WHO’s Tedros urges unity, officials and experts urge no let-up in efforts to contain coronavirus


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In top stories today:

  • The World Health Organization urges unity even as its director general reveals death threats and racial abuse. Early signs that new cases of coronavirus may be levelling off is no reason to let up in efforts to contain its spread, experts say. Spain may suffer most damage among European economies from a shutdown that looks set to be extended there and in Italy, another virus hot spot.
  • QUOTE: “Please don’t politicize this virus,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, The New York Times reported. “If you want to be exploited and you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it.”
  • The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has received death threats and racist abuse while running worldwide efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus, CNBC reported. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that on April 8 after reporters asked if criticism from world leaders including US President Donald J. Trump hampers his work at the WHO, CNBC reported.
  • “I don’t care, to be honest…even death threats,” Tedros said, CNBC reported. “I don’t give a damn.”
  • The WHO’s top official singled out Taiwan, which hit back saying it opposed all forms of discrimination, The New York Times reported.
  • African leaders from countries including South Africa and Rwanda rallied around Tedros, a former foreign minister of Ethiopia, Reuters reported. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the African Union, said Tedros has shown “exceptional leadership,” the newswire added.


  • Epidemiologists caution that small but promising early signs that widespread changes to human behavior are slowing the spread of coronavirus shouldn’t be taken to mean that “all will be well by summer’s first days,” as The New York Times puts it. Light at the end of the tunnel? Scientists say that it will be a very, very long one, the newspaper added.
  • New cases may be leveling out in big cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston, Dr. Deborah Birx suggested on April 8, but “there is still a significant amount of disease,” a separate Times article quoted the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator as saying.
  • Restrictions to check the spread of coronavirus are working in New York, even as the epicenter of the US outbreak reported the highest death toll of the six-week outbreak, The Wall Street Journal reported.  
  • “We’re flattening that curve, and if anything, we double-down now on our diligence,” the newspaper cited Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as saying.
  • The statistics say… Cuomo said on April 8 that 779 people died and 586 were admitted to hospital the previous day. That took the death toll to 6,268, while almost 150,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • QUOTE:  “No one should draw the conclusion that it is time to let up,” wrote the editorial board of The Washington Post. “It is time to seize the moment and create a strategy for the coming months, a phase two when the United States will shift from fighting the house fire to managing some kind of stabilization, if not normalcy.”


  • The Financial Times leads its world coverage with the Spanish economy, set to suffer more than any other European economy. UniCredit estimates a 15.5 percent decline in gross domestic product this year.
  • Josep Tres and his family have run Netexpres for forty years. The company based near Barcelona airport has furloughed over half of its 400 workers as gyms, restaurants, and offices closed their doors because of the pandemic, the newspaper said.
  • “We’ve survived a lot of things: recession in 1992, the financial crisis,” said Tres. “But I’ve never been so scared.”
  • Spain is approaching the start of a decline in the epidemic, Reuters cited Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez as telling an almost empty parliament as 300 legislators attended at distance, Reuters reported. They are voting on a two-week extension of restrictions, among the most stringent in Europe, until April 26, the newswire said. Sanchez urged politicians of all stripes to sign up to a national pact for economic revival, Reuters reported.
  • Italy is preparing to extend restrictions too, for two weeks beyond the current expiry of April 13, Bloomberg reported, citing unidentified officials.
  • The statistics say… The death toll in Spain increased by 757 to 14,555 as of April 8, according to health ministry data. Cases rose to 146,690 from 140,510 the previous day, Reuters reported. Europe accounts for more than 65 percent of global cases, Bloomberg said.


  • UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, hospitalized on April 5 after suffering with persistent coronavirus symptoms, is getting better, Reuters reported. “He’s stable, improving, sat up and engaged with medical staff,” the newswire cited Oliver Dowden, culture minister, as saying.
  • With the UK’s prime minister, fifty-five, laid up in intensive care, the Bank of England agreed to finance government borrowing on a temporary basis if that’s not available in debt markets, a measure that was last used widely in the 2008 financial crisis, Reuters reported.
  • Fatalities from coronavirus are expected to increase over the Easter weekend as the UK enters what scientists call the deadliest phase of an outbreak that has cost more than 7,000 lives there so far, Reuters said.
  • The statistics say… The highest number of reported cases of coronavirus are in the following countries, CNBC cited data from John Hopkins University as showing: United States (429,052), Spain (148,220), Italy (139,422), France (113,959), and Germany (113,296), as of 8:10am in Beijing, CNBC said.
  • Saudi Arabia said the kingdom and its allies will start a ceasefire in Yemen from noon on April 9 because of concerns that coronavirus will spread there, The New York Times reported. That could pave the way for an end to the brutal five-year conflict in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, the newspaper said. As many as 150 members of the Saudi royal family are thought to have contracted the virus, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified person close to the family.
  • READ MORE: “These refugee women are the face of resilience—unsupported, uncared for and yet undeterred. They are stepping up not just to help themselves but also other most vulnerable refugees during this global pandemic,” journalist Priyali Sur and researcher Vanessa Davaroukas write for the Atlantic Council.


  • Job losses surged for the third week in a row in the United States. Some 6.6 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment claims in the week through April 4, compared with estimates of 5 million, CNBC reported. Including April 9’s new figures, US joblessness was expected to reach “a staggering 15 million,” Reuters reported. The three-week tally is more than 16 million, CNBC said.
  • The economic response to the pandemic, which has shut down economic activity worldwide, is taking many forms.
  • The Federal Reserve is providing an extra $2.3 trillion in credit to small business and municipalities, as well as extending measures that it introduced last month to back corporate debt markets, the Financial Times reported.
  • The International Monetary Fund doubled its emergency lending facility to $100 billion following demand from countries needing help because of the coronavirus crisis, the newspaper also reported.
  • Trump is preparing to unveil a second coronavirus taskforce comprised of government and private-sector officials, this one to address the economic impact, as soon as this week, The Washington Post reported, citing four unidentified people.
  • The newspaper also publishes an article contending that the coronavirus crisis has shone an unflattering light on the president’s “resistance to criticism—and his desire for fervent praise.”
  • QUOTE: “Diseases don’t respect national borders,” said Andy Tatem, an epidemiologist at Southampton University, the Financial Times reported. “Understanding how diseases and pathogens flow through populations using mobile phone data is vital.”
  • READ MORE: “[L]eaving the most vulnerable people behind raises disconcerting questions about the priorities of the government. Unless the larger number of people and those on the bottom can benefit from the relief measures, Bangladesh will not be able to recover from this imminent crisis,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Dr. Ali Riaz.