The president of the UN Economic and Social Council is calling for urgent action to help the growing number of countries already facing or at risk of “debt distress” because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Norway’s ambassador to the UN, Mona Juul, head of the 54-member council, told a meeting Tuesday on financing for the coronavirus crisis and recovery that the decision by the world’s 20 major economic powers to freeze debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of the year isn’t enough.
She said the Group of 20’s suspension will free about $11 billion US until the end of the year, but it’s estimated that eligible countries have an additional $20 billion in multilateral and commercial debt combined coming due this year.
Juul said that means even if the moratorium is extended to 2021, “many countries will have to make difficult choices between servicing their debt, fighting the pandemic, and investing in recovery.”
According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, which has been tracking coronavirus cases, there are nearly 6.4 million cases worldwide, with more than 380,000 deaths.
The U.S. accounts for more than 1.8 million of those cases, with more than 106,000 deaths.
As of 12:20 p.m. ET, Canada had 93,040 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 50,980 of the cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 7,539.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada with COVID-19
WATCH | Social disparities have significant impact on access to health care:
COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel virus that was first reported in China and has since spread around the world, causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Researchers are searching for treatments and a vaccine, but to date, there are no proven treatments. Read on for a look at what’s happening around the world on Wednesday.
Hydroxychloroquine, which has been used to treat malaria and some autoimmune diseases for years, has been a topic of much debate, with U.S. President Donald Trump backing it — and even taking it prophylactically — despite a lack of evidence showing any efficacy against the novel virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said it is set to resume its trial of hydroxychloroquine for potential use against the new coronavirus after testing was suspended due to safety concerns.
WATCH | WHO chief discusses the hydroxychloroquine clinical trial:
Italy officially ended its long coronavirus lockdown Wednesday, opening regional and international borders in a bid to boost summer tourism, but found itself alone as European neighbours viewed the move as premature and remained wary of visitors from Italy.
Italy is the first European country to fully open its international borders, dropping the 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors from most of Europe. Many European nations are waiting until June 15 to open their borders, and some much later than that.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte criticized as “discriminatory” moves by Austria and Greece to limit the arrivals of Italians in their countries due to concerns over the level of contagion in some regions, notably Lombardy.
Indeed, Europe-wide, rules on cross-border travel were a patchwork of regulations.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said her conservatives and their Social Democrat coalition partners agreed on Wednesday on a stimulus package worth 130 billion euros that is designed to speed up the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
The coalition partners resolved differences on incentives to buy new cars and relief for highly indebted municipalities, paving the way for a fiscal program that is substantially bigger than similar packages by Germany’s eurozone partners.
The British government is confirming plans to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving in the country starting next week, despite pleas from the travel industry to drop the idea. Airlines and tour companies say the quarantine will derail plans to rebuild business. It comes as other European countries reopen their borders and ease travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Others say the measure comes too late. Britain’s official COVID-19 death toll stands at more than 39,000, the highest in Europe.
Tanzania is entering its sixth week without an update on its coronavirus cases as African health authorities worry and the U.S. issues a new statement of concern.
The East African nation’s data has been frozen at just over 500 cases since the end of April as the government of President John Magufuli claims the virus has been defeated. The opposition, however, has alleged that Tanzania’s cases could be in the tens of thousands.
The latest U.S. Embassy alert, posted Tuesday, says “there have been instances during the COVID-19 outbreak when hospitals in Dar es Salaam reached full capacity because of the high volume of COVID-19 cases and that the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains high.
Health officials say one more Pakistani lawmaker has died at a hospital in Islamabad after testing positive for the coronavirus. Mian Jamshed Kakakhel, who was a member of a provincial assembly in the northwest, died Wednesday. His death comes a day after two lawmakers died at different hospitals after testing positive for the coronavirus.
So far, four Pakistani lawmakers have died because of the coronavirus in the country, which recorded its highest single-day increase in infections, with 4,131 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours.
Pakistan on Wednesday reported 67 deaths in the past 24 hours from the outbreak.
Critics blame Prime Minister Imran Khan for an increase in deaths and infections. They accuse him of easing restrictions last month at a time when there was a need to enforce a stricter lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Pakistan has recorded a total of 80,463 confirmed cases and 1,688 deaths since February.
South Korea reported 49 new cases of COVID-19, pointing to a continued resurgence of the virus as millions of children are returning to school. The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought national totals to 11,590 cases and 273 deaths. All but one of the new cases were reported from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where hundreds of infections have been linked to entertainment venues, church gatherings and a massive e-commerce warehouse.
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But despite the spike in transmissions, the government has been pushing ahead with a phased reopening of schools, which began with high-school seniors on May 20. Nearly 1.8 million more students were to return Wednesday.
But South Korea’s education minister says 519 schools so far have been forced to go back to remote learning because of virus concerns.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan has tested nearly every one of its 11 million residents for the coronavirus in a mass effort that resulted in the isolation of 300 people, authorities said Wednesday.
The pandemic is believed to have originated last year in the industrial city that went under lockdown for 76 days to try to stop the outbreak. Wuhan still accounts for the bulk of China’s 83,021 cases and 4,634 deaths from the disease.
The testing effort carried out in the second half of May targeted every resident not already tested and excluded only children under age six.
“This is extraordinarily rare anywhere in the world,” National Health Commission expert Li Lanjuan told reporters. “It not only shows confidence and determination in the fight against the epidemic in Wuhan but has also provided reference to other cities for their prevention.”
No new cases of COVID-19 were found, although 300 people who tested positive for the virus without showing symptoms were placed in isolation.
Spanish lawmakers have voted to extend for two additional weeks the state of emergency that allows the government to restrict movement and other rights as part of its fight against the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain has “overcome the worst of the pandemic” and declared that he won’t seek further extensions beyond the end date of the special powers at midnight on June 21.
Sanchez also said that a new government decree next week will set out procedures to handle any resurgence of the outbreak after most of the restrictions, first imposed on March 14, are lifted.
Spain has recorded 27,128 COVID-19 deaths and just over 240,000 confirmed infections.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed Australia’s economy into recession for the first time in 29 years. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Wednesday the current June quarter will be the second in a row in which the Australian economy has shrunk. A recession is defined as at least two successive quarters of contraction.
Data released on Wednesday for the March quarter shows a 0.3 per cent contraction since the three months through December because of the destructive wildfires and the early stages of the coronavirus lockdown.
Frydenberg said the Treasury Department had advised the June quarter result will be worse.
Australia has recorded 7,221 coronavirus cases with 26 people still in hospitals on Wednesday. There have been 102 fatalities.