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April 23, 2020

International update: Pope calls for unity – Nobel Prize winner slams Trump – IRC warns Covid-19 deaths could overwhelm handling capacity

By Paul Dennis

Global: The world is on track for a recession of “unprecedented depth in the post-war period”, ratings agency Fitch says with world gross domestic product to tumble by 3.9% in 2020.

Meanwhile, the director general of the World Health Organizsation has said that there is still “a long way to go” in tackling the coronavirus crisis around the world.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is urging governments across the world to prepare and plan for mass casualties from the coronavirus, warning that the number of deaths caused by the new coronavirus could overwhelm local capacity to handle dead bodies properly.

Europe: Pope Francis called for unity among EU member states, on the eve of European Council summit to discuss a huge but divisive economic stimulus package to respond to the coronavirus crisis. EU states have clashed repeatedly over financial responses to the epidemic.

US: Donald Trump’s botched handling of the Covid-19 crisis has left the US looking like a third world country and on course for a second Great Depression, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has said.

Dr Rick Bright, the head of the US agency in charge of developing a vaccine against coronavirus, says he was removed from his job for opposing the hydroxychloroquine treatment promoted by Trump.

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President Trump signed the order on immigration and said at a White House briefing this was to protect “our great American workers.” The move “will ensure unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens. Crucially it will also preserve our health care resources for American patients.”

The US government will assess whether the World Health Organization is being run the way that it should be, the US Agency for International Development’s Acting Administrator John Barsa said on Wednesday.

A study that examined outcomes for more than 2,600 patients found an extraordinarily high 88% death rate among COVID-19 patients in the New York City area who had to be placed on mechanical devices to help them breathe.

Singapore: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Singapore has passed 10,000, despite concerted and strenuous attempts to contain the spread of the infection in the city state.

Spain: Spain announced it plans to phase out its lockdown in the second half of May. Prime minister Pedro Sánchez also asked lawmakers to extend the country’s state of emergency until 9 May.

Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison says all WHO member nations should support a proposed independent review into the origins of the coronavirus and its spread.

UK: Professor Chris Whitty, the British government’s chief medical adviser, is warning that social distancing measures in the United Kingdom may have to stay in place for the rest of the year.

North Korea: Consumers in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang, this week have been “panic buying” food staples, causing some store shelves to empty, according to a news service that specializes in the country.

China: China reported no deaths from the coronavirus for the eighth straight day. Confirmed cases rose by ten, with six of them from abroad, according to the country’s National Health Commission. The country also reported 27 asymptomatic cases, the least since it started reporting such cases at the beginning of the month. China has 984 asymptomatic coronavirus cases under medical observation as of 22 April.

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