Covid-19: China has 2 more cases and Saudi Arabia considers budget cuts

Topics Coronavirus

Travellers wearing protective gear are seen at a check-in counter at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Photo: Reuters
Globally, atleast 3,484,176 people have been infected by coronavirus so far, while the total number of deaths from Covid-19 stand at 244,778, according to worldometer.

In China, health authorities said only two new Covid-19 cases were confirmed on Saturday, continuing a downward trend since the government took steps to cut the number of people arriving from overseas.

One new case was in the inland Shanxi province, west of Beijing, and the other was an imported one in Shanghai. China's official confirmed case count stands at 82,877. Most of the patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, news agency PTI reported.

China reported no new deaths on Saturday and has recorded just one in the past two weeks. The country's official death toll has reached 4,633.

The government has blocked virtually all foreigners from entering the country and sharply curtailed the number of international flights, making it difficult for Chinese citizens to return from overseas too.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia will take strict and painful measures to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the finance minister said on Saturday, adding that "all options for dealing with the crisis are open".

"We must reduce budget expenditures sharply", Mohammed al-Jadaan said in an interview with Al Arabiya TV, adding that the impact of the new coronavirus on Saudi Arabia's state finances will appear from the second quarter of the year.

"Saudi finances need more discipline and the road ahead is long," he said.

One measure would be to slow down government projects, including mega-projects, to reduce spending, he said.

The world's largest oil exporter is suffering from historically low oil prices, while measures to fight the coronavirus are likely to curb the pace and scale of economic reforms launched by Crown Price Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia's central bank foreign exchange reserves fell in March at their fastest rate in at least 20 years, hitting their lowest level since 2011, while the kingdom slipped to a $9 billion budget deficit in the first quarter as oil revenue collapsed.

In the US, hundreds opposed to Oregon state's stay-at-home order demonstrated as health officials announced dozens more cases and five additional deaths from Covid-19.

Most of the protesters did not wear face masks, but they waved American flags and Trump campaign signs in the rain. Other signs read Reopen Oregon and let me earn a living.

A group of healthcare workers demonstrated at the top of the Capitol steps, urging a phased plan to ease the state's social distancing requirements.

In Florida, police arrested a man who had been living out his quarantine on a shuttered Disney World island, telling authorities it felt like a tropical paradise.

Orange County Sheriff's deputies found Richard McGuire on Disney's Discovery Island on Thursday.

He said he'd been there since Monday or Tuesday and had planned to camp there for a week, according to an arrest report.

The 42-year-old said he didn't hear numerous deputies searching the private island for him on foot, by boat and by air because he was asleep in a building.

McGuire was arrested on a trespassing charge and taken to jail without incident. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could comment.

Previously called Treasure Island, Discovery Island had been the site of a zoological park before the island was closed to the public in 1999.


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