EU Apologizes For Tepid Coronavirus Response After Deadliest Day Of Global Outbreak: Live Updates
- Germany reports jump in new cases, deaths
- Spain reports most new cases in a week
- Turkey releases mafia boss from prison
- Global Times editor denies report about leak from Wuhan lab
- Switzerland unveils bailout package
- Chinese factories on verge of second shutdown
- UK health minister says it’s too early to end lockdown as measures set to be extended
- European Commission President apologizes to Italy
- Russia’s streak of record new cases stretches to 5th day
- Japan expands state of emergency to cover whole country
- UK planning to announce lockdown extension today
- Party of South Korean president wins 180 of 300 seats in legislative vote
- President Trump to unveil plan to reopen economy Thursday
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Update (0750ET): The Swiss government has just released measures intended to stave off corporate bankruptcies while helping workers to pay their bills until the economy can be brought back on line. The measures will take effect later this month. The Swiss government has already lent billions of dollars’ in Swiss francs to SMEs operating in the country at an interest-free rate.
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Update (0730ET): As expected, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on Thursday expanded his ‘toothless’ state of emergency order to cover the entire country, after initially targeting just seven prefectures (including Tokyo) after the entire northern island of Hokkaido declared its own state of emergency on Sunday following a sharp resurgence in new cases.
Though the government can’t force businesses to close and people to stay inside, the government has asked some non-essential businesses to close and people to work from home).
To ease the financial burden on Japanese households, Abe’s government is also planning a Trump-style cash handout of ¥100,000 ($930) for every citizen, regardless of income, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
The mayor of Tokyo confirmed 149 patients tested positive for the virus in her city on Thursday.
The government had originally planned to give 300,000 to qualified households that had lost income, but it came under heavy criticism because the payments were seen as too complicated and too small. Distributing ¥100,000 to every citizen will cost the government more than 1.2 trillion yen, or $11 billion.
Across the Sea of Japan, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s left-leaning Democratic Party won a staggering victory during Wednesday’s legislative election, leaving his government in a strong position to push through its agenda of reforms. Despite the outbreak, the turnout in the election reached an all-time high, as South Koreans rushed to reward the government for its response to the outbreak. With 180 seats out of the 300-seat legislature, Moon’s government is in a strong position to push through reforms of the penal system, income distribution and relations with NK, though he doesn’t have enough votes to push through changes to the South Korean constitution.
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What would have been tax day for US citizens has come and gone. And as we enter the back half of April – and millions of Americans join the ranks of the unemployed – and some are starting to get a little restless.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed the 2 million mark, as we reported last night. According to the FT, 84,515 new cases were confirmed around the world on Wednesday, roughly even with the numbers from the last two weeks. However, a record 7,959 deaths were recorded yesterday, a worldwide record.
But perhaps the most important revelation from last night came shortly after the conclusion of last night’s White House press conference. A Fox News reporter asked the president a couple of surprising questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology and whether the virus might have leaked out of the level 4 bio-lab. We were de-platformed by Twitter for asking the same question a few months back.
As it turned out, those questions portended a much bigger revelation: Fox News reported last night, citing a handful of anonymous sources, that the novel coronavirus accidentally leaked out of the Wuhan biolab.
Now, with yet another ‘conspiracy theory’ apparently well on its way to becoming a ‘conspiracy fact’, Beijing has chosen to issue its rebuttal via the editor in chief of the Global Times, one of the CPC’s most popular English-language mouthpieces.
Fox News published a ridiculous report claiming COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab. President Trump helped hype this story to divert public’s attention. It’s a dirty trick. Trump will further exploit China topic for his reelection campaign.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) April 16, 2020
We imagine we’ll be hearing more from the CPC’s official spokesmen and women. But the fact that such a high-level mouthpiece was tapped for the initial denial is certainly telling.
Moving on: Two days after Turkey passed a prisoner amnesty law, one of the most notorious Turkish Mafia bosses has been released from prison as part of a program to release 90k offenders, some of whom were violent criminals. Alaattin Cakici, who was convicted for murder and racketeering, is well known for having close ties to an ultra-nationalist party that is working in a coalition with President Erdogan’s AKP. Critics have criticized the amnesty program for leaving thousands of journalists and civil-society activists behind bars.
Offering the latest indication that mainland China is likely headed for a second shutdown, this one driven by a combination of viral resurgence fears and a staggering drop in demand, BBG reports that Chinese manufacturers who resumed work as restrictions were being lifted are already being forced to halt production again due to rising costs, difficulties in funding and logistics, and, of course, the demand drop, said Xu Kemin, an official with the industry ministry.
Germany reported a jump in new cases and deaths, with the number of newly diagnosed cases at its highest level in a week. Spain also reported a jump in new cases, confirming 5,183, the most in a week, bringing its countrywide total to 182,816. Health officials also reported 551 deaths, for a total of 19,130 since the outbreak began.
UK Health Minister Hancock said early Thursday that it’s too early to make a change to lockdown measures in the UK as the virus would likely come roaring back since the outbreak appears to be “approaching” its peak, he said. The UK is expected to announce an extension to its current lockdown period today until May 7, according to reports. The government is reportedly planning to restart the economy by segmenting society into “risk groups”, allowing those in the lower-risk groups to venture back into society. Some scientists have speculated that some level of social distancing will need to remain in place until a vaccine is ready for mass production.
In Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Europe should offer a “heartfelt apology” to Italy for failing to help when the country became the first EU nation to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
“You cannot overcome a pandemic of this speed and this scale without the truth, the truth about everything: the numbers, the science, the outlook, but also about our own actions,” she said during a speech to the European Parliament.
Of course, as we noted at the time, von der Leyen and the European Commission didn’t just fail to act; they encouraged EU member states to keep their borders open, while playing down the severity of the outbreak.
Finally, Russia’s streak of disturbing records in new cases reported stretched to a fifth consecutive record jump on Thursday, while the country also recorded its highest jump in deaths. Health officials in Moscow said they had recorded 3,448 new cases across the country, a 14% jump that took Russia’s total to 27,938, while 34 more people died overnight, raising Russia’s death toll to 232. And
Looking ahead, President Trump said during the White House’s Wednesday night press briefing that he would unveil the White House’s guidelines for reopening the economy this afternoon. The guidelines were purportedly developed following conversations with CEOs and leaders of American corporations (even as some have pointed out that corporations might not have the best interests of small business at heart).