Things to Note, May 17th

$1 Billion From World Bank to Protect India’s Poorest from Covid-19

Government of India & World Bank signed $1 billion agreement proposed for Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Program of India & to provide social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households impacted by the pandemic.

This takes the total commitment from the Bank towards emergency COVID-19 response in India to $2 billion.

A $1 billion support was announced last month towards immediate support to India’s health sector.

This new support will be funded in two phases – an immediate allocation of $750 million for fiscal year 2020 and a $250 million for fiscal year 2021.

This program will expand the impact and coverage of India’s social protection system by helping vulnerable groups access more social benefits directly and across the country.

The first phase will immediately help scale-up cash transfers and food benefits, using the pre-existing platforms such as PDS and DBT.

As mosques reopen in West Africa, COVID-19 fears grow

It has been a Ramadan unlike any other for Abdourahmane Sall, far from the mosque during the Muslim holy month as coronavirus cases mount. With only a little over a week left, he decided joining thousands of others in tradition was worth the risk after authorities allowed prayers to resume.

Men formed orderly lines outside the Massalikul Jinaan mosque in Dakar as they waited to receive hand sanitizer before entering while uniformed police watched on nearby. Inside, some 2,000 men set their prayer mats 1.5 meters apart while 3,000 others spread out into the courtyard of West Africa’s largest mosque.

“We are being careful but to be honest we cannot escape the virus,” said Sall, a 58-year-old tailor in a flowing orange tunic and face mask made of thick fabric. “If we abide by the precautions that health officials tell us, then God will protect us.”

The World Health Organization has warned that as many as 190,000 Africans could die from the coronavirus in the first year of the pandemic, and countless more from other diseases as the continent’s limited medical resources are stretched even further.

Brazil surpasses Italy, Spain as coronavirus cases surge in Latin America

Brazil has now overtaken Spain and Italy in total confirmed coronavirus cases to become the world’s fourth hardest-hit country during the pandemic.

Brazil’s Health Ministry announced 14,919 new confirmed cases on Saturday, bringing its total to 233,142 – fourth-most after the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

Nationwide testing in Brazil lags far behind Europe, meaning the virus could be more widespread than what the numbers actually represent. Brazil had processed nearly 338,000 tests by the start of last week, with another 145,000 under analysis.

By comparison, Spain and Italy have each run roughly 1.9 million tests.

Cases are also surging in Mexico and Peru as Latin America grapples with the rapidly growing outbreak. Mexico registered 278 new deaths on Saturday – the most of any country in the world on that day.

Egypt:  World Bank Provides US$ 50 million in Support of Coronavirus Emergency Response under new Fast-Track Facility

The World Bank approved US$50 million for Egypt as an emergency response under the World Bank Group’s new Fast Track COVID-19 Facility — a global effort to help strengthen the COVID-19 response and shorten the time to recovery.  

The project aims to strengthen the prevention, detection, and response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Egypt.

The project will focus on the immediate and critical areas of support identified by the Government of Egypt’s National COVID-19 response plan. The project funds will support (1) procuring and distributing medical equipment and supplies necessary for the COVID-19 response; (2) health worker training; (3) operations of specifically designated quarantine, isolation and treatment centers; (4) mobilization of rapid response teams in contact tracing of COVID-19 cases; (5) development of contextualized messaging platforms and tools to improve public awareness of COVID prevention; and (6) innovative Monitoring and Evaluation of social distancing strategies including community mobilization.

India extends world’s largest Covid-19 lockdown

India extended its Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown to the end of May on Sunday as it reported its biggest single-day jump in cases but said some sectors would be permitted to open up as its economy takes a hammering.

The lockdown affecting 1.3 billion people – the world’s largest – has been in force since late March and has been devastating for India’s poor, with millions of migrant workers losing their jobs.

“Lockdown measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 will continue for a period of up to (May 31),” the Home Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Schools, places of worship, shopping malls, cinemas and gyms must remain closed, the ministry said, adding bans on large gatherings for religious and sporting events would also be extended.

City metro train services and domestic and international air travel will also remain suspended, it said.

Restaurants will now be allowed to operate their kitchens for takeaway services while sports complexes and stadiums are permitted to host events, but without spectators.

US in coronavirus dilemma

The coronavirus pandemic is creating unprecedented challenges for the US economy and blowing away the achievements that President Donald Trump has worked hard to achieve since the beginning of his term.

The US is facing a wave of bankruptcy as local businesses are increasingly swayed by the pandemic. Chairman of the US Federal Reserve (FED) Jerome Powell has warned that a wave of corporate bankruptcy could cause long-term damage to the US economy. Despite the government’s financial support measures, a series of airlines, retail chains, oil companies and American businesses are still in trouble and many are on the brink of bankruptcy. Experts say that even the rescue package of nearly US$3 trillion, which was previously approved by the US Congress to support small businesses, large industries, and workers, is only capable of “delaying” this wave.

The pandemic has also blown away the US government’s achievements in economic growth and job creation of recent years. Statistics show that in April 2020, 20.5 million American people lost their jobs, the highest level ever in nearly a century. The US unemployment rate has increased rapidly from 3.5% in February to 14.7% last month. However, the New York Times cited economists’ predictions that the US unemployment rate will remain high until at least the end of 2021 or even longer. Many experts forecast that the US economy will continue to sink deeper into the recession, and it will take five years to fully recover.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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