World coronavirus dispatch: Chinese can now book tests on e-commerce sites

Topics China | Netflix | Coronavirus

An officer from the New York Police Department helps workers carry a body out of a house amid the coronavirus disease. Photo: Reuters
China’s biggest e-commerce firms Alibaba and JD have launched Covid-19 tests on their platforms. Users can book tests, the prices of which vary from city to city, in their neighbourhood labs, by visiting Taobao, Tmall and JD.com. It’s a huge leap in the country’s efforts to accelerate testing aggressively, as China’s e-commerce reach exceeds 70 per cent of its population.

Several cities and provinces in China have also announced that coronavirus testing would be available to citizens on a voluntary basis, instead of only those required to be tested by the government because of travel history, etc. Read more here.

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total confirmed cases: 2,580,729

Change over the previous day: 84,735

Total deaths: 178,371

Total recovered: 4,136,464

Nations hit with most cases: US (825,306), Spain (208,389), Italy (183,957), France (159,300) and Germany (148,453).

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

US halts new green cards for two months: US President Donald Trump has announced he will halt the issuance of green cards for two months. Though he has stopped short of a sweeping immigration ban, he has hinted that additional restrictions could be imposed. Trump’s decision will affect thousands of would-be immigrants seeking to move permanently to the US, and further delay the already-cumbersome green card process. Read more here.

US to approve another relief package worth $484 billion: The US government will vote on Thursday to approve a $484-billion package of new pandemic relief funds. It will include $320 billion for the paycheck protection programme designed to help struggling small businesses keep their workers on the payroll. Read about it here and learn about the full break-down here.

World sees increased adoption of renewable energy: In the UK and Europe, renewables delivered 46 per cent of total power generation from March 10 to April 10, an annual increase of 8 per cent. In the US, coal now has a historically low share in the electricity mix (15 per cent). A decade ago, this was 50 per cent.

Coronavirus crisis could be followed by a hunger pandemic: The planet is “on the brink of a hunger pandemic" as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak, David Beasley, chief of the UN's World Food Program told the UN Security Council. The countries at risk include Nigeria, Venezuela, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Read more here.

World events continue on cancellation spree: Spain called off the Running of the Bulls in July, the US scrapped the national spelling bee in June and Germany has cancelled Oktoberfest five months away, making it clear that the effort to return to normal could be a long and dispiriting process. Read more here.

Italy will implement some sort of re-opening plan from May 4: Guidelines to cautiously reopen parts of Italy would likely be applied starting May 4, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. He said the country's reopening plan should include assessments of how many people used public transportation and private vehicles, at what time, and how social distancing could be guaranteed — and rush hours avoided — for commuters. Read his original post on Facebook.

Netflix expects 2x customer sign-ups: Netflix has more than doubled its own projections for new customers, as quarantined audiences are bingeing on content. But the company has predicted a weaker second half of the year if stay-at-home orders to fight the coronavirus are lifted. Read more here.

Specials

Big unknowns about virus complicate return to normal: Some scientific unknowns about Covid-19 are deeply worrying, and they are complicating efforts to reopen the economy. The issues go beyond the logistics of how many tests are available. For example, it's not yet clear how often people can spread the virus without showing symptoms. Read it here.

Refresher

What to do if you catch the coronavirus

Long Reads

America needs real-time economic data to get through this crisis: Checking the latest Covid-19 numbers has become a daily ritual for many. There’s both solace and alarm to be had from the numbers. In that context, the traditional indicators by which we gauge the health of our economy seem suddenly inadequate. From the Federal Reserve to Wall Street, there’s a scramble to find a new high-frequency data to map the destruction in real time and help guide the salvage effort. Read to understand how decision makers are tackling this problem.

Opinion

Howard Schultz on loans for small businesses: Starbucks chairman emeritus Howard Schultz says he is rethinking loans for small businesses. "These transformation loans should operate like start-up financing, but be longer-term, lower-interest, include one year of no payments, and a portion that’s forgiven. A new federal facility should be established to purchase loans from banks, removing the loans’ risk to banks and speeding their flow." Read full comments on his medium post 


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