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Wednesday, April 8: Coronavirus global update

As of 19.15 today more than 1,478,366 people have been infected across the world and over 86,744 have died but at the same time 316,855 people have recovered.

The USA is now the country with the most infected cases (410,906) ahead of Spain (146,690) who overtook Italy (139,422) earlier this week. France and Germany follow with 109,069 and 109,059 cases respectively

Confirmed deaths by country:
Italy: 17,669
Spain: 14,673
USA: 14,210
France: 10,328
UK: 7,097


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

20.09 New York has 779 more deaths, governor says social distancing working

New York’s efforts at social distancing are working to get the coronavirus pandemic under control even as the number of deaths over the past 24 hours hit a new high of 779 across the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

“Don’t start doing a retrospective like it’s over,” Cuomo told a daily briefing on the states’ coronavirus response, urging residents to stay at home as much as possible. “We are not through it. It’s not over.”

20.07 Turkey’s coronavirus death toll reaches 812 with 38,226 total cases

Turkey’s confirmed cases of coronavirus increased by 4,117 in the last 24 hours, and 87 people have died, taking the death toll to 812, the health ministry announced on Wednesday.

The total number of recovered cases stood at 1,846, and the number of tests carried out over the last 24 hours was 24,900, the health ministry said.

Turkey’s total confirmed cases stood at 38,226, the ministry said.

19.48 UK coronavirus cases and hospital admissions starting to ‘plateau’

The number of coronavirus infections and hospital admissions in Britain is beginning to show signs of flattening, Stephen Powis, medical director of the National Health Service, said on Wednesday.

“We are starting to see a plateauing – the first signs of a plateauing of infections and hospitalisations,” Powis told reporters.

“We are beginning to see the benefits I believe but the really critical thing is that we have to continue following instructions – we have to continue following social distancing, because if we don’t the virus will start to spread again.”

19.38 Coronavirus will hit jobs, livelihoods, says UK’s Sunak

Britain’s economy and people’s livelihoods will take a hit due to the coronavirus outbreak which has forced a lockdown of much of society, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday, adding that the government had taken the right steps to get through the crisis.

“This will have a significant impact on our economy, and not in an abstract way. It will have an impact on people’s jobs and their livelihoods,” Sunak said at a news conference.

19.20 Somalia has registered first death from coronavirus – health minister

Somalia said on Wednesday it had registered its first death from coronavirus, the Horn of African country’s health minister said without giving details about the patient.

“We have confirmed one person who died of Corona (virus). May Allah show him mercy,” health minister Fawziya Abikar Nur said in a Tweet and added four new cases of the virus had been detected, bringing the country’s total number of people infected to 12.

19.13 WHO head defends handling of coronavirus pandemic against Trump criticism

The head of the World Health Organization gave a strident defence of his agency’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, in response to a question about U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism and suggestion that Washington could review funding.

“So my advice, three things,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing. “Please, unity at national level, no using COVID for political points. Second, honest solidarity at the global level. And honest leadership from the U.S. and China.”

19.10 Italy’s daily coronavirus death toll falls, but new cases accelerate

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 542 on Wednesday, a lower tally than the 604 the day before, but the number of new cases pushed higher to 3,836 compared with a previous 3,039.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on Feb. 21 rose to 17,669, the Civil Protection Agency said, the highest in the world.

The number of confirmed cases climbed to 139,422, the third highest global tally behind that of the United States and Spain.

18.49 Britain trying to get money back for unreliable antibody tests, official says

Britain is looking to get its money back after buying some COVID-19 antibody tests to trial them only to find that none of the products worked reliably enough, a British health official said on Wednesday.

Health minister Matt Hancock last week that Britain wanted to buy 17.5 million antibody tests, subject to them working, but none of the test have proven fit for purpose.

Kathy Hall, director of COVID-19 testing strategy at Department for Health, said that Britain had to buy some of the tests, which are designed to see if someone has immunity to COVID-19 having been previously infected, in order to establish if they worked.

18.47 EU urges states to lift export bans on drugs that may lead to shortages

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on Wednesday urged European Union states to lift export bans on medicines to avoid causing shortages in the bloc as it tackles the coronavirus crisis.

“We ask that national governments lift any export ban on medicines. Such restrictions can lead to shortages elsewhere in the EU,” she said in a statement, also calling on governments to avoid stockpiling.

18:38 Vietnam to ship 450,000 protective suits to United States

Vietnam has expedited the shipment of 450,000 DuPont protective suits to the United States to help healthcare professionals there fight the coronavirus, the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi said on Wednesday.

“The first of two initial shipments of over 450,000 made-in-Vietnam DuPont protective suits arrived in U.S. Strategic National Stockpile on April 8,” the Embassy said in a statement.

“This shipment will help protect healthcare professionals working on the front lines against COVID-19 in the United States and demonstrates the strength of the U.S.-Vietnam partnership,” it added.

18:02 Switzerland looks to easing coronavirus measures as economy could be plunged into worst recession on record – govt

Switzerland plans to ease up on measures to combat the coronavirus starting at the end of April, the government said on Wednesday, as it expects the economic damage from the epidemic could be the worst on record.

“We know that these measures are difficult for the economy and the people, but we’ve also decided to consider loosening of certain of the measures starting at the end of April,” Health Minister Alain Berset told a news briefing.

Switzerland’s government said it would extend anti-coronavirus restrictions for another week to April 26, before looking at a gradual loosening of measures that now include border controls, school closures and bans on gatherings.

17:39 Coronavirus could put 1.5m US families on cusp of homelessness

The economic blow of the coronavirus could push 1.5 million US families to the brink of homelessness, housing experts warned, not only increasing poverty but accelerating the spread of the pandemic in overcrowded homes.

Those families would join some 8 million existing US households on the verge of losing their homes, who pay half or more of their income on rent, said researchers and activists in a webinar about housing and the pandemic.

17:31 Norwegian Air seeks debt restructuring as coronavirus crisis grounds fleet

Norwegian Air is proposing to convert some of its debt into equity and to issue new shares as it seeks to stay in business following the COVID-19 outbreak that has grounded almost all of its fleet, the budget carrier said on Wednesday.

By boosting its equity, the airline would also qualify for government guarantees of up to 3 billion Norwegian crowns ($292 million), which are dependent on the company reducing its ratio of debt to equity.

Growing rapidly in the last decade to become Europe’s third-largest low-cost airline and the biggest foreign carrier serving New York and other major U.S. cities, Norwegian had accumulated debts and liabilities of close to $8 billion by the end of 2019.

16:39 Key US coronavirus death projection revised down to 60,000

Some 60,000 Americans could die in the coronavirus pandemic, a university model often cited by US and state policymakers projected on Wednesday, a 26 per cent reduction in its most recent forecast death toll.

The University of Washington model’s downward revision coincides with relative optimism from political leaders that caseloads may have reached a plateau in certain areas, albeit with the US death toll climbing by 1,800 on Tuesday as nearly 30,000 new infections were reported.

16:37 Turkey to track citizens via mobile phones to enforce quarantines

Turkey will monitor the mobile phones of those diagnosed with the new coronavirus to ensure they do not break quarantine, authorities said on Wednesday, marking the latest measure to stem an outbreak that has surged over the last month.

Turkey will start tracking citizens and send them a message and call them each time they leave their homes, the presidency’s Communications Directorate said.

They will be asked to return home and police will penalise those who continue to violate quarantine rules, it said, adding that Turkish law allows for processing of personal data without consent for “exceptional aims”.

16:15 Two weeks in, Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown having an effect, study shows

Data gathered from 2 million people in Britain using a new COVID-19 symptom tracker app suggests lockdown measures are slowing the spread of the disease, researchers said on Wednesday.

The rate of new coronavirus symptoms reported in Britain has slowed significantly in the past few days, the King’s College London scientists said.

Their latest figures suggest that around 1.4 million people in Britain aged between 20 and 69 currently have symptomatic COVID-19, a fall from 1.9 million on April 1, as some have recovered and fewer people report new symptoms.

16:04 Egypt extends nationwide night-time curfew to counter coronavirus

Egypt will extend a nationwide night-time curfew by 15 days until April 23 to counter the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Wednesday.

Airports will also stay closed until the end of the month, he said in a televised news conference, adding that the curfew would now start one hour later at 8 p.m. local time (1800 GMT) each evening.

15:41 European nations urged to protect abortion access in coronavirus lockdown

European governments must safeguard access to abortion services during the coronavirus pandemic, advocacy groups said on Wednesday, amid fears of a surge in unwanted pregnancies.

An open letter signed by 100 human rights groups and health experts calls for abortion pills to be sent to homes, remote access to health services and the removal of administrative processes like wait periods and mandatory counselling.

“We’re extremely concerned that women’s and girls’ reproductive rights are being undermined and not being upheld during the pandemic,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

15:28 EU to adopt unified policy on coronavirus mobile apps

The European Union is drawing up common rules for using mobile apps to track the spread of the coronavirus, aiming to make better use of the technology and address privacy concerns.

The coordinated strategy comes after several EU countries have rolled out a variety of apps, triggering criticism from some data privacy activists who worry mass data collection could become permanent if not tightly controlled.

European Commissioner for values and transparency, Vera Jourova, said a joint move to harness virus-fighting technology offered an efficient solution.

15:06 Dutch coronavirus cases rise by 969 to 20,549, 147 new deaths

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by 969 to 20,549 as of Wednesday, health authorities said, with 147 new deaths.

The country’s total death toll from the disease is now 2,248, the Netherlands’ National Institute for Health (RIVM) said in a daily update.

14:55 Spain hits 14,500 coronavirus deaths, big economic slump forecast

Spain’s overnight death toll from the coronavirus edged higher again on Wednesday while the main business lobby warned the economy could slump up to 9 per cent this year if lockdown restrictions remain beyond May.

The health ministry said 757 people died over the past 24 hours, up from 743 people the previous day, marking the second daily rise in a row and bringing the total death toll to 14,555 – the world’s second-highest after Italy.

14:42 Dancing on the rooftops as lockdown concert lifts spirits in Albania

As singing boomed among the apartment buildings of Albania’s seaside town of Durres, families took to their wrought-iron balconies, clapped in the windows and danced on the rooftops.

The group of singers serenading the port of Durres are among the only people in Albania given special dispensation to venture outside during lockdown hours.

Each evening before sunset they go to a different neighbourhood in Albania’s main port city, accompanied by a police escort and loudspeakers, to perform an impromptu concert to families shut inside the surrounding apartment buildings.

14.02 Russian airlines’ March passenger traffic falls 26.6% – Rosaviatsiya

The number of passengers flying with Russian airlines fell by 26.6% in March, Russia’s federal aviation agency Rosaviatsiya said on Wednesday, citing restrictions imposed in connection with curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Russian carriers served 6.57 million people in March, a sharp decline year-on-year. First-quarter numbers were also down to 23.4 million passengers, a drop of 5.3% year-on-year.

13.57 Portuguese hotels to lay off 85% of workers in April, says AHP

Around 85% of hotel workers in Portugal will be temporarily laid off in April due to the impact the fast-spreading coronavirus is having on the country’s tourism-dependent economy, Hotels Association AHP said on Wednesday.

It said 93.8% of Portuguese hotels will or have already applied to be able to temporarily lay off workers. The measure allows companies to temporarily suspend jobs or reduce working hours but does not let them fire or make workers redundant.

13.41 Swiss coronavirus death toll goes past 700, positive tests near 23,000

The Swiss death toll from coronavirus has reached 705 people, the country’s public health ministry said on Wednesday, rising from 641 people on Tuesday.

The number of positive tests for the disease also increased to 22,789 from 22,242 on Tuesday, it said.

13.38 Few UK firms getting coronavirus funds as wider costs mount

Only a small fraction of British companies have successfully accessed financial help from the government to withstand the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, while many more have failed so far, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said 1% of companies had received funds from the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, while 8% said their application had been unsuccessful.

13.15 France working on ‘StopCovid’ contact-tracing app

The French government is working on a smartphone app that could warn users if they came into contact with a coronavirus carrier, ministers said on Wednesday, in a move likely to raise questions about the impact of tracing technology on civil liberties.

The government said France was working on a project called “StopCovid” that could see the use of a proximity-tracking, bluetooth-based app that users would install on their mobile phone on a voluntary basis.

13.01 OECD says leading indicators flag biggest monthly drop on record

Major economies are seeing the biggest monthly slump in activity ever amid the coronavirus crisis and no end is in sight without clarity about how long lockdowns will last, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday.

The OECD said its leading indicators, which are designed to flag turning points in economic activity, suggested all major economies had plunged into a “sharp slowdown” with only India registering as being in a mere “slowdown”.

The indicators were flagging “the largest drop on record in most major economies”, the Paris-based OECD said in statement, adding that huge uncertainty over how long lockdowns would last severely muted their predictive value.

13.00 Novavax to start human trial for novel coronavirus vaccine

Novavax Inc said on Wednesday it had identified a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate and would start human trials in mid-May.

The Maryland-based late-stage biotechnology company said its Matrix-M adjuvant would be used with the vaccine candidate – NVX-CoV2373 – to enhance immune responses.

Adjuvants are mainly used to enable a vaccine to induce a strong immune response including a greater production of antibodies and longer-lasting protection against viral and bacterial infections.

Novavax said preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the trial were expected in July.

12.49 Iran’s new coronavirus death toll passes 4,000 – health official

Iran’s new coronavirus death toll has climbed to 4,003 with 121 more deaths in the past 24 hours, a Health Ministry spokesman told state TV on Wednesday, adding that the total number of infections in the country has risen to 67,286.

“We had 1,997 new infected cases in the past 24 hours …. there are 3,956 infected people in critical conditions,” spokesman Kianush Jahanpur added.

12.46 Spain’s number of coronavirus deaths rises by 757 to over 14,500

The number of daily coronavirus deaths rose in Spain for the second day on Wednesday as 757 people died over the past 24 hours, though the pace of the proportional daily increase in the death toll slowed down slightly, the health ministry said.

The number of total fatalities caused by the new coronavirus in Spain rose to 14,555 on Wednesday, the ministry said. The daily increase as a percentage of the total death toll was 5.5%, down from 5.7% the day before, when 743 people died.

12.45 WHO says Europe’s coronavirus outbreak still ‘very concerning’ despite progress

The World Health Organization’s regional director described the outbreak of coronavirus in Europe as “very concerning” on Wednesday and urged governments to give “very careful consideration” before relaxing measures to control its spread.

“A dramatic rise in cases across the Atlantic skews what remains a very concerning picture in Europe,” Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a virtual briefing. “We still have a long way to go in the marathon.”

12.40 S.Korea imposes new coronavirus travel restrictions, announces $29.5 bln in business aid

South Korea’s government said on Wednesday it will increase restrictions on people traveling from overseas to prevent new coronavirus infections, and announced new stimulus measures for exporters hit by the outbreak.

South Korea will temporarily suspend visa waivers for citizens of countries that have imposed travel bans on South Koreans, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.

12.35 Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spread of COVID-19

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in the country to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, his office said on Twitter.

“Considering the gravity of the #COVID19, the government of Ethiopia has enacted a State of Emergency,” Abiy’s office said.

12.23 EU to adopt pan-European approach on mobile apps to fight coronavirus

The European Union will on Wednesday adopt a pan-European approach on the use of mobile applications to track the spread of the coronavirus, according to a European Commission document seen by Reuters.

Calling it a toolbox, the EU executive said it would include a common scheme for using anonymous, aggregated data to trace people who came into contact with those infected and to monitor those under quarantine.

12.12 Malaysia reports 156 new coronavirus cases with 2 new deaths

Malaysian health authorities on Wednesday reported 156 new cases of coronavirus infection, pushing the cumulative total to 4,119 cases as Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy continues to grapple with the highest rate of infection in the region.

The health ministry also reported two new deaths, including one Pakistani national who had attended a mass religious gathering that was the source of over 1,000 infections in the country.

12.09 UK PM Johnson stable after second night in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a second night in intensive care and was in a stable condition on Wednesday after receiving oxygen support for COVID-19 complications, raising questions about how key decisions would be taken in his absence.

Johnson, who tested positive nearly two weeks ago, was admitted to St Thomas’ hospital on Sunday evening with a persistent high temperature and cough but his condition deteriorated and he was rushed into an intensive care unit.

12.07 Centrica’s British Gas to furlough 3,800 employees

Britain’s largest energy supplier British Gas will furlough around 3,800 employees as the coronavirus pandemic forces the company to scale back operations, parent Centrica said on Wednesday.

The government has ordered sweeping measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus, shutting down much of the economy and asking people to stay inside and avoid non-essential travel.

Centrica employs 20,000 people in Britain.

11.53 Indonesia reports 218 new coronavirus infections, taking total to 2,956

Indonesia confirmed on Wednesday 218 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 2,956, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

He reported 19 new coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 240, while 222 people have recovered.

11.49 Italy closes ports to migrant ships because of coronavirus

Italian ports cannot be considered safe because of the coronavirus epidemic and will not let charity migrant boats dock, the government has ruled.

The decision was taken late on Tuesday after a ship operated by the German non-governmental group Sea-Eye picked up some 150 people off Libya and headed towards Italy.

“For the entire duration of the national health emergency caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Italian ports cannot guarantee the requisites needed to be classified and defined as a place of safety,” the decree said.

11.19 India’s financial hub Mumbai set to extend coronavirus lockdown -sources

India’s financial hub Mumbai is set to extend lockdown measures until at least April 30 as authorities race to expand testing to stem the spread of coronavirus cases in the city, three senior officials said.

A 21-day nationwide lockdown that Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in late March to fight the epidemic is officially set to end on April 14.

But Mumbai, with a population of more than 20 million, has become India’s coronavirus epicentre. The metropolis and its suburbs have reported 782 positive cases and 50 deaths, the latest health bulletin said on Wednesday.

11.11 Philippines reports five new deaths, 106 more coronavirus cases

The Philippines’ health ministry said on Wednesday the coronavirus outbreak has killed five more people, with 106 additional infections.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total deaths have risen to 182 while infections have increased to 3,870. Twelve patients recovered on Wednesday, bringing the total to 96, it added.

11.09 EU’s future at stake over financial response to coronavirus

The European Union’s future is at risk if it cannot come up with a joint financial response to combat the new coronavirus, Spanish ministers warned on Wednesday, after the bloc failed to agree on joint debt issuance to fight the crisis.

Government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said Europeans will begin to lose trust in the EU if it does not act together in the crisis, which she compared to the Second World War.

11.08 UK nowhere near lifting coronavirus lockdown – London mayor

Britain is nowhere near lifting the lockdown measures it put in place to tackle the spread of the coronavirus as the peak is still more than a week away, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Wednesday.

When he announced the nationwide lockdown on March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be reviewed after three weeks.

Asked during an interview on BBC Radio whether the lockdown should be lifted next Monday, Khan said: “I think we are nowhere near lifting the lockdown.

11.07 China shares end lower as new coronavirus cases double

Chinese shares pulled back on Wednesday after a doubling of new coronavirus infections in mainland China highlighted continued risks posed by the pandemic, even as Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak, ended its lockdown

10.50 TUI cancels holidays for UK customers until mid-May

TUI Group, Europe’s biggest tour operator, said beach holidays for its British and Irish customers would be cancelled until mid-May due to travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainty about when those will end.

The United Kingdom changed its travel guidance on April 4, advising against all non-essential global travel indefinitely. Previously Britons had been told to avoid global travel for 30 days from 17 March.

TUI said on Wednesday that beach holidays for UK and Irish customers travelling up to and including 14 May would no longer operate, while Marella cruise holidays would be cancelled until May 31, and a river cruise unit would delay launching until Nov 26.

10.47 Russia reports record daily rise in new coronavirus cases, infections up to 8,672

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia rose by more than 1,000 for the second day running, taking the total to 8,672, the crisis response centre said on Wednesday.

The number of reported cases rose by 1,175, a record daily rise, while deaths increased by five to 63, the centre said.

10.43 ECB urges measures worth 1.5 trln euros to tackle virus crisis in euro zone- sources

The European Central Bank told euro zone finance ministers that the euro zone could need fiscal measures worth up to 1.5 trillion euros to tackle the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, officials told Reuters.

But at a videoconference that ended on Wednesday without a deal after 16 hours of talks, Germany, the Netherlands and other northern European countries were ready to support EU measures worth only 500 billion euros, officials who participated in the meeting said.

10.40 Czech coronavirus cases top 5,000 but growth slows

The number of cases of the new coronavirus in the Czech Republic has risen past 5,000, although a slowing growth rate has given the government confidence to start easing some lockdown measures that have hit the economy.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 195 new cases the previous day, a 4.0% daily rise to bring the total to 5,017, a figure that was updated to stand at 5,033 by 8:25 a.m.

The daily percentage rise in cases has grown at a single-digit rate so far in April.

10.31 French military ship heading back to port due to possible COVID-19 cases

France’s flagship military aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle is on its way back to port after some staff on board showed signs of COVID-19 symptoms, said the French armed forces ministry on Wednesday.

The ministry said around 40 staff were under strict medical observation at present.

10.27 French virus lockdown should be extended for weeks – chief adviser

France should extend its lockdown period for several weeks in order to contain the coronavirus epidemic, the head of the medical council advising the government said on France Info radio on Wednesday.

France went into lockdown on March 17, and the measure has already been extended once to April 15. On April 2, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the lockdown would probably have to be extended beyond that date.

10.15 European shares retreat after two-day rally as Tesco slumps

European shares dipped on Wednesday following a two-day rally, as the number of coronavirus deaths rose again in Spain, while France became the fourth country to report a death toll of more than 10,000.

Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco slumped 7% to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after saying it expected to take a hit of up to 925 million pounds ($1.1 billion) from coronavirus-related costs.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.9% at 0703 GMT, after a strong start to the week on hopes that infections were plateauing in the worst hit parts of Europe and the United States.

10.01 Iran’s Rouhani urges IMF to give Tehran its requested loan amid coronavirus

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani urged the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday to give the country its requested $5 billion emergency funding to help Tehran fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“I urge international organisations to fulfill their duties … we are a member of the IMF … There should be no discrimination in giving loans,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting.

09.59 Figure of 6 bln euros in loans for Air France KLM ‘realistic’ -minister

A figure of 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in loans to help Air France KLM is “realistic”, French junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on Wednesday.

“You are talking about an amount which is not unrealistic, I can confirm that,” Djebbari told LCI TV, adding that the possible aid package for the airlines group was being discussed by the French finance ministry and the Dutch state.

09.52 UK coronavirus testing capacity to be expanded in May-AstraZeneca CEO

Britain will have a new coronavirus testing facility capable of carrying out 30,000 tests per day by early May, said the chief executive of British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca is working with GSK and the University of Cambridge on a joint project to boost Britain’s testing capacity.

09.22 Japan to pledge contribution to IMF trust for low-income countries hit by pandemic

Japan will next week pledge to contribute to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) trust offering debt relief to low-income countries hit hard by the coronavirus, a finance ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Taro Aso will deliver the pledge, along with other contributions, at one of the meetings of the IMF and finance leaders of the Group of 20 major economies next week, said the source, who had direct knowledge of the matter but spoke on condition of anonymity.

The plan, including the amount to pledged, was still being finalised, said the official.

09.20 France’s central bank estimates first-quarter GDP shrunk 6% from previous quarter

France’s economy likely contracted 6% in the first quarter from the previous three months as a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak shut down vast swathes of the economy, the central bank estimated on Wednesday.

That would be the biggest contraction on a quarterly basis since World War II, surpassing the previous record of -5.3% in the second quarter of 1968 when France was gripped by civil unrest, mass student protests and general strikes.

France has been subject to stay-at-home orders since March 17 that officially end on April 15, although the government has warned they could very well be extended if judged prudent.

07.59 Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise to 103,228, deaths to 1,861

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,003 in the past 24 hours to 103,228 on Wednesday, climbing for the second straight day after four previous days of drops, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 254 to 1,861.

07.57 Thailand reports 111 new coronavirus cases, 3 more deaths

Thailand on Wednesday reported 111 new coronavirus cases and 3 more deaths.

The dead included a 48-year-old Russian, a 69-year-old Indian and a 69-year-old U.S. national, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration said.

Since the pandemic escalated in January, Thailand has reported a total of 2,369 cases and 30 fatalities, while 888 patients have recovered and gone home.

07.25 Asymptomatic patients and imported infections become China’s chief concern

Mainland China’s new coronavirus cases doubled in 24 hours as the number of infected overseas travellers surged, and new asymptomatic infections more than quadrupled.

New confirmed cases rose to 62 on Tuesday from 32 a day earlier,  the highest since March 25. New imported infections accounted for 59 of the cases.

The number of new asymptomatic cases rose to 137 from 30 a day earlier, the health authority said on Wednesday, with incoming travellers accounting for 102 of the latest batch.

07.20 NZ PM cautiously optimistic about coronavirus, urges Easter ‘staycation’

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said on Wednesday she was cautiously optimistic about slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus as authorities reported the lowest number of new daily cases in two weeks.

New Zealand reported 50 new cases on Wednesday from 54 on Tuesday and 67 on Monday, bringing its tally to 1,210. One person has died.

06.26 Asian shares turn cautious, oil rebounds in choppy trade

Asian stocks stepped back on Wednesday after two sessions of sharp gains as investors tempered their optimism about the coronavirus while death tolls were still mounting across the globe.

While the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations seemed to be levelling off in New York state, deaths across the United States jumped by a record 1,800.

Mainland China’s new coronavirus cases also doubled in 24 hours due to infected overseas travellers.

Not helping sentiment were wild swings in the oil market, where prices rebounded in Asia after sliding on Tuesday to leave traders feeling dizzy.

05.26 Country folk singer John Prine dies at 73 of coronavirus complications

Grammy-winning singer John Prine, who wrote his early songs in his head while delivering mail and later emerged from Chicago’s folk revival scene in the 1970s to become one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, died on Tuesday. He was 73.

Prine was hospitalized in Nashville on March 26 suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to his wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, who was also his manager.

05.10 African-Americans dying of coronavirus at higher rates

The new coronavirus is killing African-Americans at a higher rate than the U.S. population at large, according to preliminary numbers from Louisiana, Michigan and Illinois that officials say point to disparities in health and healthcare access.

The figures were reported by state and city leaders at briefings on the coronavirus, including Louisiana Governor John Edwards who said more than 70% of the 512 people killed by the coronavirus in Louisiana as of Monday were black, a much larger percentage than the state’s population that black people represent, about 33 percent.

Michigan officials also said that the coronavirus took a disproportionate toll on African-Americans with 40% of the reported deaths in the state, whose population is 14% African-American. As of Tuesday, confirmed cases in Michigan were 18,970 with 845 deaths.

04.11 Panama reports 149 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total to 2,249

Panama registered 149 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 2,249 cases, authorities said on Tuesday.

The death toll stands at 59.

03.18 Mainland China reports 62 new confirmed cases of coronavirus

Mainland China reported on Wednesday 62 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, up from 32 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said, as the number of infections from people arriving from abroad surged.

Mainland China’s imported cases stood at 1,042 as of Tuesday, up 59 from day earlier, according to the health authority.

That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 81,802 so far.

03.17 Mexico registers 2,785 cases of coronavirus and 141 deaths

Mexico has registered 346 new cases of coronavirus infection, bringing the country’s total to 2,785, as well as 141 deaths, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

03.11 Ecuador builds emergency cemeteries due to coronavirus outbreak

Ecuador’s government is preparing an emergency burial ground on land donated by a private cemetery in Guayaquil, the country’s largest city, to address a shortage of burial plots as the novel coronavirus hits the Andean country hard.

As of Tuesday, the country had 3,995 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 220 deaths, with 182 more deaths suspected of being linked to the virus. The outbreak has sparked a shortage of wooden coffins, prompting some people to bury their relatives in cardboard boxes donated by cemeteries.

00.23 First patients arrive at London’s new coronavirus hospital

The first patients have been admitted to the new Nightingale Hospital in London, which has been set up in just nine days at the Excel Exhibition Centre to handle the coronavirus crisis.

The facility, which was officially opened by Prince Charles on Friday, will provide up to 4,000 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen and be used for those who require further intensive care treatment for COVID-19.

Around 25,000 doctors, nurses and support staff will work at the location once it is fully operational.

What happened on Tuesday

EUROPE

  • The pace of coronavirus deaths in Spain ticked up for the first time in five days on Tuesday, with 743 people succumbing overnight, but there was still hope the national lockdown might be eased soon.
  • Doctors in Lombardy, Italy’s worst-hit region, denounced local officials for their handling of the crisis and said the mistakes they made should be a lesson for everyone.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was set to spend a second night in intensive care on Tuesday, while his foreign minister led the government’s response. Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said he was self isolating as a family member has symptoms.
  • In the Swiss Army’s biggest call-up since World War II, thousands of soldiers have been sent to support health workers, while hundreds have been confined to barracks after potential exposure.
  • France has officially registered more than 10,000 deaths from coronavirus infections on Tuesday, becoming the fourth country to go beyond that threshold.
  • Norway will ease some restrictions, its prime minister said. * Finland will start tracking the spread in its population with randomised antibody tests.
  • Vietnam donated 550,000 face masks to five European countries on Tuesday.
  • Ireland’s chief medical officer said he did not expect to be able to recommend a lifting of severe restrictions by April 12.
  • Czech lawmakers approved keeping the country under the state of emergency until April 30, a shorter extension than the government had sought.

AMERICAS

  • New York state is nearing a plateau in number of patients hospitalized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, while total infections in the country rose to 374,329, with the death toll reaching 12,064.
  • President Donald Trump accused the World Health Organization of being too focused on China and issuing bad advice during the coronavirus outbreak. He also accused the U.S. Health Department’s inspector general of having produced a “fake dossier” on American hospitals suffering shortages.
  • Wisconsin voters faced long lines at limited polling locations on Tuesday during the state’s presidential primary and local elections.
  • Canada needs to do more to persuade Washington not to block medical supplies from flowing across the border, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
  • Mexico’s health ministry warned that the country was facing a shortage of doctors as it seeks to ramp up hospital care.
  • A report published by the Brazilian army’s strategic studies center last week contradicts President Jair Bolsonaro by calling for widespread isolation to fight the pandemic.
  • El Salvador warned that security forces had been ordered to enforce quarantine orders more rigorously.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

  • Mainland China reported no deaths for the first time since the pandemic began, and a drop in new cases, a day before the city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged, is set to lift its lockdown.
  • India’s 21-day lockdown is set to end next week but several state leaders have called for an extension or only a partial lifting of restrictions.
  • Japan declared a one-month state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures, and rolled out a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
  • Australia’s chief medical officer said researchers were analysing data to help the government plot a recovery, after lockdown measures bought it some time.
  • Philippines extended its lockdown and home quarantine measures until the end of April.
  • Indonesia approved a request by the Jakarta administration to impose further large-scale social restrictions on the capital.
  • India will allow limited exports of an anti-malaria drug that U.S. President Donald Trump has touted as a potential weapon in the fight against the virus.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • Most Middle Eastern countries are seeing worrying daily increases in cases but the region still has a chance to contain its spread, a senior WHO official said.
  • The coronavirus could eventually infect between 10,000 and 200,000 people in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s health minister said.
  • Egypt will ban any public religious gatherings during the holy Muslim fasting month Ramadan starting in around two weeks.
  • South Africa’s main health workers’ union planned to challenge the government in court on Tuesday over shortages of protective gear for frontline staff.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

  • World stock markets posted sharp gains on Tuesday on signs of progress in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in both Europe and the United States.
  • Euro zone finance ministers hope to agree on measures worth half a trillion euros to finance recovery from the coronavirus, a discussion that has sown divisions.
  • The Trump administration asked Congress for an additional $250 billion in emergency economic aid for small U.S. businesses reeling from the pandemic.
  • U.S. job openings fell in February, suggesting the labor market was losing momentum even before stringent measures to control the outbreak shuttered businesses.
  • Latin American assets extended their recovery into a second session on Tuesday, as risk assets were propped up by hopes that the coronavirus outbreak had peaked in several hotspots.
  • Slovenia will post a “high” budget deficit and public debt will increase this year, the Fiscal Council said on Tuesday.
  • Portugal will boost its credit lines for struggling businesses to 4.2 billion euros on Wednesday, after it was bolstered by a state aid package from the European Commission.
  • Japan will sell a record amount of extra bonds this fiscal year, worth more than $165 billion, straining the industrial world’s heaviest debt burden.
  • Thailand approved measures worth $58 billion on Tuesday.
  • Nearly 140 campaign groups and charities urged the IMF and World Bank, G20 governments and private creditors to help the world’s poorest countries through the crisis by cancelling debt payments.
  • The IMF said it was considering Nigeria’s request for $3.4 billion in emergency financing to combat the impact of the pandemic.


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