GLOBAL – Reported cases of the coronavirus crossed 2 million globally and more than 131,000 people have died, according to a Reuters tally on Wednesday.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to halt funding to the WHO over its handling of the pandemic prompted condemnation from world leaders.
* U.S. Senate Democrats unveiled a $30 billion plan to vastly increase nationwide testing for the coronavirus.
* The Bank of Canada said the coronavirus outbreak was set to trigger the biggest ever near-term domestic slump, but expressed optimism the economy might be able to start reopening by June.
* Shoved to the ground, splashed with bleach or glared at on public transportation, health workers face a growing tide of hostility across Latin America for potentially spreading COVID-19.
* Mexican president said the United Nations had been slow in ensuring fair prices and equal access to medical equipment during the pandemic.
* WHO said countries that ease restrictions should wait at least two weeks to evaluate the impact, as some European countries including Spain and Austria have begun small-scale steps to reduce severe lockdowns.
* Nearly 700 sailors assigned to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle’s naval group have tested positive for the coronavirus, the armed forces ministry said.
* Britain’s virus outbreak is probably peaking, but it is too early to start relaxing restrictions, officials said.
* Northern Ireland will keep coronavirus restrictions in place for another three weeks, First Minister Arlene Foster said.
* Spain’s prime minister promised more testing to try to build on a decline in daily deaths.
* Belgium has extended measures to control the spread of the coronavirus to May 3, with a slight easing of restrictions to allow home improvement stores and garden centres to open.
* A 106-year-old great-grandmother, thought to be the oldest patient in Britain to beat the novel coronavirus, was discharged from hospital to applause from nurses and health workers.
* Portugal’s virus curve has flattened but the good news is not enough for the country to lift lockdown measures and reopen its economy, government ministers said.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China reported a decline in new cases on the mainland, but there was an increasing number of local transmissions in its far northeast bordering Russia.
* U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed China’s top diplomat on the need for full transparency and information sharing regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
* Japan urged its citizens to stay home, as media reports warned that as many as 400,000 could die without urgent action, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came under pressure to hand out more cash.
* Australian prime minister urged schools to reopen after Easter holidays so students do not lose a year of education and parents can work.
* India has agreed to sell hydroxychloroquine tablets to Malaysia, with New Delhi partially lifting its bar on exports of the anti-malarial drug.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region will see a contraction this year bigger than the one seen during the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2015 oil price shock, the International Monetary Fund said.
* Qatar detained dozens of migrant workers and expelled them last month after telling them they were being taken to be tested for the new coronavirus, human rights group Amnesty International said.
* Iran’s president said the outbreak had not hit the farm sector and citizens did not need to worry about food supplies.
* Yemen’s war-scarred hospitals are marshalling resources to face the outbreak which has yet to make clear inroads in the country, with the little testing that has been done uncovering just one case.
* A double whammy of economic data showing the U.S. economy in a deep downturn and reports of persistent crude oil oversupply and collapsing demand slammed global markets. [MKTS/GLOB] * Finance officials from the G20 major economies are set to finalise an agreement for some 76 countries to have debt payments worth a combined $20 billion suspended.
* Canada’s economy shrank a record 9% in March from February, Statistics Canada said in a flash estimate.
* U.S. electricity demand last week plunged to a near 17-year low as government travel and work restrictions to slow the coronavirus spread caused businesses to shut, according to analysts and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) trade group.
* Harley-Davidson Inc said it had temporarily laid off most of its global production employees and implemented salary cuts in a bid to lower costs.
* Africa is expected to reverse an economic contraction next year after containment measures are eased, the IMF said, but the impact will be felt for years to come.