Coronavirus: latest global developments


Paris, France | AFP | Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:

– US Senate passes huge rescue package –

The US Senate unanimously approves the nation’s largest-ever rescue package, a $2 trillion lifeline to suffering Americans, depleted hospitals and an economy ravaged by the pandemic.

The measure must be approved Friday by the House of Representatives before it goes to President Donald Trump for his signature.

– France calls on its army –

The French military joins the virus fight as President Emmanuel Macron launches “Operation Resilience”, focused on helping people and public services in France and its overseas territories.

– Russia grounds flights, Muscovites stay home –

Russia will halt all international flights from Friday, with the exception of special flights evacuating Russian citizens from abroad.

Moscow will close cafes, shops, parks and other non-essential services for one week starting Saturday. Muscovites aged over 65 are ordered to stay home starting Thursday.

– More than 250,000 cases in Europe –

At least 21,867 deaths have been recorded since the virus first emerged in December, according to an AFP tally compiled at 1200 GMT Thursday based on official sources.

More than 481,230 declared cases have been registered in 182 countries and territories. At least 258,068 of those have been in Europe, the worst-hit continent.

The World Health Organization’s European office says it sees “encouraging signs” on the continent but cautions it is too soon to say whether the worst had passed.

The countries with the most deaths are Italy with 7,503 out of 74,386 declared infections, Spain with 4,088 deaths out of 56,188 cases, mainland China with 3,281 deaths out of 81,218 cases, Iran with 2,234 deaths out of 29,406 cases, and France with 1,331 fatalities out of 25,233 cases.

– Looming recessions –

International ratings agency S&P Global warns the COVID-19 pandemic will push Britain and the euro area into recession this year, with their economies expected to shrink by as much as two percent.

Austria’s economy is predicted to shrink at least 2.5 percent in 2020.

Singapore’s economy shrinks 2.2 percent year-on-year in January-March, its biggest contraction since 2008 during the first quarter.

– Bolivia on alert –

Bolivia declares a state of “sanitary emergency” until April 15. It closed its borders and ordered a strict lockdown at midnight Wednesday.

– Mali curfew –

Mali, which has now recorded its first infections in two nationals who had recently arrived from France, will enforce a night-time curfew from Thursday and close land borders. A parliamentary vote planned for Sunday will go ahead.

– Helsinki confined –

Finland will impose tough new restrictions on its capital and Uusimaa province. Travel into and out of the country will be banned from Friday to April 19.

– Virus case at Vatican –

An Italian employee of the Holy See who lives in the same residence as Pope Francis is reported to have tested positive and has been hospitalised.

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