Global poverty is set to rise above one billion people once again as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which is reducing the income of the world’s poorest by $500 million US a day, according to new research.
The research, conducted by King’s College London and the Australian National University, points to poverty increasing dramatically in middle-income developing countries, where millions of people live just above the poverty line.
Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic shock waves with lockdowns severely curtailing activity.
Because millions of people live just above the poverty line, they are in a precarious position as the economic shock of the pandemic plays out. In a worst-case scenario, the number of people in extreme poverty — defined as earning under $1.90 a day — is forecast to rise from about 700 million to 1.1 billion, according to the report, which was published by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research.
“Without action, this crisis could set back progress on reducing global poverty by 20 or even 30 years,” said Andy Sumner, a professor of international development at King’s College London and one of the report’s co-authors.
In the United States, more than two million people have contracted the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, according to a case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S., which has seen the most cases of any country in the world, has also seen the most loss of life attributed to the virus, with more than 113,000 deaths reported by the Baltimore-based university.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the pandemic in Africa is “accelerating” and that while it took 98 days for the continent to reach 100,000 COVID-19 cases, it took just 18 days to get to 200,000.
WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti said Thursday that community transmission has begun in more than half of Africa’s 54 countries, and “this is a serious sign.”
The virus largely arrived on the continent via travellers from Europe and is spreading beyond capital cities and commercial hubs into more rural areas, where many health systems are unequipped to handle cases that require intensive care.
Moeti pointed out South Africa, where the virus has spread from Western Cape province, centred on Cape Town, into the more rural Eastern Cape. South Africa has the continent’s highest number of cases with more than 55,000.
Moeti said: “I’m afraid we probably will have to live with a steady increase” of cases in Africa until an effective vaccine is found. Africa has more than 209,000 cases, still a small fraction — less than three per cent — of the global total.
The head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says “we continue to remain hopeful” that Tanzania will co-operate by sharing its COVID-19 data, even as the country’s president declared victory over the pandemic.
John Nkengasong said that they “understand exactly what is at stake” in the East African nation, which has not updated its virus data since late April.
Tanzania’s number of cases remains frozen at 509, while opposition leaders have asserted there are actually tens of thousands.
President John Magufuli at a church service on Sunday declared that “corona in our country has been removed by the powers of God,” and he praised the congregation for not wearing face masks. He has warned that masks not approved by the government could be infected with the virus.
Egypt will open up its main seaside resorts to foreign tourists and international flights on July 1, the cabinet said.
The areas opening up are southern Sinai, where the resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab are located, Red Sea province, home to the Hurghada and Marsa Alam resorts, and Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean.
Egypt suspended regular international flights in March and shut down restaurants, hotels and cafes. Apart from the resorts, other international flights will remain suspended until further notice.
Afghanistan’s acting health minister warns that the virus has spread to “each and every house” in the country.
Officially, Afghanistan has about 22,800 confirmed cases of the virus with 426 fatalities, but tens of thousands of people have not been tested. The country has a population of 36.6 million.
Ahmad Jawad Osmani also said Thursday he has ordered all private hospitals to resume testing and treating COVID-19 patients. He said it will take years and cost millions if the Afghan government has to fight the virus on its own.
In Brazil, which has seen more than 802,000 reported cases with over 40,000 reported deaths, federal police raided the government palace of Para state in the Amazon region as well the governor’s home as part of an investigation into alleged fraud in the purchase of ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
A police statement issued Wednesday said the alleged fraud stemmed from the acquisition of ventilators worth millions of dollars, done so without a call for bids as allowed by state of emergency protocols during the pandemic. The equipment was delayed and ultimately useless for treating people with COVID-19. The statement says police are investigating alleged money laundering and corruption.
Para Gov. Helder Barbalho is the second governor to be investigated in relation to suspect medical expenditures during the pandemic. Like Rio de Janeiro’s governor, whose residence was raided last month, Barbalho has been a critic of President Jair Bolsonaro’s rejection of quarantine measures to contain the spread of the virus. Both governors have denied any wrongdoing.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum says the capital will embark on large-scale coronavirus testing as the centrepiece of its plan to reopen its economy. That is diverging from the strategy of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s federal administration, which has shunned widespread testing as a waste of resources.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload surpassed 500,000 on Thursday, after health officials reported 8,779 new infections. The nation’s total currently stands at 502,436 confirmed cases, including 6,532 deaths.
Experts both in Russia and abroad expressed doubts about the country’s remarkably low pandemic death toll, with some alleging that numbers were manipulated for political reasons. The Russian government repeatedly denied the allegations.
Despite recording almost 9,000 new cases daily for the past month, Russian authorities have started easing lockdown restrictions in many regions — including Moscow, which accounts for about 40 per cent of all cases and almost half of officially reported deaths.
This week, the Moscow mayor lifted the stay-at-home order in place since late March, allowing residents to travel freely around the city, and gave a green light for a wide range of businesses — such as beauty parlours, restaurants and museums — to reopen in the next two weeks.
Kremlin critics condemn the reopening as premature and link them to the vote on the constitutional reform that would allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036, scheduled for July 1.
Finland’s government said on Thursday it will lift coronavirus-related restrictions on leisure travelling to and from neighbouring Baltic and Nordic countries, excluding Sweden.
“Unfortunately, the epidemic situation in Sweden does not enable giving up the restrictions yet,” Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo told reporters.
Travel restrictions will be lifted on June 15 for tourists to and from Norway, Denmark and Iceland, as well as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where the infection rate has fallen to similar levels to Finland’s, Ohisalo said.
India reported a record of nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with health services in the worst-hit cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai swamped by the rising infections.
India’s tally has reached 286,579 confirmed cases, the fifth highest in the world, with 8,102 deaths. The spike comes as the government moved ahead with the reopening of restaurants, shopping malls and places of worship in most of India after a lockdown of more than two months. Subways, hotels and schools remain closed.
The actual infection numbers are thought to be higher because of limited testing. The Health Ministry said it was ramping up the capacity with daily testing of more than 145,000 people. The number of tests completed in India crossed five million on Wednesday.
The ministry also said that the total number of recovered patients has exceeded the active cases for the first time, with the recovery rate at nearly 49 per cent.
Beijing health authorities say a 52-year-old man is the first apparent case of local transmission of the coronavirus in the Chinese capital in weeks. The man, identified only by his surname, Tang, visited a hospital on Wednesday with a fever, deputy district head Miu Jianhong said Thursday.
Tang’s neighbourhood was closed off for disinfection and health checks, and two family members were isolated for observation. Tang reported that he had not left Beijing for more than two weeks, roughly the virus’s incubation period, and had not been in contact with anyone from outside the city.
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Beijing has gradually opened up following a sharp decline in new cases, although authorities are on guard for new outbreaks resulting from loosened physical distancing rules. On Saturday, the city said residents no longer need to wear masks when outside, and all primary school classes and kindergartens were allowed to resume.
A temple that is one of Thailand’s major tourist attractions has barred entry to foreigners, professing fear they could spread the coronavirus. Signs at the main gate of Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple adjacent to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, say in English “Open for Thai only” and “Now not open for foreigners.” The temple, one of the country’s grandest, houses a 46-metre-long reclining Buddha. The temple was closed to all visitors for two months until last week in compliance with a government directive to fight the coronavirus.
Human Rights Watch has called on the United Arab Emirates to urgently address an outbreak of the coronavirus in at least three prisons.
The rights group said that relatives of prisoners in a facility near Abu Dhabi as well as another in Dubai say that prisoners have been denied adequate medical care and that authorities are not providing information to inmates or their families about the outbreaks inside the detention centres. They reported overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in the prisons.
Family members say prison authorities transferred those exhibiting symptoms to unknown locations without testing or medical care for weeks. Relatives also said Emirati prison authorities did not increase supplies of soap or hand sanitizer and did not distribute gloves or masks to detainees.
The rights group was also told that authorities have denied prisoners with HIV access to the hospital that is in charge of their care since mid-March.
Human Rights Watch said it wrote to the UAE’s Interior Ministry on June 7 and has received no response. It noted that in April, Emirati authorities released over 4,000 detainees but not political detainees held for peaceful dissent.
Here’s some of what’s happening in Canada:
WATCH | More young people test positive for COVID-19:
As of 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, there were 97,530 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 57,658 of those cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,050.
COVID-19 cases and deaths have been concentrated in Quebec and Ontario, where premiers are in the midst of staged reopening efforts. Other provinces with lower cases are further ahead in reopening, opening up a range of businesses and in some cases, allowing some students back in classrooms after months at home.
On Thursday, the premier of Prince Edward Island said an Atlantic Canada “travel bubble” could be in place by early July.
“There seems to be agreement from all premiers that if the epidemiology continues on the trajectory that it’s on that we could probably see some Atlantic bubbling sometime in early July,” Premier Dennis King said.
WATCH | P.E.I. unveils Phase 4 reopening details, Atlantic bubble plan:
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