Public benches are taped off in Brockwell Park as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 8,2020. REUTERS/Reade Levinson
(Reuters) - Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
The jobless lurch upwards
Beyond the daily casualty statistics, the big, sobering economic number of the week lands on Thursday at 08.30 ET (1230 GMT): New U.S. jobless claims will likely reveal that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits in the last three weeks has now hit a staggering 15 million.
That will cement the view that the stay-at-home measures needed to control the novel coronavirus outbreak have thrust the world’s top economy into a deep recession and strengthen expectations of job losses of up to 20 million in April. The social costs are as yet incalculable.
From fine to flailing
The speed with which patients are declining and dying from the new coronavirus is shocking even veteran doctors and nurses as they scramble to try to stop such sudden deterioration.
The quick turns for the worse are likely products of an “overly exuberant” reaction by the immune system as it fights the virus, said Dr Otto Yang, an infectious disease specialist at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Called a cytokine storm, it occurs when the body overproduces immune cells and their activating compounds - cytokines - causing dangerously high blood pressure, lung damage and organ failure.
Lockdowns on review
In the absence of the still hospitalised Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British government will discuss on Thursday a scheduled review of the country’s lockdown measures. Few expect any easing right now as coronavirus-linked deaths continue to rise.
The same is true in Italy, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is rejecting calls from businesses to open factories, while France extended its lockdown past April 15.
A number of countries are, however, expecting to ease restrictions from next week: Denmark, the Czech Republic and Austria among them. How they fare will be closely watched elsewhere.
Disunity in the European Union
EU finance ministers will have another go tonight to overcome differences on more economic support for their countries, after talks collapsed on Tuesday morning following an all-night 16-hour videoconference.
Italy’s Conte had a word of warning for them. He told the BBC that Europe’s leaders were “facing an appointment with history” that they could not miss.
“If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk of failure is real.”
Containing the ‘silent carriers’
China has adopted new measures to curb the spread of the virus by asymptomatic carriers, whom some state media described as “silent carriers”.
Medical institutions must now report such cases within two hours of discovery. Local governments then have 24 hours to identify all known close contacts. Both the patient and close contacts will be quarantined for 14 days.