(Reuters) - The number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus were reported to have exceeded 1.5 million globally and the death toll rose above 89,400, according to a Reuters tally as of 1400 GMT.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* Spain’s prime minister warned that nationwide confinement would likely last until May even though he said the worst should soon be over and the death toll slowed.
* The Italian government is planning to extend its lockdown until May 3, two trade union sources told Reuters on Thursday after meeting ministers.
* British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left intensive care on Thursday evening as he continues to recover from COVID-19, but he remains under close observation in hospital.
* The British government defended its early handling of the outbreak after a Reuters investigation found its scientific advisers were too slow to communicate their growing concerns.
* Social distancing measures have helped Germany to slightly slow the spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
* Russia reported a record one-day rise in cases, pushing its tally to more than 10,000.
* The Czech Republic plans to roll out a system of quickly tracking and isolating contacts of people with the virus to eventually allow the lifting of blanket restrictions.
* Slovakia closed off several Roma settlements in the eastern part of the country after reports of virus clusters in five of them.
* Bulgaria’s prime minister said the country’s Orthodox churches and temples will be open for traditional Palm Sunday and Easter services despite the outbreak.
* Americans must persevere with social distancing, U.S. medical and state officials said, as New York hospitalizations ebbed but the state’s death toll spiked again. Meanwhile, total cases in the country crossed 427,000.
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the American economy could start to reopen for business in May, despite experts’ emphasis on prolonged social distancing measures.
* Canada’s death toll is set to soar from the current 435 to as high as 22,000 by the end of the pandemic, while the economy lost a record 1 million jobs last month.
* Lockdowns in Brazil’s largest cities are beginning to slip, according to new data this week seen and analyzed by Reuters, with more people leaving their homes as President Jair Bolsonaro continues to criticize the measures.
* Chile will start handing out certificates to people who have recovered from the coronavirus that will exempt them from adhering to quarantines or other restrictions.
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
* China will allocate more resources to prevent the spread of the virus from its land borders, as the country still faces risks of a comeback after new clusters are identified in some regions.
* The total number of infections in Japan hit more than 5,300 on Thursday, showing no signs of slowing despite a state of emergency being imposed on Tokyo and six other areas.
* India claimed initial success in its fight against the epidemic, saying it would have been hit with 820,000 cases by next week had it not imposed a nationwide lockdown.
* Vietnam said more than 1,000 healthcare workers and 14,400 others linked to an outbreak at a Hanoi hospital have tested negative.
* Singapore confirmed 287 new infections on Thursday, its biggest daily increase yet, with more than 200 of them linked to outbreaks in dormitories for foreign workers.
* Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump in deaths on Thursday, while neighbouring Malaysia had its second-lowest daily increase since a partial lockdown was imposed on March 18.
* Australian police said they have taken the “black box” of a cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of infected passengers in Sydney, as part of a homicide investigation into the country’s deadliest infection source.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa extended a lockdown by two weeks to the end of April.
* A South African public sector union withdrew a court case against the government over shortages of protective gear for frontline health workers.
* All Botswana’s parliamentarians including the president will be quarantined for two weeks and tested, after a health worker screening lawmakers for the virus tested positive.
* Lebanon extended its almost month-long shutdown by another two weeks until April 26.
* Political and physical divisions in the West Bank and Gaza have induced two very different responses, with a strict lockdown in the first and crowds milling about freely in the second.
* Global stocks moved higher on Thursday following signs of some success by governments and central banks which have taken additional steps to bolster their economies during the COVID-19 pandemic. [MKTS/GLOB]
* The pandemic will turn global economic growth “sharply negative” in 2020, triggering the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021, the head of the International Monetary Fund said.
* A partisan skirmish in the U.S. Senate cut short a Republican effort to speed $250 billion in new small business assistance.
* The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits in the last three weeks has blown past 15 million, with weekly new claims topping 6 million for the second straight time.
* The U.S. Federal Reserve rolled out a broad, $2.3 trillion effort to bolster local governments and small and mid-sized businesses.
* The White House is expected to announce soon formation of a second coronavirus task force, this one devoted to getting the economy going again when the time is right.
* Prospects for a European Union deal on a package to support its coronavirus-battered economies brightened as Germany put its foot down to end opposition from the Netherlands and to reassure Italy that the EU would show it solidarity.
* The Bank of England has agreed temporarily to finance government borrowing if funds cannot immediately be raised from debt markets.
* The French government more than doubled the expected cost of its coronavirus crisis measures, pushing the budget deficit and national debt to record levels.
(This story corrects to drop reference to the number of deaths in the United States as it was incorrect)
Compiled by Sarah Morland, Milla Nissi, Aditya Soni and Uttaresh.V; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Arun Koyyur and Anil D’Silva
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