March 31, 2020 / 6:57 AM / Updated 9 hours ago

What you need to know about coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

Scanning the infection curve

More than 777,000 people have been infected across the world and over 37,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Tuesday. Health officials around the world are scanning the latest data in the hope of spotting signs that the curve is starting to flatten as a result of now-widespread lockdowns.

Australia, for example, with some 4,400 coronavirus cases, is seeing the rate of growth in new infections slowing from 25-30% a week ago to an average of 9% over the past three days.

In Spain, the daily infection increase has slowed since the introduction of lockdown measures, falling to 12% on average in the past five days from around 20% in the preceding 10 days.

But while these may offer glimpses of a possible slow-down, health experts everywhere warn that it is too early to restart anything resembling normal life. Moreover the death toll - which tends to trail new infections by a few weeks - is still rising: both France and the United States recorded their deadliest days on Monday.

(For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

The long arm of the law?

Britain’s police force, which has long prided itself on being ultimately answerable to the public and not the state, has been accused of heavy-handedness when it comes to enforcing social distancing measures.

Tactics under fire include the use of drones to spy on those taking walks at beauty spots, or action to stop dog-walkers from driving their pets to open spaces. There have also been reports that they have told shops not to sell Easter eggs because they were not “essential items”.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps acknowledged there had been individual cases where police may have gone “a bit further than they should have gone” but insisted they were only intervening to enforce compliance with rules as a last resort.

G20 pledges to keep markets open, supplies flowing

G20 trade ministers pledged to keep their markets open and ensure a continued flow of vital medical supplies, equipment and other essential goods. But they stopped short of explicitly calling for an end to export restrictions that many countries - including France, Germany and India - have enacted on drugs and medical supplies.

As air freight capacity plunges and lockdowns mean that businesses are struggling to find laborers, truck drivers and shipping crews, supply chains are backing up and all eyes now are on possible disruptions to food supplies.

U.S. spies find it hard to chart spread

U.S. spy agencies are finding serious gaps in their ability to assess the spread of coronavirus in China, Russia and North Korea, hindering U.S. and international efforts to manage the crisis.

“We want to have as close an accurate, real-time understanding of where the global hotspots are and where they are evolving,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, an expert at the Center for Global Development thinktank, who led the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance from 2013 to 2017.

“The world is not going to get rid of this thing until we get rid of it everywhere.”

Compiled by Mark John and Karishma Singh

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