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Friday, May 8: Coronavirus global update

Friday, 11.30: More than 3,932,623 people have been infected across the world and over 271,017 have died but at the same time 1,349,121 people have recovered.

THE PANDEMIC IN NUMBERS

COUNTRY INFECTED CASES DEATHS DUE TO VIRUS
CYPRUS 889 15
USA 1,292,623 76,942
SPAIN 256,855 26,070
ITALY 215,858 29,958
UNITED KINGDOM 206,715 30,615
RUSSIA 187,859 1,723
FRANCE 174,791 25,987
GERMANY 169,430 7,392

All the latest news in brief as it happens

18:57 Pence staffer tests positive for coronavirus, Trump says W. House staffers wearing masks

US President Donald Trump on Friday said certain White House staff members have started wearing face masks, one day after the White House said his personal valet had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

But on Friday, a staffer for Pence tested positive for the virus, briefly delaying the vice president’s planned flight to Iowa and raising the specter of contagion for top officials leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus.

17:18 Kuwait imposes 20-day ‘total curfew’ from May 10 to curb coronavirus

Kuwait will enact a “total curfew” from 4pm (1300 GMT) on Sunday through to May 30 to help to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, the Information Ministry said on Twitter on Friday.

Further details of the curfew will be announced soon, it said.

Kuwait on April 20 expanded a nationwide curfew to 16 hours a day, from 4pm to 8am, and extended a suspension of work in the public sector, including government ministries, until May 31.

16:30 Spanish cat tests positive for coronavirus

A cat belonging to a family in the Spanish region of Catalonia tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the professor who conducted an autopsy on the pet said on Friday.

It did not die from the virus, however, but from a pre-existing respitory condition fairly common among cats, said Professor Joaquim Segales of Catalonia’s Animal Health Research Centre.

16:15 As Italy ends lockdown, Milan mayor rebukes crowds socialising outside

The mayor of Milan issued a furious threat on Friday to close down popular open spaces in the city after television footage showed crowds socialising and apparently ignoring public health rules aimed at preventing a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Italy loosened some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in Europe on Monday, allowing many businesses to re-open and giving people more freedom to move about but authorities have insisted that strict social distancing measures must still be respected.

16:00 Swiss to lift some migration curbs, set Covid-19 tracing app tests

Switzerland will further ease curbs on migration from Europe while considering opening borders with neighbours, the government said on Friday as it detailed the latest, step-by-step easing of limits enacted to contain the new coronavirus.

Bern also said it would test this month a voluntary contact tracing app for smartphones meant to alert people if they have been too near people who test positive for the coronavirus.

15:38 Coronavirus deals US job losses of 20.5 million, historic unemployment rate in April

The US economy lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how the novel coronavirus pandemic is battering the world’s biggest economy.

The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed the unemployment rate surging to 14.7% last month, shattering the post-World War Two record of 10.8% touched in November 1982.

14:42 Eyeing lockdown exit, Singapore to test all nursing homes

Singapore plans to test all 16,000 elderly residents of its nursing homes for the coronavirus over the coming weeks, as it edges towards exiting a nationwide lockdown next month.

The city-state recorded 768 new coronavirus on Friday, taking its total infections to 21,707 – one of the highest rates in Asia largely due to mass outbreaks among a young population of low-paid migrant labourers living in crowded dormitories.

14:34 South Africa to grant 19,000 inmates parole to curb coronavirus spread

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday some low-risk prisoners would be granted parole to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in correctional facilities.

Around 19,000 people would be freed by the move, taken in response to a UN call on all countries to reduce prison populations so that social distancing and self-isolation conditions could be observed, Ramaphosa said.

14:16 Beaches open in Barcelona as Spain decides on next steps of lockdown exit

The Spanish government will decide on Friday in which regions bars, restaurants and places of worship will open under the next phase of a gradual exit from the coronavirus lockdown.

However, it looked likely that such closures would stay in place in the capital Madrid and the Catalonia region, which together account for nearly half of Spain’s cases of infection.

14:00 As deaths mount in Brazil’s Amazon, official Covid-19 toll under scrutiny

The death toll from Covid-19 in the worst hit part of Brazil’s remote Amazon region may be three times the official count, according to data from public notaries reviewed by Reuters, as the spread of the disease overwhelms the public health system.

Officials in Manaus, state capital of Amazonas, said they were out of hospital beds and struggling to keep pace with the burials needed. The largest of nine states in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, Amazonas has registered nearly 19.4 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to 4.4 for all of Brazil, according to a Reuters calculation based on the death toll released by the federal Health Ministry on Thursday.

12.15 German spy agency doubts U.S. ‘China lab’ coronavirus accusations

A German intelligence report casts doubts on U.S. allegations that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory and says the accusations are an attempt to divert attention from U.S. failure to rein in the disease, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the coronavirus had emerged from a Chinese laboratory, but did not dispute U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that it was not man-made.

Spiegel said Germany’s BND spy agency had asked members of the U.S.-led “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance for evidence to support the accusation. None of the alliance’s members, the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, wanted to support Pompeo’s claim, it said.

12.06 Vietnam seeks to resume international flights from June 1 – VnExpress

Vietnam’s civil aviation authority (CAAV) is seeking government approval to partially resume international flights from June 1 to “revive the hit-hard aviation industry”, online newspaper VnExpress reported on Friday.

Vietnam has suspended international flights since March 25 and banned entry of foreign nationals since March 22 in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

As the country has gone more than three weeks without coronavirus community transmission, CAAV has proposed reconnecting international flights with limited frequency, giving priority to foreign experts and investors, VnExpress reported.

Vietnam has registered a relatively small 288 cases and zero deaths, putting it on course to revive its economy much sooner than most others.

11.45 Malaysia reports 68 new coronavirus cases with no new deaths

Malaysian health authorities on Friday reported 68 new coronavirus cases, bringing the cumulative total to 6,535 cases.

The health ministry also reported no new deaths at its daily media briefing for a second straight day, leaving total fatalities at 107 cases.

11.28 Russia’s coronavirus cases rise by more than 10,000 for sixth straight day

The number of new coronavirus cases in Russia rose by 10,699 over the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 187,859, the coronavirus crisis response centre said on Friday.

It was the sixth consecutive day that cases had risen by more than 10,000, but down on Thursday’s record daily rise of 11,231.

It also reported 98 new fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the total death toll in Russia to 1,723.

11.21 Mood among German Mittelstand worse than during financial crisis – survey

The mood in Germany’s Mittelstand, the small and medium-sized companies that form the backbone of Europe’s biggest economy, is worse than in March 2009, during the throes of the global financial crisis, KfW state development bank said on Friday.

A barometer for the Mittelstand produced by KfW and the Ifo institute showed sentiment dropping by 26 points to -45.4 in April as the coronavirus crisis continued to take its toll. That compared with -37.6 in March 2009 and came after a 20.0 point drop in March 2020.

KfW said Mittelstand firms were more pessimistic about the future than ever before.

11.17 Philippines’ coronavirus deaths inch closer to 700

The Philippines’ Health Ministry on Friday recorded 11 new coronavirus deaths and 120 additional confirmed cases.

In a bulletin, the ministry said total infections had increased to 10,463 while deaths had reached 696. It added that 116 patients had recovered, bringing total recoveries to 1,734.

10.39 European shares ride on U.S.-China talks, earnings optimism

European shares rose on Friday as signs of improving U.S.-China relations gave a fresh dose of optimism for investors counting on the easing of lockdowns to spark a recovery in global growth.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.7% by 0712 GMT. London markets were closed for a public holiday.

Top U.S. and Chinese trade officials discussed Phase 1 trade deal on Friday, and China said it agreed to improve the atmosphere for its implementation.

That offered some relief to investors worried about rising tensions between the two countries after U.S. criticized China’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

German industrial company Siemens jumped 5.2% after it announced cost-cut plans to deal with the impact of the pandemic following an 18% drop in industrial profit during its second quarter.

10.06 Denmark to ease coronavirus restrictions further from June 8

Danish museums, amusement parks and cinemas will be allowed to reopen from June 8, the government said on Friday, after it struck a deal with parliament on how restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 could be eased further.

In the third phase of its reopening plan, Denmark will also increase the maximum number of people allowed to meet in public to between 30 and 50, up from a 10-person limit, it said.

Danish shopping malls, schools for the oldest students and restaurants will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks said the government late on Thursday as it enters the second phase of reopening after curbing the spread of the virus.

The third reopening phase would only take place if the number of infected and hospitalisations did not “increase more than expected,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Night clubs, music venues and gyms would remain shut until the fourth phase of the reopening which is expected to start by the beginning of August, it added.

8.40 Japan eyes another stimulus package 

Japan will look into additional steps to cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, its economy minister said on Friday, signalling that more stimulus measures could be forthcoming as the country sinks into deep recession.

Japan compiled a record $1.1 trillion economic stimulus package in April that focused on cash payouts to households and loans to small businesses hurt by the pandemic.

Ruling coalition lawmakers are ramping up calls for more assistance, as the government’s decision on Monday to extend a state of emergency through May heightens the chance of more bankruptcies and job losses.

8.15 Australia set plan to end most restrictions by July

Australia will ease social distancing restrictions in a three-step process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as Canberra aims to remove most curbs by July and get nearly 1 million people back to work amid a decline in coronavirus cases.

With fewer than 20 new infections each day, Morrison said Australian states and territories on Friday agreed a road map to remove most of the curbs.

Under the first stage of the plan, restaurants and cafes currently limited to takeaway services will be allowed to reopen, but with a maximum of 10 patrons at a time.

If no major outbreaks are recorded states and territories will move to stage two where gyms, cinemas and galleries will be allowed to re-open, although businesses will only be able to have 20 customers at a time.

At this point, states that have closed their borders would start to allow some interstate travel, Morrison said.

7.59 Thailand reports eight new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Thailand on Friday reported eight new coronavirus cases but no deaths, bringing the total to 3,000 cases and 55 deaths since the outbreak started in January.

Of the new cases, three are from the southern province of Yala where authorities are aggressively testing the population due to high infection rates, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Five other new cases are migrants who have been detained at an immigration detention centre in southern Songkhla province, Taweesin said. The centre has seen 60 other cases in the past two weeks.

6.27 Pakistan coronavirus cases surge past 25,000, pace quickens

Coronavirus cases in Pakistan surged past 25,000 on Friday, just hours before the government was due to lift lockdown measures, with the country reporting some of the biggest daily increases in new infections in the world.

Officials reported 1,764 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours on Friday, taking the total to 25,837. Deaths rose by 30 to 594.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced plans to begin lifting Pakistan’s poorly enforced lockdown from Saturday, amid fears for the country’s economy as it sinks into recession.

5.53 Australia to ease COVID-19 curbs in 3 stages, targets July for full removal

Australia will ease social distancing restrictions implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus in a three-step process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, with the aim of removing all curbs by July.

Australia imposed strict social distancing restrictions in March, which, coupled with the closure of its borders, is credited with drastically slowing the number of new infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Morrison said Australia’s states and territories will decide when to begin implementing each stage.

5.43 Japan could lift state of emergency in areas with no new virus cases

More Japanese prefectures were reporting zero coronavirus cases on a daily basis, and lifting the state of emergency for those regions was within sight, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.

Nishimura, who is also in charge of the government’s overall coronavirus response, added that he still wanted people to try to reduce person-to-person contact by 80%.

Japan this week extended the nationwide state of emergency to the end of May but said it would reassess the situation on May 14 and possibly lift the measures earlier for some prefectures.

5.38 Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,209 to 167,300

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 1,209 to 167,300, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Friday.

The death toll rose by 147 to 7,266, the tally showed

3.50 Mexico experiences most lethal coronavirus day yet with 257 deaths

Mexico’s health ministry on Thursday reported 1,982 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 257 additional fatalities, the most lethal day since the pandemic reached the Latin America’s second largest country.

The new figures bring the total number of confirmed cases to 29,616 and 2,961 deaths. However, the government has said the real number of infections is significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

Mexican officials are asking residents to observe social distancing measures ahead of Mother’s Day on Sunday and have closed Mexico City’s main flower market and cemeteries, where people tend to congregate for the holiday.

They have even suggested moving the holiday to July.

2.52 Lyft to require passengers and drivers to wear masks

Lyft will require both passengers and drivers to wear masks and complete a health certification program, including confirming before each ride that they are not displaying symptoms associated with the novel coronavirus, the company said on Thursday.

The move comes as ridesharing companies struggle to maintain revenues with millions of people worldwide under social distancing orders from public health authorities.

Lyft has previously committed to distributing masks to its more than one million drivers, focusing on cities where masks are required by law, said Angie Westbrock, head of global operations, although she declined to say how many masks had been or would be distributed.

1.45 California sets rules to reopen manufacturing; Tesla’s Musk cheers

California has set rules to allow state manufacturers to begin reopening on Friday from a coronavirus lockdown, Governor Gavin Newsom said, drawing an enthusiastic “Yeah!!” on Twitter from Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk.

But Tesla is located in one of the San Francisco Bay Area counties, Alameda, that have a separate lockdown scheduled to last until the end of May. Under that county order, Tesla’s only U.S. vehicle factory, in Fremont, California, is not allowed to operate regularly.

The state order announced on Thursday does not supersede the county plan, Alameda Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ray Kelly told Reuters by text message.

The state plan outlined by the governor includes several requirements for reopening, such as implementing physical distancing, screening workers and training employees on limiting spread of the virus.

Musk has criticized the lockdown and has been eager to reopen the Tesla factory. Musk is also CEO of rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX.

1.22 Brazil registers 9,888 new cases of coronavirus, 610 deaths on Thursday

Brazil’s Health Ministry on Thursday registered 9,888 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 610 related deaths in the past 24 hours, according to a ministry website.

That brought the ministry’s total to 135,106 confirmed cases in Brazil, with 9,146 deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease – the most deadly outbreak in an emerging market nation.

00.25 Sperm containing virus raises small risk of COVID-19 spread via sex -study

Chinese researchers who tested sperm of men infected with COVID-19 found that a minority of them had the new coronavirus in their semen, opening up a small chance the disease could be transmitted sexually, scientists said on Thursday.

A study by doctors at China’s Shangqiu Municipal Hospital of 38 men hospitalised with the disease found that six of them, or 16%, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their semen.

The researchers said that while the findings were preliminary and based on only a small number of infected men, more research is needed to see whether sexual transmission might play a role in the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.


What happened on Thursday, May 7

EUROPE

  • Russia overtook France and Germany, with the fifth highest number of cases in the world. Moscow’s mayor said the real number of cases in the capital was more than triple the official, TASS news agency reported.
  • Restrictions in Moscow have been extended until May 31, said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
  • France’s death toll reached almost 26,000 on Thursday, but rose less sharply than in previous days as the government confirmed it would start lifting an almost two-month-old national lockdown from Monday.
  • Deaths in Italy climbed by 274 on Thursday, against 369 the day before, while the daily tally of new infections declined marginally to 1,401 from 1,444 on Wednesday.
  • Black people and men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than whites, even when adjusting data for deprivation, a British report said.
  • Poland plans to test 1,000 miners a day at drive-through sites as data show rapid growth in new cases in the coal region.

AMERICAS

  • U.S. deaths from the coronavirus topped 75,000 deaths on Thursday, according to a Reuters tally.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have tested negative for the coronavirus after a member of the U.S. military who works at the White House as a valet came down with the virus.
  • U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday laid out the broad outlines of the next massive coronavirus-response bill Democrats will seek, with possible votes as soon as next week.
  • California will face a budget deficit of $54.3 billion due to a drop in revenue combined with increased expenses linked to the pandemic, according to a projection released Thursday by financial advisers to Governor Gavin Newsom.
  • The first immigrant in U.S. detention has died of the coronavirus, local health authorities said as infections steadily climbed among the country’s around 30,000 immigrant detainees.
  • Indigenous groups from nine countries in the Amazon basin called for donations to help protect 3 million rainforest inhabitants, vulnerable because they lack adequate access to healthcare.
  • Brazil, one of the world’s emerging hot spots, registered a record number of cases and deaths on Wednesday. President Bolsonaro’s spokesman has tested positive and is quarantined in his home.
  • A coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 30% of inmates at the prison in Villavicencio, in central Colombia, has sparked fear among local officials, neighbours and prisoners’ families.
  • At least 47 residents and three workers have been infected at a retirement home in Mexico, in one of the biggest outbreaks yet reported in the country
  • El Salvador said it would from Thursday temporarily suspend public transport.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

  •  China said it supports the WHO in trying to pinpoint the origins of the pandemic and accused the U.S. Secretary of State of lying in his attacks on Beijing.
  • Japan has approved Gilead’s remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, the health ministry said, making it the country’s first officially authorized drug for the disease.
  • Cases in India rose past 50,000 on Thursday, with the pace of new infections showing no signs of abating despite a strict weeks-long lockdown.
  • India will roll out a version of its coronavirus contact-tracing application that can run on Reliance Jio’s cheap phones, as it looks to widen use.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • The coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in Africa in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million in the first year if it is not contained, the WHO said.
  • Turkey’s coronavirus death toll rises by 57 to 3,641, Health Ministry data showed on Thursday.
  • Iran is scrambling to buy millions of tonnes of grains to shore up reserves, officials and traders said, despite the president’s assertions that the coronavirus would not endanger food supplies.
  • Pakistan’s lockdown will be lifted on Saturday, its prime minister said, despite the number of cases still accelerating.
  • The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention rejected the Tanzanian president’s assertion that tests it supplied are faulty.
  • Saudi Arabia has formed a police unit to monitor violations of its coronavirus lockdown rules and has banned gatherings of more than five people, the state news agency SPA said on Thursday.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

  •  World shares largely shook off data on Thursday showing millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits, with sentiment sustained by stronger than expected Chinese exports.
  • U.S. natural gas futures fell almost 3% on Thursday on a much bigger-than-usual weekly storage build that analysts said was caused by coronavirus-related demand destruction.
  • The United Nations on Thursday more than tripled its appeal to help vulnerable countries combat the spread and destabilizing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, asking for $6.7 billion to help 63 states mainly in Africa and Latin America.
  • The IMF has approved 50 requests for emergency aid for a total of about $18 billion, and is continuing to work quickly through remaining requests, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.
  • Millions more Americans likely sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting a broadening of layoffs from consumer facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.
  • The Bank of England said Britain could be headed for its biggest economic slump in over 300 years and kept the door open for more stimulus next month.

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