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Wednesday, May 6: Coronavirus global update

Wednesday, 12.50  More than 3,747,301 people have been infected across the world and over 258,962 have died but at the same time 1,250,602 people have recovered.

THE PANDEMIC IN NUMBERS

COUNTRY INFECTED CASES DEATHS DUE TO VIRUS
CYPRUS 878 15
USA 1,238,040 72,284
SPAIN 250,561 25,613
ITALY 213,013 29,417
UNITED KINGDOM 194,990 29,427
FRANCE 170,551 25,531
GERMANY 167,007 6,993

All the latest news in brief as it happens

19:04 Pompeo blames China for hundreds of thousands of virus deaths, denies inconsistency

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday renewed his aggressive criticism of China, blaming it for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people from the coronavirus and demanding again that it share information about the outbreak.

“They knew. China could have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. China could have spared the world descent into global economic malaise,” Pompeo told a State Department news conference.

18:14 Russia preparing for three-stage easing of coronavirus restrictions

Russia plans to ease its restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in three stages, officials said on Wednesday.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the outbreak had stabilised in the past two weeks, with the growth in cases in the capital explained by increased testing. But he said the public should keep observing self-isolation measures even when some restrictions are eased from May 12.

17:49 Belgium to open shops and allow Mother’s Day meetings

Belgian shops will be allowed to open from Monday and people will be able to host others at their homes from Sunday, opening the door for Mother’s Day celebrations, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes said on Wednesday.

The country of 11.5 million people, among the European nations worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, began easing lockdown restrictions at the start of this week, allowing businesses that do not have contact with consumers to restart.

17:02 Germany to ease lockdown as Merkel hails end of very first phase of pandemic

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday announced a range of steps agreed with Germany’s 16 federal state leaders to ease the coronavirus lockdown, saying the first phase of the pandemic had passed, although there was still a long way to go.

“We are at a point where our goal of slowing the spread of the virus has been achieved and we have been able to protect our health system .. so it has been possible to discuss and agree on further easing measures,” Merkel told reporters.

17:00 Now is the time for public investment projects, IMF says

Countries around the world should use the novel coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to invest in public infrastructure and other projects that take advantage of low interest rates, the International Monetary Fund said in a report on Wednesday.

Countries should also strengthen their unemployment benefits and social safety nets in order to reinvigorate economic growth once the virus abates, the global lender said in its semi-annual Fiscal Monitor.

16:49 Baltic states to create ‘travel bubble’ as pandemic curbs eased

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will open their borders to each others’ citizens from May 15, creating a Baltic “travel bubble” within the European Union amid an easing of pandemic restrictions, their prime ministers said on Wednesday.

“It’s a big step towards life as normal”, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas wrote on Twitter.

16:01 Over 90,000 health workers infected with Covid-19 worldwide – nurses group

At least 90,000 healthcare workers worldwide are believed to have been infected with Covid-19, and possibly twice that, amid reports of continuing shortages of protective equipment, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) said on Wednesday.

The disease has killed more than 260 nurses, it said in a statement, urging authorities to keep more accurate records to help prevent the virus from spreading among staff and patients.

15:34 France’s Macron throws lockdown lifeline to culture sector

The French state will extend income support to workers from the arts and culture industry, many of whom have lost their jobs during the coronavirus lockdown, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday.

His government had been under pressure to help those known collectively in France as intermittents du spectacle, or temporary show business workers. They include dancers, comedians, set designers, filmmakers and festival creators whose jobs often revolve around spring and summer festivals.

15:22 US private payrolls decline by a record 20.2 million

US private employers laid off a record 20.236 million workers in April as mandatory business closures in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak savaged the economy, setting up the overall labor market for historic job losses last month.

The plunge in private payrolls shown in the ADP National Employment Report on Wednesday suggested that national lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, could leave lasting scars on the economy, even as large parts of the country reopen non-essential businesses.

14:44 Deaf Belgians demand transparent masks for lip-reading

As Belgium obliges people to wear face masks on public transport and recommends them elsewhere to limit the spread of the coronavirus, deaf people are calling for transparent masks to allow them to communicate with others.

For the hearing-impaired who rely on lip-reading to complement sign language, even buying an ice cream can be difficult, as shop assistants wear medical or home-made cotton masks that cover almost half the face.

13.51 Cannabis users rush to darknet to stock up for lockdowns, EU report says

Cannabis users appear to be stocking up via the darknet to avoid shortages while under lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak, the European drug agency said in a report.

The Lisbon-based agency analysed thousands of reviews on three major darknet market sites between January and March and found that restrictions on movement appeared to have triggered an increase in activity of around 25% during the period.

The majority of buyers were looking for cannabis, Europe’s most commonly used illicit drug.

“The cannabis market is a large one and many regular cannabis users may have decided to stock up, anticipating market disruption during the lockdown period,” said the report, released on Tuesday evening.

12.53 Iran death toll from new coronavirus outbreak rises by 78 to 6,418 – health ministry official

The death toll from the new coronavirus outbreak in Iran rose by 78 in the past 24 hours to 6,418, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a statement on state TV on Wednesday.

The total number of diagnosed cases of new coronavirus in Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the outbreak in the Middle East, has reached 101,650, he said.

12.36 Britain did not sacrifice care homes by prioritising hospitals – Hancock

British health minister Matt Hancock denied on Wednesday that the government had left many elderly people in care homes vulnerable to the novel coronavirus by prioritising hospitals.

Asked on Sky News whether he should have acted differently towards care homes, Hancock said: “I think it’s very hard because I feel like we put a huge amount of effort and resources behind supporting care homes from the start.”

“Maybe we should’ve explained that more clearly,” he said, adding that it would have helped if Britain could have tested more widely earlier in the outbreak.

12.28 Turkish Airlines plans to resume limited flights in June Airlines plans a gradual resumption of flights from June and will take four months to return to near full operation, a draft plan seen by Reuters showed, as the economy reopens following a slowdown in coronavirus cases.

The flag carrier, which flew to 126 countries before the coronavirus outbreak, was forced to shut down all international passenger flights, will fly to just 19 countries next month, the April-dated plan proposed.

It plans to gradually build up the number of destinations to 99 countries in September, according to the plan, which the company told Reuters may be subject to change in line with developments.

Turkish Airlines, which carried more than 74 million passengers last year, has suspended passenger flights until May 28 after borders were shut down to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It plans to resume 60% of domestic flights in June, according to the draft plan. Turkish Airlines shares were up 0.38% at 0919 GMT.

12.18 Indonesia reports 367 new coronavirus cases, 23 deaths

Indonesia reported 367 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the total to 12,438, said health ministry official Achmad Yurianto.

Twenty three more people who tested positive for the virus have died in the Southeast Asian nation, taking the total number of deaths to 895, the highest death toll in East Asia outside China.

As of Wednesday, more than 92,000 people had been tested and 2,317 had recovered.

11.39 Malaysia reports 45 new coronavirus cases; one death

Malaysia reported 45 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the cumulative total to 6,428 infections.

The health ministry also reported one new death, raising the total number of fatalities from the outbreak to 107.

11.52 Baltic states to open borders to each others’ citizens 

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will open their borders to each others’ citizens from May 15, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said on Tuesday.

“Agreed on opening of internal Baltic borders from May 15 and free movement of our citizens,” he said in a tweet on his Twitter account. “The citizens arriving from other countries have to obey 14 day self-isolation.”

12.11 Spain’s daily death toll picks up after three days below 200

The number of daily fatalities from the coronavirus in Spain picked up on Wednesday as health authorities registered 244 deaths, up from below 200 on each of the three previous days.

The health ministry said the overall coronavirus death toll rose to 25,817 on Wednesday from 25,613 the day before. The number of diagnosed coronavirus cases rose to 220,325 from 219,329 on Tuesday, the ministry said.

11.21 UK has drawn up 3-stage plan for easing coronavirus lockdown 

The United Kingdom has drawn up a three-stage plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown that was first imposed at the end of March, The Times newspaper said.

The government must review the lockdown by May 7 but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear that he is worried about triggering a second deadly spike in cases.

The first phase will involve small shops reopening alongside outdoor workplaces and the second will involve large shopping centres reopening, with more people encouraged to go into work, The Times said.

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure centres will be among the last to open, the newspaper said.

10.47 China says will expand coronavirus funding if needed to support U.N.

China will expand its funding if needed to support the United Nations initiative to speed up the development of vaccines and treatment for COVID-19, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not give details on how much funding China might give

10.39 Russia’s coronavirus cases rise by more than 10,000 for fourth straight day

The number of new coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 10,559 over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 165,929, the coronavirus crisis response centre said on Wednesday.

It was the fourth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000.

It also reported 86 new fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,537.

10.23 Singapore’s health ministry confirms 788 new coronavirus cases
Singapore’s health ministry on Wednesday confirmed 788 new coronavirus cases, taking the city-state’s tally to 20,198.

10.16 London stocks dip as coronavirus damage mounts

UK stocks slipped on Wednesday as another round of gloomy quarterly earnings reports underlined the business damage from the COVID-19 pandemic, with investors also wary of growing U.S-China tensions over the origin of the coronavirus.

ITV, Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, fell 0.8% after saying ad revenue plunged 42% in April and that it could not issue a forecast for the rest of the year.

The FTSE 100 fell 0.1%, with oil majors BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc tracking a slide in oil prices. The domestically focussed midcap index dipped 0.2%.

9.46 Czech population’s coronavirus immunity low, antibody study shows

Immunity to the novel coronavirus is building up very slowly in the Czech Republic and likely does not cover more than 4-5% of the population, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The preliminary figures came from a mass testing for antibodies that started in April, the ministry said.

9.17 Online supermarket Ocado’s revenue soars 40% in lockdown Britain

British online supermarket and technology company Ocado said on Wednesday retail revenue soared 40.4% year-on-year in its second quarter so far as shoppers in coronavirus lockdown sought deliveries to avoid venturing out.

That growth compared to 10.3% in its first quarter.

Ocado said although it expected the shift towards online grocery to accelerate post-crisis, there remained many uncertainties about the length of the crisis and its impact on customers’ disposable income, so it had suspended its retail revenue guidance for 2020 until it could accurately forecast likely outcomes.

8.45 UK broadcaster ITV’s advertising revenue falls 42% in April

ITV, Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, said the coronavirus pandemic had hit advertising, with ad revenue last month down by 42%, and an uncertain outlook meant it could not give guidance for the rest of the year.

The company, which paused the majority of its studio productions in mid-March and has furloughed around 800 workers, said it had withdrawn its 2019 final dividend.

8.06 Qatar Airways planning substantial job cuts 

Qatar Airways is planning to cut a significant number of jobs because travel has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and told cabin crew to prepare for redundancies, according to a company notice seen by Reuters.

The state-owned airline, one of few global carriers still operating scheduled services, said in March it was burning through its cash reserves and would eventually seek government aid.

7.53 Thailand reports one new coronavirus case, one new death

Thailand on Wednesday reported one new coronavirus case and one new death, a senior health official said.

The death was of a 69-year-old Australian male who was a hotel manager in the southern province of Phang-nga, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

The new case of infection by the coronavirus was of a 27-year-old female patient who had returned from Russia, he said.

Thailand has reported a total of 2,989 cases and 55 fatalities since the outbreak began in January.

6.15 Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 947 to 164,807

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 947 to 164,807, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Wednesday.

The reported death toll rose by 165 to 6,996, the tally showed.

5.45 U.S. stock futures, Chinese shares slip amid Sino-U.S. tensions, oil falters

Shares struggled and the yen gained on Wednesday, with markets in China faltering on their return from a long holiday as investors fretted over Sino-U.S. tensions, while oil ended an extended winning streak on oversupply risks amid weak demand.

Wall Street futures turned negative after starting higher, with E-minis for the S&P500 off 0.3%.

China, opening for the first time since Thursday, started on the backfoot with the blue-chip index down 0.6%. Australian shares skidded 0.8%.

“There is a distinct risk-off tone to greet China coming back from holiday,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp.

4.48 Disney takes $1.4 bln coronavirus hit, sets date to reopen Shanghai park

Walt Disney Co estimated on Tuesday that global measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic cut profits by $1.4 billion, mostly from its shuttered theme parks, but said it would reopen Shanghai Disneyland to a reduced number of visitors next week.

It is unclear when Disney’s other parks in Asia, the United States and France would again welcome visitors, executives said, or when the company’s range of idled businesses including retail stores and cruise ships would return.

4.09 China reports 2 new coronavirus cases, 20 new asymptomatic cases

China reported 2 new coronavirus cases for May 5 and 20 new asymptomatic cases, data from the national health authority showed on Wednesday.

This compared with 1 new coronavirus case and 15 new asymptomatic cases reported a day earlier. The two new cases were so-called imported cases involving travellers from overseas, compared with one such case a day earlier.

China’s total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 82,883, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,633, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

3.18 Mexico registers 1,120 new coronavirus cases, 236 deaths

Mexico registered 1,120 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday and 236 new deaths, a health official said, bringing the total in the country to 26,025 known cases and 2,507 deaths. However, Mexico has conducted a very low number of tests. The government said on Sunday that the real number of cases was above 104,000, according to a statistical model.

2.36 Colombia extends COVID-19 lockdown by two weeks

Colombia’s mandatory quarantine will be extended by a further two weeks as it tries to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday.

The Andean country, which has reported more than 8,600 confirmed cases, leading to 378 deaths, began a national quarantine on March 24 but has extended it twice. It had been set to end on Monday.

However, sectors including industry and certain retailers, such as car and furniture sellers, can begin opening, Duque said.

1.53 Brazil posts daily record of 600 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday

Brazil hit a record for daily coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, indicating that the nation is still in the thick of its battle against the virus, even as some areas of the country are beginning to open up.

According to the Health Ministry, there have been 6,935 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Brazil since Monday evening and 600 new deaths. The previous record of 474 deaths came on April 28.

The nation has now tallied 114,715 confirmed cases of the virus and 7,921 deaths, the ministry said, making it by far the hardest-hit country in Latin America. New cases increased roughly 6.4% from Monday evening, while deaths increased roughly 8.2%.


What happened on Tuesday, May 5

EUROPE

  • France reported more than 300 coronavirus-linked deaths for the second day running on Tuesday.
  • WHO said on Tuesday that a report that COVID-19 had emerged in December in France was “not surprising”, and urged countries to investigate early.
  • The United Kingdom has overtaken Italy to report the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe at 32,313, figures released on Tuesday showed.
  • Irish government spending was 13.5% above its pre-coronavirus target at the end of April as a rise in health and unemployment costs created a wide budget deficit, even before a shutdown of the economy is fully reflected in tax revenue.
  • The United States and Britain launched trade negotiations by video-conference, as both struggle with the effects of the pandemic and aim to shore up domestic supply chains.
  • The European Aquatics Championships, which were scheduled to be held from May 11 to 24 in Budapest, have been pushed back to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European governing body for aquatic sports (LEN) said on Tuesday.
  • Spain reported its third day in a row of under 200 deaths, but a record number of people claiming social security benefits for April.
  • Austria’s first lockdown loosening three weeks ago has not led to a new spike in infections, though further vigilance is necessary, its health minister said.

AMERICAS

  • U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus surged past 70,000 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as a key forecasting model nearly doubled its previous estimate for fatalities.
  • Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday will try to pass legislation imposing disclosure requirements on federal coronavirus assistance to businesses.
  • Government-backed hackers are attacking healthcare and research institutions in an effort to steal valuable information about efforts to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, Britain and the United States said on Tuesday in a joint warning.
  • The White House plans to wind down its coronavirus task force in coming weeks, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
  • Canada will invest C$252 million ($179.5 million) to help farmers and food processors weather the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, but industry groups say the funding falls far short of what is needed.
  • Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra confirmed on Tuesday that confirmed cases of the new coronavirus have now exceeded 50,000.
  • Some 40 Cuban sugar mills remain open out of season despite a partial lockdown of the country, in a last-ditch effort to add foreign exchange to the government’s all-but-empty coffers.
  • Indigenous leaders in Brazil have asked the WHO to set up an emergency fund to help protect their communities.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

  • Coronavirus cases in Asia rose to a quarter of a million on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, driven by outbreaks in Singapore, Pakistan and India, even as China, South Korea and Japan significantly slowed the spread of the disease.
  • Hong Kong said it will relax restrictions on public gatherings and allow gyms, cinemas and beauty parlours to re-open this week as new cases dwindle
  • One of Bangladesh largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals will begin producing experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, a senior executive said.
  • Indonesia reported on Tuesday its biggest daily rise in infections with 484 new cases, taking the total to 12,071.
  • Thailand may see the economic impact from the pandemic stretch over another nine months, its prime minister said.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  •  Turkey’s COVID-19 death toll has risen by 59 in the last 24 hours to 3,520, Health Ministry data showed on Tuesday.
  • Tunisian banks have lent the government 1.2 billion dinars (around $410 million) in foreign currency to tackle the coronavirus crisis, the Finance Ministry said.
  • Afghanistan’s government began distributing free bread to hundreds of thousands of people across the country this week as supplies have been disrupted during the coronavirus shutdown and prices have soared.
  • A parliamentary panel authorised Israel’s Shin Bet security service to continue using mobile phone data to track infected people until May 26.
  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extended to June 5 a state of emergency declared in areas under his administration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

  •  The U.S. trade deficit increased by the most in more than a year in March as a record drop in exports offset a shrinking import bill, suggesting the novel coronavirus outbreak was upending the global flow of goods and services.
  • Stock markets snapped a three-day losing streak on Tuesday and oil was on its longest run of gains in nine months as moves to ease major economies out of their coronavirus lockdowns lifted sentiment.
  • Banks in the European Union could end up paying annual contributions to an industry rescue funds by tapping government support for coronavirus-hit companies, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
  • South Africa’s tax revenue losses due to the coronavirus and credit ratings downgrades could reach $15.5 billion this fiscal year, the commissioner of the revenue services said.
  • Egypt’s budget deficit for the financial year that will begin in July will widen to 7.8% of gross domestic product if the crisis continues until the end of December, the finance minister said.
  • The International Coffee Organization sees lockdowns flipping the global coffee market into a 1.95 million 60kg bag surplus in 2019/20 from previously forecast 474,000 bag deficit.

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