FACTBOX-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
(Updates with fresh developments)
May 27 (Reuters) - The Americas have emerged as the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, as outbreaks accelerate in Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* More than 5.6 million people have been reported infected with the novel coronavirus globally and 350,038 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 0920 GMT on Wednesday.
* For an interactive graphic tracking the global spread, open https://tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.
* For a U.S.-focused tracker with state-by-state and county map, open https://tmsnrt.rs/2w7hX9T in an external browser.
* For Eikon users, click on MacroVitals cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and a summary of developments.
* The French government canceled a decree allowing hospital doctors to administer hydroxychloroquine as a treatment to patients suffering severe forms of COVID-19.
* A French consortium said it was stepping up its previously announced plans for a saliva-based COVID-19 test, by joining up with medical laboratory and diagnostics group INOVIE.
* Switzerland will decide on Wednesday on further relaxations of restrictions, including how to reopen nightclubs and football stadiums, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung reported.
* Serbia has banned inbound flights by Montenegro's flag carrier Montenegro Airlines after Podgorica refused to open its borders to people from Serbia, where coronavirus persists.
* British small businesses have borrowed more than 18 billion pounds ($22 billion) under a government-guaranteed coronavirus credit programme during its first three weeks of operation, outpacing bank lending under schemes for bigger firms.
* Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases of COVID-19 for the week ended May 24, up from 13 states in the prior week, as the death toll from the coronavirus approaches 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis. (Open https://tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR in an external browser for a Reuters interactive)
* Canadian drug discovery technology company AbCellera, which analyzes and identifies antibodies for pharmaceutical companies working on a coronavirus treatment and other medicines, said it had raised $105 million in funds.
* Mexico registered 501 new deaths from the coronavirus on Tuesday, its biggest single-day increase in fatalities yet, as the jump in fresh cases also set a record.
* Panama's government will start relaxing some curbs in June, permitting sectors such as construction, nonmetallic mining and pharmaceuticals to resume operations.
* Japan will compile a new $1.1 trillion stimulus package that includes significant direct spending, to stop the coronavirus pandemic pushing the world's third-largest economy deeper into recession, a budget draft seen by Reuters showed.
* South Korea is to examine first suspected cases of life-threatening syndrome in children linked to the new coronavirus
* Australia recorded its youngest victim of COVID-19 after a 30-year-old man with underlying health conditions died in Queensland state, having shown symptoms of the disease for weeks but without getting tested, officials said.
* Indian states witnessing millions of migrant laborers returning from the big cities are recording rising infections, officials said, fearing that the pandemic could spread through villages where medical care is basic at best.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Iran's new parliament convened on Wednesday after the Feb. 21 elections under strict health protocols and social distancing rules in one of the hardest-hit Middle Eastern countries.
* South Africa's churches and other places of worship can reopen from June, but will be limited to 50 people, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
* Saudi Arabia will begin easing restrictions on movement and travel this week, with an aim to lift the curfew completely — with the exception of the holy city of Mecca — from June 21.
* Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity reopened to worshippers and tourists on Tuesday as Palestinian authorities eased restrictions in the occupied West Bank.
* Unrest in Hong Kong over Beijing's proposed national security laws weighed on global shares and oil prices on Wednesday, offsetting optimism about the re-opening of the world economy.
* Norwegian retail sales soared in April, the country's statistics agency said, defying expectations of a decline amid the pandemic.
* German chemicals association VCI said it expected production and revenues in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors to drop this year, citing declining orders and supply chains disruptions.
* Singapore's exports of pharmaceutical products have surged this year as the pandemic prompts worldwide stockpiling of drug ingredients, providing much needed support for an economy facing its deepest recession in its 55-year history.
* Trade in perishable goods and livestock across borders in West Africa is being crippled by pandemic-related restrictions, according to commercial data and interviews with traders.
(Compiled by Linda Pasquini, Aditya Soni and Vinay Dwivedi; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Tomasz Janowski)
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