LONDON - World finance leaders tried to lift confidence with emergency measures to pour cash into panic-stricken markets on Thursday, as investors everywhere dumped assets, switching to dollars amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic.
- The virus has infected almost 219,000 people across the world and the death toll has exceeded 8,900.
Italy ordered the army to move bodies from a northern town at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak where funeral services have been overwhelmed, as the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures across the country.
- France’s 15-day lockdown could be extended if necessary, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on Thursday. The country reported 89 new deaths on Wednesday, taking the total to 264.
- The number of coronavirus cases in Germany climbed roughly a third in a single day, as the total tally increased to 10,999 cases while 20 patients died.
- The United Kingdom was bracing for the virtual shut down of London as underground train stations across the capital closed and Prime Minister Boris Johnson mulled tougher measures to tackle the crisis.
- Austria’s province of Tyrol imposed a lockdown from Thursday until April 5.
- Switzerland extended border controls and suspended the issue of Schengen and national visas for three months.
The United States and Canada closed their shared border to “non-essential traffic” on Wednesday.
- With cases reported in all 50 U.S states and the total number of known infections closing in on 8,000, millions of Americans are staying at home instead of commuting to work or going to school.- More than 60,000 homeless people could become infected in California over the next eight weeks, badly straining the healthcare system.
* Canada has decided to provide an $18.6 billion aid package directly to affected families and businesses.
- Brazilian retail, transport and manufacturing were hammered, and the government stopped accepting Venezuelan refugees at the border.
- Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra restricted overnight movement across the country.
New imported coronavirus infections hit a record of 21 in the Chinese capital of Beijing, data showed on Thursday, piling pressure on authorities to screen out infected passengers and isolate suspected cases. But there were no new domestic transmissions for the first day since the virus took hold late last year in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei.
- The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China stood at at 80,928 on Wednesday, with the overall death toll at 3,245.
- Indonesia needs to widen its testing, President Joko Widodo said on Thursday, following the country’s biggest daily jump of 55 infections on Wednesday to a total of 227 cases.
- A rally of Muslim pilgrims that is drawing thousands of people to Indonesia has been stopped amid fears that it could help spread the virus.
- The Philippines is stopping the issuance of visas to foreigners.
- Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, advised its residents to self-isolate at home until at least the end of March. The country has confirmed 76 cases, 10 of which emerged on Wednesday.- Australia said on Thursday all non-citizens and non-residents would be banned from entering the country from Friday evening. The country has recorded around 600 infections and six deaths.- New Zealand closed its borders to all foreigners from midnight on Thursday.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
- Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 1,284 on Thursday, a health ministry official told state TV, as the total number of infected people increased to 18,407.
- Egypt will shut all cafes, malls, sporting clubs and nightclubs from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. local time, starting Thursday, until March 31 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the government said in a statement.
- Jordan’s army on Thursday sealed off the capital from the rest of the country as the kingdom puts its ten million inhabitants under a lockdown, witnesses and officials said.
- South Africa banned all passenger vessels from its ports on Wednesday due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving tourists on a cruise ship docked in Cape Town in limbo following tests for possible COVID-19 cases on board.
- The dollar surged on Thursday as extraordinary steps by central banks across the world to cope with a coronavirus-induced financial rout had mixed success.
- German manufacturers have recorded the most precipitous drop in business expectations in the 70-year history of industrial surveys, preliminary figures showed on Thursday, with overall morale cratering to the level of the 2009 recession.
- Germany is planning a 40-billion-euro ($43.27 billion) package to help small businesses and the self-employed threatened with bankruptcy.
- Airline industry turmoil deepened as Qantas Airways told most of its 30,000 staff to take leave and Lufthansa said the industry may not survive without state aid if the pandemic lasts a long time.
- Crude oil traders from West Africa to the U.S. Gulf Coast are offering cargoes at deep discounts, desperately trying to attract buyers as global supplies swell and demand plunges.
- The European Central Bank launched new bond purchases worth 750 billion euros ($817 billion) at an emergency meeting late on Wednesday, in a bid to prevent a deep recession.
- The U.S. Federal Reserve rolled out its third emergency credit program in two days, this one to ensure liquidity in money market mutual funds.
- France’s finance minister said on Thursday that he would present President Emmanuel Macron with plans and options to help the country’s biggest companies cope with the crisis, including possible nationalisations.
- Australia announced support packages on Thursday that will pump around A$100 billion ($56 billion) into the economy.
- Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will shut down their U.S. plants, industry officials said.
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday pledged 50 trillion won ($39 billion) in emergency financing for small businesses and other stimulus measures.
* Doubts are mounting that the Olympics can proceed as planned, but Tokyo Games and Japanese government officials insist the event will go ahead as scheduled.
* Many sports events have been called off, but a scattering are still going ahead.