28 March 2020
IMF CHIEF KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA: WE HAVE ENTERED RECESSION
The head of the International Monetary Fund said Friday it is clear that the
global economy has now entered a recession that could be as bad or worse
than the 2009 downturn. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the
189-nation lending agency was forecasting a recovery in 2021, saying it
could be a "sizable rebound." But she said this would only occur if nations
succeed in containing the coronavirus and limiting the economic damage.
With the worldwide economic sudden stop, Georgieva said the funds
estimate for the overall financial needs of emerging markets is $2.5
But she warned that estimate is on the lower end.
Governments in emerging markets, which have suffered an exodus of capital of
more than $83 billion in recent weeks, can cover much of that, but clearly
the domestic resources are insufficient and many already have high debt
Over 80 countries, mostly of low incomes, have already have requested
emergency aid from the International Monetary Fund, she said.
We do know that their own reserves and domestic resources will not be
sufficient, Georgieva said, adding that the fund is aiming to beef up its
response to do more, do it better, do it faster than ever before.
The IMF chief spoke to reporters following a virtual meeting with the
Washington-based lenders steering committee, when she officially requested
a increase in the funds fast-deploying emergency facilities from their
current level of around $50 billion.
She also welcomed the $2.2 trillion economic package approved by the US
Senate, saying it is absolutely necessary to cushion the worlds largest
economy against an abrupt drop the economic activities.
CORONAVIRUS: LATEST GLOBAL UPDATES
The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in the United
States hit almost 104,000 early on Saturday, according to a Johns Hopkins
University tally, with the number of fatalities close to 1,700, pushing the
global death toll up to 27,324.
The US has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with
more than 100,000 positive tests. Virus cases spike on U.S. aircraft
carrier. The number of coronavirus cases on the USS Theodore Roosevelt
aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean has spiked to at least 23, with
authorities moving to isolate the entire crew in port, U.S. media reported.
President Trump has signed the largest-ever US financial stimulus package,
worth $2tn (£1.7tn), as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump said the package was "twice as large" as any prior relief bill.
"This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation's families, workers
and businesses," he said.
Italy, which is the worst-affected in Europe, announced 919 new deaths from
coronavirus, the highest number of fatalities any country has reported in
the space of 24 hours since the outbreak began late last year. The total
number of people who have died as a result of COVID-19 in Italy now stands
at 9,134. The number of cases also continues to rise, hitting more than
Spain death toll hits 5,138 the worlds second-highest death toll after
Italy, while the number of cases jumped to 65,179. Despite the increase, the
rate of new infections appears to be slowing, registering a 14 per cent
increase compared with 18 per cent on Thursday.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Britains Health Secretary
Matt Hancock Friday tested positive for coronavirus. In UK, 14,543 people
have tested positive for coronavirus and nearly 759 people have died. PM
Johnson is self-isolating in Downing Street and working from home. On
Twitter, he wrote: Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms
and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will
continue to lead the governments response via video-conference as we fight
this virus. Together we will beat this with the hashtag Stay Home Save
In Iran, hundreds have been killed over false belief that poison kills
coronavirus. Iranian media reports nearly 300 people have been killed and
more than 1,000 sickened so far by ingesting methanol across the Islamic
Republic, where drinking alcohol is banned and where those who do rely on
bootleggers. It comes as fake remedies spread across social media in Iran,
where people remain deeply suspicious of the government after it downplayed
the crisis for days before it overwhelmed the country. The Islamic Republic
has reported over 32,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,300 deaths from the
virus, the highest toll of any country in the Middle East.
Haiti hospital chief kidnapped amid coronavirus emergency. The director of
one of Haiti's top hospitals has been kidnapped, prompting staff to refuse
to take in new patients in protest as the impoverished country battles an
outbreak of the novel coronavirus amid a spike in gang violence. Gangs
appear to strike indiscriminately, with victims ranging from Haitian
schoolchildren, lawmakers and businessmen to foreign aid workers.
Mexico's health ministry has announced that it has registered 717 cases of
coronavirus in the country, up from 585 the day before. The ministry also
said there had been 12 deaths overall from the virus in Mexico, up from
eight a day earlier.
Out of the 115 positive cases of the virus so far, Brunei reported its first
coronavirus death on Saturday.
Jordan reports first death out of 235 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Arab
XI AND TRUMP DISCUSS BILATERAL TIES AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday called upon his US counterpart Donald
Trump to take substantive actions and unite to fight the coronavirus
pandemic which is spreading rapidly across the globe, news agency AFP
President Jinping called Trump, a day after the US took over China in the
number of positive coronavirus cases reported, which is 82,400, state media
Meanwhile, China has decided to shut its borders to foreign arrivals amid
fears of infections increasing again in the country.
In an attempt to repair strained relations between both counties over the
virus, Xi told Trump that China wishes to continue sharing all information
and experience with the US and that the relations between both countries
had reached an important juncture, said state broadcaster CCTV.
Working together brings both sides benefits, fighting hurts both.
Cooperation is the only choice, the Chinese President was quoted as saying
by The Guardian.
Xi added that he hoped that the US-China relations would improve which will
be without conflict and confrontation but based on mutual respect and
mutually beneficial cooperation. Terming the pandemic as the common enemy
of mankind, Xi said: Only by united can the international community can
After the phone call, the US President took to Twitter to share that he had
a good conversation with Xi. Discussed in great detail the coronavirus that
is ravaging large parts of our planet. China has been through much and has
developed and strong understanding of the virus. we are working closely
together. Much respect, Trump wrote.
WALL STREET TUMBLES AS U.S. VIRUS CASES PASS 100,000
Wall Street stocks tumbled on Friday, ending a massive three-day surge after
doubts about the fate of the U.S. economy resurfaced and the number of
coronavirus cases in the country climbed.
U.S. stocks deepened their losses late in the session, even after the House
of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion aid package the largest in
American history to help people and companies cope with an economic
downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak and provide hospitals with
urgently needed medical supplies.
The bill, along with unprecedented policy easing by the Federal Reserve,
helped the S&P 500 surge 10.2% for the week, its best week since 2009. But
the U.S. stock market benchmark is still down about 25% from its February
In its strongest three-day performance since 1931, the Dow surged 21% in
three straight days through Thursday, establishing it in a bull market,
according to one widely used definition. Even after Friday's drop, the Dow
ended 12.8% higher, its best week since 1938.
Many investors see a strong risk the market could fall deeply again as
coronavirus infections increase.
Next week will depend on what happens over the weekend, said Lindsey Bell,
chief investment strategist at Ally Invest.
CORONAVIRUS: U.S. ANNOUNCES $174 MN AID TO 64 COUNTRIES INCLUDING $2.9 MN TO
The United States on Friday announced $174 million financial assistance to
64 countries including $2.9 million to India to help them fight the
This is in addition to the $100 million aid announced by the U.S. in
The newly announced assistance is part of a larger American global response
package across multiple departments and agencies, including the Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The funding is for 64 of the most
at-risk countries facing the threat of the global pandemic.
The U.S. State Department said it is providing $2.9 million to help the
Indian government prepare laboratory systems, activate case finding and
event-based surveillance, and support technical experts for response and
preparedness, and more.
This builds upon the foundation of more than $1.4 billion in health
assistance out of the more than $2.8 billion in U.S. assistance for India
over the last 20 years, the State Department said.
According to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, the new assistance builds on the U.S.
record of global health leadership.
SAUDIS NOT BOWING TO TRUMP ADMIN PRESSURE TO END OIL PRICE WAR
Saudi Arabia said on Friday that it was not in talks with Russia to stablise
crude prices despite overtures from Moscow and rising pressure from
Washington to call a truce in an oil price war.
A three-year supply pact between the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia fell apart earlier
this month after Moscow refused to support Riyadh's plan for deeper
production cuts to offset dwindling demand resulting from the coronavirus
Saudi Arabia responded to the breakdown in relations by lowering the prices
it charges for crude and pledging to pump oil next month at record levels.
The resulting supply boost has coincided with plummeting demand as
governments around the world implement national lockdowns to slow the spread
of the coronavirus. The twin-pronged assault on prices has sent Brent crude
to a 17-year low below $25 a barrel and hammered the income of oil
"There have been no contacts between Saudi Arabia and Russia energy
ministers over any increase in the number of OPEC countries, nor any
discussion of a joint agreement to balance oil markets," an official from
Saudi Arabia's energy ministry said, referring to the wider grouping of oil
The comment came after a senior Russian official said on Friday that a
larger number of oil producers could cooperate with OPEC and Russia, in an
indirect reference to the United States, the world's biggest producer, which
has never cut production.
"Joint actions by countries are needed to restore the [global] economy ...
They [joint actions] are also possible in the OPEC deal's framework," said
Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund.
AFGHAN GOVERNMENT SELECTS NEGOTIATORS FOR TALKS WITH TALIBAN
Afghanistan's government late on Thursday announced a 21-member team to
negotiate with the Taliban in a tentative sign of progress for the United
States-brokered peace deal.
The list announced by the country's State Ministry of Peace would be led by
Masoom Stanekzai, a former National Directorate of Security chief, and
included politicians, former officials and representatives of civil society.
Five members of the team are women.
It was not immediately clear whether President Ashraf Ghani's political
rival Abdullah Abdullah would endorse the team selected, which diplomats
have said would be vital given his camp's strong influence in much of the
country's North and West.
Following the selection of the government's negotiators, the next step
should be to convene talks with the Taliban as part of a process aimed at
ending America's longest war and bringing peace to Afghanistan.
PAKISTAN OPENS BORDERS WITH CHINA TO RECEIVE MEDICAL EQUIPMENTS AS
CORONAVIRUS CASES CROSS 1,200
Pakistan on Friday opened its borders with its all-weather ally China for a
day to accept Chinese medical supplies to fight the growing coronavirus
outbreak in the country which has infected 1,235 people and claimed nine
lives, officials said.
China on Thursday asked Pakistan to open the border between the two
countries for one day on Friday so that medical supplies to fight
coronavirus pandemic could be transported into the country.
According to Pakistans health ministry, the number of confirmed cases are
nearly 1,235 with Sindh province on the top with 429 patients.
According to the government data, nine patients have died, 23 have recovered
and seven are in critical condition.
One new case was reported in PoK, taking the tally to 2. Complete lockdown
has been imposed by the regional government and strict measures were taken
to prevent the further spread.
Medical supplies from Xinjiang, China to Pakistan is delivered through
Khunjerab (5,000m) port today, highest land port on Earth. Both sides from
China and Pakistan braved the cold, cleared the roads, made good
preparations for the delivery of the medical supplies at the Khunjerab Pass,
the Chinese embassy in Pakistan tweeted on Friday.
GERMAN RESEARCHERS PLAN MASS IMMUNITY STUDY TO TRACK VIRUS
German researchers plan to regularly test over 100,000 people to see if they
have overcome infection with coronavirus (COVID-19) to track its spread, an
institute behind the plan confirmed on Friday.
A spokeswoman for Brunswicks Helmholtz Institute for Infectious Disease
Research confirmed a report in news weekly Der Spiegel that large-scale
testing for antibodies could start in April if researchers are given the
By Friday, the Robert Koch Institute reported over 42,000 confirmed
coronavirus infections in Europe's most populous nation, and 253 deaths. The
first results are expected in late April. Results from the study will make
it easier to decide when schools could be reopened and large events
permitted, Der Spiegel wrote.
CORONAVIRUS: LOCKDOWNS CONTINUE TO SUPPRESS EUROPEAN POLLUTION
New data confirms the improvement in air quality over Europe - a byproduct
of the coronavirus crisis.
The maps on this page track changes in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - a pollutant
that comes principally from the use of fossil fuels.
Lockdown polices and the resulting reductions in economic activity have seen
emissions take a steep dive.
The maps were produced by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
The Dutch met office leads the Tropomi instrument on the Copernicus
Sentinel-5P satellite, which monitors a number of atmospheric gases,
The comparisons being made are for concentrations in the air from 14 to 25
March with the monthly average of concentrations for March 2019.
"There's a lot of variability in NO2 from day to day. And that's real
variability; it's not a measurement artefact, but it's just due to changes
in the weather. So when the wind direction changes, or the wind speed
changes, or the stability of the boundary layer changes - you will get
Combining data for the 10 days irons out much of this variability, enabling
us to see the impact of changes due to human activity.
GERMANY SENDS PLANE TO RESCUE STRANDED TOURISTS FROM NEPAL KATHMANDU
A rescue flight arranged by the German government on Friday picked up
hundreds of tourists who had been stranded in Nepal since the Himalayan
nation went on lockdown earlier this week, officials said.
The Qatar Airways charter flight took off with 305 people on board, said Deo
Chandra Lal Karna, an official at Kathmandus Tribhuvan International
Airport. Immigration official Sagar Acharya said most of the passengers were
German nationals or had some connection to the country.
The airport reopened only for the flight, which did not bring any passengers
to Nepal. Nepal, home to the highest mountains and hiking trails, is popular
with tourists during the spring season when the weather is favourable for
Up to 10,000 tourists are believed to be stranded in Nepal since the
government ordered a complete lockdown that halted all flights and road
travel to prevent the spread of the virus.
Businesses and government offices were also shut. Nepal has only three
confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including one who has recovered.
GANTZ ANGERS SUPPORTERS AS ISRAEL MOVES TOWARDS UNITY GOVERNMENT
Israel appeared headed for a unity government on Friday after opposition
leader Benny Gantz moved towards an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, disappointing voters who had hoped to bring down the right-wing
Gantz was elected parliamentary speaker on Thursday with support from
Netanyahu's Likud and allied parties, angering many of his own partners over
the possibility he could form an alliance with a leader who is under
The shock move splintered Gantz's centrist Blue and White coalition of three
parties just 13 months after it came into existence as a grouping of
Netanyahu opponents intent on bringing down Israel's longest-serving prime
It also drew an angry response from some among the hundreds of thousands of
Israelis who turned out to support Gantz's coalition in three elections in
the past year. Some commentators accused the former general of caving into
Gantz, 60, expressed regret on Friday that his decision had split his
centrist alliance, but said dragging the country towards a fourth election
would distract from fighting the coronavirus and aiding the economy.
"[We] will make every effort to establish a national emergency government.
We will take care of the health crisis. We will lift the country out of
economic trauma," Gantz said in a statement.