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Covid-19: Half a million infected worldwide as economic toll rises

AP/Dubai
Filed on March 27, 2020 | Last updated on March 27, 2020 at 05.38 am
coronavirus uae, covid19 in uae, coronavirus half a million

(Reuters file)

UAE has launched a disinfection program across the country.

The human and economic toll of the lockdowns against the coronavirus mounted Thursday as India struggled to feed the multitudes, Italy shut down most of its industry, and a record-shattering 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in a single week.

As the number of infections around the globe reached a half-million and world leaders held a video summit to grapple with how long to keep the economy at a standstill to help flatten the rising curve, the damage to people's livelihoods and their well-being started to come into focus.

In India, where the country's 1.3 billion people were under orders to stay home, legions of poor were suddenly thrown out of work, and many families were left struggling for something to eat.

"Our first concern is food, not the virus," said Suresh Kumar, 60, a bicycle rickshaw rider in New Delhi whose family of six relies on his daily earnings of 300 rupees, or $4.

India has the world's second-highest number of people living in extreme poverty. Rickshaw drivers, produce peddlers, maids, day laborers and other low-wage workers form the backbone of the economy, and many live day to day on their wages and have no savings to fall back on.

Around the globe, the death toll stood at nearly 8,200 in Italy, more than 4,100 in Spain and over 1,000 in the US, approximately 400 of them in New York State, the worst hotspot in the nation

The United Nations estimated that as many as 25 million jobs could be lost in the economic upheaval, more than during the global financial meltdown of 2008.

In Europe, companies are laying off workers at the fastest pace since 2009, according to surveys of business managers. And the US is bleeding jobs as well: The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week was nearly five times the old record, set in 1982.

Italy, the eurozone's third-biggest economy and a major exporter of machinery, textiles and other goods, became the first Western developed nation to idle most of its industry, extending a shutdown on smaller, nonessential businesses to heavy manufacturers.

Among the companies that have shut down or rolled back production: Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari, Pirelli tires and Luxottica eyewear, maker of Ray-Bans and Oakleys.


In other developments:

- China said it is temporarily barring most foreigners from entering as it tries to curb imported cases. Reports of new cases from inside the country have stopped.

- In the Mideast, Saudi Arabia announced a total lockdown on the capital, Riyadh, and Islam's two holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah, in addition to a nationwide curfew. In the UAE, authorities announced a #StayHome and remote working initiative, and used drones to tell people to stay home.

- In New York, the state's death toll jumped by 100 in one day, pushing the number to 385, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. He added that experts expect the number to increase as critically ill patients who have been on ventilators for several days succumb to the virus. "That is a situation where people just deteriorate over time," Cuomo said.

- The leaders of the Group of 20 major industrialized nations vowed to work together to confront the crisis but made no specific commitments.

or most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

So far, more than 115,000 people have recovered, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.


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