Half a million confirmed cases of the covid-19 coronavirus: this Thursday the world passed a barrier that is not only psychological, it is also very disturbing. The global death toll exceeds 24,000. Alarming numbers, data and forecasts arrive every minute. An estimate made by researchers at Imperial College London points to the possibility of 1.8 million fatalities globally.
This was the day that the United States started to register more cases of infection than any other country. According to the most recent data, there are already more than 83 thousand, followed by China (more than 81 thousand) and Italy (more than 80 thousand). Still, US President Donald Trump says the country “has to get back to work very quickly.” It won't be that surprising, considering that 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in just one week. The Senate has approved a gigantic economic aid plan and the House of Representatives' endorsement is only lacking.
Italy, which holds the sad record for the death toll, has taken another monstrous step in that direction, reporting more than 700 deaths in just 24 hours. On a positive note: the number of those recovered amounts to 10,361, thus exceeding that of fatalities (8,215). Aid is arriving, even though it proves to be insufficient to slow the progress of the disease. Russia and the US have sent medical personnel and supplies to northern Italy, Pope Francis donated 30 ventilators to hospitals in the country, the factories that fashion designer Giorgio Armani owns in Italy will start producing clothing for “health professionals involved in the struggle ”, and doctors in the center and south of the country volunteer to go to the most critical area.
In Spain, another tragic focus on the world map of the virus, there are more than four thousand dead. And disturbing news continues to arrive: the authorities returned unreliable rapid tests to China, more than a thousand elderly people died in Madrid homes in March (and the month is not over yet) and many Spaniards do not forgive going out on the streets, throwing insults and eggs from the windows.
France recorded an additional 365 fatalities (the total number is 1,696), but nearly 5,000 patients have recovered. Government officials are being targeted for criminal complaints due to their management of the pandemic. Here is a glimpse of confinement in rural France: “Today I took the certificate to go and put gasoline”. Another: “Bonjour, messieurs” – the fenced-in village where the virus landed speaking French.
A 'tsunami' of serious cases
In the UK, with 578 dead and 135 recovered, public hospitals face a 'tsunami' of serious cases. But there are already about 650,000 volunteers who signed up to help the National Health Service, well beyond the 250,000 requests by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.
Still on the European continent, Sweden continues to run counter to it: “The country cannot take draconian measures that have a limited impact on the epidemic”. Some experts disagree with the Government's strategy and warn of “the great risk that Sweden will go into quarantine when the health system goes into crisis.”
In other latitudes, the International Monetary Fund has already received requests for help from 20 African countries, Brazil has registered another 20 deaths (there are now 77) and almost half a thousand new cases compared to the previous day, the number of cases of infection has exceeded one hundred in Venezuela (and there is already one dead on record), Ethiopia has granted pardon to more than 4,000 prisoners, Afghanistan will release up to 10,000 prisoners to stop the epidemic, China will temporarily suspend the entry of foreigners and Russia suspends international flights starting this Friday. And notice here cHow Taiwan contained the epidemic from the start.
Health, political and financial crisis
Kosovo adds a political crisis to the health crisis. And it is not a unique example. Bolivia's electoral court announced it had proposed new dates for the presidential elections, initially scheduled for May 3. In India, the obligation to stay at home is leaving many millions without support. In Yemen, parties to the conflict support a ceasefire. And the UN withdraws some operations from Libya, which can only mean one thing: the situation in detention centers will get worse.
G20 leaders said they were “committed to doing whatever it takes” to overcome the pandemic. After a videoconference meeting, the group that brings together the 19 largest economies in the world and the European Union (EU) pledged not to spare efforts to protect lives, safeguard jobs and preserve financial stability. Despite the announced commitments, the G20 did not detail the measures it was going to adopt, limiting itself to promising to “react promptly”.
The World Bank is preparing a € 146 billion aid package, while the European Parliament (EP) has approved the mobilization of € 37 billion of public investment. The EP president argued that European debt issuance is “the right choice”: “No matter what the name or type of instrument – be it 'coronabonds' or the like – but we need to create a mechanism for the mutualization of debt ”. And the European Council gives the Eurogroup two weeks to make proposals. After about six hours of discussion, the leaders of the 27 EU member states adopted a joint statement to that effect.
New alerts and a warning
New day, new warnings: transmission from mothers to children during pregnancy is rare but possible, protectionist measures by national governments can cause food shortages and vaccination of children may be at risk. Yet another, which takes more of the form of a warning: the pandemic will last for 12 to 18 months “if we're lucky,” said Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, during a question and answer session that took place this Thursday on Facebook. “When we have a vaccine that is effective and widely distributed, we can end the pandemic,” said the expert, who added: “Until then, we will have to continue to confront the virus.”
In culture, Germany provides 50 billion euros for the sector – and in Portugal? American actor Mark Blum joined the already extensive gallery of famous victims of the disease, when he died at the age of 69.
Public service: YouTube removed 14 videos with fake medical treatments for the disease. And a poignant plea: NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns has his mother in a coma and asks people to realize the seriousness of the situation.
In closing, a note of hope: a 96-year-old woman has become the oldest person to cure the disease in South Korea.