World coronavirus dispatch: China's GDP contraction, Argentina's debt woes

Topics Coronavirus | GDP | Lockdown

FILE PHOTO: A medical staffer holds the hand of a patient, in the ICU of the Bassini Hospital, in Cinisello Balsamo, in Italy | Photo: AP/PTI
Talks to reopen economies is gaining steam globally. The US, which has been the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, is contemplating resuming some businesses in May, even as experts are advising against such a move. A lot of this is on account of lobbying by big corporate entities, which have been losing billons of dollars worth of sales. Easing of lockdown measures are also being discussed in EU countries like Germany, Demark and the UK. So far as the US is concerned, however, companies insisting on opening too soon might get blamed if more people become sick. Many even see lawsuits piling up. Read the arguments here.

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total confirmed cases: 2,169,022

Change over previous day: 90,745

Total deaths: 146,071

Total recovered: 3,420,394

Nations hit with most cases: US (671,425), Spain (184,948), Italy (168,941), Germany, France (147,101), and Germany (138,135)

UK extends lockdown: Britain’s coronavirus lockdown was extended by three more weeks amid warnings that the outbreak was still at a “dangerous stage” and an economically disastrous second peak remained a risk if restrictions were lifted. The government reiterated Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s statement that the disease might not be fully contained until June. Read more here.

China GDP numbers: In the March quarter, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 6.8 per cent from a year earlier, in its worst performance since 1992 and lower than the previously forecast drop of 6 per cent. Hours after the report, the country’s leaders pledged to deliver more stimulus, including interest rate cuts, to boost domestic demand. Read more here.

US lays out road map to re-open economy: US President Donald Trump has given state governors a road map for re-opening of shops and businesses, laying out a phased approach to restoring normal activity. The first phase, according to the guidelines, recommends strict social distancing for all members of the public, and gatherings of less than 10 people, and no non-essential travel. In the second, people would be encouraged to maximise social distancing and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people. Here’s the breakdown.

 
Singapore sees spike in cases: Singapore on Thursday reported record 447 new coronavirus cases, in its third straight day of sharp daily spikes, raising its tally to 3,699. The number of infections has jumped by 1,167 since Monday, mostly linked to crowded dormitories that house foreign workers from Bangladesh, India and other poor Asian countries. Read more here.

Argentina seeks debt restructuring as it looks to default again: Argentina launched an offer to restructure $83 billion of its foreign debt as the cash-strapped nation attempts to avoid defaulting on its payments for a ninth time. Investors were asked to accept a suspension on all debt payments for three years as well as a 62 per cent 'haircut' on interest payments worth almost $38 billion. The government there is proposing to pay interest rates of 0.5 per cent from 2023, rising to a maximum of 4.5 per cent, and a 5.4 per cent reduction in the face value of the debt, worth around $3.6 billion. Read more here

 
Specials

Gilead Sciences’s drug Remdesivir shows promise: This drug was previously used to treat Ebola patients. Now, it is also showing some promising signs in Covid-19 patients, with “rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms”, according to report from its trials happening in Chicago. The shares of Gilead Sciences shot up by 10 per cent on this news. Read it here and here.

Good gestures in the times of pandemic: Read this heart-warming selection about the kindness of strangers and individuals who sacrifice for others during the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s the compilation

Governments around the world are trying a new weapon against coronavirus – the smartphone: Already, technological tools are helping authorities fine-tune their public directives; now data derived from individual smartphones might soon play an important role in mapping webs of potential new infections and alerting people at particularly high risks of developing Covid-19. Read this to understand the various projects being implemented. 

Coronavirus’ toll on mental health: Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty and the constant news about the pandemic can seem relentless. All of this is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of people, particularly those already living with conditions like anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. So how can we protect our mental health? Read here to learn

Long Reads

The untold story of America's biggest outbreak: How did a pork factory in South Dakota became the number one hotspot in the US, with a cluster of 644 confirmed cases among its employees and people who contracted it from them? Infections spread like wildfire through a pork factory and questions remain as to what the company did to protect staff. Read more here

Drugs and vaccines that might end the coronavirus pandemic: More than 200 different programmes have been launched to develop vaccines and therapeutics to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 70 vaccines are under development and at least as many drugs are being examined. Here’s a definite, auto-updated tracker of every drug that has gone into trial or is about to go. Bookmark it here

Opinion

Henry Paulson, a former US Treasury secretary, and chairman the Paulson Institute, bats for keeping the spirit of globalisation and unilateral corporation alive in these testing times. “As the virus’ spread slows and governments rebuild, they face another force sweeping in its path: isolationism. Allowing an economic iron curtain to descend would imperil the recovery and jeopardise economic and social stability. Individual nations must resist efforts to slash cross-border linkages, and global institutions will need to step up and transform.” Read more here.


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