WASHINGTON: On Thursday, the United States took the title of the country with the most coronavirus infections, and announced a historic rise in unemployment as world leaders pledged $5 trillion to prevent a global economic collapse.
The new coronavirus has now been contracted by more than 500,000 people around the world, crippling healthcare systems even in prosperous nations and causing an explosion of government-ordered lockdowns that have disrupted billions of lives.
More than 83,000 people in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19, surging past Italy, which confirmed the most deaths, and China, where the virus was first identified in the metropolis of Wuhan in December.
The US reported 1,178 deaths, while the global death toll was 23,293.
“We are battling this virus using all political, technological, medical, pharmaceutical and military tools to stop its spread and protect our people,” said US President Donald Trump.
With about 40 percent of Americans under lockdown orders, Trump encouraged people to do their part by social distancing practices: “Stay home. Just relax, stay home.”
Amid concerns rising from a global recession if not depression, leaders from the Group of 20 major economies held video-linked crisis talks on Thursday, promising a “united front” to counter the outbreak-along with a major financial infusion.
“The virus respects no borders,” the leaders said in a statement. “We are injecting over $5 trillion into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures, and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”
They also promised “robust” support for developing nations, where coronavirus could take root next after China and then Europe were ravaged. But the G20’s promised solidarity was in short supply, with China and the US exchanging barbs over their handling of the coronavirus problem.
And both Italy and Spain, which has the second-highest death toll, objected to the European Union’s draft economic plan which they considered to be too weak. Giuseppe Conte, the Italian Prime Minister, needs a “solid and appropriate” financial response that deploys “innovative financial instruments that are genuinely tailored to a war,” he said.