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COVID-19 Global Updates, 15 April: WHO focused on saving lives, says chief on US funding freeze

Confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide neared 2 million, with more than 1.2 lakh deaths. Donald Trump has halted the funding to World Health Organisation over its handling of COVID-19

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: April 15, 2020 10:20:22 am
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Coronavirus (Covid-19) global updates: Confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide have neared 2 million, with more than 1.2 lakh deaths. The United States, with 25,000 deaths, has reported the maximum number of casualties. This is followed by Italy (21,067) and Spain (18.056). The total number of infections is also highest in the US at 608,458 followed by Spain (173,060), Italy (162,488), Germany (132,210) and France (131,361).

As the world tries to contain the spread, Spain and Austria have allowed partial returns to work, while Britain, France, India, and Pakistan extended lockdowns to rein in the new coronavirus.

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Here’s all the global news that you should know

WHO focused on saving lives, says chief after US funding freeze

A day after United States President Donald Trump said that he would halt the funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the organisation said it was purely focus on saving lives and halting spread of the virus.

“There is no time to waste. WHO’s singular focus is on working to serve all people to save lives and stop the COVID-19 pandemic,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter following Trump’s decision.

Germany slams Trump’s WHO payment freeze; country in recession

Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany has been in recession since March, with the slump sparked by the coronavirus pandemic likely to last until the middle of the year, the economy ministry said Wednesday. “Falling global demand, interruption of supply chains, changes in consumers’ behaviour and uncertainty among investors” had all made themselves felt in export giant Germany, the ministry said, news agency AFP reported.

Meanwhile, Berlin today condemned US’ decision to freeze payments to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned against “blaming others” for the coronavirus crisis, AFP reported. “Blaming others won’t help… one of the best investments is to strengthen the UN, above all the under-financed WHO… in the development and distribution of tests and vaccines,” Maas wrote on Twitter, a day after Trump’s announcement.

Russia reports 25,000 cases after highest single-day rise

Russia on Wednesday reported 3,388 new cases of the coronavirus, a record daily rise, bringing its overall nationwide tally to 24,490, the country’s coronavirus response centre was quoted as saying by Reuters. It said 198 people in Russia diagnosed with the virus had now died, an overnight rise of 28.

Trump halts funding for WHO

Donald Trump, Donald Trump WHO funding, Donald Trump who, coronavirus, Donald Trump who coronavirus, world health organisation, Donald Trump halts who funding President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would halt funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic while his administration reviews its response to the global crisis. Trump, at a White House news conference, said the WHO had “failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.” He said the group had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred. The United States is the biggest overall donor to the Geneva-based WHO, contributing more than $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to Trump’s announcement by saying now is not the time to end support for the World Health Organization, calling the WHO “absolutely critical” to the global effort to combat COVID-19.

Japan sees more patients and a dire projection

Japan may see some 850,000 COVID-19 patients in serious conditions and about half of them dying if no social distancing or other measures are taken, experts on a government-commissioned response team said in an estimate released Wednesday. Hokkaido University professor Hiroshi Nishiura, an expert on cluster analysis, projected a 49% fatality rate, or about 420,000 deaths, among those who develop serious conditions requiring respiratory care or treatment in intensive care units, due to an imminent shortage of ventilators if no preventive measures are taken, according to a report provided by the health ministry.

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“If we are unprepared and hit by the pandemic, we will run out of respirators,” Nishitani told reporters. The projection is a worst case scenario, he said, and urged people to cooperate in the social distancing effort. “We can stop the transmission if all of us change our activity and significantly reduce interactions.”

US registers record one-day toll of 2,129

The United States, among the worst-affected country in the world, reported about 2,000 deaths in a single day, taking the casualties to 25,400. It also passed a second milestone on Tuesday with over 600,000 reported cases, three times more than any other country.

Meanwhile, Trump said he is close to completing a plan to end the coronavirus shutdown and “authorize” governors to reopen the battered economy in some parts before May 1. He also announced a new public-private partnership aimed at making as many as 60,000 ventilators available to patients in coronavirus hot spots.

New York City toll surpasses 10,000

New York City revised its official COVID-19 death toll sharply higher to more than 10,000 on Tuesday, to include victims presumed to have perished from the lung disease but never tested. The new cumulative figure for “confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths” released by the New York City Health Department marked a staggering increase of over 3,700 deaths formally attributed to the highly contagious illness since March 11.

READ | Airlines in India plan phased resumption of ops once govt clears way for economic activity

FILE – In this April 9, 2020, file photo, workers wearing personal protective equipment bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island in the Bronx borough of New York (AP)

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would not follow orders from Trump to reopen his state if it would endanger New Yorkers

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, ministers take 20% pay cut for six months

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, ministers in her government and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months given the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “This is where we can take action and that is why we have,” Ardern said in a news conference announcing the decision.

Explained: Can gargling with salt water prevent COVID-19 infection?

S.Korea holds parliamentary election under strict safety measures

People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the new coronavirus wait in line to cast for their votes for the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Nonsan, South Korea (AP)

Wearing masks and moving slowly between lines taped on the ground, millions of South Koreans flocked to polling stations on Wednesday to elect lawmakers amid the shadows of a spreading coronavirus. The national parliamentary elections on Wednesday have been billed as a midterm referendum for liberal President Moon Jae-in, who enters the final years of his term grappling with a historic public health crisis that has sickened more than 10,500 people while unleashing massive economic shock. Anyone whose temperature was higher than 37.5 Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) was led to a special booth.

IMF chief economist says 100 countries seek pandemic aid; more resources may be needed

The International Monetary Fund’s $1 trillion in lending capacity is “quite substantial” to help members deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but further resources may be needed as the full brunt of the crisis reaches developing countries, its chief economist told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. Gita Gopinath, the chief economist, said 100 of the IMF’s 189 members, of which half are low-income countries, have contacted the global crisis lender about emergency funding to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and mitigate its economic impact.

Explained | Can unborn baby be infected with coronavirus?

China reports fewer coronavirus cases but infections from Russia a worry

China reported on Wednesday a decline in new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the mainland, although an increasing number of local transmissions in its far northeast bordering Russia remained a concern for authorities. Of the 46 cases reported today, 36 involved travellers arriving in China from overseas. China has closed the border with Russia at Suifenhe, a city in Heilongjiang with a checkpoint into Russia.

The Xidan shopping area of Beijing, China (Bloomberg)

More global news

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his health minister are in open conflict over the country’s coronavirus response, leading many to worry that the far-right leader could soon fire the official who has played a major role in containing the outbreak.
  • With Tel Aviv in lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis, a sprawling park in the heart of the city is all but empty. This has cleared the way for packs of jackals to take over the park.
In this Friday, April 10, 2020 photo, jackals eat dog food that was left for them by an Israeli woman at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv (AP)
  • World War Two veteran Ermando Piveta, aged 99, became the oldest Brazilian to recover from the coronavirus on Tuesday. “Winning this battle was for me bigger than winning the war,” he said of his fight against an invisible enemy. “In war you kill or live. Here you have to fight to live,” he added.
  • US President Donald Trump will hold a video teleconference with G7 leaders on Thursday to coordinate national responses to the coronavirus outbreak, the White House said on Tuesday.
  • Britain’s economy could shrink by 13% this year due to the government’s coronavirus shutdown, its deepest recession in three centuries, the country’s budget forecasters said.
  • The French foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest a string of controversial comments by Beijing’s embassy in Paris on the coronavirus.
  • Three potential COVID-19 vaccines are making fast progress in early-stage testing in volunteers in China and the U.S., but it’s still a long road to prove if they’ll really work.
  • Arizona on Tuesday said it would provide coronavirus antibody tests for 250,000 health-care workers and first responders in the largest such testing in the United States to date.
  • Finland will lift the roadblocks in place around its capital region after nearly three weeks on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said, in a first act of easening the Nordic country’s coronavirus related restrictions.
A mural reads “Stay Home, Life is Beautiful’ Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Los Angeles. Murals with themes centered around the Coronavirus have been popping up on the walls of businesses in the California city (AP)

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