What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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

A man claps and cheers for healthcare workers across the street from Mount Sinai West Hospital at 7pm on Manhattan’s Upper West Side during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

A tentative easing

Very gradually, a handful of European countries start this week easing restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the pandemic.

Spain has allowed construction and manufacturing activities to restart, while Austria and Italy are from Tuesday letting certain categories of shops reopen. Danish children in the first to fifth grade can return to school from Wednesday.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has appealed for measures to be “lifted slowly”, and only when countries are sure they can isolate new cases and trace their contacts.

Yet there is no clear consensus on how to do move forward and national governments are going their own way: Authorities in France and Britain say the current measures are to be extended.

(Open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in a separate browser for an interactive graphic to track the global spread.)

Putin’s admission

Until now, official figures had showed Russia emerging in better shape from the crisis than most – and even in a position to help its Western neighbours fight the spread.

Yet President Vladimir Putin has finally acknowledged Russia might need to call in the army to help tackle the coronavirus and warned the contagion was now getting worse after the number of confirmed cases rose by a record daily amount.

The hotspot is Moscow: There, authorities have said they may run out of hospital beds in the next two to three weeks.

“Total” authority

Even by the White House’s recent standards, Monday’s media briefing was a contentious one. With the aid of a specially compiled video to reinforce his points, President Donald Trump again lashed out at critical media coverage and asserted he had the ultimate authority to re-open the economy when he wanted.

As reporters repeatedly questioned him on whether the constitution actually gave him the final say, Trump hit back: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total, and that’s the way it’s got to be. … It’s total. The governors know that.”

The lifeline pipeline

While a safe, effective vaccine to combat the coronavirus disease is more than a year away, researchers are rushing to repurpose existing drugs and non-drug therapies and test promising experimental drugs that were already in clinical trials.

Even moderately effective therapies or combinations could dramatically reduce the crushing demand on hospitals and intensive care units, changing the nature of the risk the new pathogen represents to populations and healthcare systems. (To see a graphic version of this story, click reut.rs/3bhMUaE)

Hiking up meal delivery prices

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates and Uber Eats were sued in New York on Monday for allegedly exploiting their dominance in restaurant meal deliveries to impose fees that consumers ultimately bear through higher menu prices, including during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a proposed class action, three consumers said the defendants violated U.S. antitrust law by requiring that restaurants charge delivery customers and dine-in customers the same price. This sticks restaurants with the “devil’s choice” of charging everyone higher prices as a condition of using the defendants’ services, the consumers said.

The ‘essential business’ of wrestling entertainment

A woman wears a face mask and gloves amid concerns related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the town of Ketchum in Blaine County, Idaho, U.S. April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been deemed an “essential business” in Florida, the mayor of Orange County said on Monday, allowing the company to resume live tapings of its shows in the state during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We believe it is now more important than ever to provide people with a diversion from these hard times,” said WWE.

(For a selection of updated, curated coronavirus coverage, click: here)

Compiled by Mark John and Karishma Singh

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