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Thursday, April 9: Coronavirus global update

As of 11.25 today more than 1,540,085 people have been infected across the world and over 90,010 have died but at the same time 340,590 people have recovered.

The USA is now the country with the most infected cases (435,941) ahead of Spain (152,448) who overtook Italy (139,422) earlier this week. Germany and France follow with 114,257 and 112,950 cases respectively

Confirmed deaths by country:
Italy: 17,669
USA: 14,865
Spain: 15,238
France: 10,869
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

18.47 U.S. coronavirus deaths top 15,000 -Reuters tally

U.S. deaths due to coronavirus topped 15,700 on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally, although there are signs the pandemic might be nearing a peak.

U.S. officials warned Americans to expect alarming numbers of coronavirus deaths this week, even as an influential university model on Wednesday scaled back its projected U.S. pandemic death toll by 26% to 60,000.

18.22 France more than doubles crisis budget package to 100 bln euros

The French government on Thursday more than doubled the expected cost of its crisis response measures to cope with the worst recession since at least World War Two, pushing the budget deficit and national debt to record levels.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Les Echos newspaper that the government now expected its crisis package to cost 100 billion euros ($108.6 billion) – over 4% of GDP and up from expectations of 45 billion euros less than a month ago.

“These numbers could yet change as the economic situation and companies’ need of support is changing fast. We’re going all out to save our companies,” Le Maire said.

18.15 Canada coronavirus cases rise to 19,774

Canada coronavirus cases rise to 19,774 up from 18,447 on April 8; 461 deaths, up from 435

18.08 Euro zone close to deal on coronavirus economic package – Germany

Euro zone finance ministers are close to overcoming differences that are blocking approval of a multi-billion euro programme to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Thursday.

“It looks like an agreement is possible,” Scholz said, signalling that the Netherlands, alone in demanding tough conditions for countries like Italy and Spain if they draw aid funds, had softened its stance.

17:58 Hungary prolongs lockdown indefinitely

Hungary has prolonged a nationwide lockdown indefinitely to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on his Facebook page on Thursday, asking citizens to observe the order despite the Easter holiday.

17:25 WHO’s new massive funding appeal for virus 

The World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing to launch an appeal soon for more than $1 billion to fund operations against the COVID-19 pandemic through year-end, diplomats told Reuters on Thursday.

It comes against the backdrop of a salvo lobbed by U.S. President Donald Trump against the WHO over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and suggestions from his administration it might re-evaluate U.S. funding.

16:55 England’s hospital deaths rises 765 to 7,248

The coronavirus death toll in English hospitals rose 765 to 7,248, the health service said on Thursday.

Of the 765 patients, 43 (aged between 33 and 99) had no known underlying health condition.

The figures were earlier reported by The Sun newspaper before the official release. The National Health Service (NHS) had no immediate explanation how that had come about.

15:23 British PM Johnson continues to improve in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is continuing to improve in intensive care and is in good spirits, his spokesman said on Thursday, adding he has been receiving standard oxygen treatment.

“The prime minister had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care … he is in good spirits,” the spokesman told reporters.

“The prime minister thanks the NHS (National Health Service) for the brilliant care which it is providing. The clap for carers has provided wonderful, unifying moments for the entire country.”

14:49 New UK benefits claim hits 1.2 million

Britain’s government said on Thursday it had now received 1.2 million new claims for its Universal Credit welfare payments since March 16 as the coronavirus crisis hits the economy.

Last week, the government put the figure at around 950,000 people.

13.43 Swiss coronavirus death toll rises to 756, positive tests rise by nearly 800

The Swiss death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached 756, the country’s public health agency said on Thursday, rising from 705 people on Wednesday.

The number of positive tests also increased to 23,574 people from 22,789 the day before, it said.

13.35 Austria says willing to compromise but coronabonds are red line

European Union budget hawk Austria is willing to compromise to reach a deal on the bloc’s response to the coronavirus crisis but euro bonds remain out of the question, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said on Thursday.

“That is out of the question for us. That remains the case,” Bluemel told reporters shortly before he and other European Union counterparts are due to reconvene at 1500 GMT on Thursday

13.24 Finland extends most coronavirus related restrictions by one month

Finland on Thursday extended most of its restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus by one month to May 13, the government said in a statement.

The government extended its ban on public meetings of more than 10 people, the closure of public services such as libraries and schools for most students. The government had earlier decided to close all restaurants until the end of May.

13.13 Turkish legislation banning layoffs to go to parliament next week -sources

The Turkish government plans to send legislation to parliament early next week temporarily banning layoffs to reduce an expected jump in unemployment due to the spread of coronavirus, two senior officials told Reuters on Thursday.

One of the Turkish officials said a separate regulation is also planned to financially support small businesses such as barbers and restaurant owners barred from operating under coronavirus-related restrictions.

13.10 Iran’s coronavirus death toll rises by 117 to reach 4,110 – health official

Iran’s coronavirus death toll has risen by 117 to 4,110, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Thursday.

The total number of infected people with the new coronavirus has reached 66,220, he said.

12.43 Spain’s daily coronavirus deaths decrease as toll surpasses 15,000

Spain’s number of daily coronavirus deaths slowed on Thursday after two days of increases as 683 people succumbed in 24 hours, taking the total to 15,238, the health ministry said.

Overall detected cases rose to 152,446 from 146,690 on Wednesday, it added.

12.34 Hungary registers over 100 coronavirus infections in elderly people’s home

Hungary has registered more than 100 coronavirus infections in an elderly people’s home in Budapest, Suregon General Cecilia Muller told an online news briefing on Thursday.

12.11 Dubai tells government agencies to slash spending, freeze hiring over coronavirus

Dubai’s department of finance has told all government agencies to slash capital expenditure by at least half, cut administrative and general expenses by at least 20% and halt new hiring until further notice, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to an official document seen by Reuters.

The department told all government agencies to postpone all construction projects that have not begun until further notice, and not to allow any spending increases for ongoing construction projects.

12.07 Poland to ease some restrictions after Easter – deputy minister

To support its battered economy Poland, will ease some restrictions aimed at fighting the coronavirus after Easter, Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said on Thursday.

Poland has closed schools, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas among other moves to contain the virus. Economists expect the economy to shrink 3.5% this year, triggering a sharp rise in unemployment from the current level of 5.5%.

“After Easter we will want to turn on the economy a little,” Kraska told news conference without elaborating. The ministry’s spokesman

12.05 Malaysia reports 109 new coronavirus cases with 2 new deaths

Malaysia reported 109 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, raising its cumulative total to 4,228 cases as Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy grapples with the highest number of infections in the region.

The health ministry also reported two new deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 67.

11.53 Lebanon defence council urges extending corona lockdown by two weeks

Lebanon’s higher defence council advised the government on Thursday to extend the country’s month-long coronavirus shutdown by another two weeks until April 26.

The cabinet is expected to take the decision in a session on Thursday. The council also called for a crack down on violations of the lockdown and overnight curfew.

11.46 Nearly one in three UK firms reduced staff levels as coronavirus hit – ONS

Twenty-nine percent of British companies reduced staff levels over the short term as the coronavirus crisis hammered the country’s economy, a survey published by the Office for National Statistics on Thursday showed.

“The administrative and support services sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector reported the largest proportions of reducing staff numbers in the short-term for the period March 9 to March 22,” the ONS said.

11.44 Germany: Gradual return to normality possible if infection trend continues

German Health Minister Jens Spahn told newspaper Handelsblatt that the coronavirus infection numbers in Germany were showing a “positive trend” and if that continued, it would be possible to talk about a gradual return to normality after the Easter break.

He said citizens sticking to the restrictions on public life over the Easter holiday was a precondition for a possible easing of the lockdown.

11.43 Irish restrictions likely in place for weeks – health minister

Ireland’s health minister expects to be advised on Friday to keep the significant restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus in place for a period of weeks but that the country will have to move onto a “different terrain” after that.

“What’s highly likely tomorrow is that the National Public Health Emergency Team will recommend that we continue with the very strict restrictions … I expect that to be a period of weeks,” Simon Harris, who ordered citizens on March 27 to stay home until at least Sunday, told broadcaster Virgin Media.

11.33 Number of people on Germany’s short-time work seen rising higher than in 2009

Some 650,000 companies had applied for short-time work in Germany by April 6 and the number of people on the scheme due to coronavirus is likely to be much higher than during the global financial crisis, the German Labour Office said on Thursday.

Short-time work is a form of state aid that allows employers to switch employees to shorter working hours during an economic downturn to keep them on the payroll. It has been widely used by industry, including Germany’s car sector.

11.27 Denmark’s economy may decline 3%-6% in 2020, Finance Ministry estimates

Denmark’s economy could shrink by between 3% and 6% this year as the country’s businesses struggles with the effects of a lockdown to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, Finance Minister Nikolai Wammen said on Thursday.

The minister also said the government will offers loans to small and medium size businesses worth up to 35 billion Danish crowns

11.11 Philippines’ coronavirus infections top 4,000

The Philippines reported 21 new deaths and 206 additional cases of the coronavirus, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Total deaths have reached 203 and cases have risen to 4,076 while 28 more patients have recovered to take that total to 124, the ministry said in a bulletin.

10.52 Russia’s coronavirus case tally surpasses 10,000 after record daily rise

Russia on Thursday reported a record one-day rise of 1,459 new cases of coronavirus, pushing its national case total to 10,131.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by 13 to 76, the national coronavirus crisis response centre said.

10.39 Vietnam approves $7.6 bln tax holiday to help virus-hit businesses

Vietnam has approved a plan to delay the collection of 180 trillion dong ($7.6 billion) worth of taxes and land rent to help businesses hit by the new coronavirus, which has infected 251 people in the country, the government said on Thursday.

The government will delay the collection of value-added tax, corporate income tax, personal income tax and land rent for five months for various businesses and households, it said in a statement.

10.35 China stocks close higher on hopes of pandemic peak

China stocks settled higher on Thursday, tracking strength in other Asian markets on hopes the new coronavirus pandemic may be approaching a peak.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.37% at 2,825.90.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index was up 0.33%, with its financial sector sub-index higher by 0.2%, the consumer staples sector up 0.12%, the real estate index down 0.81% and the healthcare sub-index up 2.61%.

** The smaller Shenzhen index ended up 0.85% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index was higher by 1.648%.

** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 1.47%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 0.04%.

10.28 French state-subsidised furloughs to cost more than 20 bln euros – minister

France’s state-subsidised furlough programme will cost more than 20 billion euros ($21.73 billion), Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud said on Thursday.

Penicaud said 628,000 companies and associations had put nearly 7 million workers on furlough under the programme, which allows firms to be reimbursed by the state for up to 84% of a workers’ wages.

10.27 Britain’s Labour calls for coronavirus lockdown exit strategy

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader called on Thursday for the government to publish its exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown, the most stringent measures in the country’s peacetime history.

“I’m calling on the government to publish its exit strategy,” Labour leader Keir Starmer said.

“I’m not calling for precise timings, but the strategy. This is incredibly difficult on people and we need to know that plans are in place, and what they are,” Starmer said.

10.26 Spain close to reversing coronavirus curve, says PM

Spain’s latest coronavirus data is encouraging and the country is close to the beginning of a decline in the epidemic, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.

“The fire starts to come under control,” he told parliament before a vote on the extension of a state of emergency by another two weeks until April 26.

10.24 European shares jump on hopes of coronavirus progress

European stock markets gained for a fourth straight day on Thursday on hopes the coronavirus pandemic was close to peaking, with investor attention also focused on a meeting of European Union finance ministers to discuss an economic rescue package.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 1.2% at 0702 GMT, with battered travel and leisure stocks, autos and miners leading early gains.

The benchmark index has rebounded more than 5% this week and recouped about $1.7 trillion in market value since hitting an eight-year low in March but is still about 24% below its record high, as sweeping lockdown measures crush business activity and spark mass layoffs.

09.48 British PM is ‘stable, improving and sat up’ in intensive care, minister says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in a stable and improving condition in intensive care, his culture minister said on Thursday.

“In terms of the prime minister’s condition, it remains as we said yesterday: he’s stable, improving, sat up and engaged with medical staff,” Oliver Dowden told BBC TV.

“I think things are getting better for him.”

09.30 Swiss amend bankruptcy laws to protect firms hit by coronavirus crisis

The Swiss government will look at temporarily changing its bankruptcy laws to protect companies hit by cash-flow problems and mounting debts during the coronavirus crisis, it said on Thursday.

Companies would be able to wait to file for insolvency if they are threatened with coronavirus-related problems, provided there is a chance their debt problems can be resolved after the crisis, the Justice Ministry said, according to the proposal it is considering.

Despite launching a 62 billion Swiss franc ($63.85 billion)aid package to support the Swiss economy, “the coronavirus pandemic threatens many companies with over-indebtedness and therefore bankruptcy,” the government said.

09.18 UK government expands overdraft with Bank of England

Britain’s government said it had expanded its overdraft with the Bank of England, known as the Ways and Means facility, to ensure it had access to funds in case COVID-19 disruption renders it unable to raise money from markets easily.

The finance ministry and the Bank said the facility would support market function by minimising the immediate impact of raising additional funding in gilt and sterling money markets.

08.59 Thailand reports 54 new coronavirus cases, 2 more deaths

Thailand reported 54 new coronavirus cases and 2 more deaths on Thursday, including a 74-year-old French national.

An 82-year-old Thai man also died, said a spokesman for the government’s Center for CoVID-19 Situation Administration.

The new cases include five Thais repatriated from Indonesia who had traveled to South Sulawesi province for a religious gathering last month before the event was postponed.

08.31 Fujifilm to start phase II clinical trial of Avigan for COVID-19 patients in U.S.

Fujifilm Holdings Corp said it will start phase II clinical trials of its anti-flu drug Avigan for COVID-19 patients in the United States.

The trial will enrol about 50 COVID-19 patients in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Fujifilm said on Thursday.

07.55 Germany’s coronavirus cases rise by 4,974, deaths by 246 – RKI

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Germany rose by 4,974 in the past 24 hours to 108,202 on Thursday, climbing for the third straight day after four previous days of drops, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 246 to 2,107.

07.34 World Bank says sub-Saharan Africa will enter recession in 2020

The World Bank forecasts the sub-Saharan Africa region’s economic growth for 2020 will contract because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, going into a recession for the first time in 25 years, it said on Thursday.

The bank’s Africa’s Pulse report said this year’s growth will be between minus 2.1% to minus 5.1% from 2.4% last year, and that the coronavirus will cost sub-Saharan Africa $37 billion to $79 billion in output losses this year due to trade and value chain disruption, among other factors.

06.46 New Zealand orders quarantine for returning citizens in coronavirus battle

New Zealand will begin moving citizens to compulsory quarantine from Friday as they return from overseas, stepping up its efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus halfway through a four-week nationwide lockdown.

The shutdown began in late March in the Pacific nation of about 5 million, and a state of national emergency was declared to stifle local transmissions of the respiratory disease.

“No one goes home, everyone goes into a managed facility,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that 14 days spent in a government-approved facility would be a prerequisite for all foreign travellers.

06.26 China seeks to contain ‘silent carriers’ of coronavirus

China released new measures on Wednesday to try and prevent asymptomatic “silent carriers” of coronavirus from causing a second wave of infections, as the country reported another modest rise in new confirmed cases.

On Wednesday published new rules to manage asymptomatic coronavirus carriers, or what some state media described as “silent carriers” of the virus.

Under the regulations, medical institutions must report detection of asymptomatic cases within two hours of their discovery. Local governments must then identify all known close contacts of the case within 24 hours.

Asymptomatic patients will be quarantined collectively for 14 days, and will be counted as confirmed cases if they start to show symptoms. People who have had close contact with them must also be quarantined for two weeks.

04.55 Honduras registers 31 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total to 343 cases and 23 deaths

Honduras will extend its national curfew to April 19 as the country ramps up efforts to contain the coronavirus, the security ministry said on Wednesday.

The Central American country registered 31 new cases of the virus, bringing its total to 343 cases and 23 deaths, the system for risk prevention said.

03.09 Mexico registers 3,181 cases of coronavirus and 174 deaths

Mexico has registered 396 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 3,181 cases as well as 174 deaths, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

06.59 Cats can catch coronavirus, study finds, prompting WHO investigation

Cats can become infected with the new coronavirus but dogs appear not to be vulnerable, according to a study published on Wednesday, prompting the WHO to say it will take a closer look at transmission of the virus between humans and pets.

The study, published on the website of the journal Science, found that ferrets can also become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the scientific term for the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

03.05 Essential workers exposed to coronavirus should take precautions returning to jobs – CDC head

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head on Wednesday said essential healthcare workers exposed to a confirmed or suspected coronavirus case should wear face masks, take their temperatures and practice social distancing when they return to work.

“We want them not to share objects that would be touching their face and we’d like them not to congregate in break rooms, lunch rooms, in crowded places,” CDC Director Robert Redfield told a White House briefing.

What happened on Wednesday

EUROPE

  • The increase of hospital death fatalities in France slowed again, but the presidential palace said the national lockdown aimed at containing the disease would be extended.
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that Italy must stick with its rigid lockdown to try to curb the COVID-19 epidemic. * Spain’s official coronavirus death toll edged higher again, but questions persisted over the veracity of numbers.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “clinically stable” in intensive care on Wednesday and responding to treatment.
  • President Vladimir Putin likened Russia’s fight against the coronavirus to its battles against medieval invaders and said the next few weeks would be decisive.
  • The president of the European Union’s main science organisation quit over frustration at the response to the pandemic.
  • Switzerland’s government, which said its economy could contract by as much 10.4% this year, extended the nation’s restrictions for another week but said a gradual loosening of measures would begin this month.
  • The World Health Organization’s regional director described the outbreak in Europe as “very concerning” and urged governments to give “very careful consideration” before relaxing measures to control its spread. * Pope Francis condemned people he said were exploiting the pandemic to turn a quick profit and decried the “hypocrisy” of how some politicians are dealing with the crisis.
  • The European Union is drawing up common rules for using mobile apps to track the spread, aiming to make better use of the technology and address privacy concerns.
  • Refugees in eastern German are sewing face masks for pensioners in a retirement home.

AMERICAS

  • The number of cases in New York state alone approached 150,000, the most anywhere in the world, even as authorities warned the state’s actual death toll could be higher.
  • Some 60,000 Americans could die in the pandemic, a university model often cited by U.S. and state policymakers projected, a 26% reduction in its most recent forecast, as total cases in the country reached 395,011, with the death toll at 12,754.
  • The head of the World Health Organization gave a strident defence of his agency’s handling of the pandemic, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s criticism.
  • U.S. immigration officials have rapidly deported nearly 400 migrant children intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border in the past two weeks under new rules.
  • At least 20 doctors at a public hospital outside Mexico City have tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra extended the country’s state of emergency for two more weeks to April 26.

ASIA

  • The Chinese city of Wuhan ended its two-month lockdown, even as a small northern city ordered restrictions on its residents amid concern about a second wave of infections.
  • India is considering plans to seal off hotspots in Delhi, Mumbai and parts of the south while easing restrictions elsewhere as a way out of a three-week lockdown that has caused deep economic distress
  • Tokyo recorded its biggest daily jump on Wednesday since the start of the pandemic, the city’s governor said on the first day of a state of emergency.
  • Expatriates in Hong Kong are buying up masks to send to family and friends back home as supplies return to shops.
  • Thailand automatically extends visas for all foreigners who entered legally, to prevent long queues at immigration centres and stem the spread, a senior immigration official said.
  • East Timor’s prime minister withdrew his resignation as the government approved a $250-million fund.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • Ethiopia and Liberia declared states of emergency, a day after cases on the continent surged past 10,000
  • Lebanon’s food importers, already hit by a dollar crunch, have struggled to book new cargoes as the pandemic threatens supplies and sparks fears of more painful price hikes.
  • Egypt will extend a nationwide night-time curfew by 15 days until April 23. * Ethiopia declared a state of emergency.
  • A coronavirus lockdown kept the streets of Jerusalem and other Israeli cities nearly empty on the Jewish Passover holiday, which typically draws crowds of people.
  • The Gaza Strip has no more coronavirus test kits, Palestinian health officials said.
  • Somalia has registered its first death from coronavirus.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

  • World equity markets surged and oil prices jumped on Wednesday on hopes the coronavirus pandemic is getting close to peaking and that more government stimulus measures could be on the way.
  • Democratic congressional leaders said they would back the Trump administration’s request for another $250 billion for small businesses if the bill includes more funding for hospitals, local governments and food assistance.
  • Faced with an accelerating global health crisis, Federal Reserve officials agreed last month they needed a pull-out-all-the-stops response
  • Canada said it would temporarily loosen rules for an emergency wage subsidy program to ensure more businesses qualify, while jobless claims triggered by the outbreak soared beyond 4 million
  • European Union finance ministers failed in all-night talks to agree on more economic support, spurring Spain to warn the bloc’s future was on the line without a joint response to the crisis.
  • The European Central Bank told euro zone finance ministers the area could need fiscal measures worth up to 1.5 trillion euros this year.
  • Germany’s economy will probably shrink by 9.8% in the second quarter, its biggest decline since records began, the country’s leading think tanks said.
  • The pandemic has cost Austria $12 billion so far, or 2.8% of its annual gross domestic product, according to its central bank.
  • A second stimulus package India is poised to announce in coming days will be worth around $13 billion and focus on helping small and medium businesses, senior officials said.
  • Hong Kong announced relief measures worth $17.7 billion to help businesses and people crippled by the outbreak to stay afloat.
  • Nearly 140 campaign groups and charities urged the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, G20 governments and private creditors to help the world’s poorest countries by cancelling debt payments.


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