UK Reports 500 More Fatalities, Germany Extends Lockdown To April 19: Live Updates

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 04/01/2020


Iran reports 138 deaths on Wednesday
UK death toll jumps 563 as more than 4k deaths confirmed globally overnight
Germany has extended its national lockdown
India reports new batch of cases as lockdown cuts down on harmful emissions
Hong Kong closes bars, karaoke lounges, beauty salons and other public areas as new cases jump
Japan closes borders to travelers from 73 countries, including UK and US
FDA reports shortages of malaria drugs touted by Trump
Russia sends planeload of medical products to US
US case total nears 200k
Italian finance minister says government agrees with business lobby’s projection for 6% GDP contraction
Spanish cases top 100k
CDC continues “review” of facemask recommendation
France rolls out new stimulus package as ‘coronabonds’ proposal dies out
UK pubs hatch plan to become grocers
Thai government puts thousands at risk with botched hand-out program
Chinese provinces report 56 ‘asymptomatic’ cases
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Update (1025ET): German Chancellor Angela Merkel just announced that it will extend its nationwide lockdown and social distancing until April 19, adding two more weeks, even as the country has emerged as a bright spot in Europe. Merkel said Germany is far behind in achieving its goals, and said she would reevaluate the government’s plan after Easter.

Elsewhere, India reported 110 new coronavirus cases in Tamil Nadu, bringing that state’s total to 234. A few hours ago, officials reported 4 new coronavirus cases in Assam, raising state’s total to 5. India, which still has relatively few cases, has reported a painful lockdown that left many of the poorest in difficult situations. However, as CNN reports, the lockdown, which is hammering millions economically, has been great for the environment and dramatically cut down on harmful emissions.

Earlier, we noted that Russia has sent a planeload of masks and medical equipment to the US as governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, beg for more equipment.

Meanwhile, the global death toll has topped 44k.

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Update (1012ET): Despite promising to do “whatever it takes” to save the European economy and take the weaker countries along with the strong, the European Commission and the EU27 have yet to reach an agreement on a joint fiscal stimulus measure to help combat the outbreak, without straight-up monetizing the debts of the spendthrift European periphery, including badly hit Italy and Spain.

It makes little difference to us, at this point, any mutual rescue package is going to benefit those two countries more than any other, but the nuances of European politics operate in accordance to their own logic, and a big part of that involves placating the Germans, and, to a lesser extent, the Dutch, who are suspicious of generous economic support for the hapless Italians and Spanish.

As the talks continue, France, it was reported on Wednesday, is still pushing for a common EU fund, but has come up with what Emmanuel Macron and Bruno Le Maire apparently believe to be a suitable counterweight: a limit of five or 10 years and mandatory focus on economic recovery, according to the FT.

“We are thinking about a fund which would be limited in time with an indebtedness possibility for the long-term response to the crisis,” French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told the Financial Times. “It’s absolutely crucial to keep the door open for long-term, broad instruments that would allow us to face a ‘postwar’ economic situation.”

France’s pivot to backing this rescue fund marks another milestone: Having failed to win the backing of the Germans, “coronabonds” is now officially dead. The rescue fund, which would be rolled out on top of the other stimulus packages, monetary and fiscal, implemented by other European institutions, would be the eurogroup’s big solution, instead of the ‘coronabonds’, much to the bond market’s chagrin.

Talk of the new bonds had excited a market hungry for new issuance (though the ECB would monetize most, if not all, of the bonds, pretty quickly). Though fortunately they’ll soon have 20- and 50-year Treasuries to buy.

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Update (0945ET): The UK death toll just jumped 563 overnight, part of a 4,000 surge in deaths worldwide, with the total in the UK reaching 2,352 as of yesterday evening.

Confirmed coronavirus cases rose by more than 4,000 to 29,474 as of 9am on Wednesday, according to the Department for Health. In the US, total cases passed 190k, while the death toll in the US alone topped 4k. New York remains the hardest-hit state, with more than 75k confirmed cases.

Many experts rushed to label Trump a kook and a conspiracy theorist for touting malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which were emergency approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19. But some evidence has emerged that one of these drugs, combined with azythromicin, commonly known as a “Z Pak” in the US, is effective in stopping the illness’s progression in vulnerable patients. Now, the two drugs are officially facing shortages according to the FDA.

The CDC is continuing its “review” of its recommendation not to wear facemasks, as continued shortages have left supplies low even for health care professionals working in hospitals.

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Update (0850ET): As the Treasury and state welfare departments prepare for the monumental task of handing out checks to most American adults, the Thai government has made a critical error while carrying out its own plan of cash handouts, as Nikkei reports.

Though America has the infrastructure to facilitate this process, it’s just a lesson of how governments must always keep the peculiar dynamics of a viral outbreak in mind while battling COVID-19.

Confusion about how to receive a $150 handout led to crowds of people thronging outside state banks, potentially exposing thousands to the virus.

Poor communication by the government caused people to rush to state banks, which they believed were the only places dispensing the funds as with some past disbursements. Fearful of creating infection hot spots, some branches closed for the weekend. And on Monday and Tuesday, banks were not offering account-opening services at physical branches.

The Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers’ Association, which has promised to keep as many branches open as possible to ensure businesses can continue operating, stepped in on Saturday to explain the aid could be transferred to state and commercial bank accounts.

The central bank and banking industry also explained that the handout could be received through domestic cashless transfer system PromptPay as long as accounts were linked to national IDs. But the announcements did not come early enough to prevent people from queuing.

Despite the risks they took, not all registrants are eligible, according to Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana. “The applications will be vetted and screened thoroughly to ensure that they meet the criteria and those in need get it,” Uttama said. “It takes seven days to process the applications at the earliest, but due to overwhelming demand, the process may take longer.”

Reporters chalked it up to a vestige of six years’ military rule.

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