Via Financial Times

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The vast majority of British people have not been infected with the coronavirus, Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, said on Friday. “We are confident that the great majority of the population have not had Covid-19,” meaning that there is a strong chance the disease could “take off again” if social distancing measures are prematurely relaxed, he said.

Heathrow Airport wrote to the government on Thursday urging it to introduce health checks on incoming passengers after the immediate lockdown has passed. But Downing St said earlier that it had no plans to change its current liberal approach to airport checks on the relatively small number of passengers still coming into the UK.

The World Health Organization has launched a global initiative to accelerate the development and distribution of medicines and vaccines for Covid-19 to ensure “no-one is left behind.” Tedros Adhanom, director general of the WHO, unveiled a “landmark” global collaboration to accelerate the development of and equitable access to coronavirus diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.

The drug combination touted by US president Donald Trump as a possible coronavirus treatment could cause patients’ hearts to malfunction, regulators warned on Friday. The US Food and Drug Administration issued a safety warning about using hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, saying the drugs could cause heart rhythm problems for some patients, and should be confined to clinical trials.

The US Navy is fighting another coronavirus outbreak aboard one of its vessels, the guided-missile destroyer Kidd, pictured, while the Pentagon assures citizens it has “learned lessons” from political furores caused by previous outbreaks on warships. One person was evacuated from the Kidd in the Caribbean Sea to San Antonio, Texas, where they tested positive for coronavirus.

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Global trade in February contracted at a pace not seen since the financial crisis as the coronavirus pandemic hit Asia ahead of the lockdown in western countries. The volume of global trade dropped by 2.6 per cent in February compared with the same month last year, the sharpest contraction since the financial crisis, according to the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

US stocks were higher on Friday, but remained on course for their first weekly drop in three owing to elevated volatility in the oil market. The S&P 500 was up 0.5 per cent on Friday, but is heading for a decline of about 2.2 per cent over the past five sessions. Stocks finished about flat on Thursday, trimming earlier gains after a promising antiviral treatment for Covid-19 flopped in its first trial.

France has agreed to a €7bn loan package for Air France-KLM as the airline struggles with the impact of coronavirus and is also working on a €5bn deal for carmaker Renault. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said in a television interview that loans would come with conditions including that “Air France must become the most environmentally friendly company on the planet”.