The total count of coronavirus infections globally has crossed the 5-million mark: That figure is just one of the measures for the pandemic’s global toll. Its persistent rise — the number had crossed passed four million less than two weeks ago — reflects not just pathogen’s pernicious spread but also an increase in testing. The average number of daily new cases worldwide in the past week was more than 91,000, higher than ever, even as the average weekly number of fatalities has been declining. More than 329,000 people have died so far. Read more here.
Let’s look at the global statistics
Total confirmed cases: 5,121,639
Change over previous day: 121,658
Total deaths: 333,382
Total recovered: 1,964,097
Nations hit with most cases: The US (1,577,758), Russia (326,448), Brazil (310,087), the UK (252,246) and Spain (233,037).
Virus spread increases in Latin America, Russia, India and Pakistan: The coronavirus pandemic accelerated across Latin America, Russia and the Indian subcontinent on Friday, even as curves flattened and reopening was underway in much of Europe, Asia and the US. Many governments say they have to shift their focus to saving jobs now. Read more here.
Half of Facebook may work remotely by 2030: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said that the social media giant would start allowing many of its 50,000 employees and new recruits to work from home on a permanent basis. Within the next five to 10 years, Zuckerberg anticipates that about 50 per cent of Facebook’s workforce will work remotely. Read more here.
China’s economic growth forecast put off: The Chinese government has abandoned its decades-long practice of setting an annual target for economic growth. With more than $500 billion in infrastructure bonds to be issued this year and more monetary easing on the horizon, China is trying to cement a fragile domestic recovery without indulging in the kind of debt blowouts seen in the US and Europe. Read more here.
UK posts record budget deficit: The UK’s $76-billion budget deficit in April — the most since modern records began in 1993 — was as much as in the whole of the previous financial year and almost three times the previous peak. The figures reflect the cost of interventions announced by the UK, including paying the wages of 8 million furloughed workers, a surge in welfare claims and the hit to tax revenue. Read more here.
AstraZeneca, Oxford University begin human trials for Covid-19 drug: AstraZeneca and Oxford University have started recruiting 10,000 subjects for advanced human trials of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine. The hope is that doses of the vaccine will start to become available in September. Read more here.
Fashion retailer Gap brings more robots to warehouses: US apparel chain Gap is speeding up its rollout of warehouse robots for assembling online orders so it can limit human contact during the coronavirus pandemic. Gap reached a deal early this year to more than triple the number of item-picking robots it uses to 106 by fall. It is now asking for the robots ahead of schedule. Read more here.
Starbuck sees business recovery: Coffee chain operator Starbucks said it had regained almost two-thirds of its comparable US store sales from the prior year after it began reopening a large number of its country stores earlier this month. It said it had recouped about 60-65 per cent of prior-year comparable US-store sales in the past week. Read more here.
IBM cuts jobs in US: International Business Machines Corp cut an unspecified number of jobs across the US, eliminating employees in at least five states. It did not specify a number. The move comes after retrenchment at HP, Airbnb and Uber, announced over the past weeks. Read more here.
Nissan considering more than 20,000 job cuts: According to a Tokyo-based news portal, automaker Nissan is considering axing 20,000 jobs. The Covid-19 outbreak is forcing Nissan to cut back on production, and restructuring measures in Japan are also being considered. The announcement is likely on 28 May. Read more here.
Economic recovery in Asia is more distant than perceived: Though lockdowns across Asia were imposed swiftly, the process of lifting them will be slow and uneven. That means the region is months, if not years, away from any semblance of normalcy. Plans for full and partial reopenings in Australia, Singapore and Thailand sound reasonable in theory, but they won’t deliver the hoped-for economic bounce. These countries, deeply reliant on trade and tourism, remain largely closed to the outside world. Domestic consumers, buffeted by layoffs and wage cuts, are not in the shape to pick up the slack. Bankruptcies in Singapore were climbing even before the most stringent virus-suppression efforts. Read more here.
Coronavirus is ravaging the $25-billion banana industry: Bananas have a claim to be the modern world’s first globalised product. It is still the most exported fruit on the planet. Yet, the trade that began some 130 years ago is now a potent symbol of the underlying fragility of globalisation. How it adapts and responds may suggest a path towards rebuilding international consensus in the post-pandemic era. Read more here.
US allows tent encampments by homeless: San Francisco is joining other US cities in authorising homeless tent encampments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. About 80 tents are now neatly spaced out on a wide street near San Francisco City Hall as part of a “safe sleeping village” opened last week. San Francisco is just the latest city to authorise encampments as shelters across the country move to thin bed counts so homeless people, who are particularly susceptible to the virus due to poor health, have more room to keep apart. Read more here.