Coronavirus: IMF predicts deep recession

Washington D.C. – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the “Great Lockdown” recession would be the steepest in almost a century as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases neared the 2 million mark on Tuesday.

A tally from the US-based Johns Hopkins University showed the number of reported cases worldwide have roughly doubled since April 2, reaching more than 1.9 million, while the global death toll stands at 119,653.

The Johns Hopkins online Covid-19 tracker had earlier recorded that worldwide cases had exceeded the 2 million milestone, but late Monday it revised the figure.

The United States has the most cases, with more than 33 per cent of the total from around the world, followed by Spain, Italy and China. Germany comes in fifth with over 130,000 confirmed cases.

The virus, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, late last year has morphed into a global health crisis that has threatened health systems and economies alike.

The epicentre of the virus has shifted from mainland China to Europe and now to the United States.

In the US, the White House models forecast the virus may kill around 60,000 people. The vast majority of the country has been ordered to stay at home and limit social contacts, but some states are currently eyeing plans to reopen their economies.

Here are the developments:

Covid-19 is 10 times more deadly than swine flu: WHO

The novel coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than swine flu, which caused a global pandemic in 2009, the World Health Organisation said, stressing a vaccine would be necessary to fully halt transmission.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual briefing from Geneva that the organisation was constantly learning about the new virus sweeping the globe.

“We know that Covid-19 spreads fast, and we know that it is deadly, 10 times deadlier than the 2009 flu pandemic,” he said.

WHO says 18,500 people died of “swine flu”, or H1N1, which was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in March 2009, but the Lancet estimated the toll to be between 151,700 and 575,400.

The Lancet review included estimated deaths in Africa and Southeast Asia that were not accounted for by the WHO.

The outbreak, which was declared a pandemic in June 2009 and considered over by August 2010, turned out to be not as deadly as first feared.

Vaccines were rushed out, but in hindsight, the West, particularly Europe, and the WHO were criticised for overreacting at a time when annual influenza epidemics every year killed between 250,000 and 500,000 people, according to WHO.

A vaccine for the new coronavirus is thought to be at least 12 to 18 months away.

Bill Gates says coronavirus vaccine 18 months away, but some in development are ‘very promising’

India extends virus lockdown until next month

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the nationwide lockdown imposed in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus will be extended until May 3.

The bustling country of 1.3 billion people has slowed to an uncharacteristic crawl amid the initial three-week lockdown, which was set to expire on Tuesday.

Modi said India acted early to contain the coronavirus problem, with screenings taking place “even before” any Covid-19 cases were officially reported.

“We didn’t wait for the problem to get out of hand,” he said.

Announcing financial relief for farmers, the prime minister also said some restrictions will be eased for daily wage earners, who have been hit hardest by the lockdown.

China reports 89 new cases, 86 imported

China reported 89 new coronavirus cases on April 13, down from 108 the previous day, the health authority said on Tuesday.

Of the total, 86 were imported, down from 98 a day earlier, the National Health Commission said.

China’s state broadcaster had reported earlier that 79 of the day’s imported cases were in the northeast province of Heilongjiang, which shares a border with Russia.

The number of total confirmed cases in China now stands at 82,249. Its death toll from the pandemic stands at 3,341, with no new deaths on April 13.

Spain’s new cases drop to lowest in 3 1/2 weeks

Spain reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in 3 1/2 weeks as the government comes under pressure to relax some of the measures brought in to slow the outbreak.

There were 3,045 new infections in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 172,541, according to Health Ministry data. That was the smallest increase since March 20. The death toll rose by 567 to 18,056.

Spain has passed the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Monday after the country saw strong declines in the number of cases and deaths over the Easter holiday weekend.

The government is already working on plans to start easing the lockdown and lift stringent rules on social distancing, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last week, without specifying when this will happen.

In the meantime, Sanchez plans to ask parliament to extend the current state of emergency, which is currently set to last through April 25. Under the existing rules, individuals are only allowed outside their homes on their own and in specific circumstances.

The clampdown on economic activity has been less severe than the social restrictions, though it has wreaked havoc on key service industries.

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo announced on Tuesday that she has recovered from the virus after the 62-year-old was hospitalised in late March. Equality Minister Irene Montero also tested positive for the virus.

‘No end in sight’ for Philippines lockdown

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said a lockdown on the country’s most populous island would

not be lifted until a vaccine, antibody treatment or medicine for the novel coronavirus becomes available.

Duterte said Filipinos might need to endure two to three waves of the epidemic before the government would lift the lockdown, which has entered its fifth week.

“There’s no end in sight,” he said in a late-night televised address that went on until the early hours of Tuesday. “When will this end, we have no clue yet. And our numbers are increasing… At this time, we need to treat the sick, we need to feed our people.”

On Tuesday, the Department of Health reported 291 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the Philippines, bringing the total number of infections to 5,223.

There were 20 additional fatalities, pushing the death toll to 335, while 295 patients have recovered.

The main island of Luzon, where the capital Manila is located, is on lockdown until April 30 due to the outbreak. Luzon is home to some 57 million people, more than half of the country’s entire population, making it the fourth-most densely populated island in the world.

Half of Malaysia’s Covid-19 patients recover

Almost half of people in Malaysia who contracted the coronavirus have recovered, according to official figures.

Data released by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday shows that 49.7 per cent of the country’s 4,987 confirmed cases had recovered after contracting the disease.

While 170 new cases of the disease were diagnosed over the previous 24 hours, 202 people were discharged from hospital during the same time frame, Health Ministry director general Noor Hisham Abdullah said.

“Perhaps we managed to flatten [the rise in case numbers],” said Hisham.

In Malaysia, 2,478 people have recovered from the illness, although 82 have died.

Malaysia went into lockdown on March 18, after a spike in cases during the previous week from 149 to 790. Last week, the government announced that the restrictions will be extended for a third two-week period running until April 28.

Also on Tuesday, Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus deaths with 60 new fatalities, taking the total to 459, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Yurianto confirmed 282 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 4,839. A total of 426 people have recovered, he said.

IMF predicts deep recession

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted the “Great Lockdown” recession would be the steepest in almost a century and warned the world economy’s contraction and recovery would be worse than anticipated if the coronavirus lingers or returns. In its first World Economic Outlook report since the spread of the coronavirus and subsequent freezing of major economies, the IMF estimated on Tuesday that global gross domestic product will shrink 3 per cent this year.

That compares to a January projection of 3.3 per cent expansion and would likely mark the deepest dive since the Great Depression. It would also dwarf the 0.1 per cent contraction of 2009 amid the financial crisis.

While the fund anticipated growth of 5.8 per cent next year, which would be the strongest in records dating back to 1980, it cautioned risks are tilted to the downside. Much depends on the longevity of the pandemic, its effect on activity and related stresses in financial and commodity markets, it said.

The cumulative loss in global GDP this year and next could be about US$9 trillion, bigger than the economies of Japan and Germany combined, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said.

Iran deaths drop below 100 for first time in month

Iran said on Tuesday that the number of lives lost in the country to the novel coronavirus dropped to double figures for the first time in one month.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 98 deaths from the Covid-19 disease were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 4,683.

“Unfortunately, we lost 98 of our compatriots infected with the disease… but after a month of waiting, this is the first day that the death toll has been double figures,” he told a televised news conference.

The Islamic Republic currently has 74,877 infected people, according to Jahanpour.

New York doctor offers inside look at emergency room battle to help Covid-19 patients

Italy’s infection curve flattens

The number of deaths related to the novel coronavirus passed 20,000 in 

Italy on Monday,but the country hardest hit by the outbreak in Europe reported a slowing increase in new infections.

According to the Civil Protection Agency in Rome, 566 new deaths were registered within the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 20,465 since February. The previous day, 431 people had died in connection with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The number of reported infections increased by about 2 per cent to 159,516, a slightly lower rise than the day before.

The number of unreported cases however is likely to remain high.

Experts in Italy have been talking about positive signals for days, as the infection curve has flattened.

The pressure on intensive care units continues to ease, which is especially important to overcrowded hospitals in the hardest-hit north.

Italy has measures in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak, including curfews and shutting down most of public life. The government recently extended the lockdown measures until May 3.

Newborn babies in Bangkok hospital are given tiny face shields to protect them from coronavirus

Lockdown forces Burger King New Zealand to go bust

The New Zealand owners of fast food giant Burger King have been placed into receivership after the chain was forced to close the doors to all its restaurants due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

All cafes, restaurants and fast food retailers in New Zealand were forced to close on March 25.

Gibson said they would now seek support from suppliers and landlords, with the aim of restarting the business once the lockdown, scheduled to end on April 22, was lifted.

A new owner for the business would then be sought.

The parent shareholding companies in receivership are Tango Finance Limited, Tango New Zealand Limited and Antares New Zealand Holdings Limited.

The fast food chain first opened in New Zealand in 1993 and has 83 restaurants across the country, employing over 2,600 staff. (SCMP)