A pedestrian walks past the Olympics rings at the Japan Olympic Museum located in front of the main stadium of the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Tokyo Games CEO hints at further delay: Global COVID-19 update

A pedestrian walks past the Olympics rings at the Japan Olympic Museum located in front of the main stadium of the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Key Developments

  • Coronavirus Tracker: Global Cases 1.62 Million; Deaths 97,200
  • ‘No Sail Order’ for cruise ships extended; Boeing may cut jobs
  • Potential coronavirus drugs may cost as little as $1, study says
  • Hong Kong edge over Singapore shows early social distance works
  • America worships from the parking lot, online to avoid Covid-19
  • White House weighs new panel to map post-virus economic recovery

Tokyo Games CEO Hints at Further Delay: AP

The chief executive officer of the committee organising the Tokyo Games said on Friday that he can’t guarantee the postponed Olympics will be staged next year, the Associated Press reported. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued an emergency declaration this week to battle the virus, putting the country under restrictions after it seemingly had avoided the spread.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” committee CEO Toshiro Muto said, speaking through an interpreter at a news conference conducted remotely.

Singapore Reports 198 New Cases, None Imported

The Ministry of Health confirmed an additional 198 cases of COVID-19, with none of them imported.

Earlier, the government placed a fifth foreign worker dormitory under isolation to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the city-state. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declared a foreign worker housing facility in east Singapore as an isolation area. Singapore started placing some of these dorms under 14-day quarantines from Sunday.

The country reported its highest daily increase of infections on Thursday with more than 200 of the 287 new cases linked to foreign worker dormitories.

Putin Plans $14 Billion Stimulus as Pressure

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government plans to dramatically ramp up stimulus measures to prop up an economy that is lurching toward recession. The government will roll out about 1 trillion rubles ($13.5 billion) of new spending, according to two people familiar with the plans. Some of the money will go toward subsidizing salaries of workers idled by isolation measures to fight the coronavirus, the people said.

Antibody Tests Could Be Available in a Week or So: Fauci

The US will “have a rather large number of tests that are available” within a week or so, Fauci said. Tests for coronavirus antibodies are being validated by the National Institutes of Health and the FDA to make sure they are consistent and accurate, he said on CNN.

Portugal Reports Highest Daily Case Increase

Portugal reported the highest daily increase in confirmed cases on Friday, while the number of patients in intensive-care units fell for a third day. There were 1,516 new cases, taking the total to 15,472, the government’s Directorate-General of Health said on Friday. Total deaths increased to 435 from 409.

Johnson Beginning His Recovery

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “is at the beginning of his recovery and he will be taking the advice of his medical team,” spokesman James Slack told reporters. “The prime minister is back on the ward and continuing his recovery, which is at an early stage, he continues to be in very good spirits” after being moved from the intensive care unit, Slack said.

Trump Wants Next Aid Round Exclusively for Small Businesses

The aid package in Congress should be limited to a funding boost for small businesses to help them keep their employees, “with no additions,” US President Donald Trump said in a tweet. “We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more,” he said.

Trump earlier said he has asked his agriculture secretary to “use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal,” to aid U.S. farmers, whose financial peril has worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats are holding firm to their demand that a $250 billion economic stimulus for small businesses must include more funds for hospitals, states and localities struggling with the pandemic, leaving congressional leaders at a standoff for now.

Malaria Drug Hype Reels in Macron

France’s Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly flew to Marseille Thursday and spent more than three hours meeting with Didier Raoult, the researcher whose work has propelled a medicine called hydroxychloroquine from fringe to famous in just three weeks. Raoult’s unconventional studies won over US President Donald Trump, who suggested he’d be willing to take the medicine himself.

Doctors say the hype has gotten ahead of the science, though many have tried hydroxychloroquine on patients because they don’t have anything better.

German Hospitals May Face Drug Shortages

German hospitals are concerned that they will soon face a shortage of drugs needed to treat COVID-19 patients who must be ventilated, Der Spiegel reported, citing an Augsburg hospital pharmacist.

Earlier this week, the European Union’s most senior health official appealed to the pharmaceutical industry to boost production of critical medicines needed to treat the symptoms of the coronavirus, warning that several member states may soon run out.

Downtrend in Italy Cases

The downtrend of new coronavirus cases in Italy is confirmed, Silvio Brusaferro, head of the country’s ISS public health institute, said on Friday. “The curve clearly shows a descending pattern and this is a good sign, but we cannot lower our guard,” he said.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is leaning toward extending the country’s lockdown to early May, with only minimal concessions to business demands to allow more companies to resume normal operations.

France Confirms 50 Cases on Aircraft Carrier

The French Defense Ministry said 50 of the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle’s crew members have been infected. Three have been evacuated to a hospital in Toulon, south of France, while a medical team was transported on board to conduct a probe. The ship has shortened its mission and is heading toward its base in Toulon in the Mediterranean Sea while sanitary processes aboard have been reinforced with all crew members now having to wear a mask.

Potential Coronavirus Drugs May Cost as Little as $1

Potential coronavirus treatments could be made for as little as $1, well below their typical price tags in pharmacies, according to an analysis of nine drugs in clinical trials. If their promise is confirmed in ongoing studies, medicines for COVID-19, including hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump touted as a treatment, and Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir could be manufactured from $1 to $29 a course, a study published Friday in the Journal of Virus Eradication found.

G-20 Economy Chiefs to Hold Virtual Press Conference

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, followed by a virtual press conference, according to a statement from Saudi Arabia, the host country.

Belgian Deaths Top 3,000

The pandemic has so far claimed 3,019 lives in Belgium, with a record 325 deaths reported in the past 24 hours and an additional 171 in Flemish nursing homes between March 18 and March 31 that were previously unreported.

The numbers include deaths which are highly likely linked to a coronavirus infection without being confirmed by a diagnostic test. The number of patients currently being treated in hospitals rose by 20 to 5,610 and 1,278 patients are in intensive care, a decline of seven from the prior day. Confirmed cases rose by 6.7 per cent to 26,667.

Iran New Cases, Fatalities Decline

Iran reported 1,972 new cases and 122 more deaths in the past day, bringing the country’s total to 68,192 cases and 4,232 fatalities.

Spain Deaths Slow to Lowest Since March 24

Spain reported the fewest number of new coronavirus deaths in more than two weeks on Friday, yet remains one of the epicenters of the crisis in Europe. There were 4,576 new infections in the 24 hours through Friday, pushing total cases to more than 157,000, according to Health Ministry data. The death toll rose by 605 to 15,843, the smallest increase since March 24.

Deadly Virus Fails to Trigger World Bank’s Pandemic Bond

The outbreak, deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization, isn’t enough to trigger payouts from the World Bank’s pandemic bonds, an independent arbiter decided on Thursday.

AIR Worldwide Corp. published its so-called eligible event report, determining that the outbreak hadn’t met the “exponential growth rate” criterion in eligible countries, the World Bank said in a statement April 9.

Germany New Cases, Deaths Decline

German coronavirus cases rose to 118,235 as of 8 a.m. CET on Friday, up by 4939. That is a smaller increase than the 5,633 new infections reported on Thursday. Fatalities increased by 258 to 2,607, down from 333 reported a day earlier. So far, 52,407 have recovered.

UK Trial of Virus Treatments Expands at Record Pace

A UK clinical trial of potential treatments for Covid-19 has become the fastest-growing in history after enrolling more than 2,700 patients, the Financial Times reported, citing the head of the project.

Thousands more are likely to be added in the next several weeks, the newspaper said, citing Peter Horby, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Oxford. The three treatments being evaluated are a lopinavir-ritonavir combination used to combat HIV, the steroid dexamethasone and hydroxychloroquine, which is used against malaria, the FT said.

Boeing Considers Potential 10% Cut to Workforce, WSJ Reports

Boeing is considering a plan that would cut about 10% of its workforce of about 160,000 people through buyouts and involuntary layoffs, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The cuts are expected to largely be in the commercial arm. The company plans to shrink workforce through buyouts and attrition before involuntary layoffs, the paper said.

Pence, CDC Head Lay Out Virus Criteria to Reopen US Economy

Vice President Mike Pence and one of the top US health officials said reopening the country’s economy hinges on the government seeing major communities at the end of their coronavirus outbreaks and developing treatments for the disease, among other hurdles.