Markets rise as deaths slow in hotspots: Virus update

Markets rise as deaths slow in hotspots: Virus update

A man wearing a face mask gazes at the Dubai skyline from a window, during a lockdown imposed by the authorities in a bid to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Emirati city on Sunday. (AFP photo)
A man wearing a face mask gazes at the Dubai skyline from a window, during a lockdown imposed by the authorities in a bid to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Emirati city on Sunday. (AFP photo)

Germany and Spain reported lower numbers of new cases, a tentative sign that lockdown measures are easing the outbreak.

JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said he expects the fallout to include a major economic downturn and stress similar to the crisis that almost brought down the US financial system in 2008.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he’ll propose a state of emergency in prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka for about a month, after a renewed surge in coronavirus infections. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitaliSed as a precaution, after struggling to recover from the infection he contracted.

Stock markets rallied after President Donald Trump said he sees signs the pandemic is beginning to level off in the US. In New York State, fatalities fell for the first time on Sunday, though Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was too early to say if the outbreak had reached a peak.

Updates (latest first):

Dimon sees ‘bad recession’ and echoes of 2008 crisis ahead 

“At a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008,” the CEO said Monday in his annual letter to shareholders. “Our bank cannot be immune to the effects of this kind of stress.”

Nigeria to borrow $6.9 billion to offset virus impact on economy 

The government plans to raise as much as $6.9 billion from multilateral lenders to offset the impact of the pandemic. The state will seek $3.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund, $2.5 billion from the World Bank and a further $1 billion from the African Development Bank, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told reporters Monday.

French firms have requested guarantees for EU20 billion of loans

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said 100,000 companies requested government loan guarantees for a total of 20 billion euros ($21.6 billion). In addition, more than 500,000 small companies have requested aid from France’s solidarity fund.

Redhill announces first Covid-19 patient treated with opaganib 

RedHill Biopharma said the first patient with a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis was dosed with opaganib in Israel, and additional patients are expected to be treated in the coming days. Pre-clinical data demonstrated anti-viral effects in other viruses, anti-inflammatory activities and the potential to reduce lung inflammation, the company said.

Hungary announces virus stimulus plan of up to 20% of GDP 

Hungary’s government will pay some-private sector wages, offer loan guarantees and boost spending on infrastructure and pensions as part of a major fiscal stimulus plan aimed at averting a recession and mass unemployment as the coronavirus pummels the economy. The package, valued at 18% to 20% of gross domestic product including planned stimulus from the central bank, will also see the 2020 budget deficit rise to 2.7% of GDP from 1%, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday.

Iran reports 136 new deaths, compared with 151 on Sunday 

The nation also reported 2,274 new infections, taking the total to 60,500. Total deaths now stand at 3,739.

Austria takes first steps toward economic restart next week 

Austrian small retailers, hardware and gardening shops will reopen next week after national lockdown measures succeeded in slowing the spread of coronavirus. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. But social distancing rules will apply at least until the end of April.

Nestle struggles to keep up with rising demand, CEO says 

Nestle SA is struggling to keep up with consumers’ appetites as obstacles slow down production at the world’s largest food and beverage company, Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider said. The maker of Pure Life bottled water and DiGiorno pizzas is seeing very strong demand for essential food and drink items, though many of its factories are unable to run at 100% capacity, Schneider said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Spain reports lowest number of new virus cases since March 22 

Spain reported the lowest number of new cases in more than two weeks, a sign that Europe’s biggest outbreak is slowing. New infections were 4,273, taking the total to 135,032, according to Health Ministry data on Monday. The death toll rose by 637 to 13,055 in the past 24 hours, a smaller gain than Sunday’s 674 and the lowest number of daily fatalities since March 24.

Airbus tells employees production rebound unlikely in short term 

Airbus SE has told employees that a return to full operations isn’t feasible in the short term because of parts shortages and the inability of struggling airlines to take delivery of new aircraft, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Dubai said in talks to raise funds as shutdown weighs on economy 

Dubai is in talks to raise funds to shore up its finances as the pandemic shuts down much of the economy, according to people familiar with the matter. The emirate’s Department of Finance is holding discussions with banks about a potential bond sale or loan, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Poland backs EU plan to issue coronavirus bonds: premier 

Poland is ready to participate in mechanisms to guarantee the issuance of coronavirus bonds by the European Union to help fight pandemics, Premier Mateusz Morawiecki tells parliament.

Japan’s Abe moves to declare emergencies in Tokyo, Osaka areas 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will propose a state of emergency in prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka for about a month, after a renewed surge of coronavirus cases in some of Japan’s biggest metropolitan areas. The move hands powers to local governments to try to contain the spread, including by urging residents to stay at home.

Abe also announced a much larger-than-expected stimulus package of 108 trillion yen ($988 billion) to support households and businesses struggling from the impact of the pandemic.

Hong Kong reports 24 additional coronavirus cases April 6 

Eighteen had travel history, including five who returned from Peru on a government chartered flight, Hong Kong Department of Health official Chuang Shuk-kwan said. That brings the city’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 914.

UK’s 50 billion-pound subsidies for companies wins EU approval

The UK’s plan to grant 50 billion pounds ($61.5 billion) to companies suffering the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak won approval from the European Commission.

Indonesia coronavirus cases seen soaring to 95,000 by next month 

Coronavirus may infect as many as 95,000 people in Indonesia by next month before easing, as authorities ordered people to wear face masks to contain the pandemic. The dire forecast is based on a projection by the nation’s intelligence agency, University of Indonesia and Bandung Institute of Technology, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.

Denmark faces budget deficit of 6.5% under optimistic scenario 

Denmark faces a budget deficit of 6.5% of gross domestic product this year under the most optimistic scenario provided by the Danish Economic Councils, an independent government adviser. In that model, GDP would fall by 3.5% this year as the economy quickly returns to normal, the group, known as the Wise Men, said in a statement on Monday.

Milan region official sees Italy lockdown lasting 2-3 more weeks 

Italy’s lockdown should be prolonged for at least another couple of weeks, Lombardy’s top health official said. “Clearly, we cannot stay indoors for ever, but we believe that this sacrifice needs to be continued at least for another two to three weeks,” Giulio Gallera, the top health official of the Lombardy region, said on Canale 5. “Then, we’ll have to use precautions -- masks, or other facial protections -- to avoid starting another round of outbreaks.”

Russia reports 18% increase in Covid-19 cases 

Russia reported 954 new cases of Covid-19 overnight, bringing the total number to 6,343, Interfax said, citing Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. There were two deaths, for a total of 47.

Japan consumer confidence tanks to lowest since financial crisis 

Japan’s consumer confidence tumbled in March, reflecting the massive hit to shoppers as the pandemic keeps people indoors. The cabinet office released numbers Monday showing a 7.4 percentage-point drop to 30.9. It also cut its overall assessment of consumers’ mindset to “worsening” from “stalling” in the previous month.

Germany’s virus outbreak slows with lowest new cases in six days 

Germany saw the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in six days in a tentative sign that lockdown measures are easing the outbreak. As restrictions across Europe’s largest economy enter their fourth week, infections rose by 4,031 to 100,123, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The death toll increased by 140 to 1,584 on Monday, the lowest daily increase in five days.

Paris hospitals head sees some stability in France 

The epidemic in France has “sort of” stabilized thanks to confinement measures, Martin Hirsch, head of Paris hospitals, said Monday on France Inter radio. The decrease in cases will be slow and any loosening of the confinement could actually restart the epidemic, he said.

Indonesia orders citizens to wear face masks 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered citizens to wear face masks when leaving home to contain the coronavirus pandemic that’s killed almost 200 people in the world’s fourth-most populous nation.

Authorities must ensure availability of face masks for every household, Widodo told a cabinet meeting. The appeal for compulsory use of masks follows a change in the World Health Organization’s advisory on use of protective face covers, the president said.

Singapore pledges more cash handouts 

Singapore will provide direct cash to households and take steps to save jobs in a third stimulus package as the city state prepares to go into a partial lockdown to contain a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the measures Monday in Parliament, just 11 days after unveiling a supplementary budget of S$48 billion ($33.4 billion) in virus relief for businesses and households.

Germany’s total cases exceed 100,000 

Germany’s coronavirus infections topped 100,123, the third highest number of cases in Europe after Spain and Italy, and 4,031 more than 24 hours earlier. The number of deaths rose by 140 to 1,584 on Monday. This is the fourth straight drop in the daily rate of new cases, though government officials have warned that the worst of the crisis is yet to come.

Thailand sees least new cases since March 20 

Thailand reported 51 new coronavirus cases, the lowest number since March 20. The new infections bring the total number of cases to 2,220. The country confirmed three more deaths, bringing total fatalities to 26, according to Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the Covid-19 centre.

Tesla shows ventilator prototype 

Tesla Inc engineers showed footage of a prototype ventilator the company is trying to make with auto parts amid a shortage of the machines for coronavirus patients. According to the video on Tesla’s YouTube channel, the design includes a touch screen, computer and control system from a Model 3 electric car.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said supply-chain disruption is the biggest hurdle for every manufacturer, including Tesla. “Their timeframe frankly doesn’t work for our immediate apex,“ he said at a press conference.

Japan to fight virus with two stages of stimulus

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government will deploy a two-phase stimulus package to help workers and businesses in Japan survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a government document obtained by Bloomberg.

The first phase, expected to be announced as soon as later Monday, aims to stop job losses and bankruptcies. Once the virus is contained, a second round of aid will try to support a V-shaped economic recovery, according to a draft of the plan. The document didn’t provide numbers on the overall size of the package.

South Korea sees lowest new cases since surge 

South Korea reported 47 new coronavirus cases over 24 hours, the lowest number since the start of a surge on Feb 21 in connection to a religious sect. The health ministry said there are a total of 10,284 cases in the country, with 186 total deaths. The nation has seen five consecutive days of less than 100 new cases within a 24-hour period, according to statements. The latest development comes after the government extended its advisories of social distancing for two more weeks as of Sunday, cancelling group events and recommending against religious activities and protests as well as delaying school classes nationwide.

China finds 78 new asymptomatic cases 

China reported 78 new cases of people who tested positive but show no symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the National Health Commission.

The country reported 39 additional coronavirus cases for April 5, with all but one imported. Of the confirmed cases, five of them were earlier classified as asymptomatic. China has a total of 81,708 confirmed virus cases.

Hubei province reported one new fatality, bringing the country’s total death toll to 3,331.

Trump, Pence say there are signs US ‘stabilising’ 

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said they see signs the US coronavirus outbreak is beginning to level off or stabilise, citing a day-to-day reduction in deaths in New York, the Covid-19 epicentre in the country.

“We’re beginning to see the glimmers of progress,” Pence said at a White House news conference on Sunday. “The experts will tell me not to jump to any conclusions, and I’m not, but like your president I’m an optimistic person.”

New York state reported 594 new coronavirus deaths on Sunday, a reduction of 36 from Saturday. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a daily briefing that the data may show the state is reaching a “plateau” -- or could be “just a blip”.

But Trump was more optimistic. “Maybe that’s a good sign,” he said. “We hope we’re seeing a levelling off.”

Democrats urge Mnuchin to move quickly on airlines 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged the Treasury Department to move more quickly to help airlines to save industry jobs and refrain from imposing “unreasonable conditions” that might spur some carriers to decline payroll assistance.

In a letter Sunday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Pelosi and Schumer stressed that provisions of the $2.2 trillion stimulus passed by Congress were aimed specifically at bolstering aviation jobs. The lawmakers expressed concern that guidelines released by the department a week ago didn’t go far enough to safeguard workers.

Japan to declare emergency: Yomiuri 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen moving closer to declaring a state of emergency in a matter of days, after confirmed coronavirus infections in Tokyo surged over the weekend to top 1,000 for the first time, a newspaper report said.

Abe will make public as soon as Monday his intention, with the declaration for the Tokyo area coming as early as Tuesday, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, without attribution. Osaka and Hyogo prefectures may also be under emergency, it said. Calls for more stringent measures to contain the deadly virus had been growing, as a recent spike in infections sparked concerns Japan is headed for a crisis on the levels seen in the US and several countries in Europe.

Apple designs face shields 

Apple Inc is designing face shields for medical workers and separately has sourced over 20 million masks through its global supply chain, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on Twitter.

The company’s design, engineering, packaging and operations teams are working with suppliers to get the shield made and shipped. The first shipment was delivered to a Santa Clara, California, hospital last week.

The shields are fully adjustable and assemble in under two minutes, he said, adding that Apple plans to ship over a million this week and another million weekly after that.

NYC tiger tested positive in zoo 

A tiger in New York’s Bronx Zoo is infected with the coronavirus in what the US Department of Agriculture said is the the first instance of a tiger being infected with Covid-19.

Health officials think the cat became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who wasn’t showing symptoms but had the virus. The zoo has been closed since mid-March, and the first tiger began showing signs of sickness on March 27, USDA said.

The USDA said no evidence so far suggests that any animals, including pets or livestock, can spread the infection to people.

Scotland medical chief quits over lapse 

Scotland’s chief medical officer quit after flouting UK lockdown guidelines. Catherine Calderwood had apologised for travelling to her second home about 40 miles from Edinburgh. She later spoke with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, she said in a statement issued by the government.

“We have agreed that the justifiable focus on my behaviour risks becoming a distraction from the hugely important job that government and the medical profession has to do,” Calderwood said.

Boeing extends plant closing 

Boeing Co said its Seattle-area commercial manufacturing hub will remain closed indefinitely as health officials work to contain the Covid-19 outbreak and suppliers show signs of stress.

The factories, including a hulking plant where wide-body jets are built, had been scheduled to reopen late Tuesday following an earlier two-week closure. The health and safety of employees and recommendations of government health authorities were among the considerations, the Chicago-based planemaker said in a statement.

Washington State returns ventilators 

Washington State, which continues to see fewer new infections than once feared, said it will return more than 400 ventilators to the national stockpile for use by states that have greater need. That represents the majority of the machines the state received from the federal government.

Washington separately bought 750 ventilators that are set to arrive over the next few weeks, when the state might need them, said Governor Jay Inslee in a statement. “These ventilators are going to New York and others states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said.

US troops to wear face coverings 

US military personnel will wear face coverings when they are unable to stay six feet away from others, the Pentagon said a week after health officials recommended the use of such coverings.

The policy, signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, also applies to contractors and others on Defense Department installations and facilities.

“We want to take every measure to protect our troops,” Esper said on ABC’s “This Week.”

UK premier sent to hospital 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to a hospital Sunday night after having “persistent symptoms” 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19, a spokesperson said.

“This is a precautionary step,” the official said.

Johnson had been in isolation with a high temperature which had not abated. Two days ago, he posted a video on Twitter about his condition.

He remains in charge of the government, and is in contact with ministerial colleagues and officials.

NYC welcomes added medical staff 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 291 medical staff have arrived to work in the besieged hospital system, but said as many as 1,450 are needed. The first wave includes 74 nurses, 104 doctors and 12 respirator therapists.

The city has a supply of breathing machines for about 48 to 72 hours, which he said was an improvement since officials had feared the ventilator supply would be exhausted by Sunday.

“I see a few signs that are a little hopeful, for sure,” de Blasio said. “I think it’s early to be able to declare” a corner has been turned.

Boston mayor imposes curfew 

Boston imposed new measures including an overnight curfew for non-essential activities and encouraging the use of face coverings. Starting Monday, non-essential trips to businesses, restaurants and other locations are banned from 9pm to 6am, Mayor Martin Walsh said. The city encourages the use of delivery services for items needed after 9pm. City parks, including sports courts and fields, will close. Walking and jogging paths remain open.

Ackman ‘optimistic’ after seeing data 

Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman is “beginning to get optimistic” as cases appear to be peaking in New York, the billionaire said in a series of tweets.

Ackman, who has repeatedly called for a complete shutdown of the US, said hydroxychloriquine and antibiotics appear to help, and he envisions a time in the next few months where everyone is tested and all but the most vulnerable return to more normal life.

The activist investor has previously invested a portion of his personal wealth to help manufacture antibody test kids made by Covaxx, a new subsidiary of closely held United Biomedical Inc.

French deaths lowest in 5 days 

France reported the lowest daily coronavirus deaths in five days in a possible sign that three weeks of confinement are starting to help contain the outbreak. The country had 518 fatalities on Sunday, the fewest since last Tuesday, according to figures published by French health authorities. New cases dropped to 1,873, the fewest since March 21.

NJ deaths fall sharply

New Jersey, which has the second-highest number of US cases, reported a slowdown in the death rate: Fatalities rose by 71 compared with 200 the day before.

The state also reported fewer new cases, 3,381, for a total of 37,505. Total deaths are 917.

Italy’s deaths fewest since March 19 

Italy reported the lowest figure for single-day coronavirus deaths in 2 1/2 weeks, even as the region around Milan announced tougher containment measures.

Fatalities fell to 525, the fewest since March 19, bringing the total since the beginning of the outbreak in Italy to 15,887. New confirmed cases totalled 4,316, down from 4,805 the day before. Italy now has 128,948 cases, slightly fewer than Spain.

US sends military doctors to NYC 

The US military will deploy 1,000 Air Force and Navy medical staff to New York City in the next three days, the Pentagon said in a statement. About 300 will be assigned to the Javits Center, which has been converted into a Covid-19 hospital. The rest will deploy to other area locations, the US Northern Command said in a statement.

NY deaths, hospitalisations fall 

New York reported 594 new coronavirus deaths, fewer than the 630 it reported on Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said at his daily press briefing. He said it’s too soon to draw conclusions. The state has 4,159 fatalities so far.

There are 122,031 positive cases in total. New hospitalizations also dropped, to 574 from 1,095, Cuomo reported.

The governor said while the coronavirus has hurt the economy, it led to a drop in the crime rate and fewer trauma cases unrelated to the outbreak being taken to hospitals.

Biden suggests virtual convention 

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the party should consider a virtual nominating convention this summer because the coronavirus has led to limits on public gatherings.

“We’re going to have to do a convention, we may have to do a virtual convention,” Biden said on ABC’s “This Week”. “We should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding a convention is going to be necessary. But we may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place.”

UK coronavirus cases rise 

Cases rose to 47,806 from 41,903 on Saturday. Total deaths were 4,934 versus 4,313, according to the Department of Health and Social Care, rising at a slower pace than those reported on Saturday.

The UK will tighten a nationwide lockdown if needed to halt the spread, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, even as pressure builds on the government to explain how it will eventually ease economically devastating measures.

As many as 4,000 low-risk prisoners will be freed in England and Wales as cases inside prisons climb. Selected inmates with less than two months to serve will be released and monitored with electronic devices, the Ministry of Justice said.


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