March 31, 2020 / 6:58 AM / Updated an hour ago

What you need to know about coronavirus right now

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

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

G20 pledges to keep markets open, supplies flowing

G20 trade ministers pledged to keep their markets open and ensure a continued flow of vital medical supplies, equipment and other essential goods. They stopped short, however, of explicitly calling for an end to export bans that many countries, including France, Germany and India, have enacted on drugs and medical supplies.

As air freight capacity plunges and lockdowns mean that businesses are struggling to find laborers, truck drivers and shipping crews, supply chains are backing up, and all eyes are on possible disruptions to food supplies.

U.S. spies find it hard to chart spread

U.S. spy agencies are finding serious gaps in their ability to assess the spread of coronavirus in China, Russia and North Korea, hindering U.S. and international efforts to manage the crisis.

“We want to have as close an accurate, real-time understanding of where the global hotspots are and where they are evolving,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, an expert at the Center for Global Development thinktank, who led the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance from 2013 to 2017.

“The world is not going to get rid of this thing until we get rid of it everywhere.”

Producing vaccines before safe and effective ones available

The U.S. government has cut deals with Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc and said it is in talks with at least two other companies to prepare them to produce massive quantities of coronavirus vaccines, even before safe and effective ones become available.

No vaccine is expected to be ready for use until at least 2021, as they must still be widely tested in humans before being administered. J&J said it will begin human testing in September.

The spread

More than 777,000 people have been infected across the world and over 37,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Tuesday.

A total of 56,966 new cases of COVID-19 and 3,592 deaths were reported in the previous day. France recorded its worst daily coronavirus death toll on Monday, taking the country’s total to more than 3,000 for the first time. The U.S. death toll climbed past 3,000 on Monday, the deadliest day yet for the country.

(For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

Australia reports a sustained slowdown in infections

Australia reported a sustained fall in the rate of new coronavirus infections on Tuesday. Health Minister Greg Hunt reported there were about 4,400 coronavirus cases nationally, with the rate of growth in new infections slowing from 25-30% a week ago to an average of 9% over the past three days.

Still, he stressed that social distancing measures were crucial and that it was too early for any sense of relief.

Resetting the Olympics clock: only 479 days to go

Within hours of Olympic organizers confirming that the rescheduled Games would start on July 23 next year, Tokyo’s main countdown clock had been reset to show that 479 days remain until the opening ceremony.

Problems have already become apparent in the planning for venues, although organizers have yet to be told that they can’t use any venue, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told a news conference.

Compiled by Karishma Singh

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