The official number of Covid-19 contaminations worldwide has passed the two million mark. While the United States has the worst record, with more than 2,200 dead in 24 hours, the American president cuts the supplies to the WHO which he accuses of “mismanagement”. In Europe, where the pandemic is slowing slightly, Denmark has become the first country to reopen its schools.
The coronavirus epidemic in France has killed at least 17,167 since the start of March, including 10,643 in hospital, according to the official report established Wednesday evening by the Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon. A total of 6,524 patients with Covid-19 have died in Ehpad (accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people) and other medico-social establishments since the start of the epidemic, figures which have risen sharply in the last 24 hours. , but linked to a “catching up” in the data feedback, said Professor Salomon.
In order to thank the primary care staff against the coronavirus, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced the payment of a bonus of 1,500 euros for all health service personnel who are managing the Covid-19 crisis in the departments of most affected as well as departments having received Covid-19 patients in the least affected departments. Other health personnel will receive a bonus of 500 euros, “net of everything”, that is to say free of charges and taxes.
Timid reopening in Europe
Elsewhere in Europe, deconfinement begins timidly. In Denmark, the time has come for schools to reunite: almost half of the pupils in the small Scandinavian kingdom have been invited to come back to class. The rooms have been arranged to provide a distance of two meters between the tables. A recovery deemed premature by some parents, for whom a “child is not a laboratory rabbit”.
In Germany, after four days of decline, the number of new infections has started to rise again. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country has recorded an additional 2,486 cases. The death toll is up 285 for a total of 3,254 since the start of the pandemic. Despite this rebound, Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to announce a gradual deconfinement from May 4. Schools and colleges must at least partially reopen from this date, stores with an area of less than 800 square meters will again be able to accommodate customers.
While Belgium has announced the extension of its containment measures until May 3, Italy – which has been shutdown for a month – has authorized localized and very limited reopening of certain businesses. But many regions have issued orders prolonging the closing of bookshops, notably those of Rome, Turin, Naples and Milan, regions which represent more than 40% of the population.
Spain, the third most bereaved country in the world behind the United States and Italy, recorded Wednesday 523 deaths, a figure down. The number of new cases confirmed within 24 hours, on the other hand, rebounded to more than 5,000 after six consecutive days of decline. The authorities believe that the peak of the pandemic has been crossed, but warn the population against any risk of slackening.
The United Kingdom does not yet see the end of the tunnel: the Ministry of Health counted this Wednesday 761 additional deaths in the hospital, a balance sheet slightly down compared to the previous day (+778 dead). The total number of victims of Covid-19 is 12,868 in the country. While the epidemic seems far from being under control, the opposition is calling for a strategy to get out of containment. Too early, replied a government source: “Talking about an exit strategy before we hit the peak risks blurring the crucial message that people must stay at home to protect our public health and save lives “.
Lithuania, for its part, is already embarking on the path of deconfinement, explaining it by the need to support its economy. From this Thursday morning, stores with direct entry from the outside will be able to reopen, as will repair shops or laundries, provided that direct contact with the customer does not exceed 20 minutes. However, non-food stores in shopping malls, sports clubs and restaurants will remain closed until further notice.
Donor conference for a vaccine
A vaccine is the best solution to defeat the coronavirus. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is convinced of this and is therefore preparing to organize an online donors’ conference on 4 May. A vaccine is “our best collective chance of defeating the virus,” said von der Leyen, who calls for European coordination of deconfinement.
What will be the economic consequences if the crisis continues for months or even years? The IMF, which had already compared it to that of 1929, expects a contraction of 3% of world GDP this year. The G20 countries have also decided to suspend the debt of the poorest countries for a period of 12 months to help them get through the crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
In this gloomy context, French President Emmanuel Macron, in an exclusive interview with RFI, deemed a moratorium on the debt of African countries “essential” to help the continent get through the crisis. “We owe solidarity to Africa,” he said on the air.
U.S. suspends contribution to WHO
Going it alone, President Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to end the U.S. contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO). The United States, the first donors with more than 400 million dollars per year, will stop funding it, the time to assess its role “in the mismanagement and concealment of the spread of the coronavirus,” said the American president. . He accuses the UN agency of having acted under pressure from China, which Washington accuses of having initially concealed the gravity of the virus.
The reactions to this thunderclap were not long in coming. Without pointing the finger directly at Donald Trump, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was “not the time to cut funding for WHO operations,” “absolutely essential to the world’s efforts to win the war against the Covid-19 “. There will always be time to study afterwards “how did all those involved in the crisis react,” said Antonio Guterres in a statement.
France “regrets” President Trump’s decision
France “regrets” President Trump’s decision and hopes for a “rapid return to normal”. Germany, for its part, believes that “blaming does not help” in this period when “close collaboration” between countries is necessary. Beijing urges the United States to “seriously assume its responsibilities and obligations, and to support international action against the epidemic led by the WHO”.
At the heart of this controversy, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus first reacted via his Twitter account. “There is no time to lose,” he wrote, stressing that “the only concern of WHO is to help all people save lives”. At a press conference, he said he “regretted” the US decision.
In the midst of a planetary pandemic, voters went to the polls in South Korea to take part in the legislative elections, their faces masked and their gloves on. According to the polls, the center-left president Moon Jae-in was acclaimed for his good management of the coronavirus crisis. As a sign of optimism, participation has never been so high in legislative elections for twenty years.