Donald Trump has carried out his threat to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO), which he accuses of complacency towards Beijing, as New York City, heavily affected by COVID-19, prepares to resume some of its activities. The US president announced on Friday that he would “end the relationship” between his country and WHO, which he has accused since the beginning of the pandemic of being too lenient with China, where the coronavirus appeared in December before spreading on the planet.
The United States, which has traditionally been the UN agency’s largest donor, will “redirect these funds to other urgent and global public health needs that deserve it,” he told reporters.
The announcement comes as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in the United States, Latin America and Russia, to weigh on the global economy, and threatens to regain momentum in South Korea. Encouraged by the ebb and flow of the epidemic, Europe continues to open its borders and loosen the restrictions put in place.
The pandemic has killed at least 362,028 people worldwide since it first appeared in China in December, according to a tally by AFP from official sources at 19:00 GMT on Friday. More than 5,862,890 cases have been diagnosed in 196 countries and territories.
The United States is the most affected country in terms of both deaths and cases, with 102,201 deaths per 1,731,035 cases. This was followed by the United Kingdom with 38,161 deaths, Italy (33,229), France (28,714) and Brazil (27,878), which came fifth in this sad ranking on Friday, ahead of Spain (27,121). Brazil had another day on Friday with more than a thousand deaths (1,124), knowing that the South American giant’s real figures are likely 15 times worse, according to scientists.
New York, goal June 8
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that he plans to partially lift the lockdown for New York City the week of June 8, provided public health indicators are satisfactory. Initially, this easing would affect only part of the economy, mainly construction and manufacturing. New York city is by far the most affected city in the world by coronavirus, which has killed more than 21,000 people.
Russia, for its part, recorded a new daily record of 232 deaths, bringing the total to 4,374 deaths and 387,623 cases, making it the third most affected country in the world for the number of infections after the United States and Brazil. According to data released on Friday, however, the epidemic’s progress appears to have stabilized, with 8,572 new cases in 24 hours, a level that has been stable for the past ten days.
Europe, hit hard with more than 176,000 deaths and 2.1 million cases, continues to deconfine, after seeing slowing the spread of the virus.
Denmark announced on Friday that it would reopen its borders to German, Norwegian and Icelandic nationals on 15 June. Greece will open its airports in Athens and Thessaloniki (north) to tourists from 29 countries from 15 June, the start of the tourist season.
But the European Union’s external borders remain closed. And its internal borders reopen in disarray, particularly upsetting some couples. “It’s really hard not to feel any physical intimacy, even just being able to kiss,” Melinda Schneider, a 26-year-old Canadian who hasn’t seen her Danish friend in more than four months.
Europe is back in football
Turkey partially reopens its mosques on Friday and Austria, with great care, its hotels and tourist infrastructure. In Vienna, hotels usually popular between March and June by business travellers expect a filling of only 5 to 10% in June, well below the break-even point of 77%, according to the Capital Chamber of Commerce. UK schools and businesses will be able to reopen from Monday, but dental practices will have to wait until June 8. Meanwhile, some people buy materials on the Internet to treat their teeth: “It’s easy to use and it’s not too scary,” says Susie in Salisbury (South).
French museums, parks, cafes and restaurants will reopen on Tuesday – only on the terrace in Paris – and it will also be the end of the ban on going more than 100 km from home. The Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette reopens on Saturday, with masks and safety distances of rigor.
Coronavirus also degrades the economy. In Italy and France, which is entering recession, gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 5.3% in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter, and by 2.9% in Austria. The Canadian economy contracted at an annual rate of 8.2% in the first quarter, the sharpest drop since early 2009.
India’s economy grew at its slowest in 20 years in the January-March quarter, while Brazil’s GDP fell 1.5% in the first quarter compared with the final three months of 2019, according to official figures released on Friday. Spain’s crisis has worsened poverty, prompting the government to approve on Friday the creation of a living minimum income.
Europe is starting to play football again, except For France. After Germany in mid-May and Spain, England and Italy announced on Thursday the resumption of their championships in June. For the Premier League, the most followed in the world, it will be June 17, shortly after the Spanish La Liga (week of June 8) and just before Italy (June 20).
Rapid spread on the American continent
On the American continent, the virus is still spreading rapidly. The United States remains by far the most affected country in terms of number of cases (1.73 million) and deaths (102,201, including 1,297 on Thursday).
The relatively unscathed capital Washington begins lifting restrictions on Friday. On the same day, restaurants and hair salons in Los Angeles, COVID-19’s main home in California, were allowed to reopen if sanitary measures were implemented.
The epidemic is not weakening in South America, as in Chile, where the death toll reaches 944 and contamination 90,638, according to the latest official figures on Thursday. In 24 hours, 3,695 cases of coronavirus were recorded in the South American country of 18 million people, and 54 people died from the disease, a new record. In the Middle East, Iran, which has eased its restrictions since mid-April, posted the largest daily increase in cases in nearly two months (2,819 for a total of 146,668).
South Korea, often cited as an example for curbing the disease, restored restrictions as it began to return to normal life. After an outbreak of cases on Thursday, parks and museums are closed for two weeks and the number of students accommodated in Seoul is reduced.
On the medical front, a drug, anakinra, initially intended for rheumatic diseases, gives “encouraging” results for severe forms of COVID-19 by reducing the risk of death and the need to be put on a ventilator in resuscitation, according to a French study that offers a glimmer of hope.