Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Europe’s struggle for solidarity
It’s been a bad 24 hours for Europe in its efforts to coordinate a joined-up response to the pandemic among its 27 member states. First, news broke that the president of the EU’s main science organisation quit over red tape and infighting; then the bloc’s finance chiefs failed to broker an EU-wide rescue package for the economy after all-night talks collapsed.
Officials said a feud between Italy and the Netherlands over what conditions should be attached to euro zone credit was blocking progress on half a trillion euros worth of aid. They will try again to break the deadlock on Thursday night.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire was not amused. He was quoted by one official as saying: “Shame on Europe. Stop this clownish show!”
WHO China-centric, organisation “blew it”, Trump says
“The W.H.O. really blew it,” Trump said in a Twitter post on Tuesday, calling the agency “China centric”. He later repeated the comment at a White House news briefing, saying he would put a hold on U.S. funding for the agency.
U.S. conservatives have increasingly criticised the WHO during the pandemic, saying it relied on faulty data from China about the outbreak of the virus.
The WHO did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
When to emerge from a lockdown safely for the population and before your economy faces catastrophe? That is the dilemma facing several countries, and in particular Italy, which has the world’s highest death toll and where the lockdown has been in place longer compared with most nations.
Its northern industrial heartlands that generate a third of its economic output have also been where the coronavirus has hit hardest.
“One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again,” said WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier on Tuesday.
A painful lesson with blood and tears
The Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged reopened on Wednesday, allowing its 11 million residents to leave for the first time in two months.
The virus has become a global pandemic infecting over 1.4 million people and killing 82,000, wreaking havoc on the global economy as governments impose sweeping lockdowns to rein in its spread.
While China’s operation to contain the outbreak in Wuhan has been hailed as a success, it took the best part of a month for the military-style quarantine to be put in place.
China won’t borrow from Fed’s playbook
Debt worries and property risks prevent China’s central bank from following in the footsteps of the U.S. Federal Reserve with steep rate cuts or quantitative easing, policy sources said.
Instead the People’s Bank of China will largely rely on policy tools such as bank reserves, various lending facilities, and tools including market interest rates to support the economy, the sources said.