Skip to content

World COVID-19 update: Economy may surge 5.8% next year; Drug companies join forces

Comprehensive digest of world pandemic news

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic. These files, assembled from the Associated Press, were posted by Black Press Media on Tuesday, April 14.


  • NY Gov. Cuomo: We have a president, not a ‘king.’
  • Leader of Sinn Fein party Mary Lou McDonald recovers from virus.
  • India extends national lockdown to May 3.
  • Some shops in Italy allowed to reopen.

World economy predicted to shrink three percent

Governments battling a virus that has crossed borders with breathtaking speed pinned their hopes Tuesday on tests, technology and a co-ordinated approach to ease the tight restrictions on movement that have slowed the outbreak but strangled the global economy.

While the European Union looked into creating a COVID-19 smartphone app that could function across the bloc, governors on both U.S. coasts pledged to work together as they planned an easing of the confinement of millions. The main concern is to avoid a resurgence by the virus.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund said the world economy, battered by the coronavirus, will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The IMF expects the global economy to shrink 3% this year before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8% growth, though it acknowledges prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty.

India: Jobless migrant workers demand special trains home

MUMBAI — Hundreds of jobless migrant workers crowded a railroad station protesting India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to extend the lockdown in the country to May 3.

They’re demanding special trains be run to take them to their hometowns and villages in northern India.

Police charged them after they refused to leave Bandra railroad station in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, and pushed them to nearby slums where they live.

They were hoping for easing of the lockdown restrictions to allow them to return home, mostly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.

Maharashtra state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray asked the Modi government to arrange trains and buses for their journey back.

The first phase of India’s three-week lockdown ended with nearly 10,000 positive cases and 353 deaths, with people restricted to their homes for all but essential trips.

Italy: One region tests more than 200,000 people

SOAVE, Italy — Officials in Veneto reported 6% of nursing home residents were positive for coronavirus in tests of 24,604 residents or three-quarters of the total nursing home population.

The region expects to complete the screenings of remaining residents of the region’s 370 structures by Wednesday. Anyone found positive in an anti-body blood test was given a test to determine if they were positive for COVID-19. In the same screening, 3% of nursing home workers have tested positive for the virus to date among 70% of workers tested.

Veneto has been leading Italian regions in testing for the virus per capita, with 208,878 carried out to date in the region of 5 million residents. Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia says the mortality rate in Veneto nursing homes has been about half that of Italy nationally or about 15% compared to 30% nationally.

The number hospitalized with the virus was 1,660, down from a peak of 3,500. Of those, 233 were in intensive care.

State of emergency extended in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s president has extended by 30 days the state of emergency declared in mid-March because of the coronavirus.

President Klaus Iohannis says a televised address “the danger has not passed” and relaxing restrictions would result in “a sharp increase” of infections, overcrowding hospitals and putting huge pressure on the health care system.

The presidential decree took effect immediately but must be ratified by parliament within five days.

Romania has reported 6,879 coronavirus cases and 346 deaths.

“We don’t have a king, We have a president.”

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to morning TV shows to push back against President Donald Trump’s claim of “total” authority to reopen the nation’s virus-stalled economy.

“We don’t have a king. We have a president,” Cuomo said on NBC’s “Today.”

He added, “That was a big decision. We ran away from having a king, and George Washington was president, not King Washington. So the president doesn’t have total authority.”

1,000 deaths in Sweden as bars remain open

Stockholm — The number of deaths related to the coronavirus in Sweden has surpassed 1,000.

Anders Tegnell, of the country’s Public Health Agency, says there’s been 1,033 deaths. Tegnell says 114 deaths have been reported in the last day, up from a previous 20 deaths.

Sweden is pursuing relatively liberal policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, even though there has been a sharp spike in deaths.

In an op-ed Tuesday, some 22 public health experts called on politicians to take control, saying Sweden’s Public Health Agency had failed. It cited the high Swedish per capita death rate compared to neighbouring countries, urging politicians to take control.

Tegnell brushed off the criticism, saying the figures used by the experts were “erroneous.”

Authorities in the Scandinavian country have advised the public to practice social distancing. But schools, bars and restaurants are still open, and only gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned.

Dressed as a rabbit, German man fined for lighting a garden fire

BERLIN — Police in Germany say a man dressed in a rabbit costume has been fined twice for lighting a fire in his garden to celebrate Easter.

So-called Easter Fires are a common practice in German-speaking countries. But many authorities have temporarily banned them to discourage people gathering outside their homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Police in the western city of Unna say officers were called to a suspected fire Saturday and found the 63-year-old, dressed in a rabbit costume holding a basket containing a bottle of schnapps. After the man was cautioned, his son quenched the flames.

About three hours later officers were again called to the site and found the fire burning once more. The man, who was visibly drunk by then, now faces a fine.

Sinn Fein leader recovers from COVID-19

LONDON — The leader of Ireland’s left-wing nationalist Sinn Fein party has revealed that she has recovered after suffering from COVID-19.

Mary Lou McDonald is the first woman to lead the party and the first Sinn Fein leader with no direct connection to Ireland’s period of violence known as the Troubles.

McDonald expressed her thanks to medical staff saying, “my thoughts and solidarity are with everyone who is sick at this time.” She plans to return to work next week.

McDonald is credited with leading Sinn Fein to an election result of the Irish Republican Army-linked party, taking the largest share of votes in the last election. The left-wing nationalist party beat both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, the centrist parties that have governed Ireland since it won independence from Britain a century ago.

Putin bolsters economies of ex-Soviet nations

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for action to shore up the Moscow-led economic alliance of ex-Soviet nations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking in a conference call Tuesday with leaders of four other nations, which are part of the Eurasian Economic Union, Putin called for a joint response to the outbreak. He says sanitary measures mustn’t result in rupturing economic links and freezing trade between the member nations.

The Eurasian Economic Union includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. The Russian leader says the grouping has taken co-ordinated steps to bar the exports of essential medical supplies. He proposed to slash tariffs to encourage trade and take additional steps to help the industries hurt by the pandemic.

Bangladesh: Death toll inches higher

DHAKA, Bangladesh — The death toll from coronavirus in Bangladesh rose to 46, with the authorities confirming seven more deaths in the last day.

Officials say another 209 cases of infection have tested positive during the period. Bangladesh confirmed 1,012 cases positive since the first case of infection was reported on March 8 amid haphazard preparation for tackling the spread of the virus.

Nasima Sultana, an additional director general of the Health Services department, says the government was still expanding testing facilities.

Experts say community transmission has taken place in the South Asian nation of 160 million people. About 10 million Bangladeshis live abroad for work. In February and March, thousands of people returned from Italy, but they didn’t follow safety guidelines.

Bangladesh remains under a nationwide lockdown until April 25.

Two global drug companies join forces on vaccine development

London — Two of the world’s biggest drug companies — Sanofi Pasteur and GSK — are combining forces to hopefully speed development of a vaccine for COVID-19.

The pharmaceutical giants say the experimental shot would be based on Sanofi’s flu vaccine and combine a booster from GSK that could help stretch doses of the vaccine further.

GSK CEO Emma Walmsley says they believe by combining the two companies’ scientific expertise and technology, they could accelerate efforts to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

There are dozens of efforts already under way elsewhere. Most experts predict it will take at least 12 to 18 months for a new vaccine to be produced.

Sanofi and GSK aim to start early clinical trials later this year and hope regulatory approval might be possible later next year.

Germany to ramp up testing

BERLIN — The head of Germany’s disease control centre says the country will keep ramping up its coronavirus testing.

According to the government, German labs can currently conduct at least 100,000 tests per day — almost twice as many as are actually carried out.

Lothar Wieler, of the Robert Koch Institute, says there are plans to start regular testing of staff in care homes that will require higher test capacities.

He also says the first reliable tests for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are beginning to appear on the market and more are being evaluated.

Wieler cautioned it’s still unclear whether antibodies detected by these so-called ELISA tests indicate immunity or just that someone has survived an infection.

Slovakia to relax restrictions

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia’s government will present a plan next week to relax the restrictions imposed to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic says his government will announce the details about what stores and services will reopen.

But Matovic says it will be epidemiologists, not economists who will decide the steps in efforts to protect the people’s health.

Slovakia has so far only 835 infected people with the virus, according to the government’s figures, two have died. Compared with other European countries, Slovakia has done few tests.

Most of the resent cases were in poor Roma settlements and a retirement home near the capital of Bratislava.

An “Essential Good,” Italian book stores reopen

ROME — In Italy, bookstores, stationary stores and shops selling baby clothes and supplies were allowed to open nationwide on Tuesday, provided they could maintain the social-distancing.

But there was no coherency to the openings, with some regional governors and individual shop owners deciding to keep their doors shut for now.

Hard-hit Lombardy and Piemonte kept their bookshops and stationary shops closed, while central Lazio postponed any opening for another week to allow stores to put in place sanitary measures to protect both staff and shoppers alike. Veneto was allowing them to open two days a week under a gradual loosening that the governor termed “lockdown light.”

Also allowed back on the job were forestry workers to clear dead trees ahead of the warming weather that brings with it forest fires.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini says books are an “essential good” for Italians cooped up at home.

Spain: Death toll passes 18,000

MADRID — Spain’s recorded coronavirus death toll is more than 18,000 after 567 people succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The number is slightly higher than Monday’s, but below most daily increases in the past two weeks.

Confirmed infections are roughly 172,500 after Spain’s Health Ministry reported 3,045 new positive cases on Tuesday, a 1.8% day-to-day increase.

The figures defy the common fear that a backlog of unreported infections over the Easter holidays could have reverted the recent trend of the slowdown in the spread of the epidemic.

The real situation could be different because Spain has not begun widespread testing and because the government itself acknowledges coronavirus-related fatalities are not being efficiently recorded.

A study by Spain’s main epidemiology institute on the excess mortality compared to the average in over a decade shows there were some 1,500 more “unexpected” deaths between March 17 and April 11 than those officially attributed to the coronavirus.

Germany, with 3,193 deaths, is more successful in tackling pandemic

BERLIN — The head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control centre, says exchanging information between countries and institutions is key to combating the coronavirus.

Lothar Wieler says his organization is in constant contact with others to share best practices. That includes what measures are effective in preventing the virus from spreading, how to test for infection, which vaccine studies to fund and how to protect vulnerable populations.

Wieler says he spoke over the Easter weekend with British government officials and the mayor of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, formerly known as Kyiv.

Germany has been more successful than many other nations in tackling the pandemic, with far fewer deaths than most large European countries despite having a bigger population.

According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Germany had just over 130,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,193 deaths.

Germany is treating dozens of severely ill patients from Italy, France and the Netherlands, all with higher mortality rates.

Indonesia: Virus is a national disaster

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has declared the new coronavirus outbreak in the world’s fourth most populous country a “non-natural national disaster.”

The Presidential Decree opens the door for international co-operation and humanitarian assistance.

The decree was issued as the government reported 60 new deaths on Tuesday. It’s he biggest daily fatalities yet, taking the country’s virus death toll to 459, the highest in Asia after China. There have been 282 new cases to bring the total to 4,839 positive tests.

Efforts to mitigate the outbreak will be led by the COVID-19 National Task Force with the co-operation of regional administrations, ministries and national agencies, according to the decree. Governors, mayors and district chiefs will lead COVID-19 task forces in their respective regions and have broader authority.

Some regions with a high number of infections have enforced stricter social restrictions. They are following the capital of Jakarta, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak, recording 2,335 cases with 241 deaths.

Australia’s PM condemns wet markets

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s prime minister has described as “unfathomable” the World Health Organization’s support for the reopening of wet markets in the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations agency is supporting the reopening stalls at wet markets in China’s central city of Wuhan as it lifts a monthslong lockdown against COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Nine Network television on Tuesday: “I think that’s unfathomable, frankly.

“We need to protect the world against potential sources of outbreaks of these types of viruses. It’s happened too many times. I’m totally puzzled by this decision,” Morrison said.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt says he was unsettled by China’s reopening of the wet markets.

“There is a very real likelihood that this disease arose from a wet market in Wuhan — it’s clear that these are dangerous vectors,” Hunt told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

WHO says in a statement wet markets should not be allowed to sell illegal wildlife for food and authorities should enforce food safety and hygiene regulations.

Death toll in Britain higher than reported

LONDON — New figures show hundreds more people with COVID-19 have died in Britain than have been recorded in the government’s daily tally.

The Office for National Statistics says 5,979 deaths that occurred in England up to April 3 involved COVID-19, 15% more than the 5,186 deaths announced by the National Health Service for the same period.

The daily total released by the U.K. government only includes people who died in hospitals. The higher figure includes deaths in all settings, including nursing homes, and cases where coronavirus was suspected but not tested.

The U.K. statistics office says so far just under 10% of deaths involving COVID-19 occurred outside hospitals.