What you need to know about the coronavirus

U.S. overtakes China

There are now more than half a million coronavirus (COVID-19) cases across 202 countries and territories globally, with the United States overtaking China as the country with the most infections. Infection rates are starting to pick up in Africa, Latin America and parts of the Middle East.

Of the 531,000 cases reported, over 60,000 were added in the past day, and 2,532 new deaths in 59 countries brought the total death toll to over 24,000, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Friday. Most deaths continue to be in Europe.

The United States contributed roughly one-third of newly reported cases, as testing in the country expanded, with over 17,000 cases in the past 24 hours, and 281 deaths, the highest single-day case load of any country since the outbreak began.

China, which announced plans to close its borders to foreign citizens from Saturday, reported 5 deaths and 55 cases, and said that all but two of the new cases were from outside the country.

South Africa has now entered a nationwide lockdown, and several other African countries, including Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are trying to ringfence cities.

Record U.S. jobless claims; $5 trillion injection

The number of Americans filing unemployment claims surged to a record 3.28 million last week, the clearest evidence yet of the virus’s impact on the economy.

Strict measures to contain the pandemic have brought the country to a halt, unleashing a wave of layoffs that likely ended the longest employment boom in U.S. history.

Leaders of the G20 agreed to inject some $5 trillion into the global economy, with that headline-grabbing figure including the $2 trillion the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to give final approval to on Friday.

EU leaders failed to agree on coordinating their response to the crisis. French President Emmanuel Macron said the survival of the European project was at stake.

When is a bull not a bull?

When it comes in the middle of a bear.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s surge of over 20% from its coronavirus-induced recent low this week suggests a new bull market, according to some definitions. The surge came on hopes the $2 trillion stimulus will flood the United States with cash.

But the very definition of bull market is debatable, and given recent high volatility some said calling the move upwards a bull market was tantamount to missing the forest for the trees.

European shares tumbled on Friday after a three-day rally that saw the pan-European STOXX 600 index gain 17%. It still remains 26% below its all-time high.

How far is a normal bike ride?

As more countries adopt stringent lockdown policies to try to stem the spread of the virus, a debate is bubbling over what limits there should be on regular exercise.

In France, citizens have been told not to venture further than 1 km from their homes. In Israel, the guidance suggests 100 metres should be the maximum. In Britain, people are allowed to visit parks near where they live, as long as they maintain a distance of at least two meters from others.

In Belgium, a nation of cyclists, some want a limit of up to 70 km so they can get in a proper bike ride. The interior minister says that is far too much.

Soap, not guns

A deeply conservative tribal region of Pakistan is spreading an animated, Pashto-language video to warn its population about the coronavirus – and taking a shot at its gun culture in the process.

In the video protagonist Pabo “Badmash”, or Pabo the Thug, is setting out to defeat the virus. Villagers offer him a wooden bat, a pistol, a sword and even a rocket launcher.

But Pabo astounds them by refusing, saying he will defeat the enemy with his “bare hands”. He then proceeds to wash his hands with soap – and even checks to ensure he has lathered them for 20 seconds, as recommended. (Source: Reuters)

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