(Reuters) – The European Central Bank’s chief warned on Friday that the European Union’s economy was in a “dramatic fall” due to the coronavirus crisis but EU leaders made little progress towards agreeing a massive stimulus plan.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 8.54 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 454,152 have died, a Reuters tally showed as of 1600 GMT on Friday.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* Eikon users, see MacroVitals (cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=1592404098) for a case tracker and a summary of developments.
* The number of deaths in France from coronavirus infection rose by 14 on Friday to 29,617, the lowest increase in five days.
* Scientists in Italy have found traces of the coronavirus in wastewater collected from Milan and Turin in December 2019 – suggesting COVID-19 was already circulating in northern Italy before China reported the first cases.
* Several hundred new coronavirus cases per day and a growing outbreak after a party in the Algarve region are threatening Portugal’s image as a safe holiday destination while a number of EU nations is also limiting entry for Portuguese visitors.
* Spain reported on Friday a total of 28,313 coronavirus deaths as of Thursday, after adjusting its database to avoid duplications and errors, a health ministry official said.
* Russia on Friday reported 7,972 new cases after it steeply revised up the number of medical workers who died after contracting COVID-19.
* Brazil was on track to surpass 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, second only to the United States, with total deaths fast approaching 50,000 as the country struggles with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook.
* The Brazilian government on Friday published new guidelines for meatpackers after a spike of COVID-19 cases at food plants, including keeping workers at least one meter apart, but labor prosecutors criticized the steps as inadequate.
* Costa Rica’s government will halt reopening the country’s economy due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases over recent days, Health Minister Daniel Salas said at a news conference on Friday.
* Several U.S. hospitals in hard-hit states have started treating patients with dexamethasone rather than await confirmation of preliminary results of a British study, which said the inexpensive steroid saves lives.
* China said on Friday it had identified a European strain of coronavirus as having sparked the recent Beijing outbreak, while the World Health Organization said only that it had been imported from outside the city and needed further investigation.
* The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 150,000 on Friday following a rise in new infections over the past 10 days.
* China’s latest plans to overhaul its disease control system may not improve its ability to handle future virus outbreaks, according to some experts inside and outside the country.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Rwanda’s economic growth slowed to 3.6% year-on-year in the first quarter of this year from 6.1% in same period last year, hit by effects of the novel coronavirus, the statistics office said on Friday.
* Morocco’s Health Ministry reported 539 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the biggest daily rise so far, most of them in a cluster north of Rabat.
* A sixth experimental vaccine from China is now being tested in humans after Clover Biopharmaceuticals said an early-stage study of its candidate was underway with vaccine boosters from UK’s GSK and U.S. based Dynavax.
* Two U.S. Federal Reserve officials sounded increasing pessimism on Friday on the swiftness of any economic recovery from the novel coronavirus epidemic and warned the unemployment rate could rise again if the disease is not brought under control.
* Russia’s central bank slashed interest rates on Friday to the lowest level since the collapse of the Soviet Union, pledging to consider the need for even lower rates amid waning inflationary risks and a shrinking economy.
* Fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections have increased demand for safe-haven assets, driving the U.S. dollar on Friday to its best weekly gain in a month.
* Canadian retail sales plummeted 26.4% in April, posting a record decline for a second consecutive month, as the pandemic continued to wallop the economy, Statistics Canada data showed.
* European Central Bank head, Christine Lagarde, told EU leaders their economy was in a “dramatic fall” and called on the bloc to act to spearhead revival, diplomatic sources and officials said.
* EU leaders began the process of approving an unprecedented stimulus package, aware of the need to deliver help quickly, but still divided over its final size and terms.
(Compiled by Anna Rzhevkina, Sarah Morland, Devika Syamnath, Amy Caren Daniel and Shinjini Ganguli; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Tomasz Janowski and Maju Samuel)