WHO says Europe in coronavirus ‘eye of the storm’

The total number of coronavirus cases in the world has surpassed two million and more than 137,000 people have died, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Europe regional director Hans Kluge has called for solidarity as some countries ease restrictions. Cases have doubled on the continent in the last ten days, even as the rates of infections in the worst hit countries have levelled off, leading Kluge to warn that Europe is “in the eye of the storm”.

US President Donald Trump is set to announce guidelines on reopening the county’s economy on Thursday. Germany has announced first steps to ease its lockdown. Thursday, April 16
10:15 GMT – Spain sees 551 new deaths as toll passes 19,000

The total number of people who have died from the new coronavirus in Spain rose to 19,130, the Spanish health ministry has said.

Over the past 24 hours, 551 people died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, up from 523 the previous day, according to the ministry.

The overall number of cases of those infected in the country rose to 182,816, from 177,633 on Wednesday.
10:05 GMT – Pandemic could cause upheaval across Middle East: Red Cross

Coronavirus outbreaks across the Middle East threaten to shatter the lives of millions of already destitute people in conflict zones, and could fuel socio-economic upheaval, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has said.

Curfews and lockdowns imposed as public health measures to stem spread of the virus are already making it difficult or impossible for many to provide for their families, the organisation says.

“The Middle East is today facing the twin threats of potential mass virus outbreaks in conflict zones and looming socio-economic upheaval. Both crises could have severe humanitarian consequences,” Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC director for the Near and Middle East, said in statement naming in a statement naming Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan.

The ICRC statement did not refer to Iran, which has the region’s biggest outbreak, but a spokeswoman said it was supporting the Iranian Red Crescent society.

The head of the World Health Organization has said he regrets Trump’s decision to halt funding for the organisation but called for world unity to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the global economy is expected to shrink by 3 percent this year – the biggest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Meanwhile, Asia’s economic growth likely to drop to zero in 2020, a first for the region in 60 years.

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