Last updated: 20/05/2020 09:38
Dismal economic data from Australia, Japan and the United States underlined the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, while a sceptical press report dented some hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 4.91 million people have been reported to have been infected globally and 322,437 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0548 GMT on Wednesday.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, click here.
* German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia agreed to gradually dismantle border crossing restrictions and controls as soon as the pandemic allows.
* The United States said it would this week start delivering 200 medical ventilators to Russia, which has the world’s second highest number of confirmed cases.
* Spain’s government is to ask parliament for a two-week extension of a state of emergency.
* Sweden, which has opted for a more open strategy in combating the virus than other European countries, has the highest number of deaths in Europe per capita from COVID-19.
* Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress said on Tuesday they were in no hurry to work on another coronavirus relief package.
* The United States, Mexico and Canada said on Tuesday they would extend a ban on non-essential cross-border travel by another 30 days.
* Brazil’s daily death toll jumped to a record 1,179 on Tuesday as President Jair Bolsonaro doubled down on chloroquine as a possible remedy.
* The Trump administration awarded a contract worth up to $812 million for a new U.S. company to manufacture drugs and drug ingredients to fight COVID-19 on American soil.
* President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the United States should consider terminating trade deals under which it imports cattle as he looks to help U.S. ranchers hit hard by the outbreak.
* El Salvador’s government on Tuesday extended a strict lockdown until June 6. Colombia’s mandatory quarantine has been extended by a further week until May 31, President Ivan Duque said.
* Australian officials announced a raft of plans on Wednesday to speed up the resumption of public life to boost the ailing economy amid a diplomatic spat with major trading partner China.
* Shares of Fujifilm Holdings Corp fell after Kyodo news reported that so far there has been no clear evidence of efficacy for its drug Avigan in treating the novel coronavirus in some clinical trials.
* Hong Kong extended a restriction on public gatherings for at least another two weeks as authorities still report new coronavirus cases occasionally.
* Kyrgyzstan will lift most of the remaining restrictions in the coming days, reopening the retail and services sectors and public transport, the government said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Egypt registered 720 new coronavirus cases, its highest daily toll since detecting the first confirmed case in February.
* Wealthy countries are failing Africa, with pledges of financial support and debt relief falling well short of the continent’s needs as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic, several African presidents said on Tuesday.
* China held its benchmark lending rate steady, though analysts believe the decision signals just a brief pause in the central bank’s efforts to support its pandemic-hit economy.
* Australian retail sales slumped in April after a record surge the previous month as restrictions hit demand for clothing, travel and dining out.
* Japan’s core machinery orders slipped in March, although the pace of decline was offset by a large number of orders for big-ticket items.
* Expectations for second- and third-quarter corporate profits are deteriorating further in Europe, Refinitiv data showed.
* Jobless claims in Britain leapt in April to the highest level in nearly 24 years.
* U.S. homebuilding dropped by the most on record in April, underlining fears that the pandemic would lead to the deepest economic contraction in the second quarter since the Great Depression.
Pictured: Migrant workers wait for transport to reach a railway station to board a train to their home state of Bihar, during an extended lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ahmedabad, India, May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Amit Dave