Global coronavirus deaths top half a million

By Jane Wardell and Cate Cadell

SYDNEY/BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from COVID-19 surpassed half a million people on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally, a grim milestone for the global pandemic that seems to be resurgent in some countries even as other regions are still grappling with the first wave.

The respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus has been particularly dangerous for the elderly, although other adults and children are also among the 501,000 fatalities and 10.1 million reported cases.

While the overall rate of death has flattened in recent weeks, health experts have expressed concerns about record numbers of new cases in countries like the United States, India and Brazil, as well as new outbreaks in parts of Asia.

More than 4,700 people are dying every 24 hours from COVID-19-linked illness, according to Reuters calculations based on an average from June 1 to 27.

That equates to 196 people per hour, or one person every 18 seconds.

About one-quarter of all the deaths so far have been in the United States, the Reuters data shows. The recent surge in cases has been most pronounced in a handful of Southern and Western states that reopened earlier and more aggressively. U.S. officials on Sunday reported around 44,700 new cases and 508 additional deaths.

Case numbers are also growing swiftly in Latin America, on Sunday surpassing those diagnosed in Europe, making the region the second most affected by the pandemic, after North America.

On the other side of the world, Australian officials were considering reimposing social distancing measures in some regions on Monday after reporting the biggest one-day rise in infections in more than two months.

The first recorded death from the new virus was on Jan. 9, a 61-year-old man from the Chinese city of Wuhan who was a regular shopper at a wet market that has been identified as the source of the outbreak.

In just five months, the COVID-19 death toll has overtaken the number of people who die annually from malaria, one of the most deadly infectious diseases.

The death rate averages out to 78,000 per month, compared with 64,000 AIDS-related deaths and 36,000 malaria deaths, according to 2018 figures from the World Health Organization.

CHANGING BURIAL RITES

The high number of deaths has led to changes to traditional and religious burial rites around the world, with morgues and funeral businesses overwhelmed and loved ones often barred from bidding farewell in person.

In Israel, the custom of washing the bodies of Muslim deceased is not permitted, and instead of being shrouded in cloth, they must be wrapped in a plastic body bag. The Jewish tradition of Shiva where people go to the home of mourning relatives for seven days has also been disrupted.

In Italy, Catholics have been buried without funerals or a blessing from a priest. In New York, city crematories were at one point working overtime, burning bodies into the night as officials scouted for temporary interment sites.

In Iraq, former militiamen have dropped their guns to instead dig graves for coronavirus victims at a specially created cemetery. They have learned how to conduct Christian, as well as Muslim, burials.

ELDERLY AT RISK

Public health experts are looking at how demographics affect the death rates in different regions. Some European countries with older populations have reported higher fatality rates, for instance.

An April report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control looked at more than 300,000 cases in 20 countries and found that about 46% of all fatalities were over the age of 80.

In Indonesia, hundreds of children are believed to have died, a development health officials have attributed to malnutrition, anemia and inadequate child health facilities.

Health experts caution that the official data likely does not tell the full story, with many believing that both cases and deaths have likely been under reported in some countries.

(Reporting by Jane Wardell in Sydney and Cate Cadell in Beijing; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Daniel Wallis)

George Floyd to be buried Tuesday as global anti-racism protests spread

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – George Floyd will be buried in Houston on Tuesday two weeks after his death while being held by police in a Minneapolis street, and more anti-racism rallies inspired by his treatment were set to take place in the United States and in Europe.

Thousands of mourners paid their respects on Monday, filing past his open coffin at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, Texas, where Floyd grew up.

Some mourners bowed their heads, others made the sign of the cross or raised a fist. Many wore face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in a service that lasted more than six hours. The funeral will be a private ceremony and he will buried next to his mother’s grave.

“I’m glad he got the send-off he deserved,” Marcus Williams, a 46-year-old black resident of Houston, said outside. “I want the police killings to stop. I want them to reform the process to achieve justice, and stop the killing.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, died on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Unarmed and handcuffed, he lay face down in the street, gasping for air and groaning for help before falling silent, footage filmed by a bystander showed.

His death unleashed a surge of protests across the U.S. cities against racism and the systematic mistreatment of black people.

Though mostly peaceful, there have been episodes of arson, looting and clashes with police, whose often heavy-handed tactics have fueled the rage.

The case also thrust President Donald Trump into a political crisis. He has repeatedly threatened to order the military on to the streets to restore order and has struggled to unite the nation.

People stand in front of a makeshift memorial as protesters rally against racial inequality and the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Seattle, Washington, U.S. June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

The demonstrations have reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement and raised demands for racial justice and police reforms to the top of the political agenda ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“I’m here to protest the mistreatment of our black bodies. It’s not going to stop unless we keep protesting,” said Erica Corley, 34, one of the hundreds attending a gathering in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.

AROUND THE WORLD

Floyd’s death triggered protests across the globe, particularly in countries with a history of colonialism and involvement in the slave trade.

In Britain, thousands of people of all races rallied in several cities over the weekend. In the port city of Bristol, the statue of Edward Colston, who made a fortune in the 17th century from trading African slaves, was pulled down and dumped in the harbor.

A protest is scheduled for Tuesday night at Oxford University to demand the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a 19th-century businessman in southern Africa long accused of imperialist exploitation.

Mayor Sadiq Khan ordered a review of London statues and street names which largely reflect Britain’s empire in the reign of Queen Victoria.

“It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade and while this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been wilfully ignored,” Khan said.

The British parliament held a minute’s silence at 11 a.m. to mark Floyd’s death.

In France, the family of a black Frenchman who died in police custody called for a nationwide protest on Saturday and spurned a government offer of talks.

Adama Traore died in July 2016 after three police officers used their weight to restrain him. His family and supporters have demanded that the officers involved be held to account. No one has been charged.

Thousands of people marched in Paris last Saturday to mark Traore’s death and in solidarity with the U.S. protesters.

MURDER CHARGE

Derek Chauvin, 44, the policeman who knelt on Floyd’s neck and is charged with second-degree murder, made his first court appearance in Minneapolis by video link on Monday. A judge ordered his bail raised from $1 million to $1.25 million.

Chauvin’s co-defendants, three fellow officers, are accused of aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder. All four were dismissed from the police department the day after Floyd’s death.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden met with Floyd’s relatives for more than an hour in Houston on Monday.

“He listened, heard their pain and shared in their woe,” family lawyer Benjamin Crump said. “That compassion meant the world to this grieving family.”

In Washington, Democrats in Congress announced legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime and to allow victims of police misconduct and their families to sue law enforcement for damages in civil court, ending a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.

Trump resisted calls to defund police departments, saying 99% of police were “great, great people”.

In Richmond, Virginia, a judge issued a 10-day injunction blocking plans by the state governor to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba and Gary McWilliams in Houston, David Morgan and Susan Heavey in Washington, Andrea Shalal in Silver Spring, Rich McKay in Atlanta and Brad Brooks in Austin, Guy Faulconbridge in London, and Lucine Libert in Paris, Writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Lockdowns may have averted 3 million deaths in Europe by curbing COVID-19: study

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Wide-scale lockdowns including shop and school closures have reduced COVID-19 transmission rates in Europe enough to control its spread and may have averted more than three million deaths, researchers said on Monday.

In a modeling study of lockdown impact in 11 nations, Imperial College London scientists said the draconian steps, imposed mostly in March, had “a substantial effect” and helped bring the infection’s reproductive rate below one by early May.

The reproduction rate, or R value, measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the disease on to. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth.

The Imperial team estimated that by early May, between 12 and 15 million people in the 11 countries – Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland – had been infected with COVID-19.

By comparing the number of deaths counted with deaths predicted by their model if no lockdown measures had been introduced, they found some 3.1 million deaths were averted.

“Measuring the effectiveness of these interventions is important, given their economic and social impacts, and may indicate which course of action is needed to maintain control,” the researchers said in a summary of their findings.

A second study by scientists in the United States, published alongside the Imperial-led one in the journal Nature, estimated that anti-contagion lockdown policies implemented in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States prevented or delayed around 530 million COVID-19 cases.

Focusing their analysis on these six countries, the U.S. research team compared infection growth rates before and after the implementation of more than 1,700 local, regional and national policies designed to slow or halt the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

They found that without anti-contagion policies in place, early infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 grew by 68% a day in Iran and an average of 38% a day across the other five countries.

Using econometric modeling normally used in assessing economic policies, they found lockdowns had slowed the infection rate with “measurable beneficial health outcomes in most cases”.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Gareth Jones)

Europe sees two deaths, multiple cases of COVID-linked syndrome in children

(Reuters) – A new life-threatening inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 has affected 230 children in Europe and killed two so far this year, a regional health body said on Friday, as medics worldwide were told to be on alert.

The Swedish-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a risk report that two children had succumbed to the condition: one in Britain and one in France.

The new coronavirus has so far taken its greatest toll on the elderly and those with chronic health conditions, but reports about the syndrome in children have raised fears it could pose a greater risk to the young than first through.

At a briefing in Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO) urged clinicians to be alert to the rare syndrome but cautioned that links to COVID-19 were still unclear.

The condition, known as paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS), shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease including fever, rashes, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation.

“I call on all clinicians worldwide to work with your national authorities and WHO to be alert and better understand this syndrome in children,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

On Friday, the WHO issued a preliminary definition of the syndrome, which it said had become more frequent during the current pandemic but has also appeared in children who did not test positive for COVID-19.

The condition affected children and adolescents showing fever for more than three days, with elevated markers of inflammation.

The children also showed at least two of the following symptoms: rash or signs of inflammation around the mouth, hands or feet; shock or low blood pressure; heart problems; evidence of bleeding disorder; and acute gastrointestinal problems.

The case definition pertained to children who had contracted COVID-19 or had had likely contact with COVID-19 patients, and had no other obvious microbial cause of inflammation, it said.

“We know so far very little about this inflammatory syndrome,” said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

In France, doctors said a nine-year old boy died a week ago in the southern town of Marseille after developing a syndrome akin to Kawasaki disease and being in contact with the coronavirus though not suffering its symptoms.

He was hospitalized on May 2 after scarlet fever had been diagnosed. Back home, he suffered from a severe heart ailment and was rushed back to Marseille’s Timone hospital’s intensive care unit, where he died.

French researchers on Thursday reported Kawasaki disease-like symptoms in 17 children admitted to a Paris hospital between April 27 and May 7, while in an average two-week period they would have expected to see only one such case.

The European Union (EU) health body ECDC added it had agreed to include the syndrome as a possible complication of COVID-19 to be reported for Europe-wide surveillance.

Research efforts should aim at determining what role the coronavirus, if any, plays in causing PIMS, it said.

The risk of PIMS in children was currently considered low, as was the risk of them contracting COVID-19, the agency said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday issued guidance to doctors on how to recognize and report cases of the syndrome, following the reports of cases in Europe and more than 100 in the state of New York.

At its briefing, the WHO urged governments and companies to work together to develop a vaccine and treatments against COVID-19, and make distribution equitable.

“Traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe,” Tedros said.

Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado called at the briefing for creating a pool of patents and licenses on a voluntary basis to enable fair access.

France said on Thursday the world’s nations would have equal access to any vaccine developed by pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi, a day after the company’s chief executive suggested Americans would likely be the first in line.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Michael Shields and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, Francesco Guarascio in Brussels, Marc Leras and Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Edmund Blair)

Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus – 5-7-20

(Reuters) – More than 3.79 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 263,682 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 1427 GMT on Thursday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

EUROPE

* Russia’s cases overtook France and Germany to become the fifth-highest number in the world after a record daily rise. Moscow’s mayor said the real number of cases in the capital was more than triple the official, TASS news agency reported.

* Restrictions in Moscow have been extended until May 31, said Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

* Black people and men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than whites, even when adjusting data for deprivation, a British report said.

* Poland plans to test 1,000 miners a day at drive-through sites as data show rapid growth in new cases in the coal region.

* German officials warned the crisis is far from over despite the country slowly reopening its economy.

* After standing empty for two months, Greece’s ancient sites, including the Acropolis hill, will reopen to visitors on May 18, authorities said.

* A European coalition is forming around an approach to using smartphone technology to trace infections that, its backers hope, could help to reopen borders without unleashing a second wave.

AMERICAS

* The first immigrant in U.S. detention has died of the coronavirus, local health authorities said as infections steadily climbed among the country’s around 30,000 immigrant detainees.

* Indigenous groups from nine countries in the Amazon basin called for donations to help protect 3 million rainforest inhabitants, vulnerable because they lack adequate access to healthcare.

* Brazil, one of the world’s emerging hot spots, registered a record number of cases and deaths on Wednesday, prompting the health minister to flag the possibility of strict lockdowns in hard-hit areas. President Bolsonaro’s spokesman has tested positive and is quarantined in his home.

* Argentine President Alberto Fernandez is rising in the polls on approval of his handling of the response, as he faces off against creditors with a major debt revamp.

* Colombia has removed the contact-tracing feature in its official coronavirus app after experiencing glitches, but aims to rebuild it using potentially more reliable technology.

* At least 47 residents and three workers have been infected at a retirement home in Mexico, in one of the biggest outbreaks yet reported in the country.

* A war of words broke out between Costa Rica and El Salvador after the Salvadoran president accused the other country of massaging statistics by deliberately carrying out fewer tests.

* El Salvador said it would from Thursday temporarily suspend public transport.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* China said it supports the WHO in trying to pinpoint the origins of the pandemic and accused the U.S. Secretary of State of lying in his attacks on Beijing.

* Japan has approved Gilead’s remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, the health ministry said, making it the country’s first officially authorized drug for the disease.

* Cases in India rose past 50,000 on Thursday, with the pace of new infections showing no signs of abating despite a strict weeks-long lockdown.

* India will roll out a version of its coronavirus contact-tracing application that can run on Reliance Jio’s cheap phones, as it looks to widen use.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Iran is scrambling to buy millions of tonnes of grains to shore up reserves, officials and traders said, despite the president’s assertions that the coronavirus would not endanger food supplies.

* Pakistan’s lockdown will be lifted on Saturday, its prime minister said, despite the number of cases still accelerating.

* The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention rejected the Tanzanian president’s assertion that tests it supplied are faulty.

* Saudi Arabia has formed a police unit to monitor violations of rules banning gatherings, state news agency SPA said.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* World shares largely shook off data on Thursday showing millions more Americans sought unemployment benefits, with sentiment sustained by stronger than expected Chinese exports. [MKTS/GLOB]

* The IMF has approved 50 requests for emergency aid for a total of about $18 billion, and is continuing to work quickly through remaining requests, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

* Millions more Americans likely sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting a broadening of layoffs from consumer facing industries to other segments of the economy and could remain elevated even as many parts of the country start to reopen.

* The Bank of England said Britain could be headed for its biggest economic slump in over 300 years and kept the door open for more stimulus next month.

* Sweden will not provide state aid to companies paying dividends to shareholders and could claw back funds from recipients that have already done so, the agency charged with disbursing the emergency support said.

* Border controls, lockdowns and flight shortages are making illegal drugs more expensive and difficult to obtain around the world, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report published on Thursday.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus

(Reuters) – More than 3.59 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 250,386 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Tuesday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

EUROPE

* WHO said on Tuesday that a report that COVID-19 had emerged in December in France was “not surprising”, and urged countries to investigate early.

* More than 30,000 people in the United Kingdom have died with suspected COVID-19, the highest official toll yet reported in Europe, according to data published on Tuesday.

* The United States and Britain launched trade negotiations by videoconference, as both struggle with the effects of the pandemic and aim to shore up domestic supply chains.

* The mayor of The Hague ordered police to break up a demonstration against government measures to slow the country’s outbreak.

* Spain reported its third day in a row of under 200 deaths, but a record number of people claiming social security benefits for April.

* Austria’s first lockdown loosening three weeks ago has not led to a new spike in infections, though further vigilance is necessary, its health minister said.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. Senate will start scrutinizing the lawyer tapped by President Donald Trump to oversee a $500 billion fund to rescue larger businesses.

* A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections.

* Some 40 Cuban sugar mills remain open out of season despite a partial lockdown of the country, in a last-ditch effort to add foreign exchange to the government’s all-but-empty coffers.

* Brazilian officials expect a rise in global agricultural protectionism as countries seek to secure local food supplies, according to a draft report seen by Reuters.

* Indigenous leaders in Brazil have asked the WHO to set up an emergency fund to help protect their communities.

* At least 300 people held in two centers set up by the Salvadoran government protested on Monday, demanding to be released and given their test results.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* China reported one new case for May 4, down from three the day before.

* Hong Kong said it will relax restrictions on public gatherings and allow gyms, cinemas and beauty parlours to re-open this week as new cases dwindle.

* One of Bangladesh largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals will begin producing experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, a senior executive said.

* Pakistan has raised concerns with the United Arab Emirates that workers are returning home with high infection rates and that crowded living conditions in the UAE may be helping the virus spread.

* Indonesia reported on Tuesday its biggest daily rise in infections with 484 new cases, taking the total to 12,071.

* Thailand may see the economic impact from the pandemic stretch over another nine months, its prime minister said.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Yemen’s Houthis said a Somali national, the first case in the capital Sanaa, died on Sunday, the group’s al-Masirah TV reported.

* Afghanistan’s government began distributing free bread to hundreds of thousands of people across the country as supplies have been disrupted and prices have soared.

* Lebanon’s supreme defence council will advise the government to extend a shutdown until May 24, a security source said.

* A parliamentary panel authorised Israel’s Shin Bet security service to continue using mobile phone data to track infected people until May 26.

* Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extended to June 5 a state of emergency declared in areas under his administration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* Stock markets snapped a three-day losing streak on Tuesday and oil was on its longest run of gains in nine months as moves to ease major economies out of their coronavirus lockdowns lifted sentiment. [MKTS/GLOB]

* Banks in the European Union could end up paying annual contributions to an industry rescue funds by tapping government support for coronavirus-hit companies, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

* South Africa’s tax revenue losses due to the coronavirus and credit ratings downgrades could reach $15.5 billion this fiscal year, the commissioner of the revenue services said.

* Egypt’s budget deficit for the financial year that will begin in July will widen to 7.8% of gross domestic product if the crisis continues until the end of December, the finance minister said.

* The International Coffee Organization sees lockdowns flipping the global coffee market into a 1.95 million 60kg bag surplus in 2019/20 from previously forecast 474,000 bag deficit.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland, Vinay Dwivedi and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Anil D’Silva and Tomasz Janowski)

Factbox: Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus – May 1st

(Reuters) – More than 3.27 million people have reportedly been infected by the novel coronavirus globally, and 232,200 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Friday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

EUROPE

* Britain was now past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, promising to set out a plan next week on how the country might start gradually returning to normal life.

* Death toll in Italy climbed by 285, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 1,872.

* Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, as confirmed cases surged past the 100,000-mark.

* Ukraine reached 10,000 cases.

AMERICAS

* More than 1.07 million people have been infected with the new coronavirus in the United States and 62,891 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Friday.

* Half of all U.S. states forged ahead with their own strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis.

* U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday his hard-fought trade deal with China was now of secondary importance to the coronavirus pandemic and he threatened new tariffs on Beijing, as his administration crafted retaliatory measures over the outbreak.

* California ordered beaches in Orange County to close after crowds defied public health guidelines to throng the popular shoreline last weekend.

* Canada’s coronavirus curve is flat but worrying trends are emerging, according to its top medical officer, as Alberta unveiled a plan to reopen its economy gradually.

* Brazil reported a record 7,218 cases in the last 24 hours and 435 additional fatalities.

* Peruvian authorities closed a busy food market in Lima after mass rapid testing confirmed more than 160 positive cases.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* China reported 12 new cases for April 30, up from four a day earlier, bringing the national tally to 82,874.

* Japan will formally decide as early as Monday whether to extend its state of emergency, which was originally set to end on May 6.

* Thailand reported six new cases and no new death.

* Malaysia will allow majority of businesses to resume operations from May 4.

* Australia will consider next Friday whether to relax coronavirus-related mobility restrictions.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Turkey’s death toll rose by 93 in the last 24 hours to 3,174, with 2,615 new cases of the virus.

* The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved $411 million in emergency assistance for Ethiopia.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* Initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 3.839 million for the week ended April 25, the U.S. Labor Department said, while the Commerce Department said consumer spending slumped by a record 7.5% in March.

* Irish manufacturing activity suffered its sharpest monthly decline on record in April as output collapsed, while British factory output risks falling by more than half during the current quarter, a trade body said.

* South Korean exports plunged at their sharpest pace since the global financial crisis in April.

* Consumer prices in Japan’s capital city fell for the first time in three years in April and national factory activity slumped, increasing fears that the pandemic could tip the country back into deflation.

* France suffered its sharpest economic contraction since records began in 1949 in the first quarter.

* Democratic Republic of Congo has cut its 2020 economic growth forecast to -1.9% and is expecting its economy to contract, its central bank said.

* Chile’s unemployment rate rose to 8.2% in the first quarter from the same period a year ago, hitting a decade high.

(Compiled by Vinay Dwivedi and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

Latest on the worldwide spread of the new coronavirus

(Reuters) – More than 3.21 million people have reportedly been infected by the novel coronavirus globally, and 227,864 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 1400 GMT on Thursday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

EUROPE

* Italy’s prime minister said he would gradually relax the country’s lockdown taking into account differences in contagion levels in different parts of the country.

* The United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll is probably higher than 27,241, making it one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said.

* The pandemic is fuelling extremism on the far-right and far-left in Europe and giving Islamic State and other militants cover to regain influence, the European Union’s counter-terrorism chief has warned.

* Ukraine reached 10,000 cases on Thursday and its health minister urged people not to violate lockdown measures.

* Slovakia will consider letting shops reopen sooner as its daily tally of infections has dropped to single digits and the numbers of recovered patients is outpacing new ones, its prime minister said.

* Leading privacy advocates in Britain have urged the government to prevent a soon-to-be launched COVID-19 contact tracing app from turning into a form of state surveillance.

* A town in southern Sweden has turned to a traditional source to try to prevent the coronavirus spreading during an annual festive event on Thursday – chicken manure.

AMERICAS

* The top U.S. infectious disease official said Gilead’s experimental antiviral drug remdesivir will become the standard of care for COVID-19 after early clinical trial results showed it helped patients recover more quickly.

* Florida’s governor, among the last to lock down his state, said he would permit a limited economic reopening next week while leaving restraints intact for the dense greater-Miami area.

* Some contract workers in America’s fast food restaurants, hospitals and warehouses could find it harder to demand equipment and other measures to protect themselves from the coronavirus under a new labor agency rule, according to workers’ advocates and unions.

* About two dozen migrants deported from the United States to Colombia last month have tested positive.

* The International Monetary Fund approved $650 million in emergency financial assistance to help the Dominican Republic respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

* Deaths from the outbreak have piled up so fast in the Amazon rainforest’s biggest city that the main cemetery is burying five coffins at a time in collective graves.

* Mexican tomato farmers are so hard pressed to sell their product due to the disruptions that they have had to donate some of their produce to food banks or use it to feed cattle.

* Latin American drug lords have sent bumper shipments of cocaine to Europe in recent weeks, including one in a cargo of squid, even though the pandemic has stifled legitimate transatlantic trade, senior anti-narcotics officials say.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* China has cancelled the 2020 Boao Forum for Asia, which Beijing is trying to promote as the region’s answer to Davos.

* South Korea on Thursday reported no new domestic cases for the first time since February, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

* Japan is preparing to extend its state of emergency, originally set to end on May 6, for about a month, government sources told Reuters.

* Indonesia confirmed 347 new infections on Thursday, taking its total to above 10,000.

* Thailand will start reopening on Sunday some businesses, such as outdoor markets, barber shops and pet groomers, after the numbers of new infections dropped into single digits this week.

* As the pandemic empties bazaars that have long dominated Uzbekistan’s food trade, supermarkets are driving into the vacuum.

* Tajikistan has confirmed its first 15 coronavirus cases.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Yemen reported multiple infections and deaths for the first time and an official in the southern port of Aden said the number of cases was very likely to increase in the coming days.

* The World Health Organization is worried by the community spread of the coronavirus in a significant number of West African countries, the regional head of the organization said.

* In Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, hairdressers have created a new hairstyle, designed to emulate the prickly appearance of the virus under a microscope.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* World stocks suffered a slip on their way to record monthly gains on Thursday, as the European Central Bank held back from providing another instant hit of stimulus and millions more Americans filed unemployment claims. [MKTS/GLOB]

* Economic lockdowns brought on by the pandemic look set to cut global energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions by record amounts, the International Energy Agency said.

* France suffered its sharpest economic contraction since records began in 1949 in the first quarter, as a coronavirus lockdown from mid-March left shops shuttered and consumers hunkered down at home.

* A sudden stop in tourism caused by border closures and lockdowns will cause a 6.2% contraction of the Caribbean economy in 2020, the deepest recession in over half a century, the IMF said.

* Preventing an increase in soured bank loans is a top priority for Greece as it grapples with the economic fallout, its prime minister said.

(Compiled by Sarah Morland; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world

(Reuters) – Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.7 million globally and 189,970 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Friday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

AMERICAS

* The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill on Thursday.

* An array of U.S. merchants in Georgia and other states prepared to reopen for the first time in a month.

* A preliminary survey of New York state residents found that nearly 14% of those tested had antibodies against the coronavirus.

* California recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.

* Drugmaker Gilead disputed a report that said its experimental coronavirus drug failed a trial in China, saying results were inconclusive as the study was terminated early.

* Canada pledged new money to develop and eventually mass-produce vaccines.

* Costa Rica has for the past week reported a steady fall in the number of people currently infected.

* Ecuador’s authorities added 11,000 new infections that resulted from delayed testing.

* Cuba’s decades-old rationing system is staging a comeback in a bid to prevent virus transmission during frantic shopping hunts.

EUROPE

* France offered retailers some relief on Thursday, saying it wanted them to reopen when a nationwide lockdown ends on May 11.

* Spain’s daily increase in fatalities further steadied at around 2%, as the government apologised for confusion over lockdown rules for children.

* Germany has chosen a home-grown technology for smartphone-based tracing of infections, putting it at odds with Apple Inc.

* Britain’s health minister Matt Hancock promised to expand testing to all those considered key workers.

* Greece extended its general lockdown by a week to May 4.

* Irish hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients have fallen from an average of around 100 per day at the start of April to around 40 now.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* South Asia’s infections have crossed 37,000, with more than half in India.

* China is preparing to buy more than 30 million tonnes of crops for state stockpiles to help protect itself from supply chain disruptions.

* Thousands of Hong Kong students were among the first in the world to take their final secondary school exams on Friday, all wearing face masks and having their temperatures checked.

* As many as 91 crew of an Italian cruise ship docked in Japan’s southwestern port of Nagasaki are infected with coronavirus. Tokyo’s first drive-through coronavirus test centre was launched this week.

* Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended a strict lockdown in the capital Manila until May 15.

* Indonesia will temporarily ban domestic air and sea travel starting Friday, barring a few exceptions.

* Malaysia will extend travel and other curbs by two weeks to May 12.

* Australia will push for an international investigation into the coronavirus pandemic at next month’s annual meeting of the World Health Assembly.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government will allow a partial reopening of the economy on May 1.

* The governors of Nigeria’s 36 states agreed to ban interstate movement for two weeks.

* Algeria will ease confinement measures from the first day of the holy month of Ramadan on Friday.

* Israel’s religiously devout Jews, who traditionally shun the use of internet or smartphones, are increasingly going online to shop, study and video chat.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* Asian shares and U.S. stock futures fell on Friday, spurred by doubts about progress in the development of drugs to treat COVID-19 and new evidence of U.S. economic damage. [MKTS/GLOB]

* The UK’s government borrowing is soaring to the highest levels in peacetime history.

* The closure of bars and restaurants may have slashed global wine sales and winemakers’ revenues in Europe by half.

* Japan’s core consumer inflation eased in March for the second straight month.

* Half of German companies are using the government’s short-time work facility as most see a decline in revenues.

* Italian government debt yields fell after EU leaders agreed to move towards joint financing of a recovery.

* Latin America’s biggest economies, Brazil and Mexico, will likely struggle with increasing deficits this year.

(Compiled by Milla Nissi, Devika Syamnath and Ramakrishnan M.; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Shounak Dasgupta and Sriraj Kalluvila)

Factbox: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world-Thursday

Reported cases of the coronavirus have crossed 2.62 million globally and 183,761 people have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Thursday.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.

AMERICAS

* Hundreds of members of the U.S. House of Representatives will gather in Washington on Thursday to pass a $484 billion relief bill, bringing the unprecedented total of funds approved for the crisis to nearly $3 trillion.

* U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered a temporary suspension of the issuance of green cards and permanent residence permits, in a move he said aimed at protecting American workers and jobs.

* Mexico, whose total cases exceeded 10,000, will increase spending on social programs and infrastructure projects by $25.6 billion.

EUROPE

* The northern Italian region of Lombardy began an antibody testing programme on Thursday as it prepared to start opening up its economy following weeks of lockdown.

* Spain’s daily increase in fatalities further steadied at around 2% on Thursday, as the government apologised for confusion over lockdown rules for children.

* French president told mayors that unwinding the lockdown would not be done region by region, with a plan to be unveiled around Tuesday next week.

* The French government wants all retail outlets other than restaurants, bars and cafes to be able to reopen once a nationwide lockdown is lifted on May 11.

* Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to show endurance and discipline to get through the pandemic that is “still at the beginning”, and called for a bigger European Union budget to support economic recovery in the bloc.

* The British government came under sustained pressure over its coronavirus response when members of parliament got their first major opportunity in a month to hold it to account.

* Life is unlikely to return to normal even when the tightest restrictions are lifted, and social distancing measures could stay for the rest of this year and beyond, Scottish first minister said.

* Russia showed tentative signs of a flattening infection curve, but the Kremlin said the situation remained tense and officials moved to tighten lockdown measures in 21 regions.

* Hungary will decide next week on the future of lockdown measures as it prepares for a restart of the economy.

* Greece extended its general lockdown by a week to May 4, saying any relaxation would be staggered over May and June.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Mainland China reported 10 new cases as of the end of April 22, bringing the total to 82,798. The death toll was unchanged at 4,632.

* South Asia’s infections have crossed 37,000, with more than half in India, complicating the task of governments looking to ease lockdowns.

* Indonesia will temporarily ban domestic air and sea travel starting Friday, barring a few exceptions.

* Spooked by a sharp increase in cases in the navy, Taiwan is debating whether to consider a broad lockdown.

* Nearly 50 crew members on an Italian cruise ship docked for repairs in Japan’s Nagasaki have tested positive, raising concern about the strain on the city’s hospitals.

* All member nations of the WHO should support a proposed independent review into the pandemic, Australia’s prime minister said, further threatening strained ties with China.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* Iranians have returned to shops, bazaars and parks this week as the country eases restrictions, and the daily increase in the death toll remained below 100 on Thursday.

* African nations that lack ventilators will receive some from a donation of 300 supplied by the Jack Ma Foundation.

* The governors of Nigeria’s 36 states agreed to ban interstate movement for two weeks.

* Botswana’s president and lawmakers were released from two weeks in quarantine after testing negative.

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* Caution gripped markets on Thursday, with stocks falling before a key Eurogroup meeting to discuss joint stimulus measures, offsetting optimism from a fresh round of U.S. coronavirus aid and a recovery in oil prices.

* European Union leaders will on Thursday take their first step towards joint financing of an economic recovery but will kick any difficult decisions about the details into the long grass.

* A record 26 million Americans likely sought unemployment benefits over the last five weeks, meaning all the jobs created during the longest employment boom in U.S. history were wiped out in about a month.

* Japan offered its bleakest assessment of the economy in over a decade as the pandemic threatens to tip the world’s third-largest economy into a deep recession.

* South Korea’s ruling party and the government agreed to provide cash handouts to every household, not just to families below the top 30 percentile of income as previously announced.

* Britain’s economy is crumbling and government borrowing is soaring to the highest levels in peacetime history, increasing pressure on the government to set out an exit strategy.

* India froze inflation-linked increases in salaries and pensions for more than 11 million federal employees and pensioners to generate nearly $10 billion to help combat the outbreak.

(Compiled by Milla Nissi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)