Covid-19: France to extend containment as coronavirus deaths soar in Europe, the United States


France said Wednesday it would extend a lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the death toll rose in Europe and the United States – and experts have warned that the impending global recession could be the worst of decades.

Governments are trying to strike a balance between public safety and the devastating economic impact of home support orders that have cut millions of jobs in weeks.

More than 80,000 people worldwide have died in the virus crisis, which has spiraled the global economy and forced billions of people to stay at home as much as possible.

As the economic downturn begins to bite, health experts have warned that loosening restrictions prematurely could accelerate the spread of a contagion that has already infiltrated almost every country.

In France, one of the most affected nations in Europe with more than 10,000 dead, President Emmanuel Macron will speak to the nation next week to explain the way forward.

The sequestration order issued on March 17 “will be extended” beyond the current deadline of April 15, an official close to Macron told AFP.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the lockout had helped contain the spread of the coronavirus, but said it was not yet time to lift the restrictions.

The number of people who died from coronavirus infections in French hospitals increased by 8% in one day – compared to 9% on Tuesday and 10% on Monday – for a cumulative total of 7,632, said the director of the public health agency Jerome Solomon at a press conference.

But he added that the figures for the day were incomplete because, due to technical problems, the authorities were unable to record data from nursing homes, which account for more than 30% of total deaths.

The total number of deaths, including figures for Tuesday’s nursing homes, is up 5% to 10,869.

Solomon also pointed out that the rate of new admissions to intensive care units, almost flat at 0.2%, slowed for the ninth day in a row.

“It is an important indicator. But the pressure on hospitals remains extremely high, ”he said.

Italy and Spain still register hundreds of deaths a day, although the situation is also deteriorating in Britain, which registered 938 deaths on Wednesday, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent a third day in intensive care .

The condition of the 55-year-old leader “is improving” and he is “in a good mood”, the authorities assured.

In New York City, the epicenter of the epidemic in the United States, the state governor noted the new virus death record at 779, but offered an optimistic outlook for the coming weeks.

“We are flattening the curve,” Andrew Cuomo told reporters, citing a drop in hospitalization rates due to home care orders.

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus first appeared in December, there was reason to welcome the lifting of the foreign travel ban.

Malta has joined the ranks of those in mourning, registering her first death – a 92-year-old woman suffering from underlying conditions.

– World trade is collapsing –

The head of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, issued a disastrous warning, saying that the economic fallout from the health emergency could be “the deepest economic recession or the slowdown in our lives.”

World trade growth could drop by a third this year, the WTO said.

Germany and France, the EU’s two largest economies, are preparing for a major blow.

Gross domestic product of German exports is expected to decline by almost 10% in the second quarter, according to the country’s main research institutes.

France, meanwhile, is already in a technical recession, said the Banque de France. Its performance in the first quarter was the worst since 1945.

But U.S. Federal Reserve officials have said that the large-scale closure of companies is not expected to have the lasting impact seen after the 2008 global financial crisis.

While some European countries have weighed in on easing the lockdown measures to allow economic activity to resume in earnest, the World Health Organization has strongly advised against it.

“Now is not the time to relax the measures,” said WHO European Director Hans Kluge.

“It is time to double and triple our collective efforts again to lead to the suppression with all the support of society. “

– The stages of mourning –

Around the world, medical personnel bear a heavy physical and emotional toll as they work in overflowing intensive care units and makeshift hospitals set up in sports stadiums, on ships and even in a New York cathedral.

In Spain, home to the world’s second deadliest epidemic, an additional 757 deaths were reported on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to a second day after several days of decline.

Antonio Alvarez, a 33-year-old nurse at a hospital in Barcelona, ​​described her experience as mourning.

“I have had my phases of anger, denial, you are going through all of them,” he told AFP. “Now we’re a little bit overwhelmed, but it’s better. Fewer patients die. “

In Italy, police have started to tighten locking controls as cabin fever and slowing death rates have prompted residents to multiply.

“The only weapon we have is social isolation, respect for the rules,” said Health Minister Roberto Speranza.

Meanwhile, many Jews around the world marked the start of Passover without the large family gatherings normally held for the seder meal, some turning to virtual platforms.

“Passover is celebrated with friends and family,” Yigel Niasoff, 45, told AFP from her balcony in New York’s Crown Heights neighborhood.

“Right now with the pandemic, it’s a very, very sad time. “

– Rescue efforts –

Governments around the world are implementing staggering stimulus measures to relieve economic pain.

Democrats in Washington have asked for an additional $ 500 billion (1.836 billion dirhams) to fight the crisis, doubling the government’s request to help small businesses and jeopardizing the quick approval of aid legislators. requested this week.

The eurozone is also mired in feuds over a plan to rescue its hard-hit members which would be in addition to measures adopted by various governments.

Finance ministers failed to close the divisions after 16 hours of talks which will resume on Thursday.

The markets continued their volatile movement, the Dow closing up 3.4% in New York after the fall of European stocks.

For the world’s poor, survival is already a struggle.

“Since the beginning of the crisis, we have been sitting at home and there is no more money,” said Mohamed Said, a 36-year-old carpenter and father of three queuing for food parcels in Cairo.

“We don’t know how to feed our children … and if God forbid something happens to one of them, I won’t be able to pay a hospital bill. “

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