Nearly a third of the world’s population is living under coronavirus-related movement restrictions with more than 500,000 people infected and more than 22,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University (JHU). More than 120,000 people have recovered.
Here’s all the latest news:
US shatters record for jobless claims: A record number of Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits as businesses shut down, with 3.28 million jobless claims in the week ended March 2. Meanwhile, the Senate voted to pass a $2 trillion economic relief package, which will go to the House Friday.
US cases have topped 75,000, according to figures from JHU, and the number of deaths has risen above 1,000. Officials are racing to get a handle on the coronavirus as cases in two of the hardest hit states — California and New York — quickly multiply. Two people who were passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship have died.
Hospitals struggle to cope: A tidal wave of coronavirus patients is threatening to overwhelm hospitals worldwide. Public health experts have warned the US could “become Italy,” where doctors have been forced to ration care. New York state has approved the splitting of ventilators to allow one machine to serve two patients. Dyson — a company best known for hand dryers and vacuum cleaners — is helping to provide the UK government with 10,000 ventilators.
Rise of the volunteers: In New York, 40,000 retired medical workers have volunteered to help, along with 8,600 mental health professionals. In the UK, more than half a million people responded to the government’s call to volunteer for the National Health Service (NHS). Away from the fights at grocery stores, people have been finding ways to help their neighbors by distributing food to hospital workers and offering remote tutoring services.
Largest 24-hour spike in several nations: The US, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia and Russia saw their largest single-day spike in cases since the outbreak began. New Zealand is now on the highest Level 4 alert and most people are required to stay home. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned of a possible sharp rise in cases during a Facebook Live she hosted from her home, adding: “Remember stay at home, break the chain, and you’ll save lives.”
G20 to do whatever it takes: The G20 said it would spare no effort to protect lives, safeguard people’s jobs and preserve financial stability. Members have committed to injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, its leaders said in a statement. It also gave support to the “extraordinary measures” taken by central banks and bodies like the IMF and World Bank. A push by the US State Department to include the phrase “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement with other G7 members following a meeting of foreign ministers on coronavirus on Wednesday was rejected, resulting in separate statements and division in the group.
Spain reels: The country has now recorded more deaths than China — only Italy has more. The total number of infections in Spain has topped 56,000, with more than 4,000 fatalities. But the rise in the death toll of 655 in the past 24 hours was a smaller increase than the record 738 set on Wednesday, with officials tentatively noting signs of a peak in the data. Spain has been locked down and in a state of emergency since March 13 and has appealed to NATO for humanitarian assistance, requesting medical and personal protective equipment. It has ordered $467 million worth of masks, tests, gloves and respirators from China.
Markets struggling: US stocks opened higher on Thursday, suggesting the market had already priced in a shock to the labor market as the nation moves closer toward passing a stimulus bill. The House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure on Friday. Markets in Asia Pacific struggled for direction, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was the only major benchmark in the region to trade firmly in the green.
New imported cases in China: The country reported 67 new imported coronavirus cases on Wednesday, but no new locally transmitted ones. Its rate of new infections has slowed significantly, with 81,285 cases, 3,287 deaths, 74,051 recovered.
Mixed messages from Kremlin as cases spiral: President Vladimir Putin has declared next week a paid stay-at-home holiday in Russia. All cafes, parks and stores (except grocery stores, delivery kitchens and pharmacies) will shut in Moscow until April 5 after a spike in Russia took the nation to 840 cases and three deaths. Putin said last week Russia had managed to slow the spread of coronavirus thanks to early and aggressive measures. Now the country is changing tactics, as authorities acknowledge they are gearing up for a major Covid-19 outbreak.
India pledges $22.6 billion in support: The government has announced a relief package to assist those most affected by the pandemic and 21-day nationwide lockdown. It includes medical insurance cover of $66,400 per person to those working on the frontlines and 5 kilograms of rice or wheat per month for 800 million people.
Some happy news: Wynn, a service dog in training, is bringing joy and comfort to the medical staff on the front lines of the battle against the virus in Denver, Colorado. A 96-year-old woman is now the oldest South Korean to fully recover from the coronavirus.