COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating, WHO chief warns

COVID-19 pandemic

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of World Health Organisation (WHO)  said yesterday that the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading at an increasingly rapid pace.

He called for cooperation from the world’s wealthiest nations to fight the outbreak.

At a news conference in Geneva, Ghebreyesus said more than 350,000 cases had been confirmed around the world.

 

“The pandemic is accelerating,” Tedros said. “We need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics.”

About 16,0313 people have died worldwide, including at least 504 in the United States.

Tedros added that it took 67 days to confirm the first hundred thousand cases, 11 days to confirm the second hundred thousand cases and just four days to confirm the third hundred thousand cases.

 

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He added that it’s essential for the world’s wealthiest nations to work together to combat the virus, a comment that seemed aimed at a growing feud between the United States and China.

President Trump in recent days has increasingly sought to blame China for the spread of the virus. Chinese officials have spread baseless rumours about the United States.

 

“We need unity in the G-20 countries,” Tedros said, referring to the Group of 20. “Political commitment at the G-20 level means a very strong solidarity that can help us to move forward and fight this pandemic in the strongest terms possible,” the WHO chief said

‘Global economy will suffer for years to come’

The world will take years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned.

Angel Gurría, OECD secretary general, said the economic shock was already bigger than the financial crisis.

He told the BBC it was “wishful thinking” to believe that countries would bounce back quickly.

The OECD has called on governments to rip up spending rules to ensure speedy testing and treatment of the virus.

Gurría said a recent warning that a serious outbreak could halve global growth to 1.5% already looked too optimistic.

While the number of job losses and company failures remains uncertain, Gurría said countries would be dealing with the economic fallout “for years to come”.

He said many of the world’s biggest economies would fall into recession in the coming months – defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline.

“Even if you don’t get a worldwide recession, you’re going to get either no growth or negative growth in many of the economies of the world, including some of the larger ones, and therefore you’re going to get not only low growth this year, but also it’s going to take longer to pick up in the in the future,” he added.

Gurría said the economic uncertainty created by the virus outbreak meant economies were already suffering a bigger shock than during the September 11 terror attacks or the 2008 financial crisis.

Africa needs $100bn economic stimulus, say finance ministers

Africa needs an immediate emergency economic stimulus to the tune of $100 billion, owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the African Finance Ministers have said.

This is contained in a statement by Communication and Media Relations Department of the group, which was made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

It explained that it was part of decision of the African Finance Ministers, who met on March 19, in a virtual conference to exchange ideas on the efforts of their respective governments in dealing with the social and economic impacts of COVID-19.

The ministers said as such, the waiver of all interest payments, estimated at 44 billion dollars for 2020, and the possible extension of the waiver to the medium term, would provide immediate fiscal space and liquidity to the Governments in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to them, the interest payments waiver should include not only interest payments on public debt, but also on sovereign bonds.

The ministers agreed on the need to consider waiving principal and interest and encourage the use of existing facilities in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (AfDB) and other regional institutions for the fragile states.

They underscored the need to support the private sector and protect about 30 million jobs at risk, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors across the continent.

Philanthropist’s batch of supplies to AU arrives

But, billionaire philanthropist Jack Ma is leaving no country behind in his effort to help the world fight the relentless coronavirus pandemic.

A batch of supplies donated by his charities arrived in Ethiopia on Sunday so it can be distributed across the African continent as the region scrambles to contain the spread of the virus.

Ma, China’s richest man and founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, said the world “cannot afford the unthinkable consequences of a COVID-19 pandemic in Africa,” which had been spared the brunt of the outbreak but has seen an increasing number of infections in recent days.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali said the first batch of donations includes six million masks, more than a million testing kits, and 60,000 protective suits.

Support includes 1.1million testing kits,6million masks & 60,000 protective suits to be distributed throughout Africa.  Distribution to other countries will begin as of tomorrow.

Each of the continent’s 54 nations will receive 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks, and 1,000 protective suits to combat a potential surge in demand for medical supplies, Ma said in a statement last week.

The gifts were funded by the Jack Ma and Alibaba foundations, which have also shipped medical supplies to countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The business magnate said he’s also sent a batch of testing kits and supplies to the U.S., another country facing shortages and a rapidly growing outbreak.

 

The Nation

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