Several countries around the world began gradual easing of the coronavirus-led restrictions even as they grapple with the economic fallout from the pandemic. The city where the pandemic began, Wuhan in China, revved up its mass testing campaign.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 4.55 million people have been reported to have been infected globally and 306,001 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0210 GMT on Saturday.
* Italy’s government approved a decree that will allow travel to and from abroad from June 3, a major development as it moves to unwind one of the world’s most rigid coronavirus lockdowns.
* Ireland will begin the gradual reopening of its economy as planned from Monday, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, calling for increased discipline from the public if a further relaxation is to be triggered in three weeks’ time.
* Norway will likely keep travel restrictions in place until Aug. 20, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said.
* Moscow began testing thousands of randomly-chosen residents for coronavirus antibodies under a mass screening programme authorities hope will help them determine when it is safe to lift the city’s lockdown.
* The Czech Republic will take major steps to relax its lockdown measures from May 25, opening restaurants, hotels and pools and allowing gatherings of hundreds of people, health officials said.
* The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday narrowly approved a $3 trillion bill crafted by Democrats to provide more aid for battling the coronavirus and stimulating a faltering economy.
* Less populated areas of New York, Virginia and Maryland took their first steps toward lifting lockdowns, part of a patchwork approach to the pandemic that has been shaped by political divisions across the United States.
* Brazil lost its second health minister in a month on Friday after President Jair Bolsonaro demanded wider use of unproven anti-malarial drugs to fight the outbreak, adding to turmoil in one of the pandemic’s worst global hotspots.
* Canada will extend a costly emergency wage subsidy program until August end to help firms retain employees during the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
* As Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic began, revs up a massive testing campaign, some residents crowding the test centres expressed concern that the very act of getting tested could expose them to the coronavirus.
* A truck crammed with migrant labourers trying to reach their distant homes amid a nationwide lockdown crashed in northern India, killing at least 23 and injuring 35.
* India’s total cases rose to 85,940, taking it past China, where the pandemic originated, though a strict lockdown enforced since late March has reduced the rate of contagion.
* Struggling to curb the coronavirus spread while the rest of Australia has begun relaxing a two-month lockdown, Victoria state reported 11 new cases, including some linked to known clusters at a meat factory and a McDonald’s restaurant.
* Thailand will begin allowing department stores, shopping malls and other businesses to reopen from Sunday, the government said.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* The governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are discussing ways to prop up Dubai’s economy by linking up assets in the two emirates, with Abu Dhabi’s state fund Mubadala likely to play a key role in any deal, three sources familiar with the matter said.
* Prominent emerging market creditors have set up a working group to help heavily-indebted African countries with the economic impact of COVID-19, but have criticised recent G20 calls for blanket debt relief.
* Britain’s lowest-earning workers have suffered the biggest jobs hit since the coronavirus crisis engulfed the country, a survey showed.
* One in 10 German retailers and 6% of wholesalers face possible insolvency from extended closures, a survey found, despite moves in recent days to unwind social distancing measures.
* J.C. Penney Co Inc filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday with plans to permanently close some stores and also explore a possible sale, making it the latest brick-and-mortar retailer to crumble as prolonged store closures in response to the pandemic drive a final stake through long-troubled businesses.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve warned Friday that the financial sector faces “significant” vulnerabilities due to the pandemic, as businesses and households grapple with fragile finances for the foreseeable future.
* The euro zone economy saw its deepest contraction on record in the first quarter, as expected by markets, as a result of lockdowns introduced in March.