(Reuters) – The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were reported to have exceeded 1.56 million globally and the death toll rose above 95,000, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* Spain’s prime minister warned that nationwide confinement would likely last until May even though the worst should soon be over. The death toll fell again on Friday with 605 fatalities registered over the past 24 hours.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was resting in hospital on Friday as he recovered from COVID-19 while Britons were told to avoid the temptation of spring during the Easter break with the outbreak approaching a peak.
* Social distancing measures have helped Germany to slightly slow the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
* Hungary needs more ventilators and intensive care hospital beds, its prime minister said, as the government reported the single biggest daily increase in infections.
* Poland said it infections may peak in the coming days.
* 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.
* North African migrants rescued from a sinking boat came ashore in Malta early on Friday, hours after the government had said no further groups would be allowed in after it closed its ports.
* Americans must resist the impulse to ease social-separation measures at the first glimpse of progress now being seen in the coronavirus battle, state government and public health leaders warned.
* Lockdowns in Brazil’s largest cities are beginning to slip, according to new data this week seen and analysed by Reuters, with more people leaving their homes as President Jair Bolsonaro continues to criticize the measures.
* Hundreds of Ecuadorean prisoners will begin making coffins to help cover a shortage emerging in Guayaquil, the epicenter of one of the worst outbreaks in Latin America.
* Chile will start handing out certificates to people who have recovered that will exempt them from adhering to quarantines or other restrictions.
* Mexico has recorded its first two deaths of pregnant women from the coronavirus as the death toll reached 194, the health ministry said.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China’s Wuhan, where the pandemic began, is still testing residents regularly despite relaxing its tough two-month lockdown, with the country wary of a rebound as it sets its sights on normalising the economy.
* Suifenhe, on China’s far northeastern border with Russia, has seen an influx of people returning home, many infected with the virus, travelling by road from Vladivostok.
* Metropolitan Tokyo asked some businesses to close and Kyoto told tourists to stay away, amid fears the government’s measures are too little and too late.
* Some Catholic penitents flagellated themselves and prayed outside closed churches in the Philippines on Good Friday, despite strict orders for people to stay indoors.
* Malaysia extended movement and travel restrictions until April 28.
* Early voting in South Korea’s parliamentary election began on Friday with coronavirus patients casting ballots at disinfected polling stations.
* Cambodia’s parliament passed a law on Friday to prepare for a state of emergency.
* Kazakhstan will extend its state of emergency until the end of April.
* Australia will deploy helicopters, set up police checkpoints and hand out hefty fines to deter people from breaking an Easter travel ban.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Days after Congo announced emergency restrictions, a police video started circulating online showing an officer in the capital beating a taxi driver for violating a one-passenger limit.
* 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.
* The epidemic has so far infected over 440 people in Burkina Faso, including six government ministers, and killed 24.
* Yemen reported its first case on Friday, as aid groups try to prepare for an outbreak where war has shattered the health system and spread hunger and disease.
* The pandemic will trigger the worst economic fallout since the 1930s Great Depression in 2020, 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.
* U.S. President Trump said he is expediting help to farmers, especially small farmers.
* European Union finance ministers agreed on Thursday on half-a-trillion euros worth of support for their economies but left open the question of how to finance recovery in the bloc headed for a steep recession.
* The French government more than doubled the expected cost of its coronavirus crisis measures, pushing the budget deficit and national debt to record levels.
* Over 200,000 Irish workers are now in receipt of a new wage subsidy scheme, meaning the state is supporting nearly 30% of the labour force.
* Malaysia’s biggest palm oil producing state has agreed to reopen plantations and mills that do not have any coronavirus infections.
* The IMF has approved $147 million under its Rapid Financing Instrument to help Gabon confront the pandemic.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Subhranshu Sahu; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur)