US jobless rate worst since Great Depression, UN head decries “tsunami of hate”


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In top stories today:

  • The United States lost more than 20 million jobs in a single month, taking the jobless rate to the highest since the Great Depression. Celebrations to mark the end of World War II were canceled or at best muted, while the head of the United Nations (UN) flagged up “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia” fueled by the coronavirus outbreak.  
  • Employers in the United States cut an unprecedented 20.5 million workers last month, taking the jobless rate to the highest since the Great Depression, Bloomberg reported, citing the Labor Department. The jobless rate more than tripled to 14.7 percent in April from 4.4 percent the month earlier, the newswire said. Economists expected the unemployment rate to reach 16 percent, with as many as twenty-two million jobs lost, The New York Times reported before the release.  
  • Trade talks between the United States and China are on track, US officials said, easing concerns that tensions over the coronavirus outbreak had damaged a fragile economic truce between Washington and Beijing, the Financial Times reported. 
  • The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who urged educators to focus on digital literacy to help counter extremism, The South China Morning Post reported.  
  • QUOTE: “With older persons among the most vulnerable, contemptible memes have emerged suggesting they are also the most expendable,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, Japan Today reported. “And journalists, whistleblowers, health professionals, aid workers and human rights defenders are being targeted simply for doing their jobs.” 
  • It’s a time of lockdowns and loneliness amid the coronavirus pandemic, rather than celebratory events and “one last great hurrah” for veterans of World War II mostly in their nineties now, the Associated Press reported, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of hostilities in Europe, also known as VE Day. Parades have been cancelled from Russia to the United Kingdom and the United States, the Associated Press said.  
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald J. Trump agreed to work closely to halt the spread of coronavirus, including on the development of vaccines and drugs, Reuters reported, citing Japan’s most senior government spokesman. 
  • A report by German intelligence casts doubts on US claims that coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab, adding that the allegations are a bid to divert attention from Washington’s failure to control the disease, CNBC reported, citing magazine Der Spiegel.   
  • Australia will lift coronavirus restrictions in three stages, CNBC said, citing Reuters. Restaurants and cafes open first, with ten customers maximum, then in a second phase gyms and cinemas with no more than twenty customers, followed by gatherings of up to one hundred people, with a return to offices and domestic travel permitted, CNBC reported. The country aims to remove most curbs by July, the Reuters said.  
  • Mass-transit operators face the thorny problem of how to make transport systems compatible with social distancing as cities worldwide emerge from coronavirus lockdowns, The Wall Street Journal reported. Keeping passengers several feet apart on buses, trains, and subways could reduce ridership by as much as 80 percent, the newspaper said, citing public-transport operators and officials. 


  • “Coronavirus bailouts: Which country has the most generous deal?” reads a BBC headline. Japan’s response has been the most aggressive, at about 20 percent of gross domestic product, followed by the United States at 14 percent, and 11 percent in Australia, the BBC said, citing Columbia economics professor Ceyhun Elgin. He’s worked with colleagues worldwide to track stimulus measures in 166 countries, it added.  
  • Siemens, which makes products from trains to industrial software, posted an 18 percent drop in fiscal second-quarter industrial profit, ditched its 2020 guidance, and said it expects “even stronger impacts” from the coronavirus pandemic in coming weeks, CNBC said. Siemens is planning for a “2-to-3 quarter trough before we see a substantial uptick again,” CNBC cited Chief Executive Joe Kaeser as saying.  
  • QUOTE: “Generally we believe that before we don’t have any test or any vaccine, we are not going to go back to normal at all,” said Siemens Chief Executive Joe Kaeser, CNBC reported.  
  • Shutdowns need to last about twelve weeks to save lives, says new research that has implications for responding to the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg reported, citing Harvard University economist Robert Barro. Social distancing didn’t have a meaningful effect on Spanish flu a century ago because it didn’t last long enough, Barro writes in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, the newswire said.  


  • Coronavirus originated from bats and can spread among cats, though it’s not clear what animal may have transmitted the disease to humans, said a World Health Organization scientist, Bloomberg reported. Studies show that cats and ferrets are susceptible to coronavirus, and dogs less so, Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert in animal diseases that jump to humans, told reporters, the newswire added.  
  • Coronavirus is found in the semen of infected men, raising the small chance that the disease could be transmitted sexually, The Guardian reported, citing a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Doctors at China’s Shangqiu municipal hospital found that of thirty-eight men hospitalized with the disease, six of them, or 16 percent, tested positive, the newspaper said. Further studies are needed, and the findings are preliminary, the researchers said, it added.  
  • Anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine appeared to be ineffective in treating coronavirus patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, The Wall Street Journal reported. It’s one of the largest studies so far looking at the drug’s potential against the disease, the newspaper said, adding that dozens more studies are in progress.  
  • “Copper takes aim at COVID-19 with virus-killer coatings” reads the headline to a Reuters article. Spee3D, which produces 3D printers for copper and aluminum and includes the Australian defense force and US Marines among its clients, commissioned Melbourne lab 360biolabs to test how copper reacts to coronavirus. The results showed that that 96 percent of the virus was killed off in two hours and 99.2 percent in five hours, versus no change on stainless steel surfaces, the newswire said, citing the company.  


  • More than one third of coronavirus cases in the Afghan capital, Kabul, are among doctors and other medical workers, prompting concern that the war-torn country is struggling to cope with the pandemic, Reuters reported, citing health officials. 
  • READ MORE: “The formation of a fully authorized government [in Iraq] is a welcome event,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Abbas Kadhim. “If nothing else, it provides a chance for Iraq to address its most pressing twin crises relating to the low oil prices and COVID-19 as well as to seek to heal the deep wounds in state-society relations.” 
  • Coronavirus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000, and infect between 29 million and 44 million, in Africa in the first year, the WHO said, based on no containment measures being in place, NBC News reported, publishing a Reuters article. Small countries, along with Algeria, South Africa, and Cameroon, could be seriously affected, WHO said, NBC added.  
  • QUOTE: “COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region,” WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement, NBC News reported. “We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”  
  • Hundreds and possibly thousands of deaths from coronavirus are going unreported in Mexico City as the government dismisses the tallies of anxious officials, The New York Times reported, citing officials, doctors in overwhelmed hospitals, and confidential data.