WHO rues squandered opportunities; worst day for coronavirus US deaths


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The World Health Organization (WHO) rebuked governments worldwide for squandering an opportunity to check the spread of coronavirus. Deaths in the United States topped 1,000 after the biggest daily increase in fatalities, while claims for unemployment reached a record high, figures likened to indicate an “instant Great Recession.”


There are now approaching 500,000 cases worldwide in 175 countries and territories; more than 20,000 people have died. 

QUOTE: “We squandered the first window of opportunity,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Bloomberg reported. “The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago.”       


  • The World Health Organization issued rare public criticism of governments worldwide for wasting an opportunity to check the spread of coronavirus, Bloomberg reported. The world has a second chance now, as 150 countries have fewer than 100 cases and still have time to act, Bloomberg cited WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as saying. How long lockdowns last depends on the actions of countries while they are in place, Tedros said.
  • There were 223 deaths from coronavirus in the United States on March 25, the worst daily tally so far, CNN reported. Deaths from coronavirus in the United States have now exceeded 1,000, the Associated Press reported. New York accounts for more than 30,000 cases and almost 300 fatalities, AP said. US Navy hospital ships are heading to Los Angeles and, eventually, to New York, the news agency also said. The United States now only trails China and Italy in the number of confirmed cases of the virus. The Wall Street Journal said.
  • Please don’t visit, Florida tells travelers from New York, requiring anyone who has arrived from the New York region in the past three weeks to self-quarantine for fourteen days, The New York Times reported. Alaska also has a fourteen-day quarantine for arrivals from outside the state, while Hawaii last week asked future visitors to suspend their plans for thirty days, the newspaper said.
  • Hospitals on the front line of caring for coronavirus patients are engaged in a debate about whether to resuscitate patients if that means putting medical staff at risk of infection themselves, The Washington Post reported.
  • UnitedHealth Group, the health-services giant, plans to implement a coronavirus test nationwide that patients can administer themselves, potentially cutting the risk of infection to medical workers, The Wall Street Journal reported. A patient conducts the test, approved by the Food and Drug Administration on March 23, by using a swab to the front of the nose. The company has already started the method at several clinics in the Seattle region, the newspaper said.
  • The death rate in Spain from coronavirus slowed slightly, the Financial Times reported. More than 600 people have died in the past twenty-four hours, a marginal slowdown compared with previous days, taking the total death toll to 4,089, the newspaper said. Lawmakers on March 25 voted to extend the country’s lockdown through April 11 in an attempt to control the spread of coronavirus.
  • Millions of fifteen-minute home testing kits could become available to buy in drugstores and via Amazon in the UK once they have been evaluated this week, The Guardian reported, citing Public Health England. The UK government, which has bought 3.5 million tests and is ordering millions more, was more cautious about when the finger-prick tests would become available, the newspaper said.
  • The governor of Puebla, a state in central Mexico, said the poor are “immune” to the coronavirus pandemic, even as federal authorities suspend all non-essential government activities from March 26, ABC News reported, citing the Associated Press.
  • Do coronavirus survivors become immune? The answer is a qualified yes, along with important unknowns, The New York Times reports. What’s more, antibodies gathered from the survivors may help to develop a treatment, the newspaper said. On March 24 the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of recovered patients’ plasma to treat some severe cases, while the day before Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said New York State would be the first to start testing serum from those who have recovered to treat those who are seriously ill, The New York Times said.
  • “When can we let up? Health experts craft strategies to safely relax coronavirus lockdowns.” That’s the headline to a special report by news service Stat. Unfortunately, the “when can we” research is happening against a highly politicized backdrop. Stringent tracing of sick people’s contacts, much more widespread testing, targeted quarantines, and online tracking technology would help to ease social-distancing measures, the report said.
  • China’s claim that it has secured victory over coronavirus in Wuhan, once the center of the outbreak, is a cause for hope but experts are worried it may be premature, The Washington Post reported. The lack of new cases in Wuhan could be explained by a drop in testing, according to reports in Chinese, Japanese, and Hong Kong media, the newspaper said.
  • Japan’s capital Tokyo recorded more than forty new cases of coronavirus for the second day in a row, taking the total in the city to 250, Reuters reported, citing Jiji News.

QUOTE: “I’d like to see all hospital administrators, CEOs, CFOs climb down from their ivory towers and be told to walk through their hospitals, emergency rooms and everywhere,” said Heather Riebel, a pediatric cardiologist in San Antonio, The Washington Post reported. “Let’s see what type of personal protective equipment they would want.”



  • US Senators backed a $2 trillion bill to help businesses and workers hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as providing billions of dollars to buy much needed medical equipment, Reuters reported. The vote was unanimous. The bill with go before the House of Representatives on March 27, the news agency said. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said the state and city of New York’s share of the stimulus package is a “drop in the bucket” compared with lost tax revenue, Bloomberg reported.
  • A record 3.28 million people filed unemployment claims in the United States in the week through March 21, the Financial Times reported. The figure, which “eclipsed expectations,” the FT said, compares with 282,000 the previous week. The previous record of 695,000 was set in 1982, The Washington Post reported.
  • “This shows the severity of the downturn and the speed of it,” said Michelle Meyer, head of US economics at Bank of America Corp, Bloomberg reported.
  • Stocks around the world slipped as investors weighed the latest coronavirus developments, including the progress of the US economic stimulus measures, and ahead of fresh data on US jobless figures, The Wall Street Journal reported. The relief package would help stabilize the battered economy but probably isn’t enough to bring it back to health, the newspaper said, citing economists.
  • “With European countries still in the midst of the crisis or anxiously waiting to be hit, it is too soon to tell which narrative will win out in Europe—that of a generous China, whose systems managed to combat the virus, or that of an authoritarian regime, whose initial efforts to cover up the extent of the crisis cost the world valuable preparation time,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Sophia Besch.

QUOTE: “We haven’t seen this big of a free fall before,” said Keith Hall, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and adviser to President George W Bush, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Not even during the Depression…It’s really like an instant Great Recession.”


  • French automaker Peugeot’s joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group has restarted production in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. Most staff at Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies are now back at work, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • “The Humming of Chinese Plants Returns as Rest of World Reels,” a Bloomberg headline reads. Car sales in China have now increased week-on-week since the beginning of February. National airlines are slowly restoring services and Chinese subway traffic has also increased, the news agency reported.
  • Automaker Ford plans to reopen a handful of plants in North America from April 6, the Financial Times reported.  

QUOTE:  “It takes your breath away,” said Justin Hoogendoorn, head of fixed income strategy and analytics, Piper Sandler, Chicago, Reuters reported. “Obviously the immediate reaction to something like that is going to be fear, especially when (jobless claims) were just about double what economists were even predicting, thinking dire scenarios.” 


From the Atlantic Council: