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Saturday, Nov 28, 2020

US cases top 100,000 as global economy enters recession

US cases top 100,000 as global economy enters recession

Trump signs historic US$2.2 trillion emergency bill into law. Italy reports record 969 deaths in single day

New outbreaks bubbled in the United States as reported infections crossed the 100,000 mark on Friday, just a day after it overtook China as the country with the most cases in the world.

While New York remained the worst hit city in the US, Americans braced for worsening conditions elsewhere, with worrisome infection numbers being reported in New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.

“We are not through this. We’re not even halfway through this,” said Joseph Kanter of the Louisiana Department of Health, which has recorded more than 2,700 cases, more than five times what it had a week ago.

New Orleans’ sprawling Ernest N. Morial Convention Centre, along the Mississippi River, was being converted into a massive hospital as officials prepared for thousands more patients than they could accommodate.

The preparations immediately conjured images of another disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the convention centre became a squalid shelter of last resort in a city that has braved a string of storm hits, not to mention great fires and a yellow fever epidemic in centuries past.

In New York, where there are more than 44,000 cases statewide, the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 passed 6,000 on Friday, double what it had been three days earlier.

Governor Andrew Cuomo called for 4,000 more temporary beds across New York City, where the Jacob K. Javits Convention Centre has already been converted into a hospital.

President Donald Trump, after earlier rejecting Cuomo’s pleas for tens of thousands more ventilators, and the governor’s calls to use the Korean war-era Defence Production Act, invoked the law on Friday, ordering General Motors to begin manufacturing the breathing machines.

Italy, the US and China account for nearly half the world’s more than half a million infections and more than half of the roughly 26,000 reported virus deaths.

Here are the developments:


Global economy has entered recession, says IMF chief

The coronavirus pandemic has driven the global economy into a downturn that will require massive financing to help developing nations, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said on Friday.

“It is clear that we have entered a recession” that will be worse than in 2009 following the global financial crisis, she said in an online press briefing.

The coronavirus pandemic has driven the global economy into a downturn that will require massive financing to help developing nations, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said on Friday.

“It is clear that we have entered a recession” that will be worse than in 2009 following the global financial crisis, she said in an online press briefing.

With the worldwide economic “sudden stop”, Georgieva said the IMF’s estimate “for the overall financial needs of emerging markets is US$2.5 trillion”. But, she warned, that estimate “is on the lower end”.

Governments in emerging markets, which have suffered an exodus of capital of more than US$83 billion in recent weeks, can cover much of that, but “clearly the domestic resources are insufficient” and many already have high debt loads.



Governments in emerging markets, which have suffered an exodus of capital of more than US$83 billion in recent weeks, can cover much of that, but “clearly the domestic resources are insufficient” and many already have high debt loads.

More than 80 countries, mostly of low incomes, have already have requested emergency aid from the IMF, she said.

The IMF chief spoke to reporters following a virtual meeting with the Washington-based lender’s steering committee, when she officially requested an increase in the fund’s fast-deploying emergency facilities from their current level of around US$50 billion.


Trump signs US$2.2 trillion aid bill

The US House of Representatives on Friday approved a US$2.2 trillion aid package – the largest in American history – to help people and businesses cope with the economic downturn inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. It was promptly signed into law by Trump the same afternoon.

Democrats and Republicans in the Democratic-led House approved the package on a voice vote, turning back a procedural challenge from Republican congressman Thomas Massie, who had sought to force a formal, recorded vote that could have delayed its passage.

Massie, an independent-minded Republican who has repeatedly defied party leaders, wrote on Twitter that he thought the bill contained too much extraneous spending and gave too much power to the Federal Reserve. His fellow lawmakers overruled his request.



On Twitter, Trump called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” and said he should be thrown out of the Republican Party.
“He just wants the publicity,” wrote Trump, who last week began pushing for urgent action on coronavirus after long downplaying the risk.

Democratic and Republican leaders asked members to return to Washington to ensure there would be enough present to head off Massie’s gambit. Lawmakers from as far away as California were present for the debate.

The session was held under special rules to limit the spread of the disease among members, who used hand sanitiser and in at least one case wore protective gloves. At least three members of Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than two dozen have self-quarantined to limit its spread.


Italy reports record 969 deaths in single day

Italy reported another 969 Covid-19 fatalities, a single-day record that raises the country's death toll to 9,134.

The Civil Protection Agency said total infections, including deaths and recoveries, have risen to 86,498, meaning that Italy's count has surpassed China and is roughly level with the United States.

The Italian figure includes 4,401 new cases, a 6.6 per cent daily increase consistent with the trend recorded in recent days.

Recoveries are up by around 6 per cent to 10,950, while the number of intensive care patients – a closely watched figure given the shortage of hospital beds – has risen by 3.2 per cent, to 3,732.


France extends lockdown

France on Friday extended its coronavirus lockdown for another two weeks as the premier warned of “difficult days” to come following a surge in cases that was beginning to put the French health system under pressure.

After 365 people died and more than 2,300 people were hospitalised in France in a single day, the military sent a plane Friday to evacuate six patients from the hard-hit east of the country where hospitals are overstretched.

“We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

“The situation will be difficult in the days to come,” he added, as he announced the extension of the stay-at-home order by another two weeks to April 15.



Philippe warned the country must “remain extremely mobilised” in the fight against the epidemic that has so far officially claimed 1,696 lives in France.

The toll is only for people who were hospitalised, not those who may have died at home or in nursing facilities, which have been badly affected by the outbreak.

The country has some 14,000 coronavirus patients in hospital, with 548 placed in intensive care just on Thursday. More than 3,300 are in a critical condition.


Russia closes restaurants as cases surpass 1,000

Russia is closing restaurants nationwide for a nine-day period starting on Saturday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as the reported number of cases in the country surpassed 1,000.

Restaurants will still be able to provide delivery services during that time, according to the decree by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, published on his website on Friday.

The reported coronavirus cases, including at least three deaths, have been predominantly in Moscow, the country's capital and largest city. Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has warned that the actual number of cases is probably “significantly more”.



Russia has prohibited regular international flights and imposed strict quarantine measures for anyone entering the country and anyone who could have been exposed to someone infected with the virus.

The government has opted not to impose lockdown measures such as those seen in neighbouring China and some European countries like Italy, Spain and France.

President Vladimir Putin advised Russians in a nationally televised address to stay at home and said workers should be allowed to take off Monday through Friday next week and still be paid.

Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, assured the public on Thursday that Russia did not have a coronavirus epidemic. “We still need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” he told reporters.

Peskov said on Friday that a coronavirus case had been confirmed in Putin's administration. He said the person, whom he did not identify, had not had direct contact with the president.

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