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Coronavirus infections pass 110,000 worldwide

By PTI Updated: Mar 09, 2020 9:52 pm

Paris, March 9 (PTI/AFP): The number of cases of novel coronavirus worldwide has crossed 110,000 people in 100 countries and territories with more than 3,800 dead, according to an AFP tally on Monday.

The landmark figure came after Iran reported almost 600 new cases on Monday morning, taking its total number of infections past 7,000.

China, where the virus first emerged late last year, remains the most affected country with more than 80,000 cases, but experts have expressed hope that the Chinese outbreak has peaked.

Governments are scrambling to respond to the outbreak with countries across Europe cancelling public gatherings, restricting attendances at sporting events and closing schools — following similar measures in China and other Asian nations.

Italy is battling the deadliest outbreak outside of China with 366 people having died from 7,375 cases, much more deadly than in South Korea, which has seen a similar number of infections but just 51 deaths.

The Rome government is attempting to seal off roughly 15 million people in its hard-hit northern regions, forbidding travel around a vast area including the cities of Venice and Milan.

IMF calls for ‘substantial’ stimulus against coronavirus
Governments should deploy “substantial” stimulus and international coordination to counteract the economic impact of the spreading coronavirus epidemic, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist said on Monday.

Given the “acute shocks” caused to economies, consumers and businesses, Gita Gopinath said “policymakers will need to implement substantial targeted fiscal, monetary and financial market measures to help affected households and businesses.”

That includes “cash transfers, wage subsidies and tax relief” as well as interest rate cuts and financial market support by central banks.

Given the global economic linkages, “the argument for a coordinated, international response is clear,” she said in a blog post.

Yet such a strategy seems to be lacking thus far.

The IMF has already warned that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will slow growth in the world economy to below the 2.9 per cent posted last year.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said last week the epidemic “is no longer a regional issue, it is a global problem calling for a global response.” She warned that the financial need could top USD 1 billion.

Gopinath said the impact is seen in production cuts hitting companies across the globe that depend on parts from China, as well as consumption since people are reluctant to go out and spend money.

The result then ripples into financial markets as borrowing costs rise when “banks suspect consumers and firms may be unable to repay their loans on a timely basis.”

“Higher borrowing costs will expose financial vulnerabilities that have accumulated during years of low-interest rates, leading to a heightened risk that debt cannot be rolled over,” she said.

Some countries already have taken steps, Gopinath noted. Italy, the country hardest hit in Europe, “has extended tax deadlines,” and Korea has introduced wage subsidies.

By PTI Updated: Mar 09, 2020 9:52:51 pm