(Reuters) – More than 3.7 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 256,897 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 1322 GMT on Wednesday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

EUROPE

* In France, data from the INSEE statistics office shows a nationwide increase in deaths at home, particularly pronounced in some of the low-income suburbs ringing central Paris.

* Germany’s confirmed cases increased by 947 to 164,807, data from the Robert Koch Institute showed on Wednesday.

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

* Immunity is building up very slowly in the Czech Republic, with likely no more than 4-5% of the population covered, the health ministry said after starting mass testing for antibodies.

* Russian soldiers and medical workers providing coronavirus assistance in Italy will start returning to Russia from Thursday, the Interfax news agency reported, as the number of new cases in Russia rose by more than 10,000 for the fourth consecutive day.

* Russia’s culture minister tested positive, becoming the third confirmed cabinet member to catch the disease, the TASS news agency reported.

* Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will open their borders to each others’ citizens from May 15, creating a Baltic “travel bubble” within the European Union.

* Pope Francis said employers must respect the dignity of workers, particularly migrants, despite economic difficulties.

AMERICAS

* U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the White House coronavirus task force would continue its work, focusing on vaccines and therapeutics, a day after he said it would wind down its operations.

* Trump accused Democrats of hoping his coronavirus response fails “so they can win the election,” as the Republican governor of Texas acted to further relax business shutdowns.

* Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele announced still tougher measures, including shopping trips limited to twice a week.

* Colombia’s mandatory quarantine will be extended by a further two weeks, its president said, although additional sectors will be allowed to start returning to work.

* The Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) will loan Argentina $4 billion to help finance projects to combat the growing coronavirus impact. Confirmed cases topped 5,000 on Tuesday, though they remain far below the level of large neighbouring countries Chile, Brazil and Peru.

* Confirmed cases in Peru have now exceeded 50,000.

* Mexico registered 26,025 cases and 2,507 deaths on Tuesday. Separately, Foreign Minister Marcel Ebrard said the U.S. government had sent Mexico a plane loaded with ventilators.

* Brazil hit a record for daily coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, indicating that it is still in the thick of its battle even as some areas of the country begin to reopen.

ASIA-PACIFIC

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

* Hundreds of Indian police tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days, raising alarm as it attempts to enforce the world’s largest lockdown.

* COVID-19 has set Indonesia’s poverty eradication efforts back by a decade, its finance minister said after regional elections were postponed.

* The spread of the coronavirus in Kazakhstan has slowed in recent days, its government said, indicating it could exit a state of emergency next week.

* A delayed rotation of U.S. Marines to a defence base in Darwin, Australia, will go ahead under strict measures against COVID-19, the Australian defence minister said.

* Australia will have a COVID-19-safe economy up and running by July, its prime minister said as his government seeks to get one million unemployed people working again.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Uganda’s president has called on international creditors to cancel all of Africa’s debts to ease the economic distress caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

* 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

* Global shares struggled on Wednesday as weak economic data, doubts about the easing of coronavirus lockdowns and simmering U.S.-China tensions cast a pall over markets.

* Investment firms must take particular care to treat their customers fairly as trading by less experienced retail investors surges in volatile markets, the European Union’s securities watchdog said.

* Italy’s public debt is set to rise to nearly 160% of gross domestic product this year as the economy shrinks due to the crisis, the EU executive estimated.

* India’s services activity suffered a shock collapse in April as the lockdown crippled global demand, causing a historic spike in layoffs and reinforcing fears of a deep recession in Asia’s third-largest economy, a private survey showed.

* South African private sector activity fell to a new record low in April, a business survey showed, as company closures due to lockdown led to a collapse in demand.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Uttaresh.V and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Tomasz Janowski, Anil D’Silva and Mark Heinrich)

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