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Good evening – here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines
  1. Trudeau urges Canada’s banks to lower interest rates on credit cards
  2. G20 pledges US$5-trillion in global stimulus funding
  3. The United States now has the most coronavirus cases

Have questions about the coronavirus? Email audience@globeandmail.com. The Globe’s paywall has been removed on coronavirus news stories.


Medical workers hug outside the emergency rooms at Severo Ochoa Hospital during the coronavirus disease.

SUSANA VERA/Reuters


Number of the day

$5-trillion

Global stimulus funding amid pandemic crisis

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More program details:

G20 countries are pledging US$5-trillion in economic stimulus measures to fight the COVID-19 crisis, along with a focus on supporting vulnerable countries that might lack adequate health-care systems and resources.


Coronavirus in Canada

3,890: cases in Canada reported; with 197 recoveries and 37 deaths.

And: The federal Department of Global Affairs is facing criticism after it shipped 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment to China to help Beijing fight the coronavirus last month. The government says the shipment was an effort to collaborate with China in the fight against COVID-19.


Coronavirus around the world

488,134: cases confirmed around the world; with 117,763 recoveries and 22,032 deaths reported.

  • As the deaths passed 1,000 people in the United States, hospitals and government authorities in New York, New Orleans and other hot spots grappled with a surge in cases and a dire shortage of supplies, staff and sick beds. The country now has the most coronavirus cases in the world.
  • Spain extended its coronavirus lockdown and said it was fighting a “real war” over medical supplies to contain the world’s second-highest virus death toll, turning to China for many critical products.
  • Watch: People queuing outside hospitals and health centres in one Chinese city expressed confusion and frustration as they tried to get a test the government has said people need before they can travel out of Hubei province.
  • U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expected the chamber to pass an estimated US$2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill when it meets on Friday, after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the unprecedented economic rescue legislation on Wednesday evening.
  • Indians suddenly thrown out of work by a nationwide stay-at-home order began receiving aid, as both public and private groups worked to blunt the impact of efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus and business:

What happened today?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government has urged banks to lower credit-card interest rates.

  • “I can assure you that the Finance Minister has had conversations directly with the banks about credit card interest rates. We recognize that they are a significant challenge for many Canadians at this point. That is why we are encouraging them to take action to alleviate the burden for Canadians,” Mr. Trudeau said.

However the comments caught Canada’s large banks off guard. The request for credit-card interest-rate cuts had not featured prominently in the discussions between the Department of Finance and the Big Six banks, sources told The Globe.

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Elsewhere: Canadian business groups are joining counterparts in the U.S. and Mexico in asking for a delay in the implementation of the new U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement, saying it’s unfair to ask companies to adjust to new rules during the pandemic.

  • “All new regulatory processes that are not critical need to be paused. The government needs to be talking to businesses about what a grace period or phase-in approach might look like," said one director of a business lobby.
What happened in the markets?

And: The “most photographed trader on Wall Street” said on Instagram that he has tested positive for coronavirus.


Reader question

Question: Can you contract coronavirus in Antarctica?

Answer: Coronavirus needs a human host, so it can spread person-to-person anywhere in the world. However, Antarctica has no permanent settlements; the only residents are in scientific bases so there is little opportunity for large gatherings.

Also implied in the question is whether coronavirus can spread where it’s cold. It can, in fact. Respiratory viruses spread more easily in winter conditions because people tend to huddle outdoors. But, so far, Antarctica is the only continent where there are no COVID-19 cases.

The Globe’s health columnist André Picard answered additional reader questions.

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Need more answers? E-mail audience@globeandmail.com


More Globe reporting and opinion:

An act of kindness

Have you witnessed or performed acts of kindness in your neighbourhood? Share your stories, photos and videos and they might be included in The Globe and Mail. E-mail audience@globeandmail.com.

Unable to have a birthday party because of social distancing, Thomas Brunt, 7, walks with his mother Jenny Mark, left, and father Nick Brunt to look for birthday signs and well-wishes that neighbours placed on their sidewalks or windows in Dartmouth, N.S. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

Finding new ways to celebrate birthdays amid a pandemic

Dozens of people who live around Thomas’s house posted birthday messages for the boy in their front windows Tuesday afternoon, as he drove around in the wet snow with his mother. They decorated their homes with dinosaurs and candles, dragons and knights, turning their community into a drive-by street party.

At a time when play dates, parties and visits to playgrounds are out of the question because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the arm’s-length street party was the best way to show a little kid that his neighbourhood cares about him. And that it’s still okay to have a little fun, even if people can’t be together.


Distractions

Here are some recommendations for what to read, watch and activities to do.

For the sports and fitness fans:

Information centre:

What are we missing? Email us: audience@globeandmail.com.

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In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

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