A health worker takes a blood sample for a Covid-19 antibody test in Los Angeles. An antibody test might show if you had Covid-19 in the recent past, which most experts think gives people some protection from the virus. Picture: Damian Dovarganes/AP
A health worker takes a blood sample for a Covid-19 antibody test in Los Angeles. An antibody test might show if you had Covid-19 in the recent past, which most experts think gives people some protection from the virus. Picture: Damian Dovarganes/AP

The latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

By Reuters Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Healthcare workers in Britain and Thailand have started taking part in a trial to determine whether two anti-malarial drugs can prevent Covid-19, including one that US President Donald Trump says he has been taking.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS

* More than 5.12 million people were reported to have been infected globally and 332,328 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0403 GMT on Friday.

EUROPE

* Britain said it had agreed to acquire over 10 million coronavirus antibody tests from Roche and Abbott which would be rolled out to health and care workers from next week.

* Britain is enduring its deepest recession in centuries but the havoc wrought by the pandemic will not be enough to push the Bank of England to adopt negative interest rates, a Reuters poll found.

* British health secretary Matt Hancock said he was confident that a Covid-19 track and trace system would be operating by June 1, allowing lockdown rules to be eased without risking a spike in infections.

     

AMERICAS

* The United States has secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for AstraZeneca's experimental Covid-19 vaccine by pledging up to $1.2 billion.

* Brazil suffered a record of 1,188 daily coronavirus deaths on Thursday and is fast approaching Russia to become the world's No. 2 Covid-19 hot spot behind the United States.

* The mounting pressure on Brazil's workforce from the unfolding economic crisis was highlighted on Thursday as figures showed a 76% surge in formal unemployment insurance claims.

* A quarter of Americans have little or no interest in taking a coronavirus vaccine, a poll found, with some voicing concern that the record pace at which vaccine candidates are being developed could compromise safety.

Police officers ask people to not sit while patrolling at the beach in Barcelona, Spain. On Wednesday, Barcelona permitted people to walk on its beaches for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown over two months ago. Sunbathing and recreational swimming are still not allowed. Picture: Emilio Morenatti/AP

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Japan's central bank created its own version of the US Federal Reserve's "Main Street" lending programme to channel more money to small businesses.

* New Zealand is considering distributing free cash directly to individuals as a way of policy stimulus to help boost the economy, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

* Ticket pricing restrictions, protective suits and goggles for flight attendants and no food served on board planes are among the rules proposed by India's civil aviation ministry as it prepares to resume domestic flying within days.

* Japan's elderly workers, once key to Abenomics, are suffering as the pandemic closes businesses, even as they are more at risk from the disease than other age groups.

* Thousands of Indonesians made a late dash to leave Jakarta for their hometowns this week, as the country reported its biggest daily jump in cases, bringing the total confirmed number to 20,162.

* Travel restrictions are causing labour shortages at Malaysia's palm plantations, officials said.

Staff in protective suits talk to a woman as people sit spaced apart to practice social distancing while waiting for their turn to enter a community health centre, amid the coronavirus outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia. Picture: Achmad Ibrahim/AP

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* South Africa could see up to 50 000 coronavirus deaths and as many as 3 million infections by the end of the year, scientific models showed on Thursday.

* Lebanon's Health Ministry reported 63 new cases, the largest single-day increase since the outbreak of the pandemic.

* Crossings used by thousands of Cypriots daily between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides of the divided island and sealed shut by the coronavirus lockdown will gradually start reopening from June 8.

A maid from the Philippines wears a mask to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus as she walks in front of a newspaper kiosk in central Beirut's commercial Hamra Street, in Beirut, Lebanon. Picture: Hassan Ammar/AP

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

* Japan's core consumer prices fell for the first time in more than three years in April on an annual basis, as weak oil prices and lockdown measures heightened deflation risks.

* China dropped its annual growth target for the first time and pledged more government spending, setting a sombre tone to this year's meeting of parliament in Beijing.

* Fitch Ratings downgraded its outlook on Australia's coveted 'AAA' rating to "negative" from "stable", citing the heavy blow to the economy and public finances from the pandemic.

* British consumer confidence in early May dipped back down to its joint-lowest level since the global financial crisis in 2009.

* Ireland could post a wider budget deficit this year than its worst-case scenario of 10% of GDP, even if it fully succeeds in reopening the economy, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told Reuters.

Reuters

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