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COVID-19: Live Updates for Monday, May 18

Rolling updates on the latest developments and headlines from around the world on the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Gina Lee, Peter Nurse and Kim Khan

11:30 AM ET: Uber cuts 3,000 jobs

Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) said it would cut about 3,000 jobs, in addition to the 3,700 it had announced earlier this month, as coronavirus-led restrictions sap demand for ride-hailing services.

08:22 AM ET: China supports Covid-19 review by WHO - Xi

China supports a comprehensive review of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic led by the World Health Organization (WHO) after the virus that causes the disease is brought under control, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday.

Xi's comments, made during a video speech to the World Health Assembly, come as a resolution pushed by the European Union and Australia calling for a review of the origin and spread of the novel coronavirus gathers international support. The pandemic has killed more than 310,000 people globally.

China had previously opposed calls for such investigations from Washington and Canberra, but Xi signalled on Monday that Beijing would be amenable to an impartial review.

08:14 AM ET: Spain aims to reopen borders to tourists by late June - minister

Tourism-dependent Spain aims to reopen borders to visitors around the end of June as its coronavirus lockdown fully unwinds, a minister said on Monday, in a much-needed boost for the ravaged travel sector.

Madrid last week surprised its European Union partners by imposing a two-week quarantine on all overseas travellers and effectively keeping borders closed, saying that was needed to avoid importing a second wave of the Covid-19 disease.

05:47 AM ET: German engineering exports to see double-digit decline in second quarter - VDMA

German engineering association VDMA on Monday said it expected exports to fall by a double-digit figure in the second quarter as the coronavirus take its toll on the sector.

It said engineering exports fell by 6.6% to 41.9 billion euros ($45.27 billion) in the first three months of 2020 compared to the previous year.

05:44 AM ET: China fiscal revenues down 14.5% year-on-year for first four months - finance ministry

China's fiscal revenues fell 14.5% on-year in the first four months of the year to 6.213 trillion yuan ($872.76 billion), the country's finance ministry said on Monday.

Fiscal expenditures for the January-April period fell 2.7% from a year earlier to 7.36 trillion yuan, the ministry said.

04:09 AM ET: European regulators set to suspend short-selling ban

European regulators will suspend their bans on shorting stocks and bonds after they said there had been a "progressive normalisation" in markets following a turbulent March and April.

National regulators of France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Greece and Belgium said on Monday they would let the restrictions expire at just before midnight on Monday.

An Italian ban of three months had been set to run until mid-June.

03:20 AM ET: Taiwan not invited to key World Health Organization meeting

Taiwan did not get invited to this week's meeting of a key World Health Organization body due to Chinese pressure, its foreign minister said on Monday, adding they had agreed to put the issue off until later this year.

Non-WHO member Taiwan had been lobbying to take part in the WHO's decision-making body the World Health Assembly, which opens later on Monday, saying that to lock it out was to create a gap in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Taiwan has said it wanted to share with the world its successful experience at fighting the coronavirus, having only reported 440 cases and seven deaths thanks to early detection and prevention work.

02:11 AM ET: WHO's decision-making body starts annual meeting

The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, starts a two-day virtual annual meeting today, its first since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Global attention will be focused on calls for a review of the international response to the pandemic, supported by the European Union, and a push for a probe into the coronavirus' origins, which has been backed by Australia.

02:01 AM ET: Euro zone economy won't hit pre-crisis level until 2021 at earliest - ECB

The coronavirus-hit euro zone economy probably will not return to its pre-pandemic levels until next year at the earliest, the European Central Bank's chief economist told El Pais newspaper, adding that the ECB was prepared to tweak its tools if needed.

01:08 AM ET: India extends lockdown following record jump in Covid-19 cases

India has extended a nearly two-month-old lockdown by another two weeks with Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and other key regions still fighting to control the rising curve of coronavirus infections.

The health ministry on Sunday reported a record jump of nearly 5,000 cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the number of confirmed cases to 90,927, with 2,872 deaths.

01:04 AM ET: Hospitals in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city are  “near collapse” - BBC

Hospitals in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, have reached 90% capacity and are “near collapse”, according to the city's mayor, the BBC reported.

The hospitals could run out of space in just two weeks’ time, he said.

Brazil has the fourth-highest number of infections worldwide, with 241,080, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. It has recorded 16,122 deaths.

00:59 AM ET: South Africa reports highest daily number of new cases

South Africa on Sunday reported 1,160 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily number since the first case was recorded in March, AFP reports.

“As of today, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa is 15,515, with 1,160 new cases identified in the last 24 hour cycle of testing,” said the health ministry in a statement.

The Western Cape province, popular with tourists, accounted for nearly 60% of the national numbers.

00:55 AM ET: China's new home prices rise at faster pace, adding to recovery momentum

China's new home prices rose at a slightly faster pace in April, adding to signs that the country's property market is slowly recovering as coronavirus lockdowns are eased and the world's second-largest economy reopens.

Average new home prices in China's 70 major cities rose 0.5% in April from the prior month, following a 0.1% increase in March, Reuters calculated based on National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data.

On an annual basis, home prices picked up 5.1% in April, compared with March's 5.3% rise.

00:47 AM ET: Thai economy contracts at sharpest pace in eight years

Thailand's economy contracted at its sharpest pace in eight years in the first quarter, as the coronavirius pandemic hit tourism and domestic activity.

Southeast Asia's second-largest economy shrank 1.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, the deepest contraction since the fourth quarter of 2011, when there was bad flooding.

The state planning agency revised October-December's quarterly GDP to a 0.2 contraction from 0.2% growth, meaning the economy slipped into a technical recession.

The agency, reporting January-March data on Monday, slashed its forecast for 2020 gross domestic product (GDP) to a contraction of 5.0-6.0% from growth of 1.5%-2.5% projected in February.

That would be the worst decline since 1998 when the Asian financial crisis damaged the economy.

10:15 PM ET: Japan sinks into recession in first quarter

Japan’s economy sunk into a recession in the first quarter of the year which is likely to deepen further.

Households limited their pending to essentials and companies cut back on investment, production and hiring due to the virus. 

The Cabinet Office reported that gross domestic product shrank an annualized 3.4% in the three months through March from 4Q 2019, compared to analyst predictions of a 4.5% decrease.

10:11 PM ET: Trump Administration steps up blame game against China

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration stepped up its campaign to blame China for the spread of COVID-19, with White House trade advisor Peter Navarro suggesting in a “This Week” interview that Beijing sent "hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world” to spread the virus after hiding it from the world for two months.

10:08 PM ET: Fed’s Powell warns that U.S. economy could shrink up to 30%, but avoid another Great Depression in long run

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a “60 Minutes” interview that the U.S. economy could shrink up to 30% in the second quarter but will avoid a second Great Depression in the long run.

10:07 PM ET: U.S. House Democrats pass $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package

U.S. House Democrat passed a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Friday, even as Senate Republicans pledged to block the bill. 

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