Going by the numbers provided by Johns Hopkins University Globally, United States has surpassed the deaths recorded in Vietnam War in which 58,220 American service members were killed. As of today, US’ Covid-linked death toll stands at 58,471 with majority occurring at New York City with over 17,000 deaths.
The novel coronavirus has, so far, claimed 218,564 lives with over 3.13 million confirmed cases.
The worst affected countries in the world after the United states in terms of infections is Spain (232,128), Italy (201,505),France (169,053), United Kingdom (162,350), Germany(159,912) and Turkey (114,653).
Here is a look at some of the top global developments:
US economy shrank at 4.8% annual rate last quarter, worst yet to come
Amid nationwide shutdown, the US economy shrank at a 48 annual rate last quarter and began triggering a recession that will end the longest expansion on record. Yet the drop in the JanuaryMarch quarter will be only a precursor of a far grimmer report to come on the current April-June period with business shutdowns and layoffs striking with devastating force With much of the economy paralyzed the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that economic activity will plunge this quarter at a 40 annual rate That would be by a breathtaking margin the bleakest quarter since such records were first compiled in 1947 It would be four times the size of the worst quarterly contraction on record set in 1958.
Impossible to hold Olympics unless pandemic contained: Japan PM
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe said that the Olympics in Tokyo will only take place next year once the pandemic is contained, as city’s governor called for an extension of the nationwide state of emergency. The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government last month postponed the Games until July 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis. “We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely. It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained,” Abe said.
Israel marks Independence Day amid Covid-19 lockdown
Israelis are celebrating their Independence Day amid a nationwide lockdown enforced to curb the spread of the virus. A national holiday, the day is usually a a festive occasion with people heading to the beach hosting barbecues and watching fireworks. However, this year the government has banned public gatherings and ordered people to remain within 100 meters yards of their homes unless they require medicine or have other vital needs Public transportation has been shut down and police are manning roadblocks to prevent travel. Israel was freed by the British rule in 1948.
President Reuven Rivlin hosted an annual televised event in which the president usually presents awards to soldiers This year the awards ceremony was postponed and the event was reconfigured as an online starstudded tribute to medical workers and security forces with performances by famous musicians and comedians but no live audience. “I wish us all a happy and healthy year in which we can enjoy every moment of Israeli normality that we all miss so much,” Rivlin said in a video message. (Read more)
US Covid-19 deaths exceeds fatalities during Vietnam War
The 58,355 Covid-19 deaths in US exceeded the number of American soldiers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War that lasted for two decades. The US accounts for nearly one-third of the 3.1 million cases globally and one-fourth of the over 213,000 global fatalities.
“We continue to pray for the victims as well as for those Americans who are grieving their lost ones and their loved ones. There’s never been anything like this. We suffer with one heart but we will prevail. We are coming back, and we’re coming back strong,” US President Donald Trump said at the White House during his remarks on the Paycheck Protection Programme.
“Now that our experts believe the worst days of the pandemic are behind us, Americans are looking forward to the safe and rapid reopening of our country, he said.
China to convene its annual parliament meet coming May
China has decided to hold the annual meeting of its ceremonial parliament late next month after postponing it for weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak
The Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday that the National People’s Congress that comprises 3000 members would open in Beijing on 22 May. The convening of the full session was decided by its standing committee and reflects the growing confidence of overcoming the coronavirus in China.
China Wednesday reported a jump in imported cases of coronavirus but no new deaths from the disease it causes. Out of 22 new cases 21 were brought from abroad and one was a result of local transmission in the southern industrial province of Guangdong, the National Health Commission said. China has so far registered 4,633 deaths from the virus among 82,858 cases.
Putin extends lockdown in Russia for two more weeks
Russian President Vladimir Putin extended the coronavirus lockdown measures for another two weeks while planning for a gradual lifting of curbs, beginning mid-May. The measure that was to expire Thursday is now extended till 11 May.
Putin, while reiterating the stabilising of coronavirus cases in Russia, told Russians to still expect the worst of the outbreak.
Following the announcement, Russian opposition activists have staged an online protest against lockdowns saying that the government is using the outbreak to impose illegal restrictions violating people’s rights.
Russia has recorded 93558 coronavirus cases and 867 deaths.
Tokyo governor calls to extend emergency in Japan
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike Wednesday called for an extention of Japan’s nationwide state of emergency that is scheduled to last til 6 May to stem the spread of coronavirus in the country.
“Tokyo is still facing a serious situation and so I would like to have it go on longer, Koike told reporters. Out of Japan’s 400 deaths, more than 100 are from the capital. The last day of the nationwide emergency marks the end of the Golden Week holidays that began this week. Although the government has asked people not to travel during the holidays. There is no lockdown in Japan, and some businesses and restaurants remain open.
Worries remain another wave of cases could emerge if people let go of social distancing restrictions and norms.
US repatriates over 71,000 Americans, maximum number of pending requests from India and Pakistan
The United States till now has repatriated over 71,000 Americans from 127 countries and now the largest number of pending requests are coming from India and Pakistan, an official said. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said “It looks like we are now at 71,538 Americans who have been repatriated on 750 flights from 127 countries and territories since January 29th.”
“We are still seeing the largest number of US citizens requesting repatriation assistance in the South and Central Asia region, specifically in India and Pakistan,” said Ian Brownlee, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.
Mexico tells towns and states to stop putting roadblocks, curfews on their own
Mexico’s Interior Department urged towns and states Tuesday to stop putting up roadblocks and curfews to stem the spread of the new coronavirus as hundreds have done, emphasising that these measures violate constitutional rights like the right to free movement and argued that local governments don’t have the authority to enact them.
In a statement the interior department highlighted that a health emergency does not mean a state of emergency or suspension of rights.
The comment has come after almost 20% of Mexican municipal governments had put more than 300 check points across the country. Dozens of towns have imposed curfews and threatened to arrest people who do not obey social distancing norms.
Mexico has about 16750 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1569 deaths.
Luxembourg plans to conduct COVID-19 tests on its entire population
As part of its lockdown exit strategy Luxembourg plans to test the whole of its population for COVID19.
The Luxembourg government says tests will be conducted on a voluntary basis and aim at avoiding a second wave of infections As of Tuesday 3741 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in the tiny country of 6,00,000 inhabitants including 89 deaths
The government says 17 test stations will be set up across the country where cross border commuters can also be tested.
Russian prisons reports more than 300 coronavirus cases
The Federal Penitentiary Service Tuesday said 271 of its personnel and 40 inmates have tested positive for the new coronavirus adding that it has conducted nearly 19000 tests.
The announcement is the first official acknowledgement of the spread of COVID-19 in Russia’s extensive and sprawling prison system which currently holds over 600,000 inmates.
US secretary of state says China rebuffed US efforts to contain coronavirus
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that China rebuffed the country’s efforts to get experts on ground at the epicentre of COVID-19 outbreak that could have help contain its spread.
“This president and this administration worked diligently to get Americans on the ground there in China, to help the World Health Organisation try to get in there as well. We were rebuffed,” Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Chinese government wouldn’t let it happen, indeed just the opposite of transparency. They kicked American journalists out and denied access to American and other Western scientists at the time that it was frankly most critical that we understand what was going on there,”he said.
US officials were part of the WHO expert team delegation that travelled to China. “Upon arrival, the delegation travelled in groups to several locations, but Americans were not among those who travelled to Wuhan, a State Department spokesperson said.
UN says coronavirus could cause 7 million unintended pregnancies
A new data released by the UN Population Fund and partners reveal that the current lockdown measures as well as disruptions of health services as a fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to prevent around 47 million women in low and middle income countries to use the modern contraceptives, leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies.
The agencies estimate that the number of women unable to access family planning or facing unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence and other harmful practices, could “skyrocket” by millions due to the crisis.
“This new data shows the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 could soon have on women and girls globally,” UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem said on Tuesday.
Globally, around 450 million women across 114 low and middle-income countries use contraceptives, the study said
Trump orders meat-processing plants to stay open despite COVID-19 fears
President Donald Trump Tuesday ordered meat-processing plants to stay open in order to protect the food supply in the United States, despite concerns about coronavirus outbreaks, drawing a backlash from unions that said at-risk workers required more protection.With concerns about food shortages and supply chain disruptions, Trump issued an executive order using the Defense Production Act to mandate that the plants continue to function.The world’s biggest meat companies, including Smithfield Foods Inc, Cargill Inc, JBS USA and Tyson, have halted operations at about 20 slaughterhouses and processing plants in North America as workers fall ill, stoking global fears of a meat shortage.
Human Rights Watch says coronavirus medical supplies unable to reach parts of Syria
Human Rights Watch says medical supplies to prevent and treat the new coronavirus are not reaching northeast Syria because of restrictions imposed by the Syrian government and the Kurdish regional government.
The international rights organization urged the UN Security Council to immediately adopt a resolution reopening the Al Yarubiyah border crossing from Iraq into the northeast where Syrian Kurds established an autonomous zone in 2012 The crossing which was used primarily to deliver medicine and medical supplies was closed in January at the insistence of Russia
Britain’s virus contact tracing app to be ready in another 2 to 3 weeks
An official said that the contact tracing app of the British Government will be ready in two to three weeks. The country has been in the process of developing mobile apps to help and reduce infections after the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Matthew Gould, CEO of the National Health Services digital transformation unit, says a San Francisco-based software company Pivotal Labs has done most of the work building the app.
The app will use Bluetooth signals to anonymously log when a user comes into close contact with others. The data is kept on devices. But if users later develop COVID-19 symptoms or get positive test result they can choose to upload the data to a central server so those contacts can be alerted.
Kenya announces ban on movement in two of Africa’s refugee camps
Kenyas Interior minister Fred Matiangi has announced a ban on movement into and out of two of Africa’s largest refugee camps in a measure to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The ministers statement did not provide details but aid organisation CARE said the camps have no capacity to deal with a possible outbreak of the virus CARE said in a statement that Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya’s east has a quarantine facility for 2000.
It has more than 270000 refugees mainly from Somalia and a further 20000 refugees living with the host community
Kakuma camp in Kenya’s north hosts 60000 refugees mainly from South Sudan.
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