March 19, 2020 / 8:20 AM / 4 months ago

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

An airforce member is seen with a full cover mask as he sprays disinfectant inside a main railway station, as the number of people tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country increased, in Colombo, Sri Lanka March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Coronavirus’ “whatever it takes” moment?

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde may have had some communication misfires at her last news conference but the overnight action from the ECB is being widely seen as the bank’s bid for a “whatever it takes” moment in the coronavirus era. The commitment to buy up assets worth 750 billion euros by year-end comes on top of the “mere” 120 billion announced last week and the 20 billion a month the bank is already feeding into the system. Added up, that’s 1.1 trillion euros for the year.

On top of that was the open-ended commitment to “do everything necessary within the mandate” of the ECB to stabilise the situation. Although not quite as snappy as the three words her predecessor Mario Draghi uttered in 2012 to draw a line under the euro debt crisis, the message was clear. European shares edged up from near-seven year lows.

The spread

There are almost 219,000 cases of coronavirus reported globally, and over 8,900 deaths linked to the virus.

Over 20,000 cases were reported in the past 24 hours - a record high in daily new cases and over 5,000 more than China reported during the peak of the virus in Wuhan.

One of the open questions in the coronavirus story is why there are relatively few infections and deaths in Germany. That could be because the outbreak there took off later than in France, Italy and Spain. In any case, the past 24 hours saw a big leap upwards in Germany with 2,801 new cases - roughly a third in a single day. The total increased to 10,999 cases while 20 patients died.

(Open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser, to see an interactive graphic of the coronavirus spread)

UK braces for lockdown

The United Kingdom is bracing for the virtual shut down of London as underground train stations across the capital close and Prime Minister Boris Johnson mulls tougher measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

After finally ordering the closure of schools across a country that casts itself as a pillar of Western stability, Johnson has said the government - initially reluctant to go down the social distancing route - was ruling nothing out when asked whether he would bring in measures to lock down London.

Malaysia seeking 2,000 Rohingya

Malaysian authorities are scrambling to track down about 2,000 Rohingya men who attended a Muslim religious gathering that has led to a big spike in coronavirus cases across Southeast Asia.

More than 100,000 Rohingya live in Malaysia after fleeing from Myanmar, but they are considered illegal immigrants, which would likely make many of them reluctant to identify themselves to get tested for the coronavirus even if they showed symptoms, other sources in the Rohingya community said.

This search highlights the challenge for governments trying to track the virus among communities living without official papers and wary of authorities.

(Click here to see a selection of curated coverage about the coronavirus outbreak.)

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Compiled by Karishma Singh and Mark John; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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