Picture used for illustration.
New Zealand on Friday had all but eradicated the coronavirus from its shores with just one person in the nation of 5 million known to be still infected, but developments elsewhere were generally grim, with India reporting another record increase in cases and Pakistan a record number of deaths.
In the U.S., the latest figures from the U.S. Labor Department bring to 41 million the running total of Americans who have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus shutdowns took hold in mid-March.
In New Zealand, health authorities have not found any new virus cases for a week. Of the 1,504 people who were infected, 22 have died and all but one of the rest have now recovered. The nation's borders remain closed and staying virus-free when they eventually reopen poses a big challenge.
Most cases in India are concentrated around its largest cities, including Mumbai and New Delhi, but cases have been increasing in some of the poorest eastern states as migrant workers who lost jobs in the cities return to their native villages.
Pakistan on Friday reported 57 deaths, its highest single-day increase since the outbreak began. That increased the overall death toll to more than 1,300 and the number of cases to over 64,000.
In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to ease a lockdown in the capital to a more relaxed quarantine on Monday after more than two months of strictures enforced by the police and military. Infections spiked in Manila recently, and Duterte warned that the pandemic is not over and the quarantine was in place around the country.
The overall number of Americans currently drawing jobless benefits dropped for the first time since the crisis began, from 25 million to 21 million. And first-time applications for unemployment benefits have fallen for eight straight weeks, as states gradually let stores, restaurants and other businesses reopen and the auto industry starts up factories again.
"That is the kind of economic destruction you cannot quickly put back in the bottle,” said Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 14.7% in April, a level not seen since the Depression, and many economists expect it will be near 20% in May.
Other looming storm clouds: Economists say the sharp loss of tax revenue is likely to force public-sector layoffs. And cuts beyond the initially hit industries such as restaurants and stores are a sign of spreading, potentially lasting damage. Economists say double-digit unemployment could persist through 2021.
A number of European countries have strong safety-net programs that are underwriting the wages of millions of workers and keeping them on the payroll instead of adding them to the ranks of the unemployed. But the economic damage is mounting there, too.
Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 5.8 million people and killed about 360,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true dimensions of the disaster are widely believed to be significantly greater, with experts saying many victims died without ever being tested.
India launched Unlock 1 on Monday, ending nearly 70 days of a national lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the national total of infected people rose by 9,983 as of Monday morning, hitting 256,611.
As governments and hundreds and thousands of people battle the coronavirus pandemic, cleaner air, empty streets and less human interference seems to have broken nature’s shackles!
The mowing down of 16 migrant workers by a goods train in Maharashtra last week turned the spotlight on a massive human tragedy enacted in the wake of the ill-planned coronavirus lockdown.
India reported a record 200,739 COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, according to data issued by the health ministry on Thursday.
Medical workers, some of whom have been at the forefront of the campaign against the coup, gathered in the second city of Mandalay early but troops soon arrived to disperse them, opening fire and detained some people, the Mizzima news agency said.
China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment said the discussions in Shanghai running through Saturday aim to boost cooperation on climate change and exchange views on the UN Climate Change Conference known as COP 26 to be held in Scotland in November.