Welcome to our first weekly roundup of the latest developments in what has become a worldwide crisis and global tragedy: the coronavirus pandemic.
As countries brought in ever more draconian restrictions on people’s movement in an attempt to manage the number of patients pouring into hospitals, ministers announced trillions of dollars in economic rescue packages. Meanwhile, a slew of expedited trials for medicines and vaccines got under way.
By Thursday, the outbreak had swelled to nearly a quarter of a million confirmed infections, with three-quarters of them in China, Italy, Iran, the US, Germany and Spain, according to trackers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The actual number will be considerably higher since many countries are not testing people fast enough.
China’s massive lockdown and other interventions helped keep a lid on new infections, but Italy continued to face a dire situation with the total number of deaths exceeding 3,400, exceeding the official Chinese death toll. The Italian outbreak, which started in the more affluent north, has swept south where doctors are bracing themselves for a “tsunami” of cases. Get a quick guide to the latest developments from around the world with our daily at-a-glance guides
A week ago, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, said Europe was now the “epicentre” of the coronavirus pandemic. But as sub-Saharan Africa reported its first death from the virus – a diabetic woman in Burkina Faso – he warned the continent must “prepare for the worst”. Writing in the Washington Post, Devi Sridhar, a professor of global public health at Edinburgh Medical School, warned of the dangers in repeating Europe’s mistakes. “Europe might have lost the window of opportunity to contain the virus, but African countries still have a chance,” she wrote.
The pandemic continued to claim sports and cultural events, with Euro 2020 and the Africa Nations Championship postponed, all English football suspended until the end of April, and the Le Mans 24 hours put back to September. On the music front, anyone who hoped to see Taylor Swift or Paul McCartney at Glastonbury is out of luck: the festival is off.
In the UK, where the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, compared the outbreak to a nuclear explosion, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, kicked off the week by calling on Britons to take unprecedented peacetime measures aimed at slowing the spread of the disease. The move came after the government was excoriated for dragging its feet and adopting a policy of “herd immunity” that required more than 60% of the population to catch the virus and become immune. It is not yet known how immune Covid-19 survivors become to re-infection, nor how long that immunity lasts.
The radical change in strategy called on people to practise “social distancing”, avoid unnecessary travel, and keep away from pubs, clubs, theatres, restaurants and other such venues. According to modelling by Imperial College London, the approach has the potential to reduce the death toll from 260,000 to about 20,000. As if to prove no one is exempt, ProfNeil Ferguson, who leads the Imperial team, duly tested positive, prompting a sympathetic response from the WHO chief, among others.
The new restrictions sent workers home in their droves, where many soon learned they would soon be joined by their children following an order to close the schools. Prof Deirdre Hollingsworth, at Oxford University, joined our Science Weekly podcast to explain how social distancing works, while our video team talked to the behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings about how to best cope with feelings of anxiety and depression.
The markets had a torrid time. On Monday, the Dow Jones tumbled nearly 3,000 points, the biggest single day drop ever and the largest percentage fall since the Black Monday crash of 1987. Stocks rebounded later in the week as the US and other nations talked up economic rescue packages aimed at heading off recession.
In the US, two Republican senators, Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Kelly Loeffler, whose husband is chair of the New York stock exchange, faced calls to resign after reportedly ditching millions of dollars-worth of stocks before the market crashed. Meanwhile, Californians were ordered to avoid all but essential trips,…
Source Website Coronavirus: the week explained | World news