(Reuters) – Coronavirus cases across the globe jumped on Thursday as G20 leaders said they were committed to presenting a united front against the pandemic, the International Labour Organization warned of far more than 25 million job losses, and the U.S. Senate unanimously backed a $2-trillion aid package.
** Almost 489,000 people have been infected globally and over 22,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
** For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
** The number of cases in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy increased by some 2,500, a steeper increase than in previous days.
** Spain extended its lockdown to at least April 12.
** Switzerland’s infections topped 10,000 as the government pumped money into the economy and army medical units helped hospitals handle the spreading epidemic.
** President Vladimir Putin said he hoped Russia would defeat the virus in 2-3 months, as authorities suspended international flights, ordered most shops in the capital to shut and halted some church services.
** In Lisbon, a “drive-thru” clinic is performing five-minute swab tests through car windows on people with symptoms, as Portuguese authorities ramp up testing facilities.
** Britain has placed an emergency order of 10,000 ventilators from Dyson.
** Slovakia aims to sharply increase daily testing in the next few weeks.
** The U.S. death toll topped 1,000 as government data showed a record number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits and hospitals struggled to treat a surge of patients.
** Americans should receive cash payments within three weeks, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.
** New York, experiencing more deaths and infections than any other U.S. state, is showing tentative signs of slowing the spread of the virus, while New Orleans is on track to become the country’s next epicentre.
** The U.S. ambassador to London has blamed China for endangering the world by suppressing information about the outbreak.
** Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro faced a political backlash for calling the coronavirus lockdown a crime.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC** Japan banned entry from 21 European countries and Iran, and set up a new crisis task force.
** China ordered airlines to sharply cut the number of flights in and out of the country as Beijing worries that travellers from overseas could reignite the outbreak.
** Three more people died overnight in India as the government sought to improve basic services to 1.3 billion people locked indoors.
** South Korea warned that it will deport foreigners while its citizens could face jail if they violate self-quarantine rules after a surge in imported cases.
** Australia entered 4,000 healthcare workers into a trial to see if a century-old vaccine for tuberculosis can fight off the new coronavirus.
** New Zealand started a one-month compulsory lockdown, with warnings from authorities to stay at home or face big fines and even jail.
** Armenia and Kazakhstan reported their first deaths on Thursday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
** About half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa still have a “narrowing” opportunity to curb the spread of the virus, the regional head of the World Health Organisation said.
** Turkey could order the public to stay at home if infections continue to spread, the government said as it clamped down further on medical equipment leaving the country.
** Iran started an intercity travel ban, a day after Tehran warned the country might face a second outbreak. Iran has reported 2,234 deaths and 29,406 infections so far.
** Lebanon will begin an overnight shutdown from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., as it steps up measures to combat the virus.
** The United Arab Emirates will impose overnight curfews as a temporary measure this weekend, when it will carry out a nationwide disinfection campaign.
** Qatar signed agreements to increase its strategic food stuff reserves.
** Saudi Arabia has released 250 foreign detainees held on non-violent immigration and residency offences.
** South African President tested negative for the virus, as the country begins a countrywide lockdown.
** A Wall Street rally powered global gains in stocks despite a record number of new unemployment filings in the United States, as traders focused on the Senate’s passage of the relief bill and the possibility of more stimulus to come.
** The number of jobs lost around the world due to the coronavirus crisis could be “far higher” than the 25 million the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated just a week ago, a senior ILO official said.
** European Union leaders will back plans to defend healthcare, infrastructure and other firms considered strategic from hostile foreign takeovers, draft EU summit conclusions show.
** The Group of 20 major economies will do “whatever it takes” to overcome the coronavirus crisis and are injecting $5 trillion into the global economy though national measures as part of their efforts to lessen its impact.
** The United States “may well be in recession” but progress in controlling the outbreak will determine when the economy can fully reopen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said.
** India announced a $22.6 billion stimulus plan that provides direct cash transfers and food security measures to millions of poor people hit by a nationwide lockdown.
** China is implementing $344 billion of mainly fiscal measures in its fight against the outbreak.
** Japan’s government offered its bleakest assessment on the economy in nearly seven years, saying conditions in March were “severe.”
** It is too soon to decide whether the Tour de France can go ahead, but if it does it may be without roadside spectators, France’s sports minister said.
(Compiled by Milla Nissi, Sarah Morland and Aditya Soni; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)