China reports zero new fatalities from coronavirus, officially Covid-19, China’s National Health Commission said in a statement. This is the first such no case for China since the country was wracked with the coronavirus outbreak in December. Italy, which has the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality rate, has started to see its cases subside. Italy has reported its falling daily cases over the last week.

The commission said it recorded no new fatalities and confirmed only 32 cases of the illness on Monday, all of which were from abroad. It is a sign that the country’s outbreak, once the largest in the world, is continuing to wane.

Months of aggressive containment measures in China have appeared to pay off, with daily death and disease tallies consistently falling throughout March and the beginning of April, according to official data.

As the numbers declined, China has gradually reopened its worst affected cities, lifting sweeping travel restrictions on Wuhan – where the outbreak began – last month. The final remaining travel ban on the city will be removed on Wednesday, allowing outbound traffic to resume after 76 days on lockdown.

A greater number of cases imported from overseas has prompted China to close its borders to foreign arrivals, wary of a second wave of outbreaks, as Europe becomes a major hotbed for the lethal virus.

After reversing the tide of its own coronavirus outbreak, China has extended its hand to other stricken nations, shipping out over $1 billion in medical supplies, including nearly 4 billion masks to date.

Crossing the grim milestone

Italy, Spain and Germany have each crossed the grim milestone of 100,000 confirmed cases, while France is not far behind with over 98,000.

The U.S. now leads the world in infections, counting more than 366,000 and nearly 11,000 deaths as the virus grips all 50 states.

The pandemic soared to over 1.3 million worldwide. Though many major hot spots around the globe have yet to hit their peak, Italy – which has the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality rate – has started to see its own epidemic subside, reporting falling daily cases over the last week.

U.S. is nowhere to reopening its economy  

A report by The New York Times said on April 7, 2020:

“It is still very early in the U.S. effort to snuff a lethal pandemic by shutting down much of the economy. But there is a growing question — from workers, the White House, corporate boardrooms and small businesses on the brink — that hangs over what is essentially a war effort against a virus that has already killed more than 9,000 Americans.

“There is no good answer yet, in part because we don’t even have the data needed to formulate one.

“Essentially, economists say, there won’t be a fully functioning economy again until people are confident that they can go about their business without a high risk of catching the coronavirus.

“‘Our ability to reopen the economy ultimately depends on our ability to better understand the spread and risk of the virus,’ said Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who worked on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. ‘It’s also quite likely that we will need to figure out how to reopen the economy with the virus remaining a threat.’”

The report – “U.S. Is Nowhere Close to Reopening the Economy, Experts Say” – by Jim Tankersley said:

“Public health experts are beginning to make predictions about when coronavirus infection rates will peak. Economists are calculating when the cost of continuing to shutter restaurants, shopping malls and other businesses — a move that has already pushed some 10 million Americans into unemployment, with millions more on the way — will outweigh the savings from further efforts to slow the virus once the infection curve has flattened out.

“Government officials are setting competing targets. President Donald Trump has pushed his expected date of reopening the economy to the end of April. ‘We have to get back to work,’ he said in a briefing Saturday. ‘We have to open our country again. We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months. We’re going to open our country again. This country wasn’t meant for this.’

“Some governors have set much more conservative targets, like Ralph Northam of Virginia, who canceled the remainder of the school year and imposed a shelter-at-home order through June 10. Other states, like Florida, only recently agreed to shut activity down but have set more aggressive targets — April 30, in the case of the Sunshine State — to restart it.

“Those targets are at best mildly informed guesses based on models that contain variables — including how many people have the virus and how effective suppression measures will prove to be. The models cannot yet give us anything close to a precise answer on the big question looming over Americans’ lives and livelihoods.

“To determine when to restart activity, said R. Glenn Hubbard, a former top economist under President George W. Bush, ‘we need more information.’

“Interviews with more than a dozen economists, many of whom are veterans of past presidential administrations, reveal broad consensus on the building blocks the economy needs — but does not yet have — to begin the slow process of restoring normalcy in the U.S. economy.

“That includes widespread agreement that the United States desperately needs more testing for the virus in order to give policymakers the first key piece of evidence they need to determine how fast the virus is spreading and when it might be safe for people to return to work.

“Without more testing, ‘there’s no way that you could set a time limit on when you could open up the economy,’ said Simon Mongey, a University of Chicago economist who is among the authors of a new study that found that rapid deployment of randomized testing for the virus could reduce its health and economic damage.

“‘It’s going to have to depend on being able to identify people that have the coronavirus, understanding how readily those people can transmit the disease to others and then kind of appropriately isolating people that are contagious,’ Mongey said.

“Policymakers will also need better data on how strained hospitals and entire regional health care systems are likely to be if the infection rate flares up and spreads. Ideally, they would sufficiently control the rate to establish so-called contact tracing in order to track — and avoid — the spread of the virus across the country.

“Once such levels of detection are established, it is possible that certain workers could begin returning to the job — for example, in areas where the chance of infection is low. Some experts have talked about quickly bringing back workers who contract the virus but recover with little effect. Testing is the best way to identify such workers, who may have had the virus with few or no symptoms and possibly not realized they were ever infected.

“While they wait for the infection rate to fall, policymakers will need to provide more support to workers who have lost jobs or hours and to businesses teetering on the brink of failure. That could mean trillions more in small business loans, unemployment benefits and direct payments to individuals, and it could force the government to get creative in deploying money to avoid bottlenecks.”

The report said:

“Policymakers will also need to give better support and protection to Americans who are putting their own health at risk to keep the essential parts of the economy running, like doctors, nurses, grocery store clerks and package delivery drivers.

“Heather Boushey, president of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank focused on inequality, said those workers needed to have paid sick leave, adequate health coverage, access to coronavirus tests and affordable care for their children while they worked in order to stay healthy and to protect consumers from further spread of the virus.

“‘That is the economy at this point — those workers,’ Boushey said. ‘And their health and safety is imperative to my safety.’

“Policymakers will need patience: Restarting activity too quickly could risk a second spike in infections that could deal more damage than the first because it would shake people’s faith in their ability to engage in even limited amounts of shopping, dining or other commerce.

“‘It’s important not to lift too early,’ said Emil Verner, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who is a co-author of a new study that found that cities that took more aggressive steps to curb the 1918 flu pandemic in the United States emerged with stronger economies than cities that did less. ‘Because if we lift too early, the pandemic can take hold again. And that itself is very bad for the economy.’

“Finally, policymakers will need to level with Americans — and themselves — and concede the possibility that the shutdown and its effects could drag well beyond the end of the month.”

The report added:

“Aggressive suppression measures could lead to a gradual resumption of activity that begins in some places as soon as May, several experts said. But business as usual might not come back until a vaccine is developed, which could take more than a year.

“‘We should certainly be prepared for a meaningful level of deliberate suppression of economic activity for the rest of the year,’ said Jason Furman of Harvard University, who was a top economist under Obama.

“The Congressional Budget Office wrote Thursday that it expected at least one-quarter of the current suppression measures to last through year’s end and that the unemployment rate could still be 9% at the end of 2021. Lawmakers need to be ready to keep filling the void with support to businesses and workers, said Karl Smith, vice president for federal policy at the Tax Foundation in Washington.

“‘The possibility of an unofficial quarantine for weeks or months after the official one is lifted is real,’ Smith said. ‘After that, my guess is that the economy is in major trouble.’”

Trump’s threat: India may face US wrath if PM Modi fails to overturn export ban on Covid-19 treatment

U.S. President Donald Trump warned that Washington might retaliate against New Delhi over a decision to bar exports of an experimental treatment for Covid-19, not long after asking his Indian counterpart to reverse the move.

Though India on Saturday imposed a blanket ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine – an antimalarial drug under clinical trial as a treatment for the coronavirus – Trump told reporters on Monday that New Delhi could face consequences if Prime Minister Narendra Modi fails to drop the restriction, insisting he was not aware that a final decision had been made.

“I don’t like that decision. I didn’t hear if that was his decision. I know he stopped it for other countries,” Trump said, referring to the Indian PM. “I would be surprised if he would, because India does very well with the United States, for many years they’ve been taking advantage of the United States on trade.”

Trump said: “If [Modi] doesn’t allow it, that would be okay. But of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?”

According to Bloomberg News, Indian producers provide the U.S. nearly half of its supply of the drug, which has been repeatedly touted by Trump as a potential treatment for the deadly virus gripping all 50 states and much of the world.

While concrete evidence for its effectiveness against Covid-19 remains thin, testing is already underway in states including New York and Michigan, while US Surgeon General Jerome Adams acknowledged on Sunday that there were early signs the drug was “helping.”

After a phone call with Modi over the weekend, Trump said his counterpart was “giving serious consideration” to allowing hydroxychloroquine to continue flowing to the US, adding that he told Modi he “would appreciate it if they would release the amounts that we ordered,” but the PM has yet to announce a reversal of the ban. A readout of the phone call provided by the Indian Foreign Ministry also made no mention of the request.

The export restrictions come as India sees a surge of infections, the state of Maharashtra being the worst-hit, counting 4,778 cases of Covid-19 across the country and 136 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

All of India is under lockdown by order of the prime minister to stem the spread of the virus, set to last until mid-April barring any decision to extend it.

Doctors in Pakistan beaten and arrested as they protest lack of protective equipment

A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, via Storyful, report said on April 6, 2020:

“Doctors and other medical staff were beaten by police and arrested while protesting in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on April 6 over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to them to safely treat COVID-19 patients.

“Footage shot at the scene by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty shows several people in medical uniforms shouting and chanting in protest as they face a line of police. The video then cuts to shots of police grabbing, shoving, and striking protesters with batons as they make arrests.

“Dr Yasir Khan of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) said more than 150 people were arrested, Pakistani media reported.

“The YDA claims several doctors have contracted the coronavirus in the course of their duties due to a lack of PPE. Following the arrests, the association posted photos on Facebook showing men, some wearing blue scrubs, face masks, and gloves used by medical staff, crowded together inside jail cells.”

Lal Masjid cleric booked for violating government order in Pakistan

A report published in Pakistan’s one of the leading newspapers The Dawn on April 5, 2020 said:

“A case has been registered against former Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and six others for disobeying a government order, spreading fear and inciting people against the state.

“The case was registered with the Aabpara police on a complaint lodged by SHO Inspector Mohammad Walyat against Mr. Aziz and six others under Pakistan Penal Code sections 505(b) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the state or against the public tranquility) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).

“According to the Aabpara police, Mr. Aziz gathered people at Lal Masjid for Friday prayers despite a ban on prayer congregations imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He provoked the sentiments of people, they added.

“Officials deployed around the mosque informed them of the ban on prayer congregations and the misuse of loudspeakers, but they ignored. They said around 400 people gathered at the mosque whose sentiments were provoked by these actions.

“A police officer told Dawn on condition of anonymity that no arrests have been made in the case so far.”

Media reports said: Mosque officials were brought to police stations across Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, for violating ban on Friday prayer congregations released after warnings.

The Dawn report said:

“A separate case has been registered with the Golra police against a khateeb and two others for disobeying an order issued by the government. The khateeb was arrested after the case was registered, but the other two people remained at large, the police said.

“They said the suspects violated the ban on prayer congregations in Bilal Masjid in E-11/4. The violations led to 200 people gathered at the mosque, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk.

“The capital administration has asked the police to compile data on mosques, khateebs and imams who violated the ban on prayer congregations on Friday.

“The administration and police were lenient towards khateebs and imams who disobeyed the order issued by the administration, administration officials said.

“Every police station in the capital arrested three to four imams and khateebs who violated the ban on prayer congregations on Friday, but they were released after they were given warnings.

“Police have been asked to compile data on them so action can be taken against them if they ignore the warnings. Obtaining undertakings from them that they will not disobey the order is also being considered.

“A total of 121 cases disobeying the administration’s order have been registered in the capital since the lockdown was announced, police said. Some 424 people have been booked and arrested for violating the ban on various activities imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

“Violations include social and public gatherings, riding pillion, running passenger vehicles and opening shops – not including those selling food items.

“All the alleged violators were produced in the court of the magistrate and assistant commissioners for further action.

“Most were released on personal surety and others were fined, officials said. A few, allegedly involved in hoarding and profiteering, were sent to jail.

“The officials said that because of the current conditions, most violators are released on personal surety and fines as sending them to jail may put their lives at risk as well.”

Other media reports from Pakistan said:

Lal Masjid defied government guidelines, and announced continuation of study classes.

Section 144 was imposed on mosques activities in Islamabad. The Section 144 prohibits assembly of more than 4 persons.


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