,101 and while deaths rose to 3,603.
  • The governor of New York cracked down even harder on public gatherings, calling residents who disregarded stay-at-home rules “selfish” as California’s governor warned his state will run out of hospital beds by next month.
  • Canada’s death toll jumped by 35% in less than a day and Quebec said it was running low on key medical equipment.
  • An indigenous woman in a village deep in the Amazon rainforest has contracted the coronavirus.
  • Cuba suspended arriving international flights and asked all foreign boats to withdraw from its waters.
  • Nearly 30 medical workers at a hospital in northern Mexico have been infected, as the national tally climbed to 1,215.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

  • Mainland China reported dwindling new infections on Wednesday and for the first time disclosed the number of asymptomatic cases, which could complicate how trends in the outbreak are read.
  • Singapore reported 74 new cases in its biggest intraday jump, bringing its total to 1,000.
  • Japan will ban entry to foreigners from 73 countries and ask everyone arriving from abroad to begin quarantine.
  • India scoured mosques to trace people who attended a Muslim gathering in New Delhi that later emerged as a hotspot
  • The rate of new infections in Malaysia appears to be slowing amid month-long curbs on movement, a senior health official said.
  • A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are “extremely effective” at blocking the ability of the virus to enter cells.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • Iran’s president said the U.S. had missed an opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though he said the penalties had not hampered Tehran’s fight against the virus, which has killed more than 3,000 people and infected close to 48,000.
  • Ugandan doctors accused the government of endangering the lives of those in medical emergencies by requiring that all seek permission to secure transportation to hospitals.
  • Egypt has ramped up efforts to fight the coronavirus, ordering manufacturers to channel medical protective equipment to public hospitals.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

  • World equity markets began the new quarter with steep losses on Wednesday.
  • Factories fell quiet across much of the world in March as the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed economic activity, with evidence mounting that the world is sliding into deep recession.
  • China’s ports and shipping firms are bracing for a second wave of supply chain disruptions that may be deeper and more prolonged than during the country’s lockdown. *
  • The European Commision proposed a short-time work scheme modelled on Germany’s Kurzarbeit programme to help people keep their jobs.
  • Italy plans to spend another $11 billion to guarantee debt and liquidity for professionals and companies hit by the crisis.
  • Switzerland is preparing to expand an emergency liquidity programme for businesses, as banks have already lent out more than half of the $20.70 billion set aside for state-backed loans.
  • U.S. restaurants asked the White House and congressional leaders for at least $325 billion in aid.

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