Asia is expected to witness zero per cent growth in 2020 due COVID-19 pandemic, its worst growth performance in almost 60 years, but still the world’s largest and most populous continent is likely to fare better than other regions in terms of activity, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. The IMF in a blog titled ‘COVID-19 Pandemic and the Asia-Pacific Region: Lowest Growth Since the 1960s’ further said the impact of the coronavirus on the region will be “severe and unprecedented”. “Growth in Asia is expected to stall at zero per cent in 2020. This is the worst growth performance in almost 60 years, including during the Global Financial Crisis (4.7 per cent) and the Asian Financial Crisis (1.3 per cent),” it said. It further noted that “Asia still looks to fare better than other regions in terms of activity”. The global economy is expected to contract in 2020 by 3 per cent — the worst recession since the Great Depression, the IMF said adding Asia’s key trading partners are expected to contract sharply, including the United States by 6.0 per cent and Europe by 6.6 per cent. It pointed out that COVID-19 crisis is expected to inflict ‘steep decline’ in output across Asia. According to IMF, China’s growth is projected to decline from 6.1 per cent in 2019 to 1.2 per cent 2020. “This sharply contrasts with China’s growth performance during the Global Financial Crisis, which was little changed at 9.4 per cent in 2009 thanks to the important fiscal stimulus of about 8 per cent of GDP. “We cannot expect that magnitude of stimulus this time, and China won’t help Asia’s growth as it did in 2009,” it said. Downward revisions are substantial, ranging from 3.5 percentage points in the case of Korea — which appears to have managed to slow the spread of the coronavirus while minimizing prolonged production shutdowns — to over 9 percentage points in the case of Australia, Thailand and New Zealand — all hit by the global tourism slowdown, and in the case of Australia by lower commodity prices, the IMF said. Noting that this is a crisis like no other, the IMF said it requires a “comprehensive and coordinated” policy response. “The first priority is to support and protect the health sector to contain the virus and introduce measures that slow the contagion. If there is not enough space within countries’ budgets, they will need to re-prioritize other spending,” it said. Observing that the pandemic is also affecting financial markets and how they function, the IMF suggested, “Monetary policy should be used wisely to provide ample liquidity, ease financial stress of industries and small and medium-sized enterprises, and, if necessary, relax macro prudential regulations temporarily.”
A 99-year-old British World War II veteran has raised almost 12 million pounds ($15 million) in his fundraising challenge for frontline health workers by walking laps of his garden. Tom Moore, a captain who served in India, is being sponsored to complete 100 lengths of his 25-metre garden in time for his 100th birthday at the end of the month. He originally planned to raise 1,000 pounds for a National Health Service charity after receiving treatment for a broken hip and cancer. But he is now approaching the 12-million pounds barrier and has to do just one more round of laps in his garden in Bedfordshire, south England, with the help of his walking frame. “It’s marvellous for our doctors and nurses on the front line,” he said of the money raised. “In the last war it was soldiers in uniform on the front line. This time our army are the doctors and nurses (in) uniforms,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain earlier this week. “We will survive this.” Around 600,000 people have contributed funds, with the rate of donations causing the JustGiving page to temporarily crash. A post on Moore’s Twitter account on Wednesday night said: “It’s been a crazy 24 hours, and what with Tom doing his final laps… tomorrow, we expect tomorrow to be just as crazy.” His last 10 laps will be shown live on Great Britain’s two biggest morning TV shows on Friday.
India needs to “significantly ramp up” the number of tests done across the country to trace COVID-19 infection if the virus is to be contained in time, experts said. The death toll due to coronavirus rose to 414 and the number of cases to 12,380 in the country on Thursday, according to the Union Health Ministry. While the number of active COVID-19 cases is 10,477, as many as 1,488 people have been cured and discharged and one had migrated, it said. Data obtained from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, till April 14, the number of samples tested stood at 2,44,893, an increase of 27,339 from the corresponding figure till the previous day (2,17,554). Experts feel the figures are modest for a count of the size of 1.3 billion and “much more number of tests” are needed to combat COVID-19 outbreak in the country. According to worldometers.info which maintains a global database on coronavirus cases and tests conducted, the US, where over 26,000 COVID-19 deaths have occurred, has done 31,00,387 tests averaging about 9,367 per million of population.
The AIIMS administration has accepted the proposal by its Resident Doctors’ Association to make donation to the PM-CARES fund voluntary, saying there will be no mandatory salary deduction for the contribution and those interested can “Opt-In”. The AIIMS RDA had written to the hospital administration earlier, demanding that donations to PM-Citizen Assistance Relief in Emergency Situations (CARES) fund be made a voluntary exercise/opt-in and the money collected be used locally for procuring protective gear for them after the administration appealed to all resident doctors to contribute their one-day salary to the PM-CARES fund to aid the government’s effort to fight COVID-19.