UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care. (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street via AP, File)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care following his hospitalisation with COVID-19 symptoms, and is in “the early phase of his recovery”.
Meanwhile the head of the International Monetary Fund predicts coronavirus will lead to “the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression”, with only a partial recovery anticipated next year, if at all.
This story is being updated regularly. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.
Friday’s key stories:
Australians warned to stay at home this Easter
Yesterday, Australia recorded its lowest rise in infections in almost a month, with just 96 new cases.
But leaders across the country are warning that progress could be reversed if people don’t stay at home over Easter.
Police are out in force, slapping fines on anyone found to be breaching the rules on physical distancing and non-essential travel. In Tasmania, the Premier warned there would be “eyes in the sky”.
That includes NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin, who has now been fined $1,000 for going to his beach house.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia’s rate of new infections was only dropping because people had been observing physical-distancing rules.
“It’s important because we cannot undo the tremendous progress we have made together in recent times. So this Easter we are staying at home. Don’t travel. Don’t go away,” he said.
Boris Johnson moved out of intensive care as Britain applauds the NHS
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is now out of intensive care, where he was being treated for COVID-19.
The spokesman said Mr Johnson was “in good spirits”, but he remained in hospital and would continue to be closely monitored.
The news came as Britain recorded a slightly lower daily death toll from the virus, with 881 people losing their lives. The day prior, the figure was 938.
However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been standing in for Mr Johnson, said the UK had not reached the peak of its coronavirus crisis and it was too early too lift its lockdown.
UK officials have suggested restrictions could be tightened if people flock to parks and outdoor spaces over what is forecast to be a warm, sunny Easter weekend.
Mr Raab led a nationwide show of appreciation for health service workers, with people across Britain giving a round of applause — many from their front doors and windows — for the National Health Service as part of the #ClapForCarers campaign.
According to a Johns Hopkins University database, the UK has recorded 65,863 cases of coronavirus and 7,992 deaths.
Worst recession since Great Depression is coming: IMF
The IMF has given its bleakest prediction yet of the economic damage wrought by COVID-19. (Courtesy: State Library of New South Wales)
The pandemic sweeping the world will turn global economic growth “sharply negative” in 2020, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva painted a far bleaker picture of the social and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis than even a few weeks ago, noting governments had already undertaken fiscal stimulus measures of US$8 trillion [$12.6 trillion], but more would likely be needed.
Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak
In remarks prepared for delivery ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank spring meetings, she said the crisis would hit emerging markets and developing countries hardest of all, which would then need hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid.
“We anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression,” Ms Georgieva said
“Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020.
“We now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”
KGeorgieva on Twitter: We are faced with extraordinary uncertainty about the depth and duration of the crisis. Global growth will turn sharply negative in 2020. We anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression.
If the pandemic fades in the second half of the year, the IMF expected a partial recovery in 2021, Ms Georgieva said, but she warned the situation could also get worse.
“I stress there is tremendous uncertainty about the outlook: it could get worse depending on many variable factors, including the duration of the pandemic,” she said.
The IMF, which has 189 member countries, will release its detailed World Economic Outlook forecasts on Tuesday.
Hopes for a ceasefire in Yemen to curb coronavirus
A ceasefire could pave the way for the first direct peace talks between the two sides. (AP: Hani Mohammed)
A Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi movement says it has halted military operations for two weeks in support of United Nations efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.
The move raised hopes for a resolution to the five-year-old war that has pushed millions to the brink of famine.
The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which controls the capital Sanaa and most big urban centres, has yet to announce whether it will follow suit in what would be the first major breakthrough in peace efforts since late 2018.
Yemen has not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19, but an outbreak could be catastrophic for the war-torn country which has a healthcare system that has been largely decimated by the conflict.
“We are tired of the war,” said 49-year-old Abd al-Basset Muhammad, who owns a juice shop in the southern port of Aden.
“If the war hasn’t already killed you, you are dying of hunger or disease.”
The conflict, widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has been in a stalemate for years.
15 million Americans seeking benefits
Economists in the United States expect job losses could hit 20 million in April. (David Grunfeld/The Advocate via AP)
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits in the last three weeks has topped 15 million.
The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week that ended on April 4 totalled about 6.6 million, down modestly from an upwardly revised 6.87 million the week before.
Economists in a Reuters survey were looking for 5.25 million new claims in the latest week, with estimates ranging as high as 9.295 million.
Thursday’s weekly jobless claims report from the Labor Department, the most timely data on the economy’s health, will strengthen economists’ expectations of job losses of up to 20 million in April.
The US Government reported last Friday that the economy purged 701,000 jobs in March — that was the most since the Great Recession — and ended the longest employment boom in US history, that started in late 2010.
“America is now in recession and as it appears to deepen, the question is how long it will it take before the US recovers,” S&P Global Ratings chief US economist Beth Ann Bovino said.
With more than 95 per cent of Americans under “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders, reports continue to mount of state employment offices being overwhelmed by a deluge of applications.
More than 1.5 million infected globally
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world has surpassed 1.5 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Infections have been reported in 212 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China, in December 2019.
Coronavirus has killed around 91,700 people around the world.
The United States remains the country with the most infections, accounting for more than 360,000 cases, followed by Spain which has more than 150,000 cases.
15,238 people have now died in Spain, making it the country with the second-highest number of fatalities behind Italy, where 18,279 have died.
WHO requests $1.6 billion to fight COVID-19
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus could release the health body’s latest pandemic plan in the coming days. (AP: Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone)
The World Health Organization (WHO) is preparing to launch an appeal for more than US$1 billion ($1.6 billion) to fund operations against the COVID-19 pandemic through year-end, diplomats have told Reuters.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a speech to diplomats issued by the United Nations agency, said it would release its latest plan “in the coming days”.
It follows the WHO’s initial three-month appeal for $US675 million [$1.07 billion] through April.
“It will be well over $US1 billion, maybe several billion,” a Western envoy said.
A WHO spokesman, asked about this figure, had no immediate comment.
The campaign comes just as US President Donald Trump’s administration reviews its funding of the WHO, whose performance Mr Trump has criticised. The United States is the biggest donor to the Geneva-based WHO.
Aussie ambassador evacuated from Indonesia
It’s understood Ambassador Gary Quinlan is regarded as a high risk for acute illness. (Reuters: Mike Segar, file photo)
Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia is being evacuated based on medical advice, as the spread of coronavirus in the country continues to surge.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has assessed that the risk of coronavirus in Indonesia is now too high for diplomats regarded as most vulnerable.
It’s understood Ambassador Gary Quinlan is regarded as a high risk for acute illness if he were to catch the virus.
He’s being relocated back home temporarily but will continue as ambassador from Canberra.
Andrew Greene on Twitter: As the coronavirus situation worsens in Indonesia, veteran ambassador Gary Quinlan ( @DubesAustralia ) is leaving Jakarta and will return to Australia
Australia’s consul in Bali has already returned for similar reasons.
The ABC has also learnt that an Australian man has died in Jakarta with symptoms of COVID-19, although he was not tested for the disease.
At least one other Australian is known to have been severely ill.
There have been 280 confirmed deaths in Indonesia, with 3,293 cases. But a low rate of testing means the true number of deaths and cases is likely to be far higher.
The number of cases in Indonesia is expected to peak around May.
Iran’s leader says create sense of Ramadan at home
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iranians would be “deprived” of public events during Ramadan. (AP: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)
Iran’s Supreme Leader has called on Iranians to create the sense of Ramadan in their homes, since public gatherings are banned as the country tries to contain one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks.
Schools and universities remain closed in the Islamic Republic and a ban on cultural, religious and sports gatherings has been imposed.
Ramadan begins at sundown on April 23 and lasts for 30 days.
“Because of being deprived of public prayings, speeches and so on during Ramadan, we should create the same senses in our homes,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech.
His remarks came as Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur announced that Iran’s coronavirus death toll has risen by 117 to 4,110.
There are now 66,220 coronavirus cases, he said, noting that 32,309 people have recovered.
Tiger Woods at home after Masters postponement
Instead of flying to Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters this week, Tiger Woods is home in Florida, where the only competition for a green jacket is a putting contest with his 11-year-old son, Charlie.
The first golf major of the year was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with GolfTV, Woods said he has been at home with his two children and girlfriend, riding bikes for exercise, occasionally playing golf at The Medalist Club and having putting contests with Charlie, with the green jacket going to the winner.
Tiger Woods on Twitter: Masters Champions Dinner quarantine style. Nothing better than being with family.
The postponement of the Masters Tournament means this will be the longest a Masters champion has been able to keep golf’s most famous piece of clothing at home.
Woods, who stunned the sports world in 2019 — when he claimed the jacket for the fifth time and his first major in 11 years — is not required to leave it in his locker at Augusta National until he returns to defend the title, and that won’t be until November at the earliest.
“This is not the way that I would’ve wanted to keep the jacket for a longer period of time,” Woods said.
“I wanted to get out there and compete for it and earn it again, like I did in ’02. But it’s not a normal circumstance, it’s not a normal world.”
What you need to know about coronavirus: