A video clip out of India shows Muslim women defying social distancing rules by gathering in groups in the street while claiming they are immune to coronavirus.
The women were gathered to protest against the India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which they claim discriminates against Muslims, and were not about to let a deadly global pandemic stop them.
One woman claimed that coronavirus was predicted in the Koran and that “death will come anyway, don’t frighten us by using this virus.”
“Allah is great, Allah sent this coronavirus,”claimed another woman, adding, “Allah makes decisions about who needs to live and who needs to die.”
“Here we are standing in groups. Nothing will happen to us. No disease can infect us,” she added.
Another woman claimed the only people afraid of coronavirus were those who lived in fear.
Well, I suppose at least some of them were covering their faces.
This week the Indian government announced that 80 cities would go under complete lockdown with trains and buses suspended and markets, malls, cinemas, schools, colleges and gyms all closed.
As we highlighted yesterday, there was also a large protest march against coronavirus in Egypt, with footage showing crowds of men walking down the street shouting “Allahu Akbar” in ‘defiance’ of COVID-19.
Now is the time for global leaders to create one world government to tackle the twin medical and economic crises caused by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged on Thursday.
The left-wing former Labour leader said there was a need for a taskforce involving world leaders, health experts and the heads of international organisations that would have supreme and unfettered executive powers to coordinate the response.
He gave no indication of who would appoint the “leaders,” how long they would serve for or just what their powers would involve, the Guardianreports.
Brown simply wants a new layer of global supra-government to force a solution to a crisis that began in Wuhan, China.
“This is not something that can be dealt with in one country,”he said. “There has to be a coordinated global response.”
Brown said the current crisis was different to the one he was involved in 2008 during the global financial crash. “That was an economic problem that had economic causes and had an economic solution.
“This is first and foremost a medical emergency and there has to be joint action to deal with that. But the more you intervene to deal with the medical emergency, the more you put economies at risk.”
Brown said his proposed global taskforce would fight the crisis on two fronts. There would need to be a coordinated effort to find a vaccine, and to organise production, purchasing and prevent profiteering.
“We need some sort of working executive,” Brown said. “If I were doing it again, I would make the G20 a broader organisation because in the current circumstances you need to listen to the countries that are most affected, the countries that are making a difference and countries where there is the potential for a massive number of people to be affected – such as those in Africa.”
The World Bankand the International Monetary Fund needed an increase in their financial firepower to cope with the impact of the crisis on low- and middle-income countries, he said.
The EU’s initial response to the massive outbreak of coronavirus in Italy was largely “inadequate,” and a lack of European solidarity opened the doors for Russia and China, former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told RT.
The new epicenter of the dreaded pandemic, Italy, has been struggling to stop the spread of Covid-19 for weeks now. The disease has already killed more than six thousand people in the country, with over 60 thousand people infected.
EU tried to pin the blame on Italy
The EU clearly underestimated the virus, blaming the outbreak in Italy on its national healthcare system flaws, according to the two-time foreign minister and OSCE representative. As a result, Brussels, which preaches pan-European solidarity, failed to act when this solidarity was needed in the face of a crisis that eventually affected the entire bloc.
Frankly speaking, Brussels is not doing enough. At the very first moment, Italy was practically alone against the virus. Many said it was all because of the Italian habits, because Italians do not respect the rules. Suddenly, they realized all the other countries were equally affected.
The situation in other major EU states like Germany and France deteriorated rapidly, forcing them to deal with thousands of infected on their own soil.
“Everyone just focused on the situation at home before even thinking about helping others,”Andrea Giannotti, the executive director of the Italian Institute of Eurasian Studies, told RT.
The lack of solidarity was recently noted from outside of the bloc – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic decried European solidarity as a myth, while praising Beijing for its assistance. His remarks came after Serbia received five million masks from China, which it could not get in Europe.
The EU is now trying “to do more” and somehow “make up” for its initial poor execution of a coordinated response, former Italian MP Dario Rivolta said.
Brussels has indeed ramped up its efforts, suspending the bloc’s strict Stability and Growth Pact regulating budgetary policy among others. Frattini particularly hailed this decision, which allows Rome to act freely in terms of budgetary spending, as “very important.” But this came only after Europe “realized its [measures] were inadequate to give a united response.”
Still, it is not enough, Rivolta told RT, adding that “for the moment,” there are no major changes. And while financial relief is necessary, there are other things to be considered, such as medical assistance.
“As for the medical aspects, the only thing that the EU did up to now was to put barriers between Italy and other countries.”
Huge support in terms of expertise
At one point, requests for help were sent out all over the world, according to Giannotti.
“Some Italian embassies were tasked with negotiating with local governments in order to find any opportunities to receive assistance from abroad, including help with equipment, which Italy lacks.” Russia and China were among those who responded.
In total, Moscow prepared nine cargo planes with emergency aid, delivering vital medical equipment and supplies, as well as bringing experienced specialists in infectious diseases and military doctors to Italy. Now they will be deployed to the most affected regions in the country’s north.
Frattini said the help was of the utmost importance: “What Russia has done is not comparable to what other countries have done, including China because China also sent something but not comparable with the support provided by Russia.”
The specialists have provided“very huge support in terms of expertise… in terms of virology.”
The assistance serves as a gesture of solidarity in times of European sanctions on Moscow and the counter-measures, Giannotti said. Sending help “despite [the fact] the situation in Russia itself may also worsen” means it is a clear message that Moscow is ready to talk and settle issues with Europe when there is a greater need for cooperation.
Speaking to RT, the Italian ambassador to Russia, Pasquale Terracciano, agreed that a joint approach is the best way to put an end to the pandemic.
Thanking Moscow for the contribution, he said:“It will be crucial to recover from this tragic situation, hopefully soon.”
As we previously highlighted, migrants in Naples, Italy are also violating the lockdown order and roaming around the streets.
Sono giorni che nel quartiere Vasto di #Napoli, i migranti affollano vicoletti e marciapiedi. Sfidano i divieti, noncuranti del rischio.Mentre noi viviamo barricati nelle nostre case, c’è chi si prende gioco della nostra salute. Le regole valgono per tutti! #IlNostroPostopic.twitter.com/6feNt6XqvN
Mnuchin says wants to get checks in Americans’ hands within 3 weeks
BoE cuts rates, launches QE after ’emergency’ meeting
Confirmed cases in the US climbs ~50% as testing ramps up
Connecticut reports 2nd death as US death toll hits 137
NY reports ~600 new cases, bringing total to 2,959; death toll hits 21
Cuomo signs NY unemployment-benefit expansion benefit package, warns of ‘astronomical jump’ in cases
China reports zero new cases in Wuhan for first time in months.
Treasury weighing 50- and 25-year bonds to finance stimulus package
South Africa case total passes 150
India halts incoming international flights for a week
Hong Kong doctors find virus inside 2nd dog
Spain total cases climb 28% overnight
Italian death toll expected to pass China’s on Thursday
Pentagon says 2,000 nat’l guardsman deployed around the country
NY implements 90-day delay on mortgage payments due to hardship
FedEx says drop in deliveries in China was smaller than expected
Trump and Xi reportedly agree to deepen medical research ties
UK gov’t denies plans for London lockdown
Amazon closes warehouse for ‘deep clean’ after worker tests positive
Germany death toll climbs to 43
Treatment trial in Wuhan yields disappointing results
Germany’s Bafin bans short selling
Russia reports first death
SPR to buy 30 million barrels immediately, will eventually buy 70 million
Wuhan police erase record of ‘admonition’ delivered to Dr. Li Wenliang
German gov plans to suspend debt brake on Monday
Netherlands reports another jump in cases after unveiling stimulus package outline
Switzerland warns situation rapidly deteriorating along the Italian border
Tiffany closes all US stores
* * *
Update (1100ET): New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported yet another round of new case data on Thursday as he held his daily press briefing following an earlier interview on “the TODAY Show”.
As NY emerges as the countrywide leader in testing, Cuomo announced that the state tested ~7,500 people on Wednesday night alone. The state confirmed 1,769 new cases last night, bringing the total to 4,152. 21 New Yorkers have died so far, along with 7 additional deaths in Conn (2) and NJ (5), bringing the tri-state area death toll to 28.
He also instituted a 90-day relief period allowing New Yorkers to delay mortgage payments during the period, but only due to financial hardship (not just because they feel like it). The state has already postponed any foreclosures, banned negative credit reporting and waiving overdraft, debit card and credit card fees.
Watch his press conference below:
Cuomo also said he has no plans for a ‘shelter in place’ order.
After ordering businesses earlier this week to let at least half of their employees stay home on any given workday, Cuomo said the state would now require 75% of “non-essential” workers to stay home.
Germany’s latest batch of new cases raised its national total to 13,944, up from 12,307, and an additional 14 deaths, bringing the total to 43.
The Pentagon just confirmed that 2,000 national guard soldiers are deployed across the country as more governors have called up the national guard to assist with the virus response effort. According to the Military Times, governors across 23 states have mobilized components of the Army and Air National Guard to assist in their state’s response to the pandemic.
The states where guardsmen have been mobilized include California…
…and Maryland, among other states.
Additionally, the Navy is dispatching two hospital ships, plus millions of pieces of vital medical equipment.
Meanwhile, President Trump and the White House task force are preparing for today’s briefing, where President Trump is expected to unveil measures to get experimental treatments into the hands of patients, despite some resistance from the FDA.
* * *
Update: In keeping with the coordinated central bank response via Europe, the BoE held an emergency meeting on Thursday and has announced some unprecedented stimulus measures, including launching a £645 billion bond-buying program of government and corporate bonds “as soon as operationally possible.”
Meanwhile, the cut the target from a record low of 0.25% to a new record low of 0.1%
* * *
Update (0930ET):Just before the US open, health officials in the Netherlands reported a jump in cases to 2,460.
The Dutch government has announced a rescue package designed to shield companies from the impact of the coronavirus that Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said is unlimited but will likely cost tens of billions of euros. The government is working on eight measures, including a fund that makes it easier for firms to request compensation for lost revenues and helps them pay wages, Hoekstra said Tuesday at a news conference.
Swiss authorities warned Thursday that the situation in the southern canton of Ticino is rapidly unraveling as the government scrambles to secure more hospital beds. Ticino is situated along the Swiss border with Italy, and is the worst-hit region of the small Alpine nation.
Meanwhile, Tiffany said it would temporarily close all stores in the US.
* * *
(0920ET): With oil price benchmarks around the world sliding below $30 a barrel, the US, the strategic petroleum reserve will immediately buy 30 million barrels of oil, and eventually buy as much as 70 million.
In China, police in Wuhan on Thursday officially revoked the government admonition issued to Dr. Li Wenliang, the martyred doctor who was censored for trying to warn the government and the people about the outbreak.
* * *
Update (0835ET):It’s shaping up to be another busy day on Thursday as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his goal is to get checks into the hands of Americans within three weeks, up from two yesterday.
Some updates from Europe: the Swiss press is reporting that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 3,888.
Back in New York State, Cuomo reported another ~600 case jump to 2959 cases. The death toll in the state has climbed to 21, with at least 11 of those in NYC, as Gov. Cuomo warns that
After signing a paid sick leave law to guarantee pay for those under mandatory or precautionary quarantine into law, Cuomo appeared on “the Today Show” to discuss his response to the crisis, which has won him accolades from practically everyone, including President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and other conservatives like Candace Owens.
We are seeing the enemy on the horizon and they are approaching very quickly.
What we do between now and then matters gravely.
Do everything you can. Do everything you can to flatten the curve.
The NY governor repeated his claim that the ‘hysteria’ surrounding the outbreak is more damaging and dangerous than the virus itself during a Thursday appearance on the “Today Show.”
It’s a claim he’s made several times during press briefings and television appearances.
“We know what we have to do on the virus. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be disruptive but we know what we have to do there. The fear and the panic can actually get out of control more than the virus can,” he said in an interview on “TODAY” with Savannah Guthrie.
While he warned against increasing fear and panic, Cuomo said, “This is a war, Savannah. We have to treat it like a war.”
Cuomo appeared on the show one day after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. When asked about his spat with de Blasio over the ‘shelter in place’ order, Cuomo again rejected the idea, saying it would be unnecessary thanks to NY’s proactive efforts to quarantine clusters like New Rochelle.
“States don’t fight wars…they need the federal government…equipment, equipment, equipment is going to be key…the federal government has recognized and is acting that responsibility…” Cuomo said, referring to the Defense Production Act invocation and the Army’s plan to send 2 Navy Hospital ships and millions of pieces of medical equipment across the US. Even Nancy Pelosi called on Trump to use his powers this morning.
New Yorkers should prepare to see an “astronomical” jump in cases as testing ramps up, Cuomo said. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing: the more cases exposed, the more quickly the government can act to stop the spread.
Meanwhile, in Spain, the country’s health minister declared that the government of PM Pedro Sanchez will pass a €210 billion stimulus package to help alleviate the crisis as the total number of cases in Spain has climbed 28% to 17,147. 169 new deaths were reported, raising the country’s death toll to 767, as we noted earlier.
At the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin and his staff are reportedly considering issuing a 50-year bond and 25-year bond to finance the $1.3 trillion stimulus, despite telling Congress during testimony earlier this year that demand for the 50-year bond was tepid.
As the number of cases explodes in India, PM Modi has halted arrivals of international flights for at least a week beginning on Sunday.
And as the virus spreads in Africa, South Africa said its total cases confirmed climbed to 158 on Thursday after reporting its first case of human-to-human transmission within the country.
In Hong Kong, researchers have apparently found samples of the novel coronavirus inside another dog, the second time the pet of a Covid-19 patient was also found to be carrying the virus.
However, pet owners needn’t worry – at least not yet. As CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports, there’s no evidence that these dogs can be the source of the virus for humans.
Following a barrage of easing measures by global central banks overnight, and more talk of German fiscal stimulus Thursday morning, stock futures have sunk back into the red as promising gains from overnight fizzled.
It seems the world is finally waking up to some disappointing realities: In many places around the US, and around the world, millions of people simply aren’t heeding advisories – and, in some cases, emergency declarations – pertaining to avoiding.
In California, the backlash against Elon Musk and Tesla has intensified as the billionaire openly beckoned employees of his Fremont, Calif. factory back to work despite a ‘shelter in place’ order requiring everyone to stay home to avoid the virus. Now that testing is finally ramping up around the country, with New York State taking the lead with its aggressive drive-thru push, the total number of cases confirmed in the US climbed to 9,415 (according to Johns Hopkins data), an increase of roughly 50% overnight.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that President Trump’s decision to stop travel from China, although prescient, was clearly not enough to stop the virus’s spread in the US. Officials squandered the entire month of February, and the Trump Administration is finally beginning to realize just how far it has fallen behind.
The biggest news overnight was out of Italy, which has been reporting record numbers of newly confirmed cases and deaths, as well as a surprising number of young and healthy people hospitalized in serious condition. Italian PM Giuseppe Conte said Thursday that the government would extend the nation-wide lockdown beyond April 3 because too many Italians are disregarding the orders. The extension comes as Italy faces an alarming milestone: On Thursday, Italy is very likely to officially overtake China as the country with the largest number of deaths from the virus. 475 people lost their lives on Wednesday, the largest daily jump yet, taking the total in Italy to 2978. Officially, China’s death toll is 3,231, according to the WHO, though many suspect the real death toll is much, much higher.
As of Thursday morning in New York, Italy has recorded 35,713 cases, along with 2,978 deaths.
After pleading with Schengen Zone members to keep their borders open, the EU has closed its external borders to non-EU citizens as a growing number of countries close their borders. In the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, members of the British Commonwealth, have barred non-resident, non-citizens from entry. The closures will take effect on Friday, local time.
China again tightened its restrictions on foreign nationals traveling to the country by requiring airlines to “reduce” international flights.
In other news, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, announced on twitter Thursday that he had tested positive.
By now, we’ve heard dozens of dire predictions from Wall Street banks about the economic fallout from the crisis. At this point, a recession is virtually assured, and an all-out global depression – the likes of which haven’t been seen for nearly a century in the developed world – could arrive by the second quarter, according to JPM Morgan and Mohammed El-Erian.
Now, Germany’s Ifo Institute forecast a 1.5% contraction in the German economy after one of its preliminary gauges released on Monday showed a sharp drop in sentiment.
Yesterday, we saw some rumblings about Russian disinformation campaigns targeting the West, as Vladimir Putin seizes the opportunity to destabilize the West after taking steps to fortify Russia from the onslaught (by being one of the first major countries to close its border with China, among other measures).
A document sent to European lawmakers Monday by EU officials asserted that Russia is carrying out a “significant disinformation campaign” in an effort to sow discord and panic in Western nations over the coronavirus, according to a Reuters report. Reuters apparently got its hands on the 9-page memo, and now a handful of left-wing media organizations like Axios and the Daily Beast are spreading the news.
How much longer until the West blames the severity of the “Chinese Virus” outbreak on Vladimir Putin? At any rate, despite Russia’s lockdown measures, the country recorded its first virus-related death on Thursday. A 79-year-old woman died in a Moscow hospital, the country’s pandemic response agency said on Thursday.
Yesterday, we shared a report published by the Telegraph claiming that PM Boris Johnson had asked his cabinet heads to draw up plans for a total lockdown in London, with hefty criminal penalties for all those who disobey. Dozens of reports across social media showed how millions of Londoners appear to be ignoring the government’s advice, prompting the NHS to prepare to be overwhelmed by cases. Some have warned that tens of thousands could die in the UK thanks to Johnson’s perhaps misguided hope that he could shield the British economy from the worst of the fallout by simply focusing on containing the sick. Unfortunately, one of the themes of this outbreak has been millions of people putting their own petty wants and desires above protecting the public health.
Florida and Texas have finally shut down most of the beaches where thousands of undaunted spring breakers have continued to party.
It’s likely this crisis won’t truly be over until a vaccine is mass-produced. And looking forward, headlines pertaining to drug trials for treatments and vaccines might be some of the only positive news investors get. Unfortunately, the opposite happened on Thursday, when the first scientifically controlled clinical trial of existing antiviral drugs to treat Covid-19 has delivered disappointing results.
As the FT reminds us, the next important controlled clinical trial result to look out for involves remdesivir, a drug originally developed by Gilead Sciences of the US to treat Ebola. That trial is also taking place in Wuhan. Meanwhile, in the US, a vaccine trial is underway in the Pacific Northwest.
Though the trials are continuing in Wuhan, the epicenter of the crisis, which has been struggling against the virus since it first emerged in early December, finally saw a day where no new coronavirus cases were reported. While it’s important to take this news with a grain of salt, the city has pretty much reopened for business.
A few days ago, the NYT ran a story praising India’s response to Covid-19, which had kept the number of confirmed cases down. Unfortunately, the good times couldn’t last forever, and the Indian people are finally getting a taste of the hoarding and panic that has come to dominate life in the US. After Prime Minister Modi announced plans to deliver a televised address on Thursday, which prompted Indians to scramble to stock up on essentials as they feared a national lockdown order could be delivered during that speech.
In the US, Amazon announced that it had closed one of its warehouses in New York for deep cleaning after a worker tested positive for coronavirus.This is a major threat to the US, since Amazon has emerged as a last lifeline for US consumers. If its warehouses are sidelined by the virus, the gears of consumption could truly come to a screeching halt, per Bloomberg.
Bafin, the German financial regulator, joined Italy’s Consob and a handful of other European regulators by imposing restrictions on short-selling. Though the West has been reluctant to adopt the heavy handed measures imposed on China’s population, when it comes to markets, China style crackdowns on shortsellers are apparently more palatable. Handelsblatt reported Thursday morning that Germany could move ahead with suspending its constitutional ‘debt brake’ as soon as Monday.
After UK PM Boris Johnson announced earlier this week that he would close UK schools for all except the children of essential workers and those who wouldn’t have access to food otherwise, Gavin Williamson, his education secretary, said there are “certainly no plans” at this stage to force the closures of bars and restaurants, even as speculation about a possible London lockdown continues to grow. Another government spokesperson said Thursday that there is a “zero chance” of a London lockdown.
A few minutes ago, Spain reported another alarming jump in deaths and confirmed cases that was on par with the figures coming out of Italy. Spanish Covid-19 cases rose to 17,147 (prev. 13,716) and deaths climbed to 767 (prev. 558):
Back in the US, the state of Connecticut on Thursday confirmed its second virus-linked death as the US death toll nears 140, with 137 deaths confirmed so far.
Meanwhile, as millions of young people brush off the risks to their personal health due to the virus, Bloomberg has some disappointing news: New evidence from Europe and the US suggests that younger adults aren’t as impervious to the virus as they would like to think.
Before we go, we’d like to leave readers with a rare bit of positive corporate news, courtesy of last night’s FedEx earnings report:
Migrants housed at a refugee camp in Germany began rioting, displayed the ISIS flag and subsequently tried to escape after they were put under a coronavirus quarantine.
After a migrant tested positive for coronavirus at the facility in Suhl, Thuringia, a quarantine was ordered for the other 533 residents and the camp was sealed off.
“But the measure, which in times of Corona seems not at all unusual, apparently drove the asylum seekers to a fury,” reports Compact Online. “Some of them started rioting and prevented inmates from entering the dining hall in order to force a hunger strike. They are said to have tried to leave the facility through the sewers to get to the nearby town.”
According to police spokesman Wolfgang Nicola, the migrants then gathered at the front gate and began threatening to burn down the facility while displaying ISIS flags.
Why they even have possession of ISIS flags in the first place is shocking.
50 police officers were dispatched to the scene to quell the riots. The same migrant camp was also the scene of riots back in 2015 in response to a man tearing pages out of the Koran.
“The danger that Corona will also break out in other shelters is omnipresent, a further restriction of public life is to be expected,” states the report. “It is hard to imagine that the capacities of the security forces and medical staff are sufficient to keep at bay angry illegal immigrants who do not want to comply with the protective measures against the spread of COVID-19.”
“If the Wuhan virus leads to major social unrest in Germany, the country’s multitudinous “refugees” are likely to play a major role,” warns Dave Blount.
As we highlighted yesterday, migrants in Naples, Italy are completely ignoring the quarantine order to stay indoors and are roaming around the streets.