Spain Deaths Slow; Over 1.2 Million Global Cases: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) —

Spain’s deaths from the coronavirus fell for a third day on Sunday. The total number of cases rose to more than 130,000, the second-highest number after the U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned of a “very horrendous” phase in the pandemic. Iran will ease some social-distancing measures and allow “low-risk” business activity to resume, President Hassan Rouhani said, even as the number of cases in the country exceeded 55,000.

Key Developments:

Global cases pass 1.2 million; deaths top 64,800: Johns HopkinsU.S. cases exceed 312,000, a quarter of the world totalIran to ease some restrictions even as cases riseIndia bans exports of “game changer” virus drugReligious gatherings move onlineBread lines are forming in Mar-a-Lago’s shadow

Spain Deaths Slow for Third Day (5:35 p.m. HK)

Spain saw a decline in the number of new deaths from the coronavirus for the third consecutive day, raising hopes that the worst of the country’s outbreak may be over.

The Health Ministry reported 674 fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 12,418. The number of confirmed cases rose to 130,759, from 124,736 a day earlier. The latest daily death toll is now lower than in the U.K., which reported 708 fatalities on Saturday.

Starmer to Work With Johnson on Virus (5:30 p.m. HK)

The new leader of the U.K. Labour Party, Keir Starmer, said he’ll work “constructively” with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on tackling the Covid-19 outbreak, but wouldn’t be drawn on whether he’d consider joining a potential government of national unity.

“I’m not going to score party political points and I won’t demand the impossible,” Starmer told the BBC on Sunday. He said mistakes have been made in the U.K.’s response to the outbreak but said it’s important to look forward and urged the government to publish its strategy for ultimately ending the lockdown.

U.K. Adviser Sees Peak in 7-10 Days (4:50 p.m. HK)

Imperial College London Professor Neil Ferguson, who advises the government on its response to the pandemic, told the BBC he sees the outbreak in the U.K. peaking in the next 7-10 days. Asked about a potential strategy for ending the nationwide lockdown, he predicted a series of measures including ramping up testing and immunity certificates. Ferguson predicting the death toll in the U.K. would be in the range of 7,000 to just over 20,000. It’s 4,313 as of Saturday.

On the same show, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the U.K. needs 18,000 ventilators, as many as twice the current supply. It will have a further 1,500 by the end of the week, he said.

Iran to Ease Some Restrictions (4:18 p.m. HK)

Iran will ease some social-distancing measures from April 11 and allow “low-risk” business activity to resume, President Hassan Rouhanisaid, even as the country continues to report a rise in coronavirus cases.

Tehran province, the epicenter of the outbreak in Iran, will be excluded from a plan that involves allowing two-thirds of government employees to return to work, Rouhani said in a coronavirus task-force meeting shown on state TV.

Swiss Minister Doesn’t See Change by April 20 (4 p.m. HK)

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset told newspaper SonntagsZeitung in an interview that “at the moment, it seems illusory that we can change a lot by April 20” in response to a question of whether current lockdown measures would be extended beyond April 19.

“The virus sets the pace,” Berset told the newspaper. “The timing of the easing is not only a political decision, it also depends on the assessments of the scientists,” he was quoted as saying.

It will not be a case of an immediate exit when one is decided but rather “a transition with some easing,” Berset said.

Johnson Still Has Temperature (3:50 p.m. HK)

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in good spirits as he works from his Downing Street office after testing positive for Covid-19 more than a week ago, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News on Sunday.

Hancock also said there’s still too much uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus to be able to say how long nationwide lockdown measures would remain in place, and said it was “unbelievable” that some people were still ignoring social-distancing rules as a wave of warm, sunny weather engulfed the nation.

Asked about a strategy for easing the lockdown, he didn’t provide a clear answer, instead listing improved treatments, wider testing and potentially a vaccine as key developments to combat the outbreak.

France Ready to Take on Debt (3:45 p.m. HK)

France will beef up measures to help the economy as much as needed and is ready to take on debt to avoid a collapse, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

“We will provide the necessary financial means as long as the crisis lasts,” he said. “But rebuilding will be long, difficult and costly.”

Le Maire said that more than 100,000 companies have already made requests for state-backed loans worth a total of 20 billion euros ($21.6 billion) to help weather the crisis.

India Bans Exports of Malaria Drug (3:42 p.m. HK)

India banned exports of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that U.S. President Donald Trump has touted as a “game changer” in the fight against Covid-19.

Exports of the drug and its formulations have been prohibited “without any exceptions” and with immediate effect, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in an April 4 order on its website. The trade regulator last month restricted overseas shipments of the drug, allowing only limited exceptions such as on humanitarian grounds and to meet prior commitments.

German Cases Rise at Slower Pace (3:20 p.m. HK)

The number of confirmed cases in Germany continued to rise, but at a slower pace than a day earlier. Germany had 96,092 confirmed cases on Sunday, 4,933 more than on Saturday. The increase in deaths was almost identical to the previous day. Some 169 more people died, bringing the number German fatalities to 1,444, according to Johns Hopkins University.

More Than 130 New Cases in Tokyo (2:40 p.m. HK)

The city found more than 130 new coronavirus infections Sunday — a record for daily confirmed cases — local outlet Kyodo reported, citing unnamed sources close to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The city found more than 110 new coronavirus cases Saturday, the first time its daily confirmed infections passed the 100 mark, national broadcaster NHK reported.

Singapore Will Announce Additional Support (2:27 p.m. HK)

The city-state is set to unveil further support for businesses and households on Monday, following a previously announced S$48 billion ($33.4 billion) stimulus package to buffer the virus’s impact. Authorities plan to waive foreign worker levies for April and boost an existing jobs support program, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said Saturday. He didn’t elaborate on other measures or how much authorities will spend.

Bangladesh Announces Stimulus Amid Virus (1:30 p.m. HK)

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rolled out a 727.5 billion taka ($8.6 billion) stimulus package, which is 2.52% of the country’s GDP, to cushion the impact of the outbreak.

Low-income groups will be affected the most by the outbreak as economic costs will mount in the days to come, she said. The government will prioritize fiscal benefits and low-cost loans for businesses, including small and medium enterprises. Bangladesh has 70 cases, with nine reported Saturday.

Malaysia Asks Courts to Stop Jailing Lockdown Dodgers (1:17 p.m. HK)

Malaysia’s prisons department sent a letter to the federal court asking the judiciary to stop jailing violators of the country’s movement control order, the Star newspaper reported. The prisons department director-general is said to have signed a letter that states social distancing was impossible in prisons due to overcrowding, according to the report.

Prison chiefs worry that incoming inmates could become sources of infections as their health status is unknown.

Gulf Economies See Record Declines (12:48 p.m. HK)

Business conditions in the United Arab Emirates worsened at a record pace last month and dropped at the fastest in over a decade in Saudi Arabia following measures to stem the outbreak as it spreads in the Middle East, Europe and U.S.

Trump, India’s Modi Discuss Virus, Supply Chains (10:37 a.m. HK)

Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a phone call in which they “agreed to remain in touch on the issue of global supply chains for critical pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and to ensure they continue to function as smoothly as possible during the global health crisis,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a readout.

South Korea Says 6 More Virus Deaths (9:12 a.m. HK)

The hard-hit country reported 81 new virus cases in 24 hours, for a total of 10,237, as Asia battles a second wave of infections.

China Adds 30 New Confirmed Virus Cases (8:19 a.m. HK)

China reported that it had 30 new infections April 4, including 25 imported cases. It also said there had been three more deaths. China also reported 47 new asymptomatic cases for April 4, including 16 cases from abroad.

Pelosi Aims to Bring Up Next Virus Stimulus This Month (8:10 a.m. HK)

Communities in the U.S. “cannot afford to wait” for the next coronavirus stimulus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to House lawmakers, adding “it is my hope that we will craft this legislation and bring it to the floor later this month.”

The next package “must go further in assisting small businesses including farmers, extending and strengthening unemployment benefits and giving families additional direct payments,” according to Pelosi. She said it would give more resources to state and local governments, health care including hospitals and medical workers, and first responders.

Queen to Address Britain (8 a.m. HK)

Queen Elizabeth will strike an optimistic note about the U.K.’s collective response to the coronavirus in a special broadcast Sunday to the U.K. and Commonwealth nations, according to excerpts reported by the BBC and the Guardian. Other than her annual Christmas address, the monarch rarely makes public pronouncements of this kind.

U.S. Warned of ‘Deadly Period’ (6:50 p.m. NY)

Trump offered a stark warning about the days ahead as his top medical adviser said cases in hard-hit cities like New York, Detroit and New Orleans will likely reach a peak within a week.

“There’s going to be a very, very deadly period, unfortunately,” Trump said at the White House on Saturday. “It’s not going to be a good-looking situation.” Trump compared the casualties to a world war, without giving specific estimates.

Deborah Birx, the U.S. State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response, warned that even if new cases slow, or fall, deaths will lag.

“If mitigation in New York worked — and we believe it is working — cases are going to start to go down, but the mortality will lag,” she said. Administration officials have estimated as many as 240,000 could die.

Gilead Donates Drug Doses (6:30 p.m. NY)

Gilead Sciences Inc. donated 1.5 million doses of its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir, which could treat 140,000 patients, and will offer it for “compassionate use” by people with severe symptoms, Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day said in an open letter.

The company is also boosting its supply of remdesivir to more than 500,000 treatment courses by October, and to more than 1 million by the end the year. Production time has also been accelerated to six months from one year, he said.

Trump Backs Panel on Reopening (5:30 p.m. NY)

Trump may form a panel to examine how best to restart the economy after limits to stem the spread of Covid-19 are lifted.

“I’m thinking about it,” Trump said at the White House. “We have to open our country again. We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”

Dana Perino, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, suggested “a nonpartisan/bipartisan mix of experts” who could advise the president about overcoming the economic difficulties stemming from harsh measures suggested by the government.

Trump Vows to Keep Gear in the U.S. (5:15 p.m. NY)

Trump said he would use the Defense Production Act to retaliate when companies ship medical equipment elsewhere that’s needed in the U.S. to cope with the pandemic.

Trump has said he invoked the act to ban the export of supplies — escalating a battle with allies and 3M Co. 3M has pushed back against a request to halt exports, saying the move would raise “significant” humanitarian concerns. Read the story here.

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