(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
$2 trillion to fight “strange and evil” crisis
After bitter negotiations, the deeply divided U.S. Senate on Wednesday unanimously backed a $2 trillion bill intended to flood the economy with cash in a bid to stem the impact of an intensifying epidemic that Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called “a strange and evil disease.” The massive rescue package, which would be the largest ever passed by Congress, now goes to the House of Representatives for a vote on Friday.
Time-out in U.S.-China blame game ahead of G20 summit
China and the United States have agreed to set aside their differences ahead of an extraordinary G20 summit to discuss efforts to tackle the coronavirus, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a diplomatic source familiar with preparatory talks between the two countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s accusations that China is delaying the sharing of information about the virus, and his reference to the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” – a term President Donald Trump has used often – have greatly angered Beijing.
The G20 summit will be held on Thursday via video conference and chaired by Saudi King Salman.
There are over 470,000 cases of coronavirus in 200 countries and territories, Reuters figures tallied at 0200 GMT on Thursday showed. Ninety of these places have 100 cases or more.
Deaths linked to the virus rose by 2,400 to more than 21,000 worldwide. Italy recorded the most in the latest daily figures, with over 680 deaths.
The United States has taken over from Italy as the country reporting the most new cases. It now accounts for roughly a third of all new cases reported in the past day, with almost 15,000 infections, and over 260 new deaths, taking its total toll to over 67,800 cases.
The disease has killed more than 900 people in the United States and the death toll is expected to surpass 1,000 soon. Many of the infections are concentrated in New York state, which has reported over 20,000 cases and around 280 deaths.
Leave now, Australia tells cruise ships
Australia ordered two cruise ships to leave its waters on Thursday, after a liner that docked in Sydney Harbour last week became the primary source of infection for the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Cruise ships have become a flashpoint after 147 of 2,700 passengers who were allowed to disembark from Carnival Corp’s Ruby Princess later tested positive for COVID-19, a blunder that has highlighted official tensions in the handling of the crisis.
In February, another Carnival ship – the Diamond Princess – was in the spotlight when hundreds on board were infected and became the biggest cluster at the time outside of China.
Did you know about St Corona, patron saint of epidemics?
Germany’s Aachen Cathedral has dug out the relics of little-known Saint Corona, patron saint of resisting epidemics, from its treasure chamber and is polishing up her elaborate shrine to go on show once the coronavirus pandemic has passed.
The cathedral had planned even before the coronavirus outbreak to display St Corona’s shrine this summer as part of an exhibition on gold craftsmanship.
Corona is believed to have been killed at the age of 16 by the Romans about 1,800 years ago for professing the Christian faith. According to legend, she suffered a particularly excruciating death, tied to two bent palm trees and torn apart as the trunks were released.
“That is a very gruesome story and led to her becoming the patron of lumberjacks,” said Brigitte Falk, head of Aachen Cathedral Treasure Chamber, adding that it was pure chance that she also became a patron saint for resisting epidemics.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Compiled by Karishma Singh)