Global coronavirus cases exceed two million

The total number of coronavirus cases in the world has surpassed two million, according to the data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.

US President Donald Trump is cutting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) over its handling of the pandemic, attracting condemnation from leaders around the world. The United States is the biggest contributor to the WHO’s budget.

The number of people dying from coronavirus in the US rose by at least 2,228 – the highest in a single day – on Tuesday to exceed 28,300. The country also has more than 600,000 reported cases, three times more than any other country

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the global economy is expected to shrink by 3 percent this year – the biggest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Wednesday, April 15
17:28 GMT – Colombia to put 4,000 prisonerson house arrest

Colombia will temporarily release some 4,000 prisoners to house arrest in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Justice Minister Margarita Cabello said, adding that additional people may be released in the coming days.

Two people recently released from a prison in the central city of Villavicencio died after contracting the coronavirus. Thirteen other prisoners, two guards and an administrator in the same institution also have confirmed coronavirus infections.

“We analyzed the projections to get to the highest number of prisoners who could benefit,” Cabello said. “But I have to be realistic, no measure that I could take is going to guarantee 100 percent that we will avoid infection.”
17:15 GMT – Turkey reports new cases, deaths

Turkey on Wednesday confirmed 115 more deaths from the coronavirus in the country over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,518.

The total number of registered coronavirus cases surged to 69,392 as 4,281 more people tested positive for the virus, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.
16:55 GMT – Germany to begin easing virus curbs

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced first steps in undoing coronavirus lockdowns for the coming weeks, with most shops allowed to open although schools must stay closed until May 4.

Shops up to 800 square metres (8,600 square feet) will be allowed to reopen once they have “plans to maintain hygiene”, Merkel said, while schools will gradually be reopened with priority given to pupils about to take exams.

Meanwhile, a ban on large public events will be upheld until August 31.
16:52 GMT – Canada reports new cases

Canada’s confirmed cases rose to 27,540, while the death toll from the coronavirus rose to 903, according to data by the Public Health Agency.
16:50 GMT – Jordan says will ease lockdown measures

Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al Razzaz said the government would soon ease a tight lockdown by allowing more businesses and industries to return to work.

However, it will not yet lift a curfew imposed nearly a month ago that restricts the movements of Jordan’s 10 million people, Razzaz said.

The prime minister said the new measures could also include allowing people to move more freely in some regions outside the capital, but he warned that they could be rescinded if Jordan sees a further spike in cases of the coronavirus.
16:47 GMT – Italy death toll climbs by 578

Deaths from the coronavirus in Italy rose by 578 in the past 24 hours, down from 602 the day before, while the number of new cases slowed to 2,667 from a previous 2,972, continuing the recent downward trend.

The number of new cases was the lowest since March 13 but the daily tally of deaths remains stubbornly high.

The total death toll since the outbreak came to light on February 21 rose to 21,645 the Civil Protection Agency said, the second highest in the world after that of the United States.
16:41 GMT – US House Speaker Pelosi calls Trump’s decision ‘senseless’

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi Trump’s decision to halt funding for the WHO senseless and dangerous, and said it would be challenged.

“The President’s halting of funding to the WHO as it leads the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic is senseless,” Pelosi said in a statement. “This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged.”
16:34 GMT – Northern Ireland restrictions extended

Northern Ireland will keep coronavirus restrictions in place for another three weeks, First Minister Arlene Foster said, keeping the British-run region in line with similar measures in neighbouring Ireland due to run until May 5.

“We have decided restrictions will remain in place for another three weeks and we will review that coming up to that time,” Foster told a news conference, saying Northern Ireland was still in the middle of its first wave of infections.

“If we relax our guard now all will have been in vain.”
16:24 GMT – WHO chief regrets US decision to cut funding

The head of the WHO said that he regretted Trump’s decision to pull funding for the organisation, but called on world unity to fight the new coronavirus pandemic.

“The United States of America has been a long-standing and generous friend of the WHO and we hope it will continue to be so,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference. “We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in the funding to the WHO.”

WHO was still assessing the impact and would “try to fill any gaps with partners”, Tedros said. But now was the time for the world to be united in its common struggle against the outbreak, which he described as a “dangerous enemy.”
15:57 GMT – What US funding cut means for WHO’s fight

Concerns have been raised over the WHO future after Trump announced a funding cut for the body amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump’s decision could mean as much as $720m in health programmes could go unfunded this year and next.

Read more here.
16:13 GMT – Brazil health secretary resigns

Brazil’s Health Ministry said that health secretary Wanderson de Oliveira has resigned, as tensions between Minister Henrique Mandetta and President Jair Bolsonaro over the handling of the coronavirus crisis escalate.
15:37 GMT – Singapore reports 447 new cases

Singapore’s health ministry confirmed 447 new coronavirus cases in the biggest daily jump, to bring the total number of cases in the city-state to 3,699.

404 of the new cases were linked to migrant workers’ dormitories.

While Singapore won global plaudits for its handling of the coronavirus, the disease has spread rapidly within its large migrant worker community, highlighting what rights groups say is a weak link in the city state’s containment efforts.
15:33 GMT – ‘No country will be spared’ in Sub-saharan Africa: IMF

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing an unprecedented health crisis and a severe economic downturn that could drag on economies for years to come, the International Monetary Fund said, warning: “No country will be spared.”

Read more here.
15:21 GMT – G20 agrees to temporary debt standstill for poorest countries

The Group of 20 nations announced support for a temporary halt to debt payments by the world’s poorest nations as they struggle to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We support a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries that request forbearance,” the G20 finance ministers and central bankers said in a communique following their virtual meeting. “All bilateral official creditors will participate in this initiative.”

The group also called on private creditors, working through the Institute of International Finance, to participate in the initiative.
15:17 GMT – Aston Martin extends manufacturing suspensions

Luxury carmaker Aston Martin is extending by a week the manufacturing suspensions in place at its two factories as lockdown measures remain in place in Britain.

“Considering the current global and local position on suppliers and employees, the business is now extending this temporary suspension until Monday 27 April, subject to ongoing review of the changing circumstances,” it said in a statement.

“The business will look to resume operations as soon as it is reasonable to do so.”
14:58 GMT – IMF, World Bank leader praise G20 debt relief initiative

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank David Malpass praised a new G20 debt relief agreement that suspends bilateral debt servbice payments by poor countries.

A source familiar with a G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors said the debt service suspension would run from May 1 through December 31, with an option for renewal in 2021.

Georgieva, in a statement to a meeting of G20 leaders also said the IMF was “urgently” seeking some $18bn in new resources for the Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust for poor countries and was exploring how the use of special drawing rights could aid this effort.
14:52 GMT – #YouClapForMeNow: UK immigrants read poem in widely shared video

This social media video of key workers from minority backgrounds in the UK is being widely shared and celebrated online.

In the footage, first, second and third-generation immigrants including doctors, nurses, teachers, shopkeepers, dentists, social workers, care workers, delivery drivers and broadcasters read a powerful poem about their contributions during the pandemic.

Creative director Sachini Imbuldeniya made the video, using the poem by her colleague Darren Smith.

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