The US death toll surpasses 18,000 with close to half a million confirmed Covid-19 cases. Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir shows early positive signs it might be effective.

News you might have missed
The US death toll surpassed 18,000 with close to half a million confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, according to the latest figures from the Covid Tracking project. Across the US, 1,932 people died from coronavirus in the past day — with New York, accounting for nearly 43 per cent of the deaths. New Jersey and Michigan are among the other states that are particularly hard hit with 1,932 and 1,281 deaths, respectively. The total number of Americans who have died from coronavirus since the outbreak began stands at 18,356.
More than 100,000 people have died from Covid-19 worldwide, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported. There are signs that the outbreak is slowing as the total number of new cases remained stable at roughly 85,000 for the past three days. Global daily fatalities have also dropped in recent days as lockdown measures taken in Europe begin to have an effect.
At the beginning of March, Asia accounted for over 60 per cent of coronavirus-related deaths. Within a week, attention shifted to Europe, with Italy and Spain the new global hotspots. Although the region still accounts for more than half of global deaths, the focus is now increasingly on the US.
Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir has shown early positive signs that it might be effective in treating coronavirus in a study of patients given the drug, which was originally developed for Ebola. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study analysing data from just 53 patients, which found that about 68 per cent improved after being treated with remdesivir, which some experts hope could stop the Sars-CoV-2 virus from replicating.
The US Federal Reserve Board’s supervision head, Randal Quarles, warned that non-banks could face tighter regulation “once the dust settles” after the coronavirus crisis. Addressing a virtual event organised by the University of Utah, Mr Quarles said regulators would think about “whether we have the right framework around that (non bank) portion of the financial sector because of the significant amount of intervention that was required at the outset of this”.
Turkey has announced a 48-hour lockdown in the country’s biggest cities after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases approached 50,000. The country’s interior ministry announced that everyone would be required to stay at home from midnight on Friday night until Sunday night. The latest measure applies to 31 of the country’s 81 provinces, including Istanbul, the megacity of 15.5m that is the epicentre of Turkey’s coronavirus outbreak.
Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte confirmed that the national lockdown, which was set to end on April 13, will be extended by three weeks to May 3. Some businesses will be allowed to reopen on April 14, including stationery shops and bookshops.
France reported a further 987 coronavirus deaths, but officials said they were seeing the first signs that the spread of the epidemic was beginning to slow after nearly a month of the population being confined. The figures include 554 deaths in hospitals, with the rest being in old people’s homes and care homes. The overall death toll is now 13,197.
Apple and Google are collaborating to build contact-tracing tools that would enable smartphone users to be alerted if they come into close proximity with someone infected by Covid-19. The two tech giants, whose iOS and Android software underlay virtually all smartphones, said they will build technology “to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design”.