Source: China State Council Information Office
A total of 187 countries and regions have been hit by COVID-19, which has infected more than 3.2 million people with over 233,000 deaths globally, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally Friday.
While making an all-out effort to combat the pandemic, countries are tentatively easing anti-coronavirus restrictions and rolling out multiple aid measures to counter the economic fallout.
Meanwhile, researchers around the world are devoting themselves to studying the nature and transmission of the virus, and have made important findings.
To restore livelihoods, more countries have planned to loosen their lockdowns.
In Ireland, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Thursday his government is developing a plan to gradually ease the restrictions.
Changes will be made every two to four weeks, he said, adding the government would intervene if things are “going off track.”
Also on Thursday, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced that his country will enter a “state of calamity” as of Sunday after the “state of emergency” ends on Saturday.
“There is no reason to renew the state of emergency, but that does not mean that the risk has been overcome. We have to maintain a high level of security,” Costa said, adding Portugal will start to reopen its economy and society in three phases, starting on Monday.
Germany decided on Thursday to continue to cautiously ease the COVID-19 restrictions, opening playgrounds, museums, galleries, zoological and botanical gardens, and places of worship. However, the social distancing rules introduced earlier remain in force.
Ukrainian Health Minister Maksym Stepanov said Thursday that COVID-19 quarantine measures would be eased for small businesses starting May 11.
Outside Europe, Uzbek authorities said Thursday the country has eased restrictions to allow its citizens to take part in outdoor activities. Thailand also decided to ease restrictions by allowing six categories of business to reopen from Sunday.
Besides, South African officials said Thursday that schools and universities are going to open under strict conditions.
Around 1,000 economic experts from 110-odd countries and regions expect the global economy to shrink 1.9 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, and this is “lowest number since the survey began in 1989,” said a survey published by Germany’s influential Ifo Institute on Thursday.
Amid the grim economic outlook, many countries have drawn up action plans to mitigate the virus’ impact.
The U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday announced that it is expanding the scope and eligibility for its 600-billion-dollar Main Street Lending Program designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses hit by the pandemic.
Also on Thursday, the European Central Bank decided to leave key interest rates for the euro area unchanged while introducing a series of new measures to boost its pandemic response.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced Thursday a comprehensive financial plan, based on financial, economic, banking, monetary, social security and development factors, to save the country from its financial and economic crisis.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a meeting with senior ministers of his cabinet to discuss strategies to attract more foreign investments and promote local investments to boost the economy against the backdrop of the pandemic
In Africa, Botswana’s central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 4.25 percent “to support domestic economic activity,” while the Namibian government has ushered in regulations and directives to provide job and income security for those who were employed before COVID-19.
According to a paper published on Science magazine Wednesday, a new COVID-19 transmission model, based on contact survey data from nearly 1,200 people in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Shanghai, suggests that strict social distancing measures were sufficient to curtail the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The paper, written by a research team led by Zhang Juanjuan from Fudan University and joined by researchers from China, Italy and the United States, said that an average resident’s daily interpersonal contacts dropped seven to nine folds, from 14 and 20 people per day in Wuhan and Shanghai, respectively, to about two contacts per day in both locations by early February, after social distancing measures were put in place.
Moreover, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the top U.S. intelligence agency, said Thursday in a statement that the country’s intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”
Also on Thursday, The New York Times said in a report that some U.S. intelligence analysts have expressed concern that senior U.S. administration officials’ pressure to link the coronavirus with a Chinese lab will distort assessments about the virus and they could be used as a political weapon.
“Most intelligence agencies remain skeptical that conclusive evidence of a link to a lab can be found, and scientists who have studied the genetics of the coronavirus say that the overwhelming probability is that it leapt from animal to human in a nonlaboratory setting, as was the case with HIV, Ebola and SARS,” it said.