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Tuesday, April 21: Coronavirus global update

15.45 : More than 2,503,450 people have been infected across the world and over 171,810 have died but at the same time 659,536 people have recovered.

THE PANDEMIC IN NUMBERS

INFECTED CASES DEATHS DUE TO THE VIRUS
USA 792,958 USA 42,531
SPAIN 204,178 ITALY 24,114
ITALY 181,228 SPAIN 21,282
FRANCE 155,383 FRANCE 20,265
GERMANY 147,103 UK 16,509
CYPRUS 772 CYPRUS 12

16.45 Italy’s next stimulus package worth at least 50 bln euros -Conte

The Italian government is working on a new stimulus package worth at least 50 billion euros ($54.2 billion) to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

The measures will be unveiled before the end of the month, Conte told the upper house Senate.

The ruling coalition approved last month an initial 25 billion euro package to help the economy cope with the outbreak, which has killed 24,114 people in Italy as of Monday, the second highest death toll in the world after that of the United States.

16.29 Georgia extends state of emergency over coronavirus until May 22

Georgia on Tuesday extended until May 22 a state of emergency it declared to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government’s spokesman Irakli Chikovani said.

The former Soviet republic, which has a population of 3.7 million, has so far recorded 408 cases of the virus.

16.26 Erdogan says coronavirus starting to reach plateau in Turkey – Anadolu

The coronavirus outbreak in Turkey is starting to reach a plateau and the country aims to return to normal life after the Ramadan, which ends in late May, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.

“We aim to achieve maximum observance of measures during the month of Ramadan and, God willing, a transition to normal life for our country after the holiday (at the end of Ramadan),” Erdogan said.

16.25 Saudi Arabia eases curfew restrictions for month of Ramadan – state news agency

Saudi Arabia plans to ease curfew hours it imposed on several cities during the month of Ramadan to allow people more time to shop for essential needs within the boundaries of their neighbourhoods, state news agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

Currently, people living in areas under 24 hours curfew can go out for healthcare and to supermarkets from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. In Ramadan these hours will start from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., SPA said.

16:14 England’s hospital death toll rises to 15,607 from 14,829

The COVID-19 death toll in English hospitals rose 778 to 15,607, the health service said on Tuesday.

The rise is one of the steepest daily rises in nearly two weeks, according to NHS data.

“24 of the 778 patients (aged between 49 and 91 years old) had no known underlying health condition,” the health service said.

15:21 Johnson to talk to Trump, Queen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday and meet Queen Elizabeth later this week, his spokesman said, adding that the British leader is still not “formally doing government work”.

Johnson is recovering at his country residence after he was hospitalised with COVID-19. His foreign minister, Dominic Raab, is standing in for him while he recovers.

14:45 Austrian restaurants, churches and some schools to open May 15

Austria will further loosen its coronavirus lockdown on May 15 by allowing restaurants to reopen and religious services to resume, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday.

Schools are already due to reopen for school leavers in early May. Kurz told a news conference that schools would reopen for other years in a step-by-step process beginning on May 15. The country let DIY and garden centres as well as smaller shops reopen a week ago. Larger shops are due to follow from May 1.

14:02 Swiss death toll nears 1,200 as positive tests top 28,000

The Swiss death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 1,187, the country’s public health agency said on Tuesday, rising from 1,142 people on Monday.

The number of positive tests increased to 28,063 from 27,944 on Monday, an increase of 119, it said. The infection rate has slowed of late from a peak of 1,300 new positive tests per day at the end of March.

12.25 Singapore to extend partial lockdown by four weeks until June 1

Singapore has extended by four weeks until June 1 a partial lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus infections in the city-state, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday.

The measures, which include the closures of most workplaces and schools, were initially set to run from April 7 until May 4.

12.13 Poland to unveil more proposals to help companies this week

Poland’s government plans to present more proposals to help Polish companies survive the coronavirus crisis by the end of the week, Deputy Prime Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said on Tuesday.

To help companies and save jobs, the government has launched a rescue package worth more than 300 billion zlotys

11.57 Hong Kong shares post biggest daily loss in a month as oil crash spooks investors

Hong Kong shares fell the most in nearly one month on Tuesday, as the U.S. crude futures’ historic plunge overnight prompted investors to stay away from riskier assets.

** At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 536.47 points, or 2.2%, at 23,793.55, its lowest closing level since April 6. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index fell 2.13% to 9,614.93.

** The sub-index of the Hang Seng tracking energy shares dipped 2.5%, a deeper fall than other sectors, while the IT sector slid 1.82%, the financial sector ended 1.91% lower and the property sector fell 1.87%.

** U.S. oil prices hobbled back into positive territory after sinking below $0 for the first time ever, but international benchmark Brent dipped as the global coronavirus crisis severely reduces demand for crude.

** Hong Kong’s government will extend restrictions aimed at tackling the coronavirus for another 14 days to preserve the city’s success in keeping the number of cases down, the city’s chief executive said.

11.53 Indonesia reports 375 new coronavirus infections, 26 deaths

Indonesia reported 375 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 7,135.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto reported 26 new coronavirus deaths, taking the total to 616.

More than 46,700 people have been tested and 842 people had recovered, he added.

11.42 COVID-19 death toll in England 41% higher than early data suggested: ONS

The true extent of the death toll in England and Wales from COVID-19 up to April 10 was 41% higher than the daily figures from the government indicated, according to data on Tuesday that includes deaths in the community.

The Office for National Statistics said it recorded 13,121 deaths by April 10, compared with 9,288 in the government’s daily toll for those who died in hospital.

11.27 Sterling falls to 12-day low as dollar strength dominates

The pound fell slightly against a stronger dollar in early trading on Tuesday, hitting a 12-day low as better-than-expected UK unemployment data had little impact on economic sentiment.

Unemployment benefit claims increased by 12,100 in March, far below the median forecast of 172,500 in a Reuters poll of economists.

But the data is based on the situation on March 12, 11 days before the government declared the lockdown that has paralysed much of Britain’s economy.

11.19 Singapore PM to update country on coronavirus measures

Singapore’s prime minister will address the country at 1700 local time (0900 GMT) to provide an update on the battle against the COVID-19 disease.

“I will be giving an update on where we are now and what we need to do next…” Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

11.09 Kuwaiti banks to provide SMEs with financing at 2.5% interest – c.bank

Kuwait’s central bank said on Tuesday that banks must provide qualifying small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the coronavirus outbreak with financing at a maximum 2.5% interest rate.

Kuwait’s National Fund for Small And Medium Enterprise Development will provide 80% of the SMEs’ funding needs at no interest for up to three years, while banks will finance 20% and the state will support companies in paying the up to 2.5% interest for three years.

11.04 Philippines reports nine new coronavirus deaths, 140 more infections

The Philippines’ health ministry on Tuesday recorded nine new coronavirus deaths and 140 additional confirmed cases.

In a bulletin, the health ministry said total coronavirus deaths have reached 437 while infections have risen to 6,599. But 41 more patients have recovered, bringing total recoveries to 654, it added.

10.45 China seeks fast-track travel arrangements with some countries

China is in talks with some countries to establish fast-track procedures to allow travel by business and technical personnel to ensure the smooth operation of global supply chains, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing that China and South Korea have reached a consensus on such a fast-track arrangement.

China last month blocked entry for nearly all foreigners in an effort to curb risks of coronavirus infections posed by travellers from overseas.

 

10.41 Russia’s confirmed coronavirus cases surge past 52,000

Russia recorded 5,642 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, bringing its nationwide tally to 52,763, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said on Tuesday.

Fifty-one people with the virus died in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 456, it said.

The number of coronavirus cases in Russia began rising sharply this month, although it had reported far fewer infections than many western European countries in the outbreak’s early stages.

10.40 China stocks end lower as historic crude plunge saps risk sentiment

China shares closed lower on Tuesday, as caution recaptured world markets after U.S. crude futures recorded a historic plunge overnight, prompting investors to stay away from riskier assets.

** At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was down 0.9% at 2,827.01, narrowing early losses.

** The blue-chip CSI300 index was down 1.18%, with its financial sector sub-index ending lower by 1.05%, the consumer staples sector down 1.64%, the real estate index down 1.27% and the healthcare sub-index closed 1% weaker.

10.27 Singapore reports 1,111 new coronavirus cases

Singapore said on Tuesday it had preliminarily confirmed 1,111 new coronavirus cases, taking the city-state’s total infections to 9,125.

The health ministry said most of the cases were migrant workers living in dormitories, a group that accounts for more than three quarters of the city-state’s total infections.

10.16 European shares tumble on oil crash, dour earnings

European stocks fell on Tuesday as the double whammy from a crash in U.S. crude to minus $40 per barrel and dismal first-quarter earnings reports spooked investors about the lasting damage to the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA fell between 3% and 4.0%, knocking 1.1% off the pan-European STOXX 600 index at 0702 GMT. Miners also tracked a decline in commodity prices.

All major European country indexes slipped a day after U.S. crude plummeted to below zero for the first time in history with a wipeout in storage capacity causing traders to flee contracts that would deliver oil barrels to them in May.

10.07 German Oktoberfest cancelled due to coronavirus

Germany’s Oktoberfest, the world’s largest folk festival, where revellers from all over the world gather to swig large quantities of beer, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, the southern state of Bavaria said on Tuesday.

Around six million partygoers gather every year in Munich for the two-week long festivities, held in packed tents with long wooden tables and oompah bands, which makes more than 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) for Munich.

9.52 EU expects all member states to get access to financing and credit – Breton

The European Union’s industry chief Thierry Breton said on Tuesday he wanted all EU member states to have the same access to financing and credit.

Breton also told French BFM TV he expected the Schengen zone to stay closed over the summer due to the new coronavirus.

9.45 Denmark to allow public gatherings of up to 500 people from May 10 – TV2

Denmark will increase the maximum number of people allowed to meet in public to 500 from May 10, up from a 10-person limit, broadcaster TV2 reported on Tuesday citing the health ministry.

The new limit will be in effect until Sept. 1 this year, TV2 said.

9.37 France has stopped all flights outside Schengen zone – minister

France has stopped all flights outside the Schengen zone, French Transport and Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday.

“There are no more international flights outside the Schengen zone”, Borne told French RTL radio.

9.23 Italy to start easing coronavirus lockdown from May 4 – PM Conte

Italy will announce before the end of this week its plans for the gradual reopening from a lockdown imposed to fight the coronavirus emergency that will be applied starting from May 4, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday.

“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning … But such a decision would be irresponsible. It would make the contagion curve go up in an uncontrolled way and would nullify all the efforts we have made so far,” Conte wrote in a Facebook post.

8.55 EU heads unlikely to make final call on coronavirus economic recovery on Thursday

European Union leaders meeting via videocall on Thursday are not expected to make any final decisions on exactly how to finance economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, diplomats and officials told Reuters.

During a preparatory discussion with EU national envoys on Monday, the bloc’s executive estimated the global outbreak could wipe off as much as a tenth of the continent’s economic output.

8.20 Australia’s economy to shrink 10% in first half of 2020 

Australia’s economic output is likely to fall by around 10% in the first half of 2020, with most of this decline taking place in the June quarter due to the hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, the central banker governor said on Tuesday.

The unemployment rate is likely to be around 10% by June, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said. It was 5.2% in March.

“Whatever the timing of the recovery, when it does come, we should not be expecting that we will return quickly to business as usual,” Lowe said in a speech broadcast live on the RBA’s website.

8.05 Vandalism break out in Paris suburbs -media

Young people set bins on fire and let off fireworks in low-income suburbs near Paris, French media said on Tuesday, in a new night of unrest as strict lockdown rules to curb the coronavirus threaten fragile social peace in deprived areas.

Television stations BFM TV and C News broadcast images of fireworks being set off in areas such as Villeneuve-La-Garenne, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Asnieres as riot police moved in, while Agence France Presse also reported bins being set on fire.

7.56  Thailand records 19 new coronavirus cases, one new death

Thailand recorded 19 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, a senior health official said, the lowest daily tally in more than a month.

A 50-year-old taxi driver accounted for the latest death, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Thailand’s 19 new cases make up its lowest daily increase since it reported seven cases on March 14, preceding a surge in new cases, that prompted the prime minister to enforce an emergency decree and order a partial lockdown.

7.42 Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,785 to 143,457- RKI

Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 1,785 to 143,457, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Tuesday, marking a slight increase in the number of new infections after two days of declines.

New infections had increased by 1,775 on Monday.

7.35 WHO warns lifting of coronavirus lockdowns must be gradual

The World Health Organization warned on Tuesday that any lifting of lockdowns to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus must be gradual, and if restrictions were to be relaxed too soon, there would be a resurgence of infections.

Lockdown measures have proved effective, and people must be ready for a new way of living to allow society to function while the coronavirus is being kept in check, said Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

7.30 Virgin Australia falls to virus crisis, appoints administrator to find investor

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd on Tuesday succumbed to third-party led restructuring that could lead to a sale, making Australia’s second-biggest airline the Asia-Pacific region’s biggest victim of the coronavirus crisis gripping the industry.

Airlines around the world have been seeking government aid to survive after grounding the bulk of their fleets due to an unprecedented plunge in travel demand that is forecast to cost the industry $314 billion in revenue.

7.22 Indonesia bans Ramadan mass exodus tradition to curb coronavirus spread

Indonesia will ban the mass exodus tradition, locally known as ‘mudik,’ at the end of the Muslim fasting month in May in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus in the Southeast Asian country, President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday.

“I have taken the decision that we will ban mudik,” Widodo told a cabinet meeting. “That is why the relevant preparation needs to be done.”

7.02 Japan tests show 11 dead were infected with coronavirus -media

Japanese police reported last month the deaths of 11 people deemed to be unnatural before tests showed the victims had been infected with the new coronavirus, media said on Tuesday.

Japan, with more than 260 virus-related deaths according to public broadcaster NHK, has avoided the kind of explosive outbreak that has plagued the United States and many European nations, raising questions whether it is testing sufficiently.

Some of the 11 died at home and one was found lying in the street, the Nikkei business daily and other media said, citing the National Police Agency.

6.33 WHO says currently not possible to determine precise source of coronavirus

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that it is not possible to determine the precise source of the new coronavirus at this stage.

As of now, no conclusions could be made, said Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

However, the available evidence suggests an animal origin, Kasai told an online press conference.

Furthemore WHO was concerned about the increasing number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Japan.

5.50 Australia loses 6% of jobs to coronavirus crisis – stats bureau

Australia may have lost three quarters of a million jobs between mid-March and early April when large chunks of the economy shut down in the fight against the coronavirus, pointing to a sharp spike in the unemployment rate in coming months.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday showed jobs recorded by the Australian Taxation Office payrolls system fell 6% between March 14 and April 4.

Total wages paid by businesses declined 6.7%.

5.17 Trump says will sign order to temporarily suspend immigration into U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States”, Trump said in a tweet late on Monday.

03.31 China reports 11 new mainland coronavirus cases on April 20, 4 imported

China reported 11 new confirmed coronavirus cases on April 20, down from 12 a day earlier, with no new deaths, the country’s health authority said on Tuesday.

Of the total, four were imported, down from eight on the previous day, the National Health Commission said in its daily bulletin.

There were seven cases of local infection, including six in the northeastern border province of Heilongjiang and one in the southern province of Guangdong.

3.15 Panama posts nearly 200 new coronavirus cases, extends flights ban

Panama registered 191 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the country’s total to 4,658 cases, the Health Ministry said.

Officials also confirmed 10 more deaths, raising Panama’s death toll from the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus to 136.

Earlier on Monday, the Central American country’s aviation authority said in a resolution it will extend by one month a suspension on international flights for what it said was public health reasons.

1.00 Coronavirus hits German services, job fears dent consumption – finance ministry

Measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic are hitting Germany’s services and the retail sector especially hard, the finance ministry said on Tuesday, adding that factory closures were also pushing down industrial production.

“The consumer climate has also dropped noticeably,” the finance ministry said in its monthly report. “The growing uncertainty about future employment is clouding consumers’ propensity to buy and income expectations.”


What happened on Monday

EUROPE

  • President Vladimir Putin said Russia had managed to slow the spread of the coronavirus but warned the peak of the outbreak still lay ahead after confirmed infections surged past 47,000 nationwide on Monday.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled readiness to finance economic recovery in Europe from the pandemic through a bigger European Union budget and the issuance of joint debt via the European Commission.
  • Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG said it will test the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in a randomized trial to see if the much talked about medicine is actually effective against COVID-19.
  • The spread of the coronavirus in Spain seems to be slowing despite more than 200,000 people now having been infected, officials said.
  • Police and youths clashed for a second night in a low-income Paris suburb on Sunday as strict lockdown rules threaten a fragile social peace in deprived areas.
  • Britain needs to be sure that any lifting or easing of social distancing measures does not lead to a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

AMERICAS

  •  U.S. Democrats and Republicans feuded over who was responsible for delay even as they worked on details of a possible $450 billion-plus deal to provide more aid to small businesses and hospitals hurt by the pandemic.
  • U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 41,000 on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as more protesters gathered in state capitals to demand an early end to the lockdowns, while officials advised caution until more testing becomes available.
  • At least 15 migrants from several countries tested positive for coronavirus at a northern Mexico shelter, Tamaulipas state authorities said, adding that a man carrying the virus and deported from Houston had infected most of the others.
  • The New York State Nurses Association sued the state and two hospitals to force them to provide safety equipment and adopt measures to prevent COVID-19 from spreading among its members.
  • Guatemala said a total of 50 migrants deported by the United States to the country have tested positive for the coronavirus.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

  • China’s health authority called for a stronger and more rigorous testing regime to ensure that the new coronavirus does not escape detection.
  • More than 150 Australian economists warned the government against easing social distancing rules.
  • New Zealand will extend lockdown measures by a week and move to a lower level of restriction from April 27.
  • South Korea extended its social distancing policy for another 15 days but offered some relief for churches and sporting fixtures
  • Singapore’s health ministry confirmed an additional 1,426 cases of the COVID-19 infection, a record daily jump.
  • Thailand’s king approved laws to implement spending measures worth 1.9 trillion baht to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the economy.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • Shopping malls and bazaars reopened in Iran despite warnings by health officials that a new wave of infections could ripple through the country.
  • The coronavirus crisis is stirring anti-Semitism around the world, fuelled by centuries-old lies that Jews are spreading infection, researchers in Israel said.
  • South Africa will increase welfare provision to help poor households suffering because of a nationwide lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
  • With shuttered mosques, coronavirus curfews and bans on mass prayers from Senegal to Southeast Asia, some 1.8 billion Muslims are facing a Ramadan like never before.
  • Kuwait will extend the suspension of work in the public sector until May 31 and expand a nationwide curfew to 16 hours, a government spokesman said.
  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said a four-day lockdown would be imposed in 31 cities from Thursday.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

  • Plunging U.S. crude oil prices pulled global equity markets lower on Monday, kicking off a busy week of data and earnings that will further reveal the economic damage of the pandemic.
  • Neiman Marcus Group is preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, becoming the first major U.S. department store operator to succumb to the economic fallout from the outbreak, people familiar with the matter said. * British employers have put more than a million staff on temporary leave due to the coronavirus, finance minister Rishi Sunak said.
  • Japan’s exports slumped the most in nearly four years in March. The country boosted its new economic stimulus package on Monday to a record $1.1 trillion.
  • Switzerland’s tourism industry is unlikely to recover fully from the economic fallout from the coronavirus until 2022, the government said on Monday.
  • For the first time since September 2004, no merger and acquisition deal worth more than $1 billion was announced worldwide last week, according to Refinitiv.


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