Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world
The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were reported to have exceeded 1.5 million globally and the death toll rose above 89,400, according to a Reuters tally as of 4pm Thursday (SA time).
* Spain’s prime minister warned that nationwide confinement would likely last until May even though he said the worst should soon be over and the death toll slowed.
* Italy may start lifting some restrictions by the end of April provided the slowing trend continues, its prime minister told the BBC, but the easing can only be gradual.
* Germany’s health minister said restrictions are flattening the curve showing new cases.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is getting better but remains in intensive care as his government reviews the most stringent shutdown in the peacetime history.
* Russia reported a record one-day rise in cases, pushing its tally to more than 10,000, a day after President Vladimir Putin said the coming weeks would prove decisive in the fight against the virus.
* The Czech Republic plans to roll out a system of quickly tracking and isolating contacts of people with the virus to eventually allow the lifting of blanket restrictions.
* Slovakia closed off several Roma settlements in the eastern part of the country after reports of virus clusters in five of them.
* Bulgaria’s prime minister said the country’s Orthodox churches and temples will be open for traditional Palm Sunday and Easter services despite the outbreak.
* The top U.S. infectious disease expert warned against reopening the economy too soon after a downward revisions in the projected death toll.
* The White House is expected to announce soon formation of a second coronavirus task force, this one devoted to getting the economy going again when the time is right.
* The U.S. Senate failed to pass an additional $250 billion of aid intended to help small businesses as Democrats and Republicans blocked each other’s proposals.
* Canada’s death toll is set to soar from the current 435 to as high as 22,000 by the end of the pandemic, while the economy lost a record 1 million jobs last month.
* Brazil’s health minister said the country’s attempts to purchase thousands of ventilators from China fell through and the government is now looking to Brazilian companies to build the devices.
* Mexico has reported more than 3,000 cases, but many who are infected likely did not have symptoms or were not diagnosed, with the actual number estimated at 26,500.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China will allocate more resources to prevent the spread of the virus from its land borders, as the country still faces risks of a comeback after new clusters are identified in some regions.
* The total number of infections in Japan hit more than 5,300 on Thursday, showing no signs of slowing despite a state of emergency being imposed on Tokyo and six other areas.
* India claimed initial success in its fight against the epidemic, saying it would have been hit with 820,000 cases by next week had it not imposed a nationwide lockdown.
* Vietnam said more than 1,000 healthcare workers and 14,400 others linked to an outbreak at a Hanoi hospital have tested negative.
* Singapore confirmed 287 new infections on Thursday, its biggest daily increase yet, with more than 200 of them linked to outbreaks in dormitories for foreign workers.
* Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump in deaths on Thursday, while neighbouring Malaysia had its second-lowest daily increase since a partial lockdown was imposed on March 18.
* Australian police said they have taken the “black box” of a cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of infected passengers in Sydney, as part of a homicide investigation into the country’s deadliest infection source.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* All Botswana’s parliamentarians including the president will be quarantined for two weeks and tested, after a health worker screening lawmakers for the virus tested positive.
* Lebanon extended its almost month-long shutdown by another two weeks until April 26.
* Political and physical divisions in the West Bank and Gaza have induced two very different responses, with a strict lockdown in the first and crowds milling about freely in the second.
* A South African public sector union withdrew a court case against the government over shortages of protective gear for frontline health workers.
* Global equity benchmarks gained on Thursday following signs that governments and central banks are taking additional steps to bolster their economies as measures to slow the spread of the pandemic appear to be working.
* The pandemic will turn global economic growth “sharply negative” in 2020, triggering the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.
* The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits in the last three weeks has blown past 15 million, with weekly new claims topping 6 million for the second straight time.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve rolled out a broad, $2.3 trillion effort to bolster local governments and small and mid-sized businesses.
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that aid for airlines will be the “next big thing” to be rolled out.
* The European Union faces an existential threat if it cannot come together to combat the crisis, Italy said on Thursday as the divided bloc sought to salvage talks on a rescue package.
* The Bank of England has agreed temporarily to finance government borrowing if funds cannot immediately be raised from debt markets, reviving a measure last widely used during the 2008 financial crisis.