(Reuters) – The highly contagious coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19, has caused entire regions to be placed on lockdown and in some places soldiers are patrolling the streets to keep consumers and workers indoors, halting services and production and breaking supply chains.
** Nearly 435,400 people have been infected across the world and more than 19,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
** For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
** Summer is unlikely to stop the spread of the virus, and every country in Europe is forecast to run out of intensive care beds by mid-April unless it acts fast, the European Union’s disease control agency said on Wednesday.
** European Union states need 10 times as much personal protective equipment and other medical devices than traditional supply chains can provide, an internal EU document showed on Wednesday.
** The death toll in northern Italy’s Lombardy region has risen by around 296 in a day to some 4,474, a source familiar with the data said on Wednesday. If confirmed, it will be the lowest daily death toll in Lombardy since March 19.
** Italy’s trade unions said the government had agreed to shut more firms to protect workers’ safety.
** It would be wrong to read too much into numbers showing a lower relative rate of deaths in Germany since it is still at the beginning of the epidemic, a health ministry spokesman said.
** British regulators will take action against any companies found to be profiteering from the coronavirus emergency, the prime minister’s spokesman said on Wednesday. Britain, which launched a WhatsApp campaign against misinformation, is to detail on Thursday how it will help self-employed workers who risk losing income.
** Prince Charles, the 71-year-old heir to the British throne, has tested positive and is self isolating in Scotland with mild symptoms.
** Kosovo’s coalition government faces a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday after a dispute over whether to declare a state of emergency.
** Russian President Vladimir Putin postponed a nationwide vote on constitutional changes that would allow him to extend his rule.
** The burden caused by coronavirus accelerated across the United States on Wednesday beyond New York, California and Washington state as Louisiana and others faced a severe crush on their healthcare systems.
** Many of Brazil’s 850,000 indigenous people are urging officials to expel from their lands outsiders who could introduce the disease.
** Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed virus “hysteria” and urged mayors and state governors to roll back lockdown measures that have brought Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to near standstills.
** Mexico temporarily halted the processing of asylum requests from Tuesday, as its cases climbed to 405.
** An emergency aid package for Canadians facing economic harm from the outbreak was stalled.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
** Australia will expand testing, its prime minister said on Wednesday as Canberra struggles to contain the outbreak.
** Mainland China reported a drop in new cases on Wednesday as imported infections fell and no locally transmitted infections were reported.
** Singapore reported 73 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, the city-state’s biggest daily jump.
** India woke up to a sweeping lockdown of its 1.3 billion people, but the order did not stop crowds of people thronging to stock up at grocery shops and chemists.
** The Indian government banned the export of a key malaria drug, as experts test its efficacy in treating patients with COVID-19.
** Thailand recorded 107 new cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 934, while South Korea’s tally rose to 9,137 with 100 new infections.
** Singapore’s government said on Wednesday it was not ruling out holding a general election during the outbreak.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
** Israelis were instructed on Wednesday to stay within 100 meters of their homes under tightened restrictions that further reduced public transport, required employers to check workers for fever and set sanctions for people who defy rules.
** About half of Iran’s government employees were staying at home on Tuesday as the country’s death toll topped 2,000.
** Pakistan is seeking another $1.4 billion loan from the IMF.
** Egypt has declared a two-week curfew, and those who violate the measure will be penalized under emergency laws, the prime minister said.
* The Nigerian Army is preparing to forcibly transfer the sick to hospital and enforce restrictions, and is leasing equipment for “possible mass burial”, according to an army memo seen by Reuters.
** Congo closed its borders and imposed a state of emergency.
** Mali and Guinea-Bissau reported their first cases on Wednesday.
** A breakneck rebound in world stocks made it past the 10% mark on Wednesday before more global coronavirus warnings and fresh turbulence in commodity markets saw things grind to a halt.[MKTS/GLOB]
** Seventy percent of people in G7 countries expect their household to lose income due to the outbreak, according to a survey on Wednesday.
** U.S. senators and Trump administration officials agreed on a massive economic stimulus bill early on Wednesday, with the Senate set to vote on the $2-trillion package later in the day and the House of Representatives vote expected soon after.
** Germany, whose economy could contract by as much as 20% this year, is open to using the European Stability Mechanism to prop up economies under certain circumstances, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Wednesday.
** German lawmakers on Wednesday voted to suspend the debt brake for the first time ever to finance an aid package meant to help shield Europe’s largest economy.
** Venezuela has opened talks with China over possible financial support to cope with a sharp drop in oil prices and the arrival of coronavirus, sources familiar with the negotiations said.
** India is likely to agree an economic stimulus package of more than $19.6 billion, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
** The Cannes Film Festival venue is opening its doors to the town’s homeless who have nowhere to go during the lockdown.
** Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut were spending their final weeks on Earth in quarantine before they are scheduled to blast off on April 9 for the International Space Station.
(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi and Aditya Soni; Editing by Mike Collett-White, Sriraj Kalluvila and Tomasz Janowski)