(Reuters) – Leaders of the Group of 20 major economies pledged to inject $5 trillion in fiscal spending into the global economy to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic.”
* Almost 489,000 people have been infected globally and over 22,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* The coronavirus death toll in Italy rose by 662 to 8,165 on Thursday.
* The number of cases in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy increased by some 2,500, a steeper increase than in previous days.
* Spain extended its lockdown to at least April 12, as the death toll rose to 4,089.
* German hospitals with spare capacity will take in at least 47 coronavirus patients from Italy in a sign of European solidarity.
* Another 115 people have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths to 578.
* Britain has placed an emergency order of 10,000 ventilators from Dyson.
* Switzerland’s infections topped 10,000 as the government pumped money into the economy and army medical units helped hospitals handle the spreading epidemic.
* President Vladimir Putin said he hoped Russia would defeat the virus in two to three months, as authorities suspended international flights, ordered most shops in the capital to shut and halted some church services.
* In Lisbon, a “drive-thru” clinic is performing five-minute swab tests through car windows on people with symptoms, as Portuguese authorities ramp up testing facilities.
* Slovakia aims to sharply increase daily testing in the next few weeks.
* As the coronavirus pandemic’s U.S. death toll raced past 1,000 people, hospitals and government authorities in New York, New Orleans and other hot spots grappled with a surge in cases and a dire shortage of supplies, staff and sick beds.
* Americans should receive cash payments within three weeks, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.
* Canada on Thursday attacked a U.S. proposal to deploy troops along the undefended joint border to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday urged Mexicans in the United States to avoid visiting Mexico except in emergencies.
* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday exempted churches from coronavirus lockdowns by classifying religious activity as an essential service.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC* Japan banned entry from 21 European countries and Iran, and set up a new crisis task force.
* China ordered airlines to sharply cut the number of flights in and out of the country as Beijing worries that travellers from overseas could reignite the outbreak.
* India’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by six to 16 in the last 24 hours.
* South Korea warned that it will deport foreigners while its citizens could face jail if they violate self-quarantine rules after a surge in imported cases.
* Armenia and Kazakhstan reported their first deaths on Thursday.
* Australia entered 4,000 healthcare workers into a trial to see if a century-old vaccine for tuberculosis can fight off the new coronavirus.
* New Zealand started a one-month compulsory lockdown, with warnings from authorities to stay at home or face big fines and even jail.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* About half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have a “narrowing” opportunity to curb the spread of the virus, the regional head of the World Health Organisation said.
* Turkey could order the public to stay at home if infections continue to spread, the government said as it clamped down further on medical equipment leaving the country.
* Iran started an intercity travel ban, a day after Tehran warned the country might face a second outbreak. Iran has reported 2,234 deaths and 29,406 infections so far.
* Lebanon will begin an overnight shutdown from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., as it steps up measures to combat the virus.
* The United Arab Emirates will impose overnight curfews as a temporary measure this weekend, when it will carry out a nationwide disinfection campaign.
* Qatar signed agreements to increase its strategic food stuff reserves.
* Saudi Arabia has released 250 foreign detainees held on non-violent immigration and residency offences.
* The number of coronavirus cases in South Africa jumped to more than 900 on Thursday and President Cyril Ramaphosa called for richer countries to help African nations deal with the economic fallout.
* A Wall Street rally powered global gains in stocks despite a record number of new unemployment filings in the United States, as traders focused on the Senate’s passage of the relief bill and the possibility of more stimulus to come. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record of more than 3 million last week.
* The United States “may well be in recession” but progress in controlling the outbreak will determine when the economy can fully reopen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said.
* India announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan that provides direct cash transfers and food security measures to millions of poor people hit by a nationwide lockdown.
* China is implementing $344 billion of mainly fiscal measures in its fight against the outbreak.
* The African Development Bank (AfDB) sold a record $3 billion debt issue on Thursday.
* South Korean consumers turned the most pessimistic in more than a decade in March, a central bank survey found on Friday.
* Japan’s government offered its bleakest assessment on the economy in nearly seven years, saying conditions in March were “severe.”
* It is too soon to decide whether the Tour de France can go ahead, but if it does it may be without roadside spectators, France’s sports minister said.
* Current contracts for players and coaches should be extended until the end of the delayed domestic soccer seasons, according to an internal FIFA document presented to its Coronavirus Working Group.
(Compiled by Milla Nissi, Sarah Morland, Aditya Soni and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Maju Samuel)