Via Financial Times

Asia: what you might have missed

American Airlines has drawn down the $1bn loan it took out a week ago. Like other airlines, has sought liquidity as demand for air travel evaporated amid the pandemic and the travel restrictions attempting to curb it. Delta Air Lines has drawn $3bn in loans, and Southwest Airlines has tapped $2bn.

Finland is cutting off the region around its capital city Helsinki from the rest of the Nordic country in an attempt to slow the pace of the coronavirus outbreak. Sanna Marin, Finland’s centre-left prime minister, announced on Thursday evening that travel into and out from the Uusimaa region that includes Helsinki would be prohibited until April 19, with only a few exceptions.

The UK High Court has dismissed a legal challenge which had sought the temporary release of detainees in immigration removal centres if they were at risk from coronavirus. Two judges dismissed a judicial review challenge brought by Detention Action, a charity, against the Home Office on Wednesday evening.

Diplomats are turning to the department of defence to get thousands of US citizens home as international travel shuts down in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus. The US state department said it plans to fly 9,000 people home in 66 flights in coming days, but assessed that 50,000 might seek to return to the US. It has already brought 9,000 people back from 28 countries.

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi said the coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy of potentially biblical proportions. “Many today are living in fear of their lives or mourning their loved ones,” he told the FT. “The actions being taken by governments to prevent our health systems from being overwhelmed are brave and necessary. They must be supported.”

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Walmart is granting rent relief to about 10,000 businesses that operate on its premises in the US as concerns grow over how smaller enterprises can cope with the coronavirus shutdown. The world’s biggest retailer said it was offering to waive April payments for the hairdressers, restaurant franchises, community banks and other outlets that lease space in its stores.

Four of the five largest US banks have committed to a 90-day mortgage freeze for anyone in California affected by Covid-19, state governor Gavin Newsom announced. The participating banks are Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and US Bank. The outlier is Bank of America, which agreed to only a 30-day “forbearance”.

Nearly 100,000 French companies will receive €4bn of government support for 1.2m employees temporarily laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown, the labour ministry said.