Russia’s coronavirus cases pass 300,000

Russia’s coronavirus case tally, the second highest in the world, passed 300,000 on Wednesday, but a representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the situation was starting to stabilise.

Russia’s 8,764 new novel coronavirus infections took the nationwide total to 308,705. But the daily increase was the lowest since May 1.

Only the United States has reported more cases than Russia, though the Russian death rate remains much lower than many other countries, something that has been queried by some critics and relatives of those who have died.

Russia says the way it counts deaths is more accurate than others however and has defended its approach.

The overall death toll edged up to 2,972 on Wednesday, with 135 new fatalities reported in the past 24 hours, the country’s coronavirus response centre said.

Dr. Melita Vujnovich, the WHO’s Russia representative, said on Wednesday that she believed the situation had entered a stabilisation phase, the TASS news agency cited her as saying.

In Moscow, Russia’s worst hit-region now in its eighth week of a lockdown, citizens remain largely confined to their homes unless they obtain digital passes to make certain journeys.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Tuesday it was too soon to consider letting people out for walks or exercise.

Malaysia reports 31 new coronavirus cases; total tops 7,000

Malaysia’s health ministry reported 31 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the cumulative total to 7,009 infections.

No new deaths were recorded, leaving the total number of fatalities at 114.

European shares was flat on Wednesday after a downbeat session on Wall Street, as doubts over a potential COVID-19 vaccine fanned concerns about whether and how fast the world can successfully emerge from the coronavirus crisis.

Still, a boost from healthcare stocks .SXDP helped the pan-European STOXX 600 shed early losses, and the index was last trading flat.

Wall Street fell more than 1% overnight after a media report questioned the validity of the results of U.S. drugmaker Moderna’s (MRNA.O) coronavirus vaccine trial that had sent stocks soaring on Monday.

A market recovery from March lows has stalled in May, as investors weigh the chance of a resurgence in coronavirus cases as many countries restart their economies after months-long lockdowns. The STOXX 600 is down 0.5% this month after a 6% jump in April.

“Investors are playing a waiting game,” said Edmund Shing, global head of equity derivatives strategy at BNP Paribas. “The reason for that is we want to see how the exit from lockdowns proceed and see how quickly each economy picks up.”

European markets have cheered a Franco-German proposal this week for a 500 billion-euro Recovery Fund that would bind all 27 European Union states to raise debt jointly to offer grants to regions hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Tuesday a group of EU states will propose funding the recovery efforts with loans, not grants.

A series of positive corporate updates limited losses in the markets.

Shares of British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) jumped 4.0% after saying that it would accelerate its latest turnaround programme as it dealt with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis and reported a 21% fall in annual profit.

The world’s biggest credit data company Experian Plc (EXPN.L) gained 6.4% as it said its executive directors would take a 25% salary cut for six months, but forecast first-quarter organic revenue to decline by just 5% to 10%.

AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) rose 1.3% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Merck Inc’s (MRK.N) and its Lynparza as a treatment for a form of prostate cancer.

French food group Danone (DANO.PA) rose 0.8% after it confirmed it would pay out a 2019 dividend and that no share buyback operations would take place this year.

Swedish video game group Embracer (EMBRACb.ST) tumbled 9.6% after weak quarterly report.