WHO voices concern as coronavirus cases escalate around the world

The World Health Organization (WHO) feared on Wednesday that the number of the coronavirus cases will escalate on a rapid scale around the world in the coming days. 

“In the next few days, we will reach 1 million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths worldwide,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Deaths and infections

* More than 935,000 people have been infected across the world and over 46,900 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Europe

* Confirmed cases in Germany have risen to 73,522, while 872 people have died of the disease. Cases rose by 6,156, compared with the previous day and the death toll climbed by 140.

* Italy will extend lockdown restrictions to April 13, as data from this week suggests a slowdown of growth in total cases, though its national health institute says official death toll could be underestimated.

* Cases in Spain topped 100,000 on Wednesday, and two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock an overloaded public health system.

* France became the fourth country to pass the 4,000 coronavirus deaths threshold.

* Britain said it would ramp up the number of tests amid widespread criticism that it was doing far too few.

* Switzerland no longer faces shortages in coronavirus testing, its top health official dealing with the pandemic said on Wednesday.

* Measures to limit the outbreak in the Netherlands appear to have halved the rate of infection but need to be continued to be really effective, a top health official said.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking precautions to protect himself, as Moscow launched a smartphone app designed to track people who have been ordered to stay home.

* Russia sent the United States medical equipment on Wednesday to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, a public relations coup for Putin.

* Turkey will step up measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak if it keeps spreading and people ignore “voluntary” quarantine rules, President Tayyip Erdogan said.

* European scientists and engineers will launch an initiative to support the use of digital contact tracing applications.

Americas

* US President Donald Trump said he was considering a plan to halt domestic flights to coronavirus hot spots inside the United States.

* The Pentagon is looking to provide up to 100,000 body bags for use by civilian authorities.

* US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wants to virus-proof the November election by including funding to boost voting by mail in the next pandemic response plan, as confirmed cases in the country climbed to 186,101 and while deaths rose to 3,603.

* The governor of New York cracked down even harder on public gatherings, calling residents who disregarded stay-at-home rules “selfish” as California’s governor warned his state will run out of hospital beds by next month.

* Canada’s death toll jumped by 35% in less than a day and Quebec said it was running low on key medical equipment.

* An indigenous woman in a village deep in the Amazon rainforest has contracted the coronavirus.

* Mexico said on Wednesday it had registered 37 deaths, up from 29 a day earlier. It also said the total tally of cases rose to 1,378 from 1,215 the previous day.

* Panama on Wednesday reported 1,317 coronavirus cases, an increase of 136 cases, and 32 deaths.

* Cuba suspended arriving international flights and asked all foreign boats to withdraw from its waters.

* Nearly 30 medical workers at a hospital in northern Mexico have been infected.

Asia and the Pacific

* Singapore suffered its fourth coronavirus-related death on Thursday, a day after the city-state reported a record number of new cases that took its total infections to 1,000.

* Australia’s most populous state said police enforcement of restrictions on personal movement would last three months, as the number of new cases continued to slow.

* Israel’s health minister and his wife were diagnosed with the coronavirus and are in isolation following guidelines.

* Mainland China reported dwindling new infections on Wednesday and for the first time disclosed the number of asymptomatic cases, which could complicate how trends in the outbreak are read.

* Japan will ban entry to foreigners from 73 countries and ask everyone arriving from abroad to begin quarantine.

* India scoured mosques to trace people who attended a Muslim gathering in New Delhi that later emerged as a hotspot.

* The rate of new infections in Malaysia appears to be slowing amid month-long curbs on movement, a senior health official said.

* A team of Chinese scientists has isolated several antibodies that it says are “extremely effective” at blocking the ability of the virus to enter cells.

Middle East and Africa

* Iran’s president said the US had missed an opportunity to lift sanctions on his country, though he said the penalties had not hampered Tehran’s fight against the virus, which has killed more than 3,000 people and infected close to 48,000.

* Ugandan doctors accused the government of endangering the lives of those in medical emergencies by requiring that all seek permission to secure transportation to hospitals.

* Egypt has ramped up efforts to fight the coronavirus, ordering manufacturers to channel medical protective equipment to public hospitals.

Economic fallout

* Asian shares were pinned down, haunted by the rising US coronavirus death toll, and with investors braced for more signs of economic pain in the world’s largest economy ahead of another likely record week of jobless claims.

* Light vehicle sales in the United States fell nearly 27% in March, compared with a month earlier, data released by an automotive research group showed on Wednesday.

* Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook for Australia’s banking system to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’ as the coronavirus is expected to hit profitability.

* Mexico’s economy is forecast to contract by as much as 3.9% in 2020, the finance ministry said on Wednesday, in an annual economic report used to guide the budget, adding that the numbers incorporated a “drastic” impact from coronavirus.

* India’s manufacturing activity expanded at its slowest pace in four months in March and is likely to get worse as demand and output take a hit from the coronavirus outbreak, a private survey found.

* Factories fell quiet across much of the world in March as the coronavirus pandemic paralysed economic activity, with evidence mounting that the world is sliding into deep recession.

* China’s ports and shipping firms are bracing for a second wave of supply chain disruptions that may be deeper and more prolonged than during the country’s lockdown.

* The European Commision proposed a short-time work scheme modelled on Germany’s Kurzarbeit programme to help people keep their jobs.

* Italy plans to spend another $11 billion to guarantee debt and liquidity for professionals and companies hit by the crisis.

* Switzerland is preparing to expand an emergency liquidity programme for businesses, as banks have already lent out more than half of the $20.70 billion set aside for state-backed loans.

* US restaurants asked the White House and congressional leaders for at least $325 billion in aid.

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